Harry Reid Hits Marco Rubio as 'Opportunistic'

Harry Reid Blasts Marco Rubio
Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio speaks during a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire. Brian Snyder/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, never one to mince words, on Thursday leveled harsh criticism at Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, calling him one of the most "opportunistic" people he has ever dealt with.

Reid, prefacing his attack by joking that it might just get Rubio elected, told Reuters in an interview: "I have found very few people I've ever worked with more opportunistic than Marco Rubio."

Rubio, a freshman senator from Florida, is seen as a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He earned Reid's praise for his work in 2013 on a comprehensive immigration bill, but scorn for later distancing himself from that measure.

"They worked for months and months on that legislation," Reid said. It passed the Senate in June, 2013, only to die in the House of Representatives.

"He (Rubio) came up with really a good product. He walks away from it. He is so bad that he even wants to deport the DREAMers," Reid said.

While campaigning for president in recent months, Rubio said the program helping undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age by relatives ought to be ended unless it was included in comprehensive immigration reform.

Rubio campaign spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Senator Ted Cruz, also seeking the Republican nomination for president, has won few friends in the Senate with his brash, hard-charging personality.

Reid, who called Cruz a "bomb-thrower," may not be a friend, but he showed him some respect.

"I look at him differently than a lot of those people running because he has a plan; he sticks with it. I don't like his plan. He sticks with it."

As for the most talked-about Republican presidential candidate, Reid said with a wry smile: "You guys (the media) have been trying to get rid of (Donald) Trump for months ... he's going to do just fine."

The 76-year-old Reid, however, had some sincere praise for another Republican - Paul Ryan, who in late October became speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Legislation, I've said a thousand times, is the art of compromise. And I have found in the short time I've worked with Paul Ryan that he understands that," Reid said.

"He (Ryan) reminds me a lot of Trent Lott," Reid said, recalling the former Republican Senate majority leader, an affable southerner who is now a lobbyist in Washington.