Questions about the 74-year-old’s health, his recent move to be closer to his children and grandchildren and uncertainty about the Democratic majority in the Senate lead some knowledgeable insiders to speculate that Reid will retire rather than face a challenge in 2016.
“I don’t think he will run again,” said one insider with decades of experience in Nevada and D.C. politics. “He’s not well. His wife isn’t well. He has grandchildren. And he may not be in the majority after November.”
That, however, is a minority view, albeit an understandable one based on observing Reid. Those close to the majority leader say his health actually is quite robust, that he is intent on mounting another campaign and that he relishes any challenge, even from popular Gov. Brian Sandoval. As for the reports that the Koch brothers are plotting to bring him down, his staff has a ready answer: Bring it on.
Although some Reidites are willing to concede he has slowed down, with the signature shuffle now even more pronounced and his notoriously poor balance palpable. But they say his mind remains sharp as ever, even though several sources told me they have recently witnessed him lose his place in conversations or meander into tangents before regaining his focus.
And then there are the gaffes. So many, so much more frequent, it seems. Just last week, Reid was forced to apologize for what for him was a minor slip, more a case of him trying to be too cute by saying he had trouble “keeping my Wongs straight” at an Asian Chamber of Commerce event. This was not on par with describing the first African-American president as “light-skinned….with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one,” which one Nevada Democrat recently called “as bad as it gets.”