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Republicans also said Reid may end up being helped by two other factors the fact that he is inextricably tied to Obamas health care bill and the fact that, in many ways, he provides the GOP with a useful foil during this years election.
A Republican strategist noted that, Democrats recognize that their legislative agenda is at stake here. Health care, thats whats really going on.
A Senate GOP aide agreed, but said Reid as Majority Leader is also a potential boon for Republicans. Things are better for us with him there. Its going to make every other competitive race that much more difficult, the aide said.
Its unclear how much damage Reids comments will do to his own re-election race.
The revelation of his remarks about Obama came on the heels of gloomy new polling numbers that show more than half of Nevada voters view him unfavorably. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and released over the weekend, reinforces the daunting task Reid faces to win re-election this year.
Political strategists in Nevada, however, did not think Reids latest verbal gaffe will seal his electoral fate in 2010.
I dont think its fatal, said Las Vegas-based Democratic strategist Dan Hart. I think that Senator Reid handled it well. He made a mistake, he apologized, he got in front of the issue.
Hart said the fact that Reid promptly got an army of African-American activists to indicate their support of him probably prevented any serious long-term political damage.
A Republican strategist close to the Nevada delegation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to damage relationships on both sides of the aisle, disagreed with Hart that the comment will not have a long-term impact, though he did not think it alone would be a determining factor in the race.
Having this out in the news, it reminds Nevadans that they dont really care for the guy, said the strategist. Even if one sets aside the race issue, it highlights Reids caustic nature and his penchant for saying kind of rude things.
This just strengthens the whole narrative that Republicans are assembling to defeat him, the GOP strategist said, though he added that he did not think the Senator was in any way a racist.
The Republican strategist also said that Reids comments could hurt him with his Democratic base, whose energy and support he desperately needs in the general election.
If it means some people are less likely to volunteer for him or go door-to-door or make phone calls, thats a problem and certainly I think its going to have that effect, he said.
Personally I dont see how Senator Reid gets re-elected, the strategist said, even without the latest controversy.