Sen. Tom Coburn apologized on the floor to Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight for impolitic comments that he made about the Nevada Democrat in recent weeks.
Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, issued the formal apology for statements that could be construed as personal attacks against Reid. Coburn called Reid “incompetent and incapable of carrying on the tradition of the Senate” during an interview on C-SPAN on July 19.
This evening, Coburn opened a lengthy Senate floor speech about fiscal conditions by saying that he had used “inappropriate words” in explaining how Reid managed the Senate’s business.
“I don’t apologize for my frustration with this place, but occasionally my words are harsh and inaccurate,” Coburn said. “This past week, I used words that were inappropriate in describing his actions in the Senate, and for that I offer a public apology. I do not apologize for how I think the Senate is being run and the damage I think is being done to the country.”
During the C-SPAN appearance, Coburn said he did not view Reid as a true leader. He criticized leaders for not bringing serious deficit reduction plans to the floor.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Reid took particular issue with statements by Coburn that he construed as meaning he was hurting the country. Reid told the publication that he had spoken by phone with Coburn about the C-SPAN comments.
“As an individual, he has a very difficult time, and I understand that, and to whom I ask his forgiveness,” Coburn said.