"I think it's very unwise and not helpful," Reid said Friday morning. "These groups should leave them alone. It’s not helpful to me. It’s not helpful to the Democratic Caucus.”
Reid, who said he hadn’t seen or heard the ads, added that "most of [the groups] run very few ads — they only to do it to get a little press on it."
MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change, the labor-backed organization that serves as the White House’s chief third-party operation, have started separate ad campaigns targeting moderate House and Senate Democrats to back Obama’s budget. A number of liberal activists have expressed concerns about a group of 16 Senate Democratic moderates who have been meeting in an attempt to bolster their influence.
Reid has no qualms about the group, and said that “any public statements” Senate moderates have made have been helpful as the chamber takes up a budget next week that would cost more than $3 trillion. And he added: “Some people of course go to those meetings so they can issue a press release back home that'll make them appear more moderate.”
“I’m not one who is going to be driven by people on the extremes, saying it’s only my way or no way,” Reid said. “That’s not the way legislation works.”
Reid's comments came at a wide-ranging breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, where the Nevada Democrat expressed confidence that Democrats would pick up seats in the Senate next cycle, said he raised $2 million in the last quarter for his 2010 reelection and acknowledged that efforts to enact health care legislation have been temporarily set back by the loss of Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary.
Reid also acknowledged that he spoke with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) about becoming a Democrat. Recently, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said that he and Vice President Joe Biden tried to bring Specter to the Democratic side since the senior Republican faces a tough 2010 primary back home.
“Yes, I’ve talked to him,” Reid said when asked if he’d approached Specter about switching parties. Specter has resisted such overtures, and Reid said that the Republican’s decision this week to announce his opposition to the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act “kind of stopped” that effort and “hasn’t helped him in the polls back in Pennsylvania.”
On running a competitive race back home as a top target for Republicans, Reid said he’s not going to position himself any differently in the coming year.
“I’ve watched other senators change who they are during the election cycle,” Reid said. “I think it’s real ugly and I’m not going to do that.”
And he said Democrats are now in a position “to pick up a number of seats” in 2010, but stopped short of making a prediction on whether his party would exceed the 60 seats needed to break a filibuster.
“I would love to have 60, I’d be happy with 59, [but] I think we focus a little too much on numbers,” Reid said. “I think if the tone is right in Washington, if we have 59 or 63 or 64, we should be able to accomplish a lot as we’ve shown.”
Reid added: “I think that our success is tied to Obama’s success.”