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Harry Reid escalates attacks in Senate race, calls Republican Joe Heck a 'phony' and 'fraud'

Posted at 4:57 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 23:42:48-04

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid may be leaving office soon, but he isn't going without laying some harsh attacks on the Republican trying to capture his seat.

Calling him a "phony" and "fraud," Reid told reporters on Tuesday that Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck bore at least some of the blame for the failure of a compromise 2013 immigration bill that failed to pass through the House.

"He could have gone to House leadership and said 'Let's have a vote on that,'" he said of the Republican congressman. "We passed it in the Senate, had he done that, and others had done the same thing, we could have had a vote."

"I want the Hispanic community to know that Joe Heck is a fraud," he added.

Reid made the remarks to reporters following a lengthy question-and-answer session with members of Lambda Business Association, a group of LGBTQ business owners in Las Vegas.

Since announcing his decision not to run for reelection following an exercise band accident that left him blind in one eye, Reid has loudly supported Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto. He told the crowd that keeping his seat in Democratic hands was key to flipping control of the Senate.

"If we lose Nevada, we're dead in the water," he said.

A recent KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll showed Heck with a narrow 42 to 41 percent advantage over Cortez Masto, with 11 percent undecided.

Heck spokesman Brian Baluta said Reid was wrong to blame Heck for failing to pass the immigration bill.

"Sen. Reid has either a selective or failing memory, because if he wanted to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he would have made it a priority in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats had a 20-seat majority in the Senate, a nearly 80-seat majority in the House, and President Obama in the Oval Office," he said in an email. "Instead, he’d rather use it as a weapon to divide Nevadans and install his handpicked replacement Catherine Cortez Masto as Nevada’s next hyper-partisan Senator."

In 2013, Heck's congressional office issued a statement saying it was "extremely frustrating and very disappointing" that House leadership didn't plan to vote on immigration-related legislation.

Reid slammed Heck on his support for presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's cautious approach to the divisive Republican presidential nominee was a better path to take.

"I think Sandoval has been a good governor, and this is an indication of why he's been a good governor," he said. "He's not a parrot, like Heck, who's going to vote for Trump."

Reid also said he's still undecided on Question 2, a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use and possession of marijuana in Nevada.

"I'm not going to commit to voting for or against recreational marijuana until a case is made," he said. "Right now a case has not been made to me."