Harry Reid’s war on the Koch brothers — the wealthy oil tycoons who are spending millions to defeat Democrats in the 2014 mid-terms — has sparked an intense backlash from Republicans and prominent conservatives.
The feud has grown acrimonious and personal over the last few weeks, with figures on the right leaping to the defense of the Kochs and even suggesting that the Democratic Senate majority leader is mentally unstable.
“There’s something going on with Harry Reid’s mental state and we need to really be concerned about it,” Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee who lost to Reid in the 2010 Nevada Senate race, said April 3 on her radio show. “[T]hat’s the onset of something more serious, and as you say, there’s something mentally going on here, when you can’t remember.”
“Poor Harry Reid,” Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said on Fox News. “I mean, either he’s off his meds — and he clearly needs some assistance immediately, he needs to be rushed to an emergency room — or the man is just brazenly unable to tell the truth.”
Republican officials have echoed the attacks, which came in response to Reid’s frequent accusations that the Koch brothers are lying about Obamacare and smearing its supporters.
“I didn’t think Mormons used drugs,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said on Mike Gallagher’s radio show, suggesting that the Democratic leader is “detached … from reality.” He added: “We have a majority leader who is manifesting several of the things Sigmund Freud warned us about. That is projection and denial on a epic scale.”
Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on Twitter there’s a “real question” about whether Reid has Alzheimer’s disease.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) March 27, 2014
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), the chairman of the NRSC, which is tasked with electing Republican senators, took to the floor last week to defend the Kochs from Reid’s criticisms. He said Koch Industries employs several thousand Kansans but is “unfortunately … subject to attack,” before reading the entirety of a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Charles Koch.
So, what does Reid think about the backlash against his anti-Kochs strategy?
“One, it’s working,” Adam Jentleson, his spokesman, told TPM in an email. “Two, it underscores both the intent and truth of the Koch criticisms when so many Republicans react with what appears to be sincere moral outrage at seeing super-powerful billionaires being held accountable for their attempts to rig the system to further enrich themselves and their fellow members of the top one percent.”
Reid’s now-routine attacks on the Koch brothers serve two purposes. He wants to defend his vulnerable Democratic members against their ads seeking to damage them ahead of a tough election, where the Senate could change hands, and he wants to shore up a villain to motivate liberal voters, who tend to turn out in lower numbers during mid-terms.
The Huffington Post put together a clip package of conservative media figures questioning Reid’s mental state.