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Harry Reid: Renewed But Ready to Rumble?

<p>Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks during a joint appearance with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a lecture series at the University of Nevada, Reno, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.</p>
(AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks during a joint appearance with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a lecture series at the University of Nevada, Reno, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Harry Reid retired a little more than two years ago after serving decades in elected office, lastly as a U.S. senator who helped President Barack Obama get the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

He’s been out of the limelight since, undergoing cancer treatment.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November, but he told KNPR’s State of Nevada that he was doing fine despite the diagnosis and quipped about the writer of the New York Times Magazine piece about him.

“I’m sure the guy writing the article is going to die too,” he said, “I’m doing fine. Everything is working out well. I’m strong and have a pretty good life I think. So, I’m not worried about what someone says. I’ve got good health here and I’m doing fine.”

The interview made headlines because the former senator characterized President Trump not as immoral, but “amoral.”

In typical Reid manner, he did not back away from his blunt assessment of the president when he spoke with State of Nevada.

"What amoral means is this: immoral is you do things and you feel bad about it... If you are amoral, you have no conscience," he said, "I didn't use the word as a throwaway word. I used the word because I meant it."

The former senator pointed to the president's efforts to build a wall and the government shutdown because of the dispute over funding the project as an example of his amoral behavior.

"This idea of building this wall. The American people don't support it. The vast majority of the members of Congress don't support it," he said.

He said it was foolish to put people living on a shoestring budget on furlough. In addition, he said the shutdown is hurting the businesses that rely on federal workers paychecks.

Reid also said that he believes that President Trump has not only been bad for the country but also bad for the world.

"Originally, when he was elected, I was worried about America. I'm now worried about the world," Reid said, "He's ruined - for the near future - our relations with Europe... NATO has become less important, which is too bad."

As for who will run against the president in 2020 on the Democratic ticket, Reid wasn't willing to say who he would choose but he did say he has talked to leaders looking at the possibility of a presidential run.

"Lots and lots of people have called me asking for my opinion and I try to be as candid with them as I can," he said, "I'm glad they think I have an opinion that is worth something."

Reid, who many have credited with getting people elected in Nevada and driving the Reid political machine as it is called, said any of the people who have talked about running would be good, but, "that doesn't mean I'm going to be out beating the bushes for any one of them."

Reid said it would be unfair for him to choose someone when the state has a caucus system to do that.

While most of what Reid weighed in on was politics, he also addressed the funding of research into military sightings of unidentified flying objects. Reid had helped to direct money to that research.

"I think it is something we can't ignore," he said, "I personally don't know if there exist little green men places. I kind of doubt that, but I do believe the information we have indicates we should do a lot more study."

He said there are eyewitness accounts from hundreds of people, including military pilots, of unexplained objects moving through the air all in the same way.

Reid said he is working with a member of Congress to create a place for military pilots to report what they see without fear of reprisals. 

(Editor's note: This interview originally aired January 2019)

Former U.S. Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.