Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) died this week at the age of 82, years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Now, his friend and colleague, former President Barack Obama, is speaking out — not by issuing a statement of condolences, but by publicly sharing a letter he sent the Nevada politician in his final days.
According to CBS News, the letter was sent at the request of Reid’s wife, Landra, who noted that it had become increasingly difficult for Reid to talk on a telephone as his health declined.
Obama shares personal letter
After news broke of Reid’s death, Obama took to his Instagram account to share the letter in place of another formal statement.
“Here’s what I want you to know,” Obama wrote. “You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination.”
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“Most of all, you’ve been a good friend,” the former president wrote of Reid. “As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other — a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team.”
Obama concluded: “Enjoy your family, and know you are loved by a lot of people, including me. The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.”
Biden addresses Reid’s death
President Joe Biden, who was formerly a senator from Delaware, published a more standard statement addressing Reid’s death that made note of the “two decades” they’d served together in the upper chamber, plus the eight years of working together while Biden was in the White House as Obama’s vice president.
“Under his watch as Senate Majority Leader, Harry helped pass the Recovery Act to prevent another Great Depression. He helped rescue the American auto industry. He helped pass the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and ratified the New Start Treaty,” Biden said of Reid’s accomplishments.
“I’ve had the honor of serving with some of the all-time great Senate Majority Leaders in our history. Harry Reid was one of them,” the president continued. “And for Harry, it wasn’t about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right for the people.”
Biden also took note of Reid’s “humble roots” and the “remarkable family” he’d built with his wife over the years, concluding, “May God bless Harry Reid, a dear friend and a giant of our history.”