Kirsten Gillibrand the 'hottest' senator? What is Harry Reid thinking?

Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator from New York, is apparently the 'hottest member' of the Senate. So said Harry Reid in the latest in a series of gaffes by the majority leader.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, seen here at a news conference with Sen. Robert Menendez in July, has been bestowed with title of the Senate's 'hottest member' by none other than majority leader Harry Reid.

What’s up with Harry Reid? The Senate majority leader lately has been saying stuff about other Democrats that he means as compliments but come across as kind of, well, off. Cringe-inducing, in a mild sort of way.

In the latest such gaffelette, Senator Reid, speaking in New York City at a fundraiser hosted by Mayor Bloomberg, referred to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York as “the hottest member” of the Senate. Senator Gillibrand, who was there, turned red at this remark, according to Politico, which broke the story.

To be fair, Gillibrand in the past has made the “Most Beautiful” list of The Hill, a Congress-oriented newspaper. And Reid did go on to discuss Gillibrand’s depth of knowledge about securities law.

(Hmm. Fundraiser. New York. Brings up securities. Maybe some of the people there were ... Wall Street bankers?)

This comment follows last week’s “pet” remark. If you didn’t hear about that one, last Wednesday Reid referred to the Democratic candidate for Delaware’s open Senate seat, Chris Coons, as “my pet” and “my favorite candidate” – something GOP candidate Christine O’Donnell could use against him in the fall.

Mr. Coons quickly issued a statement vowing to be no one’s pet if he wins in November.

Why is Reid talking like this? Perhaps he also dabbled in witchcraft once (or Harry Potter, at least), and that “confundus” charm is finally kicking in.

Just kidding.

Reid has always been known as a bit of a loose cannon on Capitol Hill. In January, he was involved in another controversy, when a book about the 2008 presidential campaign quoted him as saying that the US was ready to embrace Barack Obama because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Others might just say he is blunt, or plain-spoken, or someone who worked his way up from poverty.

Whatever the reason, the comments aren’t coming at a good time. In his bid for reelection this fall Reid remains locked in a dead heat with GOP candidate Sharron Angle, who’s backed by many "tea party" organizations. Their battle has featured some of the toughest campaign ads aired anywhere in the country in this election cycle.

Reid’s newest ad criticizes Ms. Angle for comments which seemed to suggest that the Department of Veterans Affairs should be privatized.

Meanwhile, the independent GOP political organization “American Crossroads,” backed by former Bush operative Karl Rove, has aired a new ad tying Reid to the soft economy. It says he has “failed” to do enough to help a state where the unemployment rate is more than 14 percent

“Harry Reid – extremely out of touch with Nevada,” the ad concludes.

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