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Republican Party memo riles Senate Democratic leader

WASHINGTON—Despite a White House dinner date with the president the previous night, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid was still pretty steamed Tuesday about a 12-page Republican National Committee e-mail that described him as the "chief Democratic obstructionist."

The e-mail, which GOP officials sent out to party activists and reporters, not only ran through Reid's Senate voting record, it also went after his staff, cited the value of his Washington condominium ($750,000) and generally accorded him the kind of rough treatment reserved for opposition presidential candidates.

On Tuesday, Reid, of Nevada, said that the mailing showed that Bush's promises to reach out to Democrats and change the tenor of debate in Washington "are just absolutely false."

As for dinner Monday with Bush, Reid said the president raised the subject of the mailing. He would not reveal what Bush said. But, when asked if the president appeased him, Reid told reporters: "When you have a real bad chafe ... it's hard to get soothed."

The flap over the RNC letter comes as Democrats have been declaring that Bush's Social Security proposal to let young workers invest some of their payroll taxes is dead. Democrats have also been tough on two of Bush's Cabinet appointments—Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush and Reid had a "good visit" during dinner. "The president has always been someone who has worked to elevate the tone and reach out to members on both sides of the aisle," McClellan said.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican Senate leadership, said Senate Republicans want to work with Democrats and have deliberately tried to avoid provoking them.

"What the RNC does is political," he said of his party's committee. "I mean, what they do is what they do. What we do and what you've seen from Senate Republicans is a willingness to reach out to Democrats to work to solve problems. And thankfully, so far, many Democrats have been willing to do so; not, unfortunately, their leadership, but many others."

To read the RNC memo on Reid go to http://www.gop.com/RNCResearch/Read.aspx?ID=5146.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

ARCHIVE PHOTOS on KRT Direct (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Harry Reid

ARCHIVE GRAPHIC on KRT Direct (from KRT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20041105 HARRYREID bio

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