Capitalizing on conservative anger, McCain races ahead in primary battle

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) thinks Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is a sore loser, and needs to "get over" his crushing defeat against President Obama in November of 2008.

"John is a great name-caller," Reid said Monday on Las Vegas KVBC-Channel 3's Face to Face with Jon Ralston, in response to McCain's allegation that Obama and Democrats are behaving hypocritically.

"The election's over, he should leave Barack Obama alone and join with us to do good things for the country."

McCain has grown considerably more aggressive during the Obama administration, making heated speeches on the Senate floor against the legislative proposals put forth by the president and Democrats.

In December, he compared Democrats to legendary Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff on national television for their approach to health care reform.

"John has no reason to be the way he is, but he's become very, very opposed to everything," Reid said. "I'm very disappointed in how he's reacted."

On the contrary, McCain's recently-escalated anger toward the Obama administration and Democratic-led Congress has served him an important purpose -- in terms of his electoral goals, if not constructive policy engagement.

The longtime senator is up for reelection this fall, and in November a Rasmussen poll found him a statistical dead heat in the GOP primary against former Rep. JD Hayworth (R-AZ), who is a favorite of the doggedly conservative Tea Party movement.

But after months of taking a sharp, defiant posture against Obama and the Democratic Party -- and winning his former Vice Presidential pick Sarah Palin's nomination -- McCain opened up a comfortable 22-point lead against Hayworth by late January, according to Rasmussen.

But Reid isn't interested in commending McCain's political gamesmanship.

"We've had some people who've run for president, lost and become great statesman -- John Kerry's one example, Al Gore's another, Jimmy Carter... I just think he's got to get over this and move on to something else."

In the interview, Reid, who is also facing a potentially tough reelection this year, shot down rumors that he might withdraw from the race.

"I'm running," he said. "I feel very comfortable with where I am at this time. I have a record, it's a record that I'm proud of."

The following video is from Monday's Face to Face with Jon Ralston on Las Vegas KVBC-Channel 3.