RENO, Nev. (AP) - Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are
"basically the same" on every issue, so any political wounds inflicted by their competitive presidential contest should heal well before the Democrats' national convention, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.
With either Democrat in the White House, Reid said the first 100 days of the next Congress would bring a new energy policy, put the U.S. military well on a path out of Iraq and begin steps toward providing health care for uninsured Americans.
"Every issue, even though they talk, they are basically the same on every issue," Reid told The Associated Press in dismissing concerns about party infighting stemming from the candidates' criticism of each other.
"I think this has been a great campaign. The Democratic problem will be over before the convention, and I think it will all work out well for America," he said during an interview in his Reno office. Reid did not amplify on how the race would be resolved before the convention.
Reid is a superdelegate to the national convention Aug. 25-28 in Denver but has remained neutral so far in the Democratic contest.
"Now we're down to two - two of the smartest people, not just in the Senate, but in the country," he said. "These are brilliant, academically talented people, ... hardworking and honest."
Under either Obama or Clinton, Reid said he would anticipate a new U.S. energy policy that would include long-term tax credits for alternative, renewable energy.
"From an environmental and economic perspective, we have to move into alternative energy big time. The gluttony we have from imported oil is ruining the country and the world,"' he said.
"No. 2, I hope by then we have a path out of Iraq. Our military is in a state of distress," he said. "No. 3, is health care."
"On energy, by next year at this time, we can have something done. Iraq by this time next year we can have something done. Health care is not going to go as quickly. It is a more complex problem," Reid said.
"That a country of our great capacity has 50 million with no health insurance says it all. To get 50 million people covered in some manner is not easy."
None of those three priorities will be addressed if the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is elected president, Reid predicted.
McCain "wants us to be there for another 50 or 100 years in Iraq," Reid said.
"He did not support us on energy tax credits. He believes in the Bush tax program. With health care, he's still back with the `let the market determine everything' but the market put us right where we are now. Employers hate it. Employees hate it. It's not working."
Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said Reid's criticism of McCain was off the mark.
"It is hard to take Harry Reid seriously when his continued partisanship has resulted in historically low ratings in his home state," Lindsay said.
"Senator McCain is the only candidate who has the experience and judgment to lead America through the challenges we face at home and abroad," he said.
Reid called this year's primary season "one of the most sensationally positive campaigns in the history of our country" in both parties.
"Look at the Republicans, the quality of candidates they had," he said, naming Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and McCain.
"Now, none of them are my kind of guy. But they are good quality candidates," Reid said.
"And then you go over to the Democrats' side, you had six of the best," he said, naming Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Clinton and Obama."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)