“Here is how I feel about this: I do not think that anybody — Bernie Sanders or anyone else — should simply get the nomination because they have 30 percent of the delegates and no one else has that many,” Reid said in an interview in his office at the Bellagio, where he has a post with the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute. “Let’s say that he has 35 percent. Well, 65 percent he doesn’t have, or that person doesn’t have. I think that we have to let the system work its way out. I do not believe anyone should get the nomination unless they have 50-[percent]-plus-one.”
Some political statisticians have suggested in recent days that with the more moderate lane clogged with at least four candidates, Sanders would continue to collect the most delegates through the March 3 Super Tuesday primaries and emerge in such a strong position that no one would be able catch him.
Reid, who retired in early January 2017, said that the more establishment favorite candidates have the ability to broker a pact that, if they agreed on one candidate, would block Sanders from the nomination.
“A lot of this will work its way out. A lot people in the race still, but they’ll be dropping off quick, because the money is running out. So I think you’re going to have the field winnowing fairly quickly,” Reid said. “And you have most of the people who are not Bernie Sanders, are people who are moderates, and maybe they’ll work something out to get together and try to find that one person who can come up with the number of delegates. Maybe that’s one way to do it.”
Reid’s comments came as Sanders appears to have a commanding lead in the Nevada caucus, which is slated to be complete on Saturday. A victory here would give Sanders two outright wins, including New Hampshire last week, and a virtual tie in Iowa Feb. 3, sending him to South Carolina Feb. 29 and then to Super Tuesday with momentum.
While Reid praised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “on fire” with her Wednesday debate performance, he noted that more than 70,000 Democrats in Nevada had already voted early before that debate, suggesting she will not get as big a bump from the way she went after former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Democratic strategists have begun to fear that Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, at the top of the ticket would prove untenable against President Trump in the general election, hurting candidates down the ballot.
Reid said that he is not sure who could broker the peace in such a scenario, which could leave supporters of Sanders embittered particularly after they have argued the deck was stacked against him in his 2016 race.
Former president Barack Obama would not be likely to play such a role. “I talk to him, but it’s not his cup of tea, I can’t see him doing that. I know him pretty well,” Reid said.
As usual, Reid was blunt in his assessment and offered no apologies to supporters of Sanders or any potential candidate who does not get more than 50 percent on the first ballot in Milwaukee.
“Well — but that’s how I feel about it,” Reid said. “I just don’t think you can give the nomination to somebody who has 65 percent of the people that made a different decision.”