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Obama told Sen. Reid, 'I have a gift'

In a new epilogue to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's book, "The Good Fight," Reid writes that after complimenting then-senator Barack Obama on a speech, Obama told him: 'I have a gift, Harry.'
Obama on Obama
A book written by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is out in paperback next month.Lauren Victoria Burke / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Everyone knows President Barack Obama can deliver a great speech, including the president himself, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The paperback version of Reid's book, "The Good Fight," is coming out May 5 with an epilogue called "The Obama Era." Reid said he was impressed when Obama, then a freshman senator from Illinois, delivered a speech about President George W. Bush's war policy.

Reid, D-Nev., writes: "'That speech was phenomenal, Barack,' I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: 'I have a gift, Harry.'"

Not bragging
A copy of the book's 15-page epilogue was provided to The Associated Press. Reid said in an interview he hesitated about citing Obama's comment because he knew it could be interpreted as bragging.

"To be honest, my wife, she said, 'don't tell people that,'" Reid recalled. "She's afraid it could be taken the wrong way. But she's heard me tell lots of people that, and everytime she goes 'don't do that.' Now it's there for thousands of people to read."

Reid said in the book that he talked to Obama in 2006 about running for president, and that Obama expressed doubts about his ability to win.

"I was resolved to stay neutral in the coming campaign, but I told him that in my view the stars could align for him. 'If you want to be president, you can be president now,' I said. 'I don't know, Harry,' he said. 'I don't think so.'"

Lieberman decision made for vote
Reid also explained why, after the presidential election, he decided against removing Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Lieberman had campaigned for the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.

"This decision had not so much to do with forgiveness as it did with simple math," Reid wrote. "Years of counting votes in the Senate had taught me that you never take a vote for granted."

He said Monday that many groups are still mad at him for that decision. "But they don't have to count the votes," Reid said. "I do."