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Sen. Mark Pryor said Wednesday that he’ll support Harry Reid to lead Senate Democrats again, saying that “it’s not just the two leaders” who are part of the gridlock problem in Washington.
“I would say that I would support Harry Reid if he runs for leader,” he told NBC News in an interview.
Several Democrats have declined to say whether they’ll back Reid, whose unpopularity rivals that of the president. But Pryor was emphatic in saying that blame for D.C.’s dysfunction shouldn’t begin and end with Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
“I would say that everybody’s a part of the problem in Washington,” he said. “And it’s just not the two leaders—I mean, certainly, they’re part of it—but all 100 Senators are a part of the problem. And we need to own up to our responsibility there and we need to work with each other and there are times when we need to buck our leaders and buck our parties and do the right thing for the country.”
Pryor acknowledged a “deterioration” in the comity of the Senate but highlighted his history of bipartisanship, arguing that Arkansas voters know about that record.
“People here, they’re as frustrated with Washington as anybody in the country, they are,” he said. “But they’re not frustrated with me because they know I’ve tried. I’ve tried bringing people together, I’ve been part of many, many bipartisan agreements, including re-opening the government a year or two ago.”
The Arkansas Democrat, who’s in a neck-and-neck race with Republican Tom Cotton, had less optimistic words about the president, from whom he’s worked to distance himself.
“I wish that he was more in touch with rural America,” he lamented, saying that he “hasn’t sugarcoated my disappointment” in Obama.
Asked if he thinks Obama doesn't understand rural America, Pryor responded "well, just how the whole country works. Not just parts of it, but the whole country."
But, he added, “from my standpoint, it doesn’t matter as much who’s in the White House or who’s even in control of the Senate, let’s just work together and get it done.”