Barack Obama Shares His Last Letter to Harry Reid: 'I Wouldn't Have Been President' Without You

·4 min read
Barack Obama shared his last letter to harry Reid
Barack Obama shared his last letter to harry Reid

Ethan Miller/Getty

Barack Obama is mourning the loss of former Nevada senator Harry Reid, who died on Tuesday at the age of 82.

The former president, 60, tweeted a heartfelt tribute to his friend and political ally — who was instrumental in helping him pass various key pieces of legislation during his administration — and included an emotional letter he wrote Reid in his final days.

"When Harry Reid was nearing the end, his wife Landra asked some of us to share letters that she could read to him. In lieu of a statement, here's what I wrote to my friend," Obama said in the tweet that included a photo of the pair along with the letter.

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"Here's what I want you to know," Obama wrote to Reid in the letter. "You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn't have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn't have gotten most of what I got done without your skill and determination."

"Most of all, you've been a good friend," he continued. "As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other – a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team."

"Enjoy your family, and know that you are loved by a lot of people, including me," he concluded. "The world is better cause of what you've done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from [Reid's birthplace] Searchlight."

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Reid, regarded as one of the most influential politicians in Nevada's history, died Tuesday after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

He had previously declared himself cancer-free in the summer of 2020 following an experimental treatment.

During his long and decorated political career, Reid served as U.S. Senator for Nevada for three decades, from 1987 until 2017.

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During that time, he was elected Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015 and helped pass legislation including Obama's Affordable Care Act as well as the Dodd-Frank Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which were both meant to aid in the country's recovery after the 2008 recession.

Other notable politicians to pay tribute to Reid on Tuesday included current Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who called him "tough-as-nails strong" in a tweeted statement on Tuesday.

"Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I've ever met," Schumer also said in his statement. "He was my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends."

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Former U.S. president Bill Clinton also honored the late politician in a joint statement with his wife, Hillary Clinton.

"Hillary and I mourn the passing of Harry Reid, one of the most effective Senate leaders our country has ever known," Clinton wrote on Twitter.

In the attached statement, Clinton called Reid "a canny and tough negotiator who was never afraid to make an unpopular decision if it meant getting something done that was right for the country."