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Harry Reid Worries About '17 Angry Old White Men' Buying The Nation

Add another line to the list of memorable quotes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

On Monday, the Nevada Democrat was on the Senate floor defending Democratic-backed campaign-finance legislation known as the DISCLOSE Act when he uttered the following thought (the relevant passage starts at the 8:00 mark in this C-SPAN video):

"Perhaps Republicans want to shield a handful of billionaires willing to contribute nine figures to sway a close presidential election. ... If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they just bought the country. That's a sad commentary.

"About 60 percent, or more, of these outside dollars are coming from these 17 people ..."

In a world of highly calibrated political messaging, it would be difficult to find a politician less likely to deliver safe, poll-tested lines than Reid, who has raised eyebrows with statements like the one in 2008 in which he said then-presidential candidate Barack Obama benefited from having "no Negro dialect." Then there's the one from 2005, when he called President George W. Bush a "loser."

Reid didn't name names when it came to the 17, but he apparently was referring to a March 2012 Politico story which cited the donors including Foster Friess, who during the GOP primaries supported Rick Santorum, and Sheldon Adelson, who dumped tens of millions into a superPAC backing Newt Gingrich.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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