Barack Obama Shares Final Letter He Sent to Harry Reid: ‘You Were a Great Leader’

The former president honored the former Senate majority leader following his death

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama shared a tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid late Tuesday night following the Nevada Democrat’s death. In an Instagram caption, he explained that Reid’s wife asked friends to write letters she could read out loud to him toward the end of his life. Obama shared his letter alongside a photo of the two of them laughing.

“Here’s what I want you to know. 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 got most of what I got done without your skill and determination,” Obama said.

He went on, “Most of all, you’ve been a good friend. 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.”

Reid died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 82 after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He served as Senate Majority Leader for eight years and was a senator for Nevada from 1987 to 2017. In the final two years of his Senate career, he served as his party’s minority leader and was also minority and majority whip throughout his time in office. He was elected to the House in 1983 after serving as chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Lieutenant Governor of Nevada and a member of the Nevada Assembly, to which he was first elected in 1969.

He was known for being outspoken and hardworking. Prior to leaving the Senate, he issued a scathing statement on the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016, calling the Republican “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.”

Obama ended his letter with a nod to Reid’s lifelong roots in Searchlight, Nevada: “Enjoy your family, and know you are loved by a lot of people, including me. The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.”