Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted Wednesday he's committed to building consensus with Senate Republicans, telling reporters he is "begging for Republican input."
But the man who had to come from behind to retain his Senate seat also criticized his GOP counterparts for obstructing much of the legislative agenda Democrats laid out in the last two years.
Reid acknowledged the Republican takeover of the House and gains in the Senate mean there's a new political reality on Capitol Hill and said that collaboration is in order. But, he said, Republicans could have already been cooperating.
"I think that every piece of legislation that we passed had to jump through all the procedural hoops to do. Each one of those we could have improved the legislation with some Republican input, but they simply weren't willing to work with us. That is where they came up with the designation of the party of no," he told reporters at a news conference.
"I have always felt that my job is to build consensus, to work out legislation," he said. "It's not a bad word to suggest that legislation is the art of compromise. That is what it is. So I am going to do everything I can to do that."
Asked three times what he would do differently, including moving the party's agenda to the right to achieve some compromise, Reid said he welcomes GOP ideas but maintained that to date Republicans haven't been willing to come to the table.
"I don't think this is a question of right or left. It's a question of doing the best thing for the American people." He said he would welcome "serious Republican ideas" but again criticized them for not working to build bipartisan bills on Wall Street reform, environmental and national service legislation.
Reid used a question about his victory strategy as an opening to unleash an attack on the media.
"We've got to do something about these misleading polls that are all over the country. They are so unfair, and you just gobble them up no matter where they come from. You just run with them like they are the finest pastry in the world. They're false and misleading, and people pay for those polls so you will use them," he said.
A series of polls commissioned by media outlets in the last weeks showed his race against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle a dead heat or gave Angle a small advantage.
"I told people for weeks I was comfortable with where I was with the polls. But every poll showed me losing, and I was comfortable," he said.
So how did Reid, with high negatives in the state with the largest unemployment, manage to pull out a five point decisive victory? In his press conference he touted the Hispanic turnout, which was about 17 percent - higher than anticipated. It appears the Angle campaign alienated some Latino voters by running ads that cast Hispanic looking people as lawbreakers and angered others with a gaffe in which the candidate said some students at a Hispanic high school "look Asian."
Another key to the Reid's victory was the Democrats' statewide get-out-the-vote operation. He went into Election Day with a healthy lead in the early vote that proved valuable when turnout on Election Day was lighter in the state than anticipated. Reid did well in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, and he also beat Angle in her home area of Washoe County in the northern part of the state.
The day after election was not a day of rest for the majority leader. He faces the perils of pursuing the Democrats' agenda with a bare majority. With only a few hours of sleep, he did the morning talk show circuit at 4 a.m. Then he did a conference call with fellow Senate Democrats, and followed that with the news conference and a telephone briefing for reporters with other members of the Senate Democratic leadership.