Liberal Sen. Jack Reed, Hero of Homeowners and the Homeless

Reporter David Herszenhorn certainly is friendlywith prominent Congressional Democrats. On Tuesday he followed up his May 13 profile of liberal Democrat Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts with an even more worshipful sketch of anti-war liberal Democrat Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, savior of homeowners and the homeless, in "A Quiet Dealmaker Works For Pained Homeowners."

(Profiles by the Times of Republican leaders have been slightly less glowing.)

Herszenhorn began:

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a studious, introverted former Army Ranger, is one of the Democratic Party's eminent voices on military affairs. But in neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures, like the West End of Providence, it is Mr. Reed's lesser-known expertise on housing policy that is proving critical these days.


Mr. Reed, 58, is perhaps best known for his repeated efforts last year to set a deadline for the withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, but his diminutive height - 5 feet 7 inches on a good day, he says - makes his Special Forces background seem both improbable and all the more intimidating.

He has taken frequent trips to Iraq on which he goes out in the field with troops and surveys territory and operations that would most likely be off limits were it not for his close relationships with so many commanders.

Mr. Reed is a former paratrooper retired from active duty as a captain, did time as a professor at West Point and is a member of the academy's Board of Overseers. All in all, his military credentials have some Democrats speculating about him as a potential vice-presidential nominee or, more likely, as a secretary of defense in an Obama administration.

The Times lets Reed paint himself in just-folks terms:

Mr. Reed attributes some of his interest in housing issues to his own experience of growing up in Cranston, R.I., where his father was a school janitor and later a custodial supervisor for the school system. His family, including an older brother and younger sister, lived in a house with his aunt and his grandfather. Home was always a safe, stable place, he said.

In 2005, Mr. Reed married Julia Hart, a staff member in a Senate office that arranges foreign trips for lawmakers. The ceremony was at West Point. They have a 17-month-old daughter, Emily. As a state lawmaker in the 1980s, Mr. Reed led a commission that investigated a corruption scandal involving the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation, a state agency that was supposed to make affordable loans to low-income Rhode Islanders. Mr. Reed at the time was able to hire a single staff member, Neil Campbell, who has worked for him ever since and is now his chief of staff in the Senate.

In 1989, as he prepared to run for Congress, Mr. Reed went to Washington to join a march against homelessness, an issue that continues to be a priority.