The big question today is which Senate race is Harry Reid trying hardest to lose — Delaware, New York, or his own?  First he calls Delaware nominee Chris Coons his “pet,” and then Reid takes the pet idea to a new Penthouse level with Kirsten Gillibrand, who didn’t exactly appreciate the attention:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had an unusual form of praise for New York’s junior senator, Kirsten  Gillibrand, this morning at the fundraiser Mayor Bloomberg hosted for him at his townhouse – referring to her as “the hottest member” as she sat just a few feet away, according to three sources.

The comment prompted Gillibrand to turn red, according to the sources, and created a bit of stir among the small crowd there.

“It was pretty shocking when he said it,” said one source familiar with the remark and the reaction.

Not even Reid’s intrepid spokesman Jim Manley could defend his boss:

Reid spokesman Jim Manley, reached by POLITICO, said, “What can I say, she made The Hilll’s ‘Most Beautiful list. Of course he also went on to praise her skill and tenacity and described her as an effective member of the New York delegation as well.”

Nice try.  Reid did manage to follow up his “hottest member” remark with praise that Gillibrand knew some policy issues better than some other people, as Politico reports it:

He also then discussed her knowledge of securities law as extremely deep, and suggested she was better on certain policy elements than other people, according to the sources.

After nearly two years in the Senate, that’s as much praise as Reid can rustle up for Gillibrand?  She would have been better off had Reid said nothing — or perhaps better off had he not showed up at all.

It’s doubtful that Reid’s remarks will damage Gillibrand’s chances for victory in New York, but his remarks about Coons has already gone into Christine O’Donnell’s advertising painting Coons as Reid’s lackey.  The real damage, though, may be done not in these two states but back home in Nevada.  Reid had tried gaining traction against Sharron Angle by painting her as an extremist given to odd public statements.  These two strange and somewhat creepy endorsements may have Nevada voters wondering whether Reid is the oddball that needs to be kept as far from Washington as possible.