Democrats Defend Harry Reid’s Racist Statement
Senator Harry Reid, a key figure in pushing Obama’s agenda through Congress, apologized to the president over remarks published in a new book calling Obama a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Reid should step aside as Senate majority leader, saying if a Republican made the same remarks Democrats would be “screaming for his head.”
“Oh yeah, there’s a big double standard here,” Steele, who is black, said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
“There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it’s racism,” Steele added on “Fox News Sunday.”
Reid on Saturday apologized for “using such a poor choice of words.” Obama issued a statement accepting the apology.
“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” said Reid in a statement. “I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments.”
President Obama said in a statement that he and Reid had spoken about the matter on Saturday afternoon. “I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart,” said Obama. “As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.”
Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine said “the comments were unfortunate and they were insensitive,” but he said there is no reason for Reid to step down as majority leader.
“I think the case is closed because President Obama has spoken directly with the leader (Reid) and accepted his apology. We’re moving on,” Kaine told “Meet the Press.”
“Harry Reid made a misstatement. He owned up to it. He apologized. I think he is mortified by the statement he’s made. And I don’t think he should step down,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed told “Fox News Sunday.”
Republicans compared Reid’s remarks to those made in 2002 by Republican Trent Lott, praising former segregationist presidential candidate and long-time senator Strom Thurmond. Lott stepped down as Senate majority leader over the comments.
“If he (Lott) should resign, then Harry Reid should,” Republican Senator Jon Kyl told “Fox News Sunday.”
The controversy should help undermine Reid’s influence in the Senate and his re-election battle in Nevada this November.