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January 11th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Democrats dismiss Republican call for Reid to step down

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has found himself in political hot water over remarks he made about Barack Obama in 2008.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has found himself in political hot water over remarks he made about Barack Obama in 2008.

Washington (CNN) - The Congressional Black Caucus said Sunday that it had accepted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's apology for a remark he made about Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and dismissed calls for the Nevada Democrat to step down.

Earlier in the day, the chairman of the Republican Party and a leading GOP senator had called on Reid to give up his post.

"Over the years, I have had an opportunity to work with Majority Leader Reid," Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the caucus, said in a statement.

"Senator Reid's record provides a stark contrast to actions of Republicans to block legislation that would benefit poor and minority communities."

Lee added that she looked forward to Reid serving as majority leader.

"There are too many issues like the economy, job creation and energy for these regrettable comments to distract us from the work that must be done on behalf of the American people," she said.

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Filed under: Politics
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Dorothy Schwartz

    I want to thank CNN for going beyone the obvious with Reid's comments, and having thoughtful and aware African-Americans address the issue. What Reid said is the truth and it was about White America, not Black America. Many whites would, in fact, not have voted for a dark -skinned African-American, and would have been uncomfortable with someone who spoke with African-American inflections. The use of the term Negro dialect was outdated and showed insensitivity, but educated Black people are skilled in "dialect-switching" which is an important skill. Michael Steele knows better, and his response showed his pandering to white Republicans.

    January 12, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  2. Roman, Butler, Pa

    I am sure Senator Reid did not intend to be racist. But, boy are the republicans trying to make payday out of it. It just goes to show you how little they know of Me. But, they will learn.

    January 12, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  3. Sam

    No, he should not be forced nor think he has to step down. Everyone in america African american, white, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese...Everyone knew what Sen. Reid meant by saying this. His comment is completlely true and justified. It does not make him a racist. Strip away the comments about skin color or dialect and what you have is simple... " Good Candidate " . Excuse me , but I don't frequently see racists making positive statements whether controversial or politically correct about the race they don't like. Making a spectacle about a comment made over a year ago is ridiculous. How about I make a controversial comment.... Why is there TWO completely black oriented widely broadcast TV networks. I find that racist against Chinese, Hispanic, Whites, Russians.... Stop it everyone.
    Racism is far from being over , but people who are so called trying to make it better, taking words and turning them into a circus don't help the fight against racism. Leaving the past behind and looking towards the future is the help we need. Everyone is equal and should be treated that way, INCLUDED Sen. Harry Reid.

    Pres. Obama has made it very clear that he is forgiving of these comments so everyone needs to back off.

    January 12, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  4. Timmy

    The ONLY reason Obama has forgivin Reid is because whether he likes it or not he needs him to pass his liberal agenda! Shame on Obama for holding his race hostage all in the name of political gain! This is why he will not win re-election! He`s already a lame duck, truth hurts!

    January 12, 2010 at 7:22 am |
  5. Mitchell

    With the double standard such as it is why is this even being reported.

    January 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  6. John

    What a person says in private is how they truly feel, not the public face
    portrayed with a teleprompter/script. This is how Sen Reid feels privately and has no place in the public domain. He should step down – if not – remove him.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  7. Laszlo Hopp

    Senator Reid's comment is a reflection not on the senator himself but on a large segment of today's American Society. As such, it should trigger instrospection of the American people, not the call for his step down.

    Laszlo Hopp

    January 11, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  8. Fran

    Harry Reid apologized for the wrong thing.

    He should not have to apologize for saying something that is true: Sadly, many Americans (black and white) would not have voted for Obama, regardless of his qualifications, if he were not "light-skinned" and "without a Negro dialect."

    Senator Reid - and all of us - should apologize, not just to the president, but to every candidate who doesn't look and sound like Mitt Romney, and to the world, because this is a country where what Reid said is is still true.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  9. Malik Shabazz

    I agree with much of what has already been said. These Republicans are spoiled bunch of so call PERFECT who just cannot recover from the defeat the had at hands of Obama. They seem to want President Obama to fail so badly that they do not care about the real progress of this nation they claim to love. We the people have to put up with their lies & propaganda concerning health care, the ecomomy, & the war in Iraq. Now we must be distracted by this Harry Reid statement which in my opinion is no how as bad as many of them really feel about African Americans. His statement only reflects a reality in the USA. Not everyone agrees with it, but still it is real. As an African American I know for a fact that there are some among us those who perceive that speaking proper English (ie. without slang and/or street vernacular) as being other than BLACK. They as well I & others consider them as being "ghetto" ! This is what Senator Reid was alluding to. I must note that among whites (& no blacks) are those do not speak proper English. Yet, Reid was just pointing out then candidate Obama's appeal to many of this nation's citizens (black, white, red, brown & yellow). What is strange to me is how his track record reflects a man who has been on the side of Blacks while in contrast many Republicans have not. Many of them act as if African Americans have never been the victims of slavery & racism. They have constantly blocked programs meant to help poor people & minorities! We should not allow the GOP to fool us leaving us confused & not focused on real issues!

    January 11, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  10. eek

    this guy knew exactly what he was saying. as a black, liberal, and a democrat i'm offended.

    i don't know what's worse...what he said or the many black people and democrats that are scrambling to defend him. we look like hypocrites right now. this shouldn't be a democrat vs republican thing, either. this is about how some people think about black people. how we have to be almost white and sound a certain way in order to pass.

    its about how some people think black people talk.

    and about how some ppl have no dignity or self worth and won't correct this man or his thinking.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  11. chris

    Besides the double standard issue, in which the ACLU will not even touch. Reid should have been tried for treason for saying that the war was lost while we still had troops on the ground in Iraq. After all is said and done no of this will matter because he'll be out of office in alittle while along with the rest of the Dem. idiots, not that the Rep. are any better but this guy in particular really sucks. He'll be better remembered for a failed Health Care plan that added more Taxes and more debt than any other senate in history.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  12. BigD Snow Bound MN

    What Ever makes "Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh Glenn BecK + Sean Hannity + Karl Rove" Act, Function, Say, Believe, Initiate + Act Out What They Are Not Sure of or Have No "Cure For, Cure For!" (the cowsills)

    What ever it Is that They've Got;
    It's Gotta Be Catchy, No Doubt About it. Catchy- Like A Catchy Tune from the LOONY TUNES Collection on Fox News. "I whistle a Happy Tune, + No-One Will Know that I'm Afraid; or Know that I'm a Republican!"

    January 11, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  13. Ada

    I am not pleased by Senator Reid’s comments and do not believe this means he should step down. Did Biden’s comments bar him from the Vice Presidency? This said my issue this morning is Donna Brazile. I am more disturbed by Ms. Brazile and her “color blind society” comment and the ol’ “look how far we’ve come” rhetoric. Donna, “It ain’t that far! Look over your shoulder. Oh yeah, YOUR SINGULAR DISTANCE has skewed your sight.” Yes, a person of African descent sits in the Oval Office-but life for the marginalized has not changed and attitudes, like that of Sen. Reid are not last century. If they were, we would not be having the conversation. Your comment s “color blind…last century…we’ve come so far…” make calling out racism and working to transform thereof very difficult for us on main street America. Sadly, you (via your comments) have been, on this morning, every bit as harmful to folks of African descent and anti-racism efforts as are the words of Sen. Reid.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  14. Ben Frazier

    Senator Reid made the comment over a year ago. It was reported and discussed.The news is people are reacting to old sins that are being rehashed in a new book. Why don't you ask the Republicans why they were not out upset when he first said it?

    January 11, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  15. Rockspot

    At the risk of being labeled a 'racist' myself, I find discussion of Senator Reid's vocalization of a personal observation of then candidate Obama's personal characteristics refreshing. All this sensationalism promoted in the press only serves to prove the travestry of what's wrong in America today with respect to 'race.' At the risk of being publicly castigated, free speech is suppressed and thus, open discussion relative to perceived racial issues never takes place, perpetuating feelings of rampant racism throughout this nation.

    Senator Reid appoligized and President Obama accepted that appology. That should be the end of this discussion. But that's not good enough for the 'christian' conservatives of the GOP. It appears to me that a large number of the GOP have forgotten a basic tenet of their Christian faiths, taught in their early Sunday School classrooms ... 'turn the other cheek.' Instead of calling for Senator Reid to step down, where are their cries of 'foul' with respect to Senator Ensign who not only broke his sacred vows of marriage, but committed some very serious ethics violations in his attempts to cover up his mess. Where are their cries demanding that he step down and resign from the Senate? Vocalizing an observation is nowhere near the violation as that of breaking one's sacred vows and committing ethics violations!

    January 11, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  16. jack

    The republicans are calling for Reid step down, what a joke. For what they have done, and the outright lies they have told, they should be run out of the country.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  17. laura from willis

    I just don't get it! The Republicans, being the PERFECT GROUP that they are, find it reasonable, acceptable and perfectly fine, that they say NO to the President every day; that they find fault with every step he takes, every move he makes.., however, a person says what a zillion people probably think, apologizes profusely, and is sincere about it..they want to hang TODAY!
    How hypocritical can you get? Why is it okay for John Mc Cain to condemn the way our President handles WAR; Dick Cheney, on Terrorism, and Michael Steele on anything he can think of, but not okay for Democrats to err? At 64, I thought I had seen plenty, but, this take the Cake.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  18. carol

    Well, what's new with the Republican gripes? We will have to listen to this nonsense everyday until they get what they want and I pray to God that will never happen! And, speaking of racist? The majority of this Nation is Racist and what a shame!!

    January 11, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  19. Jan

    When we finally grow-up as a society race will no longer carry so much weight in our daily lives.

    If Senator Reid was not leading the health care reform charge,the GOP would not care what he said one way or another.
    Rocky Branch, TX

    January 11, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  20. Benjamin

    1) it may sound "risky" but is he wrong. I mean seriously, how many mainstream african americans are their in the political field. Sen. Reid spoke professionally and properly, and let's face it, negro and african american is just like white and caucasion. 2) Is he really sorry he said what he said, or is he just sorry his phrase was leaked. 3) Would their be this problem if an African American individual spoke this way about a middle aged white male? So once again I challenge you, is Sen. Reid wrong

    January 11, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  21. Tony McGuire

    I watch your newscast every morning and several times during the day and night and I love your news reporting. On this comment by Harry Reid. If the President has moved on and don't have a problem with this, then everyone else should move on also. As far as the Republicans thoughts, who cares what they think. They didn't do anything for the years they controlled the White House, except run the U.S. in a ditch, and they have done absolutely nothing in the past year. The republicans are getting paid to do a job for their voters and I think they should give the voters a refund on their money. They have absolutely no room to talk about anyone and they don't have the knowledge to talk about much on any other topic. Thanks for letting me vent.

    January 11, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  22. Jeanne

    When, oh when, will our media realize that it is part of America? From what I've heard, it seems they are the ENEMIES, trying to create chaos and resentment amongst the people in the hopes of making money. Wake up. Negative brings about negative and positive brings about positive. How about being part of the solution instead of part of the problem CNN? This isn't a democratic issue...remember history. Reid will stay and well he should!

    January 11, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  23. Scott Stodden

    Stop it Republicans I demand that you stop the madness! Senator Harry Reid should definitly apologize for what he said I will admit that as a Democrat but what he said should not get him removed from office or his leadership position. Senator Reid is a wonderful man who in my opinion didn't realize what he was saying, all he meant is that President Obama isn't like your everyday black people in this country but he could be if he wanted to be that's all Senator Reid was trying to say so should he be removed from office for that? I don't think so and if it was a problem why wasn't he removed from office or brought up in 2008 this is Michael Steele and the Republicans at its finest.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    January 11, 2010 at 8:09 am |