January 11th, 2010
08:52 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Sen. Reid Under Fire

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/01/11/reid.obama/t1larg.jpg caption="Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has found himself in political hot water over remarks he made about Barack Obama in 2008." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has apologized for his comments in 2008 of then candidate Barack Obama as a "light-skinned" African-American with no Negro dialect" and now he wants to move on.

The comment was published in the new book "Game Change," which went on sale today.

But several Republicans, including the chairman of the RNC Michael Steele, don't agree with Reid. They want him to step down.

"The thing about it that's interesting is that when Democrats get caught saying racist things you know, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell (current Senate GOP Leader) saying that about an African-American candidate for President of the U.S., trust me, this Chairman and the DNC would be screaming for his head very much as they were with Trent Lott," Steele said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Trent Lott was forced to step down as Senate Majority Leader in 2002 after saying the nation would have been better off if voters had elected Strom Thurmond President in 1948, who at the time supported segregation.

Do you think Reid should step down? Share your thoughts below.

Pres. Obama has come to Reid's defense.

"This is a good man who's always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense. He apologized, recognizing that he didn't use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean-spirited in what he had to say and he's always been on the right side of the issues, " Pres. Obama told CNN's Roland Martin this afternoon.

Tonight we'll talk with the authors of "Game Change", Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. They offer insight on Reid's comments and reveal secrets from the 2008 campaign trail. Hear how Pres. Obama talked Hillary Clinton into taking the Secretary of State job, how former Pres. Bill Clinton tried to get Sen. Ted Kennedy's to endorse his wife's campaign and more.

On the terror front, CNN's Paula Newton has an exclusive report from Yemen. She talked with the anguished father of Anwar al-Awlaki, who says his son is an all-American boy and not the new Osama bin Laden. But we have new information tonight about just how important a player al-Awlaki is for al Qaeda in Yemen, including his ties to the Christmas bomb plot in the skies over Detroit.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Cathy

    Regardless of whether Sen. Reid was speaking the truth, it is still a double standard. A republican would have been crucified and labeled as a racist.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  2. randy robison

    If it's a compliment to say someone is "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect unless he wants one" then the converse has to be true, which would be that it's an insult to say someone is "dark-skinned" and "with a Negro accent." It's an insult to common sense to pretend it's not derogatory to a specific segment of Americans and clearly based on race.

    As for Reid's resignation, we just need some consistency. Either nobody resigns for racial insults or everyone resigns.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  3. Nkenge

    Black people have been having this discussion for years. It doesn't become an identified issue until white republicans bring it up. Thank you Harry Reid. Also lighter black people will more readily deny that such colorism exists.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  4. armida spada-mcdougall

    Much ado about nothing! It was a remark....why are we trying to read more into it than there is? It seems people have nothing to worry about if you have to pick up on an innocuous remark. What about the 2 wars youre in? what about people being foreclosed? what about the double digit unemployment. Ive got a bit of advice for what its worth. People should be going after the billions being given to EO's, whether they deserve it or not. Now wouldnt that be a novelty?

    Leave poor Harry Reid alone. Hes a good, decent, honest man. Quit skewering him. Its gone on for days now. Its a little ridiculous, or so it seems from north of the border here.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  5. Dave

    Anderson, this is so ludicrious. I don't feel "Most" African Americans would even blink about Senator Reids comment. It just appears as another political ploy that opposition like to make an issue of.
    I lived in Hawaii for many years. As anyone knows from any part of the world, many Hawaiians speak in "Pegion," It's down to a basic comfort zone that when Hawaiians want to speak pegion, some can turn it on and off like a light switch when around other Hawaiians and turn it off when around Haole's(White People).
    This whole issue is so offensive to me. Our politicians waste more time on things like this than getting bills passed or stopped.
    When will our elected officials stop playing games like this and get the work done they were chosen for.
    Thank you,

    January 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  6. M

    I think those comments just show his age - the term he used is no longer used in media or in regular conversation. As a high school teacher, I can tell you I have yet to hear that term, or its much more offensive n-word counterpart, come out of any student's mouth. Apart from the two modern references Barbara mentioned, the term Reid used is gone. I guess I'm saying - get over his word use. We have a great president.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  7. Antonio

    We need to talk more about race in America. We still havea long way to go, and i agree we are a nation of cowards. Why cant we talk about race in America.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  8. Lauren

    As an African American college student I feel is comment was rude, but at the same time I completely understand what he was saying. Was it his place no but I don't think theirs a need to step down. The negro was a bit unnecessary. As far as republicans comments I think it depends on history of the person.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  9. Chris Armstrong

    Sen. Reid did the right thing and apologized and President Obama did the right thing and accepted the apology. Americans need to do the right thing and follow the President's example. That is taking a step away from racism.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  10. Dawn

    Thank you Barbara.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  11. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Reid's comments were true. Race did help elect Obama. The reaction on the left is pure hypocrisy. Apparently the same action by a political ally (a Democrat) gets glossed over, while a political enemy ( a Republican) would be beheaded.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  12. Maria-Miami

    If blacks are not offended by Reid's comment then I shouldn't be offended either and yet I am. However, blacks have taught me today to next time not get involved in standing up for blacks when another racist comment/joke/label is made towards blacks because blacks don't care about self respect like I care and many other Whites/Hispanics care. How can we take blacks serious in the future about wanting equality, self respect? Why should Reid resign when blacks are OK with his racist, cruel, rude remarks about them?

    January 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  13. Naomi

    I agree with President Obama. Sen. Reid's comment was not malicious. Reid is an honest man with a good history and clearly good intentions. His comment was clearly made in relation to the attitudes and beliefs of the general population. Frankly, if most overheard the comment while walking by, one could not help but think "Yes. That is true." Thus, its best not to take his comment out of context. It'd serve everyone well to not be distracted by political games.- There are more pressing issues that require urgent attention. I'm not white and neither believe Reid's statement is racist or that he should resign.

    January 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Tabot

    interesting to to say, but true of course. Leave Sen. Reid alone. He is right, right as if calling your fat girlfriend, fat. It just does not make her more or less fat, just not something she wants to hear.she definitely will accept your apologies, but don't make it a habit.
    on the other hand, if someone from outside (hint: the other guy) calls her fat, she might react differently. is that double standard?maybe...so be it. marry her,maybe she will treat you to a single standard.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  15. Barbara G. Collins

    As a Black "Negro" female, I am not offended when I hear the word
    "Negro". Sen. Reid should not be under fire for having used the word!!!

    To those "Blacks" and others who are faulting Sen. Reid for the use
    of the word - are you offended when you sing the "Negro National
    Anthem" or refer to the "National Negro College Fund", etc.????

    Let's get real, America - We have so many more important things
    to do and/or be offended by!!!!!!!

    January 11, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Jo Bice

    Senator Reid's comments were neither untrue nor meant as a put-down. At the time he made the comment his focus was on choosing a winning candidate for his party, and let's face it – there are many factors to consider. Why is it racist to address the issue of race rather than tiptoing around it? I'd love to hear what these Republicans say behind closed doors on the same subject.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  17. carla

    he is not as rich as obl...he went there it is not a mistake.......he is in the terror gang

    January 11, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  18. carla

    you know harry should save his money and not run for re-election

    January 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  19. bev

    Sen Reid's comments show his age more than anything else.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  20. Cassandra Kendrick

    Regarding Senator Reid & race in America. I had the privilege to attend the Presidential Inauguration. It was truly amazing to witness and take part in what the world witnessed that day-irrespective of race, color or creed, we united together as one.

    I have never to my recollection been treated with the utmost dignity & respect as on that spectacular day. Doors were opened for you, strangers repeatedly said "please & thank you" irregardless of the color of one's skin. We stood close together on the National Mall as cold as it was. People were so harmonious. We helped one another. We made it happen on 1/20/09, we certainly can continue and press forward to become "One Nation Under God."

    January 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  21. naida desavoy

    I' ve lived long enough to know , that Senator Reids comment is true ,after all we do live in the US, need I say more

    January 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  22. kenneth

    We , The People ought to be offended by the way too many politicians manipulate U.S. (US)....Our money, Our quality of life,intelligence, and most of all OUR time.....

    January 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  23. Nick Selvan

    I dont think that Senator Reid should step down for misphrasing the words. There is a big difference between the comments that was made by Sen Trent Lott and Sen Harry Reid. Sen Lott's comment was more on regretting that that African american got civil rights, and somewhat meaning that it should have been prevented. Sen Reid appologized and accepted, everyone should move on, and resolve major problems facing the nation and repulicans should learn to look at problems with a view to solve it, than trying to use it to attack democrats with it. Michael Steele was elected to RNC after Obama was elected, otherwise he ever would have had a chance to be in that position.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  24. Gerry Panzica

    Let;s face it! The reason the Republicans want Harry Reid out is because of the health care bill. Harry is the driving force and the 60th vote. The Republicans will do anything to stop it. It comes down to politics, It always does.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  25. Richard Lear

    If we were all forced to quit our jobs every time we said something wrong about someone or something there would be no one left to work. It would be better if the politicians stopped the mud-slinging and spinning that tears lives apart. Even better, stop career politicians who only care about remaining in congress and not protecting the rights of the people. Put term limits on every political position.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  26. Kemar White

    Eventhough it is true that people throughout the world maybe vote for a person due to race, we must realise that a person's race has nothing to do with how that person will preform their duty. I honestly believe that Reid shouldn't have mentioned anything to do with Mr. Obama's race. I realise that everything there is a vote that people do say ugly and dangerous things just to gain the people's trust. There are still many places in the world which are supporters of racism and it is our job as human beings to stand up for what is right and show those people that we are the same weather or not our skin is another colour or the fact that we may speak differently. However I must say, that in the end of this at else Reid apologized to Mr Obama after which Mr. Obama stated no one should cry down Reid by asking him to quit his job. In life we must lean to forgive and move on but most of all never replay the same situation again, I hope people throughout the world will lean a lession here which is to think before you speak and I asure you that this will never happen again.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  27. Lenny

    Harry Reid should not step down. Although it was somewhat sensitive. It is the truth. Even Joe Bieden misspoke during the primary. Quote "He Obama) is a bright and alticulate fellow." If you will note also the majority of television media personel both mexicans and black newscasters are light skin.

    One of the things I would iike to point out being from New Orleans, it is quite common for New Orleanian with lighter skiner have a common tenative to be bias toward darker skin Orleans.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  28. David Rosati

    Sen Reid should resign. I think both comments, Sen Lott and Sen Reid, were both in poor taste, more so because both men are experienced politicians. There is a double standard. Democrats in this juncture are more concerned about power than paying a price for bad taste in semantics. In order to stabalize relations in race, one should pay a price, regardless of party for poor choice of words. If not, people would harbor thoughts that would only perpetuate such feelings

    January 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  29. Michelle R.

    The fact is Reid is a prominent and experienced politician who needs to be held accountable for his words and actions. No, he is not a malicious man and has a good record but let's be realistic. A Republican senator would never get away with this. I am tired of these increasingly lame excuses for outrageous behavior on both sides. We have to have some sort of standards and hold the people representing "the people" accountable for them.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  30. Karen, Charlotte, NC

    I don't think that Senator Reid needs to resign. He could have said it better, but I happen to be an AA woman that thinks he was right in what he said.

    I think that this is something that we need to discuss as a nation, maybe then, we will start to function as Americans first and foremost.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  31. Leta

    Anderson, there is no surprise there about the light-skinned being the previledged. I come from Ethiopia. The lighter your skin the better you look even in Africa, even among people who never saw white people before. That is just how it is.
    However, Reid should have been a little more sensitive about using his words. "Negro" is still associated with negativity.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  32. Rosemary Ramirez

    No I don't think Sen. Reid should step down but I do agree that if a Republican senator had made the comment then he would have been forced to step down.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  33. Wilma

    There is no reason to be so negative about his comments. He only made a comment about how he viewed the electorate. It was not quoted to be his desire. I do not view this as a racist comment. Do we not have more important issues to debate?

    January 11, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  34. Luis

    anderson, i'm a afro-latino and the sen. simply said what everyone is thinking. i live in philadelphia which basically is an african american city
    and african americans are doing to the latinos that white folks did to them. its a sad reality that we have to live with

    January 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  35. JAY_WILL

    Mr. Reid should not resign. Why? He knows what we all know. Play the role and you stand a chance to succeed. I am a "light-skinned, educated, black man with no 'negro' dialect. I have friends that have my background. We know the rules of engagement when dealing in the world of business. We know many 'brothers and sisters' that refuse to compromise and play the game. They are currently on the corner.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  36. Dawn

    Sorry Gene. I am not a racist, I am a pasty white girl that voted for Palin. Twice. Ugh. Just another pasty white girl. Drop it. Can't we just get along and praise our differences? Harry Reid shouldn't even apologize for his statements. He is correct. O'Bama's wife is on the cover of magazines. Not ugly! She is darker than her husband.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  37. Donald Grant

    I dont think he should resign but we need to understand that this is indicative of the racism that may neither be intentional or malicious that runs unfettered through out our country. As a young African American male psychologist, i see the impact daily...when some one comes into my office looking for "Dr. Grant" and i come out...the surprise on their faces. When my graduate students tell me that i am articulate and that I speak well...not malicious but racist no less (they would not feel inclined to say that to a White professor). We need an open dialogue about these things to effectively remedy the messages, images and aspects of this country that promote such an environment. All races are impacted by this phenomenon. i look fwd to leading this discussion...Soledad, sorry but Michelle Obama has changed nothing!! People resolve their dissonance by putting her in a different box (she's not like other black women)...the Omarosa effect trumps the Michelle effect in the general public.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  38. roy

    If an american presidential candidate spoke with a red neck accent he would not be elected president . So maybe it is not the color of their skin but if we believe that an educated candidate can lead a country

    January 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  39. Dennis

    Lets get over this everyone has some level of stereotype in them, all politicians speak different, have different events, and act different depending on where they are at.

    When I first saw Obama and listen to him – I was very impressed, but I thought he will get nowhere if he is married to a tall white, blonde.

    Truth hurts - people react in different ways......most is not meant to be hurtful - we still have a long way to go! I voted for Obama and will again.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  40. Mary

    I don't think he should have to step down. Even though it was a comment made maybe "saying the wrong thing" trying to praise someone we shouldn't look at one thing and "kick him out". It's been quiet for a little while with no gossip and every time that happens every one starts digging for dirt on any one they can. It's childish and stupid the person he was talking about is not offended so why should any one else be. Get over it and move on. Racism is still on both sides of the fence white and black get over you skin color and get over the past. You don't see Jewish people freaking out at every turn and the Holocaust was the worst thing to happen to any race in the history of the WORLD!!!!! GET OVER IT!!!

    January 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  41. Chris

    Sen. Reid was stating a political fact. However inappropriate it maybe, Pres. Obama is not the typical black man. So no, Sen. Reid should not step down.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  42. Mark Spencer

    When I was dating a white college professor I became friends with one of her black students. He admitted to me one night when we had been drinking a bit that he had to remember not to use his "other" dialect because he was at a party at his teacher's house.

    Even Hillary tried it out didn't she? Not with very much success I might add, comparing herself to slaves. I have never seen Obama do it.

    And what is this deal, with pols saying other pols are playing politics? Are not they all playing politics, isn't that not only what they say, but what they are?

    Like I fail to see the difference between Sen. Nelson and Blogovich except Blago was asking for peanuts.....

    Double standards, from Wall Street to D.C. That is why the American people are sick of these people. Reid told the honest truth and now we should throw him out of his position?

    I thought we wanted them to be honest?

    Sign me confused in America......

    January 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  43. Gabriel Gonzalez

    Harry Reid's comment is quite true, i believe his remark about Negro Dialect refers to speech pattern that reflect lack of education particularly in english phrasiology. Let us be real racism is very prevelent still, it will never go away by law but by changes of Heart.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  44. Alex Coyle

    Though Senator Reid was blunt in his phrasing of his opinion of Obama, he is completely and utterly correct. There are studies that show light skinned black Americans are preferred over other darker colered ones. Granted, Reid has apologized and Obama has not taken offense to this statement, if the Presedent of the USA does not take offence to something (mind you that this statement was racist and directed towards the President), America should not make this such a big deal. Reid apologized and lets move on, there are more important issues and controversies going on in America.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  45. Nancy Scroggs

    will the republicans stop at nothing in order to overcome a filibuster -proof congress?

    January 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  46. Dawn

    I think his statement is correct. And any race is going to put their best man in. He won votes on from both races. They are spending waaaay too much time on this stuff.

    January 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  47. Gene

    If obama is not light-skinned and hav negro dialet,he wldnt hav gotten the opportunity i guess? Unknown to reid he just told the world he is a racist and sorry we dnt need em!

    January 11, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  48. Sherry N. Calif.

    No, I do not think Sen. Reid should step down. He spoke the truth. Dialogue about race should be out on the table. Americans need to start drinking the coffee (anti-oxidant) and wake up to problems we have ignored way to long.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  49. Ethel

    Sen. Reid should not resign because of his comments. The comments, at best, were inappropriate and tasteless. However, this is not to be equated with the comments that led to Trent Lott's resignation. Trent Lott's comments' were inapposite to the US Constitution – the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the US Supreme Court. Sen. Reid has only embarrassed himself and his family. It is not against the law to make inappropriate, stereotypical comments about African Americans. However, it is against the law to deny African Americans their Constitutional rights because of their race.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  50. Annie Kate

    I don't think Reid should step down. Obama is right – one inartful comment should not bring the downfall of someone who is on the "right" side of issues (according to Obama) and who was trying to praise Obama at the time the comment was made. Its getting where no one can do or say anything in this country without someone saying "Off with their heads". Instead of making mountains out of molehills everyone should be working on this country's problems.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
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