December 8th, 2009
12:37 PM ET
6 months ago

GOP head demands apology for slavery remark

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have 'nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery.'
RNC Chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have 'nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery.'

(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Tuesday demanded that the Senate Democratic leader apologize for invoking slavery as he criticized Republicans for their opposition to passing health care reform.

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is this: Slow down, stop everything, let's start over," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday.

"If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right," Reid also said from the Senate floor. "When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough."

Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, took exception with Reid's remarks.
"It was not a sober moment for Harry Reid at all," Steele said Tuesday morning on CBS. "It was an ignorant moment.

"I'm kind of sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country. When they get into trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is that they're trying to do, they go to that card. They play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card."

Steele added that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have "nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery."

The RNC head said Reid "needs to go to the well of the Senate, take it back, and apologize for offending the sensibilities of the American people on something so important."


Filed under: Harry Reid • Health care • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. Reggie

    Reid is ignorant. It will be a happy day when he looses his upcoming reelection.

    December 8, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Anonymous

    I thought Lincoln was a Republican!

    December 8, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Florida Joe

    Yep as soon as the Repubs apologize for their obstuctionism..........What a bunch Lie about Healthcare and then get upset when Reid calls them out.............PATHETIC REPUBS YOU LOST>>>>>>SHUT UP until you win an election (Didn't Rush say that)

    December 8, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Kim

    You don't apologize for telling the truth!!

    December 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. worriedmom

    Reid needs to GO! He has this cocky attitude that thinks he can say anything he wants. Last week he makes the Tiger remarks, now it is slavery remarks. I think it is Mr. Reid who is having racial problems. Wonder who is racist???? HMMMMMM Mr. Reid time to go!!
    Vote out Reid!!

    December 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Jim in San Mateo

    Dear Pathetic Michael, he was only making a comparison between the tactics you and the Republican party are using to stop health care reform from going through and the tactics those who wanted to keep slavery in place had used.

    The Republicans desperately want to keep the status quo and have not offered any plausible, workable or viable solutions. It's time for the Republicans to put up or shut up.

    December 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. R. Williams

    When will you apologize Mr. Steele for your very existence?

    December 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. George Holland

    I thought Lincoln was a Republican!

    December 8, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Darby

    Wow and this guy is head of the senate? I know plenty of children with more sense and tact then this big-headed, ignorant extremist.

    December 8, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Kevin in Atlanta

    Whatever, Steele! Sen. Reid was just making a point about your side dragging its feet at a pivotal moment of history in which America is deciding to reform its health care system. The abolition of slavery was a past historical event which was delayed for decades because of those who feared change.

    Quit trying to make a racial issue out of this.

    December 8, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Sean from Marin

    DO NOT APOLOGIZE! These Republicans play the fear and ignorance card on a daily basis. They make up "death squads" and "killing grandma" and "government run health insurance" all in the name of the status quo. The parallels with the southern arguments for slavery during the 1850's and 1860's is absolutely accurate! David Gergen may rightfully argue that it's not politically smart to call a spade a spade but I for one am happy to see the Democrats finally throwing punches with both hands. This Republican congress needs a solid left hook to the jaw. Take your best swing, Harry!

    December 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Chanel

    An apology is warranted.

    December 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Whut

    A black man complaining about the race card? Now I've seen everything.

    December 8, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Bill

    For once, I'm with Michael Steele on this one. What was Harry Reid thinking? Opposition to healthcare reform = pro-slavery. That doesn't even make sense! In no way, shape, or form is that even remotely logical.

    December 8, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. Lana

    I guess the truth really does hurt...I think Micheal Steele should apologize for being stupid!

    December 8, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Joe Momma

    What Harry fails to realize is that it was the Democratic party that largly voted against the Civil Rights Acts and it was the Republican party, founded on the dissolution of the Wig party, that was the anti-slavery party.

    So Harry is ignorantly referring to his own party when he makes those comments.

    December 8, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Pa Santigie

    Michael Steel needs the attention so bad he is willing to get himself into such a situation.
    As an African American I see nothing wrong with What Sen.. Reid said.
    In issues regarding public policy, there will be those that want to keep the status quo. The Civil war was fought for that reason, because it was time for change and some did not want change... they said no, no, no....and recently some did say it was not the right time to accept that slavery was wrong. As is today there are those in the Republican party that feel the time is not right for Healthcare reform. Whatever their reason....these statements are all correct....so what is Michael Steel's issue? He needs to find something to do or sak Rush to give him an assignment.

    December 8, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Johnny Hollis

    I am an African American, and I took no offence to the statement coming from Senator Harry Reid. Within it, I saw two main points. That those in leadership in our country are greedy and that they will not rush to change anything that will cut into their personal profits, such as the free labor of slavery. It is ashame that Michael Steele continues to allow his cohorts to encourage him to make a fool of himself in addressing things that are symbolic for all the right reasons. Or maybe he should take English 1101 again to gain a basic understanding of metaphors and similes.

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. David in Houston

    Why should Reid apologize? What's the matter, Steele?

    Does the truth hurt?

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. a voter

    White southern senators were against the civil rights movements, white southern senators had no problems sending thousands of black soldiers fighting for this country in an unjust war, white southern senators are against Medicare, Medicaid, and any insurance reform because it could help a significant number of their minority constituents. What is the uproar about. Steele's days are already counted.

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Jim

    It appears that Reid is full of HATE!!

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Anonymous

    The American People wants an apology from the Republican Party for their blocking of progress!!!

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. DALE

    Seems like the shoe fits the Repub. agenda.

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. George Bush - Worst President Ever

    Mr. Reid needs to do nothing. His remarks were 100% accurate.

    December 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. Pepou

    Please ! The GOP makes me puke and Uncle Tom Steele as well ...

    December 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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