December 8th, 2009
12:37 PM ET
8 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. Jon

    Another Republican non-issue. They can do nothing but whine.

    December 8, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Grahame

    Of course the Republicans will try this. But their track record alone tells otherwise. They boasted from the beginning that they would do everything they could to discredit President Obama... Well try this on for size Republicans...........................

    THAT'S...........PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    How do you like them apples you bunch of Bush worshipers

    December 8, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. john

    Yeah right......and the gop didn't use the creepy attacks on Democrats calling them un-American because they questioned the republican push to go to war on intelligence that didn't result in intelligent management of a war (in Iraq) that was never suppose to be. Steele should remember that he got his position only because Obama won the presidency. Remember Palin arrived because the gop wanted to match the Democrats H. Clinton's potential nomination. Copy rats, is what they (republicans) are.

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Mike1952

    All senators and congressmen are ignorant. They are ignorant of their responsibilites to represent, not dictate. It is true that the left pulls out the race card when things don't go their way, but that doesn't imply the republicans are better.

    Join the third party that is bubbling beneath the surface of american politics and let's rid ourselves of these failures in both parties.

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. lolly

    about time reid pointed out repubicans stop every civil right. i guess steele shows his true colors about considering healthcare a civil right

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Jim

    how can the republicans be so blind not to recognize a comment made only to compare reactions.

    i'm really tired of the way republicans intentionally try to escalate confrontations. I've voted for republicans often in the past, but, right now, it's unlikely i'll vote for one in the forseable future. i'm way tired of all the fear mongering and negativity.

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. lookit

    oh PUHleeze – where is America's apology for stealing the 2000 election or Cheney's claim that electing a Democrat would open us up to "being hit again"???

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Steve

    So when you (the right) call Obama a socialist and invoke pictures of Hitler that's ok?

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Christian Royal

    As an African American I took no offense to Reid's comments I see the analogy that Reid is trying to convey. Why is Michael Steele using the analogy to deflect to the real issue which is why are the Republicans so against helping people which is the root of what the health care reform is aimed to do. Yes there are things that people don't like in the reform, but it is necessary, it just needs to be refined and made better. There is no way that in this society people who are sick should be forced to make a decision between their health and their money.

    December 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. jacq

    Steel is a token,I'm black and I didn't take it that way,I see it as comparing the process to the stall tactics of that point and time in history

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. not alone

    Why he(Reid) is right, the party of NO help,No vote,and NO common sense is doing its best to pull every trick out of its mean bag of tricks to protect the repulican foundation of special interest payments from the healthcare corperations.Without all them extra health care dollers to spend the campian funds of most of the Repulican party would likly dry up.All the neo-cons talk of hinderence instead of being part of the solution have shamed America and not helped any at all.Folks do remeber the mess they got us all in.Corperate wellfare didn't work and trickle down econmics was a compleat farce.Lets try and get a good health care plan for all Americans and stop all the belly-aching.

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. LoLo

    Micheal Steele is ignorant to think that people believe his rhetoric.

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Since when does stating the truth need an apology?

    Cons did drag their feet on Social Security and Medicare as well.

    And why should the Dems include any of the republiklans in the negoitations, after all they have stated they want President Obama to "fail" and "want to break him". Seems anyone that wants the President to fail is also cheering for the country to fail, we have domestic terrorists, they are just called republicans.

    And no less, than the leader of the RNC, Steele himself, stated that "bi-partisanship was overrated".

    So, do not blame the Dems, if they do not want to accused of “palling around” with domestic terrorists or for agreeing with the terrorist leader, Steele.

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Reny

    Steele is a Republican token anyway so he has his nerve.

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. aneanderthal

    Definitiely agree, you let this stuff go unchallenged and you end up with these left wing nuts (read any thing about Sarah Palin) going nuts. They believe what they hear since they are too lazy to acutally research things. Reid is a loser.

    December 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. policywank

    Reid shouldn't apologize. He's right. Southern conservatives have opposed every bit of progress this country has ever made on anything, going back 200 years. It doesn't matter what party banner they rally under. It is southern conservatism that is the problem.

    December 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Mickey

    Republicans are hypocrites...if there was a bill before the senate to re-institute slavery tomorrow, the Republicans would vote FOR it across party lines...who does Steele think he's kidding.

    December 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. JA/TN

    Reid is right we can agree to drop bombs shoot guns at whatever cost, as a matter of fact cost is never considered, why can't America pass health care reform, the wars are running deficts, to do otherwise is unpatriotic, mean spirited and evil, let those who oppose stand uninsured, all Americans can and will not prosper at the same levels, therefore it is a christian and patriotic duty to care for the less fortunate

    December 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Trader Vic

    Michael Steele is a complete sellout!

    December 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. ran

    The apology should be coming from the GOP. what happen to their not wanting the government to get between the patient and their doctor. Seeing they want to ban funding for abortions which is a health care issue to be decided between the patient and her doctor.

    The GOP will do all they can to stop this or any health care bill from passing. Then they will go on to try and stop energy, immigration or any other change that we the people want and need.

    Call ,e-mail, write you elected officials today and demand single payer non-profit universal health care now and stop all this insanity.

    December 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Kevin B

    Mr Steele is obviously not a student of history. Americans have been hearing nothing but reasons for foot dragging on health care reform from the GOP for months.

    The republicans do sound like an echo from america's past.

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. KJ

    As a black man, I don't take offense to Sen. Reid's comments given the context they were made in. If Mr. Steele beleives he is due an apology given the "igorant statements" of Sen. Reid then he is entitled to ask for one. However, will Mr. Steele hold his Republican breathen to the same standards (e.g. the uppity comment from Rep. Westmoreland or Palin's continued quest to discredit the authenticity of the President's birth certificate)?

    The public grandstanding from both parties is one of many reasons the public holds our government officials with such low regard. Focus on the real issues at hand versus snipping at one another based on snippets taken from comments.

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. truth

    it was the same people back than and its the same people today that doing the same old same old get nothing done then complaine about it

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Anthony In Miami

    Mike, Mike, Mike! Shut UP! You sound like a brainwashed puppet who keeps being stuck under water while they shove a hose even deeper down your throat! I'm black and I don't think that every time someone makes a comment about race, it's playing the race card! He was simply stating a fact! In every major issue concerning social issues, No Republican has supported the passage of legislation related to it. Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Blacks in the Military, and more- -Republicans have either voted against it or simply looked to stall it. It's not about race! It's about have a functional argument that's not about political talking points or just shut up!

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. charles

    maybe Steele should take his head out of his butt and realize its an analogy to people clinging to old mentality who are scared of change and losing their position of unjust power (i.e. republican conservatives)

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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