December 8th, 2009
07:37 PM ET
4 years ago

Top Dem explains slavery remark, doesn't apologize

Washington (CNN) – A day after invoking slavery as he criticized Republican opposition to health care reform legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, explained his controversial comment but didn't acquiesce to Republican requests to apologize.

"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," Reid said Monday in a Senate floor speech.

Several GOP senators and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele have demanded that Reid apologize for the remark. But Reid refused to do so Tuesday when asked about the GOP demands.

"Well, I think the point is quite clear by this point," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That at pivotal points in American history the tactics of distortion, delay have certainly been present. They've been used to stop progress. That's what we're talking about here. That's what's happening here. That's very clear. That's a point I made - no more, no less. Anyone who willingly distorts my comments is only proving my point."

As majority leader, Reid is charged with getting the 60 votes needed to pass health care in the Senate. Early polling shows that Reid faces a tough re-election battle in 2010.

Filed under: Extra • Harry Reid • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Rob in NY

    GREAT ANSWER SENATOR REID! He's absolutely right! Republicans are ALWAYS on the WRONG side of history! Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Health Care Reform, the war in Iraq... the list goes on.

    December 8, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Steele should apologize to the world then pray for the freedom of bondage from self !


    December 8, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Mark

    He's an idiot

    December 8, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. Reggie

    Reid's days in the senate are numbered. He's going to loose and loose big in his bid for reelection.

    December 8, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Mariann Pepitone

    There is no need for Reid to apologize. He was trying to make a point on voting issues. And since the blacks were not allowed to vote in the civil war days (and should have been able to) he is stating that its the same as not voting for the healthcare bill to cover insurance for those that need it. Its like saying they don't want to pass it because it would include blacks. It should cover all individuals no matter what race you are but not those making $100,000 or more because they can buy their own. This healthcare insurance should be for people that are low income and cannot afford insurance.

    December 8, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. Linda

    They are getting desperate to pass their health care giveaway to insurance companies.

    December 8, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  7. Kerzell, CA

    You go Reid!! If the GOP would spend a tenth of the energy they use to distort everything and bad mouth everybody – maybe something could get done.

    December 8, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Mariann Pepitone

    People should get a grip and learn how to read between the lines. I knew exactly what Reid was talking about and the point he was trying to make even though I am not a fan of his. I hate to think that we have that many uneducated people living in this country. Now, I know why so many college students drop out of college. Not understanding the point Reid was trying ito make is a joke.

    December 8, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  9. Jules, MN

    Checkmate. There are people in the Republican Party at this very moment who were on the wrong side of Civil Rights. Reid said it all, and the Republicans, once again will be on the wrong side of history.

    December 8, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. Sean

    Why apologize for using a clear, effective analogy? Reid didn't say anything insensitive or disrespectful. I guess I just don't see what Steele and the others are so bothered by – which leads me to believe that they're just faking outrage for political gain. What a shocker.

    December 8, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. Bill

    The Senator has nothing to apologize for. He was making a point that historically, we ignore policies that we know are wrong....but continue to allow them to exist because many continue to profit from them.

    December 8, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. Danny J

    As an African American, I am disgusted and offended that this man would exploit the horrors of slavery to push his specific agenda.

    December 8, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  13. Robrob

    "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,"

    If it;s true, what does he have to apologize for?

    December 8, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. clarity4truth

    Good for you Mr. Reid. "Tell the truth and shame the devil!"

    December 8, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. whaley41

    Dems and liberals never apologize. They think they are never wrong. Goodbye Mr Reid, enjoy the unemployment line like the rest of us.

    December 8, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. nathan smith ga

    i agree with him! pass the bill already!

    December 8, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  17. jmz

    Stop progress? please! we are trying to stop America from falling into socialis. We are trying to stop citizens from being taxed to death and becomming subjects of govt rule!, You know what you did. And to try to compare(inaccuratly btw) slavery to your overpriced socislist heathcare system whch MOST DO NOT WANT. is idiotic. How much more of these double stadard lying politicians must we endure before america stands up. I for one will NEVR obey Obama you or pelosi's facist and Scoialis ideas! Ever!!!

    December 8, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. Floridian

    Typical politician, make blatantly illogical comparisons. Slavery was about the absolute freedom of humans and the final assumption of the rights afforded all equally according to the Constitution. Any moron dragging their feet deserved outright admonishment.

    Healthcare reform is about the Government handing out Healthcare to private citizens and illegal aliens, funded by citizen tax dollars, completely against the Constitution. Any moron dragging their feet deserves the right to be heard!

    If the politicians would actually look long-term at this country, withdraw troops from foreign soil or CONGRESS DECLARE WAR according to the Constitution, perhaps our internal problems would remove any need for public Heathcare, Welfare, etc because our citizenry would again become united as a nation, combating enemies both foreign and domestic.

    December 8, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. Hendrik


    You go and stick by your guns. If slavery were still in place now, the Republicans would be against abolition. That is how they were and how they still are. They are a shame on our country.

    December 8, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. E Southard

    Reid has forgot the history of slavery in this Country. Who was in power in the south where 95 % lived before and after the Civil War? The democrats. Lincoln was a republican. The democrats controlled the south during the period 1865 to 1980's when Blacks were under the foot of the deemocratic party in power. Ike was a republican when the army and schools were intergrated. We can go on and on and point out the democrats were and are still using the Blacks to maintain power (99.9% vote for the donkeys). Will Blacks improve during OB's admiistration? Doubt it, but time will tell won't it.

    December 8, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. Dave

    What a jerk.

    December 8, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. AMLH

    I am an Black woman and I say, well said Senator Harry Reid. I think anyone who tries to distort your comment and twist it into something it isn't is probably not very intelligent. I fully understand you were talking about Americans taking the opportunity to better our country and move forward without delay, rather than stalling and finding drummed up reasons for not doing so. You do not owe any apology for your remark.

    December 8, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. jason, tx

    You go Reid!

    December 8, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. nick

    The fact of the matter is a Republican President freed the slaves and the Republicans are the ones who's votes enacted legislation during the Civil Rights movement. Mr. Reid needs an American history textbook and a copy of the Constitution.

    December 8, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. Jim

    Way to go Harry! I'm sick of the Republican tactics of taking something completely out of context and trying to make a national crisis over it. The Republicans are delaying. They are trying to obstruct. Its not some kind of secret.

    December 8, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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