December 8th, 2009
07:37 PM ET
10 months 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. charlie in Maine

    Explain all you want but don;\'t you dare apologize to those idiots. You were right.

    December 8, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Opinion Nation

    He also mentioned a delay when giving women the right to vote. This happens when hot topics reach congress. Slavery ended, and women can vote, but it took a long time to get there. No apology needed!

    December 8, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  3. JP

    I guess he meant that the taxpayer will be the slave and the government will be the slave owner. Does this mean that the trial lawyers will be the slave overseers.

    December 8, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  4. Wendy

    For heaven's sake, Republicans demand apologies from everyone except their fellow Republican bumpkins.

    December 8, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  5. ToGetherWEStand

    I believe that Mr. Reid's point is very clear. I am disappointed once more at the GOP for trying to distort the message.

    December 8, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. Lindsey Day

    Well said, Senator Reid. More Democrats need to take a stand.

    December 8, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    U GO BOY!!! Thank you so much REID for clearing up something that should have NEVER gotten distorted in the first place...

    I am African American and I did not see anything wrong with the statement!! To top it off – it was the DEMS during that slowed it all up so how does that mean a RACE CARD was played.

    The so-called MAN of STEELE doesn't know what race he is so how does he know when a RACE CARD is played??!!!

    The Party of NO is saying NO to everything and will always need an excuse as to why they are saying NO – CASE and POINT!!!

    December 8, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. Rick C.

    Reid, you know what you can do with the health care reform.

    December 8, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. Old Farmboy

    Despite the important role of the Democratic Party in US political history, only few Americans can state the basic facts about its history. The democrats were dominating US politics in two distinct periods: between 1828 and 1860 and between 1932 and 2000. The establishment of the Democratic Party happened in 1829 when Andrew Jackson became the President of the Unites States. If many Americans did not like the ideas of Jackson in the 1820s ad 30s, the Democratic Party would never have been formed. Together with his followers, Jackson founded the Democratic Party. In those days, the democrats were definitely in favor of slavery and had widespread support in the southern states where slavery was still a normal aspect of daily life.

    I wish I could take credit for this, but I have to give it it's rightful due, Mr. Martin Hahn...... I'm sure that CNN won't print this, but I gave it a shot...

    December 8, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  10. Keith

    And he shouldn't apologize. Conservatives accuse liberals of playing the race card all the time, and now that Michael Steele is doing it, somehow it's okay. If Obama took personal offense to something potentially racist that someone in the GOP said, they'd be saying he was playing the race card. As much as I may agree or disagree with some politicians over what they say, it's just annoying when they try to apologize and act like they never meant to say it. If you meant to say something, then say it. I love Rep. Grayson, because when the Republicans called him out for saying that their plan was for seniors to "die quickly," then instead of apologizing, he made it into a poster presentation!

    December 8, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  11. Second Week of Advent- symbolic of Peace...Blessed be the peacemakers for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven

    In all respect to you Mr. Reid....I don't think the issue of abotion is slowing things down...I think the ones who profit off this are the ones up in arms and the greatest agitators.. perhaps you should disarm them or target them with your rehtoric so things can move forward..... It was surely a poor choice of comparison (slavery/health care)...you are talking about the future health of all US citizens..it deserves real discussion...and not to be taken lightly in any manner both in ideology of the program and in costs.

    December 8, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Osher Gordon

    It's Senator Reid and the Democrat's proposal that is going to enslave millions of Americans of all races and ethnicities to a huge government bureaucracy, and will take away the freedom to make choices from millions of people. If anyone is on the side of "slavery," i.e. anti-freedom, it is the democrats in congress and in the white house.

    December 8, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. annie against biased news

    What dirty harry forgot to mention was that it was the demmies dragging their feet on freeing slaves and on civil rights.

    December 8, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. Carl Morgan

    Harry Reid does not have enough sense to apologize for his comment about slavery. But the good news for our Nation is that he will not be a Senator one year from now and too bad that Pelosi will not join him in the pasture at the same time. And who was that idiot spokesperson for the White House that said they had not heard about this comment from Harry?

    The town of Searchlight Nevada will never put up a sign saying Harry Reid is from there even though they are all glad he will never return.

    Goodbye Harry.

    December 8, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. Chana

    Senator Reid was absolutely right to point this out. There are moral imperatives in history. This is one of them, as was abolition. Someone needed to say it.

    December 8, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  16. dale

    No apology required. Has anyone heard any apology for the last eight years from the GOP? Has anyone heard any apology for calling the sitting president the names he has been called? What about for calling fellow Americans traitors, communist, socialists, un-american and being told to leave the country if we didn't fall into lock step with the GOP agenda? The GOP and their followers have taken name calling to a new art form, but now they need an apology. I don't think so.

    December 8, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  17. Jeffery Meaux, Sr.

    I think Reid fell and hurt his head real badly

    December 8, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  18. SamSixpack

    Reid wants you to pay as much as you can afford for health insurance. Then, IF you can afford the deductable, the new health care czar will deny your claim as too expensive. Reid then he pretends he's some kind of saint. What a slime-ball.

    December 8, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  19. valwayne

    So the majority of the American people who oppose Obamacare are as bad as slaveholders and I assume racists since that's what people who approve of slavery are. That's what Sen Reid who speaks for the Democratic party as Majority leader of the Senate thinks of average Americans who dare opppose Obamacare. I can't wait until 2010 gets here, and I'm so happy I'm registered to vote in Nevada. Sen Reid keep defaming the majority of working Americans, you don't have much more time to do it!!!!

    December 8, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  20. John Henry

    We have only ourselves to blame for letting people like Harry Reid continue to maintain their jobs.

    December 8, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  21. t patterson

    So what's the problem? Apologize for what?

    December 8, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  22. Karen

    Oh they are politically correct with referring to Muslins, terrorists, whatever but it's OK to make this insensitive remark. I just hope and pray the fine citizens of Nevada will show Reid the way home.

    December 8, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  23. No Apology Necessary

    Senator Reid – as an African American woman, I understand your point. No need to apologize because you are absolutely right!
    The Insurance companies have enslaved us and we cannot allow them to slow down the emancipation of the American people...especially minorities who are hardest hit by their high rates!

    December 8, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  24. frank, pennsylvania

    I am fully in support of Harry Reid's stand. It appears the republicans are more interested in taking over the congress/presidency/state government than in caring for the problems of the ordinary americans!

    December 8, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  25. Karen

    But then the VP made the hanging remark so I guess anything goes with these Democrats.

    December 8, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
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