December 8th, 2009
07:37 PM ET
7 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. Perusing-through

    SENATOR HARRY REID SAID NOTHING WRONG . . .
    . . . It’s just that Republican Senators cannot handle the truth.

    Look at U.S. history. For every step "the good people" of this nation took to help its fellow citizens; "the selfish wicked people" fought and battled to keep its foot on the necks of those same fellow citizens. GOD does not like ugliness, GOP.

    December 8, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. JoAnn

    Oh yes, lets bring up slavery to change the subject. Let it go, you are not a slave. I am so sick of these people who act like this is all they are. This is about health reform. Talk about the subject at hand.

    December 8, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. Eileen

    Harry Reid is a sniveling little weasel of a man. I can not wait for him to be gone next year. What a jerk!?!

    December 8, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  4. Randall from Detroit now in Torrance, CA - Desert Storm Veteran with Double Masters Degree from Western Washington University

    Way to go Senator Reid! DO NOT BACK DOWN! You deserve a Freedom Award Medal for your tough stance against the Greedy Obstacle Party (GOP)! Do not let up the pressure on the GOP bastards. They should all be removed from office for allowing thousands of uninsured Americans die each year due to unaffordable access to health care – no joke. Americans will not forget each Senator and Congressman who refuse to pass the public option.

    God Bless you and your colleagues.

    December 8, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. Seth

    Will the Democrats use all those "NO!" votes by the Republicans against them come 2010 elections?
    The Republicans could lose lots of seats in the South, especially areas where there are large previously non-voting minorities.
    Will John McCain be able to convince Hispanics in Arizona to vote for him?

    December 8, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  6. D. R. Lewis

    I do and did understand what Harry Reid meant by his comments on slavery and I agree with him wholeheartedly.For the many years that America setback and allowed such a horrible deed to be done to so many people for the sake of being the benefactors of a lap of luxuries was truly wrong and heartless.Whenever the time came and the God Lord had mercy on those poor and miss used people there were so many folks and obstacles that stood in the way one (I) could not help but believe what history has portrayed on television, in print,the radio and what my heart has perceived as the Truth.To the ones that are getting upset and has lived to be witnesses to the true I ask " Were you upset then when you saw a injustice being done or did you just turn head and walk away?".I feel we as a mighty nation can stand to be help to one another and help push to get healthcare for all.

    r

    December 8, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. Jarhead

    I'm sure there was also a point in America's history when someone said, "I have an idea that will make everything better, let's bring in slaves to do some of this work." Government run healthcare could be as big a mistake for this country as slavery was.

    The slavery metaphor goes both ways. Sometimes our "leaders" are real idiots.

    December 8, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. A concerned veteran

    No matter how you spin it. The comment was in poor taste.

    December 8, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. New Age Independent

    The liberal responses here should be an indication of where the Democrat Party is today. The Republican Party was formed BY anti-slavery activists in 1854, but this isn't the real story.

    What IS the story is that Democrats, when flailing miserably consistently try to play the race card, even if it has no bearing on the argument. Why this isn't an insult to every American, is proof positive that the Democrat party is completely irresponsible and out of touch with reality.

    For Reid to suggest such an outrageous connection is only more proof that he is unfit not only to lead the party, but to hold any office. Democrats are losing creditability on all fronts with their policies both foreign and domestic. Their only hope is to deflect the American people hoping that enough of their base are too stupid to realize that they have been duped for years.

    December 8, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  10. Doesn't matter......

    Reid is history....toast.......send his rocking chair to Nevada and he can just roast away in the sun until he's just one big wrinkle....

    December 8, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  11. Rob in NC

    Yo Republicans, tell me does the truth hurt?

    December 8, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. russell

    Well I geuss he let you know Mr. Steele ....

    December 8, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  13. Eileen

    What a slimy excuse-making bag of nonsense. He compared conservatives to people against slavery, civil rights, etc. and that is not only wrong but insulting. Why is it that Democrats can not tolerate any different political opinions and resort to name-calling and lying against their opponents? I thought the USA guaranteed everyone the right to free speech (even if you don't agree). Democrats need to stop trying to squelch conservatives. Obama did NOT win by more than a few percentage points–the rest of the country who voted AGAINST him deserves to be heard and respected also.

    December 8, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  14. MR RIGHT

    Wait a minute he equated this health bill debate to the slavery debate!!! They were his own words, I heard them with my own ears. He is spinning like a top, Vote out Harry in 10 before he disintegrates from his gyrations.

    December 8, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  15. New Yorker

    I wonder if Reid would/could name those who "dug in their heels and said slow down..." or were they some folks whose statements he has misquoted or distorted.

    December 8, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  16. Jon Krieger

    And this just after Jesse Jackson said "Any Black man who votes against health care,can't call himself a black man"?And the liberals call US "Wingnuts"?

    December 8, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. Matt

    Reid is a dispicable idiot. The comparison was not only slanderous, but divisive. This will be Reid's last term in the Senate–unfortunately he will have already been instrumental in passing a expensive, bloated, garbage healthcare bill that doesn't even bring meaningful, fiscal reform.

    There were and are better, affordable, sustainable, real reform plans out there.

    December 8, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  18. Steve from Oregon

    I would only point out that the Republican Party should know something about slavery.

    December 8, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  19. Scott Alexander

    Hilarious that most of the Republicans who are upset about slavery being mentioned are the same Republicans who want to take a woman's right to choose away from her AND are also the same Republicans who have made deliberate attacks against homosexuals. Now they're getting offended when slavery is mentioned? Hateful bigoted hypocrites who really don't care a thing about anyone's civil rights (unless there's a profit to be made from it). I feel sorry for the people who buy all this fake outrage from the GOP.

    December 8, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  20. Janet

    I am happy to see Harry Reid make a forceful statement. It may be too little too late, but it is good to see.

    December 8, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  21. audrey in va

    somebody has historical amnesia about which party opposed freeing the slaves

    December 8, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  22. Steven

    Slavery is a form of forced labour in which people are considered to be the property of others. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation

    December 8, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  23. Darryl

    Shame on you Mr. Reed

    December 8, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  24. Historylookitup

    Harry Reid is a idiot.
    Harry u need 2 shut up and take a history lesson.

    December 8, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  25. kevin in FL

    Good for him. His point was clear and uncontroversial.

    For the Nazi-Analogy-a-Minute crowd to cry about Reid's accurate historical reflection is absurd.

    Hypocrisy much, Republicans?

    December 8, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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