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. Kate in SW Fla

    I agree with Harry Reid. Even I can not beleive Imsaid that, but it is true. I do. Republicans have said said some of the most vile, hateful, hate-filled, exploitive comments since January that I have ever heard in my life. Not just tjat, but they treat the President of the United States with such a level of contempt, as to make me ashamed. They know him to be a very fine man, yet they treat him like he is a member of Al Qaeda, hoping to get votes next year. Harry, as much as I disagree with you on most things, you are 100% right about this.

    December 8, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    I don't have a problem with Senator Reid's comment; he's absolutely right that Republicans have been obstructionist at every turn when it comes to health care reform.

    The GOP doesn't care about what the majority of Americans want (meaningful health care reform, including a robust public option).

    All the GOP cares about is scoring points with their "base" in their efforts to regain power. The GOP has publically stated that they want President Obama – and therefore, our country – to fail. They are happy with the status quo, which has left 42 million Americans uninsured, people at risk of losing everything should they get sick and health insurance company CEOs making on average $14 million per year in salary.

    Keep up the good fight, Senator Reid!!!!

    December 8, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. kd

    Keep playin' the fools, Harry. Glad to see you've grown a pair.

    December 8, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  4. George Washington

    what is their to comment on? smart people don't comment on stupid statements and dumb ideas ?

    December 8, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  5. Stu

    Give it a rest already. We are tired of hearing people whine that they can't afford health insurance..but seem to have enough money for IPhones, flat panel tv's, cable, tobacco, alcohol, and fast food. Here's a novel responsible for yourself and quit expecting the government to pay your way through life. Oh wait, most of the Democrat party base are welfare/entitlement people! How could I forget that fact.

    December 8, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. Steven

    Reverse that Medicaid is for children and Medicare for elderly. They will probably widen the current application criteria to help fit those who will be paying for this in their some how...

    December 8, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  7. Richard

    This dirtbag needs to be looking for a new job come 2010.

    December 8, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. Lannes

    Prince Harry and Ivan the Terrible would get along great, they are both mad (also known as crazy).

    December 8, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. John in Indy

    its interesting to note that on the issues he spoke about, equal right, womens sufferage, it was democrats that opposed the bills, not republicans. Somehow the Dems have rewritten history to say that they have championed the civil rights era. a very cursory glance at history will show that Repulicans, in conjunction with northern religious blocs, provided the push and impetus to drive the civil rights debate. The obstructionists were southern democrats and western liberals that slowed debate. Senator Byrd was in the thick of it at that time...

    December 8, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. Dem TIl death

    Go get 'em Harry. Republicans could care less about average americans.

    December 8, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  11. Liz

    I pray that Harry Reid looses the election in 2010, This country has had enough of him and his garbage mouth. Hopefully he will be gone along with Pislosi his partner in crime. Maybe then our country will belong to the people. They forget they work for the people not themselves

    December 8, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. Dee

    Senator Reid needs to know history before he starts spewing his opinion about history. First off it was the Southern Democrats that refused to discuss ending slavery and it was southern democrats in the 1960s that once again stone walled the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was the Republicans, organized as a third party in the 1850s that brought about an eventual end to slavery. As for the 1960s if President Johnson hadn't built a coalition of Republicans and Non-southern democrats the 1964 Civil Rights Act never would have passed. Wake up Nevada kick Reid out he is a complete to the Silver State and an annoyance to intelligent Americans.

    December 8, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. S King

    Amazing. You don't support his legislation and your villified as pro-slavery!?

    Don't we all (at least of a certain age where they still taught civics and American history) recall the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, had some small part in helping lead this country out of slavery? Democrats of the time had little good to say of Lincoln. But he is remembered as legendary leader; Reid will be a cypher in our history.

    December 8, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  14. Steven

    The facts are the most important and should not be sugar coated to distort what is happening, but an apologize is in order under the present context of the direction of negativism.

    December 8, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  15. rachel

    Ummm what about those who were in the democratic party who voted against civil rights reed hmmm?

    December 8, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  16. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I'm sorry that I used relevant information to attempt to explain the actions of the people in your party Mr Steele.
    I'm sorry that your party feels the centuries long need to subjugate everyone who is not in their favor and/or a part of their party, and/or of nothing more than service value to you.
    I'm sorry that the attempts of your party to control the working class are so transparent that children can see through your failed attempts to redirect the conversation...

    Will there be anything else?

    December 8, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  17. Scott

    Yeah, that would have been Democrats who opposed freeing slaves and the civil rights movement. Oh, and Republicans have an African-American as the head of their party. Not that it matters, because I'm sure Chairman Steele would refer to himself as an American. What is it with Democrats? Heaven forbid they leave the "race" card unplayed. You might notice that Republicans don't play the race card. Why? Because we don't care what someone's ethnicity is. Everyone has the same potential and the same shot at making something of themselves. It might take longer for some people than others (for many different reasons), but the opportunity exists. Democrats, on the other hand, say you can't do it on your own; there's a problem with who you are, and we (government) have to fix it for you.

    December 8, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  18. GG

    Senator Reid's comparison is ironic in that it was the Democrat party that opposed ending slavery during and after the civil war. But Reid probably knows about as much history as Obama....

    December 8, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. Scott

    The gall of this guy is exceeded only by the stupidity of those who vote for him.

    December 8, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  20. Phil

    Don't explain it. Don't make excuses. Own up, behave like a man for once in your life, and apologize.

    December 8, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. GRiM

    So, that's interesting... disagreeing with a poorly formulated mechanism for improving healthcare (which the CBO has concluded will increase costs, in direct contradiction to the stated aims of the legislation) is morally equivalent to denying the evil of slavery.


    So while Mr. Reid is delving into history, he is of course correct that there were those around 1860 who did not care whether slavery was abolished or not... who rejected as sacrilegious and undemocratic the tendency of the clergy to condemn slavery... who denied that slavery was contrary to a "higher law." In fact, all of those positions were publicly taken by Stephen A. Douglas, the presidential candidate in 1860 for some party or other... what party was that...? oh, yes, the Democratic Party.

    Thanks for the history lesson, Harry. Very instructive.

    December 8, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  22. David

    Reid made a good point and a fair analogy. There is no reason for him to apologize.

    December 8, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  23. Andrew

    Props to Sen. Reid for having the guts to not back down. Anyone with half a brain knew what he meant the first time he said it, and anyone who pretended not to know certainly proved his point about distortion. I wish the GOP would come up with intelligent counter arguments instead of frivolous illogical emotive responses appealing only to the lowest common denominator.

    December 8, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. sure

    You could have used a laundry list of different examples throughout history. You chose slavery for a purpose – a very divisive, political, and unfair purpose. Enjoy 2010.

    December 8, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  25. wallst

    Hope Harry enjoys unemployment benefits in 2010.

    December 8, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
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