Washington (CNN) –A senior Republican senator called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down as majority leader, following the revelation that the Nevada Democrat made racially insensitive remarks about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the GOP's Senate campaign arm, called on Reid to vacate his position in a statement released Sunday.
"It's difficult to see this situation as anything other than a clear double standard on the part of Senate Democrats and others," Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement sent to CNN. "In 2002, Democrats expressed outrage at Senator Lott and called on him to step down as Leader. That same standard should be applied to Senator Reid and his embarrassing and racially insensitive statements; statements, I would add, that Senator Reid still has yet to clarify. As we await his explanation, Senator Reid should do the right thing, follow the example that he himself set in 2002, and step down as Majority Leader."
Reid has personally apologized to Obama and prominent African-American leaders for his remarks. The president released a statement Saturday, saying he accepted Reid's apology.
"Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today," Obama said in the statement released by the White House. "I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."
Reid's comments about Obama appear in a new book, "Game Change," which is scheduled to be in bookstores Tuesday.
The authors quote Reid as saying privately that Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
"He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama - a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' " authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say. "Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination," they write.
CNN obtained a copy of the book Saturday from a Washington bookstore.
Cornyn's demand for Reid to step down was first reported by Politico.
– CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report.