Washington (CNN) - In a sit-down interview at the White House with CNN Political Contributor Roland Martin, President Obama defended embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for describing Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
"This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history," the president said in an interview taped Monday for TV One.
"For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that, makes absolutely no sense," Obama said. "He's apologized, recognizing that he didn't use appropriate language. But there was nothing mean-spirited in what he had to say and he's always been on the right side of the issues."
Related: Under fire, Reid proud of supporting Obama
In the interview, Obama also described Reid as "a friend of mine" who has "been a stalwart champion of voting rights, civil rights."
The president's vote of confidence - in Monday's interview and in an official statement over the weekend - comes one week before Senate Democrats return to Capitol Hill to flesh out a final health care reform bill. Obama told Martin that Reid "is spending a lot of his political capital in the middle of an election year to provide health care to every American."
"That's going to have a great impact and African-Americans and Latinos around the country," Obama noted.
Related: Reid's political future up in the air after 'Negro' comment?
Martin taped the interview for an upcoming TV One broadcast entitled, "Living the Dream: An interview with President Barack Obama."
I'm sorry, but how do we as democrats – the self-proclaimed party of the people – not force him to step down? This makes us no better than the republicans, perhaps even worse. Several top republicans even joined in when we wanted Lott gone for something not even as bad as this comment. I'm sorry to say it but we have sunk at least to, if not below, their level. Our leaders are nothing but lying hypocrites and it is time we realize that fact.
It's things like this that are sealing our fate for November and possibly beyond. It is clear we don't stand for what we say we do as a party.
I'm sure all of the Americans that are out of a job or struggling with living expenses are really whipped up and interested in this. Another Republican ploy to distract from the real issues. Still the out-of-touch party.
Obama is such a hypocrite
he's a good man as long as he promotes Obama's socialism...
The more I listen to Obama, the more I think Glenn Beck is actually right, and that's pretty scary.
These two clowns side by side is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh CNN!
All of a sudden he's "embattled?" I thought Harry Reid had gotten over it and the rest of us should as well?
another day, another lie...Reid has never been on the right side of history and history has and will prove that.
Republicans are trying to make hay and refocus Harry Reid’s positive assessment of the progress of American voters as words against a minority group. Obama winning the election proved Reid correct. Republicans need to stop acting so desperate and begin rebuilding their Party. They are fooling no one by acting like they care about race relations, especially when they misread a statement about how diverse voters will act as a statement about race.
Harry only gets by because he's a lib. But at least it breaks the myth that Dems can't be racist.
There is no controversy here at all. This is a case of some people being more Catholic than the Pope. Senator Reid may have used a poor choice of words but there's nothing SO TERRIBLE about what he said.
Time to move on. Harry Reid has proven to the country he is not racist andI believe he should retain his position as Senate leader. The one who is lost in the wilderness is Michael Steele. He clearly does not know who he is.
Defending the indefensible – keep it up Barry and you will challenge Carter"s electoral vote talley! Oh yeah, CNN, please keep trying to give Reid cover by going back to Nixon!
The Dems have very sophisticated racial targeting strategies for blacks and latinos (such as amnetsy!). Duh – you are the world greatest idiot if you do not know that. That is what the Dems do best in elections – suck up to fringe groups, minorities and special interest groups.
3 more years and the most unpopular president in recent history will be defeated. I cannot wait. Sen Reid is done in 10 short months.
If it was not an election year guarenteed no one would care what Reid said. Its all a sick sad attempt to gain votes cause we all know the best politicians only care about money and power! You make a mistake no matter how simple and stupid it is some certain politicians demand you be fired yet those certain politicians act like they dont know what your talking about when their mistakes are brought up! If we fired every politician who made a mistake or said something stupid we have no government! Maybe if people would take race words out of their vocabulary we can make better attempts toward a country without racisim. Unfortunetly the smallest race word no matter what context it is put in there will always be someone to cry racism and it will be someone who is crying for their own personal gain!
Reid is a great leader and true American. His efforts on the health reform bill is a fine example. All this is about is the Republicans playing partision politics, which is all they do these days.
these "certain politicians" only care about votes and their careers and they prove it everyday!
What Reid said was quite different from what Trent Lott said and the rest of the republican party secretly endorsed. Reid isn't a closet racist like the the majority of the republican party and wasn't endorsing a segregationist.
Reid is a "systematic failure".
Birds of a feather flock together. Obama wrapping his arms around this clown clearly shows there is no hope, no change only politics as usual.
This is just silly, Reid clearly meant well but said it in too much of an old boy way, which is ok he is an old boy. No offense intended no offense taken!
well this will nock a hole in the republican purist cry baby threats .. LOL makes me laugh republicans are on the way out along with Palin the new FOX mouth peice for whities only / snakes do swarm together whenit gets cold . go pres. you are doing a great job . the more the republican purist try to put you down the stronger america gets in support of your agenda :)
Reid is correct by his statement; regardless of his poor choice of the word. White people need to be soothed into thinking you're more like them than different because most of them are afraid of anything that is different, smarter, or even perceived to be better than them.
I don't know about Reid, but our president is a gentleman and a scholar. What a gracious way to handle this situation!
Good, its done. Lets get back to fixing what the last administration left us. No more stall tactics from the minority please.