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."
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.
Martin taped the interview for an upcoming TV One broadcast entitled, "Living the Dream: An interview with President Barack Obama."