January 12th, 2010
09:28 AM ET
4 years ago

Ensign: Lay off Reid

Sen. John Ensign, himself no stranger to controversy, is breaking with other Republicans to defend his fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.
Sen. John Ensign, himself no stranger to controversy, is breaking with other Republicans to defend his fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

Washington (CNN) – Sen. John Ensign, himself no stranger to controversy, is breaking with other Republicans to defend his fellow Nevada Sen. Harry Reid for describing President Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

"I think we need to get away from this politics of gotcha," Ensign told KKOH radio in Reno on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

"I don't think there's a person walking, certainly not a politician out there, that hasn't made comments they regret," he said in the interview. "When you make those comments, as long as you take responsibility for your comments and apologize for them, I think people should accept that."

Ensign suggested that Republicans are being hypocritical for calling on Reid to resign his post as Senate Majority Leader.

"Democrats were really wrong in what they did to Trent Lott, and we shouldn't do the same thing to Sen. Reid," Ensign said.

Lott lost his post as Senate majority leader in 2002 after saying that the nation would have been better off if one-time segregationist candidate Strom Thurmond had been elected president.


Filed under: John Ensign
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Puddin

    My guess many of us, including African Americans, doubted Obama's winning the election for president, although we didn't say so out loud, because of his color. After eight years of a president who could not put a sentence together properly, I was thrilled to listen to one who knew how to talk. Pres. Obama is a thoughtful person who seems like the "real deal." Sen. Reid was not critizing; he was praising. This is much ado about nothing. Those two who wrote the book "Game Changer," I wonder if they are Republicans.....hummmm? It is laughable that this is the best they can do (write a book of "gossip") to try and get themselves back in the White House.

    January 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. eric in Denver

    Reid is done in 2010 so the republicans need to stop talking about this. We don't want Reid to resign because he has no chance of being reelected. We don't want Reid to pull a Chris Dodd and change a guarantee pickup to a tossup.

    January 12, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Justin

    Ensign is right. We're too quick to invent scandal for political gain. If you can only react to a controversy when you can see the (R) or (D) after the name, then you know there's a problem.

    I know that I've said frank but inappropriate/insensitive things in private conversation. I doubt anyone would survive that microscope.

    January 12, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Huh...well, at least he realizes he too lives in a glass house. Sometimes I think the Capitol Building should have been built of glass...just as a reminder.

    January 12, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    I agree lay off Reid this conflict over skin color is counter productive to solving more important proublem's .

    January 12, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  6. ted

    Now that is a wise and refreshing comment.

    January 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Alex

    Only when they've been laid low do they discover their decency.

    January 12, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Dennis

    I don't see how Reid's comments can be viewed positively. It 's the same as Trent Lott's stupid statement and he should suffer the same fate as Tent Lott. If not, the Democarats have a double standard. In my opinion both Lott and Reid are idiots and makes me wonder how either became Senate Majority leader.

    January 12, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Mike

    Might as well leave Reid alone, the voters will get rid of him in November.

    January 12, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Dar

    Sure lay off Reid because he's a democrap, if he were a republican he would have been tared and feathered already.
    Well I dont care if Odumbo forgives him, I DON'T and I think he should step down just like Lott did, Lott was a man and did what was right.
    Reid is a little weasel and is begging and crying for his job, he is no man, he is a puke of a human. If you think for a second that he hasn't made other remarks like this then you would be a democrap too I guess.

    January 12, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Hugo

    If Ensign says lay off then we need to boot both of them out! Both Republican and Democratic parties are riddled with corruption and serve only their corporate masters, not the American people. America needs to vote 2010 and 2012 to remove ALL career politicians, remove all nepotistic family political chains, Bush's, Clinton's, Gore's, Kennedy's etc., that perpetuate the corrupt corporate connections and destroy the lobbyist special interest network that runs our Nation!

    January 12, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. Mad Matt

    There is no comparison to what Trent Lott said as opposed to Harry Reid. The word negro is not offensive in and of itself. Has anyone ever heard of the "United Negro College Fund"? The context in which many racist use the word "negro" can be offensive.
    I'm no fan of Reid, but his is no reason for him to step down.

    January 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    John Ensign is a moral authority? What's he smoking? Its fascinating to watch GOP representatives with questionable values attempting to take the moral high road in verbal cars fuelled by hypocrisy.

    January 12, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You had me right there with you Ensign UNTIL you put in the 'twister' in regards to Lott. His comments and Reid's comments ARE NOT the same, they did'nt have the same intent, spoken by two people with opposing outlooks and political records.

    You almost had me, you sly blue-eyed devil you.

    January 12, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Willy Brown

    Sorry dude but Hippie Harry is well past due.

    January 12, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. ted

    I agree with Ensign. Leave Reid alone. Reid's comments were unacceptable, but I don't think he has deep seated negative thoughts about African Americans. However Trent Lott does have deep seated negative thoughts about african americans and his statement to or about strom thurmond exposes that. Trent Lott is and was a red neck bigoted racist and deserved to lose his seat.

    January 12, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. AEK

    To suggest that what Harry Reid said was even close to what Trent Lott said is ludicrous! To imply that our country would have been "better off" had a candidate from the segregationist party been elected President was an insult to EVERYTHING our country stands for. Of course we're talking about John Ensign here and his vain attempt to regain some credibility. No thanks John, still not interested in what you think!

    January 12, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. Patty

    bravo for john ensign- would have been great if some would have cut him some slack for his misstep.

    January 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. boggsie

    Quote from the article:
    "Lott lost his post as Senate majority leader in 2002 after saying that the nation would have been better off if one-time segregationist candidate Strom Thurmond had been elected president.." WHY NOT POST the actual quote. As mentioned here, it is implied that Senator Trent Lott was endorsing the separate but equal stand of the segregationist party, which he was NOT doing.

    January 12, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    The race card is being played by both parties, for voter impact, and it has become totally distasteful, and mostly untrue, in all cases.

    Americans have to get over allowing themselves to be played like puppets on a string.

    January 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. Annie, Atlanta

    Good for Ensign. I know he's had his troubles, but for someone like me that is forced to believe in our two party system, since that's all we have, this is good. We need to see more of this in Congress, not the divisive nonsense we have been seeing. We're all in the same boat, after all.

    January 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Jason

    One honorable Republican. ONE!!!!

    January 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    And here I thought "empathy" was a swear word to cons?

    The old adage about walking a mile in the other one's shoes, does seem to have humbled at least one arrogant republiklan.

    Kudos to Ensign for joining the human race.

    January 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Mississippi Mrs.

    Very well said. The politics of getcha.. 'you betcha', is worse than children on the playground being mean to each other. This is really what the American people are sick of. But more than anything...we are sick of all things political. This administration is so bad now, and only history will be able to tell just how bad things got with these bozos.

    America is her people, so we will overcome, but at what loss to our freedoms? Let us vote out all of the Democrats in 2010 that can be voted out.. we have to stop the bleeding.

    January 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Texas Slim

    Reid is like Nunn and the other guy the oldest one in the Senate. they need to be run out of the White House on a tar pitched rail.

    January 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
1 2 3 4 5