January 12th, 2010
09:26 AM ET
5 years ago

McCain talks Reid, Palin

McCain is not calling on Reid to step down.
McCain is not calling on Reid to step down.

(CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he's not calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign his post in the wake of the Nevada Democrat's controversial comments about then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama, but said there is a "stunning double standard" between how Democrats are treating Reid versus then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott seven years ago.

"That's up to the voters of Nevada. I didn't know those kind of words were still in American lexicon," McCain said on NBC's The Today Show when asked if Reid should step aside.

"But I must comment on the stunning double standard as far as the treatment of Sen. Lott who also made unfortunate and inopportune remarks and the treatment of Harry Reid by the liberal left."

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.

Asked directly if he thought Reid might have racial insensitivity or worse, Mcain said, "No, he is not."

The controversy is centered on remarks published in the book "Game Change," by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann that cites Reid as saying privately in 2008 that Obama could succeed as a black presidential candidate partly because of his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Reid apologized to Obama after excerpts from the book were released and Obama said he considered the issue closed. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and two top Senate Republicans have called on Reid to step down from his leadership post.

In the interview with NBC, McCain also refused to discuss revelations in "Game Change" that then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was barely vetted before the Arizona Republican asked her to be on his presidential ticket.

"I'm proud of Sarah Palin, I'm proud of the campaign we waged, she energized our party, she will be a major factor in politics in the future...I'm not going to spend time looking back at what happened over a year ago, when we've got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state, and things to do," McCain said.


Filed under: Harry Reid • John McCain
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Chas in Iowa

    Although Ried's comments may have been unfortunate they are far from Lotts assertion that we would be better off with Thurman's segregationists views.
    Ried used language that is borderline inappropriate to compliment President Obama's chances of winning an election.
    Lott inferred that we would be better off with the segregationist policies in todays world.
    Do you see a difference,....I certainly do.

    January 12, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. lil

    There is no double standard here we as African American know what Ried meant in his statement he used a poor choice of words. We also know his records and the support he gave President Obama and his voting record.
    Being from the great state of mississippi I also know whats in the heart of Mr lott and all the votes he has cast against the cause for african american in his own state. Anybody who make a comparison to trent lott and sen Ried is doing so for political reason only not for the cause of african americans. We as african american know how mccain and sarah palin feel about us. There is no way Mccains words are not political. This has became is MO. Division.
    Sen Reids words are being use by Mccain only for the betterment of his own agenta not ours.

    January 12, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. gary davis harbor oregon

    McCain is afraid of the wako woman Palin . and would like to put a great deal of space between them . I would too if I were in his place . Palin is like a virus major infectious virus . and FOX network is helping her infect the world . something must be done to eleminate the problem . the republican purist ned to step up and taker care of the problem they created ( Palin) make it go away . maybe just have some investigators follow her aound for a month or so and document everything she does . and make it public . or maybe have Katie Curric do another interview and pin her down on just how stupid she really is .and not allow her to have a telepromte or an ear piece with someone else giving her the right answers in her ear .. this virus probably has to have a recording in her ear all day saying breath in breath out . LOL :)

    January 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. dak

    Oh please. McCain, you're ex-running mate that you are so "proud" of has clearly embraced the Tea Party which has a very strong element of racism at it's very core! Have you seen the signs at the rallies with racist depictions & words aimed at our President??? The only "double standard" here is from the Republican party who is embracing this racist element in our society because they believe that by doing so they MAY be able to garner a few more votes in 2010. Why can't John McCain stand up and be a man by denouncing THAT??!

    January 12, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. RobK

    The article forgot to mention that Lott's comments were made at a birthday party for the elderly senator, where an over-the-top statement of praise might be expected.

    January 12, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. Pragmatic

    Considering Trent Lott was talking at a public function , praising a well known segregationist and commenting about segregation being the right thing to do ... that does not compare with Reid, in private, commenting on a political (if distasteful) truth.

    2002? The GOP had complete control of both houses then: Lott wasn't forced to resign ... he decided to.

    January 12, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Ben in Texas

    Talk about your "stunning double standards", how about those Repugnants who state that a Harvard Law School educated, savvy U.S. senator is not qualified to be president, but a dingbat backwater unknown hockey-mom quitter IS qualified to be Vice President? They gotta be very twisted to come up with that one.

    January 12, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. sifto77

    Things would be different if Americans had not insisted on making "history" with the unqualified and inexperienced candidate, Obama.

    January 12, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Jane/Seattle

    The situation with Trent Lott and harry Reid are in no ways even close to similar. Reid was speaking confidentially and his sources betrayed this agreement – hence a less careful phrasing was used. His language, while dated, was not offensive in nature, while Mr. Lott's were highly indicative of his racist leanings! No comparison exists here, but GWB/Cheney are guilty of murder (Vincent Bugliosi) and no one does anything to hold them accountable! How do ya spell Collusion?

    January 12, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. csh

    McCain has no credibility after selecting someone as stupid as Palin for VP.

    January 12, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Nevada dude

    Wrong. there is a difference between what Reid said and what lott said. Reid ignorantly felt that obama's light skin and clear speaking manner would be seen as a plus for voters. that undescored Reid's ignorance and insensitivity on racial issues, not that he is racist.

    what lott said is that the US would have been better off if the country had remained segregated–that is , Lott was for SYSTEMATIC DISCRIMINATION. Reid was guilty of ignornace and poor thinking, but certainly not a dislike for black people, which is what defines racism

    Note to white people: if in doubt, leave race out of whatever you are talking about. it doesnt make you look good, no matter how well-intentioned your ideas. it is good enough to praise someone for being a good human being, because after all that is what you really mean

    January 12, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Tim

    First of all, there are light years between Reed and Lott comments!!!! This has nothing to do with right and wrong for the Republicans, else they would be kicking several folks out of their ranks. Where was the republican outcry on the "Barack the magic negro" cd? Oh wait, McCain bought the cd. Where was the outrage with Gov Mark Sanford who abandoned his post, went on a taxpayer funded adultery trip and then lied about it? Oh wait, McCain can comment on adultry. Republicans are a bunch of Hypocrites!!!He used to be a Maverick. McCain please grow a pair and stop just repeating talking points!!! I used to have a lot of respect for the man, but I guess when you're used up, it doesn't matter who steps on you to get ahead. Right Sarah P?

    January 12, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. WIL

    The so called maverick has turned into the mouth peace saying the same talking points as the rest of the dividers on the far right . these guys go on all the talk shows and say the same thing and know the maverick.

    January 12, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. dittohead using forty names

    Thanks John,Sarah has been just what we needed.Like a good little housewife,great to look at etc. and easy to tuneout.Even Limbaugh took the bait,hook, line, and sinker.

    January 12, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Yeah Right

    "But I must comment on the stunning double standard as far as the treatment of Sen. Lott who also made unfortunate and inopportune remarks and the treatment of Harry Reid by the liberal left."

    Double standard? Lott had a voting record that put his money where his mouth was, Reid does not. What is "stunning" is that McCain cannot seem to understand the difference.

    January 12, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. sara

    Your OWN party was out to get Lott, and Ceased the opportunity when he made that NON comparison remark. McCain, did you vote for this Segregationist in 1948, and would the nation be better off if Thurmond had won the Presidency......? Your actions speaks louder than Words, Sir. Dr. KING'S HOLIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I"ll bet on REID......I believe little of what is spoken, I watch your "feet"! (what you do)

    January 12, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Obama 08 but...

    Oh, why doesn't he just sock it to Sarah Palin. Let's face it. McCain could have won the presidency had he not listened to whoever advised him to choose her. He had an entire panel of would-be president elects to choose from, and "he chose her" and she took their campaign to the grave yard. I would admire him more had he just come out and admitted this. Oh well, Huckabee got a show out of it and now we'll have a whole new slew of "Palinisms" to banter about.

    BTW, what Trent Lott said is NO WAY compariable to Reid. Reid comment was highly analytical, I mean half the forms we fill out these days ask us What is your race? Because he wasn't "politically correct" by actually talking about it then he should have to resign? If he resigns, I hope it's because he can't serve his post properly, not over this bogus stuff.

    January 12, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. inthewest

    John McCain...here's a man who says he didn't "know those kinds of words were still in the American lexicon" and yet has been documented calling his wife obsceneties....talk about a double standard.

    January 12, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. Mickey

    What I want to know is who keeps on pulling this dinosaurs' string?

    January 12, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
1 2 3 4 5