December 8th, 2009
12:37 PM ET
7 years ago

GOP head demands apology for slavery remark

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="RNC Chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have 'nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery.'"]
(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Tuesday demanded that the Senate Democratic leader apologize for invoking slavery as he criticized Republicans for their opposition to passing health care reform.

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is this: Slow down, stop everything, let's start over," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday.

"If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right," Reid also said from the Senate floor. "When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough."

Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, took exception with Reid's remarks.
"It was not a sober moment for Harry Reid at all," Steele said Tuesday morning on CBS. "It was an ignorant moment.

"I'm kind of sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country. When they get into trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is that they're trying to do, they go to that card. They play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card."

Steele added that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have "nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery."

The RNC head said Reid "needs to go to the well of the Senate, take it back, and apologize for offending the sensibilities of the American people on something so important."

Filed under: Harry Reid • Health care • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. Russ

    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!! Mr. Steele, you are one of the worst offenders in the history of this country. To start with there was nothing racial about the statement you moron. How do you get racist from slowing down progress on health care when compared to slowing the fight against slavery. Are you that stupid?He basicly stated what everyone already understands. The Republicant's are stubborn, hypocritical, obstructionist morons.

    December 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Help me

    I wouldn't apologies for anything, it's the truth. Deal with it.

    December 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Nat J

    Whether or not slavery was germane to the issue, Reid is spot on in his assessment of the Republican party as obstructionist and offering no ideas and solutions of their own. Instead they bleat about fiscal responsibility, which is just another way of telling the vast majority of the American public who are getting screwed by private health insurance carriers, or who have no health insurance at all, to just suck it up. The Dems aren't perfect, and perhaps the plan isn't perfect either. (It'll be even less perfect without a public option to force private insurers to actually be competitive.) At lest all those tiresome left-leaning Democrats are trying to do something more than the Republicans, who continue to stick their heads in the sand and ignore that fact that this and other serious issues (oil dependence, the environment, the economy, a big-stick foreign policy, to name just a few) that are coming to a head right now have been festering, largely unaddressed, for decades. If there's anyone who should be doling out apologies, it's the Grand Old Party, who apparently think the party is only for a select few.

    December 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Gina

    I see nothing wrong with what Reid said! I think it's spot on. There was nothing racial about that comment.

    December 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. dave

    I thought these Republicans were supposed to be Christian

    Start treating your neighbors as you treat yourself

    Republicans in Congress have government sponsored health care, how about making sure your constituents have health care

    December 8, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. mtanne

    I guess it's not appropriate to bring up anything from our history without attaching an apology to it. How sad it is how easily it is for everyone to be offended in this era or is it just a way of banging the drum for one's hidden agenda?

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Michael

    Reid wasn't comparing the healthcare debate to slavery, for god's sake. As usual, a lot of fake GOP indignation and hand-wringing masquerading as a serious issue.

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. bob in LA

    I know it's only politics, but Ried should apologize for a bad comparission.
    The Dems made a big dealout of Trent Lott's off the cuff comment, its only logical that the Reps would do the same.
    What Ried should have said is by not voting for healthcare reform is the same as condoning genocide. Millions will die without proper, affordable care.

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Drew

    Yes, it was a silly comment by Reid. But let's face it, he doesn't have an approval rating at 20% for being the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Dan

    You don't have to apologize when things are true.

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. JES

    Reid your time is up and you are not worth voting for.

    I hope the only good thing I can say about your thoughts are get with today not not over 100 years ago. I know that's not good but I couldn't think of anything good to say about you.

    It's time for you to get a real job.

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. JJ Snyder

    the GOP is is the party of "No!" they are the party of obstruction!!! all sorts of these tactics were used by those in congress regarding slavery, women's rights, civil rights.

    michael steele is being ridiculous. to demand an apology everytime a Dem calls you out... that's a lot of apologies he's trying to rack up lol. stand your ground, Reid!!!

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Reid was absolutely spot on-Let the hypocrites try to convince their ignorant base that the truth of our history is somehow an insult to somebody

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. History’s lesson

    Research it yourself.. The GOP has been on the wrong site of history more often than not. It's a shame, we have real problems in this country, health care just one of them; the GOP are obstructionists on so many levels. Harry's comments were right on target.
    Bravo Harry, you gave it back to them (as they deserve).

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. JR Poole

    To make reference to history even as bad as it was should take no offense if you mean to right wrongs and seek better ways of life for everyone. Why debate health care at all, make it work! The future 135th congress one day wont look bad saying "why didn't the 111th do it sooner – it might save a our nation from preventable illnesses, we could have been a stronger nation" they'd say. Congress apologized for slavery June 2009 (the House 2008) why not sooner, the British in 2006 it just seems that in some areas the United States of America is tardy to progress. Too much red tape blockades in order to see who will profit first. – Make this work ! 111th if the republicans take majority next elections then the 112th will make sure it doesn't pass. (I'm a blk American who's not offended by Reid)

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. michael

    Give me a break Steele, I am a black man and I'm not offended by this. I am more offended by your defense of a party that has done virtually nothing for the middle class in america.

    Shut up and go away.

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. ATR

    Fake outrage from the GOP once again. These people say the most vile things i.e. death panels, and then demand apoligies. We Americans want an apology for George W. Bush's eight years of lies, trampling of the constitution on and running up the national debt. When we get that apology, then we'll talk.

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Melvina

    The GOP is always declaring what the American people want... What most American people want is for the GOP to stop spending all their time and effort going against everything and anything Democrats and Obama say or try to accomplish, with the most outlandish, offense, twisting, and dismissal of the facts. The GOP is all for corporate power and obscene profits at the expense of the average American. They don't give 2 hoots about the constitution or our country. I wish the teabaggers, birthers, deathers, and other idiot groups would wake up and start thinking about which group is really concerned with the best interests of the American people. ...and it aint the GOP.

    December 8, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |

    And now RNC Chair Steele jumps into the Senate’s Great Health Care Reform Kabuki Dance.

    Yesterday, Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) went onto the Senate floor to make some comments that on their face seem stupid, equating meaningless GOP efforts to block health care reform with efforts to block the end of slavery.

    Why? To distract as many people as possible from the fact that yesterday he created a panel of ten Democrats that will kill a public health insurance option.

    Now the Republicans want to let their supports believe that they've been important in killing the public option, though they have not.

    (Well, ok. They did have their part to perform in the kabuki to kill a public option.)

    Let no one forget that Senator Harry Reid led the way in killing a public health insurance option.

    December 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. realist

    Reid is right.

    History will judge those who stood idly by while thousands of Americans died needlessly for lack of insurance. The private, profit-based insurance industry has had ample opportunity to create a business model that covers everyone and turns a profit. They've failed. Too many of us are suffering. Time for the government to step in and fix it. The train is moving - you're either on board, or waiting alongside, or, like Steele, standing in the tracks.

    December 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. MishaJohn

    Reid should have called the GOP a bunch of "Nazis" or "fascists," or the GOP caucus a "death panel" intent on "killing grandma" and millions of children through rationed care and "re-education camps." Apparently, the GOP finds that kind of rhetoric acceptable. At this rate, the GOP is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2010 midterms.

    December 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Michael

    I think the remark was right on the money.

    A refusal to act on an obvious problem for the greater good is very much like the arguments against banning slavery.

    People need medical care and we need a better medical system.

    December 8, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Gerry from sd

    Steele you are an IDIOT! Although I agree using the slavery to support his argument wasn't in good taste: RACE WAS NOT THE ISSUE! The issue was his accusation that Republicans do nothing but sit there when the Country is in need of change. Way to completely miss the topic and try to twist the focus on something completely different.

    December 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. kincas

    Reid was simply making a true comparison. He did not lie so there is nothing to apologize for. RNC is the one that needs to apologize...
    Is Michael Steele black? Yep just outside...
    By the way I'm a black man...

    December 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Sandra,Atlanta

    It is like so many ignorant moments that both parties including Michael Steele have had. Is it too much too ask that both parties just shut up with the mud slinging and name calling and get to work together to fix some of the nation's problems. Neither one of you has a solution by yourself but maybe you could if you actually worried about doing some work. You do have to hand it to the Democrats whether you like everything they do or not. At least they are not constantly criticising. However, both groups do too much of it. I for one am absolutely fed up with them all. I personally don't think Michael Steele has a clue either.

    December 8, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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