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. Mlhall

    I am glad people know that Steele is not Black. He is one of the first African-American Uncle Tom in a long time. We know we don't have to kiss your behind to get where we need to go these days, but we do need to know how to get along together. People like Steele who will sell his sole for a dime or ten minute of fame are not what America need right now. He is so busy trying to keep President Obama down until he doesn’t know he is keeping his own self down. While he is putting his foot on President Obama neck little does he know he must stay right there because if he takes his foot off President Obama Neck President will be gone.

    December 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Ace

    Whats the problem, Slavery ia apart of the history of our country and people did drag their feet on abolishing it.

    December 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Lucullus

    Oh spare us more outrage from whiney conservatives. These clowns have been on the wrong side of everything, from social security and unemployment insurance, to women voting, to civil rights, to fair taxation. They claim to be the party of personal responsiblity but the NEVER take any responsibility for their beliefs or behavior.

    December 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Dr. Cole

    What was Harry thinking? It's not like the Republicans were the ones that wanted to rid slavery...get a clue Harry! You just gave a black eye to your own party. Just because I don't want this health care bill for many different reason's besides being a physician. I don't like being the target of sly remarks that say that I am for slavery or a you even know my family??? I didn't think so!

    December 8, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. New Era

    Steele, get your Grand Old Party of slave owner in line.

    December 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. carlos, THAT one

    apologize for what you idiot?.....all you criminal republicans should be apologizing to the world for your amoral, corrupt and evil doings.....your rnc chairman is a complete arse, period

    December 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Realist

    Dems can hate Repubs all they want, but to say opposing a government run health plan is the same thing as opposing slavery is ridiculous and insulting at best, massive desperation and ignorance or his part. And this guy is an elected official? Sad...

    December 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Michael Donnelly

    the remark made relating to "slavery" is actually a remark that is directed at obstructionism, which appears to be the Conservative Republican anbswer to everything. We have been nearly destroyed by Reagon Economic strategies, spent to the brink of oblivion by Republican war decisions, nearly lost Social Security and Medicare through their greed and avarice, and see only the very wealthy receive tax incentives who then in turn destroy American Jobs and Unions. They, Republicans wish to be called the party of Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln would have found all of their current attitudes, statements, and hypocracy to be agains everything in which he believed.

    I think the remark was well deserved and to the point.

    December 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Carl

    Reid is right, if you look at the history of this country, you see plenty of examples. You go Harry for letting them know.

    December 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. MemphisBleek

    I see nothing wrong with those comments.....i guess its hard to hear the truth sometimes and the unknown can be a scary thing.

    December 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Viet.Vet

    Steele can't recognize his nose because of its current location even thou its right between his eyes and his token brains. Every time the GOP are called out for what they really are, they cry foul even Ray Charles may God bless his soul can see what they are about, they are slight of hands 20th Century segregationists hiding behind a vail of rightness.

    December 8, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. andrewstl


    go away. even the folks in the gop think your a joke.

    go back to sesame street you did good things there

    December 8, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Jo

    No, Mr. Steele, it was a reality check moment. The point is- when it's really important, there are many politicians who don't see the reality of the situation but instead become entrenched in their beliefs- no matter the cost to mankind.

    Don't apologize- it was an absolutely appropriate historical reference.

    December 8, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Moderate Sean

    Steele is an idiot...the remark wasn't racist, it was referring to folks being obstructionists, and if the shoe fits....If you cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen Mr. Steele!

    December 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Troy

    Ummm... did he say anything that wasn't untrue? No, he didn't.
    They're facts... it's the same thing that opposition has said to progressive ideas for decades, if not centuries.

    I think it's a completely fair assessment of what is going on.
    The opposition is simply trying to stall to keep the status quo.

    December 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Ken

    So is Michael Steele saying that's not the way it went in the US not so long ago?
    He really needs to stop being so sensitive, because people around him are saying worse. (even about him)

    December 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Pete

    Right...of course NO ONE EVER in the GOP has used a "slavery" analogy to describe Democrats. Media Matters has chronicled Glenn Beck, for instance, invoking "slavery" over a dozen times this year on his program.

    Guess it's only wrong when a Democrat does it, eh what>

    December 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. RCasson

    Reid was right. Michael Steele is a token. I am black and Steele is the one I think is ignorant.

    December 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. justsane

    yes mr. steele, health care is important to the american people. so let's have every republican senator "go to the well" and apologise for standing in the way of that reform for the last century. if the gop is not willing to be helpful in getting real reform passed, can they at least get out of the way?

    December 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Karen

    anything to distract from the issues, shut up Michael Steele

    December 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Samantha

    What now we can't even make remarks about slavery or the past? The more we give the more is taken away from us all in the name of political correctness! Every time you think all is well with racial issues it's always a black person that sucks you back into the fold? They are the ones that have a huge chip on their shoulders. What gets me is that no one who is fueling these issues today was ever a slave? Why don't we ever talk about how the Irish were treated or how they were enslaved? Or the Chinese? Or the fact that is was their own race of people who sold them into slavery to begin with? I really don't care what color you are, it's not your color that matters it's your humanity that counts. But all this hyper sensitive word play is really irritating.

    December 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. LB in FL

    Harry Reid should only apologize when Glenn Beck apologizes for calling Pres. Obama a racist, when John McCain apologizes to the nation for thrusting the whack job, Sarah Palin on us and when ClusterFox news apologizes for well....pretty much everything they spin and lie on a daily basis, when Joe Wilson apologizes for calling the President a lier at a joint session of Congress, when Michele Bachmann apologizes for saying there are "unamerican terrorist in the Congress", when the 8 hours a day of Obama bashing on right wing talk radio apologizes, when W and Dick apologize for destroying the country and taking us into Iraq based on their lies. Then and only then should Harry Reid apologize for anything!

    December 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. CP

    Give up the self-righteous indignation, stop spinning, and do work.

    December 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Dave

    Nice false outrage Steele.

    December 8, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. CK

    I think he needs to get over it. Reading the statement used, it wasnt used in a derogitory way, as it was used as an example of past history. It's like if anyone uses anything associated with the wrongs of America's past, SOMEONE gets "offended". In some cases, these comments are very aggressive and meant to be aimed at a group/person. However, this time it was merely an example of how slow the Governement was a few hundred years ago when it came to aboliting slavery. Everyone's feelers get hurt way too easily these days, and I see this complaint as more of a rally cry against the other party.

    December 8, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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