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. Lumberjack

    Pipe down Steele, you'd play the same hand if that's what you were dealt. It's funny how you right wingers can support endless money pits for war but don't want to pony up a few dollars so ALL Americans can get better healthcare.

    December 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. vgal

    Perhaps the comment should not have been made – but it is TRUE. Republicans will keep this country down – not believing in science or women's rights or stem cell research or alternative energy beyond 'drill baby drill'. These are the same people that would also have kept slavery around and kept women from voting. Come ON GOP – let this country PROGRESS.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. Nicholas

    Steele how much were you paid to cause harm to Obama administration? Be sure that it will finish one day. Party of no.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Jon

    Reid was right and Steele is just using this to stonewall health care reform, which is the GOP's only strategy right now. Personally, I'm kind of sick and tired of the right and Republicans in this country.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Really

    I hope Harry will be voted out. Politics is funny. The Dems complain when the Republicans "rush" into things and then complain when they want to slow down. It just depends on if it fits their agenda. I hope the American people wake up soon.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Roger

    This nit-wit calling anyone's remarks ignorant is about the silliest thing I have ever heard of, if Reid apologizes I hope he looses his senate race. Considering all of the things the right wing just say NO party has lied about Reid is crazy if he even thinks of saying he is sorry...just knowing how predudice the GOPers are they will just use Steele for there own gain.....

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Al

    As an African American, I for one am not offended by the comment. I feel that chairman Steele is grabbing for straws when it comes to obstructing and de-railing the health care debate. Senator Reid SHOULD NOT APOLOGIZE, for at least he is trying the problems of the nation. Instead fo just obstructing everything.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Scot

    Bye bye Mr. Reid... have fun riding your train from LA to Vegas with all of the free time you'll have on your hands!

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Rob Vukovic

    All African-Americans are demanding an apology from Michael Steele for just about everything he has said and done in recent years. The women of the country would like his apology for paling around with convicted rapist, known wife batterer and occasional cannibal, Mike Tyson

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. me

    Michael Steele seems like a nice guy. Too bad he is a token. I understood Reid's comparison and I can see how it upset some people. Slavery is a touchy subject. But I understood what he was really trying to say. He is just stating what alot of us is thinking.

    December 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Playtoe

    I'm getting quite tired of the Party of No. Policing everything Dems say, how they say it, whether true or not helpful and frankly is becoming all an all too prevalent behavior of many people. Stop the madness. Is this really worse than GOPers calling Obama a Socialist, or Cheney claiming Obama/Dems are "endangering the country", "threatening our security"? Haters are gonna hate...I guess.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    I am back to offer my apologizies to Mr. Steele as I did a google of his name after posting my last comment about him only to find that he was only about 6 years old at the time of the signing of the Civil Rights Bill. At that age I am sure he had no concept of the importance of that legislation, however, that does not excuse him from "LEARNING". As he learned many things while in school and after finishing school, history could and should have been one of the many things he learned. Any educated person and even some idiots will tell you that if you do not have a knowledge of history you are doomed to repeat it.

    I apologize to you Mr. Steele and still strongly urge you to read more history.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. HD

    I'm no fan of Harry Reid or his politics, but Michael Steele is just an idiot. Steele never has a point and just attempts to grab for headlines and stir the pot. If you're going to be cirtical of anothers comments, have a plan to present and not just hot air words. I'm tired of both Democrats and Republicans playing their little games. Neither party has the best interests of this country on thier agenda. We need to vote for politicians that have a real plan to fix the economy.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Common Sense

    Wow – poor Reid and the republicans. How dare the Dems keep bringing up those stupid civil rights issues. Wouldn't it be nice if they would just forget about the whole bill of rights thing and just let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I really don't see what was so bad about the statement – is it no longer ok to even mention the word slavery? It is a horrible part of our history, but a part nonetheless.

    Maybe the GOP wouldn't be so insulted if the Dems weren't right. Since Obama came to office, the Republicans have been the NO party. Whatever the Dems say, the GOP has the exact opposite position. Even when the Dems do what the Rep want – amazing.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. Marie

    I'm an American – I'm not offended. I completely agree with Michael Steele's statement. The Republicans are not looking out for the common people – in this case, they are very much like those who wanted to stall the end of slavery.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Jim

    Steele's complaint cannot be based on the propriety of Reid's remark. It can only be based on a desire to blast Reid for whatever excuse he can find. There is NOTHING wrong with what Reid said, indeed was ANTI-racist. Steele is looking hard for something to complain about.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. kt

    Is this what health care (which should be called Health Insurance Reform) has come to. You’re kidding right. The GOP was all up in arms because the Dems are always apologizing for our actions and then as soon as the Dems open their mouths the GOP wants apology. This is material for the tabloids not for one of the top nations in the world trying solve a difficult problem.

    December 8, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Eric

    No way no how should dems apologize...........

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. Jose

    Sounds like an appropriate statement to me? What's the wrong part?

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Ed E

    Sounds like Michael Steele needs to get over himself. What, is the word slavery now taboo??? Republicans are still in denial that they wrecked the whole world economy. They'll do anything to try to make people think of something else.

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Steve

    Once again Steele and the right have resorted to distortion to cover for their inaction. Any moron can discern the meaning of Reid's analogy. This isn't about slavery; it's all about digging in your heels and being an obstructionist. One has to ask, how much does the insurance industry stand to benefit from the so called conservative (aka tea baggers and Christian) right's obstruction?

    When will the Republicans be represented by the moderates? You know those people who can weigh the issues, take the best from both sides of the isle and forge a middle ground. Selfish should have been spelled out in the 10 Commandments; then just maybe they would see themselves in the mirror.

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Travis

    Sigh, more Democrats sticking up for their side regardless of how wrong they are. Very Democratic of you guys with your comments. Even when a Dem is wrong they act like a child and try to find a way to spin it around. Gotta love politics.

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Really

    I love how all the leftys complain about the cost of the war. The Federal Government is doing what was designed to do. Protect us and our way of life. Never was it designed to provide everything to everyone. Why not focus on getting people back to work so they can aford the best health care in the World as oppose to trying to dismantle the best healthcare in the World.

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. torrin123

    Right to free speech. No one should be forced to apologize for anything they don't feel sorry for, period.

    I do think it's humorous that the Reid made this comment, the pre-Civil War democrats actually supported slavery, way to study your history Mr. Senator.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. felicia

    Michael Steele is a complete fool, reid is a loser, for the record i really don't care for any of the folks surrounding President Obama anyway. I hope the President don't trust either one of them as well.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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