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. Mickey

    Harry Reid's comment was right on the mark concerning Republicans, but Steele is too stupid to recognize the comment for what it meant.

    When in doubt, blow the comment out of context and twist it to suit your brain-dead agenda.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Greg

    awww... is michael steele sick of the left and the democrats? waaaah waaaah... Maybe if you could win an election, you wouldn't have to whine all the time. You couldn't even win NY-23, a district who hasn't had a democrat in that seat for over a hundred years. Stop embarrassing yourself and stop embarrassing this country.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. robrubin

    I wonder how many Republicans today would favor slavery if they were alive in the 1800s.

    Slavery is not the issue here. As usual the Republicans are trying to bend and twist words to take the focus off passing health reform. Reid was using slavery as example of a difficult issue that was met with opposition when people wanted to ban it. It was a historical reference.
    So get over it Michael Steele and all of your other GOP phonies.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Kate

    Sorry Steele but Reid got it are the party of NO, the party of delay, the party of negativity, the party of denigning the American people Health Care, the party of stalling any bill or progress in was your party that delayed the rights for Black to have their this is just another attempt to slow down the progress of America and to Stall every attempt to get anything done in Washington.....Reid does not owe the GOP any is you the Republicans that owe American an a apology and stop with all your excuses and procrastination..........

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Anthony from NC

    Mr. Steele doesn't have a problem with his party noot wanting to give the LGBT community their civil rights. And the race card???? He would be the first to use it, The Hypocritican party is out of touch with America and it shows.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Marie

    edited response (never reply in a hurry)

    I'm an American – I'm not offended. I completely agree with Harry Reid'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 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Jenn, Philadelphia

    All those on the left who were tired of the "sleaze" of the last 8 years seem to be awfully quiet when their guys are sleazy.

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

    Reid is right. Steele is trying to turn this into someting bigger than it is. The idea of trashing all the work that has been done and starting over is rediculous. The GOP had 8 years to do something right and they failed across the board.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Sharon

    For someone who lets the racial snow storm from the Republican party pass straight in front of his eyes- Hold your breath for an apology!!!!!

    December 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. brian

    Reid's remarks were spot on. It's shameful that the lily white Repugnicans need to trot out their racial window dressing (Steele) to hop up and down with feigned indignation over "playing cards".

    December 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. dieselbug

    Note to Mr Steele – go to the internet, and research what analogy means. Then look at Senator Reid's comments and reconsider the message therein.

    December 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Danny

    Congressman Reid has nothing to apologize for. He merely made an analogy that the GOP's dithering on helping get health care reform enacted is the same thing they did when civil rights laws were being proposed. Just because Chairman Steele is black doesn't give him the right to be offended any time the word "slavery" is utterred. At least that's what the GOP is always saying.

    December 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. over65havingfun

    reid is right on, michael steele should be listening, not talking

    December 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. gt

    that beedie eyed weaselharry ried will say anything,,,,, thats is so stupid to say something like that,,,, what a pathedic leader,,,,

    December 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. smokey

    I think Steele has alot of nerve asking Harry R. for an opology..What about all of his parties riducluas and inflammatory remakrs they made this past summer, at those so called town hall meetings..Funny, I did not hear any of the Dems asking for an opology when they were talking about " pull the plug on grandma, and death camps "..And lets not forget the infamous moment when one of their own called the Pres of the Unites States " a liar"..Where was all this outcry from the RNC for an opology then !..I am an African Amercian and I totally agree w/Sen Reid's comments..He was only telling it like it is ! And I , as I am sure there are quite alot of African Amercian folks who feels the same am glad he said it..Its about time the Dems started giving you people some push-back..Sounds to me Steele, you peopel ae so quick to dish it out, but cant take it when the same is done to you...Sounds like you people want to have your cake and eat it to..Well, looks like this time, the show is on the ohter foot ! So you might as well wear it....Good for you Sen Reid !!!

    December 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. babs

    Reid is right. All I ever hear the GOP say is stop, wait. no.
    Micheal Steele is an idiot. Grasping at anything in order not to do anything.

    December 8, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. Brunton

    What a joke, this guy goes around talking about fictional 'death panels' and other corporate lies and then pulls the race card. The GOP's current oppressive policy positions should be compared to other instances of backwards thinking in our history. Steele is the one who should apologize to the 99% of Americans that are in his crosshairs, even if half are too ignorant to know it.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    For the one that say that Democrats supported slavery not the republicans...they are half right. It was the SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS & ALL REPUBLICANS who supported slavery.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. J

    Oh Stop!! U are such a sell out... Just get to work and stop trying to distract people from the real issues.

    The GOP does nothing to contribute to the progress and welfare of the population, they are a party that is only focused on the welfare of corporations.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. moderate

    I agree with Mr. Steele. How does the old line go? When you can't win a case (arguement), dirty it up. I agree that we need reform. But we don't need this excesive rhetoric.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. Joe

    I am getting tired to have anyone apologizing for slavery, something that we don't have nothing to do with it, we, now, and I am not talking about then. And even if I do talk about then, it was needed. Work needed to be done, and black reach their promise land, with a price. Now everyone is happy, and we even have a black President in the White House. So don't talk about slavery, when we still have some native American Indians still living in Indian reservation.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. theotherguy

    I really don't see why an apology is necessary.

    December 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Tony in Maine

    Don't you just love it when the party that lost "demands" an apology for being labeled what they are – a mid 19th Century party playing to a base in cotton country.

    Move over Whigs – here comes the Party of No.

    December 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Donovan

    I agree with Harry Reid. This is just more false outrage by the Republicans.

    December 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. TWM

    Ah! Faux outrage. As sure as night follows day, the GOP will "wring their hands" and "pull theri hair" about the latest Democratic "outrage"

    What they're really mad about is that is that they couldn't find a way for Congressman Bonehead or Senator Tightface to work it in to a speech!

    Fish or cut bait, boys!

    December 8, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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