January 10th, 2010
02:16 PM ET
11 years ago

GOP senator demands Reid relinquish leadership post

Washington (CNN) –A senior Republican senator called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down as majority leader, following the revelation that the Nevada Democrat made racially insensitive remarks about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the GOP's Senate campaign arm, called on Reid to vacate his position in a statement released Sunday.

"It's difficult to see this situation as anything other than a clear double standard on the part of Senate Democrats and others," Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement sent to CNN. "In 2002, Democrats expressed outrage at Senator Lott and called on him to step down as Leader. That same standard should be applied to Senator Reid and his embarrassing and racially insensitive statements; statements, I would add, that Senator Reid still has yet to clarify. As we await his explanation, Senator Reid should do the right thing, follow the example that he himself set in 2002, and step down as Majority Leader."

Reid has personally apologized to Obama and prominent African-American leaders for his remarks. The president released a statement Saturday, saying he accepted Reid's apology.

"Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today," Obama said in the statement released by the White House. "I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."

Reid's comments about Obama appear in a new book, "Game Change," which is scheduled to be in bookstores Tuesday.

The authors quote Reid as saying privately that Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

"He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama - a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' " authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say. "Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination," they write.

CNN obtained a copy of the book Saturday from a Washington bookstore.

Cornyn's demand for Reid to step down was first reported by Politico.

- CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report.

Filed under: Harry Reid • John Cornyn • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Eli

    Reid should call for Steele's resignation. Both men should resign and form a third party that no one would ever vote for.

    January 10, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    screw the GOP a bunch of known racist purist Reids comments were not said in a racist way at all his comment was his personal observation of the President . so to all the purist GOP'ERS HAIL TO YOUR CRAP SLINGING and you will continue to eat your own people .so keep it to your selves THE PARTY OF "NO " 🙂

    January 10, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. steven harnack

    The Republicans never miss a chance to show what incredible hypocrites they are. What Reid said is not even in the same league as what they say on a daily basis about Pres. Obama.

    January 10, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. David

    Well, ain't that pot calling the kettle African American...

    January 10, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. Reid...what Leadership..??

    Reid a leader....lets all have a good laugh...!!!!!

    Let the fumbler...bumbler hang aroud awhile...Nevada will give him the walking papers come 2010 elections....!!!!

    January 10, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. katiec

    Cornyn talking about double standards.
    That man has more gall than the law allows.
    What irresponsible hypocrits.

    January 10, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. trueposition

    Come on, it´s all about election! They want him loose his seat noting else! GOP members are the most irresponsible and clearly unrespectful to the president! So all of a sudden they care about respecting the president? What kind of words have they uesd against the president sofar? Racially or other wise? The president is partly white and partly black, but most importantly a creature of God serving his country deligently. Reid apologised and it was welcomed. Republicans simply wanner chip in some minority votes here! But won´t succeed I guess!!

    January 10, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. rick

    what harry reid said IN PRIVATE CONVERSATION and what trent lott said TO A CROWD are not the same thing and, no matter how the gopers spin it, is never going to be the same thing.

    January 10, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. A classic Freudian slip....

    Reid is basically racist and as much as he tried to hide it, the truth slipped out...it always does. Resign-fool.

    January 10, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. AJ

    Reid should step down for many reasons. This is just one of many. Step down Harry and let new leadership actually take the Democratic agenda somewhere before the midterms. Reid's filure of leadership is monumental. This gives us the perfect excuse to dump him.

    January 10, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. D. Tree

    Seems like the Republicans will do anything to grab a headline – why don't they focus on things America cares about instead of making political theater out of everything – what a bunch of drama queens!

    January 10, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Albo58

    There is and has always been a double standard when it comes to race between the two parties. And what is ironic and most baffling is that black Americans will continue to support the same Democrat Party that fought for slavery, against intergration, and for their enslavement into the welfare state! Additionally, the liberal media will of course give a bye to Reid. Lastly, I don't think Harry has the integrity nor shame to ever consider resigning!

    January 10, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Dan

    The statements Reid made were frank political analysis and not racist. The Republicans would do well to focus on real issues.

    January 10, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. WDM

    John Cornyn, a right wing racist, demands what?

    January 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Justin

    Another nit-wit Republican demanding so called "justice". The republican party has become a party of whiners and playground thugs.

    January 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Ken in NC

    It seems the election of an Afircan American President has done nothing to change the position of this country on the issue of race. It appears, if anything, it has increased the slap backs by both party's at anything said today that in anyway refers to color of a mans skin. Most Blacks today see varying degrees of racial statements based on the content in which they are made and who makes them.

    While I am Black, I am sensitive to descriptions of other races so as not to offend and I do not see every instance where one should be fired, resign or voted from an office. It appears Mr. Steele does unless it is he who makes the statement. Now I would never have used the phrase Mr.Steele used about Indians being honest because I understand it's meaning, however, he feels it was ok for him to do so because he "Honestly" had no intention for that remark to be taken in a racial manner. Why could Mr Reid not have felt the same about his statement? I feel both men were wrong in making the statements they made but neither of them should be forced from their respective positions for their misspoken statements.

    I feel Mr. Reid will probably not survive his reelection effort in his home state and also that Mr. Steele will not survive much longer in his post as the Chairman of the Republican Party so let it go Mr. Steel. Both of you have bigger worries facing you.

    On the other hand, if one or both men should be forced from their positions, it should not be for their statements but for their STUPIDITY.

    January 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. usualone

    Mr. Reid learned from his mistake and President Obama accepted his apology. No one would be in any office if all insensitive comments were deleted from the American vocabulary. From what I read, Mr. Reid was never derogatory towards Mr. Obama, even though his comments were without thought. That is not enough reason for him to quit office. The Republicans have a way of insulting everyone who is not a Republican. I remember when President Reagan talked as if the word "liberal" were a dirty word. Now suddenly people call Mr. Obama a "socialist." To the Republicans that spout all the time, the only Americans are Republican (and they only care about themselves by their true lack of sympathy for those in unfortunate circumstances.) Of course, Cornym would make such a mountain out of Mr. Reid's comments. I wonder how many times his has spoken without thought of the consequences?

    January 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Luke Brown

    Oh boy, I bet Reid is really taking this one seriously.

    January 10, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Ruti

    If you make Reid step down for something he said about another politician-then every politicians in Washington needs to go. They are all guilty of that. In fact every American in America has done that. How stupid and short minded John Cornyn is. Maybe he needs to go.

    January 10, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. S Callahan NYS

    Harry's sorry.....but.....wasn't there a guy in the past from a different party that had to step down for similar comment......what is good for the goose is good for the gander...right?

    January 10, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Tony in Maine

    This is called a weapon of mass distraction – a tool used regularly by members of the Party of No who would prefer to point fingers at others rather than take their own fearless and searching moral inventory.

    January 10, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Kyle

    Republicans want the American people to go back to the good ole days when we focused on the little things that kept our eyes away from Republicans literally robbing the country blind.

    January 10, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. ForThePeople

    We all make mistakes and if a sincere apology is offered and received, that should be the end of it. However, there is an obvious double standard that permeates DC. Steele is correct that if it was a Republican who made those racist comments, Democrats would be all over this.
    Unfortunately, doubles standards are a part of politics. And even though apologies for mistakes should carry the same weight regardless of party affiliation, the fact is that it doesn't. There is also more credibility for the argument regardind the suggestion for Reid to step down since this was not the first time he has displayed a mindset that could easily be characterized as racist.

    January 10, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Oodoodanoo

    This is the same John Cornyn who said we need the F-22 to fight India. Which is great, except that India is our ally.

    John Cornyn is the last person who should criticize someone for saying stupid things based on personal bias.

    January 10, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. catmomtx

    Oh, please. Why doesn't he pay attention to what is happening in his state. For instance, an 84 year old resident of Houston, TX has been in the Medicare "donut hole" since May 2009. Even though she was still paying her monthly premium for her Medicare Part D benefits, she had NO coverage. She was spending $700.00 a month for her prescription drugs. She exhausted any help she could get and is over income for the extra help some seniors are eligible for. Imagine her dismay when she received her last electric bill. $800.00 dollars!!!. She lives in a two bedroom, two story townhouse ALONE and received an $800.00 electric bill for ONE month. This was not a double bill, this person has ALWAYS paid her bills on time. And again, she is slightly over the income guidelines to receive any help. Perhaps Senator Cornyn could investigate why people in his state, an oil rich state are receiving $800.00 a month electricity bills. That is more important than what Harry Reid said a few years ago.

    January 10, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2 3