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. jerseylou

    Hey cornyn,when did you become saintly you and your buddies are the most racist people in the entire World.

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

    John Cornyn should the country a favor and resign! How this guy or any other GOP member can make this statement is hypocritical at best. Please stop pretending with your lies. We all know where you stand on race.

    January 10, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Liberal4Obama

    Republicans are so funny, they call President Obama worst names everyday and I don't see them resigning over it because republican politicians are hateful vindictive people, its in their nature.

    January 10, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. unemployed by Obama

    Reid needs to step down for his racist remarks and Obama needs to step down for his racist remarks about white police officers. It just shows me how racists these democrates are and they call others racist. Obama, the Democratic Senators and Representatives and the current administration are all racists and they show it with their racist comments. It is time to impeach Obama and for all racist democrates to step down.

    January 10, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom

    Republican hypocrisy....... "do as I say, not as I do."

    I don't believe for a second that Mr. Cornyn has President Obama's best interest in mind, its just another stab in the back from the holier-than-thou GOP.

    January 10, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. yankeegirl15

    Shut-up Texas pig, Homey don't play that game.

    January 10, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. NC

    Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black when a republican is upset about racist remarks. Just look at what the republicans have agreed with since we elected our first African American President: Racist birthers, tea baggers, death panels, signs of our President as hitler, signs with our President as a gorilla and many other offensive racist remarks and pictures at rallies across the country that republicans attend.

    January 10, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Annie

    Come on Republicans, if the President accepts his appology then back off and stop trying to distract America from the problems we are facing and the problems all of you Republicans need to start working with the President on and get things done for the people of this country. We are tired of your distractions........your lies.......your NO NO NO.......your stonewalling......your belly aching........your whinning........The GOP will stop at nothing

    January 10, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Hold the boat.. A Republican that doesn't like a Democrat? Unprecedented. Is this really news?

    January 10, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Poor old Corny John,pandering to the brainless base again?

    January 10, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Jan

    This is old stuff.

    There is too much hatred all around.

    Let us try a more constructive level of discourse.

    January 10, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. ICARE

    Obama has already practice what he preached – the power of forgiveness. Reid is safe. Everyone deserves a second chance.

    January 10, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. StevieB

    Yeah, Reid! Don't you know racially insensitive and racist commments are the Republicans' thing? Everybody knows that. It has been common knowledge for years and years. How dare you try to steal it!

    January 10, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. valwayne

    Why do Republicans need to demand that Reid step down? Where is Obama? Where is Jessee Jackson? Where is Rev Sharpton? Where is Nancy Pelosi? Where is the NAACP? Where is Charlie Rangel? Where is Barney Frank? Where is Sen Schumer? Where is Sen Boxer? Where is Steny Hoyer? Where are all the Democrats that cry the Health Care protestors are racists when faced with real racists comments? Are they all lying hypocrites?

    January 10, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Ron L - Michigan

    Once again some of the Republicans are trying to make "much ado about nothing". First we need to remember that Senator Lotts statement was much more "bone headed" because it implied that things were better when segragation still existed. I am sure he did not mean it that way, he was probably refering to other events happening at that time in our history.
    Second thing we need to realize, while Senator Reids choice of words are pretty clumsy (especailly for some one that has been in public office for some time), the statement is fundamentally true. As a 55 year old Black Man I believe IF Barack Obama had been very dark skin AND had more of a Urban dialect, a small percentage of ( over the age of 50 ) white voters would have had a more difficult time voting for him. I could not say how large of a percentage that would have been but I do believe it would have made an negative impact. Please note I do not think the percentage woud have been large enough for him to have lost the Presidency, BUT I surely believe it would have been a slightly tighter race.

    January 10, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    Oh dear – don't tell me President Obama is black – and John McSongbird is old and white.

    That will mess up the whole world.

    January 10, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. cane

    I'm no fan of Harry Reid, but the notion he should step down over the comments he made is ridiculous. If anyone should be calling for his resignation it should be the President and that is obviously not the case nor is going to happen. Let's move on.

    January 10, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  18. Rauwsdower

    Oh who cares what Reid says. Why have him step down ? He's on our side !

    January 10, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. xmleft

    Steele better worry about what the "GOP" Grand Ole Pimps have said about him, unapologeticaly!

    January 10, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Yossi Gestetner

    Reid's remarks "Racially Insensitive"? No, u leftist: his remarks were pure RACIST!

    January 10, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. Harry Katz

    It's really quite hilarious to see racist Republicans calling upon Reid to step down because of his remark. Obama knows and everyone knows that Reid is no racist. Look at the healthcare bill Reid is helping pass which helps out millions of African Americans that Republicans voted against precisely because Federal dollars will be spent benefting people of color. The great majority of Republicans are racist. It's only since 2008 that people are waking up to that fact. Republicans are like the emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes. Enough people now see through Republicans' charades. They used to be able to fool enough people to keep getting Republicans elected to high office. Now only those Republicans winning local races, representing their own racist citizenry, are getting elected.

    January 10, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Shelly

    Senator Corny has backed the insidious tactics and rhetoric of the tea baggers( Obama as Hitler, Obama effigies, hate filled rhetoric), the whacky Birthers , the no facts Fox news, and all the other bigoted loonies.
    And now he has opened his bitter mouth on something so tame.
    The GOP are hypocrites!

    January 10, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |

    If any one should give up his position it should be john cornyn, he has done nothing for the people of texas but show his butt. he walked in lock step with bush on every issue. then turns around and critizes Obama in every way. the r4epublican party is nothing but a bunch of sore head losers. texas and america would be much better off if john cornyn and his ilk were voted out of office.

    January 10, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. Unfazed in TX

    John Cornyn should step down.

    January 10, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. Dan Holiday

    Why can't democrats see how unbelievably racist they truly are? I mean they have a former KKK member in their ranks. Reid says this kind of stuff and you defend him? They promote affirmative action which is racist as can be. Assuming that a minority can't get a job or get into a school unless you give them a leg up? Please...that is so racist it is not even funny. Democrats are the party of racism and it shows.

    January 10, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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