Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told KNPR radio Friday he hopes Republicans’ opposition to President Obama isn’t fueled by the color of his skin, Talking Points Memo reports. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African-American serving in the U.S. Senate, blasted Reid for his remarks and called on him to apologize.
“It’s been obvious that they’re doing everything they can to make him fail,” Reid said during the interview. “And I hope, I hope — and I say this seriously — I hope that’s based on substance and not the fact that he’s African-American.”
“My counterpart, Mitch McConnell, said at the the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama that he had one goal — and that is to defeat Obama and make sure he wasn’t re-elected. And that’s how they legislate in the Senate,” Reid also said. “It was really bad. And we’re now seven months into this second term of the president’s and they haven’t changed much.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring tweeted this in response to Reid’s remarks:
Scott’s later released the following statement, via TPM:
“I am sincerely disappointed by continued attempts to divide the American people by playing to the lowest common denominator. Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration – from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others – Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen.
“Our country deserves more from those in Washington. I hope Senator Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks and apologize to those who disagree with the President’s policies because of one thing – they are hurting hardworking American families.”
An email from McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart said Reid erred, as McConnell’s comments about making Obama a one-term president came during an October 2010 interview with National Journal, TPM reports, and not at the outset of his first term.
“So both the statement and the premise are false,” Stewart told TPM.
The New York Times’ editor of the editorial page came to Reid’s defense:
But Mr. Reid was just putting into words what many, many people have felt. Including me.
Note to Twitter: I am not saying every Republican is a racist. That would be flat wrong, just as it would be wrong to say that no Democrats are racists. Opposing Mr. Obama’s policies does not automatically make anyone racist.
What I am saying is that I suspect — apparently along with Mr. Reid — that a white president with the exact same plans and ideas would not have encountered the same kind of fierce opposition.
Reid’s statement concerning Obama’s race came after a listener insinuated Republicans have wanted Obama to fail; you can listen to Reid’s full comment starting at the 35-minute mark.