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“It’s difficult to see this situation as anything other than a clear double standard on the part of Senate Democrats and others,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Jack Reed of Rhode Island joined other Democrats in saying Mr. Reid’s apology and Mr. Obama’s statement were enough, rejecting comparisons to the Lott episode.

“I think that’s a totally different context. Harry Reid made a misstatement,” Mr. Reed said. “He owned up to it. He apologized. I think he is mortified by the statement he’s made. And I don’t think he should step down.”

Mrs. Feinstein also said that “I saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott.”

But several Democrats — including Mrs. Feinstein — did in fact target Mr. Lott after his remarks. “This statement casts a dark shadow over Sen. Lott’s ability to be a credible party leader,” she said in 2002, according to an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin news story.

“I can tell you if a Democratic leader said such a thing, they would not be allowed to keep their position,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, said of Mr. Lott in 2002.

Sen. John Kerry also called on Mr. Lott to resign, saying “I simply do not believe the country can today afford to have someone who has made these statements again and again be the leader of the United States Senate,” according to a Boston Globe article.