- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that he has been “warmed as to the response I’ve gotten around the country” in defense of his record and accepting his apology for racially-tinged remarks he made about President Barack Obama during the 2008 race for the White House.

“I’ve been really — my heart, I’ve — has been warmed as to the response I’ve gotten around the country, whether it’s Julian Bond, whether it’s as a call I got coming into the facility here today from the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder,” Mr. Reid told reporters in Apex, Nev.

“I really appreciate people writing nice things about me. There’s a wonderful editorial in the L.A. Times today and a number of things on the Huffington Post, nice things there,” the Nevada Democrat said.

The senator dodged several questions — including one on whether he should resign, as some Republicans have demanded — and made clear he wanted to be done with the brouhaha that erupted when a new book revealed he described Mr. Obama as “light skinned” and “with no Negro dialect” when assessing his candidacy.

Democrats close ranks around Reid

“I’m not going to dwell on this anymore. It’s in the book. I’ve made all the statements that I’m going to. Thank you all very much,” he said after a short press conference.

“I’ve apologized to the president,” he said, and to everyone “within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words.

“I’ll continue to do my work for the African-American community … I’m not going to dwell on this anymore,” he added.

While nationally prominent Democrats ranging from Mr. Obama to the Rev. Al Sharpton have rallied to his side, Republicans have called on Mr. Reid to step down as majority leader, a move that would undermine his re-election chances in Nevada, where he is running as a powerful senior lawmaker who can deliver for his home state.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Reid called light-skinned” with “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one, according to a new book, “Game Change.”

Mr. Reid apologized to the president, who accepted and issued a statement saying, “As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.”

Meanwhile Monday, more Democrats came to Mr. Reid’s defense. Mr. Holder, in an interview with Associated Press, said the remark was “unfortunate, but I don’t think that there is a prejudiced bone in his body.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat and head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he did not deserve to lose his leadership position as a result of his comments. New York Gov. David Paterson, who is black, said Mr. Reid’s remarks were reprehensible and degrading, but he said Mr. Reid shouldn’t step down as Senate majority leader.

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that the president “didn’t take offense” at the comment.

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