- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that he has been “warmed as to the response I’ve gotten around the country” after his apology for racially tinged remarks he made about President 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 [civil rights leader] 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,” the Nevada Democrat added, citing supportive pieces in the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post since the controversy broke.

But the senator dodged several questions — including one on Republican demands that he step down — 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 one who could speak “with no Negro dialect” when assessing his candidacy.

“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. The loss of the Senate’s top post could undermine his already shaky 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 praised Mr. Obama by describing him as “light-skinned” and a candidate who could speak with “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” according to a new book, “Game Change,” by political reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Mr. Reid apologized to the president, who accepted the apology 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 the Associated Press, called Mr. Reid’s remarks “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 the senator 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.

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