(National Republican Senatorial Committee) – In light of controversial racially-derogatory statements by U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) about Barack Obama’s skin color and so-called “Negro dialect,” voters are reminded of Reid’s outrage in response to then-Majority Leader Trent Lott’s (R-MS) offhand remark at a birthday party for former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond in 2002.
At the time, Reid called Lott’s statements “repugnant” and responded to Lott’s resignation as Senate Majority Leader by stating that Lott “had no alternative” but to step down because he “dug himself a hole… and he couldn’t figure out a way to get out of it.”
Reid also asserted: “You play how you practice… If you tell ethnic jokes in the backroom, it’s that much easier to say ethnic things publicly. I’ve always practiced how I play.”
According to a new book authored by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Reid privately praised then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Despite apologizing, Reid has thus far failed to clarify and explain what exactly he meant by these remarks.
“Is this Harry Reid’s way of ‘playing how he practices?’ Does Harry Reid believe that as the self-proclaimed ‘most powerful Senator,’ it’s acceptable and appropriate for him to make such comments and for them to have no consequence? Do the rules of civility and a society that makes no distinctions based on skin color and other matters not apply to the ‘most powerful Senator?’” asked National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Brian Walsh.
“Clearly Harry Reid has also ‘dug himself a hole’ and compromised his ability to serve as Senate Majority Leader as a result of his controversial comments about then-candidate Barack Obama’s skin color and lack of a ‘Negro dialect,’” Walsh continued. “This is a double standard from Senator Reid, and there’s no doubt that voters in Nevada will see through his hypocrisy as he refuses to step down as Majority Leader. Fortunately, Nevadans will finally have an opportunity to retire Harry Reid and his controversial rhetoric for good in November.”
Reid In 2002: “You Play How You Practice. . . If You Tell Ethnic Jokes In The Backroom, It’s That Much Easier To Say Ethnic Things Publicly. I’ve Always Practiced How I Play.” “Lott’s resignation Friday culminated a controversy over his racially insensitive comments at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Lott said that Mississippians were proud to have voted for Thurmond in 1948 on the pro-segregationist Dixiecrat ticket. Asked if the episode would serve as a warning to weigh his own words carefully, Reid said: ‘You play how you practice.’ ‘If you tell ethnic jokes in the backroom, it’s that much easier to say ethnic things publicly. I’ve always practiced how I play.’” (“Nevada Lawmakers Not Surprised By Lott Resignation,” The Associated Press, 12/20/02)
“As a Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada will not have a vote when Republicans determine Lott’s fate next month. ‘As closely as I’ve worked with him, I don’t know how in the world I could condone, support or understand his statements,’ said Reid, the Senate Democratic whip. ‘I think what he said is not good for America; it’s repugnant what he said.’ ‘If Republicans think it’s best for Democrats to keep him there, maybe they’ll get rid of him,’ Reid said.” (Tony Batt and Jane Ann Morriso, “Ensign Continues To Back Lott As Majority Leader,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/17/02)
“Sen. Harry Reid said Republican Senate leader Trent Lott’s decision to relinquish his post Friday came as no surprise. ‘He had no alternative,’ the Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader said. ‘Senator Lott dug himself a hole and he didn’t dig it all in one setting. He dug it over the years. And he couldn’t figure out a way to get out of it.’” (“Nevada Lawmakers Not Surprised By Lott Resignation,” The Associated Press, 12/20/02)