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Reid Rejects Calls to Step Aside

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rebuffing GOP calls to give up his leadership post after making racially insensitive remarks about Barack Obama in 2008.In a statement, Reid spokesman Jim Manley on Sunday rejected Republican demands that Reid step down and fired back at his boss’s critics, accusing them of having a poor track record on issues important to the black community.In a 2008 interview with author Mark Halperin, Reid called Obama a “light skinned” black who does not speak with a “Negro dialect.” The quotes are in a new book by Halperin on the 2008 campaign.Reid has apologized to Obama, black Congressional leaders and civil rights leaders.”Sen. Reid will stay in his position as majority leader and will run for re-election. As the leader in the fight to pass the Voting Rights Act and legislation banning hate crimes, Sen. Reid has a long record of addressing issues that are important to the African-American community. His Republican critics who are looking to politicize the issue can’t say the same,— Manley said.“Sen. Reid will continue working today, tomorrow, and the days ahead, to move our nation forward with policies that create jobs, make health care affordable and help struggling families in Nevada and across the country.—On Sunday afternoon, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) became the latest prominent Republican to urge Reid to give up his Majority Leader post. Cornyn charged that Reid has not adequately explained his use of the racially offensive language.In a statement, Cornyn also accused Democrats who back Reid of using a double standard, noting they called for then-Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to give up his leadership job in 2002 when he praised the presidential campaign of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who ran on a segregationist platform.”It’s difficult to see this situation as anything other than a clear double standard on the part of Senate Democrats and others. In 2002, Democrats expressed outrage at Senator Lott and called on him to step down as Leader.“That same standard should be applied to Senator Reid and his embarrassing and racially insensitive statements; statements, I would add, that Senator Reid still has yet to clarify. As we await his explanation, Senator Reid should do the right thing, follow the example that he himself set in 2002, and step down as Majority Leader.”Cornyn joins Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in calling for Reid’s resignation as Majority Leader.

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