January 9, 2010 / 10:03 PM / 9 years ago

Senate's Reid tells Obama he regrets racial remarks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized to President Barack Obama on Saturday for comments he made during the 2008 presidential campaign that critics find racially offensive.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) listens to remarks after the U.S. Senate approved President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this December 24, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young

A new book about the campaign, “Game Change,” by Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin and New York magazine writer John Heileman, said Reid, in private conservations, described Obama as “light-skinned” and with “no Negro dialect.”

Both Reid and Obama are Democrats.

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments,” Reid said in a statement.

Reid said he has been a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Obama and has throughout his career worked to promote adversity in his home state of Nevada and in the Senate.

Obama issued a statement accepting the apology.

“Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart,” Obama said.

“As far as I am concerned, the book is closed,” he said.

Reid, 70, serving in a powerful role in Washington attempting to advance Obama’s agenda, is facing a difficult re-election battle in Nevada this November.

A new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll reported that more than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Reid.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee was critical of Reid, saying Nevada deserves better and Reid’s fellow Democrats should condemn the remarks.

“For those who hope to one day live in a color-blind nation it appears Harry Reid is more than a few steps behind them,” said a spokesman for the group, Brian Walsh.

Additional reporting by Jasmin Melvin; editing by Todd Eastham

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