Black Caucus leader accepts Reid's apology

Jan. 11, 2010 at 5:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman said she accepts U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid's apology for a remark made in 2008 the presidential campaign.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., chairwoman of the 42-member caucus, said Reid's remarks, which referenced then-candidate Barack Obama's "light skin" and lack of "Negro dialect" shouldn't pull attention from the Democrats' agenda, The Hill reported.

"I have had an opportunity to speak with Sen. Reid and he apologized for his unfortunate remarks concerning the president and he understands the gravity of such remarks," Lee said in a statement. "There are too many issues like the economy, job creation and energy for these regrettable comments to distract us from the work that must be done on behalf of the American people."

The Nevada Democrat has come under fire from Republicans after his comments, reported in the new book, "Game Change," by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and several Senate Republicans have called on Reid to resign as majority leader.

Lee said Reid's record is packed with examples of work benefiting poor and minority communities.

"I appreciate Sen. Reid's apology and look forward to our continuing work," Lee said.

The NAACP branches of Reno and Las Vegas also accepted Reid's public apologies, The Washington Post reported, saying Reid's voting record showed his true regard for African Americans.

"One need only look at Senator Reid's proven record of leadership on civil rights and social justice to know where his heart truly lies," said Lonnie Feemster, president of the Reno chapter, and Frank Hawkins Jr., president of the Las Vegas chapter, in the statement.

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