Harry Reid demands apology for GOP candidate's 'plantation' comment

Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has refused to apologize for saying Harry Reid runs the Senate "like a plantation."
By Gabrielle Levy  |  Sept. 9, 2014 at 5:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is demanding an apology from Rep. Bill Cassidy, who accused him of running the upper chamber "like a plantation."

"With all the things going on in America today, that's fairly insensitive," Reid told reporters Tuesday. "That's really insensitive. Very insensitive. If there was ever a statement that deserves an apology, this is it big time. Has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?"

Cassidy, R-La., who is running to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was speaking to Energy & Environment News when he dismissed Landrieu's record of bucking the party line as chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee.

"So instead of the world's greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, 'It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,'" Cassidy said. "Senator Landrieu's first vote for him to be re-elected means that every other wish for a pro-oil and gas jobs bill is dead. Reid will never allow a pro-oil and gas jobs bill."

Cassidy hopes to flip one of the Democrat-held seats that would hand Republicans the majority and the gavel to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Landrieu holds a large lead over several Republican contenders, but most polls show her well below the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff in December. In head-to-head match-ups, the two are essentially tied.

Reid was not alone in criticizing Cassidy's statement. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent several emails in an effort to capitalize on the comments, and spokesman Justin Baransky said they were "incredibly offensive."

"Bill Cassidy's assertion that the Senate is run like a plantation and that as a congressman he doesn't want to be kicked around like a slave is incredibly offensive and he should apologize," Barasky said.

And the criticism was at least somewhat bipartisan: Air Force Col. Rob Maness, the other Republican in the three-way race, said Cassidy's comments displayed "out-of-bounds ignorance."

Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize," Maness said in a statement. "It's this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party. We need to be better than that."

But Cassidy resisted Reid's call to apologize, dismissing the reaction as a "false controversy."

"I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse," he said in a statement.

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