The Congressional Black Caucus said Sunday that it had accepted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s apology for a newly published remark he made about Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and dismissed calls for the Nevada Democrat to step down.
Earlier in the day, the chairman of the Republican Party and a leading GOP senator had called on Reid to give up his post.
“Over the years, I have had an opportunity to work with Majority Leader Reid,” Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the caucus, said in a statement.
“Senator Reid’s record provides a stark contrast to actions of Republicans to block legislation that would benefit poor and minority communities.”
Lee added that she looked forward to Reid serving as majority leader.
“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,” she said.
Colleagues on the other side of the aisle were not as forgiving.
The remarks were “embarrassing and racially insensitive,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, head of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, said in a statement to CNN.
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said, “Racism and racist conversations have no place today in America.”
Steele was also on the defensive for a remark he made last week that members of both parties have called a racial slur.
Reid’s office made clear he has no plans to step down.
“Senator Reid will stay in his position as majority leader and will run for re-election,” his spokesman said.
“As the leader in the fight to pass the Voting Rights Act and legislation banning hate crimes, Senator 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.”
Reid is already embroiled in a tough re-election campaign in his home state to stay in the Senate. Only one-third of Nevada voters have a favorable opinion of him, while 52 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the four-term senator, according to a survey by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research for the Last Vegas Review-Journal released over the weekend.