Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is wrong, said outraged critics Saturday -- people disagree with President Barack Obama because his "failed policies" are bad for Americans, not because he's a black man.
On Friday, the Nevada Democrat told Las Vegas-based National Public Radio Affiliate KNPR
that opponents do all they can to make the president's agenda fail, saying hopes Republicans who oppose Obama do so "based on substance and not the fact that he's an African American."
Related: Reid Questions if GOP Wants Obama to Fail Because He Is Black
He recalled Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, saying during Obama's first term that his most important goal was ensuring Obama wasn't re-elected.
"Here we are seven months into his second term and nothing has changed," Reid said. "It's been obvious they are doing everything they can to make him fail. And I hope, I hope, and I say this seriously, it's based on substance and not the fact that he's an African American."
South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, an African American, characterized Reid's comments as "offensive."
“I am sincerely disappointed by continued attempts to divide the American people by playing to the lowest common denominator," Scott said Saturday. "Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration – from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others – Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen.
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"Our country deserves more from those in Washington," Scott continued. "I hope Sen. Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks and apologize to those who disagree with the President’s policies because of one thing – they are hurting hardworking American families.”
Brad Dayspring, Communications Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committe, said on Twitter, that Reid's comments were "offensive and insane."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee agreed Saturday that it's Obama's policies -- not the color of his skin -- that people disagree with, and that it's easier for Obama's supporters to claim racism than it is to "try to defend the policies that have had a disseminating effect on our economy."
"It has nothing to do with his personality or his person," Huckabee, who now hosts the "Huckabee" show on Fox News, said on Fox And Friends Saturday.
"Obamacare is so unpopular that even the unions who sponsored it are against it. Max Baucus calls it a train wreck," he said. "There are so many people that are opposed to the policies of Obama and have nothing to do with his personality or his person. It has nothing to do with his ethnicity."
Show co-host Tucker Carlson said that the numbers show Obama's policies "have had a disproportionately negative effect on black Americans," and Huckabee agreed.
"More black Americans lost their homes when the housing bubble burst," said Huckabee. "There has been a tremendous negative impact, the number of African-Americans who are in prison has multiplied. The number of unemployed, young African-American males is now at almost a 30 percent mark. These are real serious issues."
But Huckabee said, people don't take Reid seriously anymore because of his tendency to "shoot from the hip."
"That ought to be something that would be a wakeup call to Harry," said Huckabee. "People just say "it's just Harry being Harry, like Joe Biden being Joe Biden. We just gloss over it."
Newsmax contributor and conservative African-American columnist Clarence V. McKee, said there was no was no reason for Reid to raise the race issue during the interview.
“It’s been typical for the last 3½ years — Obama supporters, black and white — whenever he’s criticized the first thing they yell is ‘race or racism,’” said McKee, who held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns. “For the Senate majority leader to stoop that low and go into the racial gutter is disgusting.”
McKee blamed Reid’s comments and similar ones for the apparent deterioration of race relations since the election of President Obama in 2008.
“He’s just race baiting and the president should disavow it as should other Democrats, but they’re all part of a race-bait chorus,” according to McKee, citing a recent Wall Street Journal poll, which found that attitudes on race relations have plummeted under the president. “They’re doing more to hurt race relations than the Zimmerman verdict will ever do.”
He said Reid’s comments were tantamount to “liberal, elitist, racism.”
McConnell's office referred a request for comment to Sen. Tim Scott, a black Republican from South Carolina, who said Reid's remarks were offensive and asked for an apology.
In 2010, Reid apologized for embarassing comments he made about the president’s race during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Reid described then-Sen. Obama as “light skinned’’ and “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’’
In his apology, Reid attributed his private description of Obama to a “poor choice” of words.
“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” he said at the time. “I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments.’’
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