Steele Calls on Reid to Step Aside as Majority Leader

Posted January 10, 2010 at 9:05am

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Sunday morning said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should resign his leadership post after a new book revealed that the Nevada Democrat made racially tinged remarks about President Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.Steele, under fire from his own party for making controversial remarks, said Reid should step aside for calling Obama “light skinned— and saying he had “no Negro dialect.— Steele accused Democrats of using a different standard for judging Reid’s remark than they did for then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who was forced from his leadership post after he made comments praising the presidential campaign of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) — who ran on a segregationist platform.“If the standard is the one set by the Trent Lott incident, he should,— Steele said on Fox News Sunday.Steele said Democrats are quick to label statements from Republicans as racist. “If [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] said those things, they would be calling for his head.—News of Reid’s remarks became public on Saturday. Reid quickly apologized with Obama later issuing a statement saying he had accepted the apology.Democrats are insisting that Reid’s words did not warrant his resignation. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who appeared with Steele on Fox, said Reid’s ability to lead the Democratic Conference was not damaged by the incident, noting that he apologized and Obama has deemed the matter closed.And Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who appeared on the program later, said the Lott and Reid cases were very different. Lott appeared to be praising a segregationist presidential candidate, while Reid used questionable language to praise Obama, which Reed called a “totally different context.—“I think he is mortified,— Reed said of Reid. “I don’t think he should step down; he should continue to lead.—Steele might have some support among Republicans. “I agree there is a double standard,— Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said. Kyl said the matter has drawn comparisons to the Lott controversy. “If [Lott] should have resigned, Harry Reid should,— he said.Meanwhile, Steele is in some hot water himself. The controversial RNC chairman ignited a backlash from Capitol Hill last week when he suggested House Republicans couldn’t retake the chamber in 2010.Also last week, Steele, who is promoting a new book that his GOP colleagues apparently weren’t aware of, told his critics to “shut up” if they aren’t happy with his leadership.”Why should I” step aside, he asked on Sunday, and defended his record of fundraising and firing up the GOP base. The former Maryland lieutenant governor did, however, admit that he is sometimes ill-tempered. “I get a little hot-headed,” he said.