McConnell Says Reid’s Fate Up to Democrats

Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:14am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday morning refused to openly criticize Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or demand he resign his leadership post over his use of racially insensitive language to describe President Barack Obama in 2008.When asked by reporters whether he thought Reid should step aside — or to even comment about Reid’s characterization of Obama as a “light skinned— black without a “Negro dialect— — McConnell repeatedly demurred.“I think that’s an issue for the Democratic Conference. … Who is going to be the Democratic leader of the Senate is up to the Democrats,— the top Senate Republican said.McConnell’s refusal to call for Reid’s resignation runs counter to the statements of two of his top lieutenants, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), who over the weekend said Reid should give up his Majority Leader job. Other Republicans, however, have come to Reid’s defense, including home-state colleague Sen. John Ensign, who has come under tough scrutiny himself in recent months for having an extramarital affair with a former campaign aide.In a radio interview Monday, Ensign argued that Reid’s weekend apology was sincere and that Republicans should not engage in “gotcha politics.— Likewise, Reid refused to criticize Ensign over his scandal.Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also refused to engage in the Reid imbroglio, calling it “gotcha politics.— Coburn was also at the center of the Ensign scandal. Coburn helped counsel his close friend and former house mate Ensign at the time of his affair.“It pains me that Republicans are saying Harry Reid ought to step down. When you point a finger, you have four fingers pointing back at you. There is not anybody in Washington who has not said something that could be judged inappropriate and wrong,— Coburn said in the Tulsa World.Meanwhile, McConnell also refused to criticize Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is back in the headlines after making a fresh round of controversial statements.When asked whether he agreed with the complaints of top leadership staff and others that Steele has done a poor job at the RNC and diverted attention from the GOP’s agenda, McConnell would only say that Steele will be judged “in two ways: No. 1, how much money did he raise? And No. 2, how many elections did he win?—