Reid apologizes for racist jokes
Senator Harry Reid apologized yesterday for making "racist" jokes at a meeting of the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas.
"My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing,” Reid said in a statement to The Hill.
The Democratic leader issued the apology after a video surfaced online of him joking with the crowd in Las Vegas about their ethnicity.
"The Asian population is so productive. I don't think you're smarter than anybody else, but you have convinced a lot of us you are," Reid said to the audience at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, garnering laughter.
Moments later, the senator said, "One problem I've had today is keeping my Wongs straight."
Video of Reid's remarks were recorded and posted online Friday by America Rising, a Republican opposition research group.
An office manager with the Las Vegas Chamber confirmed Reid's jokes but said chamber leaders had not discussed them after the event. She said she was "shocked" to hear that video of Reid’s remarks had been posted on the Web.
She said a person with America Rising had called the Chamber before the event requesting to shoot video but had been told recordings were off-limits.
"We told him still pictures only. At the end, I asked him if he did just pictures, and he said yes," she said.
America Rising did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
This is not the first time Reid has had to apologize for remarks about race.
In early 2010, Reid apologized to President Obama for comments he made during the campaign that were later reported in the book Game Change by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.The book quoted Reid saying privately that Obama's "light-skinned" appearance and the fact that he had "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one" helped him as a candidate.
When Reid ran against Sharron Angle in 2010, he savaged the Republican for remarks she made about Hispanics. But the Asian jokes are just one example of Reid's weird sense of humor and insensitivity.
It's hard to argue Reid (and Biden, for that matter) doesn't pay a price -- given his unpopularity back home and nationally -- but he has yet to ruin his career. Here's a sampling of some of Reid's greatest gaffes:
1) "Negro dialect"
Reid's description of President Obama, in the book "Game Change," included the remark that Obama was "light-skinned" and had "no Negro dialect -- unless he wanted to have one" (a suggestion that Obama's race helped him in 2008) and forced an apology from Reid in 2010.
2) Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years
Reid alleged in the 2012 presidential campaign that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes in 10 years -- a claim that Reid attributed to an unnamed person and turned out to be totally unfounded. At the same time, it had the desired effect, forcing a conversation about Romney's taxes. So it's kind of hard to call this a "gaffe." Still, what about Reid's credibility?
3) The hottest senator
Reid at a 2010 fundraiser referred to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as the "hottest member" of the Senate, with her sitting just a few feet away, according to Politico's Maggie Haberman.
4) Those smelly tourists
If a Republican politician had made any of those statements, they would have been hounded out of politics.