In a radio interview in which he lamented the GOP filibusters and a gridlock in Congress, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hopes Republicans who oppose the president do so “based on substance and not the fact that he’s an African-American.”
The comment came Friday during the Nevada lawmaker’s appearance on Las Vegas-based National Public Radio affiliate KNPR, and drew swift response from Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, who is black.
“I hope Senator 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,” Scott said in a statement.
Reid, D-Nev., took listener questions during the segment, including one from a man who identified himself as a Las Vegas resident named Sam. The caller asked Reid whether he thought congressional Republicans’ actions were just trying to block President Barack Obama’s success.
Reid recalled Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said in an interview during Obama’s first term that his most important goal was ensuring Obama wasn’t re-elected.
“They haven’t changed much,” Reid said. “It’s been obvious they’re doing everything they can to make him fail.”
McConnell’s original comment, published in the National Journal on Oct. 23, 2010, came along with a discussion about lowering spending and lowering the national debt. He added later in the interview that, “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.”
In the talk with KNPR host Dave Becker, the majority leader described an “absolute gridlock” in Congress and troubles getting legislation through the Republican-controlled House.
Reid said the tea party represents a small percentage of Americans while wielding outsized power in the House, and he compared members to the anarchists that helped spark World War I.
While these “modern anarchists” don’t resort to violence, he said, “they have the same philosophy as the early anarchists. They do not believe in government.
“Anytime something bad happens to government that’s a victory for them.”