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Steele Complains of Race Double Standard


Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele appeared on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday and said he saw a "big double standard" in the way Democrats have responded to Senate majority leader Harry Reid's reported comments about President Barack Obama's race.

Host David Gregory asked Steele about Reid's remarks to reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin in 2008 that he was "wowed" by then-presidential candidate Obama, whom he called a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

According to the Meet the Press transcript, Gregory compared the episode to remarks made in 2002 by Republican Trent Lott, who was ousted as Senate majority leader after he said that Strom Thurmond would have spared the country problems had he been elected as president when he ran as a segregationist. Obama, who was then a senator, called for Lott's ouster.

"Oh, yeah, there's a big double standard here," said Steele in the segment, which appears below. "And the thing about it that's, that's interesting is that when Democrats get caught saying racist things, you know, an apology is enough. If, if that had been [Senate minority leader] Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the, and the DNC would be screaming for its head, very much as they were with Trent Lott," said Steele.

President Obama issued a statement over the weekend saying that he accepted Reid's apology for the remarks. Democratic leaders have rallied around the senator, who faces a tough reelection contest in Nevada.

Steele and other Republicans are calling on Reid to step down.

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