Here's the defense President Obama offered today of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in an interview with TV One's Roland Martin (a CNN analyst who frequently appears on that network as well). It's the second time the president has defended Reid since his comments about Obama's race came to light over the weekend (Obama released this statement soon after the story broke, accepting Reid's apology and proclaiming that "the book is closed"), but it's the first time he's done so in person or on camera with a journalist, and, notably, it's an interview intended to be broadcast to a black audience--TV One is a cable/satellite network geared "primarily toward African American adults." Video and Obama's comments transcribed below:
Harry Reid is a friend of mine, he has been a stalwart champion of voting rights, civil rights, he's spending a lot of his political capital in the middle of an election to provide health care to every American, and that's gonna have a great impact on African Americans and Latinos around the country. This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense. He's apologized, recognizing that he didn't use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean spirited in what he had to say, and he's always been on the right side of the issues. And the fact that we spend days on this instead of talking about the unemployment rate or talking about how we deal with critical issues like how we deal with energy and health care is an indication of why, I think, people don't understand what's happening in Washington. I guarantee the average person, white or black, right now is less concerned about what Harry Reid said in a quote in a book a couple of years ago than they are about are we gonna move the country forward, and that's where we need to direct our attention.