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Feinstein: Reid Comments a "Closed" Matter

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on "Face the Nation," January 10, 2010.
CBS
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should not resign over his racism comments, saying his apology means the matter is now "closed."

Yesterday it was revealed in a book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 presidential campaigns called "Game Change" (to be released on Tuesday) that Sen. Reid had said candidate Barack Obama's chances of victory would be helped because he was "a light-skinned" African-American "with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." President Obama accepted the Senator's apology yesterday.

"First of all, all of us are imperfect," Feinstein told "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer this morning. "Clearly this was a mistake. Clearly the leader misspoke. He has also apologized. He has not only apologized to the president, I think he has apologized to all of the black leadership that he could reach. So the president has accepted the apology. And it would seem to me that the matter should be closed."

Feinstein did not think Reid should lose his position as leader of the Democrats in the Senate. Senator Trent Lott fell victim to a similar situation after comments he made about Sen. Strom Thurmond, an ardent segregationist during the rise of the civil rights movement, cost him his position as Republican Majority Leader.

Feinstein said she "saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott. I happen to be very fond of him. And he made a mistake."

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., suggested that the issue of resignation should be dealt with inside the Democratic Party.

"Democrats are going to have to deal with internally as to whether . . . they believe these kinds of statements are appropriate from their leader in the Senate," he told Schieffer.

"And then it becomes a personal issue for Senator Reid. Does he believe that with this on his record he should still maintain his position as a leader in the Senate?" Hoekstra asked.