Obama: Harry Reid's "Inartful" Words Don't Matter

President Obama said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chose inappropriate language in one incident years ago when he spoke about Mr. Obama's chances as a presidential candidate. Yet the president said there was nothing mean-spirited about Reid's words.

"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," Mr. Obama said today in an interview for "Washington Watch with Roland Martin," which will air on the Martin Luther King holiday on TV One. "This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history."

In the new book "Game Change," it was revealed that during the 2008 presidential campaign, Reid privately stated that he believed Mr. Obama was a good candidate because he is a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Reid quickly apologized, and the president responded that he accepted the apology without question. Reid said today he was "not going to dwell" on the issue and instead get back to work on health care legislation.

"He's spending a lot of his political capital in the middle of an election to provide health care to every American," Mr. Obama said of Reid, "and that's going to have a great impact on African Americans, Latinos, around the country."

He added, "I guarantee you the average person, white or black, is less concerned in what Harry Reid said in a quote in a book a couple years ago than they are about how we are going to move the country forward."

More on CBSNews.com:

Washington Unplugged: Are Bill Clinton Race Comments "More Objectionable" Than Reid's?
Obama: Harry Reid's "Inartful" Words Don't Matter
Harry Reid: I'm "Not Going to Dwell" on Race Comments
Unpacking Harry Reid's "Racist" Comments
Jan Crawford: Racism Doesn't Always have a Southern Drawl
Bob Schieffer: Reid Will Survive ... 'til Election Day
Harry Reid Gets Support from Eric Holder
Dianne Feinstein: Reid Comments a "Closed" Matter
Republicans Keep the Heat on Harry Reid
Reid Apologizes for "Negro Dialect" Remark
60 Minutes: More Revelations from "Game Change"
Watch the Full "60 Minutes" Report

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