Harry Reid apologizes for cracking jokes about Asians

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., answers reporters' questions during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2014, in Washington.

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., apologized Friday after cracking several jokes about Asian-Americans during a speech on Thursday before the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.

"My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize," Reid said in a statement emailed to CBS News. "Sometimes I say the wrong thing."

In his speech on Thursday, Reid quipped, "The Asian population is so productive. I don't think you're smarter than anybody else, but you have convinced a lot of us you are."

He later added, "One problem I've had today is keeping my Wongs straight."

The remarks were captured on video and posted online by America Rising, a Republican opposition research group.

It wasn't the first time the 74-year-old Reid has been forced into damage control after some racially-tinged remarks sparked controversy. In the 2008 election chronicle "Game Change," Reid described then-Sen. Barack Obama as "light-skinned" and lacking a "negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

After the book was published and the remarks went public, Reid said he regretted his poor choice of words.