Reid apologizes for Asian jokes

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday issued an apology for cracking two Asian-themed jokes during a speech Thursday night at the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.

"My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing,” Reid said in a statement to The Hill.

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The Democratic leader issued the apology after a video surfaced online of him joking with the crowd in Las Vegas about their ethnicity.

"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," Reid said to the audience at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, garnering laughter.

Moments later, the senator said, "One problem I've had today is keeping my Wongs straight."

Video of Reid's remarks were recorded and posted online Friday by America Rising, a Republican opposition research group.

An office manager with the Las Vegas Chamber confirmed Reid's jokes but said chamber leaders had not discussed them after the event. She said she was "shocked" to hear that video of Reid’s remarks had been posted on the Web.

She said a person with America Rising had called the Chamber before the event requesting to shoot video but had been told recordings were off-limits.

"We told him still pictures only. At the end, I asked him if he did just pictures, and he said yes," she said.

America Rising did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

This is not the first time Reid has had to apologize for remarks about race.

In early 2010, Reid apologized to President Obama for comments he made during the campaign that were later reported in the book Game Change by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

The book quoted Reid saying privately that Obama's "light-skinned" appearance and the fact that he had "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one" helped him as a candidate.