Reid raises race in discussing GOP opposition to Obama's agenda

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday said he hoped GOP opposition to President Obama was not based on his race. 

Reid made the comments in response to a question during a radio interview. 

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He said Republicans spent all of Obama's first term opposing his legislative agenda, and they seem to be doing the same in the president's second term.

"It's been obvious that they're doing everything they can to make him fail," Reid said in response to a caller's question during a radio interview on Nevada radio station KNPR. "And I hope, I hope, and I say this seriously — I hope that's based on substance and not the fact that he's African-American."

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African-American member of the Senate, criticized Reid for seeking to divide Americans. 

"Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration – from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others – Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen," he said. "I hope Senator Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks and apologize to those who disagree with the President’s policies because of one thing – they are hurting hardworking American families.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brad Dayspring separately called Reid's comments offensive. 

In the same interview Reid also weighed in on the upcoming midterm elections. He was asked whether Democrats could stop Republicans from gaining control of the Senate in 2014.

"Every year that I've been around they kept saying 'Reid's going to lose the majority,'" Reid said. "First of all they never thought we'd get the majority and now we've had it through three different cycles. They have to pick up six seats. I wasn't a genius with math but those numbers are hard to come by."

Reid specifically mentioned Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) who's running for Senate in Georgia and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) who's challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"We have competitive seats in Kentucky, we're ahead of the polls in Kentucky," Reid said. "We are ahead in the polls in Georgia —Michelle Nunn, Sam Nunn's daughter is ahead of everybody. Alison Grimes is ahead of the Republican leader. So that's two we're going to pick up. And we're doing fine around the country."

Dayspring scoffed at Reid's optimism on the midterms too.


—This story was updated at 4:30 p.m.