Reid doubles down on slavery analogy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday defended his remarks from Monday comparing congressional Republican opposition to healthcare to the 19th-century debate over slavery, accusing his GOP critics of "distorting" his intent.

"At pivotal points in American history, the tactics of distortion and delay have certainly been present," Reid said. "They've certainly been used to stop progress. That's what we're talking about here. That's what's happening here. It's very clear. That's the point I made — no more, no less. Anyone who willingly distorts my comments is only proving my point."

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Reid on Monday said Republicans were displaying the same mindset as those who defended slavery.

“If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right,” Reid said. “When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.’ ”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele suggested Democrats should strip Reid of his leadership position if he does not apologize for the comments, but Senate Democrats on Tuesday defended him. Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) said there was no discussion of the topic within the caucus and no talk of a Reid apology.