McConnell declines to call for Reid's resignation over race-related comment

Top Republicans in the Senate are declining to call on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to resign his leadership post over racially insensitive remarks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) punted on questions over whether Reid should step down as majority leader, after a weekend that saw Republicans ramp up pressure for Reid to resign that post.

"I think that's an issue for the Democratic conference," McConnell said at a press conference at the Capitol when asked if Reid should step down. "Who's going to be the Democratic leader of the Senate is up to the Democratic conference."

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Reid was forced to apologize to President Barack Obama after remarks came to light from Reid praising Obama, then a candidate for president, for his light skin tone and lack of "Negro dialect."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) called on Reid to abandon his leadership position over the weekend.

McConnell stubbornly refused to call on Reid to resign, saying, "No matter how many different ways you ask the question, who is going to lead the Democratic conference in the Senate is up to the Democrats."

Other Republican senators have shown a reticence to ask Reid to step down as majority leader, too.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that because he hadn't called on then-Republican leader Trent Lott (Miss.) to step down after remarks praising past segregationist Strom Thuromond, he wouldn't call on Reid to resign. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have also declined to call on Reid to resign.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the senator who replaced Lott, said that Nevada voters would provide the verdict on Reid's leadership.

"Having come back from being with our troops, I'm a lot more concerned that Sen. Reid is the guy who, a few years ago, said the war in Iraq is lost," Wicker said at the press conference, which was organized after four GOP senators' trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "I think the decision with regards to Sen. Reid will be made by the people of Nevada."