Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

US Senate leader Harry Reid rejects resignation calls

By Richard Lister
BBC News, Washington

Barack Obama and Harry Reid (2006 file picture)
President Obama says he has accepted Harry Reid's apology

The Democratic leader of the US Senate, Harry Reid, says he will stay in office despite calls for his resignation.

Racially insensitive remarks he made privately about President Barack Obama appeared in a new book.

Senator Reid has apologised for saying two years ago that America would accept Mr Obama because he is "light skinned" and doesn't have a "negro dialect".

President Obama has accepted his apology, but Republicans say Senator Reid should step down.

President Obama said on Saturday that as far as he was concerned the issue was now closed.

But several prominent Republicans have suggested that's not good enough.

The BBC's Mark Mardell
There has been a lot of nudging and winking about the comments, but few have come out and said what they find offensive
Mark Mardell
BBC North America editor

The party's chairman Michael Steele said there should be consequences for talking about race using what he called "anachronistic language that harkens back to the 1950s and 60s".

He also complained about a double standard noting that when a Republican Senate leader, Trent Lott, made racially controversial remarks in 2002, he was forced to resign his position.

Senator Lott appeared to suggest that America would be better off under segregation.

Senator Reid spent much of the weekend calling African-American politicians and civic leaders and several have joined senior Democrats in expressing their support for him.

He is a popular target for Republicans as he is vital to President Obama's legislative agenda and he is facing a tough re-election battle in his home state of Nevada.

But Senator Reid's office insists he won't step down.

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Jewish World Review How Harry Got His Groove Back - 4 hrs ago
Financial TimesDemocrats unite in support of Reid over Obama gaffe - 14 hrs ago
USA Today GOP: Harry Reid should step down - 15 hrs ago Sen. Harry Reid Apologizes for Racial Remark - 20 hrs ago
Time Republicans Cite Lott in Calling for Reid to Quit - 23 hrs ago
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