Washington Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologized on Saturday for saying the race of Barack Obama — whom he described as a “light skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” — would help rather than hurt his eventual presidential bid.
Obama quickly accepted, saying “As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.” Reid, facing a tough re-election bid this year, spent the day telephoning civil rights leaders and fellow Democrats in hopes of mitigating the political damage.
The revelations about Reid’s 2008 comments were included in the book “Game Change” by Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann. The behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 campaign that elevated Obama to the White House is based on the writers’ interviews with more than 200 sources, most of whom were granted anonymity and thus much of the material could not be immediately corroborated.
Among the details in the book:
• Presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton said she believed Obama’s team had used out-of-state supporters to win the Iowa caucuses and had intentionally exploited Obama’s race. She said the country faced a “a terrible choice” between Obama and Republican nominee John McCain.
• Obama and running mate Joe Biden barely spoke, kept separate schedules and seldom campaigned together. The campaign kept Biden off the nightly calls that included Obama, instead having the campaign manager and senior strategist brief Biden separately.
• Aides to McCain described the difficulties they faced with their vice presidential pick, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to McCain, is quoted telling Palin’s foreign policy tutors: “You guys have a lot of work to do. She doesn’t know anything.”
• Former President Bill Clinton’s efforts to persuade Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to endorse his wife’s presidential bid fell flat when Clinton told the Democratic lawmaker that just a few years ago, Obama would have been serving the pair coffee.