Sen. Harry Reid Sets Off Race Discussion with 2008 Remarks

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In "Game Change," a book about the 2008 presidential campaign being released today, the authors report that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's

encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

Reid's words have drawn a flurry of criticism from RNC Chairman Michael Steele and other politicians who compare the statement to Sen. Trent Lott's 2002 assertion that if the country had voted for segregationist Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years." Here to help unpack coded racial statements and point out those sitting in plain view are Omar Wasow, contributor to The Root, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, and author of “The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood.”