Politics & Policy

Harry Reid and His Huge Hispanic Gaffe

Setting off a firestorm first picked up by the Weekly Standard late last night and continuing this morning at Politico and other news outlets and blogs, Harry Reid was caught on tape making a rather hair-raising comment related to Hispanics during a press conference yesterday: 

I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay. Do I need to say more?

Sharron Angle’s communications team was out with a morning statement which included the following pointed paragraph:

Last week it was religion. This week it’s ethnic politics. Harry Reid cannot give any good reasons why people should vote for him, so now he is turning to race and ethnicity. He is desperate to change the subject from the economy, which he knows is a losing issue for him.

Hispanic Republican Marco Rubio also weighed in on Reid’s comments on Fox News:

Harry Reid’s remarks and the subsequent reactions and commentary are of national interest, of course, but it is worth noting that his son, Rory, is presently getting his clock cleaned by Republican Hispanic Brian Sandoval in Nevada’s gubernatorial race. Sandoval this morning declined to comment on Reid’s remarks when asked for his views by Battle ‘10, perhaps because he wants to lay low after his own recent Hispanic-related dust-up stemming from an editorial in Spanish language newspaper El Tiempo.

In an interesting twist of timing that once again put El Tiempo in the headlines, Team Reid yesterday pointed to the newspaper’s claim that they are being shut out by the Sharron Angle campaign. The editor told KLAS-TV he’s never experienced anything like it, and a Spanish-language radio staffer told KLAS that his station’s calls to the Angle campaign go unanswered. (Note: KLAS had its own complaints about not being invited to Angle’s appearance at a volunteer rally this week, even though several other media outlets were present and permitted to ask questions.)

The battle for the hearts and minds of Nevada’s Hispanic population is unsurprising. Their votes will be crucial in the fall election. It is notable that Hispanic voters in Clark County–the largest county in the state where close elections are decided–do tend to be Democrats, but nearly one-third of the county’s 24,000 Hispanic voters pulled the lever for Republicans in the last mid-term election.

As a follow-up to the firestorm, the Reid campaign this morning issued a statement including the following snippet:

Sen. Reid has long enjoyed the support of many Hispanic Republicans in Nevada and he appreciates that support. Sen. Reid’s contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates because they oppose saving teachers’ jobs, oppose job-creating tax incentives for small businesses, oppose investments in job-creating clean energy projects, and oppose the help for struggling, unemployed Nevadans to put food on the table and stay in their homes.

The Reid campaign statement also pointed to the KLAS-TV report on the alleged media shut-out and said “despite the fact that Hispanic Nevadans now comprise nearly 25 percent of the state Angle had not conducted an open press availability since winning the GOP primary more then two months ago.” It also mentioned Angle’s position on illegal immigration, the 14th amendment and her use of the term “anchor babies” during Monday’s press Q&A to say that Angle’s “extreme and dangerous agenda for Hispanic Nevadans is something she obviously wants to hide.”

The Reid press release ends:

Sen. Reid will continue to wake up and fight every day for the interests of Hispanic Nevadans.

As long as they are Democrats, of course.

Update:  I should have given credit to journalist Jeff Gillan at Channel 3 for breaking the story and getting Reid’s comments on tape. Great work.

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