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WASHINGTON – The Republican Party chairman says Sen. Harry Reid should step down as the Senate Democratic leader over racial remarks Reid made about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

GOP Chairman Michael Steele says if a Republican had made such remarks, Democrats would be calling for that Republican’s head.

In a private conversation reported in a new book, Reid described Obama as a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Reid has apologized to Obama, and the president said he considers the episode closed.

Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine says the remarks should not affect Reid’s leadership position.

Steele and Kaine spoke on “Fox News Sunday.”

[Updated 01.09.10, 2:28 p.m.]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Said Obama Had “No Negro Dialect”

From CNN.com:

Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported the remarks in their new book “Game Change,” according to an excerpt published by The Atlantic late Friday.

“He (Reid) 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,” they write.

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