Reid apologizes for jokes at Asian business event

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Reid apologizes for jokes at Asian business event
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks on the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, stands next his official portrait during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Reid, the tart-tongued ex-boxer known for pugilistic rhetoric about Republicans, is marking the end of his 34-year career in Congress with the unveiling of his official portrait that was painted by former Senate staffer Gavin Glakas. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Hillary Clinton pulled out a victory over Bernie Sanders in Nevadas Democratic caucuses that will help right her campaign as both candidates head into a 10-day blitz of crucial contests starting next Saturday in South Carolina.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks with reporters regarding a stop-gap funding bill to avoid a federal government shutdown later this week on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 23: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks at a campaign rally with U.S. President Barack Obama for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Cheyenne High School on October 23, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Obama urged Nevadans to vote early one day after a record-breaking start to early voting in the swing state with almost 40,000 people going to the polls ahead of the November 8 general election. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 01: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks at a get-out-the-vote rally featuring first lady Michelle Obama at Canyon Springs High School November 1, 2010 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Recent polls show Reid, who is seeking his fifth term, four points behind Republican challenger Sharron Angle. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES â SEPTEMBER 22: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., participates in the Senate Democrats' news conference in the Capitol on Thursday Sept. 22, 2011, to urge House Republicans to fully fund disaster relief. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-AZ) speaks during a pen and pad session with reporters at the US Capitol January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Reid spoke about the injury he suffered over the Christmas break and talked about issues before the US Senate. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) leaves a meeting with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill January 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Reid returned to work at the US Capitol on Tuesday for the first time since suffering injuries in an exercise accident in late December at his Las Vegas-area home. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Reid, the U.S. Senate's top Democrat, will have surgery next Monday to try to restore full vision to his right eye. Reid suffered three broken ribs, a concussion and broken facial bones near his right eye socket in a New Year's Day accident. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images ** Local Caption *** Harry Reid
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By MICHELLE RINDELS

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Friday for jokes he made about Asians during a luncheon of business leaders in Las Vegas earlier this week.

Reid was addressing the city's Asian Chamber of Commerce on Thursday when he told the audience, "I don't think you're smarter than anybody else, but you've convinced a lot of us you are."

When another man was summoned to the podium, he grabbed the microphone and quipped, "One problem I've had today is keeping my Wongs straight."

Both comments were met with laughter from the crowd of about 150 people.

The incident was captured on video by a tracker, posted on YouTube and distributed to reporters by America Rising, a Republican opposition research firm.

Reid later issued a statement saying: "My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing."

Asian Chamber of Commerce Director James Yu said Reid has been a longtime friend of the group, which was established in 1986 to promote political, social and economic parity for Nevada's Asian Pacific American entrepreneurs, according to its website. Yu said he hadn't heard any complaints from attendees about the Senator's comments.

"Someone is making an issue out of a nonissue," he told The Associated Press.

Yu said a young man with a camera had shown up and was told not to videotape the event, and he assured chamber leaders that he was just taking still shots. Yu said the young man would be turned away if he shows up again.

The chamber's luncheon brought a separate disappointment for Reid - the group announced its endorsement of Republican Mark Hutchison for lieutenant governor. Reid has been championing Democratic state lawmaker Lucy Flores in the race, which is the highest-profile contest in Nevada's midterm elections.

Hutchison said he was grateful for support from leaders of Nevada's Asian community, which comprises about 8 percent of the state's population.





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