Las Vegas (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he cannot understand why Hispanics would vote for Republicans, a remark that drew immediate criticism from Republicans.
Speaking at an event promoting English language education, Reid on Tuesday took a swipe at Republicans in Washington, whom he blames for blocking legislation to overhaul the immigration system. The top Senate Democrat said the GOP's record should dissuade Hispanic voters from supporting Republicans.
"I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK?" Reid said in a video posted online and circulated by Republicans. "Do I need to say more?"
Republicans assailed the comments.
"He is making this a race issue. It isn't. This is a border security issue," said Bob Ruckman, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. "Reid is fear-mongering, appealing to the Hispanic voters by insulting their intelligence and reverting to group-think politics."
Reid's campaign stood by the comments, saying his "contention was simply that he doesn't understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates" and cited GOP opposition to a $26 billion bill to protect 300,000 teachers, police and others from election-year layoffs.
Reid is in a close race with Republican Sharron Angle.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he cannot understand why Hispanics would vote for Republicans, a remark that drew immediate criticism from Republicans.