Harry Reid Apologizes for Joke About 'Wongs'

Senate majority leader was speaking before Asian Chamber of Commerce

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 23, 2014 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Harry Reid has issued an apology for comments he made to the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, reports Politico. When he was introduced to the president of the group, Dr. Terry Wong, the senator majority leader cracked, "One problem that I've had today is keeping my Wongs straight." At another point, he praised Asian-Americans as "so productive," adding, “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are." After the Republican group America Rising made hay of the comments, Reid said yesterday that they "were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that both jokes drew laughter from the crowd, and it talks to Wong himself, who says he wasn't offended because the jokes weren't "malicious." Not that he was doubled over in laughter: He says he's heard some variation of that Wongs line "all of my life." As for the other: “Of course we’re not smarter, but we work hard and put a lot of effort into what we’re doing," he says. "I think it’s a compliment to us.” Still, Reid's comments are bringing to mind his 2010 apology after remarking that Barack Obama didn't have much of a "Negro dialect."

Harry Reid, center, takes photographs with members of the Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Harry Reid, center, takes photographs with members of the Asian Chamber of Commerce.   (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Erik Verduzco)
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