From NBC's Mark Murray and Michelle Perry
In an interview with TV One's Roland Martin, President Obama once again defended Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for what he said about Obama in 2008.
"Harry Reid is a friend of mine," Obama said. "He has been a stalwart champion of voting rights, civil rights. He is spending a lot of his political capital in the middle of an election to provide health care to every American, and that is going to have a great impact on African Americans and Latinos around the country."
More: "This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me and for people to try and make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense."
And: "He has apologized recognizing that he didn't use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean spirited in what he had to say and he has always been on the right side of the issues. And the fact that we spend days o this instead of talking about the unemployment rate or talking about how we deal with critical issues like energy and health care is an indication of why I think people don't understand what is happening in Washington. I guarantee you the average person -- white or black -- right now is less concerned about what Harry Reid said in a quote in a book a couple of years ago than they are about how we are going to move the country forward. And that's where we need to direct our attention."