State of the Union Not Immune From Racial Innuendo

ABC took a look back at some of the examples of racially charged incidents which made the public record over the last 18 months. We reached out to those who made the offending statements to see what they had to say about them now. Some answered us, some didn't:

MSNBC Host Chris Matthews

MSNBC Host Chris Matthews

Then, Jan. 2010: As Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" reflected on Obama State of the Union address, he dropped the line, "I forgot he was black for an hour," while discussing the apparent lack of racial overtones during the speech.

Now: Matthews tried to clarify his comments on "The Rachel Maddow Show" by explaning that he was delighted to see race had no place in the State of the Union address after growing up in a country divided by race. "It wasn't even in the room tonight," he said.

MSNBC did not immediately return a request for comment.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Then, Jan. 2010: One of several high-profile politicians to merit a mention in the controversial book "Game Change," Reid, a Democrat and longtime Obama ally, was cited in the book for describing the president before his election as a "'light-skinned' African American, 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.'"

Now: On Jan. 9, Reid issued a written statement that read in part, "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans, for my improper comments." Reid's Senate office had no further comment.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Then, Jan. 2010: Illinois' disgraced former governor told Esquire magazine, "I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up."

Now: He quickly apologized for the comment, telling reporters, "I deeply apologize for the way that was said and having said it. Obviously, I am not blacker than President Obama." Blagojevich declined to comment further to

Minnesota State Senator Mike Parry

Minnesota State Senator Mike Parry

Then, Jan. 2010: Earlier this month, Parry, then a GOP Senate candidate, was found to have scrubbed several tweets from his Twitter account, including one that described Obama as a "power hungry arrogant black man."

Now: Neither Parry nor his campaign manager returned calls or e-mail seeking comment. He told reporters recently, "My opinion is that our president is arrogant and angry. The fact is that he is a black man."

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton

Then, Jan. 2010: The former president was one of many politicians called out in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book "Game Change." In the book, they said Clinton caught flak from Obama's campaign for reportedly telling the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

During the presidential campaign Clinton also called Obama's run for the White House as "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Now: A Clinton spokesman declined to comment.

Russ Wiseman

Arlington, Tenn., Mayor Russ Wiseman

Then, Dec. 2009: Settling down last month to watch the annual showing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Wiseman was irked to find the Christmas favorite had been pre-empted by Obama's speech announcing efforts to send more troops to Afghanistan. He took to Facebook, lashing out at Obama for being a "Muslim president."

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