Harry Reid Demands Apology After GOP Candidate Compares Him to a Plantation Owner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for Senate as a Republican in Louisiana, owes him a "big time" apology, after Cassidy accused him of running the Senate "like a plantation."

"With all the things going on in America today, that's fairly insensitive. That's really insensitive, very insensitive and if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?"

Cassidy, the Republican front-runner challenging Democratic three-term incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in this year's midterm election, was quoted comparing Reid to a plantation owner in an article published Tuesday by Environment & Energy News.

"So instead of the world's greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, 'It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,'" Cassidy said of Reid.

Though Cassidy is hardly the first Republican to speak critically of the majority leader, who has become a lightning rod for Republican discontent with the Democratic-controlled Senate, the racial implications behind Cassidy's comment escalated the rhetoric to a new level.

But Cassidy stood by his accusation against Reid, saying that offense should instead be taken from Reid's leadership of the Senate.

"I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse," Cassidy told ABC News in a statement. "Any other interpretation of my remarks is a false controversy designed to distract attention from policies which are demonstrably crushing jobs and taking our country in the wrong direction."

Tea party candidate Rob Maness, also running against Landrieu and Cassidy in Louisiana's "jungle primary" this November, called on Cassidy to apologize for the "ignorant" comment.

"Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize," Maness said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "It's this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party. We need to be better than that."