Senator Backtracks on Smelly Capitol Tourists Remark

Reid writes letter to Las Vegas newspaper

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is defending himself after jokingly commenting that tourists to the U.S. Capitol building sometimes smell.

The Nevada Democrat has been attacked on blogs and editorial pages since he remarked last week that in the summer "you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol."

His comment came during the opening ceremony for the new Capitol Visitor Center.

In response, an offended letter-writer to Reid's hometown Las Vegas Review-Journal declared: "You, Sen. Reid, are the one who stinks."

Without directly apologizing, Reid tried to explain himself Wednesday in his own letter to the Review-Journal. Reid said he was trying to make the point that he's always pleased when the Capitol is filled with citizens eager to learn about the nation's history.

"It is no secret that Washington gets terribly hot and humid during the summer, the peak season for tourists," Reid wrote. "Before the opening of this center, visitors to the Capitol were forced to wait out in the heat (or the bitter cold during the winter) for long periods of time before going through security and entering the building. The days of freezing in the cold and sweating in Washington's humidity while waiting to enter the Capitol are over."

There is no word on whether Old Spice is still considering being the main sponsor of the new visitor center...

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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