Pat Buchanan, keynote speaker at Benefits Selling Expo 2009, claims Roland Burris’ race is the reason behind the Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s refusal to seat him, according to Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit research center.

On the Jan. 6 edition of Hardball, Buchanan told host Chris Matthews, “[W]hy does [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid not want this guy? Why can’t he get elected? Because he’s an African-American.”

Matthews pointed out Burris would not be the first African-American to be appointed to the Illinois Senate. However, both men failed to mention that Reid had previously said he would consider refusing anyone appointed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and had already denied race played a role in his opposition to Burris’ appointment.

Media Matters cites a statement from Reid’s office: “We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.”

Buchanan will give the closing keynote address at Benefits Selling Expo in Austin, April 3, 10:45 a.m. For a transcript of the Jan. 6 edition of Hardball, visit www.msnbc.msn.com.