DURHAM, N.C. — President Bush's appointees are enforcing the Voting Rights Act in a way that will produce an "American apartheid" by creating race-based election districts, Republican challenger Patrick J. Buchanan charged Tuesday.
Buchanan has basically conceded the GOP nomination to President Bush, but is stumping in North Carolina in hopes of demonstrating strength in the state's primary next week.
He told a Duke University audience of about 500 it was time to repeal the 1965 law that has enfranchised millions of blacks on the grounds that "it's time the South was let out of the penalty box."
He also advocated the abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts as part of a conservative counterattack against obscenity to "recapture America's culture from barbarism."
"Here in North Carolina, Mr. Bush's Justice Department forced the state Legislature to carve out two new congressional districts specifically designed to corral and wall off the black population," Buchanan said.
"Some say this was done to increase the likelihood of a black being elected to Congress; others say it was done to reduce the power of the Democratic Party," he added.
"Whatever the motive, racial gerrymandering in North Carolina is creating an American apartheid," Buchanan concluded. "This gerrymander must be undone, and the Voting Rights Act that allowed it to happen here must be overturned.
"Why, in 1992, must North Carolina submit changes in her election laws to some bureaucrat in Washington?"
Buchanan referred to a provision of the 1965 law that requires Southern states that Congress found had discriminated against blacks to get advance Justice Department approval of changes in voting laws or election districts to prevent them from undercutting black voting power.
In a speech that deplored contemporary trends in art, theater, literature, music, films, photography, education and the media, Buchanan said they amounted to a "cultural war" waged by the political left.
"Clearly, a religious war is being waged for the soul of America, and in that war, the Bush Administration has been a conscientious objector," he contended.
Addressing his Duke audience, he added: "The challenge and the duty facing this generation--who have the gift of a good, sound education--is to show your countrymen the way to recapture America's culture from barbarism."
His speech got a mixed reception--some spirited applause, some derisive laughter.
Buchanan, who spent his second consecutive day in the small towns of North Carolina's Piedmont region, said the Tuesday primary would be one of the toughest he has faced. So far, he has lost 19 of 19 contests to Bush but won 37% of the vote in New Hampshire, startling the President's supporters.
When a reporter asked the challenger how he felt about the prospect that Bush would lock up the party's nomination this week, Buchanan snapped: "Tell him we'll see him in California."
Buchanan said he intends to spend at least three weeks in California before the June 2 primary, hoping to take advantage of the deep split in the Republican Party between conservatives and moderates as well as compete for the attention of national political reporters.