WASHINGTON — The way Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun relates the story, Sen. Jesse Helms entered the Senate elevator, saw her, and began singing, "I wish I was in the land of cotton. . . . "
Helms, a Republican from North Carolina, recalled his brief encounter with the Senate's only black member differently and described it as "a good-natured exchange," an aide said.
Moseley-Braun, a Democrat from Illinois, told the story at the National Urban League annual dinner Wednesday night, about two weeks after another tangle with Helms in which she defeated his move to renew a patent on the Confederate flag insignia.
The incident happened Tuesday, she said. When Helms stepped into the elevator, "he saw me standing there, and he started to sing, 'I wish I was in the land of cotton . . . ' And he looked at Sen. Hatch and said, 'I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing 'Dixie' until she cries.'