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NAACP Leaders Say Bush Has Slighted Civil Rights, and Them

July 09, 2002|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — The day after the NAACP chairman assailed President Bush's record on civil rights, its other top leader chided Bush for skipping a chance to speak at the group's annual convention.

"You can't be the president of all the people when you only want to deal with some of the people," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said Monday during a speech at the convention.

Bush addressed the meeting as a presidential candidate in 2000 but has declined written invitations from Mfume for the last two years.

Mfume called Bush "a likable fellow" but added that he doesn't like "his presidential practice of divide and conquer when it comes to black organizations and black people."

At a news conference, Bush was asked to respond to the NAACP's feeling that he has slighted the group, and to general criticism that his civil rights record has been lackluster.

Referring to his black secretary of State and his national security advisor, Bush replied: "Let's see, there I was sitting around the table with foreign leaders, looking at Colin Powell and Condi Rice." He then shook his head as if disgusted with the premise of the question.

Julian Bond, the NAACP board chairman, opened the group's convention Sunday night with a speech that attacked the Bush administration's record on civil rights.

Two years ago, Bush "promised to enforce the civil rights laws," Bond said. "We knew he was in the oil business--we just didn't know it was snake oil."

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