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Tancredo urges a ban on racial caucuses

January 26, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a White House hopeful, said Thursday that the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amounted to segregation and should be abolished.

"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based on race," said Tancredo, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.

"If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive race-based caucuses," he said in a letter to Administration Committee Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Carson). .

One caucus member dismissed Tancredo's comments as sour grapes from a politically ambitious Republican no longer in the congressional majority.

"This story is really about a member of the minority party using intolerance to advance his presidential campaign," Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said. Tancredo is scheduled to pitch his longshot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.

Tancredo's letter revived his efforts to abolish the groups.

Besides the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats also have a Hispanic caucus and Republicans have a comparable Hispanic conference.

The request comes in the wake of erroneous reports that freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) was refused admission to the Congressional Black Caucus because he is white. Cohen said he would be honored to join the caucus but did not apply.

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