Mfume presses Dole to speak to NAACP Likely GOP candidate hasn't accepted invitation FTC

July 04, 1996|By James Bock | James Bock,SUN STAFF

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume says Bob Dole still hasn't confirmed that he will address the civil rights group's annual convention next week -- and that a Dole snub would send a "terrible message."

Mfume said yesterday that the presumed Republican presidential nominee would send "a terrible message that the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land did not find it important enough to address the nation's largest minority group at the annual convention."

The NAACP had scheduled the former Senate majority leader to speak Tuesday morning to the convention in Charlotte, N.C. Mfume said his staff had held discussions with Dole's campaign about attending.

Christina Martin, Dole's deputy press secretary, would say only that the candidate's schedule for early next week had not been posted.

Mfume said President Clinton had confirmed that he would address the group Wednesday.

"I think Mr. Dole will be hard-pressed to explain not just to African-Americans but to concerned whites and others what is more important on that given morning than to be there," the NAACP leader said.

In 1992, candidates Clinton and Ross Perot addressed the convention while Republican President George Bush, who was vacationing in Maine, skipped it. Perot caused an uproar by repeatedly referring to blacks as "you people" in his speech. Eighty-two percent of black Americans voted for Clinton in 1992.

Dole's opposition to affirmative action in federal programs would not likely win him a warm reception from the NAACP rank and file should he address the convention.

Pub Date: 7/04/96

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