Kemp reaffirms support for affirmative action In pitch to black voters, he denies flip-flop on issue

Campaign 1996


CHICAGO -- In one of his strongest pitches yet for black votes, Jack Kemp grappled again yesterday with his position on affirmative action, telling an inner-city audience that he had not FTC abandoned his support for it and promising that economic revival for urban areas would be a keystone of a Dole-Kemp administration.

"Our democracy cannot survive into the next century if we do not bring the races together and recognize that unity in our country does not require uniformity but it does require unanimity around the idea of opportunity for all people, removing the barriers," Kemp said.

"I'm talking about affirmative action. I'm for affirmative action if it is the type of government effort to remove the barriers to people taking part in the type of access to credit, capital, housing, ownership, marriages, jobs and education that are absolutely essential."

Kemp, the Republican vice presidential nominee, was an early and strong supporter of the federal government's affirmative action program.

But since accepting the No. 2 position on a Republican ticket where the standard-bearer and much of the party opposes the program, he had backed away from public support of affirmative action, rarely raising the issue.

But before a small group of politically active blacks at the Abraham Lincoln Centre yesterday afternoon, Kemp not only brought up the subject of affirmative action, but made it one of the major points of his talk.

"You can say, and you should, 'Kemp, you made a comment about affirmative action. What did you mean? Have you flipped or have you flopped?' " he said. "No."

"Affirmative action are two good words," he said, "and in my opinion, we must reaffirm constantly government's pledge to the American people of all colors, particularly those left out, to get the access to credit, capital, educational choice and jobs with the safety and security for their families that any family wants in this country."

Kemp was careful not to link Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee, with his comments on affirmative action.

But he did pledge that Dole as president would push for economic enterprise zones for inner-city areas, support education and public housing vouchers.

The nonstop campaigning since the end of the political conventions has taken Kemp before what he has conceded are nontraditional Republican audiences -- such as bedrock trade union communities and into inner-city neighborhoods in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Pub Date: 9/04/96

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