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For week ended August 22, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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NAACP Demands Apology From Bennett

Summarized by Kent Larsen

NAACP Demands Apology From Bennett
Salt Lake Tribune 17Aug99 L1
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune

U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), a member of the LDS Church, is getting a lot of heat for what civil rights leaders claim was a "racist" statement he made last week. The Salt Lake NAACP has called for Bennett to apologize for his remarks and others are expressing shock at his statement.

Bennett made the remark during an August 13th meeting with the editorial board of Ogden's Standard-Examiner newspaper. During the meeting, Bennett reportedly said that the only way that presidential candidate George W. Bush could fail to win the nomination was if "some woman comes forward, let's say some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered within the last 18 months."

NAACP Salt Lake branch President Jeanetta Williams says the remark suggests racism. She says it seems from the remark that it would be "OK if that had been a white woman, but God forbid if it was a black woman." She compares the comment to burning a cross or placing a swastika in the yard of an African American. "It would be as offensive -- yes it is," Williams said.

But while calling for Bennett to apologize, Williams stopped short of labeling him. "I didn't call him a racist," Williams says. "He has racist attitudes and made a racist statement." She also said that Bennett doesn't need to resign over the remark, "I don't think he should resign," she said. "[But] he owes the community and the nation a public apology."

Bennett's office released a prepared statement saying that he "certainly regrets having made a comment that has been seen by some as insensitive. The senator was asked what it would take to derail the candidacy of George W. Bush and responded by saying that it would take the substantiation of rumors like those that surrounded the Clinton candidacy. The senator detailed those rumors which, separated from the context of the discussion, may appear insensitive." Bennett himself was on a previously planned family vacation in southern Utah and was unavailable for comment.

Bennett's office also indicated that he will meet with NAACP representatives to express his regrets.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information