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For week ended August 29, 1999 Posted 4 Sep 1999

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Bennett tells black leaders he's sorry for remark

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Bennett tells black leaders he's sorry for remark
San Jose CA Mercury News 23Aug99 L1
By Paul Foy: Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY -- In a private meeting with civil rights leaders, Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) apologized for remarks he made that appeared to disparage black women. Still somewhat unsatisfied, the NAACP's Utah leaders are asking Bennett to make a public apology. And they are asking Utah's other Senator, Orrin Hatch, to apologize also, for a remark he made.

Bennett's remark was made at an August 13th editorial board meeting of the Ogden Standard-Examiner. While meeting with the board to talk about the Republican Party, Bennett said that Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush would win the Republican nomination "unless some woman comes forward, let's say some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered."

In his private apology, Bennett said he was thinking of the movie "Primary Colors," in which a presidential candidate's womanizing nearly costs him the campaign. "We told him that was a very poor excuse," said the NAACP's Salt Lake City president Jeanetta Williams. Williams accepted the apology, but still wants a public apology. In a written statement released to the press, Bennett said he had apologized to Williams.

Meanwhile, the NAACP, which has consistently given both Bennett and Hatch poor voting records on civil rights legislation, also took Presidential candidate Orrin Hatch to task for a remark he made comparing homosexuals and blacks, where he tried to explain his belief that being homosexual is reversible.

At a June Republican state convention, Hatch said that republicans could be proud of their party because "we don't have the gays and lesbians with us." He went on to say, "People of color can't do anything about their color. But I do believe gay people have a choice to live within the legal rules or not. It's up to them, they do have a choice, where an African-American has no choice with regard to the color of their skin."

The president of the NAACP's Utah, Idaho and Nevada area, Edward L. Lewis Jr., says he is appalled at the remark. "We do not equate being gay or being lesbian with 300 years of slavery and being black in America. It is not the same thing. However, we do feel that everyone should have their civil rights."

Hatch sees the remarks differently. "You can sum it up in one sentence: that Orrin Hatch is tolerant of all people and that he doesn't try to tell people how to live unless they ask him."

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