July 10 -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush addressed the 91st annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) where he pledged to make “strong civil rights enforcement a cornerstone of my administration.”
“Our nation is harmed when we let our differences separate us and divide us,” said the Republican presidential candidate. “There is so much that we can do together to advance racial harmony and economic opportunity.”
Bush stressed his theme of expanding upward economic mobility, but did not unveil any new policy initiatives in his remarks to the group today.
“Our nation must make new a commitment to equality and upward mobility for all its citizens,” he said. “ We cannot afford to have an America segregated by class, by race or by aspiration.”
A Different Kind of Republican?
Bush’s speech to the gathering in Baltimore, Md., this afternoon was the latest in a string of campaign appearances before minority organizations — groups that are not considered ‘traditional’ audiences for GOP politicians.
The governor recently addressed the Congress for Racial Equality in New York, the League of United Latin American Citizens national convention in Washington, D.C., and the La Raza conference in San Diego.
“Discrimination is still a reality even when it takes different forms,” Bush asserted. “Strong civil rights enforcement will be a cornerstone of my administration. And I will confront another form of bias: the soft bigotry of lowered expectations.”
Vice President Al Gore, Bush’s Democratic rival, had separate appearances before the same Latino groups, and is scheduled to address the NAACP gathering on Wednesday. But, given that most minorities tend to vote Democratic, it is Bush who has the most to gain by reaching out to them.
“Republicans can make inroads,” said Kweisi Mfume, the group’s president, said on ABCNEWS’ This Week. “But they have to mean it. They can’t just say it.”