Key Democrat alleges 'anti-minority sentiment' in GOP
By Dana Bash/CNN
October 20, 1999
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EDT (2230 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said Wednesday he detects an anti-minority pattern emerging in the way the Republicans are dealing with legislation and presidential appointments.
"The array of anti-minority sentiment expressed almost each week now by Republicans is historic," the South Dakota Democrat said. "I have never seen a party become this defiant when it comes to protecting minority rights in my time in public life."
Daschle's comments came after Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) moved to delay the nomination of former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun to be ambassador to New Zealand and more than a week after the Senate rejected the judicial nomination of a black man, Ronnie White. Moseley-Braun was the first black woman elected to the Senate.
"Carol Moseley-Braun is just the latest victim of increasing sentiment expressed by an increasing number of Republican senators that I think is very dangerous for this country and very, very harmful to the progress we've made on minority rights over many decades," Daschle said.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) called Daschle's accusations "dangerous" and claimed most senators do not even know the race of the majority of nominees.
"We don't and shouldn't catalogue by race," said Lott spokesman John Czwartacki. "The term is racial profiling and I thought we were trying to get away from that."
Czwartacki said Daschle was playing politics with race, which he called "wrong," especially since it was the Democrats who engaged in a "high-tech lynching of the only African-American nominee to the Supreme Court," referring to Clarence Thomas, who won confirmation after hearings in which he was accused of sexual harassment.
Daschle said he was not calling Republicans racists, but their actions raise "some very serious questions about the perception, the attitude of some on the other side when it comes to minorities. There is very little sensitivity."
Lott's spokesman said the Mississippi Republican will let the committee do its work with the nomination of Moseley-Braun. Helms has said his committee will proceed with the nomination when allegations of ethical misconduct are proven untrue.
Moseley-Braun tangled with Helms during her time in the Senate when she fought to prevent the government from extending a patent on the insignia of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a mark which includes the Confederate flag. She fought the issue a second time when Helms tried to attach a renewal amendment for the insignia to legislation on national service.
Moseley-Braun was defeated for re-election to the Senate from Illinois in 1998. Her re-election bid was undone by criticism of her 1996 visit to a brutal Nigerian dictator and never-proven allegations that she used 1993 campaign funds to pay for designer clothes, stereo equipment, jewelry, cars and travel.
She was unsuccessful, despite the White House's eagerness to see her win a second term. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton each headlined several fund-raisers and campaigned repeatedly for her during more than a year leading up to the November 3 election.
But her opponent, Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, used $11.7 million in loans and donations from his personal banking fortune to pay for a barrage of effective television ads criticizing her ethics and ridiculing her record. The race tightened at the end, and Moseley-Braun wound up losing by a margin of 51 percent to 47 percent -- much closer than earlier polls had indicated.
Wednesday, October 20, 1999