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Politics Mondays: Why We Back Bush: Five Elected Black Republicans Make The Case.

John Kerry wants to be president. But he doesn't want to discuss his unproductive time in the Senate. And he isn't offering credible ideas to extend opportunity and promote ownership in our communities. Instead, he's going back into the old Democratic Party bag of tricks and pulling out . . . the race card. Mr. Kerry has tried to paint President Bush as a racist bent on destroying civil rights. But when you look at the real record, you see that George W. Bush has done more to empower African-Americans and other minorities than any president in recent history.

President Bush has taken action to create opportunities for minorities through improved education and increased homeownership. His No Child Left Behind education reform was designed to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. He has worked for an increase in funding for historically black colleges and universities. And President Bush set a national goal of helping 5.5 million minorities become homeowners. Just two years later, we're a third of the way there, and today more minority families than ever before own their home.

President Bush has improved minority communities, reducing violent crime rates with initiatives like Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is taking gun criminals off the streets. His Faith-Based and Community Initiative is boosting the efforts of charities that bring real help to people in urban neighborhoods. President Bush's tax relief has also helped businesses create 1.7 million jobs in the last year and he has worked to create more opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses. He has even launched the most ambitious American effort ever aimed at combating AIDS and other diseases in Africa. It's a record that we, as African-Americans, are proud to support.

But Mr. Kerry doesn't want black voters to know about it. Take his remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus last month. Mr. Kerry pulled out all the old civil-rights buzzwords to try to make George Bush sound like Bull Connor. He argued that President Bush is "taking us back to two Americas--separate and unequal."
He said there's a "Do not enter" sign on the White House door, to keep blacks out. And he raised the specter of voter disenfranchisement, claiming "some say" the president has plans to keep African Americans out of polling places throughout the land. Mr. Kerry's rhetoric is false. It's frustrating. And it shouldn't be tolerated by people from our community who want substance over talk.

As black Americans who have served at the top levels of government, we know that America today is a land of greater opportunity than ever before. We've all been elected to high office in the last decade--from states as diverse as Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. And that just couldn't have happened a few decades ago. Americans are today more united, and more able to look beyond racial differences, than at any point in our history.

But rather than celebrate this success and highlight the opportunities available to Americans of every color, Mr. Kerry wants to come between us. He's got a divide-and-conquer strategy to make black voters feel disconnected from the success and prosperity of America--even though more black Americans than ever before are achieving their dreams. Mr. Kerry knows the only way he's going to win this election is if he splits Americans into opposing camps--black and white, rich and poor. But a man who wants to divide our nation into "two Americas" has no business being president.

How about that "Do not enter" sign on the White House door? Funny, we've all been to the White House and we didn't notice any sign telling us to stay away. Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, the two highest-ranking black leaders in American history, definitely have not seen the sign. Rod Paige, the secretary of education, and Alphonso Jackson, the secretary of housing and urban development--both black, both in President Bush's cabinet--have not seen the sign either. George W. Bush has appointed more minorities to high-level government positions than any other president. His critics just hate to admit it.

Mr. Kerry's accusation that President Bush wants to keep black Americans from voting is the most heinous charge he's made. It outrages us, and it ought to outrage every American who takes voting rights seriously. In addition to claiming that "some say" the president's campaign wants to disenfranchise minorities, Mr. Kerry also asserted, "We are hearing those things already." Oh, really? "We are hearing those things." "Some say." John Kerry is trading on innuendo spread by the most divisive people in American politics--people who spend their careers trying to tell us how to think and vote.

It's unbecoming of a presidential candidate to spread these rumors. It demeans the intelligence of black voters. We will not be swayed by ugly whispering campaigns and malicious gossip. We look at facts. We study the record. And we choose a leader who treats us with respect.

There are four weeks left in this presidential campaign. And we will not allow John Kerry to use that time to divide Americans and distort the president's record while running away from his own. Nor will we allow the Democratic Party to take black voters for granted. Black voters have a real choice in this election. We cannot allow gossip and innuendo to crowd out the truth. President Bush is the leader our times demand.

Note:This article is written by J.C. Watts, Michael Steele, Jennette Bradley, J. Kenneth Blackwell and Michael Williams.

Mr. Watts is a former congressman from Oklahoma; Mr. Steele is lieutenant governor of Maryland; Ms. Bradley is lieutenant governor of Ohio, where Mr. Blackwell is secretary of state, and Mr. Williams is a Texas railroad commissioner.

Monday, October 4, 2004

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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