Bush says GOP 'has got a lot of work to do' to appeal to blacks

Saturday, July 24, 2004

DETROIT -- President Bush acknowledged on Friday that "the Republican Party has got a lot of work to do" to gain the support of black voters and suggested that the Democratic Party is taking them for granted.

"I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote," the president told the National Urban League. "But do they earn it and do they deserve it?"

Bush's remarks came as a new poll showed overwhelming support for John Kerry among black voters. The poll also showed blacks have yet to entirely warm up to the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The president's speech followed his refusal to address the NAACP, whose chairman, Julian Bond, has condemned the administration's policies on education, the economy and the war in Iraq and has urged high black voter turnout to defeat Bush.

Diversity of staffBush pointed to the fact that blacks such as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell are key members of his administration. To periodic smatterings of applause from the black audience, he asserted that his prescription of tax relief, education reform and compassionate conservatism is doing far more than the traditional programs of Democrats to address the nation's ills that hit particularly hard at blacks.

"Has class warfare or higher taxes ever created decent jobs in the inner city?" Bush asked. "Are you satisfied with the same answers on crime, excuses for drugs and blindness to the problem of the family?"

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