African Americans Divided on Lieberman
by Spencer Overton, Sun Jul 16, 2006 at 04:43:18 AM EDT
From the Hartford Courant . . . the full story is here.
Black Leaders Divided
Lieberman Inspires Range Of Memories
By David Lightman and Mark Pazniokas
July 11, 2006
Two of the Congressional Black Caucus' most prominent members, U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Maxine Waters, have split over Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and his primary with Ned Lamont, a divide that highlights the question of how the black vote might sway the outcome.
Waters, the more media-savvy and aggressive of the two, is backing Lamont - potentially bad news for Lieberman, who in recent years has been criticized for his stand on issues such as affirmative action and school vouchers.
But Lewis, viewed as more of an old-guard civil rights leader, helps reinforce Lieberman's message that he was a part of the rights movement as early as the 1960s, when he was a student at Yale.
The rival endorsements are not likely to translate into large numbers on Aug. 8 - black voters are expected to make up only about 10 percent of the total - but even a relatively small number of votes could affect a mid-summer primary in which turnout is likely to be low.
. . . Even though Lieberman's NAACP legislative report card has been stellar, Waters and others have long been critical of the senator. . . .
The oldest beef that Waters and her followers have with Lieberman stems from 1995, when California was considering banning racial preferences at state-funded institutions.
"You can't defend policies that are based on group preferences as opposed to individual opportunities," Lieberman said at the time.
When Al Gore picked Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate five years later, Waters and other black caucus members were unhappy, and Lieberman had to make amends with skeptical caucus members at a downtown Los Angeles hotel.
Waters, in the front row, said she was "unclear" where Lieberman stood. Lieberman explained his civil rights history and pledged allegiance to affirmative action programs. Waters said she was satisfied. . . .
Members then grilled him intensely on a number of subjects, and were particularly upset that he had just been quoted saying he "wouldn't send American men and women to Liberia unless I was convinced the country was ready for peacekeeping."
At a time when troops were being sent to Iraq, the caucus was not pleased that Lieberman said, "I don't think it's appropriate for American soldiers to get into the middle of that." Lieberman said his statements were taken out of context.