Democratic presidential contender U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on Thursday derided President George W. Bush’s commutation of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison term even as Black men routinely serve time behind bars.
All eight Democratic hopefuls and a lone Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., addressed the convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Democrats focused their criticism on the administration’s record on race relations.
“We have more work to do when Scooter Libby gets no prison time while an honor student gets 10 years,” Obama said to loud cheers.
Libby was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the outing of an undercover CIA official, Valerie Plame, whose husband Joseph Wilson was a vocal anti-war critic. Libby received a 30-month prison sentence, which Bush commuted last week.
In their bid to woo Black voters, a key party constituency, all the Democratic hopefuls shared the stage at the forum devoted to racial issues.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the current Democratic frontrunner, predicted the forum would cover more issues of importance to the Black community than the administration had in six years.
“We have a president who does not see what you and I see. With your hard work, we will render the people that you and I see visible once again,” she said, citing The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s novel of Black alienation.
John Edwards touted his commitment to fighting poverty, calling it “the cause of my life.” Edwards will launch a tour Monday in New Orleans to spotlight the millions of Americans living in poverty.
“We want America to see the other America,” Edwards said. “That seems to be forgotten.”
While all the contenders were warmly received as they took their place onstage, Obama received a boisterous, sustained ovation.
Tancredo said he accepted the invitation to speak because his message is for all Americans. A vociferous foe of illegal immigration, Tancredo said the wages of Black workers suffer because of illegal workers.
– Associated Press
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