Dean: Immigrants are GOP's 2006 foil

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    Dean: Immigrants are GOP's 2006 foil

    By Larry Eichel


    Inquirer Staff Writer


    Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean told the National Council of La Raza yesterday that he expected the Republican Party to "scapegoat immigrants" during the 2006 election campaign.

    In a speech on the last day of the Hispanic advocacy organization's annual gathering, at the Convention Center, Dean said the GOP had tried to generate resentment against blacks in the 2002 elections through the issue of affirmative action and against gays last year by focusing on marriage.

    "In 2006, it's going to be immigration," he said. "You wait and see."

    As evidence, Dean cited Rep. Thomas G. Tancredo (R., Colo.), who has called for rounding up illegal immigrants and shipping them back home. He also referred to a bill sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) that would make states verify individuals' immigration status before issuing them driver's licenses.

    "I don't think the president is a bigot," Dean told reporters at the Convention Center. "But I wish he'd have the courage to stand up to the bigots in his own party."

    Dean's Republican counterpart, Ken Mehlman, followed him to the rostrum and did not respond there. But later, he told reporters that the former Vermont governor's comments were "laughable."

    Said Mehlman: "It sounds like a good political sound bite, but it's entirely belied by this president, this administration's record."

    Mehlman noted that President Bush has created what the party chairman called "the most diverse administration in history," that Bush got more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and that the party is striving to get a bigger share in the future.


    "Your interests are our interests," he told his Hispanic audience during his speech. "Your cause is our cause."

    Last month, when first attacked on the immigration issue by the Democratic chairman, Sensenbrenner called the allegations "outrageous" and Tancredo labeled Dean as being out of the political mainstream.

    Mehlman did reply to one of the convention's previous speakers, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D, N.Y.). On Monday, she told the La Raza convention that the Bush administration was not doing enough for Hispanic families.

    The Republican chairman pointed out that Bush has raised federal spending on education, a key concern of Hispanics, more than had the previous administration, headed by Clinton's husband.


    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/12173139.htm
     

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