- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

Sen. Elizabeth Dole yesterday called on Minority Leader Harry Reid to apologize for charging this week that a proposal to make English the official language was racist.

“I believe an apology to those senators who supported this important measure is in order,” the North Carolina Republican wrote. “I hope that you don’t truly believe that two-thirds of the Senate would support a racist measure, or that their support for English as our national language is an act of racism.”

Rebecca Kirszner, spokeswoman for Mr. Reid, dismissed the letter.

“It’s clear Karl Rove called Liddy Dole this morning, because her letter is straight from his playbook,” she said. “Republicans are trying to distract Americans from the fact that they’ve had five years to secure our borders and fix our immigration system and haven’t done it.”

Nor did Ms. Kirszner offer any apology for her boss.

“Senator Reid is not afraid to call them on their silly games and will continue to fight for the priorities of the American people,” she said.

During the debate Thursday over an amendment to the immigration reform bill to make English the official language, Mr. Reid said the measure was “racist.”

“I think it’s directed basically to people who speak Spanish,” he said.

Moments later, the Senate approved the measure by a 63-34 vote. Virtually all Republicans were joined by 11 Democrats to approve the largely symbolic amendment.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, considered a Republican contender for president in 2008, also made news yesterday suggesting racism on the part of those supporting tougher immigration laws.

“If I were to say that some of it is driven by just sheer racism, I think I would be telling you the truth,” he said, according to the online political tipsheet, the Hotline. “I’ve had conversations with people … and it became very evident that what they really didn’t like was that people didn’t look like them, didn’t talk like them, didn’t celebrate … holidays like they do, and they just had a problem with it. Now, that is not to say that everyone who is really fired [up] about immigration is racist. They’re not.”

In the past, Mr. Reid has denied that racism has anything to do with the debate over immigration.

“Opponents of immigration reform cry racism or point toward our historic role as a nation of immigrants,” he wrote in an opinion column in the Los Angeles Times in 1994 when he even opposed legal immigration. “Charges of racial bias are unfounded. Unlike anything proposed before, my Immigration Stabilization Act explicity prohibits discrimination in refugee admissions.”

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