Bush and Kerry: In their Own Words

Altanta Daily World, Jul. 22

The following are excerpts from the Kerry and Bush questionnaires from the NAACP:

Q: If elected president, what specific actions will you take regarding equal opportunity (affirmative action) programs?

Bush: I support affirmative access, which aggressively reaches out to minorities, is inclusive of all races, provides equal opportunity, and promotes diversity. My administration has broken down government contracts to allow small businesses, especially minority-owned small businesses, to better compete. My budgets have supported a 30% increase in funding for minority-serving institutions. I do not support racial quotas, preferences, or set-asides, which perpetuate divisions and can lead people to question the accomplishments of successful minorities.

Kerry: We deserve a president who doesn’t call fairness a special preference. I believe in an America where we take common sense steps to ensure that our schools and workplaces reflect the full face of America. The Bush administration is wrong to dismantle important avenues of opportunity for Americans. I have opposed right wing efforts to undermine or eliminate affirmative action programs and have supported programs that seek to enhance diversity, for example, by fostering the growth of minority small businesses. As president, I will be a passionate advocate for affirmative action and equal opportunity programs. I believe these programs will strengthen our nation.

(Q: Do you support or oppose reparations (for slavery) legislation, H.R. 40, as introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI)?

Bush: No response.

Kerry: Support.

Q: What actions, if any, would you take to address the problem of racial profiling by law enforcement officials?

Bush: Racial profiling is wrong and my Administration is the first to ban it in federal law enforcement. Racial profiling is no longer permitted by Federal law enforcement in making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as ordinary traffic stops.

Kerry: I have supported legislation in the Senate to prohibit racial profiling and will continue to fight its practice as President.

Q: What characteristics would you look for in a federal judicial candidate?

Bush: I have nominated highly qualified judges from diverse backgrounds to the federal bench, including many women and minorities, who will follow the law and not legislate from the bench.

Kerry: We need judges who are committed to moving equal rights and protections forward in the 21st century. People who understand that the battle against racial discrimination continues, who know working people deserve protections on the job, who recognize that our natural environment is a trust we hold for our children, and who have an unshakeable commitment to a woman’s right to choose.

Q: What specific actions will you take, if any, to reduce or eliminate [hate] crimes based solely on the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference or disability?

Bush: I believe that all violent crimes are crimes of hate that should be prosecuted as such, and that criminals who commit them should be punished to the full extent of the law.

Kerry: I am an original cosponsor of federal hate crimes legislation . . . As President, I would assure that the Hate Crimes Act [is] properly enforced by the Justice Department and that there were appropriate resources for the training of state and local officials in identifying, solving and prosecuting these crimes at a state level.

Q: Do you support or oppose increasing the current minimum wage, of $5.15 an hour, by $1.50 cents over the next year?

Bush: No answer.

Kerry: Support.

Q: Do you support or oppose government funded school vouchers?

Bush: No answer.

Kerry: Oppose.

Q: If elected president, what would you do to ensure that all American children have equal access to a high quality public education?

Bush: Already, I have increased Title I funding for low-income students by $4.6 billion (52 percent)—more than during the eight years of the previous Administration. Special education funding will increase by 75 percent and support for reading instruction 340 percent. NCLB’s accountability provisions also ensure struggling students and schools get extra help.

Kerry: I will establish an Education Trust Fund that will provide full mandatory funding for the No Child Left Behind Act and for the federal government’s share of special education.

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