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NAACP Demands Apology From Utah Sen.

August 16, 1999

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ NAACP leaders in Utah demanded a public apology Monday from Sen. Bob Bennett for a weekend newspaper quotation about the Republican presidential race.

Bennett, R-Utah, said during a meeting with the editorial board of the Ogden newspaper Standard-Examiner that Texas Gov. George W. Bush seems already to have won the GOP presidential nomination.

``Unless George W. steps in front of a bus, or some woman comes forward, let’s say some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered within the last 18 months, or some other scenario that you could be equally creative in thinking of, George W. Bush will be the nominee,″ Bennett told the newspaper.

Edward Lewis Jr., president of the NAACP’s tristate conference for Idaho, Nevada and Utah, said at a news conference that Bennett ``felt very comfortable in his whiteness″ to make such a statement.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the civil rights organization’s Salt Lake City branch, said it was wrong for Bennett, who is white, to single out women, especially black women. ``I will view him much differently than I did before,″ she said.

Bennett’s office in Salt Lake City later issued a statement in which the senator did not apologize but indicated he ``certainly regrets″ making the comment but said those who heard the remark realized it had no racial overtones. It said the senator will convey those sentiments in person to NAACP representatives.

Standard-Examiner publisher W. Scott Trundle was out of the office Monday. Don Porter, the editorial page editor, refused comment.

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