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Gramm’s Remarks Outrage Candidate

June 8, 2002

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DALLAS (AP) _ Sen. Phil Gramm told GOP delegates Saturday that Democrats were trying to racially divide Texas and scoffed at a Democratic debate conducted in Spanish, infuriating the Democratic candidate for governor.

Gramm, who is retiring this year after about a quarter-century in Washington, spoke to thousands of cheering delegates on the final day of the state’s Republican convention.

``The Democrats believe that they can divide Texas based on race,″ Gramm said of this year’s elections for governor and U.S. Senate. ``That’s their dream and that’s their vision. And this election is about rejecting that dream and that vision once and for all.″

Tony Sanchez, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Gramm also quipped during his speech that a debate held in Spanish between Democratic candidates Sanchez and Dan Morales before the March primary was ``not conducted in the English language.″

Sanchez spokesman Mark Sanders said the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves and ``Texans won’t stand for it.″

``This is outrageously insulting,″ Sanders said. ``The U.S. Senate will be a better place without Phil Gramm in it.″

Republican John Cornyn, the Texas attorney general, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a Democrat, are running to replace Gramm.

About 8,500 GOP delegates were in the thick of debate late Saturday afternoon, discussing highly divisive proposals to weed out moderate Republicans.

A rule intended to require GOP candidates to disclose their positions on the platform had been softened in Saturday’s version of the committee reports.

The version delegates will vote on says candidates ``may″ indicate whether they agree, disagree or are undecided with issues, but threatens to withhold state Republican party campaign funds of the candidate refuses to fill out the platform survey.

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