WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Tom Tancredo said Thursday the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amount to segregation and should be abolished.
"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is scheduled to pitch his long-shot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.
Tancredo's request to ban the caucuses was relayed in a letter to Administration Committee Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-Calif. Besides the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats also have a Hispanic caucus with 21 members, and Republicans have a comparable Hispanic conference with five full members and 11 "associate" members who are not Hispanic.
The request came in the wake of reports that freshman Rep. Stephen Cohen, D-Tenn., was refused admission to the Congressional Black Caucus because he is white. All 43 caucus members are black.
Cohen said in a statement that he told a reporter that he would be honored to join the caucus but did not apply, "nor has the CBC denied membership to me."
However, the group would not have permitted Cohen to join, said Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., its new chairwoman. The caucus decided early on that official membership would be restricted to blacks, she said.
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