He talked about the hardships of the movement.”
Bush Touts Voting Rights Act Renewal
By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 20, 2006; 11:25 AM
WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday urged the Senate to renew a landmark civil rights law passed in the 1960s to stop racist voting practices in the South.
“President Johnson called the right to vote the lifeblood of our democracy. That was true then and it remains true today,” Bush said in the first address of his presidency to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual convention.
Acknowledging his administration’s bumpy relations with black voters, Bush said he wants to change the Republican Party’s relationship with African-Americans.
“I understand that racism still lingers in America,” Bush said. “It’s a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.
“I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African-American community. For too long, my party wrote off the African-American vote, and many African-Americans wrote off the Republican Party.”
Bush, joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his chief political adviser Karl Rove, spoke as the Senate debated a bill to approve a 25-year extension of expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The House has passed the bill, and the Senate was expected to pass it quickly, propelled by a Republican push to increase the party’s credibility with minorities.