October 17, 1995 in Nation/World

Republicans Assail Clinton, Farrakhan

John Kifner\ New York Times

Louis Farrakhan’s rambling speech from the Capitol steps began drawing criticism, much of it from predictable quarters, even before it ended.

Republicans in particular took the occasion not only to attack Farrakhan, but also to bash President Clinton for not denouncing the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam by name.

Sen. Bob Dole, who was singled out in Farrakhan’s speech for advocating legislation that undermines the black community, issued a statement declaring: “If you want to talk about anti-Semitism, it’s written all over Louis Farrakhan. That’s his message of hate.”

Later, in a speech Monday evening in New York, Dole continued his double-barreled barrage, saying: “I am shocked and dismayed that President Clinton did not find the moral courage to denounce Louis Farrakhan by name in his speech today in Texas. Farrakhan is a racist and anti-Semite, unhinged by hate. He has no place in American public life, and all who lead must say so. And I resent the implication by the president of the United States that ours is a racist nation.”

But Dole, like other critics, sought to draw a distinction between Farrakhan and the black men who thronged the mall in a display of solidarity.

“There are probably a lot of well-intentioned people coming to Washington,” Dole, a Republican from Kansas, said.

Throughout the day, other Republican leaders and candidates for president, combined their criticism of Farrakhan with attacks on Clinton.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, paired with Dole as oppressors of a “once mighty people,” joined in Dole’s criticisms as well.

Gingrich’s spokesman, Tony Blankley, said, “This is the largest gathering in our history, probably, and it is being led by a notorious anti-Semite.” Then, referring to Clinton’s speech on race relations earlier in the day, he said: “I find it stunning that he was not able to articulate Farrakhan’s name for condemnation. His speech was a classic Clinton straddle and a disgraceful one.”

MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

Cut in Spokane edition

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email