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Bush meeting with Mel Watt, black leaders

I’m glad NC’s Mel Watt is in on this get-together. I have suspicions about some of the other black leaders, that are, not surprisingly, unnamed. Bush’s strategy has been to “reward” selected leaders with taypayer funds for faith-based initiatives. I wonder if some of our friends at Project 21 were invited? (

“I believe in fresh starts,” said Rep. Melvin Watt, D-North Carolina, new chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has had an adversarial relationship with Bush but has a chance to get off on a better footing at a meeting Wednesday.

Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ buys into Bush’s faith-based initiatives and “values.” Maybe he ‘s invited to the little love-in with Chimpy.

The meeting with black lawmakers comes after Bush is to receive about 20 black pastors and other community leaders Tuesday afternoon at the White House. Bush administration officials would not reveal identities of those at the meeting except to say the group includes some of the president’s black supporters.

…During last year’s political campaigns, Republican officials said they were making a more concerted effort to reach out to blacks through religious leaders. Bush campaign aides cited issues such as school vouchers and the president’s support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that could help him gain more support among blacks.

Bush’s efforts to steer more federal dollars to social programs conducted by so-called faith-based groups also has been received favorably by church leaders.

Watt, who pledged to pursue more frequent meetings when he took over as chairman of the caucus in December, said the organization is looking for cooperation from the White House, not just conversation. He said he plans to give Bush a written copy of the caucus agenda for the next two years, which focuses on eliminating disparities between blacks and whites in domestic and foreign policy.

“Unless the president can and is willing to assist us in achieving items on our agenda, there’s no particular reason that the Congressional Black Caucus needs to be meeting with him,” Watt said in an interview. “This is not about being able to say that we met with the president. We actually think it’s about advancing and supporting our agenda.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding