National Urban League Charges Santorum With Race Pandering

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NEW YORK - National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial today charged Presidential candidate Rick Santorum with pandering to racist elements within his party.

"Senator Santorum is perpetuating a thoroughly false and destructive racial stereotype in a desperate attempt to score political points," Morial said. "He is appealing to the lowest common denominator within the electorate and quite frankly should be ashamed of himself."

Morial called on the other candidates for the Republican nomination immediately to repudiate Santorum's comments.

During a discussion of social assistance programs over the weekend in Iowa, Santorum claimed he doesn't want to "make black people's lives better by giving them someone else's money."

Morial said he was appalled by both the comment and the sentiment behind it.

"Social safety net programs serve families in dire circumstances from all walks of life," Morial said. "Many of those who now find themselves in need, whatever their ethnic background, are the very people who have contributed into these programs throughout their entire working lives."

In Iowa, about 84 percent of food stamps recipients in Iowa are white; nationally, about 70 percent of recipients are white.

"By falsely suggesting that people of color are a disproportionate drain on resources provided mainly by whites, Santorum deliberately fans the flames of racial divisiveness," Morial said.

Morial said Santorum's comment was particularly hypocritical when Santorum himself, while earning more than $162,000 as a U.S. Senator and living in a $643,361 home, admitted in 2005 that he could not make ends meet without financial help from his retired federal employee parents.

"Most people receiving assistance are not earning six-figure salaries and living in a lavish suburban mansion," Morial said.

Morial noted that the National Urban League does not endorse political candidates, but will speak out against racist rhetoric from every point on the political spectrum.

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy. Today, there are nearly 100 local affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people nationwide.