Posted: Jan. 31, 2004
SHARPTON KEEPS THE POLITICS
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Alfred C. "Al" Sharpton kept
the politics rolling by campaigning Saturday in Wilmington,
continuing the candidate hopping and voter shopping with Delaware's
Democratic presidential primary only three days away.
Picking up where John F.
Kerry and Joseph I. Lieberman left off after their appearances here
the day before, Sharpton put on a one-man political show for about
200 people at the Police Athletic League center on North Market
Street in Wilmington.
It was Sharpton's third trip
to campaign for votes in Delaware, where Democrats will go to the
polls Tuesday along with voters in six other states. Delaware
Republicans are skipping the primary because President George W.
Bush is a lock for re-nomination.
Sharpton urged his listeners
to defy the low expectations for his campaign and vote to get him
some of the state's 23 delegates for the national nominating
convention in July in Boston.
"I don't care if there's a
blizzard Tuesday. You need to come out," Sharpton said. "One thing
you know is, come hell or high water, I'm not dropping out of this
race. We're not going to be sitting at the sidelines, hoping
somebody mentions us."
The crowd was a blend, not
all of it backing Sharpton. There were people like Rena Ruff, a
Newark Democrat who is for him as "the voice of the minorities," but
there were also Diane Clarke Streett, the New Castle County register
of wills who likes Kerry, and New Castle residents Abra and Daniel
Verinder, leading volunteers for Dennis J. Kucinich.
"Sharpton is kind of the
second choice for both of us," Abra Verinder said. "I think that
everyone at the very least wants Bush out."
Sharpton's rally also
brought out a cluster of Howard B. Dean's volunteers in a scavenger
hunt for votes. They made themselves conspicuous by holding up
campaign signs outside the PAL center, and although Deaniac Steven
Biener asserted they were proud of it, the tactic did not go over
well with Wilmington Councilman Norman M. Oliver, the chief
organizer for Sharpton.
"That's tasteless. It can
really get contentious in a neighborhood like this," Oliver said. "I
wouldn't do it. I wouldn't go to a Kerry rally with an Al Sharpton
Sharpton spoke for about a
half-hour about his campaign for jobs, housing, health care and
getting guns off the streets. As usual, he was not just an
occasional sound bite but an entire sound banquet.
Here he was on the economic
recovery: "They are telling us that we are in recovery, but the only
ones that are announcing the recovery are the ones who weren't ill."
He had this to say about
Bush's education policy: "He proposes no child left behind. Then he
leaves the budget behind, doesn't fund his own program."
He also concluded that
Saddam Hussein's capture proved the premise for the Iraq war was
wrong: "Any man with weapons of mass destruction wouldn't be hiding
in a rat hole."
He warned his listeners that
news coverage of his events almost always pointed out that the
crowds were largely African-Americans: "All you whites will be
honorary blacks in the news tonight."
Sharpton did not neglect the
local scene. He noted there was a birthday party planned for state
Rep. Hazel D. Plant, a leading backer who had her 70th birthday on
Jan. 23. He promised her another party a year from now.
"Next Jan. 31, we're going
to do that in the East Room of the White House," Sharpton said.
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