News Column

White House E-mail Rips Hispanic Leaders

October 17, 2002

BILL McALLISTER

WASHINGTON - A White House intern "mistakenly" forwarded to dozens of Hispanic leaders an e-mail that described the Senate's senior Democrat as "doddering old Bob Byrd, the senile senator from West Virginia," an administration spokeswoman has told The Denver Post.

White House spokeswoman, Jeanie Mamo, said the e-mail, which was also highly critical of the Hispanic members of Congress who voted against the Iraq war resolution, was written by "an activist."

It "does not represent" the views of the president, the spokeswoman said. Mamo did not name the activist or say whether the intern was being disciplined for her actions.

A spokesman from Byrd's office was unavailable for comment this morning.

The message not only criticized Byrd, who led opposition to the Iraq resolution in the Senate, it also took to task Democratic Hispanic members of the House who voted against the resolution giving the president the authority to use military force to topple Saddam Hussein.

"If they have a defense for their actions, they should deliver it to the kids in uniform that could one day have their -- shot off to protect these ninnies!" the e-mail said.

The reference to Byrd said "Even Tom Daschle, Senate leader, committed to President Bush today... he's just waiting for doddering old Bob Byrd, the senile senator from West Virginia to shut up and sit down so the Senate can vote!"

The e-mail was dated Thursday and titled "Can You Believe This?" It cited polls showing Bush is popular among Latino voters and asked if their votes don't "strongly suggest that these Democratic congressional representatives are out of with their constituency and out of touch with America?"

Mamo said the president, who has been making a pronounced effort to woo Hispanic voters, did not question the motives of the lawmakers.

"The president respects the way Congress approached the Iraq issue," she said.

The e-mail was forwarded by Jennifer Hugo, an intern. Hugo did not respond to e-mail questions about the message and White House telephone operators said they could not locate Hugo.

The e-mail went to dozens of Hispanic leaders across the country, some of whom were stunned that a White House official would send such an critical message to a group that included many Democrats.

"I was shocked," said Rosemary Rodriguez, director of boards and commission for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. "I guess when I read it I thought it was a little bit inappropriate because it was so mean spirited," she said.

Rodriguez said she was taken aback by the e-mail because she had just attended a national Hispanic gathering in Denver to which the Bush White House had sent representatives.

"It was so conciliatory... so much bridge-building that I was shocked by the e-
mail," she said.

Part of that was a result of the list of people received the e-mail, she said. "It was an amazing list. They were all so well-connected," she said.

Oscar Sanchez, executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, a Washington group that represents union members, fired back an angry response to Hugo. "Don't knock my congressional representatives for being courageous," he told her. "And remove me off your list, thank you very much."

"I thought it was inappropriate," said Sanchez.

The letter ended by listing 15 Democratic lawmakers who voted against the resolution and the three Republican Hispanics who voted for the resolution. "Que verguenza!" (How embarrassing), the letter ended.

Denver Post Staff Writer Louis Aguilar also contributed to this article.



Source: (C) 2002 Charleston Daily Mail. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved


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