Having supported the deceptively title “California Civil Rights Initiative” to ban affirmative action programs for months, presidential candidate Bob Dole announced his position publicly for the first time. At a rally sponsored by supporters of the initiative — including Gov. Pete Wilson and businessman and University of California Regent Ward Connerly — Dole announced his support for the measure Sunday (3-24) in what is called a “direct challenge to President Clinton” who has denounced the CCRI.
The announcement reiterated the strong role affirmative action will likely play in the November presidential elections. A recent poll showed that California voters still favor the CCRI, but that its support wanes when people realize that it will not only outlaw affirmative action programs for women and people of color, but will also gut sex discrimination law in the state where such laws are strongest and where many of the largest cases have been won against discriminating companies. Dole has introduced one of the many anti-affirmative action bills currently in Congress, and there are similar measures circulating in 17 other states.