California Gov. Pete Wilson is urging Presidential candidate Bob Dole to speak up on the issue of affirmative action before it gets claimed by Pat Buchanan. At a debate two weeks ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson predicted that Wilson would end up supporting Buchanan for president because of Buchanan’s strong stand against affirmative action programs for women and people of color. Wilson, who ran for President on the issue of dismantling affirmative action and has been at the heart of the anti-affirmative action initiative self-titled the “California Civil Rights Initiative,” denied Jackson’s claim.
Wilson is wary of the controversial Buchanan, unwilling to taint the affirmative action issue which the GOP hopes to use to its advantage in the fall campaign against President Clinton. California’s primary takes place on March 26, and Wilson thinks Dole, an early backer of the California initiative, should be more vocal about his anti-affirmative action views. Wilson worries that Buchanan, whose anti-woman and anti-immigrant views are widely known, could underscore the extremist tone of the initiative, causing it to lose support. A Wilson aide criticized Dole’s silence on the issue and said Dole should “set the tone for this debate” and make his support of the CCRI known.