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Bush’s opposition to home rule draws fire

(Published March 13, 2000)

By SAM STRIKE

Staff Writer

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said she is still not sure what Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s position is on home rule and voting representation for citizens living in the District of Columbia.

"I think he still doesn’t get it," Norton said after Bush released a statement in which he said he supports the Home Rule Charter, but didn’t mention voting rights – although a spokesman for the Texas governor later said that he doesn’t support congressional voting representation for D.C. residents.

"Leads us to wonder what he means," she said.

Bush’s statement came in response to a March 2 letter from Norton, in which the city’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives said D.C. residents were "deeply offended" when he emphatically said that he is against home rule during a Feb. 25 television interview. Norton asked Bush to apologize or clarify his position.

"The more than half million residents of this city pay full federal income and other taxes and, therefore, are the only Americans to which our Revolutionary War slogan, ‘no taxation without representation,’ still applies," she wrote.

Julie Finley, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee, said that at the time Bush was asked about home rule, he probably didn’t know the difference between statehood and home rule. Bush – like his father, former president George Bush – has maintained a position against statehood for the District.

"His staff needs to take a little blame for not briefing him," Finley said.

She contended that Bush’s televised statement "has been blown way out of proportion" and that "like it or not, when you get outside the Beltway, many people throughout the country think of home rule and statehood as one in the same."

Norton said she can understand the average American not being attuned to the situation in the District, but she said she can’t accept that from a presidential candidate who would be living here if elected.

Finley said D.C. residents should give Bush a chance to evolve his position on home rule and representation. D.C. City Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, R-At large, agreed.

"I expect that Governor Bush as president will come to support voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia, and I will work to make that happen," Schwartz said in a statement.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator