DNC Backs Away From Plans to Lay Off 10 Black Staffers

The Democratic National Committee (search) backed off plans to lay off 10 black workers Thursday, a day after outraged black party leaders complained about reduction of minority staffers.

Black party leaders placed angry calls to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) after they were given a list of 10 staffers who would be cut to save money and boost the campaign fund for the party's presidential nominee.

Donna Brazile (search), chairwoman of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute and the leading critic of the layoffs, said McAuliffe assured her on Thursday that he would not approve a cut list that only included black staffers.

"I'm glad that they are backing away from this," said Brazile, who was Al Gore's presidential campaign manager. "I'm glad that they are reversing course because this would have been the wrong decision. The Democratic Party would have ended up with egg on its face."

DNC communications strategist Jim Mulhall said Thursday that although the leaders were told 10 staffers were going to be laid off, the information was incorrect. He said the number of layoffs still has not been determined, but it would be less than 10.

"The DNC has a strong commitment to diversity, to making sure that the DNC reflects America and the Democratic Party," he said. "As we adjust staffing levels to deal with the new political realities of facing George Bush and his immense resources, we will make sure the DNC is in the strongest position to wage an effective campaign next year."

Mulhall also had said Wednesday that the committee had hired at least nine new minority staffers in the past month. On Thursday he said the number was incorrect -- eight staffers had been hired and five were black. Mulhall said more hires would be made in the coming months.

The DNC is trying to save money and streamline operations in preparation for next year's presidential election. Mulhall said the staff has been reduced by a third since last year.

The DNC faces a tough battle in the next year and a half. Nine candidates are in a fierce competition to take on President Bush, who has high approval ratings and is raising much more money than any of his potential challengers.