Examining Racist Claims About Bustamante

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, September, 12 2003 that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: California gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante's past affiliation with a controversial group, MECHA (search), is drawing a lot of attention from his political opponents. Will his past involvement with this group destroy his chances at becoming governor?

Joining us now, national executive director of the League for United Latin-American Citizens, Brent Wilkes, is with us.

Brent, how are you? Welcome back.


HANNITY: This is not your group, and I want to be clear, so I'm not expecting you to defend them necessarily. But I want to just talk about the principles at work here.

We have here a pretty radical group. It was compared by Tom McClintock as similar to being a KKK (search). And I've looked and I have a series of things MECHA has been involved in that are very disturbing to me, not the least of which they want, "a separate Chicano nation," that they have as their slogan, "For those the race everything, for those outside the race, nothing."

These are very disturbing things, don't you agree?

WILKES: Well, they would be disturbing if that were the truth, Sean. But unfortunately, you're getting your information from some very dubious sources and that's not their slogan. And that's not what their core mission is.

They're a student organization. They focus on helping Hispanic students make it through college. They provide scholarships. And they really are an organization that helps promote pride in Hispanic culture and Hispanic history.

HANNITY: Yes, I can't…I'm not going to sit here and go tit for tat for you, but let's just say I have booklets and booklets of quotes and statements and involvements with this group and some of their leaders for the longest time.

You're wrong, sir. That has been their slogan. I have more than enough evidence to prove that it's been their slogan, and they stand by it.

Now here's the problem…let me...

WILKES: Sean, let's go...

HANNITY: Let me ask the question.

WILKES: Let's go tit for tat. If you're right...

HANNITY: Cruz Bustamante had an opportunity to condemn that statement. He chose not to do it.

You know, I'm not going to say that as a member of the group hasn't done anything else good in its past. But when confronted with a statement like that, shouldn't a politician say, "That's wrong, I condemn that"?

WILKES: You know, I think Cruz Bustamante has to answer to his own statements on what he has done.

HANNITY: But he wouldn't condemn it.

WILKES: And everyone knows...

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Now this is an attempt on the part of those who don't want to see Cruz Bustamante the governor. They see he's coming up in the polls. They're concerned about it. They want Schwarzenegger to win, or McClintock wants to win.

Now, there are those using this MECHA group…which I mispronounced, I apologize for that, earlier, MECHA…using this as something to tie to Bustamante to prove that he is a racist.

I think that's how they're using it in this campaign. Do you disagree with that?

WILKES: No, I don't disagree. In fact, exactly what they're doing. And they've been doing it for years, trying to create this supposed organization that's anti-U.S.

The reality is, the Hispanic community is more patriotic than any other group in the country. We have more Medal of Honor winners than any other, as a percentage of the country. And we've been very patriotic.

COLMES: Every politician of Hispanic origin in California has at one point, it seems, been a member of this group. Their club at…Western High School, for example, holds car washes. They went door to door to solicit funds for the Children's Hospital of Central California.

It's a social club, not a paramilitary organization looking to take over part of the United States.

WILKES: Absolutely.

And, you know, our group is very concerned because on the other hand, you have Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's a board member of U.S. English, which is a very confirmed racist group in the United States.

Their founder, John Tanton, specifically was trying to keep the Hispanic community from growing. And his specific purpose is because he doesn't want the white race to be eclipsed by the Hispanic community.

And we're very concerned that he has stayed on that organization, even though we've asked him to withdraw. I don't see why that's not more relevant than the fact that Cruz Bustamante was a member of this group 30 years ago.

COLMES: Arnold has acknowledged he smoked dope, he had group sex, according to the "Oui" magazine article. A lot of people want to forget that in terms of electing him governor but want to keep holding Cruz Bustamante hostage to a slogan of a group that has far-ranging goals, most of which happen to be with fund-raising for charitable…like the Salvation Army. They do fund-raising for them.

It seems like political motive at work here.

WILKES: I agree 100 percent. And what's really important here is what does Cruz Bustamante believe? And I think anybody who's looked at his record has seen that he's very much the opposite of a racist. He's somebody who's been outgoing to all communities and very supportive of all races.

HANNITY: He didn't condemn it when he had the opportunity, and that's what's disturbing to a lot of people. But thank you for being with us. Appreciate your time.

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