WASHINGTON – The Rev. Alfred C. Sharpton made a stop in Washington Thursday to promote his candidacy in next week's controversial primary election.
Sharpton,along with New York Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV,spoke to a roomful of reporters at the National Press Club after attending a rally at Anacostia High School in Southeast Washington earlier in the day.
The District of Columbia government decided last year to move up the date of its presidential primary to Jan. 13,before the traditional first primary in New Hampshire Jan. 27. It did so in part to attract attention to its campaign to become a state or acquire voting representation in Congress.
“One of the defining issues of the 2004 election is statehood,” said Sharpton.
But the Democratic party refused to sanction the event,and five of the nine Democratic candidates asked to have their names removed from the ballot. In deference to the party,delegates to the national convention will be chosen later at party caucuses.
Sharpton,along with Howard Dean,Carol Moseley Braun and Dennis Kucinich,remains on the ballot. Democrats will not be able to write in other candidates' names,and there is no Republican primary.
“I'm telling people to vote … you can't help turnout by not turning out yourself,” said Sharpton,who referred to Washington's “un-stately” position as “the epitome of an insult.”
“There are those who claim to support statehood but refuse to participate in the primary on Tuesday,” he said. “We cannot get surrogate status,we cannot get phantom state status,we need real statehood status.”
Sharpton also announced that his radio spots would began airing in Washington. With one of the smallest presidential campaign budgets,Sharpton said Washington was the first place he has been able to air ads.
Powell,whose father was the controversial black member of Congress from New York who inspired Sharpton's interest in politics,also spoke.
“I am here today to support,to endorse,to do everything I can to see the Rev. Sharpton succeed in this election,” Powell said. “He is a true,true Democrat.”
Sharpton suggested a two-year tax plan to encourage entrepreneurs to bring business to Washington.
Sharpton also explained his opposition to felony disenfranchisement,a law in 48 states and the District of Columbia that prohibits convicted felons from voting.
“We must make it an issue because it is a fundamental right,” he said. “When their time is over,it should be over.”
Asked about Dean's recent strategy of discussing religion in South Carolina,Sharpton said,“I don't understand regional religion,when you are holy in some states but not in others.”
“I don't get the Holy Ghost on the plane going to South Carolina.”