The executive director of the NAACP said today that blacks may have to support President Carter next year, even though most blacks don't like him.
"Unless the Republicans act with more sanity than they are acting now in choosing a presidential candidate, we may have nowhere else to go except Carter," Executive Director Benjamin Hooks said.
Speaking to reporters at a breakfast meeting here before the opening sessions of the NAACP's 70th annual convention, Hooks said "it is painful" for him to concede that blacks may be forced to stick with Carter in the 1980 presidential campaign.
"I think Mr. Carter is taking advantage of us," he said. "But right now, unless someone else announces in the primaries, we have no choise. The Republicans have lefts with no alternative,"
His reading of the current political climate, he said, is that blacks are waiting for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D.-Mass.) to step into the ring.
"I get the feeling that if Teddy Kennedy really, seriously ran for the Democratic Party nomination, he would carry the black wards overwhelmingly . . .. By that, I mean I believe he could carry at least 60 percent of the black vote in the primaries," Hooks said.
Should he run, Kennedy might encounter some opposition from black politicians who blame him for having a role in the defeat last year of the only black senator, Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, Hooks said. Kennedy supported Paul Tsongas, Brooke's Democratic opponent in the race. "There is a lot of ill will directed against Mr. Kennedy because of that," Hooks said, but he said he believes Kennedy could overcome that.
The NAACP, a nonpartisan organization with 450,000 dues-paying members does not endorse political candidates. Hooks said his remarks were not meant to endorse Kennedy or to urge a vote against Carter.
"I just think that, as I travel around, I find so much dissatisfaction in the black community against Mr. Carter and so much faith in Mr. Kennedy," Hooks said. Kennedy has so much charismatic appeal to black voters that "it is just unexplainable" he said.
"Some folks have it and some folks don't, and Mr. Kennedy just happens to have it," Hooks said.
"I like Mr. Carter. I respect him. I don't want to say anything malicious about him, and I never want to use any bad language in describing him. But in all honesty when he walks into a room it just doesn't light up," he said.
Despite what he called current black disenchantment with Carter, the president "has been doing something right," Hooks said. Carter's appointment of black federal judges, including Nathaniel R. Jones, the NAACP's general counsel, and his efforts to reduce unemployment and to produce a workable urban policy all fit into the "right" category, Hooks said.
But many of the social and urban programs proposed by Carter are being "cut to pieces in the Congress," the NAACP leader said. As a result, the organization's strategy in the next 18 months 'will be to spend less time on President Carter and more time on Congress," he said.
Hooks said the 10,000 NAACP delegates expected to meet here this week will use their time to develop voter registration strategy for 1980 and to work on a wide range of resolutions concerning U. S. energy and African policies, and on proposals affecting the structure of the NAACP.