The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. was identified incorrectly in an article Saturday.
Delegates to the 74th annual convention of the NAACP booed Vice President Bush several times today as he strongly defended the administration's civil rights record and dismissed criticism of it as rhetoric.
Speaking loudly in a stern voice, Bush blamed blacks for the perception that the administration is inaccessible to them and, to the boos of many, said that the assertion that the administration is lax on civil rights is "wrong, dead wrong."
Using phrases such as "Let's be honest with each other," "Let's be fair with each other" and "Let's look at the facts," Bush said the administration had outperformed the Carter administration in civil rights and voting rights enforcement and in aid to minority business.
At two points, Bush appeared to be rankled by the interruptions and mild catcalls.
"You've had your chance all week, give me about 15 minutes, will you?" he scolded one member of the audience. At another point, when someone grumbled as Bush was about to make the administration's case for being strong on school desegregation, the vice president cracked, "One guy knows a helluva lot about it."
In his speech, Bush criticized blacks such as NAACP executive director Benjamin L. Hooks who have said that defeat of the Reagan administration should be a top priority in the 1984 elections.
"When you predictably go with one party . . . you are taken for granted, marching in lockstep with no diversity at all," Bush said. "C'mon. What kind of leadership is that for 1984 and into the next generation? Civil rights is a little bit beyond party."
But Bush's spirited defense before more than 3,000 members of the nation's oldest civil rights organization fell on deaf ears. His appearance was the first by a high-ranking Reagan administration official before a major black organization since the administration's recently stepped-up civil rights offensive.
His statements that there is an open door for black leaders at the White House, about the Reagan administration's concern for civil rights and his response to criticism that the administration was dragging its feet on school desegregation were greeted with boos.
So was his call for the confirmation of former Brandeis University president Morris Abram--who Bush said was a "fair-play guy" who just happened to oppose quotas--as an appointee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Bush came to speak on the final day of the five-day convention.
Democratic presidential candidates Reubin Askew, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) and Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) addressed the delegates earlier. Before Bush came to the podium, the two front-running Democrats, Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) and former vice president Walter F. Mondale, peppered the audience with anti-Reagan statements.
Glenn attacked Reagan's support of tax exemptions for private schools that discriminate.
"Before the administration asks us to help any more schools that practice racism as a part of their religion, let me say as bluntly as I can: there is a huge difference between the epistles of the New Testament and the apostles of the New Right."
He said a Glenn administration would not require civil rights leaders to give its officials a tour of Mississippi as a prelude to launching an investigation into complaints of Voting Rights Act violations.
At one point, Glenn sounded like a Baptist preacher in call and response with his congregation as he ticked off a list of allegations, beginning with the words, "Which administration . . . ," to which the audience responded in each instance, "Ronald Reagan's!"
Frequently speaking in rhyming phrases and quoting black leaders, songs and literary figures, Glenn was received better than Askew, Hollings or Cranston.
But Mondale was received even more warmly, thanks in part to an enthusiastic introduction by Hooks.
Mondale raked Reagan administration cuts in education, its environmental policy, its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and its "trashing" of the Civil Rights Commission and Legal Services Corp.
"In the last 2 1/2 years black Americans have tasted the grapes of wrath," Mondale said. "He may call this an economic recovery, but I call it an economic and social and moral disaster," Mondale said of Reagan's statements on the economy.
Noting how Reagan had pointed to the millions of people given surplus food as part of his compassion for the poor, Mondale said, "Mr. Reagan, we don't want cheese. We want jobs. We don't want powdered milk. We want economic power."
Mondale said one of the first things he would do if elected would be to convene "a national board meeting of the NAACP in my office to get my administration going."
After the Democrats spoke, Bush defended the administration's record. Bush said he has met with more than a dozen black leaders since taking office. "I know we don't agree . . . , but the dialogue goes on," he said.
He said the Reagan administration is "far ahead of the Carter administration" in criminal prosecutions and grand jury presentments for violations of the Civil Rights Act and in the number of cases against employers accused of discriminating against blacks.
He also noted recent administration proposals to toughen fair-housing laws and to take legal action to ensure voting rights in Mississippi and against alleged school bias in Alabama. These administration actions occurred after Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Bradford Reynolds toured the South, the trip to which Glenn referred.