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June 29, 1999
Whitman Supporters Dismayed By Bob Grant's Bid For Senate Seat
A P Kamath in New York
The man, who for three decades set himself as the voice of angry white men, and who has made disparaging comments about Mahatma Gandhi, used expletives in condemning Martin Luther King Jr, and called Haitian refugees "unwashed scum," is seriously considering running for the Senate from New Jersey.
Bob Grant is also an outspoken critic of America's immigration policies, and supports those who want immigration cut down drastically from the developing nations. He is also against family reunification provisions of the immigration legislation that allows immigrants to sponsor their parents or siblings to settle down in America.
Grant, 70, the radio talk host, believes that running for the Senate will give him another opportunity to expose the media and liberals who have tried to run him down. For scores of supporters of Governor Todd Christine Whitman, a moderate Republican, who has her eyes set on Washington, this is indeed bad news.
Whitman is highly regarded among the Indian Americans in the state, and she has successfully wooed the Indian community by visiting temples, supporting multi-cultural activities and appointing Indian Americans to important positions. Dr Sudhir Parikh, for instance, was appointed a few years ago to the state's licensing board.
"Whitman cares for the interests of minorities, especially the Indian American community," Parikh has said. "With her in Washington and in the Senate, we could have yet another strong voice backing us and the interests of India."
But if Grant enters the race, he could take away considerable number of conservative votes from Whitman, and help a Democrat win. Grant wants to run as an independent.
Many of Whitman's Indian supporters believe that while she is known for her commitment to minorities including Indian Americans, there is no guarantee that a comparatively little-known Democrat could emulate her example.
"Grant is the kind of man whose radio talk has inspired the likes of Dotbusters," says an Indian community leader who asked her name be not mentioned. She was referring to the gang of white teenagers who, over 15 years ago, went around beating up and abusing immigrants from the subcontinent in a handful of New Jersey cities.
"There are no visible Dotbusters today," she continued. "But racism and dislike for immigrants is very much around the corner." When a 'bigot' like Bob Grant enters the race, many community leaders feel racial tension is awakened. Grant is particularly hostile to blacks, and has accused Whitman of "caving in" to their demands. Indian American community leaders believe that his denunciations of blacks, immigrants and minorities could cause tension for non-whites across the state.
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