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There’s no comment from the president’s spokesman about a statement from Alphonso Jackson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, about “white folks” having little to do with the poverty levels for blacks. But he did say the president believes families and family ties are significant.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow was responding to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, about the recent comment from Jackson.

“There’s a news report quoting the Secretary of HUD, Jackson, as saying that ‘Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Julian Bond have created an industry. If we don’t become victims, they have no income. White folks have nothing to do with the fact that seven out of every 10 black children born in this country are born out of wedlock and we have more black males in prison than we do in college.’ And my question: Does the president disagree with this statement by his Secretary of HUD?” he asked.

The quick answer from Snow was, “Don’t know.”

But he said the president does consider the issue important.

“One of the things he did talk about is the importance of building within all Americans a system where you have fewer out-of-wedlock births, because the research is pretty clear that when you do have intact households you have better results and fewer problems in the long run with children; that everybody deserves access to a first-rate school; that there should not be schools – public schools should be of high quality, no matter how much your parents may earn; and that the most important way to dignity is through work,” Snow said.

And that, he added, “is an attitude that has been shared by Democratic and Republican administrations.”

There are reports Jackson is known for blunt expressions of his opinions.

He was in Texas for a conference and had met with a contractor who had been trying to work with HUD for years and made “a heck of a proposal.”

“He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something …. he said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush.’ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect – the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary,” he said.

At the time, Jackson reported the man didn’t get the contract. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe,” he said.

In another interview, he criticized those who have led New Orleans over the years.

He was being interviewed about repairs and replacements for the thousands of homes damaged or lost in Hurricane Katrina, and said it could be rebuilt better than it was.

“I had a chance to go to the Lower Eighth and Ninth before the flood, and they were not livable conditions. It disturbs me tremendously when people want to say racism played a part in this. As I reminded the Rev. Jesse Jackson and [NAACP President] Bruce Gordon, for 31 years we’ve had a Black mayor in New Orleans; for 25 years we’ve had a predominately Black city council in New Orleans, and the quality of life did not change for Black people living in the Lower Eighth and Lower Ninth. … I remember when I went to New Orleans to campaign for [Ernest] ‘Dutch’ Morial – [the city's first Black mayor] – one of the things he ran on was that he was going to change the quality of life in the Lower Ninth. Well, we’ve had five Black mayors, and the quality of life has only gotten worse…” he said.

Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in 2004 and runs the $32 billion government agency. Previously he was president of American Electric Power-TEXAS, near Austin, and then president of the Housing Authority in Dallas.

Kinsolving also asked Snow about a Washington Times headline: “Cindy Sheehan routs the Democrats; House Majority Leaders run, hide.”

“Do you, as the president’s press secretary, believe that this headline is inaccurate?” Kinsolving asked.

“I find it entertaining,” Snow said.

Sheehan is the vigorous anti-war campaigner who’s staged protests outside President Bush’s home in Texas, and is discussed in the best-selling WND book “American Mourning,” by Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy.

The book is the story of two families – the Johnsons and Sheehans – who lost sons in the war against terror. Their sons were buddies – best friends since they met at Fort Hood in Texas. But there’s little else the families have in common.

The book tells how both died in the service of their country, and Justin Johnson’s father, Joe, joined the military and went to Iraq to fill his son’s spot. But Cindy Sheehan, who lost son Casey, ended up calling the Muslim radicals who killed him “freedom fighters,” and blaming President Bush for her loss.

Do you have a tough question you’d like to ask the White House? WND’s MR. PRESIDENT! forum is your big chance.



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