FOES PLEDGE TO END `AFFIRMATIVE RACISM'

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13 1997 12:00 a.m. MST

Republican congressional leaders and opponents of affirmative action pledged at an awards dinner to work to end what they called "affirmative racism."

At the Wednesday dinner, House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to work to end racial preferences. The event honored Ward Connerly, a Californian who steered that state's anti-affirmative action initiative to victory."We are going to pursue an all-out effort to end affirmative racism in America," Gingrich said. "We are going to pursue positive, personal strengths, community strengths by helping people because they are American."

Connerly, who is black, called the debate about race-based preferences "a clash of values." He said he is confident those who want affirmative action dismantled - he called them "the warriors of democracy" - will prevail.

"We are not trying to eliminate preference to take opportunities away," he said.

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