Bush agrees to address NAACP convention

July 19, 2006 at 10:51 AM

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- President Bush has accepted an invitation from the NAACP to speak at the organization's national convention in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced that Bush, who had previously refused invitations from the nation's oldest civil rights organization, will speak at the conference Thursday, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

"I think the president wants to make the argument that he has had a career that reflects a strong commitment to civil rights," Snow said.

The agreement follows a change in leadership at the NAACP, with former president Kweisi Mfume, a frequent critic of administration policies, being replaced by moderate Bruce Gordon.

"Yes, they have political disagreements," Snow said, but "Bruce Gordon ... and the president have good relations."

The appearance will prevent the president from becoming the first since Warren G. Harding to avoid speaking to the organization for his entire term. Previous presidents that the NAACP had been critical of, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, had spoken at the organization's annual convention.

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