TRENTON, N.J. -- Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, one of the Republican Party's rising stars, created a furor Thursday when she was quoted in a British newspaper saying that young black males play 'jewels in the crown' by fathering illegitimate children. Whitman gave an interview to the Sunday Independent in which she criticized House Speaker Newt Gingrich's plan to cut young unwed mothers off welfare.
Whitman said the large number of out-of-wedlock births can be attributed to 'cultural problems' that won't be solved immediately. 'As regards to unwed mothers, there's a game called jewels in the crown that young black males have, and it's how many children you can sire out of wedlock,' Whitman said. 'You can't legislate against that. ' State Sen. Wayne Bryant, author of a New Jersey law that denies additional benefits to women who have children while they are on welfare, called on the governor to apologize. He said Whitman's statement would be expected from 'shock radio disc jockeys or hate- inspired talk show hosts.' Bryant, a black Democrat, said the governor was being racially divisive. Whitman released a statement that she knew, once she saw her remarks in print, that she had misspoken. She said she learned of 'jewels in the crown' from black parents she met at a Newark AIDS center. In her interview with the Independent, Whitman said that Americans have become used to instant gratification and have a low tolerance for problems that cannot be solved immediately, suggesting that welfare reform and the increase in births to unwed mothers will take time to deal with. Whitman leaves Friday for a five-day trade mission to Great Britain.