Video: Bennett links blacks, crime

updated 9/30/2005 7:55:19 PM ET 2005-09-30T23:55:19

The White House on Friday criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for remarks linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

“The president believes the comments were not appropriate,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Bennett, on his radio show, “Morning in America,” was answering a caller’s question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

“But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down,” said Bennett, author of “The Book of Virtues.”

He went on to call that “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”

Democrats demand apology
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats demanded that Bennett apologize for the remarks.

Responding later to criticism, Bennett said his comments had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was “morally reprehensible.”

On his show Thursday, Bennett, who opposes abortion, said he was “pointing out that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons any more than racism ... should be supported or opposed for economic reasons. Immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation.”

Reid, D-Nev., said he was “appalled by Mr. Bennett’s remarks” and called on him “to issue an immediate apology not only to African Americans but to the nation.”

Rep. Raum Emanuel, D-Ill., said in a statement, “At the very time our country yearns for national unity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, these comments reflect a spirit of hate and division.”

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