Atwater Disappointed Over Rejection : Says Students Didn’t Give Him ‘Day in Court’ to Explain Plans

From United Press International

Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater today expressed disappointment about being forced by student protests to resign from the Howard University Board of Trustees, saying he never had his “day in court.”

Atwater resigned from the board of the nation’s largest predominantly black school late Tuesday as about 1,000 students defied a court order and vowed to continue occupying the university’s administration building until Atwater stepped down.

“I was excited about it. I was going to help that school, and I didn’t even get a chance to explain my side,” Atwater said in an interview with CBS Washington affiliate WUSA-TV.

“That’s disappointing and I do not ever want to get back in a situation where I can’t have a day in court,” Atwater said. “I think no man in America wants to get in a situation where he doesn’t have a day in court.”


Atwater, who managed George Bush’s presidential campaign, was named to the 32-member board last month.

But students accused Atwater of injecting racial fears into the 1988 campaign with commercials that focused on the furlough of murderer Willie Horton, a black man who raped a white Maryland woman, to attack Michael S. Dukakis.

And in flyers distributed on the 12,000-student campus located in the northwest section of the nation’s capital, Atwater was criticized for his record on civil rights.