NATION : Bush Stands by Rights Nominee

From Times wire service s

The White House today stood by the choice of William Lucas to be the Administration's civil rights enforcer, despite his loss of support in a stunning about-face by the congressman who introduced him at his confirmation hearing.

White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said President Bush continues to support Lucas. "We think he's an excellent candidate," Fitzwater said.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) told the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday he could no longer support the nominee, whom he had introduced to the panel earlier in the week when the state's senators refused to do so.

Lucas, 61, a former Wayne County, Mich., sheriff and county executive, is seeking confirmation as assistant attorney general for civil rights. Although Lucas is black, many civil rights groups and key black officeholders oppose his confirmation on grounds that he lacks the experience to do the job.

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