Listen carefully, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) advised Vice President Dan Quayle from afar on Saturday: There will be no apology for her calling President Bush a "racist."
"Dan Quayle doesn't know me," Waters said at an appearance in Inglewood. "My mother couldn't make me do that."
Waters' message--greeted with applause and loud whoops from a largely African-American crowd--came two days after Quayle demanded that Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton publicly apologize for the comment about Bush by the congresswoman. Waters serves as one of Clinton's national campaign co-chairs.
Neither Quayle nor a spokesman for him could be reached for comment Saturday.
Waters set the stage for the hubbub early last month when she made the racist accusation against Bush at the National Press Club in Washington. Waters charged that the President "is a mean-spirited man who has no care or concern about what happens to the African-American community in this country."
Quayle revived the issue on Thursday during a campaign stop in a small Ohio town, where he was asked about a recent personal attack on Clinton by one of Bush's top campaign aides.
"If you want to talk about negative campaigning, look at what (Waters) said about George Bush," Quayle said. "She called George Bush a racist . . . calling him a racist is totally unacceptable, and Bill Clinton ought to apologize."
A Clinton spokeswoman responded that the Arkansas governor does not speak for Waters, and recommended Quayle "go to the source of the remark."
Waters not only refused to apologize during a brief appearance at a symposium on post-riot Los Angeles sponsored by the University of West Los Angeles, she heaped more scorn on Quayle and his boss.
Referring to her original remark about Bush, she said, "So what if I called you that. You ought to hear what the people in my neighborhood called you."
Waters also said she would not be dragged any further into a public squabble over the remark because the Republicans have attempted to make a "political tool" out of her outspokenness. Instead, she said, she will focus on the economy, poverty, jobs and other issues important to African-Americans.
"All they are doing is putting Maxine Waters up as the problem--'That bad black woman is accusing everyone of being racist,' " she said.