President Bush exploited religious feelings against same-sex marriage in his reelection campaign, former presidential candidate Al Sharpton said.
Speaking on Sunday at Atlanta's Butler Street Christian Methodist Episcopal, Sharpton said Bush used the gay marriage debate to draw attention away from the Iraq war and ignored domestic problems. "I think George Bush manipulated a lot of religious feelings about marriage when the president has little or nothing to do with marriage," Sharpton said.
The 2004 election was not the place for a moral debate, the New York Democrat said. "It was the place for a debate on Iraq, he's in charge of the military; health care, he's in charge of that; on Social Security, he's in charge of that, " Sharpton said. "But we should not relinquish the morality of the church to the office of president. He has nothing to do with that."
Sharpton lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Massachusetts senator John Kerry but said he remains committed to electing Democrats. But Sharpton, who just ended a two-day meeting in Atlanta with black members of the Democratic National Committee, warned that party leaders should not ignore blacks when choosing future leaders. Sharpton, who spoke to the Southern Black Caucus, said he believes black people may drift further from the Democrats unless leaders reward black party members with key posts.