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Politics

Mack calls for defunding the United Nations

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 06:52 PM

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TAMPA -

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, campaigning in Tampa with Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, advocated ending U.S. funding of the United Nations, saying the organization "should be kicked off of American soil."

That's a response to requests from groups including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union for international monitors to check for voter suppression during the coming election.

"The only people who are going to observe American elections are Americans," Mack told an applauding crowd gathered at a local GOP campaign office where he appeared with McCain.

In a campaign news release, Mack said the UN is "dedicated to diminishing America's role in the world," and the idea that it would monitor U.S. elections is "disgusting."

"Every American should be outraged by this news," he said. "The United States must defund the United Nations. The United Nations should be kicked off of American soil once and for all."

The elections monitors, however, aren't coming from the U.N., but from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a separate organization whose members, including the U.S., routinely observe other members' elections.

Mack's view also appeared to put him in at least indirectly in opposition to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mack ally.

During his foreign policy debate with President Barack Obama on Monday night, Romney referred to proposals of a U.N.-organized study group in outlining his own approach to combating international terrorism.

Asked whether he was disagreeing with Romney, Mack told reporters in a brief news conference after their appearance Tuesday that Romney "was saying he was going to take advantage of any and all opportunities he has."

McCain partly demurred on the issue.

He referred to the "complete failure" of attempts by top UN officials to halt the civil war in Syria, and the pretense that dictatorial regimes could monitor human rights.

"I think there are some things the U.N. does well, humanitarian relief, refugees," he said. "But overall, I may not be in total agreement with Connie as to doing away with the entire UN." In return for the U.S. contribution to the organization, though, "the taxpayers deserve one heck of a lot better,'' he said.

Asked why Mack attacked the U.N. instead of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, campaign spokesman David James declined to clarify, saying, "He stated his reasons" at the news conference. Asked whether Mack also wants to de-fund the OSCE, he didn't respond.

According to its web site, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which sometimes works in partnership with the UN, is an organization of 56 member nations in Europe and Central Asia focused on human rights and security, which originated in the 1970s during the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War.

It says its members observed U.S. elections in 2004, 2008 and 2010 and were invited earlier this year by the U.S. State Department to do so again.

Democrats and others have alleged that laws passed in Florida and other states recently are aimed at "voter suppression," or cutting turnout of minority, young and poor voters.

The Hill, a Washington-based political newsletter, reported Saturday that the NAACP, ACLU and other civil rights groups asked for elections monitors in addition to members of the OSCE parliamentary assembly.


wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761

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