Local News

Tancredo cancels Miami trip, speak on 'need for assimilation'

Posted: 12/14/06 at 8:48 am EST

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo on Wednesday canceled his much hyped visit to the city he recently likened to a Third World country, following reports of an alleged threat made against the restaurant where he was scheduled to speak, according to a statement from his office.

Miami police Detective Willy Moreno said the department was looking into the report but declined to give details.

"We're not calling it a threat," Moreno said.

Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, who advocates for more restrictive immigration laws, was scheduled to address the Miami Rotary Club in a speech entitled: "Renewing America: The Need for Assimilation" at the Rusty Pelican restaurant in Key Biscayne.

Carlos Espinosa, Tancredo's spokesman, said the restaurant canceled the speech.

"We did not cancel the event ourselves. We were prepared to do it," Espinosa said. "The restaurant itself ... said they wouldn't allow Tom to speak there."

Randy Palmer, general manager of the Rusty Pelican, denied the cancellation was related to the alleged threat.

Palmer said the restaurant had decided earlier in the day to ask Tancredo not to come because his presence -- and the likelihood of protesters and media that would accompany him -- would disrupt other holiday parties.

"We thought it was in everyone's best interest if he didn't speak at the restaurant," Palmer said. "All the vehicles would make it difficult for clients, and we have a completely packed restaurant, one small entrance way. If you add in 30 TV stations and such, it would have been way overbearing for us."

Messages left for officials at the offices of the Rotary Club were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Last month, the combative congressman's criticism of Miami sparked a tense exchange with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and other local leaders.

Tancredo said the city suffers because a growing number of residents don't speak English.

"Look at what has happened to Miami," he told WorldNetDaily, an online news site. "It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America."

Kristy Campbell, a Bush spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the governor was disappointed Tancredo will not be visiting.

"The Governor is disappointed that the Congressman won't have an opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Miami and defend his ill-informed views of this diverse and unique community," Campbell said.

In a written statement, Tancredo said he hoped to return to Miami when it is freed from "the clutches of radical multiculturalists."

"I knew speaking your mind could be dangerous in Havana. I guess it's equally dangerous to do so in Miami. Apparently, there isn't much of a difference between the two anymore," Tancredo said.

Espinosa on Monday acknowledged that many cities without large immigrant populations also suffer from crime and poverty.

"That's a very serious issue," he said, "but that's not Tom's issue."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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