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April 01, 2003

McCollum recounts Nixon's warning of Muslim extremists

Nixon was never a favorite of mine, but he had a political savvy, and here we get an insight into what he had to say about Muslim extremism as a threat
BOCA RATON -- In a private meeting with Richard Nixon in 1990, the former president warned Bill McCollum that America's next big threat would come from Muslim extremists.

McCollum, a former Orlando-area congressman who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Bob Graham, recounted that conversation to a Thursday gathering of the Boca Raton Republican Club, where there was much talk of America's war with Iraq.

The club is planning a "Support America Rally" on April 10 at the South Palm Beach County Civic Center, at 16700 Jog Road west of Delray Beach. The 7 p.m. rally will show support for President Bush and the troops in Iraq, said Peter Feaman, the club president.

After singing God Bless America and dining on either salmon or rosemary chicken in the Muvico Palace 20 theaters dining room, about 75 club members listened to McCollum talk about his three-hour meeting with Nixon in a Washington hotel room.

He said the former president told him America and other Western countries would have to figure out how to raise the living standard in Third World countries to avoid bringing down living standards in the West.

And, with what McCollum said was uncanny foresight, Nixon said America would have to deal with "the rising tide of radical Muslim fundamentalism."

McCollum, who lost to Democrat Bill Nelson in a 2000 U.S. Senate race, said individual and national security will be the most important issue facing Washington for years to come.

"In this election it is going to be important that we elect a Republican from Florida," McCollum said. "We need someone who will support the president who has shown the kind of decisiveness and vision that we need as a country."

He praised President Bush for "boldly stepping forward not only in foreign policy but in domestic policy as well."

McCollum is running against U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of West Palm Beach for the GOP nomination. Mel Martinez, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also might enter the race.