AP

Rival calls incendiary ad by Kentucky Sen. Paul ‘dangerous’

Oct 4, 2022, 12:40 AM | Updated: 3:11 pm

FILE - Republican Sen. Rand Paul, of Ky., addresses the audience at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Br...

FILE - Republican Sen. Rand Paul, of Ky., addresses the audience at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 25, 2022. Paul was the victim of a 2017 attack when his neighbor slammed into him outside his Kentucky home. Earlier that year, Paul took cover when a gunman opened fire while GOP members of Congress practiced for a charity baseball game. Now, Paul has falsely conflated those events with his opponent, Democrat Charles Booker, in his re-election bid. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul was the victim of a violent attack in 2017 when his neighbor slammed into him from behind outside his Kentucky home. Earlier that year, Paul took cover when a gunman opened fire while GOP members of Congress practiced for a charity baseball game.

Paul revived those traumatic events in his bid for reelection this year, with an incendiary social media video attacking his Democratic challenger, Charles Booker. The video, released Monday shortly before a Senate campaign forum he declined to take part in, says outright that Booker “doesn’t believe in civil discourse, only violence.” It accuses the Black former state lawmaker of associating with members of the “radical left” who condone and perpetrate violence.

Booker denounced the ad, saying it includes “dangerous and dishonest rhetoric.”

“His ad grossly lies about me and, in a very sinister way, attacks several Kentucky citizens by name,” Booker said Tuesday. “Neither I, nor my campaign, have ever endorsed violence against any political candidate. It is despicable for Rand Paul to even insinuate that. As an elected official and candidate, my family and I have received death threats — this is not something I take lightly because I understand the issue intimately.”

The video was the latest eyebrow-raising tactic in a campaign featuring unconventional politicians. Booker appeared with a noose around his neck in an online ad soon after the spring primary to draw attention to Paul’s stance on anti-lynching legislation.

Paul’s video doesn’t mention unrest from the far right or the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. In the wake of the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, law enforcement officials across the country warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings.

The video was released as a preemptive attack against Booker shortly before the Democratic challenger appeared at a campaign forum aired on statewide television. Paul, who is seeking a third term in November, was invited but did not participate in the program.

Paul’s campaign scoured through social media to make its video claims that Booker’s campaign has “embraced people who celebrate and glorify” violence against Paul. It says a Booker volunteer tweeted a “graphic doctored image” of Paul with a broken neck. And it claims a woman featured supporting Booker in a social media video has referred to Paul’s attacker as her hero.

The senator suffered broken ribs and later underwent lung surgery for injuries he says he sustained in the attack. The assailant was given a prison sentence and Paul was awarded more than $580,000 in damages and medical expenses in his lawsuit against the man.

Booker said Tuesday that to associate him with Paul’s “violent altercation with his neighbor from five years ago is desperate, ridiculous, wholly offensive and unacceptable.”

“Rand Paul has used racially charged dog whistles throughout this campaign to paint a violent picture of me, instead of having the backbone to face me and the people of Kentucky on the merits of our vision for this commonwealth,” Booker said.

The video also references 2019 remarks by a Black Lives Matter leader in Louisville that appeared to condone violence against Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

“Civil debate is an admired quality in a Republic but justifying, mocking, or celebrating violence, as documented in this video of Booker and his allies, should be rejected,” Paul said Monday.

During his Monday night appearance on Kentucky Educational Television, Booker accused Paul of “blowing the dog whistle” on public safety and policing issues. Paul’s campaign and his allies have tried to connect Booker with the “defund the police” movement.

“Rand Paul wants people to look at the color of my skin instead of my record,” Booker said.

Paul has frequently visited mostly Black neighborhoods during his Senate tenure, touting criminal justice reforms, anti-violence efforts and education initiatives.

When pressed during the KET program on whether he supports eliminating law enforcement budgets, Booker replied: “It doesn’t make sense to get rid of budgets for law enforcement or any government agency.”

Supporting “structural change,” he said, doesn’t equate to backing “any sort of abolishment.”

“When there’s a crisis, when someone’s in an emergency, we all want to call 911 and have someone in law enforcement come to our aid,” Booker said. “What we don’t need is that same agency we call to protect and serve us, kick in our door and shoot us in the dead of night.”

In 2020, Booker marched in protests sparked in part by the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot when police officers burst into her Louisville apartment during a narcotics investigation. They found no drugs. Booker ran for the Senate that year but narrowly lost in the Democratic primary.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:A portrait of Officer Vancouver Police Department officer Donald Sahota is displayed as he is...

The Associated Press

Man convicted of murder in death of Vancouver police officer shot by deputy

A Yakima man was found guilty of murder for his role in the death of a Vancouver police officer who was shot by a sheriff's deputy in error.

1 day ago

Image:The headquarters of Live Nation is shown June 29, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. The Jus...

Associated Press

Government sues Ticketmaster owner and asks court to break up company’s monopoly on live events

The DOJ has accused Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America.

4 days ago

Image: Ambulances are seen at the airport where a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe t...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Man dies after turbulence; Iran funerals; Israel media law

A Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and descended 6,000 feet in a span of about three minutes.

6 days ago

Image: Bruce Nordstrom, left, and Jeannie Nordstrom attend the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Opening Party...

Associated Press

Bruce Nordstrom, who helped grow family-led department store chain, dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a retail executive who helped expand his family's Pacific Northwest chain into an upscale national brand, has died.

7 days ago

Image:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime min...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Netanyahu arrest warrant; Assange can appeal; UK blood scandal

The International Criminal Court said it is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu.

7 days ago

Image: In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi attends a m...

Associated Press

Iran president and others found dead at helicopter crash site, state media says

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday.

7 days ago

Rival calls incendiary ad by Kentucky Sen. Paul ‘dangerous’