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Paul doing damage control after aide’s resignation

December 18, 2009 | | Comments 7
Rand Paul

Rand Paul

By ROGER ALFORD – Associated Press Writer

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Republican Rand Paul’s Senate campaign was minimally damaged when a staffer was linked to racist images on the Internet, political experts said Friday.

Campaign spokesman Christopher Hightower stepped down abruptly after a Kentucky blog called Barefoot and Progressive showed the racist images, including a lynching photo and epithet, that it says were posted on Hightower’s MySpace page.

Western Kentucky University political scientist Scott Lasley called the situation “a distraction.”

“My thought is that, by itself, it does not have a crippling effect,” he said.

Hightower, who had been with Paul’s campaign since its outset, adamantly denied any connection to the images, and the campaign said he didn’t post them. The black-and-white image of a person dangling from a tree linked to Hightower was posted on the site by a commentator identified as only “D,” according to the blog.

Hightower resigned hours after the images appeared on the political blog.

The Paul campaign called the images “reprehensible” and said they “have no place in civil discourse.” In a statement, Paul said he accepted Hightower’s resignation to put the controversy to rest.

Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, is running a grass roots campaign that relies largely on political newbies to spread his message about the need for reform in Washington. There are no big-name political handlers among his three campaign staffers.

Chief Republican opponent Trey Grayson continued Friday to call attention to Hightower’s departure.

“It is troubling that Rand Paul did not immediately denounce this behavior and fire him, but instead Paul took nearly 12 hours to make excuses for what a great guy he is before reluctantly accepting his resignation,” said Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson.

Paul campaign manager David Adams went on the offensive Friday, blaming the Grayson campaign for “linking arms with the left-wing blogosphere” in an attempt to smear his opponent.

“We’re proceeding with building our campaign, and we’re hearing from supporters and others who are expressing disappointment in the Grayson campaign,” Adams said.

University of Kentucky political scientist Donald Gross said he expects the blowup to be short-lived.

“I think people will just sort of drop it,” Gross said. “His supporters will bow it off as just another example of political correctness going amok.”

Political scientist Stephen Voss, also a professor at the University of Kentucky, said he expects political damage to be minimal.

“Voters are pretty savvy about separating the beliefs of a candidate from the beliefs of one stray member of their campaign,” Voss said. “There’s nothing in Paul’s background in particular to make people worried about his racial views or where he stands on equality.”

Filed Under: ElectionsRand PaulRepublican PartyUS Senate Race

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  1. KookyTracker says:

    Yeah, political correctness run amok. Cuz we all know it’s OK to run around and wear a KKK hoodie and intimidate “Afro Americans.” It’s no big deal to joke about an organization that used to lynch African Americans either. And heaven forbid we cow-tow to those Americans who think 9/11 was an act of war perpetrated on Americans by evil terrorists.

  2. KookyTracker says:

    “There’s nothing in Paul’s background in particular to make people worried about his racial views or where he stands on equality.”

    Maybe not, but the Pauls have long been dogged by racist allies. As TooKookyforKentucky has documented, Rand’s money bombs are currently being aided by sites like Chimpout, David Duke’s WhiteNewsNow and Neo-Nazis sites like StormFront. It’s all there boys and girls, just visit TooKookyforKentucky.

  3. Ashley Rushing says:

    This kind of thing helps Republicans on the national level. Why is a negative here in “My Old Ky Home?”

  4. crazycamel says:

    Rand needs to cut some of his supporters from his site like mike combs in nky
    if he is a conservative republican, so is nancy pelosi

  5. Carl says:

    The fat kooky Bryant boy in Jackson has been busted playing little computer games. Oh SNAP.

  6. Libby Tarian says:

    That picture reminds me that somewhere a shell is missing its turtle.

  7. jesse says:

    Rumour has it, he just hired a racist as a consultant to the campaign. Paul and his campaign mgr Adams are idiots! GO TEAM TREY!!!!