Mayoral Debate gets heated in the House of God

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(HUFFINGTON POST)  While no one likes to be criticized publicly, politicians are expected to have thicker skin than most. But that does not appear to be the case for mayoral candidate and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

On Sunday afternoon, Braun was part of a candidate forum at Trinity United Church of Christ, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Community organizer Dr. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, who has gathered some grassroots support in Chicago’s black community, also appeared at the forum.

Watkins, who founded the Ambassadors for Christ church, organized development projects on the South and West sides and built coalitions to lobby the city and state for more resources and better policies for the poor and underserved, did the unthinkable–she criticized Braun at Sunday’s forum.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

“Carol Moseley Braun hasn’t been around for 20 years,” said Watkins, a community activist, prompting a verbal response from the crowd in the church. “We haven’t seen her.”

Then Braun hit below the belt, which she has done several times throughout the campaign.

“You were strung out on crack,” Braun told Watkins. “I was starting a business on the South Side. I was hiring people.”

Watkins has been up front about her drug addiction throughout the campaign. She was addicted to cocaine when she was 19-years-old, but has not touched drugs or alcohol in 30 years. She also never did crack, the Sun-Times reports.

“What Carol said to me today was indefensible and untrue,” Watkins said in a statement. “Carol owes an apology to me and to every person who has struggled with an addiction in the city of Chicago.”

While an apology might be called for, it probably won’t happen, as Watkins is not the first to feel Braun’s wrath this campaign season.

When Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg criticized the candidate in a column last month, she decided to bring up his former battle with alcohol abuse.

“[Steinberg] is a drunk and a wife-beater and he insulted the entire African-American community in Chicago,” she said after the column was published. “And the Sun-Times, particularly based on its demographic, … ought to do better by Chicagoans than to give this man a continual platform for his divisive rantings in the newspaper.”

After tearing into Steinberg, she went on to say that Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis “doesn’t understand this city” and that she would hire someone who wouldn’t have to “get a guide book out.”

She has also taken shots at Rahm Emanuel for going to Hollywood for a fundraiser (only to take fundraising trips to Washington D.C. and New Orleans weeks later) and former President Bill Clinton.

When Clinton came to Chicago to endorse Emanuel, Braun considered it an attack on the black community, telling a reporter that the African American community stood by Clinton “when he was having Monica Lewinsky problems.”

Braun has not apologized for any of the offensive statements she has made so far.

“This says a lot about her character and shows she is not ready to be a leader for Chicago residents,” Watkins said in a statement.

Carol Moseley Braun Calls Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins Crack Addict at Candidate Forum: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

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