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Braun apologizes for calling rival a crack addict

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



After two days of controversy related to a verbal swipe she took at a rival for the mayor’s seat, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun Tuesday apologized for calling Patricia Van Pelt Watkins a crack addict.

“I want to apologize to her, to the congregations and members of Trinity United Church … and to all of the families and friends of those who are, or have been caught up in the tragedy of drug use,” Braun said at the Mt. Pilgrim church on the West Side.

Told of the apology, Watkins said, “Though I accept Carol’s media-issued apology, I believe she should seek sensitivity counseling and make restitution by volunteering at a recovery house as soon as possible. Carol’s reckless comments reveal her detachment from the experiences of the majority of Chicago families who just need a second chance.”

The controversy started Sunday when Watkins said at a candidates’ forum that Braun “hasn’t been around for 20 years.” Watkins said she “did not even know the woman lived in the city” because she hadn’t heard Braun’s “voice out there on the street.”

Braun gave a sharp retort to Watkins, who has begged for coverage of her long-shot candidacy: “Patricia, the reason you did not know where I was for the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack.”

On Monday, Watkins demanded an apology. Although Watkins has admitted to a drug problem that lasted until she was 21, she insisted that she has never seen crack, let alone used it.

And Watkins said she has been clean for the last 32 years.

Braun’s apology Tuesday was very limited. She stood at the church lectern, put her reading glasses on, and read a statement.

“My entire family is in law enforcement and yet one of us became and died a drug addict,” Braun said. “The city of Chicago has apparently thrown in the towel on the support it once gave to people confronting this tragedy. Our city clinics — under-funded and understaffed — can only operate in a reactive mode.”

But as reporters asked her whether she had called Watkins to apologize personally, why it took her so long to apologize, or whether her sharp comments alienated potential voters, Braun refused to answer.

“I’m here to talk about treatment for drug users,” Braun said. “I think my words today speak for themselves,” she said repeatedly.

Eventually, the ministers standing with her stood up to take the questions for her.

“There are too many issues in the campaign for us to have hours of repeated videos,” said Rev. Janette Wilson. “We have homeless people, minority businesses not getting their fair share, seniors not getting enough services. Ask those questions.”

Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush also stood at Braun’s side.

As she walked away from the podium, Braun was asked to weigh in on the argument candidates Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico are having over Emanuel’s proposal to cut the city sales tax but broaden the number of services covered by that tax.

“I’m for no new taxes,” Braun said.



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