Braun apologizes for 'crack' comment

February 1, 2011 2:56:23 PM PST
Another twist Tuesday in the race for Chicago mayor: Carol Moseley Braun apologized to her opponent Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins for calling her a crack addict.

The Braun campaign did its best Tuesday to douse the political brushfire the candidate ignited Sunday with her untrue allegation that Watkins was "strung out on crack."

"Patricia Watkins said she does not expect an apology from me. She is wrong. I want to apologize to her," Braun said.

Flanked by two ministers, two United States congressmen and other supporters, Braun read a carefully worded statement to apologize for Sunday's outburst in which she accused Watkins of having been a user of crack cocaine.

"Patricia, just because you didn't know who I was for the last seven years is because you were on crack," Braun said Sunday.

Braun did not say Tuesday if she had called or spoken to Watkins.

"I think my words today speak for themselves, and frankly I don't know else there is to say about that matter," said Braun.

In a statement Tuesday, Watkins, who has admitted being a drug user over 30 years ago, accepted the apology. She then went on to write: "Carol's reckless comments reveal her detachment from the experiences of the majority of Chicago families who just need a second chance."

"I think what we should do is attack the problems facing the city of Chicago, and not attack each other," said candidate Rahm Emanuel.

Meanwhile, Emanuel, who said he would make the elimination of so-called "food deserts" a top priority as mayor, expressed no regrets that his campaign had contacted small business owners who agreed to have their sites used for Gery Chico campaign events.

"I've been clear about what about what I think the record is...and clear about what people should know is the record is," Emanuel said.

"I worked for Mayor Daley for 20-plus years and Mayor Daley never, never called a business to tell them not to host a press conference, ever," said Chico.

Chico, who shot a campaign commercial at bowling alley Tuesday, repeated his demand for a list of "luxury" services on which a 9 percent tax would be levied as part of Emanuel's sales tax reform proposal.

"You have to work with the legislature on that program. I've been clear about what I said, luxury items," said Emanuel

"Why are you gonna negotiate that with the legislature instead of telling the people and the neighborhoods in Chicago what it is that's going to be taxed," said Chico.

Emanuel says a tax on still-unspecified luxury services would allow for a 20 percent reduction in the sales on retail items.

In another campaign development, Emanuel has agreed to participate in The Chicago Defender's candidate forum Wednesday night with all five of his opponents. It's the first time Emanuel has agreed to do a forum.