Kelly Clarkson under attack for tweet supporting Ron Paul
Kelly Clarkson got an earful on Wednesday after wading into political waters with a tweet supporting Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, though Michelle Branch and Blake Shelton lined up behind the American Idol champion as the debate wore on.
The firestorm that played out was primarily reaction to Clarkson's support in light of news reports that Paul, a contender for the Republican nomination and leading recent polls for the early January Iowa primary, was associated with newsletters distributed under his name in the late '80's and early '90's that included racist and homophobic viewpoints.
For her part, Clarkson says that she knew nothing of those statements when she tweeted on Wednesday night, "I love Ron Paul. I liked him a lot during the last Republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he's got my vote. Too bad he probably won't."
Almost immediately, the Twitter-verse began piling on, though it's impossible to discern how many of those reacting were actually Clarkson fans or merely political observers eager to engage in debate.
Clarkson fired back with several messages, including one to @deethers, saying "I have never heard that he's a racist? I definitely don't agree with racism, that's ignorant." Later, she added to @BarkingTurtles, "I love all people and could care less if you like men or women. I have never heard that Ron Paul is a racist or homophobe?"
After skirmishing for an hour or so, Clarkson issued a more comprehensive statement on the matter, again via Twitter.
"I am really sorry if I have offended anyone. Obviously that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women's rights, men's rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he's my favorite."
In subsequent hours, fellow musicians Michelle Branch and Blake Shelton weighed in to support Clarkson. Branch tweeted a response to Clarkson, saying, "@kelly_clarkson I wholeheartedly agree. #RonPaul." She drew some fire herself for the stance, later tempering it with "Hmm. Didn't mean to offend. I am not racist and am absolutely not a homophobe. Just trying to weed through the non-impressive choices!"
Shelton didn't take as much of a political stance on the matter, primarily jumping into the fray to tell Clarkson he has her back. "@kelly_clarkson I love you!!!! I'll listen to your view points anytime. And I really wouldn't mind throat punching someone for you either!!"
Paul has struggled to disassociate himself with the messages that are propelling the controversy, telling reporters in the run-up to Iowa's primary vote that the articles were written by someone else and that he wasn't aware of what was being printed and sent out in his name.
However, in 1996, a Texas Monthly investigation into the newsletters found Paul much more amenable to the extreme views of the articles, which also touched on conspiracy theories regarding AIDS and government groups like the CIA. His response at that time was than the press was merely pulling selective quotes out of context, while the overall newsletter content held up as accurate to his beliefs.
Paul's supporters are drawn to the candidate's libertarian views, which espouse a vast reduction in government participation in programs like education, health care and emergency management, arguing that market-based alternatives would improve the quality and range of consumer and government choices while eliminating government regulation in a number of areas. Paul is also a fervent opponent of maintaining a large U.S. military presence around the globe and participation in wars beyond America's borders.