Sometimes I really miss Chicago. While other cities have mayoral debates over taxes and teachers, Chicago’s debate at the Trinity United Church of Christ recently turned on whether one candidate is a crackhead. The video below shows an exchange between Mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins where Watkins accuses Braun of disappearing for the last few years while Braun accuses her of being in a narcotic haze.
The exchange began with Watkins directly confronting Braun on the fact that she has not been seen in Chicago since she left the United States Senate: “We haven’t seen her. We haven’t heard from her. With all the violence running rampant in our streets, I didn’t even know the woman lived in the city of Chicago.” Braun jumped at the bait and responded:
“Patricia, the reason you didn’t know where I was the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack . . . I was not strung out on crack. I don’t have a record,” Braun said. “I in fact have spent years of my life working and fighting for this community as the only black United States senator from 1992 to 1998, as the only ambassador. So I don’t want to hear it from you, sweetie.”
I love the two other candidates between them staring at their hands. Braun at first did not apologize but finally relented and apologized . She coupled the apology with an announcement that she would be focusing on drug treatment issues on the campaign.
Watkins has admitted to being a drug addict in the past but has no criminal record. She also stressed (again in a unique moment of Chicago politics) that she was a cocaine user not a crack user.