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Braun Apologizes For Calling Rival A Crack Addict

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Braun Debate

Carol Moseley Braun confronts Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins in a mayoral debate Sunday. (Credit: Trinity United Church Of Christ)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun offered a public apology Wednesday to a rival candidate she accused of being a crack addict.

Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, a little known candidate in the race for mayor, had demanded an apology from Braun on Monday, but said she didn’t expect to hear one.

“Patricia Watkins said she does not expect an apology from me. She is wrong,” Braun said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “I want to apologize to her … and to all of the families and friends of those who are or have been caught up in the tragedy of drug use.”

The controversy began Sunday, during a candidate forum at Trinity United Church of Christ, when Van Pelt-Watkins accused Braun of being “missing in action” on community issues in Chicago ever since she lost her U.S. Senate seat in 1998.

Braun shot back that Van Pelt-Watkins didn’t know what Braun had been doing after that because she was “strung out on crack.”

Braun declined to say if she’d contacted Van Pelt-Watkins personally. She also apologized to Trinity United Church of Christ and New Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, which organized Sunday’s community forum.

“I meant no disrespect of the sanctuaries in which campaign tensions spilled over, nor to the pastors of those churches, nor to the people for whom these safe havens of hope are so important,” Braun said. “I regret any intemperance in remarks made there.”

Van Pelt-Watkins, a community activist, has admitted past drug use. But she says she hasn’t touched a drug, an alcoholic drink or a cigarette in 32 years and that she never used crack.

Braun noted she has lost a brother to drug abuse.

“I promise to do all I can to rid our communities of the scourge of drugs and the violence and despair they bring,” Braun said.

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