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Rand Paul's wife pens letter to Booker following protests, threats against husband

The Hill logo The Hill 2018-10-04 Brett Samuels

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill The wife of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday penned an open letter directed at Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), appearing to blame the Democrat for the threats and protests her husband has faced this week.

Kelley Paul wrote in an op-ed published on CNN that her husband was "besieged at the airport by activists." She indicated that they shouted at the senator, stuck their middle fingers in his face and prevented him from moving to his destination.

She wrote that the protesters had heeded Booker's advice from July in which he urged a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., to "get up in the face of some congresspeople" rather than being passive about issues they care about.

"I would call on you to retract your statement," Kelley Paul wrote Wednesday. "I would call on you to condemn violence, the leaking of elected officials' personal addresses (our address was leaked from a Senate directory given only to senators), and the intimidation and threats that are being hurled at them and their families."

Kelley Paul appealed to Booker's sense of bipartisanship, noting that the Democrat worked with her husband on criminal justice reform bills.

Booker's office suggested Wednesday night that "right-wing" outlets had taken his remarks out of context.

"If you listen to more than a deceptively-edited 18-second clip of the speech Ms. Paul references, Senator Booker's enduring commitment to decency is clear," spokesperson Jeff Giertz said.

"Senator Booker actually says - to a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness - to 'get up in the face of some congresspeople and tell them about common sense solutions' that address this problem and 'I don't want to hate anybody, because I know the truth,'" Giertz continued. "To think Senator Booker is somehow urging violent confrontation with these words requires you to ignore all context."

Booker's comments from July drew intense attention among conservatives, as they came a short time after Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) stirred controversy for urging her supporters to confront Trump administration officials in public spaces.

Amid backlash against Waters's comments, Booker called for protesters to "lead with love" when confronting officials.

Rand Paul has endured violence and threats over the course of the last 18 months, his wife noted. The Kentucky senator was present at a congressional baseball practice last year when a gunman opened fire, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

The Pauls' neighbor was sentenced to 30 days in prison earlier this year after he assaulted Rand Paul in their yard. The senator suffered six broken ribs in the attack, and an x-ray found fluid buildup around his lungs.

Kelley Paul has been critical of media coverage of the incident, noting that some mocked her husband.

Kelley Paul wrote Wednesday that law enforcement conducts additional patrols around her house, and she keeps a loaded gun near her bed as a result of the threats against her husband.

Protesters and progressive activists have confronted several Republican senators in recent days as they travel through airports and other public spaces in an effort to plead with them to oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier Wednesday slammed the protests as "intimidation tactics" that he vowed would not prevent a vote on Kavanaugh.

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