Kentucky Democrat Charles Booker Wears Noose in Senate Campaign Ad

Booker's provocative campaign ad takes aim at his GOP opponent: "Do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?"

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Charles Booker calls for healing and unity in a proactive ad campaign that highlights racial injustices. 

The 37-year-old politician, who became the first Black Democrat nominated for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, released the controversial spot on Tuesday. The 1-minute and 13-second ad opens with a shot of a noose hanging from a tree, as Booker begins to reflect on the horrific history of lynching.

“The pain of our past persists to this day,” Booker says. In Kentucky, like many states throughout the South, lynching was a tool of terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom. It was used to kill my ancestors.”

The video cuts to Booker with the noose around his neck while he speaks on his historic nomination and takes aim at his GOP opponent, Sen. Rand Paul. Booker points out that the incumbent once compared the right to health care to “slavery,” made controversial remarks about the Civil Rights Act, and opposed an early version of the anti-lynching bill.

“My opponent?” Booker continues. “The very person who compared expanded health care to slavery. The person who said he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act. The person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law.”

He continued: “The choice couldn’t be clearer. Do we move forward together or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?”

Paul’s team has since responded to Booker’s ad, pointing out that the GOP lawmaker initially opposed the anti-lynching bill because he believed it was too broad. He eventually backed an updated version of the bill, which ultimately became law.

“Dr. Paul worked diligently to strengthen the language of this legislation and is a cosponsor of the bill that now ensures that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is,” Paul’s office wrote in a statement to WTVQ. “Any attempt to state otherwise is a desperate misrepresentation of the facts.”

The team also provided the network with a statement from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker celebrating Paul’s support for the anti-lynching bill.

“The effort to pass anti-lynching legislation has spanned more than a century,” the statement read. “After 200 failed attempts, Congress is now finally prepared to reckon with America’s history of racialized violence. I am proud to announce Senators Paul and Warnock as cosponsors of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Their support underscores the bipartisan backing that we have to finally meet this moment and help our nation move forward from some of its darkest chapters.” 

You can watch Booker’s ad above. Kentucky’s Senate election will take place in November.

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