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Rand Paul volunteer seeks apology from liberal activist he stomped

By Matt DeLong and Rachel Weiner

This post was last updated Wednesday at 1:50 p.m.
The Rand Paul campaign volunteer who stepped on the head of a liberal activist after she had been wrestled to the ground outside a debate said Wednesday that the incident has been blown out of proportion and that the activist owes him an apology.

"She's a professional at what she does," Tim Profitt, who was fired Tuesday from Paul's Senate campaign, said in an interview with local television station WKYT. "When all the facts come out people will see that she's the one who initiated the whole thing."

Profitt acknowledged that "I put my foot on her and I did push her down" as she attempted to confront Paul outside a debate Monday night but said, "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you." He said he believed the activist, 23-year-old Lauren Valle, posed a danger to Paul, a Kentucky Republican and darling of the tea party movement.

With the incident threatening to influence the dynamics of the hotly contested race, the Paul campaign removed Profitt as Bourbon County campaign coordinator and barred him from its events. "The Paul campaign has disassociated itself with the individual who took part in this incident," campaign manager Jesse Benton said Tuesday.

Profitt and at least one other man roughly handled Valle, a MoveOn.org activist, as she attempted to present Paul with an "employee of the month" award from the bogus group RepubliCorp, video of the incident shows.

In a statement Wednesday, MoveOn official Ilyse Hogue said she was "offended and outraged" by Profitt's comments. "Profitt said the attack was 'not a big deal,' that Lauren 'instigated it' and that 'she should apologize' -- words that are eerily familiar to many women who have faced assault and abuse," she wrote, adding that "Candidates on both sides of the aisle, including Rand Paul, must condemn Profitt's outrageous statements and call out this violence for what it is: anti-women and anti-American."

In an interview Tuesday, Profitt said the scuffle was not as bad as it looked and blamed police for not intervening. "I'm sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand's safety," he said, according to an Associated Press report .

Valle, a District resident, said her face was swollen and her neck and shoulder were sore. In an interview with Post opinion blogger Greg Sargent, she said she believed the attack was premeditated.

"They identified me as a MoveOn worker, and as someone they knew from prior campaign events," she said. "And so, about five minutes before Rand Paul showed up, they motioned to each other to start taking photographs of me." She added that they formed a "blockade" behind her.

Read Sargent's post here.

"I think that this is an extreme example of the kinds of sentiments that people are feeling in many races across the country," Valle said. "I think that tension is incredibly high."

The race, one of the most closely watched in the country, pits Democrat Jack Conway against Paul. The video of Profitt carrying a Paul sign and putting his left foot on Valle's shoulder and then pressing down on the side of her head circulated widely Tuesday.

Profitt is being ordered to appear in court so a judge can decide whether charges are warranted, the AP reports. Sargent reports that police are treating the case as a misdemeanor assault.

MoveOn created RepubliCorp to symbolize what it says is the merger of the GOP and business interests controlling political speech, according to a report in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Profitt said the fight never would have occurred if police officers had intervened earlier.

"A friend of mine went up to three policeman before Rand got there, and told them about the girl who was standing there with that wig on and that she was getting ready to do something," Profitt said. "The policemen looked at him and said that's not our job."

In the video from Fox41.com, Valle is forced to the ground by a man as another man holding a Rand Paul sign steps forcefully on her head. Watch:

MoveOn.org released a statement and said that Valle suffered a concussion but was released from the hospital early on Tuesday morning.

We're appalled at the violent incident that occurred at the Kentucky Senate debate last night. Numerous news reports clearly show that the young woman--a MoveOn supporter--was assaulted and pushed to the ground by Rand Paul supporters, where one man held her down while another stomped on her head. This kind of violence has no place in American society, much less at a peaceful political rally.
Our first concern is obviously Lauren's health and well being. She is recovering, and we will release more details as we have them. We are concerned that no arrests have yet been made, and we hope those responsible will be brought to justice quickly, and that Rand Paul will join us in condemning this horrible act.

Rand Paul's campaign released the following statement on the incident:

"We understand that there was an altercation outside of the debate between supporters of both sides and that is incredibly unfortunate. Violence of any kind has no place in our civil discourse and we urge supporters on all sides to be civil to one another as tensions rise heading toward this very important election. We are relieved to hear that the woman in question was not injured."

Paul also appeared on Fox News Tuesday morning and discussed the altercation. Via TPM:

"Well, we want everybody to be civil, we want this campaign to be about issues," he said. I will tell you that when we arrived there was enormous passion on both sides and it was something where you walked into a daze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up. And there was a bit of a crowd control problem. I don't want anybody, though, to be involved in things that aren't civil. I think this should always be about issues. It's an unusual situation to have so many people, so passionate on both sides, jockeying back and forth and it wasn't something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future it's gonna to be better."

UPDATE at 2:04 p.m.: Paul has released another statement on the incident.

"The Paul for Senate campaign is extremely disappointed in, and condemns the actions of a supporter last night outside the KET debate. Whatever the perceived provocation, any level of aggression or violence is deplorable, and will not be tolerated by our campaign. The Paul campaign has disassociated itself from the volunteer who took part in this incident, and once again urges all activists -- on both sides -- to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind."

Jack Conway released his own statement, focusing on the gender angle:

I was shocked to see video footage of a Rand Paul supporter stomping the head of a woman outside the debate last night. We can disagree on issues, and I don't know what preceded the incident, but physical violence by a man against a woman must never be tolerated. It is my hope that steps have been taken to ensure this kind of thuggish behavior never happens again in this campaign.

(Via The Atlantic and TPM)

Read Perry Bacon Jr.'s report from the Paul-Conway debate here.

By Matt DeLong  | October 26, 2010; 6:21 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election, 44 The Obama Presidency  
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