Sen. Rand Paul's wife on Wednesday demanded that a Democrat take back his comment encouraging activists to "get up in the face of some congresspeople," and said she now keeps a loaded gun near her bed after Paul was mobbed by protesters this week at an airport.
"Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol — is this the way to express concern or enact change?" Kelley Paul wrote in an open letter to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., condemning the incident. "Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?"
"I would call on you to retract your statement," Paul said in the letter. "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."
Paul wrote Wednesday that she and her family had "experienced violence and threats of violence at a horrifying level" over the past 18 months.
"I now keep a loaded gun by my bed," she said. "Our security systems have had to be expanded. I have never felt this way in my life."
Booker made the remarks in July during the 2018 National Conference on Ending Homelessness and Capitol Hill Day as part of a broader speech on how advocates can effectively lobby their members of Congress. But his office rejected the idea that he was calling for violence or threats against Republicans.
"The reality is this: Senator Booker has always spoken out against needless partisanship and urged Americans to treat one another with respect when they disagree," Jeff Giertz, Booker's communications director, told the Washington Examiner Thursday. "Violence against anyone because of their political beliefs is unquestionably wrong and deserves condemnation."
"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 wrote. "To think Senator Booker is somehow urging violent confrontation with these words requires you to ignore all context."
Paul's letter comes as a Democratic staffer on Wednesday was arrested by U.S. Capitol Police and charged for allegedly posting private information on "one or more" senators.