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Carol Moseley Braun Calls Rival Ex-Crack Head

As someone who covered Carol Moseley Braun's historic race for the U.S. Senate way back in 1992, I can say from experience that she's rarely boring.

And so it was on Sunday when the former senator called a rival for the Democratic nomination for Chicago mayor a former crack addict during a candidates' forum.

Apparently fed up with accusations from Pat Van-Pelt Watkins, a preacher and community activist, that Moseley-Braun hadn't been in the trenches fighting for the African American community in recent years, the former senator and ambassador lashed out:

"Patricia, the reason you didn't know where I was the last 20 years is because you were strung out on crack."

"I was not strung out on crack. I don't have a record. I in fact have spent years of my life working and fighting for this community as the only black United States senator from 1992 to 1998, as the only ambassador. So I don't want to hear it from you, sweetie."

For her part, Van-Pelt Watkins has admitted to having a past drug problem. But she's quick to say she never used crack cocaine.

It goes without saying that it's never a good sign for a candidate when her defense is that she never did crack.

But she's not really the story; Moseley Braun is. The former senator, because she can appeal to the racial pride of black voters in a racially polarized city, has been viewed as the major challenger to frontrunner Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama White House chief of staff.

Needless to say, Moseley Braun's anger against a black preacher with a personal story of redemption may not go over very well with many of those very black voters the former senator is trying to court.

Adding to the rich texture of this somewhat unusual story is that it occurred at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's far South Side. Yes, that very same Trinity once pastored by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and attended by Barack Obama back when he belonged to a church.

Moseley Braun apparently refused according to a local news report to discuss the matter with a reporter afterward.

Even in Chicago where people are used to political encounters resembling Blackhawks games, the former senator's outburst is a guaranteed eye-brow raiser.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.