Republican incumbent draws anger over comments about NRA escort

Sunday, September 15, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Republican candidate for Congress is offering campaign volunteers extra protection for their forays into immigrant neighborhoods -- escorts from the National Rifle Association.

Democrats said the move by incumbent Rep. Robin Hayes' campaign is an insult to residents, and held a rally Saturday in their support.

"We've knocked on doors in this neighborhood," said Paul Blank, campaign manager for Chris Kouri, Hayes' Democratic opponent. "We've had women and children go door-to-door, too."

The volunteers went to the area without NRA escorts, he said.

In an e-mail sent Thursday to Mecklenburg County Republicans about a campaign gathering, Hayes' campaign managers said volunteers need not fear.

"NRA members will cover neighborhoods that might be uncomfortable for some volunteers," the e-mail said.

Hudson later conceded the message may have been insensitive, and he said he hoped the NRA escorts would not be carrying guns.

"I could understand, going back and reading it, that it could have been worded better," Hudson said.

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