Pop singer and former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson announced on Thursday that she was endorsing Ron Paul for president. But after an immediate wave of criticism on Twitter, she quickly clarified that she wants nothing to do with the more extreme elements of his candidacy.
“I love Ron Paul,” Clarkson posted. “I liked him a lot during the last republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.”
“I am really sorry if I have offended anyone,” she wrote. “Obviously that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he’s my favorite.”
Clarkson’s conundrum highlights a recurring issue for Paul — his libertarian message has appeal to both the left (civil rights, gay rights, anti-war), right (slashing social programs, neo-Confederate view of states rights), and beyond (assorted conspiracy theories). It was easier to paper over the differences between these groups when he was seen as a protest vote, but his surge in Iowa and the increased scrutiny that comes with it is making the contrasts between his various supporters more uncomfortable.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.