Rand Paul supporters attack MoveOn activist before debate

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

After last week's tense showdown, Kentucky's final U.S. Senate debate Monday between Rand Paul and Jack Conway offered few real fireworks. But it was a different story outside the event, where cameras captured a Rand Paul supporter stepping on the head of a woman who was participating in a stunt for the liberal group MoveOn.org. Footage of the incident appears below -- but readers should be advised that it is not for the squeamish.

The altercation happened just minutes before Monday night's debate in Lexington. Activist Lauren Valle, wearing a blond wig in her sendup as a representative of the fictitious "RepubliCorp," approached Paul to give him an "employee of the month" award, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Paul supporters crowded in on her; one man pulled off her wig, and another man pushed her to the ground and stepped hard on her head and shoulder area.

Valle apparently sustained no serious injury. She has filed assault charges with the Lexington police, who say they are reviewing video and photographic evidence from the debate to establish the identities of Valle's assailants. Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler is reporting one of the assailants is Tim Profitt, a volunteer for Paul who was let go from the campaign today. In an interview with the Associated Press, Profitt apologized, though he said the camera angle made the confrontation look worse than it actually was.

News cameras on the scene captured the confrontation, which reportedly led Monday night's newscasts in Kentucky, ahead of the actual Paul-Conway debate footage.

You can watch footage of the altercation below:

Valle had been on hand to present Paul with a mock award "praising" his campaign contributions from corporate interests. It's unclear how close to Paul, or whether either candidate witnessed the incident. A police spokesman told the Louisville Courier-Journal that no one was arrested.

[Related: MoveOn.org offers deal to end spam]

"I just wanted to get out here with a sign, but I got my head stepped on," Valle told Louisville's WDRB-TV. "I have a bit of a headache."

In a statement to reporters, Paul's campaign condemned the attack. "The Paul for Senate campaign is extremely disappointed in, and condemns the actions of a supporter last night outside the KET debate," the statement said. "Whatever the perceived provocation, any level of aggression or violence is deplorable and will not be tolerated by our campaign." The campaign said it had "disassociated itself" from the volunteer that took part in the incident and reminded activists on all sides that "political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind."

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