Ellison not sure 'every single word' from past should be fair game

Ellison not sure 'every single word' from past should be fair game
© Greg Nash

Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonJudge threatens to put prison officials in same uncooled cells as inmates Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents Former Sanders aides launch consulting firm MORE (D-Minn.) is pushing back against criticism over his support for the Nation of Islam as a college student, questioning whether elected officials should be held accountable for “every single word” they ever said.

“I’m 53 years old. I have four kids. My youngest child is 20. Some of the things they want to hit me for, I was younger than her when I wrote them,” Ellison told Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.

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“And so, come on. At some point, we all are human beings who have evolved over the course of 25 years, and yet we want to freeze each other in time.”

Ellison wrote several editorials under a pseudonym in 1989 and 1990 while he attended law school at the University of Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Daily. Ellison was 26 years old when he wrote an editorial defending Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, headlined “Minister Farrakhan never claimed to be a 'Malcolm X.’ ”

Ellison, in the spotlight as he runs for chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), acknowledged in the interview that “everything is fair game.” 

“But every single word, though?” he asked.

Since launching his bid to chair the DNC, Ellison has come under fire for his early writings about the Nation of Islam, which he denounced in 2006 during his run for Congress. He attributed his support for Nation of Islam at the time to Farrkhan speaking out about issues like unemployment and poor relations between the police and their communities. 

He has also faced criticism for recently resurfaced comments Ellison made in a 2010 speech, in which he questioned the place Israel holds in U.S. Middle East policy. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a statement calling the comments “disqualifying.”

During the interview with Politico, Ellison reiterated his support for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.