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US Senate candidate plans to address ‘free-speech’ rally on Common

Shiva Ayyadurai.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Shiva Ayyadurai.

A Cambridge Republican candidate challenging US Senator Elizabeth Warren plans to speak at a “free-speech” rally Saturday on Boston Common, days after a demonstration in Virginia turned deadly.

Shiva Ayyadurai, who has staked out a populist stance in the early months of the GOP primary, confirmed Monday that he planned to speak at the rally. Event organizers, who have sought to distance themselves from the violent turn in Charlottesville, have listed Ayyadurai online as a confirmed speaker.

Last Saturday evening, hours after an Ohio man allegedly committed second-degree murder in Charlottesville by driving into a crowd of counter-protestors, Ayyadurai tweeted, “The Establishment creates race war. THEY divide US to never address fundamental economic issues. Poor Americans, black & white, need to UNITE.”

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In response to questions via email, Ayyadurai said “of course” he was concerned that the Boston rally could turn similarly violent, “because [r]ace [w]ars are manufactured and fueled by the Establishment to distract from the economic problems that they have caused and profit from ... The Establishment creates and funds groups like Antifa, KKK and Black Lives Matter with the aim of dividing everyday poor black and white Americans.”

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Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email, said, “I condemn the violence, of course. But, let us see its true source and not be hoodwinked. Poor whites and poor blacks have all been abused and used as cannon fodder by the Establishment.”

Ayyadurai, a vocal supporter of President Trump, has questioned the pro-Trump credentials of another Senate candidate, state Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican.

In an email, Diehl strategist Holly Robichaud said, “Geoff believes that the Nazis, KKK and white supremacists are repulsive and evil. He is appalled by their words and actions and strongly believes we all have more obligations to speak out against bigotry, hateful propaganda and anti Semitism. We don’t need anyone associated with what happened in Charlottesville organizing a rally in Boston.”

The weekend events in Charlottesville, which began prior to the “Unite the Right” rally organized to protest removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, brought a wave of condemnations from national Republicans. Trump has drawn criticism from fellow Republicans for not specifically calling out the white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers who staged the rally.

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Republican State Party Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes gave a clipped response when asked about Ayyadurai’s plans to address the rally on the Common.

“It’s his campaign. It’s his to run,” she said during a phone interview.

Warren enters the race in a strong position over the potential GOP nominees. A June WBUR/MassINC poll found Warren earning 61 percent to Ayyadurai’s 25 percent, and gave her 60 percent to Diehl’s 29 percent. Few voters had heard of either Ayyadurai or Diehl in the survey.

At least two other Republicans, businessman John Kingston and longtime GOP operative Beth Lindstrom, have also taken steps toward a Senate bid.

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.