Madison Cawthorn, a Republican candidate for the House from North Carolina, created an attack website accusing a journalist of leaving a job in academia “to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.”
The journalist, Tom Fiedler, who had written favorably about Cawthorn’s opponent, is a former dean of the Boston University College of Communications. He volunteered for the 2020 presidential campaign of Booker, D-N.J.
Fiedler has since written articles and fact-checks about Cawthorn for a nonprofit news website in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, where Cawthorn is facing Moe Davis, a former Air Force prosecutor.
The attack on Fiedler was reported by The Bulwark, which called it “a despicable smear” echoing racist remarks by President Donald Trump.
By late Thursday, the website’s language accusing Fiedler of seeking to ruin white male candidates had been deleted. It was changed to read that Fiedler had “become a political operative and is an unapologetic defender of left-wing identity politics.”
“The syntax of our language was unclear and unfairly implied I was criticizing Cory Booker,” Cawthorn said in a statement. “I have condemned racism and identity politics throughout my campaign including during my convention speech when I highlighted M.L.K.’s vision for equality,” he said in reference to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The open congressional seat, which was held by Mark Meadows before he became Trump’s chief of staff, has become unexpectedly competitive.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.