Kirk Accuses Cornyn of Making Race an Issue

Ron Kirk, trying to become the first black U.S. Senator from Texas, lashed out at Texas Attorney General John Cornyn's campaign for criticizing Kirk's attendance at a hip-hop summit with rap artist D.O.C., a friend of the group that performed "F... tha Police.''

Kirk, a Democrat, accused his Republican opponent Thursday of using his race against him in their intense battle for Senate.

The state's largest law enforcement group, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, originally circulated a press release asking Kirk to disavow support from D.O.C.

The group N.W.A. performed "F... the Police,'' a song that advocates violence against racist police officers. D.O.C. does not perform in the song, but has appeared on other songs by the group and by Dr. Dre, one of N.W.A.'s former members.

Cornyn's campaign continued the criticism Wednesday in an e-mail, which included a photograph of Kirk with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons.

The e-mail contained a photo of Kirk shaking hands with the Def Jam Records CEO, and above the photo was an expletive-filled remark from Simmons defending gangsta rap.

"The question you have to ask them is why they're doing this,'' Kirk said. "I think they are doing everything they can to very subtly try to frighten people away from looking at my background and my credentials and trying to interject racial politics in a negative way into this campaign.''

Cornyn's spokesman, Dave Beckwith, said Kirk's accusations are false.

"He is the one who's introducing racial politics into the campaign,'' Beckwith said. "This is not about race in any way. It's about advocating violence against women and killing police officers.''

Kirk said the rap summit event he attended Saturday was a get-out-the-vote rally.

"The only thing they were encouraging young people to do is go vote,'' Kirk said. "And I would hope that, whether in an overt or non-subtle way, that John Cornyn isn't suggesting that these young people don't have a right to be interested in the political life of our communities.''

Kirk made the comments to reporters after he and Cornyn spoke separately to hundreds of mayors and town leaders at a conference of the Texas Municipal League.