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Nugent has harsh words for Illinois

August 12, 2003

BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter

Just hours before he performed at the Illinois State Fair on Monday, rock and roll guitar wizard Ted Nugent blasted the state's residents as "sheeplike" for failing to reach out to their elected officials, creating "one of the most embarrassing and . . . grossly irresponsible regions of apathy."

"Right now heads are hanging in embarrassment because the average Illinois resident could give a rat's ass about where policy is determined," Nugent said on an AM radio show hosted by John Cox, a candidate for U.S. Senate. "They have no voice in 'We the people.' They are spineless, apathetic, embarrassing wimps."

Cox, one of 10 announced or potential GOP candidates hoping to succeed Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, did not challenge Nugent's characterization of Illinois residents on his program, "The Progressive Conservative" on WJJG (1530AM). But Cox later said he did not agree with Nugent's description.

"Don't characterize me as agreeing with his remarks because I didn't shoo him off the air for saying it," said Cox, who ended the show by asking Nugent to appear at a fund-raiser for him in the fall. "He told it like it is, but obviously like someone that doesn't have to run for office. But I do, and I don't think the people of Illinois are spineless, apathetic wimps."

Cox had Nugent, a Detroit native dubbed the "Motor City Madman," on to discuss Second Amendment rights to bear arms, including the right of private citizens to carry concealed weapons--an issue both Cox and Nugent support. The attack on Illinois residents came when Cox tried to change the subject to criticism of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Republican credentials. Nugent did not respond to Cox's remarks, instead lighting into the state's residents.

"I get to feel the pulse of working-hard, playing-hard America," Nugent said. "And right now one of the most embarrassing, and I believe grossly irresponsible regions of apathy, is right now listening in Illinois. Illinois people have become so sheeplike. How many people listening right now have called their senator or congressman or governor? How many people listening to John and I right now have even ever talked to their elected officials?"

Nugent also reiterated his desire to debate Gov. Blagojevich on his support for gun control measures and his opposition to legislation allowing retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons. Nugent was quoted as suggesting anyone who holds that position is a "buffoon."

Nugent insisted he was misrepresented.

"I've never referred to the governor as a buffoon. I salute Gov. Blagojevich. I salute those who serve the people."

Rival candidate Andy McKenna Jr. didn't hesitate to rise to Illinoisans' defense, saying Nugent's description does not square with what he has experienced on the campaign trail.

"I'm proud to be from Illinois and proud to be a Republican, and through the course of this race I've been overwhelmed by the good will of the people of Illinois and their desire to build a better Illinois," McKenna said.

Other announced or potential GOP candidates include former investment banker turned teacher Jack Ryan, Dairy and investment magnate Jim Oberweis, physician-turned businessman Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood, former state Sen. Patrick J. O'Malley, state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, retired Air Force Major Gen. John Borling and former state Rep. Jonathan Wright.


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