- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 12, 2005

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was introduced at a luncheon as the head of a state run by the “modern-day KKK … the Kennedy-Kerry Klan,” drawing rebukes from Democrats and Mr. Romney himself.

The comment was made by Gerald Walpin, a New Yorker who is a board member at the conservative law group the Federalist Society, where Mr. Romney spoke Thursday in Washington.

“Today when most of the country thinks of who controls Massachusetts, I think the modern-day KKK comes to mind — the Kennedy-Kerry Klan,” Mr. Walpin said, according to Keith Appell, a Republican consultant who works for the Federalist Society.

Later, in a telephone interview, Mr. Romney branded the remarks “ill-advised.”

“It’s not appropriate to joke about the Ku Klux Klan,” Mr. Romney said.

The Boston Globe reported in yesterday’s editions that Mr. Romney laughed along with the audience and thanked Mr. Walpin for “a very generous introduction.” But the Republican governor said he wasn’t really paying attention.

“I was looking at my notes and preparing for my speech at the time,” he said. “There’s not much I can do about speakers who introduce me.”

State party Chairman Phil Johnston said he was outraged that Mr. Romney could find humor in the remarks about Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry and the Ku Klux Klan.

“It is embarrassing that Governor Mitt Romney would laugh at any joke that disparages Catholics, African Americans and Jews,” he said.

Mr. Walpin said yesterday he had no regrets about the comment.

“Certain people in Massachusetts have no sense of humor,” he told WBZ-AM radio.

The Federalist Society is among the nation’s most influential conservative legal organizations, an important constituency for Mr. Romney if he decides to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Several senior members of the Bush administration are members.

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