Candidate gives speech many find racist at Constitution Day event

Lexington, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky held its annual Constitution Day celebration on Wednesday. But one speaker had his speech cut off because of his controversial comments.

Many people felt the speech from write-in U.S. Senate candidate Robert Ransdell of Florence was racist and offensive. And UK leaders say the comments surprised them.

A Vine video from a high school student at the event shows Ransdell leaving the stage after those in attendance said his speech turned racist. Another high school student took a picture of one of Ransdell's campaign signs, which reads "With Jews We Lose."

Ransdell calls himself a "white separatist" or "white nationalist."

The University of Kentucky said in a statement that all speakers at the event were supposed to talk about the principles of the Constitution, not about politics.

"I was about to get to the Constitution before I was cut off. I was getting to it," Ransdell told WKYT's Garrett Wymer by phone hours after the event. "But I intended after traveling - I'm up here near Cincinnati - after traveling that far to be forthright about something I believe in."

UK's statement further said it was not aware of what Ransdell would say, and the university does not endorse any political agenda.

The statement can be read below in its entirety.

Many UK students told WKYT they were not happy about what Ransdell had to say.

"This is something that needs to be done with," said Justin Holsinger, a junior electrical engineering student. "We're trying to move into a progressive state of mind as a country and a state, and I think remarks like that are definitely not what we need."

Professor Al Cross, director of UK's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, told WKYT the First Amendment protects speech that people find offensive, but organizations like the university do have the right to set rules about speech for their events.

FULL STATEMENT FROM UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY PUBLIC RELATIONS IN RESPONSE TO RANSDELL'S APPEARANCE:

"The University Of Kentucky hosted it's 11th Constitution Day, a federally mandated program for all higher education institutions to recognize and celebrate the U.S. Constitution. Elected officials and candidates in this November's elections were invited. One of the candidates for the U.S. Senate is Robert Ransdell. Mr. Ransdell was invited because he has registered and has been qualified as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate with the Kentucky Secretary of State Office.

"Constitution Day is not about politics, it is a celebration of the principles of the Constitution. All speakers are asked to focus on those principles. Unfortunately, Mr. Ransdell included his political beliefs and platform in his comments. Many of those in attendance felt his comments were inappropriate, especially for an audience that included high school students. The University Of Kentucky was not aware of the content of his remarks prior to him speaking and does not condone or endorse any political platform or agenda."



 
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