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Chafee backtracks on 'bloody sock' remark

From msnbc.com's Vaughn Ververs:

There are some pretty common-sense rules of thumb that most candidates try to adhere to on the campaign trail these days: Don't say anything in public you wouldn't want to see on YouTube, don't stray from the stump-speech script and don't embrace the establishment even if you're part of the establishment.

Oh, and don't insult anything about the Boston Red Sox when you're running in New England. That's one former Sen. Lincoln Chafee broke on Monday.

In an interview with WPRO radio, Chafee, who is running as an independent candidate in the Rhode Island governor's race, was asked about a just-completed deal state development officials struck with 38 Studios, a video game company, which includes $75 million in state loan guarantees. The issue has been hotly debated in the state because of the hefty price tag involved.

The complicating factor: 38 Studios is a company co-owned by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, one of the key players in Boston's 2004 World Series push that broke a championship drought reaching back to 1918.

Schilling enjoys a hallowed place in Red Sox Nation. Not only did he play a major role in the 2004 playoffs, he did so in heroic fashion, winning Game Six of the American League Championship series on a severely injured ankle that produced a now-famous bloody sock during the performance.

In his interview Monday, Chafee responded to questions about the 38 Studios loan guarantees by raising doubts about Boston's hometown hero. Chaffee said part of his concern was the "trust" that state development officials "have in him to deliver." He continued: "I just remember his own teammates didn't like him. They thought he was a bit of a salesman. I remember one of his teammates said he painted his sock, the bloody sock, he painted it. [His teammate] Kevin Millar, I think, said that. I don't know if I trust Curt Schilling."

Chafee spokesman J.R. Pagliarini later clarified the former senator's statement, telling the Providence Journal that his mistrust was not related to the sock. "We don't trust Curt Schilling in that he doesn't have a track record of running a business of this size, and as such we're putting the taxpayers' money in jeopardy. He's not questioning Curt Schilling's honesty and sincerity. He's just questioning whether he can produce what he says he can."

Pagliarini added that Chafee "respects Curt Schilling's achievements as a professional athlete and his support of charitable causes."

For Sox fans, it's not a minor faux pas to get on the wrong side of the beloved baseball team. During last winter's special election for the seat of the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, Democrat Martha Coakley helped solidify the perception that she was aloof and disengaged with voters with an offhand remark that drew plenty of attention.

In a radio interview shortly before the hotly contested election, Coakley mistakenly suggested that Schilling was a fan of Boston's sworn enemies, the New York Yankees.

Schilling, who was campaigning for Brown, offered a withering reply in a blog post. "I've been called a lot of things,'' he wrote, "but never, and I mean never, could anyone ever make the mistake of calling me a Yankee fan. Well, check that, if you didn't know what the hell is going on in your own state maybe you could…."