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East Lansing — Conservative rocker Ted Nugent on Wednesday touted Michigan Republican candidates in a rollicking television interview while defending, denying or attempting to clarify his long history of controversial comments.

Nugent said he did not regret calling Democratic U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein of California a “worthless whore.” He also explained that when he called Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors "soulless," his comment were aimed at two of the teens who had suggested the National Rifle Association was complicit in the fatal attack that killed 17.

Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who last week grilled U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over sexual assault allegations, is a “nasty person,” Nugent said during a taping of “Off the Record” on WKAR-TV. “Terrible person.”

Now living in Texas, the 70-year-old Detroit native has family in Michigan, hunts here and remains active in state politics. Nugent has endorsed gubernatorial hopeful Bill Schuette, with whom he campaigned last month in northern Michigan, and is backing GOP attorney general nominee Tom Leonard and U.S. Senate candidate John James.

“We need to do here in Michigan with Bill Schuette, Tom Leonard and John James and so many great, great candidates what we did for Donald Trump, and that is get out the sh—kicker vote,” Nugent told reporters after the television segment, citing blue-collar union workers who helped propel the president to a narrow Michigan win in 2016.

Democrats have railed on Schuette and other Republicans for campaigning with Nugent, pointing to controversial comments he's made that have been called misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist. Party Chairman Brandon Dillon last month called Nugent a “predator,” citing comments he made about young girls in a 1998 VH1 documentary.

“This guy is a vile, disgusting human being,” Dillon said Wednesday, noting other accusations made by fellow musician Courtney Love. “And anybody who accepts his support is a vile, disgusting human being, period.”

Asked about Nugent’s latest comments, the Schuette campaign did not directly respond. Instead, Schuette running mate Lisa Posthumus Lyons said in a statement she is “focused on issues, and so are voters.”

Schuette and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer are set to debate Oct. 12 and Oct. 24, but Whitmer running mate Garlin Gilchrist III has not agreed to debate Posthumus Lyons. She accused her counterpart of holding "extreme views" of his own.

In the 20-year-old VH1 documentary, a then-50-year-old Nugent said he was “addicted to girls” at one point in his career and got “the stamp of approval from their parents.”

Nugent said Wednesday the cable television station incorrectly reported that he got a 17-year-old’s parents to sign papers making him her legal guardian.

“When I was a single man, I liked younger women,” Nugent acknowledged. But, he said, “I haven’t had underage relations with underage women since I was underage.”

Nugent called his 1981 song “Jailbait” a “silly fun song” and likened it to a form of parody. In the lyrics, Nugent sings “I don’t care if you’re just 13” and tells a police officer “I'll share her with you.”

Asked about those lyrics, Nugent noted that he’s run a children’s charity camp for 29 years where he shares his “perfect message of being clean and sober, the best you can be” with kids.

Nugent performed at several Trump rallies in Michigan during the final days of the 2016 campaign. He visited the White House in April 2017 with Kid Rock and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

A Second Amendment advocate, Nugent said he reached out to Schuette to discuss policy issues before endorsing him for governor. He blasted what he called over-regulation in Michigan, blaming Democrats even though Republicans have controlled all branches of state government since 2011. 

"RINOs have been in charge," Nugent said, using an acronym for Republicans in name only before referencing the current term-limited governor. "God bless Rick Snyder, but he's not a real Republican."

joosting@detroitnews.com

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