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Will Hegseth’s college columns become campaign fodder?

U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hegseth published an oft-controversial conservative newspaper during his time at Princeton University.

 “Congratulations to Halle Berry for her Oscar-worthy achievement this year. We only wish the performance itself was considered as important as the racial identity of the actor doing it,” the editors of the Tory wrote in April 2002, criticizing Berry for “accepting the award on behalf of an entire race.”

In September, Hegseth and the other editors reacted to The New York Times’ announcement that it would print gay marriage announcements in its pages by arguing that the Times could then logically print announcements of other “marriages.”

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“The [New York Times’] explanation sounds nice on the surface, but its logic is dangerous,” The Rant read. “At what point does the paper deem a ‘relationship’ unfit for publication? What if we ‘loved’ our sister and wanted to marry her? Or maybe two women at the same time? A 13-year-old? The family dog?”

Occasionally, the language in the Tory prompted counteractions that fed the paper’s publicity. In the October 2002 issue of the Tory, Hegseth and his colleagues wrote in The Rant that, “Boys can wear bras and girls can wear ties until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t change the reality that the homosexual lifestyle is abnormal and immoral.”

In response, USG president Nina Langsam ‘03 asked Hegseth and Tory editor-in-chief Brad Simmons ’03 to avoid attacking homosexual students specifically.

The leadership of the Tory accused the USG president of censoring the publication and sent a press release detailing Langsam’s actions to local media.

Hegseth walked back some of the paper’s contents in an interview with the Princetonian, saying, “We were pushing the envelope and a lot of times we gave our writers a lot of latitude and that’s going to come with differences of opinion … There is obviously some phraseology or terms or language that [was] maybe too sharp.”

A pair of political commentators told the Princetonian that the Tory articles will probably become a campaign issue for Hegseth this year, though they’ll be unlikely to make much of an impact before the general election, should Hegseth get there. At that point, Hegseth’s underdog status is probably his best ally: a frontrunner as strong as Amy Klobuchar isn’t likely to dig up nearly 10-year-old college newspaper articles to attack her challenger as long as she keeps a respectable lead in the polls.

Controversial writings commonly become headaches for political campaigns. During the DFL U.S. Senate primary in 2008, for example, Republicans cried foul over a satirical Playboy article Al Franken had written eight years earlier. Franken was the Democratic frontrunner at the time, and Republicans were expecting a competitive general election.