About 30 years ago, Representative Charles B. Rangel invited a 19-year-old summer intern named Adam Clayton Powell IV into his office at the United States Capitol for an emotional conversation: He had run a bruising primary campaign in 1970 to unseat Mr. Powell’s father, he acknowledged, ending the career of a celebrated Harlem politician.
But that bitter past, he said, did not have to poison their relationship. Mr. Rangel pledged to take Mr. Powell under his wing. “He was trying to excuse, or apologize – that is the better word – to apologize for taking my dad out,” Mr. Powell recalled.
In a year in which little has seemed to rattle Mr. Rangel, who faces 13 charges of ethics violations and a public trial in the House, the son of his predecessor has clearly unnerved him.
During a recent debate, Mr. Rangel replied to a standard question about environmental policy with a pungent, off-topic critique of Mr. Powell’s attendance record in the Assembly. He has encouraged reporters to study each candidate’s criminal record, an obvious reference to Mr. Powell’s conviction for driving while impaired in 2008.
Powell, in turn, has emerged as Rengel’s most pugnacious challenger in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, relentlessly attacking the 80-year-old lawmaker. He has called Mr. Rangel’s conduct “corrupt,” described his bid for a 21st term as “pointless” and said that if his father had witnessed Mr. Rangel’s career, he “would be turning over in his grave.”
WATCH ADAM CLAYTON POWELL IV DISCUSS CHARLIE RANGEL’S ETHICS VIOLATIONS ON MSNBC