It’s never easy for a pop star to make a political statement without stirring up controversy, especially during an election season. Just ask Kelly Clarkson, whose recent Twitter support for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul sparked a mini-firestorm of protest among her followers.

“I love Ron Paul,” wrote Clarkson in a Dec. 11 tweet. “I liked him a lot during the last republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.”

Also drawn into the brouhaha was Michelle Branch, who said she “wholeheartedly” agreed with Clarkson’s endorsement, only to get an earful from fans who disagreed.

She and Branch — who retweeted Clarkson’s endorsement — quickly discovered they had a lot of followers who are concerned with the controversy over the newsletters Paul mailed out in his name during the ’90s, some of which expressed dishearteningly intolerant views on homosexuality, AIDS, and race. Although Paul has claimed he didn’t write the newsletters and had no idea what they said, that explanation isn’t enough for a number of voters — some of whom clearly listen to Clarkson and Branch’s music.

After receiving a flood of angry tweets, Clarkson responded, “I am really sorry if I have offended anyone. Obviously that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he’s my favorite.”

Branch echoed Clarkson’s sentiments, telling followers “Didn’t mean to offend. I am not racist and am absolutely not a homophobe. Just trying to weed through the non-impressive choices!”

Of course, ending a political argument on the Internet is never that simple, and the dialogue has continued to clog Clarkson’s feed throughout the month. She seemed to have enough Wednesday night, writing:

Man my eyes have been opened to so much hate tonight. If y’all ever disagree with something I say please don’t feel the need to attack me. I will listen to what you say and any articles or viewpoints you have when you say it with respect. Being hateful is not a healthy way to get people to see or hear you. I was raised to respect people and their decisions and beliefs and I hope you will grant me the same decency. If you don’t agree with me simply unfollow me. It’s really that easy. I hope you don’t because I would love the chance to hear what you have to say but if you’re so blinded by hate you can’t seek peace and progress then that is your unfortunate prerogative.”

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