His head wounds closed by stitches and staples, U.S. Senate candidate A. Robert Kaufman was released from a hospital yesterday, three days after being beaten with a crowbar and stabbed by a tenant at his West Baltimore apartment building.
The socialist and perennial candidate immediately held a news conference - to talk about the attack and his latest long-shot campaign, in the Democratic primary.
"I feel like I look - bad," he sighed, propped up in a sofa chair and pointing to large purple welts atop his head and a scar near his throat.
"They never paid this much attention to me before," he said in a slow, rasping voice as he waited for reporters. "It's amazing what a guy has to do to get his name in the paper."
He identified the attacker as a tenant who moved into a first-floor room of the building in the 2000 block of N. Hilton St. last month. The man - who police said remained at large - had told Kaufman a few days earlier that he was leaving to check into a heroin-rehab program, he said.
"He made me buy his leftover tools from him for $20," Kaufman said. "Then he came back and asked to borrow another $20."
On Monday afternoon, Kaufman said, the man returned to ask for $20 more, and then offered to pay half of his overdue $400 monthly rent.
Kaufman, 74, recalled sitting at the kitchen table and reaching for his ledger of rental accounts when the first of repeated blows from the crowbar landed on his head. He said that as he bled profusely on the dining room floor, he offered the man his wallet and said he had $200 in another room.
"He said, 'How do I know you won't get a gun and shoot me?' " Kaufman said. "I told him, 'I don't believe in guns.' "
Kaufman said he gave the man the $200, but then was stabbed in the neck with a knife. Dark, dried blood still stained boxes and walls in his dining room, below a poster of Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin.
Ten reporters and cameramen surrounded Kaufman as he said he did not blame the "sick individual" for the attack, but "the society that gave birth to him."
"I blame the war on drugs, the lack of national health care, the society that didn't care about this man," he said.
After most had of his audience had packed up and gone, Kaufman remarked quietly that it was the most media that had ever come to his home in his more than four decades of campaigning for offices, ranging from city councilman to president of the United States.
He said the attack would not halt his campaign for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. He is one of three announced Democratic candidates, including Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and former congressman and recently resigned NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.
"Believe me, it was not worth the pain," he said, "but quite frankly, this will probably help my campaign."