WASHINGTON — A former aide to Ron Paul has labeled the Republican White House hopeful as "anti-Israel" after the rediscovery of racially charged newsletters published under the lawmaker's name in the 1980s and 1990s.
The staunchly libertarian candidate "wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all," Eric Dondero wrote in a column for website RightWingNews.com published Monday. "He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations."
Dondero, a senior aide from 1997 to 2003 and earlier an assistant in various campaign roles beginning in the late 1980s, said the Texas lawmaker "sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs."
However, he insisted that Paul is not a racist, as some critics have charged after the newsletters released in recent weeks foretold a "coming race war" in U.S. urban centers.
"Is Ron Paul an anti-Semite? Absolutely no. As a Jew [half on my mother's side], I can categorically say that I never heard anything out of his mouth, in hundreds of speeches I listened to over the years, or in my personal presence, that could be called, 'anti-Semite.' No slurs. No derogatory remarks," Dondero said.
"Is Ron Paul a 'racist'[?] In short, no. I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once," Dondero added.
In a statement to CBS, the Paul campaign on Tuesday dismissed Dondero as a "disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues."
The former aide "has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told CBS.
The Paul campaign did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.
Paul already lacked key support from Republican Jewish leaders for his White House bid, largely over his consistent opposition to U.S. military aid to Israel, in synch with his views across the board against sending U.S. aid overseas, and scaling back U.S. military ambitions.
Backing from influential Jewish leaders in the party is seen as key to gaining the Republican party nomination for president.
Polls suggest that only around 2 percent of voters nationwide are Jewish, but they could wield decisive power in vital swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.
© AFP 2013