Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan's White House chief of staff, told Newsmax that the portrayal of the president as racially insensitive in the movie "The Butler" was "absolutely wrong."
"Ronald Reagan saw everybody as the same and was colorblind," Duberstein, who was Reagan's last chief of staff, said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax. "He accepted everyone for who they were and did not have a bad bone in his body."
As for Reagan's views on a person's race or ethnic heritage, Duberstein, who saw Reagan on an almost daily basis in his second term, said: "It's not something I ever heard him express a comment on, not ever."
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"Look, I was Reagan's chief of staff and I'm a Jew from New York and General Powell was Reagan's national security adviser and he was a black from the South Bronx," Duberstein told Newsmax. "Doesn't that say it all?"
Duberstein, who oversaw congressional relations for Reagan in his first term, said "the president respected [Powell] as a professional."
Duberstein, who often drove to work with Powell in their White House days, said "it was absolutely irrelevant to President Reagan what his color was."
Other Reagan associates and historians voiced similar outrage about director Lee Daniels' film, based on the life of butler Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House from 1952 to 1986, serving eight presidents before his retirement.
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III told Newsmax on Monday
that the portrayal of the Reagans as racially insensitive was not accurate, saying the true Ronald Reagan "treated everyone extremely well, including people who were in a position of assisting him in one way or another."
"Ronald Reagan did not have a racially discriminatory bone in his body from his very youngest days,"Meese told Newsmax.
"He was opposed to any type of discrimination or mistreatment of anyone on the basis of race, or quite frankly any other innate characteristic."
In addition to the concerns about the film's portrayal of the president and first lady as racially insensitive, military veterans are angered by the decision to have liberal Jane Fonda offer an unflattering portrayal of Nancy Reagan.
Like most of the other former Reagan associates who are responding to the president's portrayal in "The Butler," Duberstein has only read reports of the film and doesn't plan to see it. As he told Newsmax, "Why bother?"
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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