At the end of June, the Republican National Committee (RNC) hired the communications director for Ron Paul's presidential campaign and former Rand Paul Press Secretary and David Vitter staffer Gary Howard. The infiltration of increasingly libertarian forces into the RNC has reportedly been met with unwelcome sentiments from Pro-Israel supporters that object to Howard's former boss Rep. Ron Paul's foreign policy positions. BuzzFeed reports:
"As Romney is working to beef up his foreign policy credentials, he and the Republican Party should concentrate on hiring professionals who have a history of supporting a strong America and a robust US-Israel relationship," said Josh Block, Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and former AIPAC spokesman who has also sharply criticized the Obama Administration on Israel, in an email. "Not people like Gary Howard who hail from the isolationist, anti-Israel, Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party or who follow the the old Robert Taft foreign policy which advocated against US intervention in World War II."
Howard was hired as a Special Projects Director, and has not been quoted saying anything about Israel. In a report from The Atlantic following allegations from former staffer Eric Dondero who accused Rep. Paul of harboring anti-Israel views and believing the U.S. should not have fought Hitler, Howard is quoted saying "I never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once." The Atlantic also reports that Howard is black.
RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer affirmed the committee's hire, telling BuzzFeed, "We hired Gary Howard because he's an excellent communicator and someone who can get our message out."
The latest controversy in regards to Howard puts the spotlight back on a topic of the primary campaign regarding the conflict between Rep. Ron Paul along with the libertarian wing of the GOP against the adamantly pro-Israel neoconservatives.
Rep. Paul was a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's military spending and policy during the War on Terror, and made ending "nation-building," avoiding long and expensive land wars, and guaranteeing that the intelligence community’s efforts are not directed toward "spying on innocent Americans through unconstitutional power grabs like the Patriot Act" part of his 2012 campaign platform on national defense.
Columnist Richard Cohen slammed Rep. Paul's foreign policy in The Washington Post in January:
Paul opposes just about all international treaties and organizations. He would have the United States pull out of the United Nations and NATO. He would do away with foreign aid, abolish the CIA and essentially turn his back on the rest of the world. This is pretty much what used to be called isolationism, and it allowed Hitler to presume, quite correctly as it turned out, that America would not interfere with his plans to conquer Europe, Britain included. It took Germany’s declaration of war on the United States, not the other way round, to get Uncle Sam involved.
The isolationism of the 1930s and early ’40s has come roaring back — in the person of Paul, I am tempted to write, but that is not exactly the case. The old isolationism was deeply conservative, both socially and economically, and its leaders — Sen. William Borah, R-Idaho, for instance — would never have advocated the decriminalization of recreational drugs. Paul does because he is a libertarian. It is this ideology coupled with his staunch antiwar pose that attracts so many young people and, when you take another look, some not so young people as well.
Others have defended Rep. Paul against these claims, as Bryanna Johnson writes in The Washington Times:
One of the strongest charges against the congressman is that he advocates cutting foreign aid to Israel. That fact alone makes many unwilling to consider supporting him or even take time to learn more about his position. This knee-jerk reaction prevents many voters from coming to an understanding of Paul’s beliefs, or even of the particulars surrounding his statements.
In her piece, Johnson goes quote-by-quote, exploring Rep. Paul's comments about Israel that have worried some conservatives and clearing up the congressman's position.
The BuzzFeed report comes shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's announcement that he will visit Israel once again before November. President Obama has seen his support among Jewish-Americans drop 10 points since 2008.
However, a report released to POLITICO Tuesday from the Solomon Project, a non-partisan group that works to educate the American Jewish community about its history of civic involvement, "offers an in-depth review of Jewish-American voting behavior from 1972 through 2008 that downplays the notion that the Jewish vote is in play." The report reminds hopeful Republican strategists that the Jewish vote for Democrats has never dropped below 70 percent.