The Emergency Committee for Israel just released a new advertisement targeting Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate. The group, founded in 2010 by Bill Kristol, is not formally partisan, though it has never endorsed a Democrat and has been outspoken in criticizing President Obama’s Israel policies. Paul is the first Republican the group has targeted, according to executive director Noah Pollak.
The ad (below) is set to run in South Carolina, which hosts its primary, the third Republican contest, on January 21. It features Gary Bauer, the founding board member who worked in the Reagan administration and briefly ran for president in 1999 and 2000, inveighing against Paul’s foreign policy. Notably, Bauer is a strong Christian conservative, and indeed the spot makes a broader case against Paul than might be expected of a group with “Israel” in its name. Says Bauer (my transcription):
I also know that Ron Paul’s conservatism is isolationist and conspiratorial. He’s hostile to our military, hostile to our allies like Israel, and was hostile to great conservatives like Ronald Reagan. He denies that Iran is building nuclear weapons. He says that it was a crime to kill Osama bin Laden. He blames America for creating terrorism. He says that we don’t know the truth of the 9/11 attacks because of a government cover-up. He condemns our ally Israel for defending herself. Ron Paul is not a Reagan Republican. We can do better.
The most logical time for this ad might have been a few weeks ago. Then, it appeared that Paul had a good chance to win last Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses and then make a run for the nomination. But instead he came in a disappointing third place to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum (who are both candidates ECI would presumably support), and, now, professional elections-predictor Nate Silver gives Paul only a two percent chance to win South Carolina.
Which is not to say that ECI’s animosity toward Paul is likely newfound. After all, well before Iowa, the Republican Jewish Coalition was going out of its way not to include Paul in its candidates forum. (This blog, also, has long been opposed to Paul, who in the 1990s published newsletters that trafficked in racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic conspiracies.) Most likely, ECI found South Carolina, with its heavily Christian-conservative Republican electorate, a propitious opportunity to sic Bauer on Paul and, it surely hopes, deliver the kill shot.