Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell hit back Monday at primary opponent Carly Fiorina for saying that he does not support Israel, calling her accusations “desperate” and “bizarre.”
“Carly Fiorina’s latest attack suggesting that I am anti-Israel and pro-jihadist is desperate and irresponsible,” Campbell said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller.
Fiorina, the 55-year old former Hewlett Packard chief executive, said Sunday night that she was “deeply troubled” by recent “reports” about Campbell’s associations with Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian immigrant to the U.S. who was arrested in 2003 for working with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and later pled guilty to providing material support to the group.
Even President Obama’s recently appointed envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference has come under scrutiny for his remarks in the past defending Al-Arian. The envoy, Rashad Hussain, said Friday that his past comments about Al-Arian were “ill-conceived.”
Recent reporting by conservative outlets Commentary Magazine and The American Spectator have focused attention in recent days on Campbell’s receipt of a campaign donation from Al-Arian and his arguments against his firing from the University of South Florida.
“I think the people of California deserve to know more about Tom Campbell’s association not only with Sami Al-Arian but also his association with other people of questionable record,” Fiorina told Commentary Magazine.
“What is clear is that Tom Campbell and I couldn’t disagree more when it comes to policy regarding our nation’s relationship with Israel,” she said. “I am an unwavering supporter of Israel and believe strongly that the United States should continue to support and defend the country.”
Campbell, a 57-year-old former congressman who has led Fiorina and fellow Republican Chuck Devore in polling since switching from the governor’s race to the Senate race in January, hit back Monday, saying that Fiorina was distorting his record and past associations.
“In Congress, I always voted in favor of providing military aid to Israel, and have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself — including taking military action against Iran to prevent its development of nuclear arms,” Campbell said.
Campbell’s office provided a letter from former Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and Holocaust survivor, to Campbell in 1999, which they said demonstrated his bona fides on the issue of support for Israel.
“Since we first met, I have known of your strong support for the State of Israel and its people. You and I have spoken many times of the need to assure the survival of Israel, as well as to fight against hatred and bias around the world, including here in our own country,” Lantos wrote.
However, Lantos’s words were a preface to concerns he expressed about Campbell’s vote in 1999 against $30 million in economic aid to Israel.
Conservative writer David Frum has gone into great detail in defending Campbell’s record (read that here).
Campbell’s campaign told The Daily Caller they agreed with Frum’s assessment that, regarding the former congressman’s involvement with Al-Arian, his “libertarian sympathies were exploited by some very bad actors.”
“Tom certainly agrees that if he knew then what he knows now, he would not have joined the other professors writing concerning Professor Sami Al Arian’s dismissal from his university in Florida,” said Campbell spokesman Jamie Fisfis.
Fiorina spokeswoman Judie Soderlund called Campbell’s defense “revisionist history” and “a stunning example of an intellectual dishonesty that seems to plague him.”