Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is still touting praise from National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, even as Nugent is embroiled in an anti-Semitism controversy.
Nugent has been condemned by civil rights groups, Jewish organizations, and both gun safety groups and pro-gun advocates -- several of which are calling for Nugent to be ousted from the NRA's board -- but Cruz's campaign is still touting the claim that Cruz is Nugent's “favorite” candidate:
Cruz's campaign links to a September 2015 Buzzfeed article, which quotes Nugent asserting during a radio interview that Cruz would “make a wonderful president.”
While Nugent has said that he will not endorse a Republican candidate during the primary race, he has effusively praised both Cruz and GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
During a January 20 interview with Newsmax TV, Nugent said, “Donald Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you are going to get in politics,” but also said, “Now my dream would be if Ted Cruz became president tonight.”
Nugent's Facebook post -- which promoted the anti-Semitic claim that efforts for stronger gun laws are the result of a Jewish conspiracy -- received praise in white nationalist circles, but was roundly condemned by a diverse group of organizations and individuals:
- Civil rights group Anti-Defamation League condemned Nugent, with organization CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt characterizing Nugent's Facebook post as “conspiratorial anti-Semitism” while adding, “Regardless of one's views on gun control, this kind of scapegoating of an entire religious group is completely unacceptable and completely divorced from reality.”
- Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, stated that Nugent “won't be getting a free pass for his anti-Semitic bigotry” and that Nugent “owes our community an apology.”
- Interfaith Alliance, which describes itself as “the only national interfaith organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of both religion and democracy in America,” condemned the NRA for allowing Nugent to stay on its board, stating, “Mr. Nugent's latest outrage cannot be explained away. As long as the National Rifle Association includes him as an official board member or even as a 'celebrity endorser' we will consider this blending of advocacy for your issues and hate rhetoric to be reflective of the position of the NRA. Nothing short of complete and permanent repudiation will sever the link between your organization and religious bigotry.”
- The National Jewish Democratic Council released a statement condemning Nugent and noting, “Anti-Semitism has no place in the gun control debate, or anywhere for that matter.”
- The Republican Jewish Coalition wrote on Twitter that Nugent's image “is anti-Semitic and a disappointment. Such hate has no place in our society.”
- After gun safety group CeaseFirePA's former executive director was targeted by Nugent's anti-Semitic graphic, current executive director Shira Goodman told the Daily News, “Our supporters across the board -- regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity -- recognize Nugent's anti-Semitic screed for the hateful bigotry it is. His post today equating those calling for stronger gun laws with Nazis sinks him lower into the pit of hatred and ignorance that is the sanctuary of extremists.”
- Brady Campaign president Dan Gross, who was also targeted by Nugent's image, told The Washington Post, “Nugent's latest comments go beyond being anti-Semitic -- they are ignorant and do nothing but fuel hate.” Noting that his brother “was shot and seriously wounded in a religiously-motivated mass shooting,” Gross added that Nugent's image is “yet another clear sign of how out of touch NRA's leadership and Board” are with ordinary NRA members.
- Gun safety group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence called for the NRA to remove Nugent from its board of directors, with executive director Josh Horwitz stating, “It is sickening that the NRA continues to give this bigot a seat at the table among their leaders.”
- The Pennsylvania SAFE Caucus, a group of Pennsylvania legislators, released a statement “calling for the National Rifle Association to remove Ted Nugent from its board following Nugent's anti-Semitic rant against gun safety actions and advocates,” while criticizing Nugent's “hateful actions.”
- Gun blogger Robert Farago called Nugent's image “full-on religious hatred” and wrote that the NRA “should revoke his membership and remove him from their Board.”
- Gun blogger Bob Owens wrote that if Nugent does not apologize “then he has no business being on the board of an inclusive organization such as the National Rifle Association.”
- Far-right pro gun group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership condemned Nugent in a statement, writing, “We are appalled at the insensitivity of Ted Nugent's recent comments on Facebook and elsewhere. The deeply anti-Semitic comments and prominent positioning of the Israeli flag imagery as a tool of anti-Semitic identification combine to leave us deeply disturbed.” (Nugent responded to their condemnation in a Facebook post, writing, “Which is it goofballs? NEVER AGAIN or not? Wake the hell up.”)