Ron Paul’s campaign has come out swinging against former longtime aide Eric Dondero, who claimed the candidate was “out of touch” with blacks and Latinos, rabidly anti-Israel and “personally uncomfortable” around gay people.

“Eric Dondero is a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues,” Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said, according to CBSNews’ Political Hotsheet. Calling Dondero “looney-tunes,” Benton said the ex-staffer “had zero credibility and should not be taken seriously.”

For his part, Dondero told CBS he wasn’t fired: “I dispute that vehemently. I’ll take him to court over that if that’s what he’s saying.” He claims  he resigned in 2003 because of differences with Paul over his Iraq policy . (Dondero challenged Paul for his Texas congressional seat in 2007.)

It’s worth noting that if Dondero invented his allegations just to do a hatchet job on the candidate his tone was oddly muted: In his post, he defends Paul against outright claims of racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, and paints a picture of someone who’s just a product of his generation. Even his examples of Paul’s discomfort around homosexuals—like his refusal to use a gay man’s bathroom some 25 years ago—aren’t hardly smoking guns.

Dondero’s general description of his ex-boss—as a man out of touch with the times and unwilling to distance himself from extreme elements—is pretty much in line with what we already know. Paul even said on Monday in a New York Times interview that he wouldn’t disavow support from hate groups: “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say —it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say.”

Once upon a time we’d laugh and say Paul is a nut who’s just going to tank the Republicans’ chances at the White House. But, given the direction the nation is going, we’re not laughing.

Images via Eric Dondero, Jayel Aheram

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