(JTA) — The Virginia Republican Party in an ad accused Democratic House candidate Leslie Cockburn of hating Israel and America.
“Leslie Cockburn hates veterans, hates ICE, hates Israel,” the footnoted ad posted late last week on the Virginia GOP Facebook and Twitter pages reads. “Basically, Leslie Cockburn hates America.”
Cockburn is a former “60 Minutes” producer running in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District against Republican Denver Riggleman, a former Air Force intelligence officer and distillery owner. They are seeking the seat to be left vacant by Thomas Garrett, a Republican, who announced he would not seek re-election after revealing that he was struggling with alcoholism.
The rural district includes the city of Charlottesville, the site of a white nationalist rally one year ago. The district is likely to lean Republican, according to reports.
John Findlay, executive director of the state Republican Party, defended the ad in comments reported in The Washington Post.
“She called ICE agents the Gestapo. She insulted our veterans. She blames American foreign policy for everything that’s wrong in the world,” he said. “What more do we need — a tape of her saying she hates apple pie?”
Cockburn and her husband, Andrew Cockburn, co-wrote a book published in 1991 titled “Dangerous Liaison” that was highly critical of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
The Republican Jewish Coalition also launched a $300,000 ad campaign on television and social media this week emphasizing that Cockburn had dinner with Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay, and tea with the late Libyan strongman Moammar Ghadafi, while a journalist for Vanity Fair more than two decades ago. It said the book co-written with her husband was called “Israel-bashing” in a review in The New York Times. The ad proclaims that Cockburn is “Out of Touch” and “Out to Lunch.”
After the Virginia Republcian Party ad appeared. Cockburn put out a statement defending her support for veterans.
“I look forward to the final weeks of the election season, and am committed to focusing my campaign on the issues that matter to Virginia’s 5th District,” the statement concludes.
In May, Cockburn met with 40 Jewish community leaders to discuss accusations against her and the book. The meeting helped “assuage the fears of community members about Cockburn’s beliefs,” The Daily Progress of Charlottesville reported.