Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis said on the radio in 2013 that some of his fellow Republicans had “dual loyalties” to the U.S. and Israel, and he attributed political support for the country to what he called “a very strong American Jewish lobby.”
Lewis’s comments, first reported Friday by CNN, are similar to a comment from Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar last February about Israel’s political influence in Washington. Omar, a Democrat, faced widespread condemnation for what critics on both sides of the aisle described as playing on anti-Semitic tropes.
Omar apologized, but the controversy prompted a U.S. House resolution condemning bigotry.
A former one-term congressman who lost his re-election bid last year, Lewis is now seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Tina Smith next year. Before his 2016 election to Congress, Lewis was a longtime Minnesota radio talk show host.
In a statement, Lewis said his radio job “meant asking rhetorical questions, challenging audiences, playing devil’s advocate and seeing both sides of every issue.” His campaign manager, Tom Szymanski, said Lewis’s House voting record showed strong support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In the 2013 broadcast, Lewis claimed “there were a number of dual citizens” making policy during the administration of President George W. Bush.