A close aide to Rand Paul who celebrates the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has claimed that the Kentucky senator is simply pretending to be more moderate than his father, Ron Paul. The Washington Free Beacon's Alana Goodman reports.

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.

Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

Hunter has written that he "raise[s] a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday" and has complained that "whites [are] not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity" as minorities.

"In a 50-minute interview with the Washington Free Beacon on Monday, Hunter renounced most of his comments," Goodman reports. But Goodman notes that Hunter was defending his radical pro-secessionist views as late as 2009:

“In my early 20s, I was a full-blown, right-wing radical. As a member of the Southern secessionist group the League of the South, I argued seriously for the states of the old Confederacy to break away from the rest of the Union,” wrote Hunter in a Charleston City Paper column. “I thought it might be better to tone down the radicalism and at least try to appear more respectable. But when I came across an old column of mine last week, I realized that I never really changed. I’m still just as radical or crazy, depending on your perspective. In fact, I might be getting worse.”

Perhaps the most damning part of this story for Rand Paul is Hunter's claim that the senator is simply pretending to be more moderate than his father:

When libertarians and paleoconservatives balked at Paul’s remark last January that “any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States,” Hunter downplayed the comment as a “little rhetorical concession” and said the senator was “play[ing] the game.”

“For every questionable action—support for Mitt Romney, comments about the U.S.’s relationship with Israel … these things do not diminish the overall record of the most libertarian senator since the Founding era,” wrote Hunter on the Southern Avenger website. “Not making these certain diplomatic statements or gestures on occasion, also makes taking these ideas into the mainstream much, much harder. A little rhetorical concession goes a long way.”

“Some say Rand is not Ron because he is ‘willing to play them game,’” Hunter continued. “That’s exactly right. That’s the point—to play it, influence it, and win it as much as you can. The neoconservatives certainly do, to their advantage.”

Hunter has also said that Rand Paul holds the same foreign policy views as his father, Ron Paul.

“The philosophy hasn’t substantively changed [from Ron Paul to Rand Paul]. The methods and style most certainly have.”

Read Goodman's full report here.

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