Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz is taking fire from critics after appointing an alleged Islamophobe as his national security adviser.
Frank Gaffney, described by New York Magazine as "the Joe McCarthy of Islamophobia," was named as the top adviser to the Texas senator on matters of national safety.
Gaffney is a former advisor to the Republican President Ronald Reagan and current political columnist for right-wing websites. He's "one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gaffney maintains President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and according to Daily Beast, believes Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — and Huma Abedin, her closest aide — are "Muslim Brotherhood operatives."
Quoting the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, MediaMatters.org said Gaffney is responsible for pushing "an increasingly shrill message of hate and fear" in American politics, falsely claiming American Muslims want to institute Sharia Law in the country.
Not all of Cruz's recently named advisors hold Gaffney's views, Bloomberg notes. The Texas senator's team includes Jim Talent, a former Missouri senator and Romney adviser; Mary Habeck, a former advisor to President George W. Bush and expert on Islamic extremism who has "warned against demonizing the entire religion of Islam"; and Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan advisor who is on record saying that moderate Muslims shouldn't be conflated with extremist forces.
"We're at war with a coalition of radical Islamists and radical secularists," Ledeen said, according to Bloomberg. "It's not all one thing, nor is Islam all one thing."
Cruz is considered the last GOP hopeful with a realistic chance of upsetting candidate and front-runner Donald Trump. As of March 18, Cruz remains in second place, according to Real Clear Politics, with 411 delegates to Trump's 673.
Cruz, who is deeply unpopular among his Republican colleagues, enjoys the reluctant backing of some party elites who are "choking back their distaste" for the Texas senator in the hopes of preventing Trump from winning the nomination.