George Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, just spoke to the Forward about the growing controversy surrounding the senator’s Jewish ancestors.
According to Wadhams, the senator decided to ask his mother about her Jewish roots only after reading this article on the topic in the August 25 issue in the Forward.
“He learned stuff from the article and asked his mother about that,” Wadhams said. “She told him about the history of the Jewish ancestry. She had not ever talked about it before, because she was so seared by what she had experienced with her own father.” Allen has repeatedly noted that his maternal grandfather had been incarcerated by the Nazis, while also denying that his mother was Jewish. In a Tuesday statement, Allen said: “On several occasions through the years, I have mentioned publicly that my mother’s father was incarcerated by the Nazis. I have never known whether he was persecuted by the Nazis because of his nationality, his religious faith, his role as a community leader, or his part in the anti-Nazi resistance.”
How could Allen not know? Because until recently his mother wouldn’t talk about it, Wadhams said.
Wadhams said that Allen finds the news about his mother’s background “fascinating, interesting.”
“He’s delighted,” Wadhams said, adding that he wasn’t sure why Allen’s mother, Henriette (Etty), was now willing to talk with her son about her background.
Allen and his campaign staffers have been highly critical of WUSA-TV’s Peggy Fox for raising the issue during a Monday debate in what they describe as a confrontational and offensive manner. But, Wadhams said, Allen “had no problem” with the Forward’s story last month. “He read it with interest; it prompted him to read with his mother.”
As for whether Allen’s mother is happy with discussing these issues with her son, Wadhams said, “I’m sure she’s pleased with everything.”