Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) has fired several members of his presidential campaign staff for using racial slurs and urging him to stop talking about his participation in a 1963 civil rights march on Washington, a campaign aide said Friday.
In April, shortly after Dornan announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination, "some individuals were asked on the spot to leave the campaign for using the 'n-word' and some other things" in a strategy meeting, said Rachel Krausman, assistant director of communications at Dornan's campaign headquarters in Springfield, Va.
Krausman said she did not know the context in which the racial epithet was used.
"He just said this is not in line with his beliefs, and he can't have that [kind of language] around," Krausman said.
Dornan, an eight-term congressman, does not want to disclose the number of staffers released, their positions or their identities, Krausman said.
"He does not wish this to follow them in their careers," she said.
Dornan, who was campaigning Friday in Massachusetts, was unavailable for comment.
Dornan is known for his firebrand politics and blunt language; he has referred to President Clinton as "sleazy," "foul-mouthed" and "arrogant."
Recently, he said he would decide by October whether to continue his uphill battle for the GOP presidential nomination or file for reelection to Congress. Dornan's presidential campaign, which is out of money, lacks a national campaign organization and is run by family members.
His campaign headquarters includes 10 to 15 unpaid staff members, Krausman said. The loss of the dismissed staff members did not affect the campaign, she said.
"We're a very close group here," she said. "I think we all pulled ourselves even closer when we lost a couple people here. . . . I think everyone is happy we have an environment we all believe in."
Dornan's participation in the Rev. Martin Luther King's 1963 march on Washington is "one of the proudest days of his life," Krausman said. But during the 1994 campaign, his Democratic challenger for the 46th Congressional District seat challenged his claim that he had marched in the event.
In October, 1994, Democrat Mike Farber released a letter signed by participants and historians of the civil rights movement who questioned Dornan's claims, particularly in light of what they allege is his "dismal voting record on civil rights."
Dornan, in turn, released a photograph of himself amid the crowd participating in the march.