John Connally's Middle East proposal has lost him two Jewish members of his national campaign committee and the financial support of a number of Wall Street and business figures.
Rita Hauser resigned from the presidential campaign committee last weekend, she said in a telephone interview today.
"I thought I understood Connally's position very well.I had talked to him I don't know how many times" about the Middle East, said the New York lawyer and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the American Jewish Committee.
Hauser said Connally had overcome initial Jewish skepticism about a candidate from Texas oil country and had been doing well in raising money and support from Jews.
"Connally is pro-business; a lot of American Jews are pro-business; they could identify with his thinking," said another source. "Now, they wouldn't give Connally a dime."
A Jewish Wall Street banker said that he has talked with a number of people who believe Connally's speech was based on the calculation that there are very few Jewish votes in Republican primaries. "Let's just say Reagan and other candidates are looking a lot better now," he added.
In his speech to the Washington Press Club, Connally proposed a broad peace plan under which the Arab countries would recognize Israel's right to exist within secure boundaries and guarantee the West a stable flow of reasonably priced oil in return for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab lands and the creation of a Palestinian state.
"I was really shocked," Hauser said. "I wouldn't vote for a candidate who had a position like that.
"What he did that is inexcusable is the equation of oil and Israel," she said. "It's the straight Saudi line."
Arthur Mason, a Washington lawyer who helped organize New York and three other states for the Connally campaign, resigned today. Mason, who is Jewish, said "while I admire Gov. Connally's ability and candor, I disagree with his Middle East policy."
The controversial speech was written by a team that included Sam Hoskinson, a former CIA analyst who worked for Security National Affairs Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, according to Connally campaign aide Jim Brady.
Henry Kissinger reviewed a draft of the speech, according to spokesmen for the former secretary of state and Connally. Neither would characterize what Kissinger had to say to the Republican presidential candidate.
Hauser said that Connally aides, in efforts to persuade her not to resign, asked her, "How can you be so upset by it, when Kissinger approved it?"
Brady, who said there had been little negative fallout from the Connally speech outside of New York, charged that newspaper headlines misrepresenting Connally's nine-point Mideast proposal were to blame for the disaffection of Hauser and others. The Connally campaign ran the entire text of the speech as a paid advertisement in five newspapers to counter misunderstanding, Brady said.
Manhattan Republican Chairman Vincent Albano withdrew an invitation to Connally for an appearance in New York and said today that two days before Connally laid out his proposal in public, he had been given a very different impression of Connally's Middle East views at a meeting with him.
New York state Republican Chairman Bernard Kilbourn said that he thinks press coverage of Connally's speech was somewhat misleading and that Connally would clarify his statement in the weeks ahead. Kilbourn said he sees no need to replace Connally as the featured speaker at a major GOP fund-raising dinner in New York Nov. 6 -- one year before the presidential election.