The pro-Confederacy writings and radio comments of a former Charleston-based political pundit is influencing a potential presidential candidate’s image long before the 2016 race ever reaches South Carolina.

Jack Hunter, who opines under the moniker “Southern Avenger,” has long been a supporter of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, widely seen as probable Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

But in the past few weeks, some of the Washington Beltway’s political focus has fallen on Hunter’s writings and comments that over the years have carried a decidedly neo-Confederate, far-right slant.

In one column attributed to Hunter from 2004 titled “John Wilkes Booth Was Right,” he wrote, “Although Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln’s murder automatically turned him into a martyr.”

He went on to say, “In fact, not only was Abraham Lincoln the worst President, but one of the worst figures in American history.”

In another column sampling, Hunter took on diversity, writing that of “all the politically-correct doctrines that dominate modern life, perhaps the most idiotic is the notion that ‘diversity is a strength.’ ”

Published reports also point out Hunter co-wrote Sen. Paul’s book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington,” and more recently has been Paul’s social media director.

Chris Haire, managing editor of the Charleston City Paper weekly — which for years had published Hunter’s columns — said Friday that Hunter called him in April asking to have as many as 50 entries of his past writings removed from the paper’s website. Haire refused.

“I think it’s a full-scale scrubbing,” Haire said of the request coming in advance of Sen. Paul’s political plans. South Carolina traditionally is also the first GOP presidential primary in the South.

Hunter also has written for The Post and Courier’s entertainment section. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful Friday. He did not respond to an email or a Facebook message.

Sen. Paul’s Washington office also did not respond to phone and e-mail messages. But earlier the senator commented by saying “It was a shock radio job. He was doing wet T-shirt contests. But can a guy not have a youth and stuff? People try to say I smoked pot one time, and I wasn’t fit for office,” Washington media reported.

On his web page earlier this month, Hunter also issued a statement in response to the attention that’s been given to his utterings.

“The role of a radio host is different from that of a political operative. In radio, sometimes you’re encouraged to be provocative and inflammatory. I’ve been guilty of both, and am embarrassed by some of the comments I made precisely because they do not represent me today. I was embarrassed by some of them even then,” it said in part.

Hunter was also a blogger for Paul’s father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., during his presidential bid, reports say.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.