As presidential candidate Ron Paul's poll numbers have risen, allegations that he authored a newsletter with racist sentiments have resurfaced.
The Texas congressman denies any association with the newsletters. Paul told CNN Wednesday, “I've never read that stuff. ... I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written and it's been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this and CNN does it every single time. ... I didn't write them, didn't read them at the time, and I disavow them.”
Paul was also asked about the newsletters when he ran for president in 2008. The New Republic, a liberal magazine, has done some of the most prolific reporting on the topic and takes the position that Paul authored, or condoned, all of the newsletters. It published an article titled, “Angry White Man: The bigoted past of Ron Paul,” on Jan. 8, 2008, the eve of the New Hampshire primary.
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire posted on Thursday a video of a Paul interview on C-Span from 1995. Paul talks about writing a newsletter in the interview.
Paul described the activities of his “Free Foundation,” which he said he started in 1976, then says, “In the last several years we've been doing some video work in an educational manner. We did 14 different 30-minute programs on video.
“Along with that, I also put out a political type of business investment newsletter. It sort of covered all of these areas, and it covered a lot of what was going on in Washington and financial events. Especially some of the monetary events since I had been especially interested in monetary policy, had been on the banking committee, and am still interested in that subject.
“This newsletter dealt with it. This had to do with the value of the dollar. The pros and cons of the gold standard, and of course, the disadvantages of all the high taxes and spending that our government seems to continue to do.”
The newsletters came under the titles, “The Ron Paul Political Report,” “Dr. Ron Paul's Freedom Report,” and “The Ron Paul Investment Letter.” Though Paul's name appears on the newsletter's banners, they contain no byline. The topics of the newsletters included many of the things that Paul described in his 1995 C-Span interview, monetary policy, investment decisions, and the gold standard.
The newsletters also contained unusual conspiracy theories and bigotry toward blacks and Jews. Some warned about a “coming race war.” A 1991 newsletter about racial disturbances in Washington, D.C. was titled, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.” After the 1992 Los Angeles riots, one newsletter stated, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.”
Reason, a libertarian magazine which is generally sympathetic with Paul's campaign, has also done some thorough reporting on the topic. On Tuesday, Reason's Matt Welch urged Paul to be more forthright about his relationship to the newsletters, writing, “the movement Paul has helped inspire, to say nothing of the broader libertarian/limited government/classical liberal tendency in America, is not animated by this bizarro-world Archie Bunker crap, nor is Paul himself (in my observation). I'd also say that his campaign has had four years to come up with a better answer than 'I don't know who wrote those things,' and it hasn't.”
Welch admits that he prefers Gary Johnson's style of libertarianism to Ron Paul's. (Johnson recently ended his campaign to become the Republican nominee for president and is now seeking to become the Libertarian Party's nominee.) He also says he would like to see Paul do well, “because his candidacy offers the only sharp course corrective to the pressing national issues of runaway government spending, bailout economics, entitlement time-bombs, foreign policy overreach, civil liberties intrusions, and the Drug War.”
There is no evidence that Paul, who is not known as someone who shies away from telling you what he thinks, has made any public statements similar to the bigoted comments found in the newsletters.
At the same time, Paul has given inconsistent answers about the newsletters. As a result, the controversy will likely continue, especially if he wins the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, where he is in first or second place in recent polls.