Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, after he’d run on the Libertarian ticket in the 1988 Presidential election and before his return to Congress in 1996, Paul published a newsletter entitled the Ron Paul Political Report.
He didn’t write everything in it but it all, you know, appeared under his name. And some of what was there was pretty ugly stuff.
Paul has claimed that the newsletter, which compared African Americans to zoo animals, warned of a coming race war, and generally promoted racist, anti-semitic, and fringe militia views, was written by other authors and that he was unaware of its content — even passages written from his perspective.
He has not offered up any of the names of the six to eight writers he said were responsible for writing the incendiary material, however, and reporters are pressing him for more details.
The letter’s details emerge at a time when Paul, now a contender for the Republican nomination for president, is under fire over reports that his newsletters contained racist, anti-homosexual and anti-Israel rants.
“Why don’t you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I’ve said for 20 something years. 22 years ago?” He told CNN’S Gloria Borger on Wednesday. “I didn’t write them, I disavow them. That’s it.”
He insisted that “I never read that stuff,” before taking off his mic and storming off when Borger continued to ask him about the issue, referring to one newsletter that speculated on whether Israelis carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
When Borger continued to pursue the subject, Paul removed his microphone and walked out of the interview.
Among other things, the articles called the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a “world-class philanderer,” criticized the U.S. holiday bearing King’s name as “Hate Whitey Day,” and said that AIDS sufferers “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.”
As USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich noted on Thursday, when Paul responded to a similar controversy over the newsletters in a 1996 interview with the Dallas Morning News, he said that he was indeed aware of some of the offending passages, and even offered explanations as to the thinking behind them.
For example, he said a passage suggesting that “given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal,” was based on outside research.
Ron Paul’s base is by far the most devoted of any candidate, and it’s unlikely the story, which came up in the 2008 election as well, will have much impact on his core supporters. But with Paul surging in Iowa and increasingly broadening his reach within the party, it might put a ceiling on his momentum.
In addition to the objectionable content of the newsletters, Paul’s odd explanation contrasts heavily with his hard-earned brand as an unconventional anti-politician who always tells the truth as he sees it and never waters down his views to pander to voters.
It’s difficult to square this with a candidate who claims that he somehow never bothered to read a newsletter published under his own name that generated as much as $1 million in revenues in just one single year.
Even accepting that premise, how many politicians looking to start a publication would just happen to pick a half-dozen writers with blatant white supremacist and milita leanings to run the effort? [via Reuters, Guardian and Spectator]