Written by: Holly Troupe
Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s vault to the front of the Iowa Polls on Monday was promptly overshadowed by the re-emergence of offensive political newsletters written under his banner. The newsletters, which were first circulated in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, were first-person accounts that contained attacks on African Americans and the Gay community. While Paul has said ghostwriters were the true authors of the pamphlets and claimed not to have read them, his statements through the years have not been totally consistent.
The inflammatory newsletters are not a new discovery. They surfaced during Paul’s congressional run in 1996, again in 2001 and again during his presidential campaign in 2008. Although news outlets published incendiary excerpts from the newsletters during his 2008 bid, Paul had never been a frontrunner in those elections, and the content of the newsletters was not loudly decried. Now that a Ron Paul victory in the Iowa caucus doesn’t seem that far-fetched, things are very different. News organizations, bloggers and political opposition are having a closer look not only at the missives themselves, but at the subsequent interviews given by Paul.
The Ron Paul Investment Letter, The Ron Paul Survival Report and The Ron Paul Political Report were published and distributed through Ron Paul & Associates. These letters contained musings on the state of the economy, Libertarian philosophy, monetary events and Washington policies. The “Political Report,” and the “Survival Report” contained some of the most virulent commentary, including:
- [On African Americans] “Many more [White Americans] are going to have difficulty avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists – and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.”
- [On African Americans] “As children [Black males] are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to ‘fight the power,’ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.”
- [On African Americans during the L.A. riots] “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. The ‘poor’ lined up at the post office to get their handouts (since there were no deliveries) –and then complained about the slow service.”
- [On AIDS] “Those who don’t commit sodomy, who don’t get a blood transfusion, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay, as was Kimberly Bergalis [an AIDS patient alleged to have been infected with the virus during a dental procedure].”
The provocative nature of the newsletters was addressed back in 1996 in an article for the Dallas Morning News. At that time he denied racist motives though he made no denial of authorship and did not appear to take exception to the contents. When asked about the statement in a 1992 edition of The Ron Paul Political Report: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be,” Paul is reported to have said in response, “If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them.” The publications were found by the Dallas Morning News to have been referenced in an Internet directory titled “Radicalists and Freedom-Fighters” by a Neo-Nazi organization in Canada called The Heritage Front. Paul said he had no knowledge of his newsletters’ inclusion.
Paul went on to further diminish his involvement with the newsletters. In a 2001 article in The Texas Monthly, he gave an interview saying that he never wrote the words in the newsletters. “I actually really wanted to try to explain that it doesn’t come from me directly,” he said. “But [campaign aides] said that’s too confusing. ‘It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it.’” In 2008 when interviewed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Paul said he never wrote the messages on the pamphlets, and didn’t even see them at the time. “I was in a medical practice, I travelled a lot, I was doing speeches around the country, so very frequently I never did see these.” Paul also emphasized his Libertarian philosophy. “Libertarians are incapable of being racists because racism is a collectivist idea,” he said. “What I defend is the principle of Libertarianism, where we never see people who belong to a group and the individual is defended and protected because they are important [as individuals], not because of their color of skin, but of their character.”
During an interview Wednesday with CNN reporter Gloria Borger, Paul became increasingly flustered when the reporter repeatedly pressed the subject of the statements in the newsletters. “It’s been going on 20 years since people have been pestering me about this,” he said. “When are you going to wear yourself out?” He then added, “The answer is: I didn’t write them. I didn’t read them at the time, and I disavow them. And that is the answer.” After further persistent questioning by Borger, Paul removed his microphone and walked out.
Eric Dondero, Paul’s former Senior Aide and Personal Assistant, says that Paul wasn’t as hands-off as he previously claimed. “He did read them, every line of them, off his fax machine at his Clute office before they were published,” Dondero said in a blog post to The American Spectator. “He would typically sign them at the bottom of the last page giving his okay, and re-fax them to Jean [Editor Jean McCiver] to go to the printer.” Dondero, however, is not without detractors. The publisher and editor of LibertarianRepublican.net, has been accused of deliberately sabotaging Ron Paul’s presidential efforts, and is the object of derision on the Facebook page “Eric Dondero is Slime.” Paul has called him “A disgruntled former employee who was fired.”
For the time being, Paul’s opponents have not remarked upon the newsletters, choosing instead to attack his foreign policy platform. Minn. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who ranked fifth place in the Iowa Polls, has called Paul’s policy on Iran “dangerous.” “It’s imperative that our next commander in chief appreciates the level of dangerous activity that we have in the world today,” Bachmann said in an interview for CBS News on Monday. “Ron Paul would wait until the United States had a city that was taken out by a nuclear weapon. I won’t.” Senator Rick Santorum echoed these sentiments, saying, “I think both Michele Bachmann and I did a pretty good job of showing how dangerous Ron Paul would be as a nominee for our party.” He described Paul as “far to the left” of President Obama on the issue of National Security.
When asked about Michele Bachmann on the December 16 episode of “The Tonight Show,” Paul told host Jay Leno, “She doesn’t like Muslims. She hates Muslims. She wants to get rid of ‘em.”