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Racist newsletters put Ron Paul on the defensive for first time

Long-ago Ron Paul newsletters are getting attention for their inclusion of slurs against black Americans. The Texas congressman is also taking fire for his foreign policy views.

By Staff writer / December 22, 2011

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas greets 3-month-old Heidi Lange during a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011.

Charlie Riedel/AP

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The pattern isn't surprising: As his chances of showing significant strength in early primaries have grown, Republican candidate Ron Paul is facing closer scrutiny.

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The press and his rivals for the GOP nomination aren't going to give him a free pass in his bid for voter support.

What's suddenly big news is the racial content of Ron Paul newsletters from prior decades, which are getting attention for slurs against black Americans. But the so-called "racist newsletter" scandal is not the only front on which the Texas congressman is taking fire.

Other candidates have blasted his foreign policy positions, which are also the subject of a critical opinion column in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
To some degree, Mr. Paul is getting what he's given. In the build-up to primary votes in Ohio and New Hampshire, he has served up some strong criticism of other Republican candidates.

Whatever has prompted the current negative headlines about Paul (whether it's partly his own negative ads about rivals or not), the onus is now on him. After dishing it out, he needs to show he can take it – and provide an adequate response.

Recent examples of Paul going negative on other candidates:

  • One ad focused on alleged "serial hypocrisy" by Newt Gingrich. The ad showed examples of policy flip-flops by the former House speaker while in office, the implication that Mr. Gingrich's values were tainted by later financial ties to Freddie Mac and the health care industry.
  • Another ad titled "Consistent" called out aspirants Mitt RomneyRick Perry, and Herman Cain for supporting federal bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis, while portraying Paul as delivering a consistent message of fiscal conservatism for more than two decades.
  • His "Big Dog" spot opens with the words, "What's up with these sorry politicians? Lots of bark. When it's showtime, whimpering like little Shih Tzu's." OK, maybe the Shih Tzu is the only one directly named in a negative light. But the ad implies that other candidates won't deliver on promises to curb Washington spending in a hurry, while Paul will.

Perhaps this is just Paul being persistent in pointing out his policy differences with other candidates, and in emphasizing constistency as his strong suit. That has won him lots of fans, especially among libertarian-leaning Republicans.

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