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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.

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The questions about racism in Paul's newsletters of the early 1990s have surfaced before, but are coming more prominently to national attention this week.

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Among the examples cited by the conservative Weekly Standard: the newsletter criticized the Martin Luther King holiday as "our annual Hate Whitey Day."

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday called for clearer answers from Paul: "Paul has disavowed the ranting of the newsletter published under his name (just as he did when the subject came up in 2008) and his spokesman says that Paul didn't write it and 'disagrees with it totally.' That's comforting. Sort of. It helps distance Paul from these lunatic scribblings, but it fails to answer the question of why he allowed them to be published in the first place."

Supporters of Paul say he's being unfairly tarred by his foes in the mainstream media and the Republican Party elite, without a full examination of his personal record. One blog post on the cites evidence of Paul naming a black American as a possible running mate four years ago, and of his caring about racial minorities.

"When challenging the war on drugs," the post says, "Paul often points out the injustice of blacks and minorities being imprisoned at a higher rate than whites for the same crime."

Paul is also drawing criticism from conservatives for his foreign policy views. Backers praise Paul for standing apart from others in the GOP who supported the war in Iraq and who now are engaged in saber rattling over Iran.

But in a recent debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota called Paul's reluctance to confront Iran dangerous, and other candidates piled on.

Similarly, on Thursday, Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal derided Paul for blaming an aggressive US foreign policy for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Summation: It's been a tough week or so for Ron Paul, leaving him some damage control to do even as his poll numbers have looked strong in key states.

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