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'Racist newsletter' timeline: What Ron Paul has said

Ron Paul has had to explain racially charged statements and other controversial comments in newsletters published in his name in the 1980s and 1990s. Here's what he's said over the years.

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He said he had "some moral responsibility" for the words, and that his campaign aides said it would be "too confusing" to argue during the campaign that the words were not his. Paul quoted his aides saying "It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it."

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2007 and 2008

Ron Paul runs for president and defends his record on race.

Separate from the newsletter issue, in 2007 he fielded Republican debate questions from Tavis Smiley and Ray Suarez of PBS. In more than one instance, he frames his views as beneficial for all Americans – racial minorities in particular.

In saying he now opposes the death penalty, he says "If you're poor and you're from the inner city, you're more likely to be prosecuted and convicted." He also cited DNA evidence that has shown some convictions to have been mistaken.

Early in 2008, New Republic magazine publishes a James Kirchick story recounting incendiary passages from Paul's newsletters in detail. The article asserts that the newsletters show an "obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays."

In a 2008 TV interview, he responds to a question about racism by asserting that libertarians like himself "are incapable of being a racist" because they view "everybody as an important individual" rather than identifying people in groups.

In the interview, he says he enjoys strong support from blacks, for a Republican, in part because of his stands on the Iraq war and the so-called war on drugs. "In all [military] wars minorities suffer the most … so they join me," he said. Regarding the war on drugs, he says "I am the only candidate, Republican or Democrat who would protect the minority against these vicious drug laws."

2011

Paul is running for president again, and is showing greater strength in opinion polls of potential primary voters. Mr. Kirchick (writing this time in the Weekly Standard) and others revive the newsletters as a hot topic.

The Houston Chronicle Tuesday quoted Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton saying that the newsletters were written by a ghostwriter in Paul's name. Mr. Benton acknowledged the point made by many critics of the candidate: that Paul "should have better policed" the newsletters that went out under his name.

"Dr. Paul has assumed responsibility, apologized for his lack of oversight and disavowed the offensive material," said Benton.

On Thursday, Paul reiterated on a Des Moines radio station (WHO-AM) that he did not write the controversial passages. He portrayed the volume of offensive content as small.

"These were sentences that were put in – I think it was a total of about eight or ten sentences, and it was bad stuff," he told host Jan Mickelson. But, he added, "it wasn't a reflection of my views at all, so it got in the letter, I think it was terrible, it was tragic."

In an email to Talking Points Memo, Kirchick said it's "preposterous" to say that only a handful of newsletter sentences were offensive. "As anyone can see from the scans of the newsletters available on the [New Republic] website or posted elsewhere, the documents contain pages upon pages of bigoted statements and outright paranoia."

While claiming "some responsibility" for the content, Paul said on Iowa radio that "I was not an editor. I'm like a publisher…. There were many times when I did not edit the whole letter and other things got put in."

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