Paul: I did write parts of the newsletters, but not the bad parts

Dave Weigel has the transcript from a radio interview in Iowa.

CALLER: Dr. Paul, how confident were you at the time that the newsletters that bore your name were representative of your views on taxes, on monetary policy, the Second Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, all the things that you hold dear? How confident were you that the newsletter accurately portrayed your views on those things?

PAUL: Well, the newsletters were written, you know, a long time ago. And I wrote a certain portion of them. I would write the economics. So a lot of what you just mentioned… his would be material that I would turn in, and it would become part of the letter. But there were many times when I didn’t edit the whole letter, and things got put in. And I didn’t even really become aware of the details of that until many years later when somebody else called and said, you know what was in it? But these were sentences that were put in, a total of eight or ten sentences, and it was bad stuff. It wasn’t a reflection of my views at all. So it got in the letter, I thought it was terrible, it was tragic, you know and I had some responsibility for it, because name went on the letter. But I was not an editor. I’m like a publisher. And if you think of publishers of newspapers, once in a while they get pretty junky stuff in newspapers. And they have to say that this is not the position of that newspaper, and this is certainly the case. But I actually put a type of a newsletter out, it was a freedom report, investment, survival report — every month since 1976. So this is probably ten sentences out of 10,000 pages, for all I know. I think it’s bad that happened but I disavowed all these views, and people who know me best, people of my district, have heard these stories for years and years, and they know they weren’t a reflection of anything I believed in, and it never hurt me politically. Right now, I think it’s the same case, too. People are desperate to find something.

CALLER: But Dr. Paul, many of the newsletters are filled with conspiracies. You had one newsletter from start to finish with fear that the $50 bill, because it was going to be made pink, and it was gonna have all kinds of things that can track us down, so we should all be afraid that maybe tomorrow they’re gonna require us to turn in all of our old money.

PAUL: The paper money now is pink, you know? No, we haven’t had runaway inflation, but I still fear that.

“Eight or ten sentences”? Pick through TNR’s archive of the newsletters and see how much there is. Or scroll through this guy’s Twitter timeline; he’s been tweeting the choicer excerpts (sometimes repetitively) since before Christmas. Much depends, I guess, on what you think qualifies as “bad stuff.” Everyone agrees that the racist material is bad; how about the five paragraphs devoted in one newsletter to the idea that AIDS might have been engineered at Fort Detrick? How about the section a few months after the first World Trade Center bombing wondering whether Mossad might be responsible? How about the fact that Paul was willing to speculate on camera in 2008, a year in which he was running for president, that the Bilderbergers were chatting about controlling the world’s banking and natural resources? Dwelling on the racist aspects of the newsletters actually lets him off the hook because not only can’t anyone prove that he wrote those passages, even some of his critics like Eric Dondero admit they’ve never heard him use racist language in private conversation. The question isn’t whether Paul’s a racist, it’s whether the racist elements in the newsletters point to a more broadly paranoid worldview that Paul does appear to hold in some respects. Jamie Kirchick, his bete noire, makes the same point over at the Times:

In a 1990 C-Span appearance, taped between Congressional stints, Paul was asked by a caller to comment on the “treasonous, Marxist, alcoholic dictators that pull the strings in our country.” Rather than roll his eyes, Paul responded,“there’s pretty good evidence that those who are involved in the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations usually end up in positions of power. And I believe this is true.”

Paul then went on to stress the negligible differences between various “Rockefeller Trilateralists.” The notion that these three specific groups — the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefeller family — run the world has been at the center of far-right conspiracy theorizing for a long time, promoted especially by the extremist John Birch Society, whose 50th anniversary gala dinner Paul keynoted in 2008…

Paul knows where his bread is buttered. He regularly appears on the radio program of Alex Jones, a vocal 9/11 and New World Order conspiracy theorist based in his home state of Texas. On Jones’s show earlier this month, Paul alleged that the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on United States soil was a “propaganda stunt” perpetrated by the Obama administration.

In light of the newsletters and his current rhetoric, it is no wonder that Paul has attracted not just prominent racists, but seemingly every conspiracy theorist in America.

His last appearance on Jones’s show came on December 13; a PPP poll of Iowa taken that day placed him one point behind Romney for the lead. It’s bizarre to me that his campaign would be image-conscious enough to lay down strict rules for their volunteers — no booze, no tattoos, clean-shaven and neatly dressed — while the candidate himself makes chitchat with one of America’s foremost conspiracy theorists. I can sort of understand him calling sanctions on Iran “horrendous” since, for better or worse, that’s his foreign policy. He believes what he believes and he’s sticking to it. But what’s the logic in sticking to Jones? Simple personal loyalty after being a guest for so many years or does he believe what Jones believes too?

Here’s Huntsman’s new ad — the very first attack ad of the campaign directed at Paul, by the way — hitting him on the newsletters followed by another new ad from Paul’s PAC pushing back on the criticism. Why does it take one of the also-rans in the field to go after the guy who’s leading in Iowa? Because, for various reasons, no other candidate has any incentive to do so. Romney would be fine with a Paul victory there, using him as an offensive lineman to clear a path for Mitt to take the hand-off in New Hampshire and sprint towards the end zone. (WaPo’s headline about that dynamic is perfect.) Gingrich, stupidly, has decided not to go negative in his ads so his shots at Paul are limited to interviews. Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum are too busy fighting with each other to become the social-con conservative that they can’t afford to worry about Paul — although if we see another poll or two showing Santorum breaking out, he’ll change his target. (We’re seeing that already, in fact.) So it’s left to Huntsman, who fears Paul winning in Iowa and then gobbling up his Not Romney share of the vote in New Hampshire, to take a swipe. For now. Exit quotation from Santorum: “Ron Paul says he’s going to eliminate five departments. Ron Paul passed one bill in 20 years. What give you the idea that he can eliminate anything?”