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Daily Beast: Ron Paul, Polls and Panic

The Ron Paul Panic is officially under way.

The Texas congressman has been gaining strength in Iowa all year, but the media—and the Republican establishment—have been content to treat him dismissively.

Oh yeah. Interesting character. Seems to have tapped into something. Has a cult following. He can’t win the nomination, the refrain goes, but he’s an interesting sideshow.

But a couple of Iowa polls showing Paul bursting into first place—past the previously hot Newt Gingrich and the slow but steady Mitt Romney—are forcing the press to take him more seriously.

I was struck on a recent visit to Iowa how a crowd of voters reacted approvingly no matter what the 76-year-old candidate said. Cut a trillion bucks out of next year’s budget. Abolish the income tax and replace it with…nothing. Eliminate federal funding even for cancer research; none of the government’s business. Return to the gold standard. Heads kept nodding in a packed library meeting room. Now the press is starting to recycle old stories about Paul, just in case you weren’t paying attention. From Tuesday’s New York Times:

“Representative Ron Paul of Texas is receiving new focus for decades-old unbylined columns in his political newsletters that included racist, anti-gay and anti-Israel passages that he has since disavowed.”

The Times piece acknowledges that the same material was disclosed during Paul’s 2008 campaign, but never mind, here it is again:

“A 1992 passage from the Ron Paul Political Report about the Los Angeles riots read, ‘Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.’ A passage in another newsletter asserted that people with AIDS should not be allowed to eat in restaurants because ‘AIDS can be transmitted by saliva’; in 1990 one of his publications criticized Ronald Reagan for having gone along with the creation of the federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which it called ‘Hate Whitey Day.’”

It’s scary, eye-opening stuff, to be sure. Paul’s position is that he never saw the material in the publications he ran.

The NYT piece was prompted by a Weekly Standard story by James Kirchick, who in turn is recycling and expanding his four-year-old scoop:

“In January 2008, the New Republic ran my story reporting the contents of monthly newsletters that Paul published throughout the 1980s and 1990s. While a handful of controversial passages from these bulletins had been quoted previously, I was able to track down nearly the entire archive, scattered between the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society…Though particular articles rarely carried a byline, the vast majority were written in the first person, while the title of the newsletter, in its various iterations, always featured Paul’s name: Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, and the Ron Paul Investment Letter. What I found was unpleasant…

Read more: http://blogs.thedailybeast.com/spin-cycle/2011/12/20/panic-o...

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