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Twice failed Presidential candidate Ron Paul is planning another long-shot run for the White House.
Paul will announce formation of an exploratory committee during a stop in Des Moines, Iowa, today, joining a crowded field of Republican candidates trying to knock off President Barack Obama in 2012.
The Texas Congressman ran for President as a Libertarian in 1998 and received one-half of one percent of the popular vote. He ran again as a Republican in the 2008 primary and was running fifth when he pulled the plug on his campaign on June 12 — before the GOP nominating convention.
Paul converted $4 million in remaining campaign funds to start a new advocacy group, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, leading some to question whether his Presidential campaign was a serious effort or just a fundraising scheme.
Paul has long been an enigmatic and controversial political figure. In 2008, James Kirchick, contributing editor for the New Republic magazine, wrote that Paul had an “obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays.”
Kirchick based his conclusions on various newsletters published by Paul and his organizations over several decades. Paul later claimed he didn’t write many of the inflammatory articles in the newsletters published under his name.
In his article, Angry White Man, The bigoted past of Ron Paul,” Kirchick wrote:
Paul’s newsletters have carried different titles over the years–Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report–but they generally seem to have been published on a monthly basis since at least 1978. (Paul, an OB-GYN and former U.S. Air Force surgeon, was first elected to Congress in 1976.) During some periods, the newsletters were published by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a nonprofit Paul founded in 1976; at other times, they were published by Ron Paul & Associates, a now-defunct entity in which Paul owned a minority stake, according to his campaign spokesman. The Freedom Report claimed to have over 100,000 readers in 1984. At one point, Ron Paul & Associates also put out a monthly publication called The Ron Paul Investment Letter.
The Freedom Report’s online archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul’s newsletters, in part because of a controversy dating to 1996, when Charles “Lefty” Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that “opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions,” that “if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be,” and that black representative Barbara Jordan is “the archetypical half-educated victimologist” whose “race and sex protect her from criticism.” At the time, Paul’s campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said he found Paul’s explanation believable, “since the style diverges widely from his own.”
Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.
But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul’s name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him–and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing–but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.
Paul is a favorite of the extreme right-wing of the GOP and tea party advocates. Polls suggest a campaign for President will be — like his others — a lost cause and a third strike.