One of Ron Paul's defenses, as he brusquely knocks back questions about his 1990s newsletters, is that he doesn't even talk like the racist nut who wrote them. True, he doesn't, and he doesn't talk about the "coming race war" or FEMA's secret plans anymore. But in exile, the period between his failed 1984 U.S. Senate bid and his 1996 comeback, Paul really didn't shy away from discussing conspiracies. A source passes on this video from 1990, a C-Span interview in which a caller asks him to comment on the "treasonous, Marxist, alcoholic dictators that pull the strings in our country," the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. Paul rolls with it.
You referred to who really pulls the strings. For years now, it's been claimed by many, and 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. If you look at the Federal Reserve, if you look at key positions at the World Bank or the IMF, they all come from these groups. If you have national television on, you might see a big debate about the Far East crisis, and you have Brzezinski and Kissinger talking about how to do it. One says don't invade today, invade tomorrow. And the other says, invade immediately. That's the only difference you find between the Rockefeller trilateralists.
Keep watching the video for a good example of how Paul massages the fringe position and eventually gets to something more politically mainstream. It's a rarely-cultivated skill.