The Ron Paul Newsletter Bust

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 27 2012 1:53 PM

The Ron Paul Newsletter Bust

Kudos to Jerry Markon and Alice Crites, by my lights the first reporters who've gotten a non-Eric Dondero source to say that Ron Paul approved the text of his old newsletters. Julian Sanchez and I tried to get this in 2008, but our possible sources suffered from a common affliction: They kept accidentally dropping the receivers as soon as they heard the questions.

The new source, new quote:

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.

This really is new. The closest Paul ever got to a mea culpa was an Iowa radio interview in which he admitting editing most, but not all, of the newsletters. "I didn't even really become aware of the details of that," he said, "until many years later when somebody else called and said, you know what was in it?" This was never believable, and now there's more reason to disbelieve it.

But -- and I'm not being flippant -- who cares? Who are the voters paying attention to Paul and abandoning him over his past acquiescence of an outreach-to-kooks-and-bigots strategy? I ask because of this picture I took of a student at the University of South Florida this week.

IMG_4616

Paul's odd coalition of Old Right conservatives and young liberal college students hasn't been shaken at all by the newsletter story. In primary after primary, he outperforms with liberals. This convinces me that Paul's close third place result in Iowa was a godsend: It made sure that Newsletteraquiddick remained a boutique story, not an explosive new story about a frontrunner. And it suggests that Paul's voters are so dedicated to their protest votes that they're willing to overlook... well, everything that makes him look bad. Most of them know they're not picking a president. They're keeping an anti-drug war, anti-tax spokesman on the debate stage next to Mitt Romney.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.