Ron Paul Takes 'Moral Responsibilty' for Newsletters Ron Paul's campaign responds to the controversy surrounding newsletters published under the presidential contender's name. "He did not approve what went out," says Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton regarding the racist and homophobic remarks.
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Ron Paul Takes 'Moral Responsibilty' for Newsletters

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Ron Paul Takes 'Moral Responsibilty' for Newsletters

Ron Paul Takes 'Moral Responsibilty' for Newsletters

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From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY.

Coming up, China gets anxious about cell phone videos on the Internet. We'll have a report on posting to YouTube as a crime.

I'm Alex Cohen.


I'm Alex Chadwick.

First, a response from the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul to an interview last week on DAY TO DAY. We're joined by campaign spokesman Jesse Benton.

Jesse, welcome to DAY TO DAY.

Mr. JESSE BENTON (Ron Paul Spokesman): Thanks, Alex. Great to be with you.

CHADWICK: Here's background. We interviewed, as you know, a contributing editor to The New Republic, James Kirchick. He had a piece in the magazine detailing statements from your candidate's old newsletters. These are 10 and 15 and 20 years old.

Mr. Kirchick cited many examples of hateful language from him, allegations against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example. When we asked you, Jesse, for an interview with your candidate, we couldn't speak to him. You offered us a statement that he made about these newsletters in years past.

Review those for us, would you, please.

Mr. BENTON: Well, you know, the statement that we issued is the same statement that Ron has been using and issued for 15 years, ever since this first came out. A newsletter was published under his name that he had very little to do with, except for occasionally writing a few words here and there. It was run by other people, and again, published under his name. He did not edit it. He did not approve what went out. And he was very, very shocked and very saddened to see it come out years later that there were some really hateful and unfortunate things that were written, that are completely anathema to what he believes in.

CHADWICK: Just to review, Dr. Paul was in Congress back in the '70s. And then he was not in Congress for a number of years. And then in the '90s he ran again. It's during this kind of lull period between being in Congress that many of these items came up in this newsletter.

Mr. BENTON: Yes. That is correct.

CHADWICK: Okay. Was Dr. Paul reading the newsletter at this point? I mean, what responsibility do you have if a newsletter is going out under your name and it's suggesting, for instance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pedophile?

Mr. BENTON: Well, you're right. He did have responsibility. And that's why he has assumed moral responsibility. He's assumed the moral responsibility publicly and publicly apologized and said that he should have been much more attentive to what was going on under his name. Dr. Paul really admires Dr. King. He was particularly saddened by these things.

CHADWICK: But is Dr. Paul saying he was totally unaware of that this was going out in a newsletter under his name?

Mr. BENTON: Yeah. He was not aware that these hateful small-minded things were going out. He was back in medicine full time and also traveling around the country speaking about limited government and personal freedom.

CHADWICK: Let me turn to the campaign today. There is a primary tomorrow in Michigan. How do you all expect to do there?

Mr. BENTON: Well, we think we're going to do okay in Michigan. Michigan is winner-take-all by congressional district. So it really favors candidates that have spent a lot of money there. And we don't have the resources to spend there as, say, you know, Governor Romney does and also not the - we weren't starting off with nearly universal statewide name recognition. But we think we're going to do pretty well. And we think there are a lot of people in Michigan that are very interested in the message of personal freedom.

CHADWICK: Dr. Paul does excite political passion. People care about his candidacy a great deal. We certainly see that in our mail after the interview that we ran last week. People wonder, should Dr. Paul not prevail in the Republican Party, is he interested in Ron Paul's message as a third-party possibility this year?

Mr. BENTON: No, Alex. He's really not. There are so many biases against a third-party run in our system. You'd have to spend half of your time and two-thirds of your money just - literally just getting on the ballot. The only real viable third-party candidates would be someone like Ross Perot or Michael Bloomberg that are willing to commit hundreds of millions of dollars of their personal money to the campaign. And he's got no interest in some kind of quixotic spoiler type of candidacy.

If you look at the amount of people that passionately support Dr. Paul, this is more than a candidacy. This is also a movement that's growing. And I think we all look very much forward to seeing how - just how hard we can fight through these primaries and, you know, how many delegates we can win and whether we can actually pull off the upset of the century and become the nominee. And if not, then we're very much looking forward to growing this movement and moving forward. Because the American people realized that we need to get back to our traditions.

CHADWICK: Jesse Benton is campaign spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Jesse, thank you for speaking with us on DAY TO DAY.

Mr. BENTON: It's a real pleasure, Alex. Thank you so much.

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