Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ron Paul - Biography and History

Ron Paul

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Ron Paul
Ron Paul

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1997
Preceded by Greg Laughlin

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 22nd district
In office
January 3, 1979January 3, 1985
Preceded by Robert Gammage
Succeeded by Tom DeLay
In office
April 3, 1976January 3, 1977
Preceded by Robert R. Casey
Succeeded by Robert Gammage

Born August 20, 1935 (1935-08-20) (age 72)
Green Tree, Pennsylvania, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse Carolyn "Carol" Paul
Children Ronald "Ronnie" Paul, Jr.
Lori Paul Pyeatt
Randall "Rand" Paul
Robert Paul
Joy Paul-LeBlanc
Alma mater Gettysburg College
Duke University School of Medicine
Profession Physician
Religion Baptist[1]

Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul (born August 20, 1935) is a Republican United States Congressman from Lake Jackson, Texas, a physician, and a 2008 U.S. presidential candidate. Originally from the Pittsburgh suburb of Green Tree, Pennsylvania, he studied at Duke University School of Medicine, and after his 1961 graduation and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, he became a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, serving outside the Vietnam War zone. He later entered politics and has represented Texas districts in the U.S. House of Representatives (1976–1977, 1979–1985, and 1997–present). He entered the 1988 presidential election running as the Libertarian nominee while remaining a registered Republican and placed a distant third.

Paul has been described as conservative, Constitutionalist, and libertarian.[2] He advocates a non-interventionist foreign policy, having voted against actions such as the Iraq War Resolution, but in favor of force against terrorists in Afghanistan. He favors withdrawal from NATO and the United Nations, citing the dangers of foreign entanglements to national sovereignty. Having pledged never to raise taxes, he has long advocated ending the federal income tax and reducing government spending by abolishing most federal agencies; he favors hard money and opposes the Federal Reserve. He also opposes the Patriot Act, the federal War on Drugs, and gun control. Paul is pro-life, but opposes a Federal ban on abortion, advocating overturning Roe v. Wade to let states determine its legality.[3][4]

Throughout his 2008 presidential campaign, Paul has been a leading candidate in various straw polls, though he has had substantially lower numbers in traditional phone polls. He has strong Internet support, leading in web searches and YouTube subscriptions. On December 16, 2007, Paul had the largest one-day fundraiser in U.S. political history, raising over $6 million in 24 hours through a grassroots effort, organized independently from the official campaign.[5]



Early life and education

Paul was born in Green Tree, Pennsylvania, to Margaret "Peggy" Paul (née Dumont)[6] and Howard Caspar Paul,[7] the second son of a German immigrant.[8] With an eighth-grade education, Howard co-owned Green Tree Dairy with his brothers Lewis and Arthur; the small-town truck farm stood just outside Pittsburgh. Paul was the third of five sons born during seven years in the Great Depression, and he shared one bedroom of their four-room house with his brothers William (the oldest), David, Jerrold, and Wayne. Paul began working at Harold's dairy at age five,[9] and later delivered newspapers, worked in a drugstore, and became a milkman upon reaching driving age.[10] One customer on his milk route was baseball legend Honus Wagner.[11]

Excelling in track and field, he graduated from Dormont High School in 1953 with honors. He had a best mark in the 100-yard dash of 9.7 seconds[12] at a time when the national high school record for that event was 9.4 seconds;[13] as a junior, he was the 220-yard dash state champion[14] and placed second in the 440-yard run.[10] He also was on the wrestling team, played football and baseball, and was student council president.[10][11] After surgery on a knee injury, he gave up track and took up swimming as a form of therapy.

A major university offered Paul a prestigious full scholarship in track, chancing he could regain his prior speed; he declined, refusing to endorse the risk.[15] Rather, he paid for his first year at Gettysburg College with saved newspaper-delivery, lemonade-sale, and lawn-mowing money; he later received a small academic scholarship.[10] He delivered mail and laundry in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; managed the college coffee shop ("The Bullet Hole") for one year; and joined the swim team. Inducted into the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity,[16] he served as pledge class president, house manager, and kitchen steward, planning and supervising cooks for all meals.[10][17] By his senior year, he was running track again; he set the then-third-best marks in college history in the 100-yard dash (9.9 seconds) and 220-yard dash (21.8 seconds).[18] He received his baccalaureate in 1957, majoring in biology.[14]

Marriage and family

While at Dormont, schoolmate Carol Wells had asked Paul to escort her to a sweet-16 Sadie Hawkins party, which was their first date. They kept in touch while attending colleges in different states. Over a 1956 park picnic before his senior year at Gettysburg, Paul proposed marriage to Wells; the couple were wedded on February 1, 1957, at Dormont Presbyterian Church before 300 guests.[10][19]

They have five children, who were Episcopalian:[11] Ronnie, Lori, Rand, Robert, and Joy. There are eightteen grandchildren.[20] Three children are also doctors:[21] Robert specializes in family practice, Joy in ob/gyn like her father, and Rand in eye surgery, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Rand is also founder of Kentucky Taxpayers United and often speaks in Paul's behalf.[22][23] Paul supported his children during their undergraduate and medical school years, preventing their participation in federal student loans because the program was taxpayer-subsidized. He has rejected a Congressional pension for the same reason.[24][25]

Carol compiled recipes and photos from the large Paul family into a cookbook, originally for 14th district constituents.[21] The book reached five editions and inspired a family "Recipe of the Week" on Paul's Congressional campaign website.[26][27]

He usually goes home to Lake Jackson on weekends to avoid "Potomac fever."[28]

Military service and medical career

Paul considered becoming a Lutheran minister like two of his brothers[12] (Jerrold has a doctorate in counseling and attended Princeton Seminary; David pastors Trinity Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan).[9][15] Instead he decided to pursue a medical doctorate at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, attaining it in 1961. He interned and began residency training, both in internal medicine, at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit (1961–1962);[29] Carol meanwhile ran a dance school in their basement and raised collies.[10]

The medical training was soon interrupted when he received a draft notice and entered the U.S. Air Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[30] He remained in the military during the early years of the Vietnam War.[31] He served active duty as a flight surgeon from 1963 to 1965, attending to the ear, nose, and throat problems of pilots in South Korea, Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey, but was never sent to Vietnam. Based out of Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Paul achieved the rank of captain[11][32] and obtained his private pilot's license.[17] The experience of performing physicals on helicopter pilot candidates, at a time when he saw many copters being shot down, deeply affected Paul; he later considered his indirect association with the Vietnam War as a catalyst for his rejection of interventionist foreign policy.[33]

Paul received a higher wage from the Air Force than during his initial residency, $700 per month;[34] he joked that he was "fantastically rich."[17] While in San Antonio, Paul also moonlighted three nights a week in a local church hospital's emergency room for $3 per hour, and became involved with Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign.[15] He then served in the Air National Guard while completing his residency (1965–1968), having switched to ob/gyn at the University of Pittsburgh.[35] His residency research into causes of pregnancy toxemia was subsequently published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. He moved to Surfside Beach, Texas, on July 3, 1968, and eventually delivered more than 4,000 babies.[36]

Assuming the practice of a retiring doctor in Lake Jackson, Texas, in a single day, Paul became the only ob/gyn doctor in Brazoria County,[17] reportedly delivering 40–50 babies a month and frequently busy with surgery.[37] His practice refused Medicare and Medicaid payments; he worked pro bono, arranged discounted or custom-payment plans for needy patients,[25] or otherwise "just took care of them."[38]

Early Congressional career

During his early days, Paul was influenced by Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, which led him to read many works of Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises while still a medical resident in the 1960s. He came to know economists Hans Sennholz and Murray Rothbard well and credits them with his fascination with the study of economics. On August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon closed the "gold window" by implementing the U.S. dollar's complete departure from the gold standard, he says he realized what the Austrian School economists wrote was coming true.[33] That same day, the young physician decided to enter politics, saying later, "After that day, all money would be political money rather than money of real value. I was astounded."[37]


In 1974, inspired by the monetary crisis he saw predicted by the Austrian school, Vietnam War funding, rampant inflation, and wholesale welfare,[17] Paul became a delegate to the Texas Republican convention and a Republican candidate for Congress. Incumbent Robert R. Casey defeated him in the 22nd district; Democrats won 1974 heavily. When President Gerald Ford appointed Casey to head the Federal Maritime Commission, Paul won an April 1976 special election to fill the empty seat. Paul lost 6 months later in the general election, to Democrat Robert Gammage, by fewer than 300 votes (0.2%), but defeated Gammage in a 1978 rematch and won new terms in 1980 and 1982.

Paul was the first Republican representative from the area;[39] his successful campaign against Gammage surprised local Democrats who had expected to retain the seat easily in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Gammage underestimated Paul's support among local mothers: "I had real difficulty down in Brazoria County, where he practiced, because he'd delivered half the babies in the county. There were only two obstetricians in the county, and the other one was his partner."[40]

Ron Paul led the Texas Delegation to nominate Ronald Reagan for president in 1976; Shown here left to right: Paul, Jack Fields, and Ronald Reagan aboard Air Force One
Ron Paul led the Texas Delegation to nominate Ronald Reagan for president in 1976; Shown here left to right: Paul, Jack Fields, and Ronald Reagan aboard Air Force One

Paul continued to deliver babies on Mondays and Saturdays during his entire term as the 22nd district representative.[37] Paul led the Texas Reagan delegation at the national Republican convention.[39]

House of Representatives

Paul was the first member of Congress, in the 1970s, to propose term limits legislation in the House,[41] where he also declined to attend junkets or register for a Congressional pension while serving four terms.[42] He proposed legislation to decrease Congressional pay by the rate of inflation. In 1980, when a majority of Republicans favored President Jimmy Carter's proposal to reinstate draft registration, he pointed out their views as inconsistent, stating they were more interested in registering their children than they were their guns.[41]

On the House Banking Committee, Paul blamed the Federal Reserve for inflation,[36] and spoke against banking deregulation that allowed for the 1980s savings and loan crisis.[11] The U.S. Gold Commission created by Congress in 1982 was his and Jesse Helms's idea, and Paul's conclusions from the commission were published by the Cato Institute as a book, The Case for Gold;[33] it is now available from the Mises Institute, to which Paul is a distinguished counselor.[43]

Paul's chief of staff from 1978 to 1982 was Lew Rockwell.[44] Paul was a regular participant in the annual Congressional baseball game.[39]

In 1984, Paul chose to run for the U.S. Senate instead of re-election to the House, but lost the Republican primary to Phil Gramm.[45] He returned to full-time medical practice[36] and was succeeded by Tom DeLay, formerly a Texas state representative.[46] In his House farewell address, Paul said, "Special interests have replaced the concern that the Founders had for general welfare. Vote trading is seen as good politics. The errand-boy mentality is ordinary, the defender of liberty is seen as bizarre. It's difficult for one who loves true liberty and utterly detests the power of the state to come to Washington for a period of time and not leave a true cynic."[44]

1988 presidential campaign

In the 1988 presidential election, Paul defeated activist Russell Means (an Oglala Sioux) to win the Libertarian nomination for U.S. president.[11] Though an early adopter of Reagan, Paul criticized the unprecedented deficits incurred under Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush, Paul's opponent.[42] On the ballot in 46 states and the District of Columbia,[47] Paul placed third in the popular vote with 431,750 votes (0.47%), behind Republican Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis.[48] Paul was kept off the ballot in Missouri, and received votes there only when written in, due to what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called a "technicality".[49]

As the Libertarian Party standard bearer,[50][51] Paul gained supporters nationwide who agreed with him on many positions—gun rights, fiscal conservatism, homeschooling, and abortion—and won approval from many who thought the federal government was misdirected elsewhere. This nationwide support base encouraged and donated to his later campaigns.[37] 2008 campaign chair Kent Snyder first worked for Paul on the 1988 campaign—when U.S. Senator John McCain told him, "You're working for the most honest man in Congress."[15][21]

Paul said he sought more during his presidential run than reaching office—he spread his liberty-minded ideas, often to school and university groups regardless of vote eligibility: "We're just as interested in the future generation as this election. These kids will vote eventually, and maybe, just maybe, they'll go home and talk to their parents."[47] He traveled the country for a year speaking about issues such as free market economics and the rising government deficits:[50] "That's why we talk to a lot of young people. They're the ones who are paying these bills, they're the ones who are inheriting this debt, so it's most likely these young people who will move into this next generation in government."[52]

After the election, Paul had a coin business,[53] began his own think tank (the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education), published an investment newsletter,[50] and continued his medical practice until he returned to Congress.[11][53]

Later Congressional career

Paul's Congressional portrait
Paul's Congressional portrait

Return to Congress in 1996

Further information: Texas's 14th Congressional district

In 1996, Paul was re-elected to Congress after a tougher battle than he had faced in the 1970s. Since the Republicans had taken over both houses of Congress in the 1994 election, Paul entered the race hopeful that his Constitutionalist goals of tax cuts, closing agencies, and curbing the UN would have more influence,[54] but he quickly concluded "there was no sincere effort" toward his goals.[17] The Republican National Committee focused instead on encouraging Democrats to switch parties, as Paul's primary opponent, incumbent Greg Laughlin, had done in 1995. The party threw its full weight behind Laughlin, including support from House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor George W. Bush, and the National Rifle Association. Paul responded by running newspaper ads quoting Gingrich's harsh criticisms of Laughlin's Democratic voting record 14 months earlier.[42] Paul won the primary with support from baseball pitcher, constituent, and friend Nolan Ryan (who served as honorary campaign chair and made ad appearances) and tax activist Steve Forbes.[11][37]

Paul's Democratic opponent in the fall election, trial lawyer Charles "Lefty" Morris, lost in a close margin, despite assistance from the AFL-CIO. Paul's large contributor base outraised Morris two-to-one, giving the third-highest amount of individual contributions received by any House member (behind Gingrich and Bob Dornan).[55] It became the third time Paul had been elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.[11]

Campaigns as an incumbent

Further information: Texas's 14th Congressional district

In 1998 and again in 2000, Paul defeated Loy Sneary, a Democratic rice farmer and former Matagorda County judge, by running ads warning voters to be "leery of Sneary."[28][37] Paul accused Sneary of voting to raise his pay by 5%, increasing his travel allotment by 400% in one year, and using increased taxes to start a new government bureaucracy to handle a license plate fee he enacted. Sneary's aides said he had voted to raise all county employees' pay by 5% in a cost-of-living increase. Paul countered that he had never voted to raise Congressional pay.[54][56]

Between 2001 and 2003, an online grassroots petition to draft Ron Paul for the 2004 presidential election garnered several thousand signatures.[citation needed] On December 11, 2001, Paul told the independent movement that he was encouraged by the fact that the petition had spread the message of Constitutionalism, but did not expect a White House win at that time.[57] Further prompting in early 2007 led Paul to enter the 2008 race.

Paul continued to be re-elected to Congress, starting his 10th term in 2007.[58] In the 2008 Congressional primary, he has been challenged by Chris Peden, a Friendswood city councilman,[59] and by NASA contractor Andy Mann.[60]

Relationship with district

After 2003 Texas redistricting, Paul's district is larger than Massachusetts,[61] with 675 miles (1,100 kilometers) of Gulf of Mexico coastline between Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, covering some 22 counties. Even so, Paul opposes programs like federally funded flood insurance (typically supported by coastal and rural representatives) because it requires those outside flood zones to subsidize those within, but prohibits those within from choosing their own insurers. In an overwhelmingly rural region known for ranching and rice farms,[33] Paul opposes farm subsidies because they are paid to large corporations rather than small farmers.[62] Despite his voting against heavily supported legislation like farm bills, Paul's devotion to reducing government resonates with 14th district voters:[37] in a survey, 54% of his constituency agreed with his goal of eliminating the U.S. Department of Education.[63]

While Paul votes against most spending bills, he has diverted funds that have already been authorized by other bills into his own district.[64] Paul also spends extra time in the district to compensate for "violat[ing] almost every rule of political survival you can think of".[37] He often logs over 300 miles (500 kilometers) daily, and attends civic ceremonies for veterans, graduates, and Boy Scouts, often accompanied by his grandchildren. His staff helps senior citizens obtain free or low-cost prescription drugs through a little-known drug company program; procures lost or unreceived medals for war veterans; is known for its effectiveness in tracking down Social Security checks; and sends out birthday and condolence cards.[37][64]

Paul continued delivering his constituents' babies even while serving in Congress. In 2001, he was one of only eight doctors in the House; even fewer continued to practice while in office. He is occasionally approached by younger area residents to thank him for attending their births.[37]


Paul sponsors many more bills than the average representative, such as those that would abolish the income tax[65] or the Federal Reserve; most do not reach the House floor for a vote. He has sponsored successful legislation to prevent the Department of Housing and Urban Development from seizing a church in New York through eminent domain, and a bill transferring ownership of the Lake Texana dam project from the federal government to Texas.[37] By successfully amending other legislation, he has also barred International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the U.S. military (2002), American participation in any U.N. "global tax" (2005), and surveillance on peaceful First Amendment activities by citizens (2006).[66]

Paul has introduced bills that would apply a $5,000 tax credit per child towards spending on any type of children's education–related expenses, public, private, or homeschool. He has introduced the Family Education Freedom Act in every Congressional session since 1997; the bill currently has six co-sponsors.[67][68] He has also introduced companion legislation in the form of the Teacher Tax Cut Act, which would provide all elementary and secondary school teachers with a $1,000 tax cut, and the Professional Educators Tax Relief Act, which would give all K–12 school librarians, counselors, and other personnel the same $1,000 tax credit.[69] He has also introduced the Education Improvement Tax Cut Act, which would allow $5,000 deductions for any type of donations to scholarships or to benefit academics at any school.[70]

In March 2001, Paul introduced the "Constitutional War Powers Resolution of 2001," which would repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution (WPR) and thus prohibit presidents from initiating a war without a formal declaration of war by Congress.[71] Later in 2001, Paul voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which authorized the president, pursuant to WPR, to respond to those responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks.[72] In order to prevent Congress from yielding its Constitutional authority to declare war to the executive branch, which does not Constitutionally hold that power, Paul introduced legislation in October 2002 giving Congress the opportunity to declare war on Iraq, rather than merely "authorizing" the president to deploy forces without a declaration of war. He said he would not vote for his own bill, but if his fellow members of Congress wished to go to war in Iraq, they should follow the Constitution and declare war. As one of six Republicans to vote against the Iraq War Resolution, Paul inspired the founding of a group called the National Peace Lobby Project to promote a resolution he and Oregon representative Peter DeFazio sponsored to repeal the war authorization in February 2003. His speech, 35 "Questions That Won't Be Asked About Iraq,"[73] was translated and published in German, French, Russian, Italian, and Swiss periodicals before the Iraq War began.[64]

Paul says his fellow members of Congress have increased government spending by 75% during George W. Bush's administration.[65] After a 2005 bill was touted as "slashing" government waste, Paul wrote that it decreased spending by a fraction of one percent and that "Congress couldn't slash spending if the members' lives depended on it."[74] Paul said that between 2001 and early 2004 he had voted against more than 700 bills intended to expand government.[75]

Paul charged his fellow legislators with voting for the Patriot Act without reading it first; more than 300 pages long, it was enacted into law less than 24 hours after being introduced. In response to such Congressional actions, Paul introduced "Sunlight Rule" legislation, which would not allow votes on legislation to occur until ten days after its introduction, with the intent of giving lawmakers enough time to read bills before voting on them. The bill requires allotting 72 hours for House members and staff to examine the contents of amendments.[76]

In 2005 and 2007, Paul introduced the Sanctity of Life Act, which would remove federal court jurisdiction over abortion cases arising from state laws and effectively negate Roe v. Wade as binding legal precedent. Also, for the purposes of statutory construction over the jurisdictional limitation imposed, the bill declares that "human life shall be deemed to exist from conception."[77][3] Paul has also introduced a Constitutional amendment with similar intent. Also in 2005 and 2007, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would forbid all federal courts from hearing cases on abortion, same-sex marriage, sexual practices, and government display of religious symbols, texts, and images. The Act would make federal court decisions on those subjects nonbinding as precedent in state courts,[78] and would forbid federal courts from spending money to enforce their judgments.[79]

On October 15, 2007, Paul introduced the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007, which would "bar the use of evidence obtained through torture; require that federal intelligence gathering is conducted in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); create a mechanism for challenging presidential signing statements; repeal the Military Commissions Act, which, among other things, denies habeas corpus to certain detainees; prohibit kidnapping, detentions, and torture abroad; protect journalists who publish information received from the executive branch; and ensure that secret evidence is not used to designate individuals or organizations with a presence in the U.S. as foreign terrorists."[80]


Paul serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (having been on the Western Hemisphere and the Asia and Pacific subcommittees); the Joint Economic Committee; and the Committee on Financial Services (as Ranking Member of the Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology subcommittee, and Vice-Chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee).[81]

Paul served as honorary chair of, and is a current member of, the Republican Liberty Caucus, a political action organization dedicated to promoting the ideals of individual rights, limited government and free enterprise within the Republican Party.[82] He also hosts a luncheon every Thursday for the Liberty Committee, a group of liberty-minded representatives from both sides of the aisle.[83][11] Paul is a founding member of the Congressional Rural Caucus, which deals with agricultural and rural issues, and the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus[citation needed].

Unlike many political candidates, Paul receives the overwhelming majority of his campaign contributions from individuals.[84] In 2005 and 2006, individuals contributed 96.8% of the funds he raised. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show Paul accepts money from political action committees (PAC's), although much less than most of his counterparts in Congress. Paul received PAC money during the 1998 (5.7%), 2000 (4.5%), 2002 (1.8%), 2004 (5.8%), and 2006 (2.1%) Congressional electoral cycles.[85] In a special report, the group Clean Up Washington listed Paul as taking the seventh-lowest amount of PAC money of all House members, as well as accepting one of the lowest amounts of lobbyist money and taking the fourth-highest percentage of contributions from small donors. Their data studied contributions from the 2000 election cycle to midway through 2006.[86] Of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates, he has accepted the lowest percentage of PAC money.[87][88]

Paul remains on good terms with the Libertarian Party and addressed its 2004 convention.[89] He also was endorsed by the Constitution Party's 2004 presidential candidate, Michael Peroutka.[90]

Actions in Congress

Paul was on a bipartisan coalition of 17 members of Congress that sued President Bill Clinton in 1999 over his conduct of the Kosovo war. They accused Clinton of failing to inform Congress of the action's status within 48 hours as required by WPR, and of failing to obtain Congressional declaration of war as specifically required in the Constitution. Congress had voted 427–2 against a declaration of war with Yugoslavia, and had voted to deny support for the air campaign in Kosovo. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that since Congress had voted for funding after Clinton had actively engaged troops in the war with Kosovo, legislators had sent a confusing message about whether they approved of the war. Paul said that the judge's decision attempted to circumvent the Constitution and to authorize the president to conduct a war without approval from Congress.[91]

2008 presidential campaign

Ron Paul at the Liberty Forum
Ron Paul at the Liberty Forum
Ron Paul being interviewed the day of the New Hampshire Primary in Manchester, NH
Ron Paul being interviewed the day of the New Hampshire Primary in Manchester, NH

On February 19, 2007, Paul formed an exploratory committee to gauge support for a run in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[30] Saying he was "pleasantly surprised" by the committee's findings, Paul formally declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on March 12, 2007, as a guest on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.[30][92] Prior to his campaign, in a February 2007 CNN telephone poll, Paul was the candidate with the least name recognition besides John Cox.[93] Paul has received record-breaking financial contributions in support of his campaign, largely from individual donors.[94][95][96][97][98] His successful fundraising has been due in no small part to Paul's robust online presence, thanks to his supporters' creative use of 'viral marketing,' as a means of informing the public about their candidate.[99] He remains a top web search term as ranked by Technorati.[100] A fundraising drive in the last week of September 2007 raised an unexpected $1.2 million in one week and a supporter-organized one-day (November 5, 2007) fundraiser raised a net $4.3 million, the largest documented one-day online fundraising record in political history at that time.[101] On December 16 Ron Paul broke his own fundraising record for total one-day contributions exceeding $6 million.[5] As the voting season began in January 2008, he placed fifth in the Iowa Caucus with nearly 10% of the vote and was apportioned two delegates to the Republican National Convention, according to CNN.[102] In the Wyoming Republican County Conventions on January 5, 2008, Paul finished in fourth place, earning no delegates. On January 15, 2008, Paul received 6% of the vote in the Michigan Republican. His fourth place showing earned him no delegates. On January 19, 2008 in the Nevada Caucuses, Paul received 14% of the vote, finishing in second place behind Mitt Romney and earning four delegates. The South Carolina primary was held the same day, and Paul received 4% there and earned no delegates.[103]

Newsletter controversy

see also: Ron Paul's Controversy

Newsletters published under Paul's name from 1978 through 1995 first became an issue in his 1996 run for Congress, when opponent Charles Morris ran numerous ads about the newsletters.[104][105] The newsletters, which carried various names over the years—Ron Paul's Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report—,[106] contained derogatory comments concerning race and other politicians. Alluding to a contemporary 1992 study finding that "of black men in Washington... about 85 percent are arrested at some point in their lives"[107][108] and the inefficiencies of the city's criminal justice system, one issue proposed assuming "95% of the black males in Washington DC are semi-criminal or entirely criminal", and stated that "the criminals who terrorize our cities ... largely are" young black males, who commit crimes "all out of proportion to their numbers".[109][110] Paul's campaign replied at the time that the quotes were taken out of context and misleading—he later stated that the controversial passages were not written by him—[106] and rejected Morris' demand to release back issues; Paul went on to win the election.[11]

In 2001, Paul took "moral responsibility" for the comments printed in the newsletters under his name, telling Texas Monthly magazine that the comments were written by unnamed writers and did not represent his views. He said newsletter remarks referring to U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan (calling her a "fraud" and a "half-educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism") were "the saddest thing, because Barbara and I served together and actually she was a delightful lady." The magazine defended Paul's decision to protect the writer's confidence in 1996, concluding, "In four terms as a U.S. congressman and one presidential race, Paul had never uttered anything remotely like this."[37] In 2007, with the quotes resurfacing, New York Times Magazine writer Christopher Caldwell concurred that Paul denied the allegations "quite believably, since the style diverges widely from his own", but added that Paul's "response to the accusations was not transparent."[11]

In January 2008, James Kirchick of The New Republic revived the controversy by publishing a story detailing the contents of several issues of the newsletters, including images of the actual pages of some of them.[111] His article concluded that Paul was an "angry white man", noting that the newsletter showed "an obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays", attacked Martin Luther King Jr. and offered "kind words" for David Duke.[106] Other issues gave tactical advice to right-wing militia groups and advanced various conspiracy theories.[112][113] Most of the incendiary items appeared between 1989 and 1994.[114] While the newsletters were published under Paul's name and frequently in the first person with personal interjections,[115] most lacked specific bylines for articles.

Paul disavowed the writings in a response to the New Republic article, saying that the quotations do not represent his beliefs, and that he has "never uttered such words and denounce[s] such small-minded thoughts." He again noted that he accepts "moral responsibility" for not paying closer attention to writings published under his name.[116] In a subsequent interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, he said he did not know who wrote the articles and stated he "[repudiates] everything that is written along those lines." Blitzer told Paul that he was "shocked" by the newsletters, because they did not seem to reflect "the Ron Paul that I've come to know, and the viewers have come to know" over the course of several interviews during the campaign.[117] David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, commented "I don't think there's an excuse in politics to have something go out under your name and say, 'Oh by the way, I didn't write that'."[117][118]

In the interview with Blitzer, Paul asserted that racism is incompatible with his beliefs and that he sees people as individuals—not as part of collectives. He also dismissed the attack as an attempt to accuse him of racism by proxy, claiming that he has collected more money among African-Americans than any other Republican candidate.[117] Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), defended Paul, saying that he has known him for 20 years, saw him as a "free thinker", "very intelligent and very informed", talking about "real issues" that "invite attacks on him", who was "correct in what he's saying", and that knowing his intent, he believes Paul has been misconstrued and taken out of context.[119] Former LA Times editor Andrew Malcolm noted that Paul got second place in the January 19 Nevada Republican caucus despite the recent reports about the newsletters.[120]

The identity of the author of the controversial pieces remains unknown, but Reason magazine identified then prominent paleolibertarian activist Lew Rockwell, who also served as Paul's congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982,[106] as "Paul's chief ghostwriter". The magazine also cites a 1993 tax document showing that the year the newsletter made the "welfare checks" comment in regards to the L.A. Riots, Ron Paul & Associates reported an annual income of $940,000. The document listed four Ron Paul & Associates employees in Texas (Paul's family and Rockwell) and seven more employees around the country.[114] This now-defunct entity, in which Paul owned a minority stake, was during some periods the publisher of the newsletters; at other times, they were published by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a nonprofit Paul founded in 1976.[106]

Political positions

Paul at the 2007 National Right to Life Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, June 15, 2007.
Paul at the 2007 National Right to Life Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, June 15, 2007.

Paul's views can best be summarized as libertarian, favoring less government involvement in people's lives. His nickname "Dr. No"[37] reflects both his medical degree and his consistent insistence[121] that he will "never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution."[36][122] Paul adheres deeply to Austrian school economics and libertarian criticism of fractional-reserve banking, opposing fiat increases to money in circulation;[40] he has authored six books on the subjects, and has pictures of classical liberal economists Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises hanging on his office wall.[24][123]

The only candidate in the 2008 presidential race to earn an A+ rating from Gun Owners of America, Paul has been a lead sponsor of legislation in congress attempting to restore individual Second Amendment rights.

Paul's foreign policy of nonintervention[124] made him the only 2008 Republican presidential candidate to have voted against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.[125][126] He advocates withdrawal from the UN and NATO for reasons of maintaining strong national sovereignty.[124][127] He supports free trade, rejecting membership in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization as "managed trade". He supports tighter border security and ending welfare benefits for illegal aliens,[128] and opposes birthright citizenship and amnesty [6]; he voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006. He voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks,[72] but suggested war alternatives such as authorizing the president to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal targeting specific terrorists.

Paul regularly votes against almost all proposals for new government spending, initiatives, or taxes.[28] He has pledged never to raise taxes,[36][129] and states he has never voted to approve a deficit budget. Paul would abolish the individual income tax by scaling back the federal budget to its 2000 spending levels.[65][130] Rather than taxing personal income, which he says assumes that the government owns individuals' lives and labor, he prefers the federal government to be funded through excise taxes and/or uniform, non-protectionist tariffs.[131] He would eliminate most federal government agencies, calling them unnecessary bureaucracies.[132] Paul is also vocal in his opposition to inflation, arguing that the longterm erosion of the dollar's purchasing power arises from its lack of commodity (such as gold) backing, which would restrain excess "printing" of money and consequent devaluation. Paul says he "wouldn't exactly go back on the gold standard,"[133] but would push to legalize gold and silver as legal tender and remove the sales tax on them, so that gold-backed notes (or other types of hard money) and digital gold currencies[134] can compete on a level playing field with fiat Federal Reserve notes, allowing individuals a choice whether to use "sound money" to protect their purchasing power or to continue using fiat money.[135] He advocates gradual elimination of the Federal Reserve central bank for many reasons, believing that economic volatility is decreased when the free market determines interest rates and money supply.[136] He favors allowing workers to opt out of Social Security to "protect the system for everyone."[137]

Paul strongly supports Constitutional rights, the right to bear arms, freedom of the Internet,[138] jury nullification,[139] and habeas corpus for political detainees.[140] Civil liberties concerns have led him to oppose the Patriot Act, a national ID card, federal government use of torture, domestic surveillance, presidential autonomy, and the draft. Citing the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and the lack of federal murder statutes -- devolving murder to be state and local offences, Paul defers to states' rights to decide how to regulate social matters not directly found in the Constitution.[141] Paul calls himself "strongly pro-life,"[142] "an unshakable foe of abortion,"[3] and believes regulation of medical decisions about maternal or fetal health is "best handled at the state level."[143][144] (He says his years as an obstetrician lead him to believe life begins at conception;[145] his pro-life legislation, like the Sanctity of Life Act, is intended to negate Roe v. Wade for ethical reasons and to get "the federal government completely out of the business of regulating state matters.")[146][147] He also opposes federal regulation of the death penalty,[143] of education,[148] and of marriage. He has voted against federal funding of joint adoption by unmarried couples (including same-sex adoption); he also supports revising enforcement of the military "don't ask, don't tell" policy to focus on disruptive behavior and include members with heterosexual as well as homosexual behavior issues.[149][150] As a free-market environmentalist, he defers to private property rights in relation to environmental protection and pollution prevention.[151] He also opposes the federal War on Drugs, wishing to leave the decision on whether to regulate or deregulate drugs, including medical marijuana, to the states. Paul advocates for the elimination of federal involvement and management of health care, which he argues would allow prices to drop due to the fundamental dynamics of a free market.

Books and articles authored


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