Ron Paul: ‘I had some responsibility’ for controversial newsletters

Ron Paul said Thursday that he accepts "some responsibility" for controversial newsletters played up by his opponents for the GOP presidential nomination, but downplayed the importance of the issue to voters.

"These were sentences that were put in, I think it was a total of eight or 10 sentences and it was bad stuff — it, it wasn't a reflection of my views at all," said Paul in response to a caller's question on WHO's Jan Mickelson radio show in Iowa. "I think it was terrible. It was tragic and I had some responsibility because the [letter went out under my name]."

The content of the newsletters, published in the 1980s and 1990s under Paul's name, has gained attention again in recent weeks and drawn criticism from opponents.

Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign released a new video Thursday attacking Paul for the publications, and Newt Gingrich slammed the Texas congressman last week for what he called "really nasty" content. 

Paul's campaign has gained increasing scrutiny as his standing in polls of the GOP field has steadily risen in Iowa. Paul and GOP rival Mitt Romney have been at the top of polls of likely Iowa caucus-goers less than a week away from the Jan. 3 contest.

The presidential contender repeated his claim that he was unaware of the material until many years after publication, and has since disavowed the articles.

The newsletters, mainly a forum for essays on Paul's brand of libertarianism, once referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as "the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours" and who "seduced underage girls and boys." In another article, the author writes that "given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." 

The newsletters have long been an issue for Paul. In 2008, the congressman explained that he did not know who had written the offending essays and that they did not represent his views.

He told listeners Thursday that he acted as a publisher rather than an editor of the newsletters.

"If you think about publishers of newspapers every once an a while they get some pretty chunky stuff in their newspapers and they have to say 'this is not the sentiment and position of that newspaper' and this is certainly the case ... this is probably 10 sentences out for 10,000 pages for all I know," Paul said.

The issue gained attention again in the current primary race when it appeared as if Paul had walked out of a CNN interview when he was pressed on his knowledge of the offending articles.

"I didn't write them, I didn't read them at the time, and I disavow them. That is the answer," Paul said in the CNN interview last week.

An uncut video of the interview later surfaced that shows a somewhat less contentious interaction between Paul and the interviewer.

Paul said he believes the issue has resurfaced because opponents are "desperate" to find information to disparage his campaign, but he said he doesn't think it will hurt him politically.

—Justin Sink contributed