Ron Paul's position on the newsletters with racist statements that were published under his name 20 years ago has changed quite a since then -- in a 1995 interview with C-SPAN, for instance, he was pretty proud of them. Paul had quit politics in 1985 and went back in 1996 and, as RedState's Leon H. Wolf points out, he seems to suggest that publishing those newsletters was a major part of his  post-Congressional life. And he was a lot more willing to discuss the topic than now that it's being brought up in his strengthening presidential campaign.

 

In the C-SPAN interview Paul says:
"Along with that I also put out a political -- type of business investment newsletter, sort of covered all these areas. And it covered a lot about what was going on in Washington and financial events, especially some of the monetary events since I had been especially interested in monetary policy, had been on the banking committee, and still very interested in, in that subject. That -- this newsletter dealt with that. This has to do with the value of the dollar, the pros and cons of the gold standard,  and of course the disadvantages of all the high taxes and spending that our government seems to continue to do."
 
Paul's explanation of the newsletters has evolved quite a bit over time. In 1996, he told the Dallas Morning News that they were just taking the racist parts out of context. 
Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation...
 
...Paul wrote in a 1992 issue of the Ron Paul Political Report: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know  how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be." ... In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men. "If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them," Dr. Paul said...
 
He also said the comment about black men in the nation's capital was made while writing about a 1992 study produced by the National Center on Incarceration and Alternatives, a criminal justice think tank based in Virginia.

Citing statistics from the study, Dr. Paul then concluded in his column: `Given the inef! ficiencies 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."

"These aren't my figures," Dr. Paul said Tuesday. "That is the assumption you can gather from" the report.
 
Then, in 2001, he told Texas Monthly that he didn't know what was in the newsletters, but he felt he had to take moral responsibiliy for them, as The Capital Free Press' Patrick McEwen points out.
“I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me. It wasn’t my language at all. Other people help me with my newsletter as I travel around. I think the one on Barbara Jordan was the saddest thing, because Barbara and I served together and actually she was a delightful lady.” Paul says that item ended up there because “we wanted to do something on affirmative action, and it ended up in the newsletter and became personalized. I never personalize anything.”
 
His reasons for keeping this a secret are harder to understand: “They were never my words, but I had some moral responsibility for them . . . I actually really wanted to try to explain that it doesn’t come from me directly, but they [campaign aides] said that’s too confusing. ‘It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it.’”
 
Paul felt less conflicted Wednesday, when he walked out of a  CNN interview when asked about the newsletters. "Why don't you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I've said for 20-something years, 22 years ago?... I didn't write them. I disavow them. That's it."
 
Michael Brendan Dougherty writes for The Atlantic that libertarians were far more fringe in the 1980s and 1990s, so they attracted other fringe people. "At that time a libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard argued that libertarians ought to engage in 'Outreach to the Rednecks' in order to insert their libertarian theories into the middle of the nation's political passions," he writes. Rothbard influenced Lew Rothwell, who many think wrote Paul's newsletters. Dougherty  continues: 
 
As crazy as it sounds, Ron Paul's newsletter writers may not have been sincerely racist at all. They actually thought appearing to be racist was a good political strategy in the 1990s. After that strategy yielded almost nothing -- it was abandoned by Paul's admirers.
 
You can attribute their "redneck strategy" to the most malignant kind of cynicism or to a political desperation that made them insane. Neither is particularly flattering. 
That would seem to disprove Joe Klein's headline at Time Thursday, "12 Days Till Iowa: Ron Paul Is Not a Politician."