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Many Ron Paul Supporters Ignore, Dismiss Newsletter Controversy

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PERRY, Iowa -- Ron Paul is still catching heat for the newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and '90s, which had harsh words for wide swaths of the American people. Paul's campaign has sent its damage control operations into overdrive, even sitting the candidate down with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz to assure its readers that he is no anti-Semite.

Many of Paul's supporters here, though, don't read Ha'aretz. They say they're unconcerned with reports on the newsletters and, in some cases, haven't even heard of them.

"I don't want to burst your bubble, but I have better things to do than sit at home and Google what news reporters are saying," Kent Sorenson, the former Iowa co-chairman for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who endorsed Rep. Paul (R-Texas) on Wednesday evening, told The Huffington Post. Sorenson said he was not aware of the controversy.

The Paul newsletters, produced during his years out of Congress, became part of the 2012 news cycle earlier this month, when a Weekly Standard article pointed to some of the racially charged and anti-gay statements published under Paul's name.

The Texas congressman has said he did not write those parts of the newsletter and does not agree with the statements made.

He told Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson in a Thursday interview that the newsletters had "a total of about 8 or 10 sentences" of "bad stuff."

"I had some responsibility for [the content] because the name went out on my letter but I was not an editor, I'm like a publisher," Paul said on Mickelson's radio show. "And if you think about publishers of newsletters, every once in awhile they get some pretty junky 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."

Yet a number of Paul supporters in Iowa said they either were unaware of the controversy or that they did not care about it, arguing that the candidate's views on race and rights are clear.

Josh Bacon, 20, a college student from Boone, Iowa, said in Perry that he has not read about the newsletters at all, but added that he is on vacation and follows the news more closely when he is back at school. Judy Church, 59, a Paul supporter from Blakesburg, Iowa, said at a Wednesday event in Newton, Iowa, that she has not read about the newsletters either.

Other supporters said they had read about the newsletters but think Paul is handling it in the best way possible. Deanna Seiler, 48, said at the Wednesday event in Newton that she respects they way Paul is responding to questions about the newsletters. Seiler is a registered Democrat but plans to vote for Paul next week.

"I like that he has answered plainly and simply, 'No, I had no idea about that,'" she said. "I know the media can be kind of tough on him, but he's not carrying that around, he doesn't get upset about it. He just simply says, 'I had no idea about it," and that's it."

Paul supporter Troy Anderson, 40, who works in Afghanistan but is visiting his parents in Des Moines for the holidays, said he is aware of the newsletters and has read the recent criticisms.

"I think at the time Ron Paul had 12 or 13 newsletters -- obviously he couldn't write all of that, so he's going to have to have reporters that do that for him," he said after a Paul event in Perry, adding that the candidate has handled the ensuing controversy properly.

Another Paul supporter, 24-year-old Jesse Akers, also said he has been reading about the newsletters but does not think the reports will sway fellow Paul backers.

The writers of the newsletter "are people on the fringe of the fringe of his supporters," he said, adding that the issue has been "overblown by the media."

"I think ultimately it hasn't made anybody leave the Ron Paul camp that wasn't already there," said Akers, who lives in Woodward, Iowa.

 
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