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Ron Paul is in tonight

January 10, 2008 |  5:36 pm

The following corrects the first two paragraphs of this item as originally posted:

Fox News’ banning of Rep. Ron Paul from last Sunday’s GOP debate in New Hampshire raised considerable uproar over fairness, even beyond Paul’s fervent and vocal supporters who had vowed to boycott the network’s advertisers. Even Jay Leno was outraged and invited Paul back on his late-night program the night before New Hampshire vote.

But Paul is in tonight’s Myrtle Beach. S.C. debate thanks to a tentative invitation issued by Fox before the exclusion dispute and confirmed after his showing in the New Hampshire balloting.

[For whatever reason -- the threat of a boycott of advertisers, the general buzz about unfairness, some threatened FCC complaints, or a sense of fairness --  Fox News -- has caved and will admit Ron Paul to tonight's nationally-televised Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. based on an invitation issued in late December before the exclusion dispute.

[The reversal in policy was confirmed by the state's Republican Party. Fox's banning of Paul from last Sunday's GOP debate in New Hampshire raised considerable uproar over fairness, even beyond Paul's fervent and vocal supporters. Fox refused to explain its decision and was deluged with thousands of e-mails and phone calls. Even Jay Leno was outraged and invited Paul back on his nationally-televised late-night program the night before the New Hampshire vote.]

Though generally considered a very longshot candidate by independent observers, Paul placed fifth in the Iowa caucus with 10%, ahead of Rudy Giuliani at 4%. Yet Giuliani was invited to the Fox debate and Paul was excluded. In New Hampshire, Paul was polling ahead of Fred Thompson, who was invited though he was not campaigning in that state, but again Paul was excluded.

In the actual voting Paul came in fifth behind John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Giuliani. In the recent Wyoming caucus Paul finished last behind Romney, Thompson and Duncan Hunter.

Fundraising figures for the fourth quarter of 2007 are not public yet, but the ....

supporters of the onetime Libertarian candidate reported raising nearly $20 million and another $650,000+ this month, which would make him likely the most successful Republican candidate that quarter and the only one to increase donations every quarter last year. With that money he has recently launched an advertising campaign in eight states including California.

Top of the Ticket has been running a reader forum here seeking explanations from readers for the apparent contradiction between Paul's the size and energy of his fundraising prowess and online support and his lack of success in attracting actual votes. Many of his supporters suspect a broad, at best benign or possibly malevolent media conspiracy, to minimize the public's exposure to Paul's strict constitutionalist approach, which would involve bringing home all American troops overseas and dismantling large parts of the federal government.

The positions of Paul, a 72-year-old, 10-term Republican representative from Texas, are explained in detail on his website and he has published a recent book.

Additionally, at least in this blog, dozens of items like this one and this one and this one and this one do not suggest a blackout on Paul news. Nor do the hundreds of reader responses that such items attract.

Additionally, today CNN, following up a story first broken by the New Republic, revealed it had obtained newsletters published under Paul's name in the 1990s. These newsletters contain racist comments. The controversial letters also contain rantings against gays, the Israeli lobby, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr., who is described in one place as a "pro-Communist philanderer."

in another from June 1992 after the Los Angeles riots the letter suggests "order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks."

A Paul spokesman, Jesse Benton, denies that Paul wrote them and says the congressman finds the thoughts "abhorrent." In a written statement Paul said, "I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name."

An earlier controversy in this campaign involved Paul receiving campaign donations from a white supremacist and declining to return them.

Tonight's debate starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time on the Fox News Channel and at foxnews.com.

--Andrew Malcolm

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