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The Brief: Dec. 22, 2011

The glare of the front-runner spotlight may be getting to Ron Paul.

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The Big Conversation:

The glare of the front-runner spotlight may be getting to Ron Paul.

Paul — whom several recent polls, including one released Wednesday, have shown edging Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Iowa — walked out of a CNN interview Wednesday when asked about money he made in the 1990s off his political newsletters, some of which contained unsigned racist and anti-gay columns that he has since disavowed.

"No, I’d like to see that money," Paul told CNN's Gloria Borger. "I never read that stuff. I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written, and it’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this — and CNN does it every single time. So when are you going to wear yourself out?"

When pressed again by Borger, Paul said, "It’s legitimate you sort of take the answers you get. I didn’t write them. didn’t read them at the time and I disavow them. That is your answer.”

Shortly thereafter, Paul removed his mic and left.

The New York Times, whose projection models give Paul a 40 percent chance of winning the Iowa caucuses (tied with Romney), reported Monday on the renewed scrutiny of the newsletters.

And USA Today reports today that Paul's story appears to have changed since 1996, when he defended some of the writings and admitted to authoring some of the passages.

The Paul campaign now says the congressman had nothing to do with the writings. "He has, however, taken moral responsibility because they appeared under his name and slipped through under his watch," campaign spokesman Jesse Benton told USA Today. "They do not reflect what he believes in: liberty and dignity for all mankind. … Dr. Paul, renowned as a straight shooter who speaks his mind, has given literally thousands of speeches over the past 35 years, and he has never spoken such things."

Culled:

  • Ron Paul's son, Rand, the Kentucky senator, talks up his father in a new Christmas-themed ad. "The Tea Party began as a protest against politicians who supported more debt and bigger government," Rand says in the ad. "My father, Ron Paul, stood against the establishment and against government bailouts. He’s always stayed true to his principles and convictions."
  • CNN reports that Rick Perry has bested all other Republican presidential candidates in ad spending this year. Between January and mid-December, Perry's campaign spent about $1.65 million to air ads on cable and in Iowa, Nebraska and New Hampshire. Make Us Great Again, the pro-Perry Super PAC, has spent an additional $1 million on spots in Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Nebraska and South Carolina. Ron Paul comes in second with $1.1 million spent on spots on cable and in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
  • Former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina on Wednesday called for a probe of Rick Perry's retirement pay. Medina, as the Tribune's Jay Root reports, sent a letter Wednesday to the Internal Revenue Service and the Employees Retirement System of Texas asking for an investigation of Perry, who recently disclosed in filings that he began collecting his pension in January without leaving his job.

"I don’t think it works." — U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, to The Dallas Morning News on Rick Perry's proposal to zero out foreign aid

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