Ron Paul Plays Hardball With National Review

The cover story of the new issue of National Review is “Ron Paul’s Last Crusade,” a long, reported piece on the congressman’s presidential campaign by the magazine’s economics writer Kevin Williamson. The focus of the piece is Paul’s almost-successful effort to win the Ames Straw Poll, but Williamson ends up shooting most of his ammo at Paul’s “cult of personality.” One reason, according to Williamson: The Paul campaign didn’t like a May 2011 piece titled “Border Wars,” in which Williamson identified a “change of heart” for Paul on immigration.

Ron Paul won’t talk to the media — at least not the little media outlet called National Review, not if it is represented by your obedient servant named above. Forgive the personal aside, but it’s a part of the story: Ron Paul’s campaign, cheesed off at me for having noted that their guy has seemingly become softer on illegal immigration, refused to speak to National Review unless I was taken off the story. During my time stalking Ron Paul around New Hampshire and Iowa, I spoke with dozens of his supporters, with his son Sen. Rand Paul, and a few longtime associates, but the campaign never consented to an actual interview with the candidate. The Paul campaign went so far as to call Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, and ask that somebody else be assigned to the story. (Mr. Lowry, of course, was having none of it.) And that’s the weird personality cult of the Ron Paul movement on full display: I doubt that there’s anybody at National Review who is closer to Ron Paul politically than I am, but I do not believe that Ron Paul is the “one man who can save America,” or endorse the risible notion that he is the “most electable” candidate, or think that it’s fun to run with the Birchers.

The Paul campaign politely declined to comment. “We don’t discuss private discussion or negotiations with journalists,” said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. The story, which is pretty harsh – and which will probably be the last NR cover story on the 21st century’s unlikely libertarian icon – is a lesson in what can happen if you blow a reporter off.