By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 1 -- Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has boasted that he wrote a book slamming the Iraq war and challenging the nation's economic system to continue a grass-roots movement that grew out of his quixotic campaign. The best-selling "The Revolution: A Manifesto" has become the centerpiece of a counterconvention by Paul that he has predicted will attract thousands of supporters to the Twin Cities.
But although the congressman from Texas has repeatedly called the book his own work, it was largely written by an unacknowledged ghostwriter, and it is unclear how much Paul contributed to the final product.
Late last year, Tom Woods, a longtime Paul supporter and libertarian scholar who will be speaking at the counterconvention, sent out copies of the manuscript and indicated that he had written the manifesto on Paul's behalf, according to copies of a letter from Woods and an original manuscript obtained by The Washington Post.
"Enclosed is the manuscript for a book tentatively titled The Revolution: A Manifesto, to be published under Dr. Paul's name," Woods's Dec. 26 letter says. The name of the letter's recipient was redacted. "When my agent shopped the idea around (before I'd actually written the book) back in October, a number of publishers were interested . . ." Woods also wrote that he was "happy to report that Dr. Paul is very pleased with it. He called me with a number of minor changes that I intend to incorporate into the text over the next few days."
Woods confirmed in an interview that the letter is authentic, but said it overemphasizes his role in writing the book. "This is Ron Paul's book in every way," Woods said. When asked if Paul used a ghostwriter, Jesse Benton, his spokesman, said "They are all Dr. Paul's words."
Despite his role, Woods, an author of numerous books under his own name, wrote glowing reviews of Paul's book on libertarian Web sites when it was released by Grand Central Publishing in January. On one, he wrote: "Whatever your expectations for Ron Paul's book . . . I can say with confidence that they have been exceeded. By a mile."
Throughout his campaign and since, Paul has presented himself as an anti-Washington truth teller. His 173-page book has become the extension of a post-campaign movement trying to sustain the grass-roots enthusiasm that made his presidential bid an unlikely success among disaffected Republicans, independents, and some Democrats frustrated by government spending and the nation's aggressive military posture around the world.
The book has become a centerpiece of the shadow convention, which was launched Monday with a book signing. Quotes from the book are being featured on billboards in the Twin Cities and plastered on posters at the nearby Mall of America, encouraging Republicans in town for their party's convention to buy and read Paul's manifesto.
Paul is expecting 10,000 supporters to attend a daylong rally Tuesday, at which numerous libertarian and independent-minded speakers, such as former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, Grover G. Norquist, and Tucker Carlson, will discuss his agenda for a smaller government, lower taxes and an end to the Iraq war. The convention will be held across the river from the Republican convention, at the arena where the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves play, and will include a performance by blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, speeches and panel discussions.
"It's the ideas in the book that brings this together," Paul explained in an interview with The Post on Friday.
Paul said he organized his counterconvention after officials at the Republican National Committee told him he would not be permitted to address their convention. Paul said the RNC has also limited his access to the convention floor, and his movements at the hall will be monitored by the party. He is not supporting John McCain's candidacy, but he said his event should not be viewed as a protest.
"What we're doing is, we're having a rally. It's a celebration not intended to obstruct or complain," Paul said. "It's also to make a point."
In promoting the manifesto, Paul has always described the words as his own. In the interview, Paul described his writing process, saying he wrote the book in long-hand on yellow legal pads as he stumped for votes in the run-up to the presidential primaries. Asked if he had any help writing the book, he said, "The publisher provided editing services."
Woods is a resident scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, where several Paul supporters conduct scholarly work in economics, philosophy and political economy. He said Paul "scratched down a pile of notes," which became the basis for the book. Woods said he collected those thoughts, along with excerpts of Paul's speeches, into the manifesto and sent it to the congressman when he was finished writing it.
"I put it together in a format that would be sensible," Woods said.
It's not unusual for a prominent political figure to employ a ghostwriter for a memoir or political tome, especially in the midst of a presidential campaign.
Woods defended the arrangement, saying, "I mean, this is new? Does anyone call up Hillary Clinton and ask questions like this? That someone no one has heard of took Ron Paul's ideas and pulled them into a book? Isn't that a bit overblown?"
Clinton's most recent book, a memoir, acknowledges the contributions of three others. She credits them for "making sense of mountains of information about my life" and for guiding her efforts "to explain and express my feelings about my time in the White House."
McCain has written several books with adviser Mark Salter, who is credited as a co-author in all of them. Democratic nominee Barack Obama has written two books on his own.
Neither Woods nor Paul would provide details about how much they were paid for working on the book. The manifesto has sold more than 100,000 copies and reached the top of several bestseller lists. Paul said House ethics rules prevented him from being paid anything in advance.
"I have not received any money for the book, even though I potentially might," Paul said. "I am ambivalent on taking the money. I might just donate it to my foundation. That's going to be a decision down the road."