I just spent more time than I wanted setting up public key authorization on a local server. First step.. check the logs! tail /var/log/secure revealed
Apr 18 10:01:58 vpn sshd: error: buffer_get_string_ret: buffer_get failed
Apr 18 10:01:58 vpn sshd: error: buffer_get_bignum2_ret: invalid bignum
Apr 18 10:01:58 vpn sshd: error: key_from_blob: can't read rsa key
Apr 18 10:01:58 vpn sshd: error: key_read: key_from_blob AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAABIwAAAQEAm/TAymGJ9cTTh3oYhO2saUaxwE7DBjOsD5RrGD53w/lp\n failed
My Google search results led me to clues here and here. My next issue was getting those newlines out, which apparently was an issue, vim complained no /n found and nano also did not pick up the newlines. I re-read the emphaticnonsense post one more time and discovered ssh-copy-id. I used this to copy my public key to the server and it works like a dream. I am not sure what vim was doing, it usually does not do that to me. Anyway, I learn something new everyday!