Here it was the night of a very important primary — Illinois’, with 54 delegates up for grabs — and Rep. Paul decided to blow off the Land of Lincoln for the Land of Leno.
So there he was with Jay on NBC’s “Tonight Show” in L.A. while simultaneously taking his usual drubbing at the hands of Mitt Romney in another big Republican primary.
Why’d he make that choice? Well, Jay asked him that and Paul joked: “I had the choice of either campaigning there or going on the Jay Leno show!”
But there’s another reason why a primary such as the one held Tuesday in Illinois holds little attraction for Paul, who’s smart enough to know in advance he’d likely come in last, or close to it. As he explained in a kind of roundabout way, he’s hoping Romney won’t have enough committed delegates before going into this summer’s Republican convention to win the nomination on a first ballot.
If that happens, Paul explained (somewhat wishfully, to our ears) that if there is to be a second ballot or even a third, then it’s anyone’s ballgame because in second ballots, delegates who were formerly committed to one candidate are suddenly free to “vote their consciences,” he said. And he expects (or imagines) that many of those delegates would go to him.
And that all depends on whether Paul can keep his campaign alive and funded until the convention. He didn’t comment on that, nor did Jay ask him about it, though the candidate gave no sign of coming to a decision anytime soon to call it quits.
Of course, Ron Paul wouldn’t be Ron Paul if he didn’t get his digs in about his fellow Republican candidates. After calling Rick Santorum a “fake” conservative (in the above clip) because of Santorum’s record in the Senate of voting often to increase government spending, Paul called out Mitt Romney for “flip-flopping” on any number of issues. Paul and Leno also got into the very sensitive subject of abortion, particularly late-term abortions — an unusually serious topic for late-night TV.
In Part Three, Jay and Paul turned their attention to the other candidate on the list, Newt Gingrich, and his pledge to control gas prices and limit them to $2.50 per gallon if he’s elected President. Rep. Paul said he didn’t think a President could ever guarantee such a thing. On that subject and others, Paul reiterated the main plank in his campaign platform: Less government intrusion in the lives of everyday Americans. And the “Tonight Show” audience roared its approval of that.