A Ron Paul Day in L.A.


Still-fighting Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul hit Los Angeles today for two fundraisers and an appearence on NBC's Tonight Show starring Jay Leno.

His lunch appearance was before well over 150 folk paying $350 a head at the Burbank Airport Marriott. The attendees got a chance for a personal photo with Paul, plus a half-hour speech with 15 minutes of Q and A from the candidate.

Everyone seems happy to stand near Paul for their photo; a couple of people force hugs on him which he gamely accepts. He is thanked, thanked often, and told "You are so right" by his fans. This crowd is young-skewing; no more than a handful of over-60s, and the usual range from mohawked Hispanic young men to well-composed Asian woman, on the whole a crowd more well-dressed and bourgeois in appearance than the typical Paul roadside sign-waving crowd. 

Paul's talk was standardly non-standard–not canned and in his usual discursive lack-of-order, but nothing shocking or surprising to his fans.

Among the highlights: He stresses the primacy of understanding the unity of rights, property and civil; how pleased he's been at seeing the growth in energy and enthusiasm of the freedom movement since his 2008 run; he hits Romney for his support of the NDAA, and says that he couldn't even consider ever backing another candidate unless their views on foreign policy, monetary policy, and civil liberties had shifted to match his, while holding open the possibility of "building coalitions without selling out viewpoints."

Paul even, perhaps jokingly, floats the idea that perhaps not all the votes are being fairly counted in caucus and primary elections so far. He talks a bit about China, not to mark them as our trade or even possibly military enemy as others on the right tend to do, but to praise them for trading and investing around the globe while we attempt to dominate it. He mocks recent GOP House leadership plans to balance the budget for being too little and too slow. He stresses that his message of shrinking government and increasing liberty shouldn't be seen as a sacrifice, but rather a benefit to all who aren't trying to live off special privileges. He says libertarians need to stress that they don't lack humanitarian bonafides, and that belief in private property and free markets are the greatest guarantee of increased prosperity for most if not all.

He ended assuring us that his campaign is "alive and well and we'll keep pursuing" victory.

In the Q and A Paul was asked about running third party, as an option for his supporters if not himself. He responds that of course you should "do whatever you want to do" but that you should do so understanding the huge odds in terms of barriers both legal and ideological against succeeding that way.

I chatted with a few attendees who didn't mind being on-record, including a local graphic designer, Meg Snow, who was part of a large group of L.A.-based Paul fans all running for positions on the Los Angeles County GOP's Central Committee, which they hope to turn into a Paulite stronghold. Snow says she remains optimistic about the campaign even while not expecting a Paul GOP victory. Why? Because she's seen the extent to which his running has "opened up so many people's eyes and ended their apathy."

I also ran into "radical Republican" and longtime Paul fan Rick Williams, running this year for the federal Senate from California, and the campaign manager for another locally based Paul fan seeking federal office this year, Christopher David, who wants to be the GOP challenger to Henry Waxman.

I talked to an Air Force Captain who wanted to be identified only by first name, Josh, there with his wife (also with the Air Force) and a friend. He said that in the parking lot on their base, they see plenty of Paul bumper stickers, none for his opponents. He's working on a master's thesis concerning issues of Chinese/American trade relations and is concerned with what might happen if the Chinese lose faith in the value of the dollar. 

I run into ex-Congressman Bill Dannemeyer from Orange County, who has gotten more concerned with New World Order-type conspiracy theories since leaving office, he tells me, while maintaining his staunchly old-fashioned Christian conservatism. "God will not be mocked," he tells me twice, while granting that Christian morality is not for the state to impose. He tells me he thinks Paul is one of America's greatest patriots. Paul fanhood bridges many gaps in American ideology and politics, to be sure.

I overhear one woman telling her tablemates she's an auditor; "audit the Fed, please!" someone yells across the table. That's a Paul crowd for you.

Later, I and a New York Times reporter also on the Paul beat tag along behind Paul's black Suburban to the Burbank NBC studio where the Tonight Show tapes. Paul was there with his wife Carol and two granddaughters and a couple of staffers. Leno stops in pre-show for a surprisingly educated pre-chat about politics with Paul. 

Paul did well during his two full segments of the show, though he didn't really fall back on trying to sell himself and his philosophy to undecided voters very vigorously. He was cheerful, and reacted jovially to a visual gag involving dueling photos of him and Santorum shirtless (Paul looked more fit, decidedly) and Paul's head imposed on a clip of a kung fu master kicking ass.

Paul fielded a complicated abortion question nicely (while doubtless giving both sides of the debate something to be unhappy with in his nuanced stance, anti-abortion but not calling for a federal government solution to it), tried to explain exactly what might happen at a brokered convention where his campaign's efforts in trying to ensure that even many delegates committed by the rules to voting for someone else on first ballot are Paul fans at heart could lead to a surprising endgame. He defended the right of all Americans, whether in corporate organizations or not, to support and speak out on politics, saying the real problem with money in politics is how much politics controls Americans' money, not that money controls politics.

Leno's regard for Paul seems real–he keeps getting invited back. Leno's handling of Paul was respectful even where it was funny: the gags were never at Paul's expense, and he was given open opportunities to critique sharply his opponents.

Paul's own sense of humor was intact; backstage he and his team were riffing off the question of what Paul's Secret Service handle might be (although he pointedly refuses to spend taxpayer money by asking for or using such protection) and he offers "Tiger" (complete with little growl), "Ernesto," a latinized version of his middle name ("Why? I don't know!"). I suggested a shoutout to the serious Austrian econ fans: "Ludwig." ("Only you and I will get that.")

Paul and his wife Carol also shared a serious moment backstage, musing quietly over some active duty soldiers they met at the earlier fundraiser, who were being sent off to Afghanistan, one for a return engagment, one afraid to even inform his parents. Paul meets a lot of active duty military and veterans, and his concern for their fates in wars he considers dumb and unconstitutional and immoral weighs on him. He asks me if I tend to read Lawrence Vance, a writer he appreciates, who writes frequently on anti-imperialist and non-interventionist foreign policy themes.

Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

Paul had a private, smaller, higher-ticket fundraiser in L.A. in a private home after the Leno show to which no press were invited. Such personal-appearance fundraisers had not been a huge priority in the past for the campaign, I was told, but were likely to be more of one moving forward.

While press accounts this week poke at the campaign for actually spending the money they have and for not constantly breaking monthly records (Gingrich, meanwhile, is actually in debt, which Paul staunchly avoids), they think they will do OK moving forward, with the next Paul moneybomb planned for March 23. It is likely that their serious money and candidate time will be aimed down the line more at the big-delegate-ticket states of Texas and California, where a district-focused strategy can win him delegates in a state where winning specific congressional districts wins you delegates.

For much, much more on Paul see my forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, and my April Reason magazine cover story, "The Ron Paul Moment."

And here is the video of Paul's Leno appearance tonight, in full. Watch that tie pop!

NEXT: What's the Problem with Dropping Out?

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  1. Hump hump hump hump humpHump hump hump hump hump

    The corpse is twitching!

    1. Get a life dude. At least troll with something original

  2. I heard it moan!

    1. That was your momma. Who is she with, daddy number 5? And who’s counting anyway, right?


  3. Thanks for the great recap Brian of Ron’s day out here in Socal today.

  4. He just goes on, changing the world, one mind at a time. When Gingrich, Santorum, Romney and even Obama are long forgotten, they’ll still be talking about Ron Paul’s impact on society in the history books.

    What’s Your Candidate Done to Change the World?


    How Ron Paul’s liberty movement has shifted the political landscape.

    1. I hope that will be the case. I am not optimistic based on previous experience.

  5. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    ? Margaret Mead

    The fire that Ron Paul has lit in the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination race will not be watered down by a few derogatory comments from the mainstream media. Nor will it be put out by the withered GOP guard fighting to keep the door closed. It will instead rage when the people finally realize they’re being deprived of their liberties, and consume the establishment clinging to the old ways.
    As long as the internet is free, truth can topple tyranny. Geotag on the only realtime worldwide Ron Paul map on the web:

    1. “consume the establishment”? Can I have them with some fava beans?

      1. I’d rather just toss it. I’m pretty sure eating it would lead to serious digestive problems

  6. Great article. My eyes also gravitated to the tie as soon as he stepped out, and I noticed Paul looks so much like Johnny Carson at certain angles, and especially with a tie like that on, that I almost expected Jay to point it out in conversation.

    One thing, though:
    “tried to explain exactly what might happen at a brokered convention where his campaign’s efforts in trying to ensure that even many delegates committed by the rules to voting for someone else on first ballot are Paul fans at heart.”

    It feels like there’s something grammatically wrong or incomplete there, beyond the fact that it should probably start with “and”.

    1. run on sentence, at least

      1. It feels like “where his campaign’s efforts” is left hanging to some degree. Maybe this would be better:

        “and tried to explain exactly what might happen at a brokered convention while hinting at his campaign’s efforts to ensure that many delegates committed by the rules to voting for someone else on first ballot are Paul fans at heart.”

    2. his campaign’s efforts … are Paul fans at heart

  7. Wonder if there was a big ratings bump for the Tonight Show last night. I know I made a point to actually watch it.

  8. I call dibs on Ludwig as a secret service name if Paul never uses it.

    1. Ludwig. That was a stroke of genius. Should have gone with that. All the Paul faithful would have enjoyed it, and it would have given them something to explain to their friends who didn’t.

  9. Great show. And I think he put those rumors to rest that he’s working secretly with the Romney campaign by talking about Romney’s flip flopping and why that’s a problem.

    1. You are an optimist, aren’t you!! That would require a bunch of people in the media:

      1. Watching, listening to, and understanding more than a few second sound bite.

      2. Reporting honestly on it when the other story about a secret plot is a better headline.

      3. Saying anything positive about Ron Paul. After all he’s a conspiracy nut.

      Note how their story in 2. above (and real life) relies on their own conspiracy plot. But, that’s ok, when you only deal in 2 second sound bites, every story and issue is unrelated and you don’t have to worry about consistency.

      1. Yeah Bill, plus that’s old news now. It has already been firmly planted into the brains of those it could have an effect on, anyway, (and parroted incessantly thereby) so mission accomplished.

  10. Why is it that liberal commentators like Leno, Maher, Stewart and Colbert seem to have the decency to treat Ron Paul with respect while conservative commentators and pundits treat him with near contempt?

    It is possible to express a difference of opinion with some civility.

    1. Maybe conservative pundits and comedians are a just a bit less intelligente and humane than liberal ones.
      We’re the tops though!

    2. Because he is sticking it to the rest of Team Red. Don’t worry, if he got close to winning, most of them would drop the “respect” part pretty quickly.

      1. If Ron Paul actually got the nomination you’d expect Team Blue and all their cronies to pull out the knives “NEWSLETTERS DUURRR RACIST HURRRR”

    3. It’s stupid. Ron Paul is doing more to bring young people into the Republican party then anybody else out there.

      But no, I guess bombing brown people overseas is more important then epxanding the base of the party and ye know, shrinking government and stuff

    4. comedians rely on the younger generation to support their shows, which by and large supports Ron Paul. Therefore it would be just plain dumb to disrespect him and lose all your viewers. think about it

  11. I was just looking at the Illinois Primary results showing Ron Paul coming out slightly ahead of Gingrich. I expected Romney to win but not this far ahead of Santorum. This could very well be where Santorum’s momentum starts to run out of steam.

    1. Well, Romney was expected to win Illinois, and the national polls show Santorum gaining ground in the last week, so, I don’t think we’re anywhere near settled. Plus, Romney has a solid ceiling on his support, which I think is permanently below 50% nationally.

  12. It’s very cool that Leno is so nice to him. As for the modified delegate strategy for Texas and California, I’m certain Paul should be able to win area around his congressional district in Texas, which has open an open primary. California has a closed primary, which sucks ass, because if it were open, I bet Paul could rake in a ton of non-GOP support in a state that is minority GOP.

  13. Abolish the wages system

    1. Agreed. Let workers invoice the employer for services rendered just like any other service provider. Why is labor considered any different than, say, painting a house?

  14. American Politics, best politics money can buy lol.

  15. How did that crazy old fuck Ron Paul, peddler of racist garbage and wearer of fake eyebrows, become a libertarian hero?

    1. Because intelligent people seek the truth instead of listening to drivel that ignorant hacks like yourself and the main stream media peddle.

        1. Oh yeah, very nice to ignore the years of racist, homophobic shit Ron Paul spewed and blame anyone who mentions it. Fuck you.

          1. Nothing like the “racist” spew from Obama and his mentors and supporters/

          2. There will always be something bad about a politician – because there is always something bad about EVERYONE. No one is perfect. I don’t know what “racist, homophobic s***” you speak of, but based on everything I have heard from Ron Paul, he’s not racist nor homophobic.

            You too have your own faults, so it’s unbecoming of you to try and nail Dr. Paul with generalities.

          3. At least find new creative ways of trolling. This racism canard is pretty tiresome

  16. I was waving signs outside NBC studios with a big crowd of supporters! 😉

    That next MoneyBomb will be EPIC.
    Vote for Ron Paul… with your wallet!

    1. Hey your the fool in that saying about a fool and his money, aren’t you?

      1. The “fool” is the one who thinks Federal Reserve Notes are “money”.

      2. Dude, quit commenting already. You’re not a fan, we get it. Move on.

      3. Max has a micro-penis.

    Good Interview but a missed opportunity… (Hope Campaign reads this)
    Imagine this (He’s said it before but not on a national stage like Leno):
    RP says, You know what sets me apart from Obama & all the other republicans, I don’t want to wear a crown. I don’t want to be a king. When I’m president I wont assassinate American citizens without trial, which is what President Obama who thinks he’s king is doing right now. As president, I won’t send Americans off to secret jails without legal representation. Etc.. National Headline today would have been ***RON PAUL CALLS PRESIDENT OBAMA A WANNA BE KING***

    The Poll question EVERY American 100% agrees on: Should United States Citizens be Free. The only reason we don’t have people flooding the streets is because the media has hidden the fact that Obama just took away a lot of our freedoms.

  18. I believe the entire time he was on Leno should have been focused on setting himself up as the People’s President.

    We need the General Election Votes NOW or it will be too late. I think the campaign has done a good job at selling the message to the base but now Ron Paul needs to aim his persuasive efforts towards making a distinction between what he Philosophically idealizes, versus what he realistically has set out as achievable, realistic goals within his first four years. The majority is so propagandized with misinformation that they really believe he’ll take a wrecking ball to the federal gov’t and leave the helpless to die in the streets, when his cuts are so sensible, meticulously planned, concise, and effective at setting our nation back on a proper path.

  19. Is it such a ‘RADICAL’ idea that, Ron Paul simply supports working our way out of our problems over time, rather than continue down the same path we can all see is getting darker & darker.. This is the message that gets America a President Paul.

  20. Thanks for a fair article.

  21. Brian ~ as a Dr Paul supporter and attendee to the Burbank lunch, you indeed captured the mood and spirit of the event perfectly. Dr. Paul is not just a candidate but a game changer for our country. I was impressed how well informed and intelligent the crowd in Burbank is…gives me hope for America.

  22. I’m not sure what’s more sickening. Ron fascist Paul or his psycho neoliberal policies

    1. Definition of FASCISM
      1. often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
      2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

      Definition of MORON
      1. A stupid person.
      2. Tony

  23. You forgot the part where Paul destroys all the important functions of the federal government and decimates the economy through deflation

    1. the economy IS decimated. wake up!

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