VIDEO: Iowa Frontrunner Ron Paul on the “Tonight Show”

The Republican presidential candidate—now leading in Iowa, according to one poll—gets fifteen minutes on the late-night talk show. 
Mon December 19, 2011 8:54 pm
Screenshot | NBC.com

When Rick Perry went on the Tonight Show  on December 1, he was the number-two attraction, sandwiched between Bridesmaids actress Melissa McCarthy and musical guest T-Pain. On Friday night Ron Paul, Perry's fellow Texan and Republican presidential primary rival, got lead billing, with Leno's second guest, Fear Factor host, Joe Rogan, also stumping for Paul (above).

While Politico and the Houston Chronicle focused on Paul's trash-talking of Michelle Bachmann ("she doesn't like Muslims . . . she wants to go get 'em") and other candidates, Leno's lengthy (well over fifteen minutes) segment with the 76 year-old Lake Jackson Congressman covered a wide range of topics, from environmental regulation and seat belt laws to gay marriage and abolishing the federal income tax. Leno essentially softballed his way throught most of the main points of Paul's platform, but that doesn't really make him all that different from the average cable news host.

Below, Paul's appearance in four parts:

"The message has been the same, but the country is changing," Paul said about the success of his third presidential campaign. (He previously ran as a Republican in 2008 and a Libertarian in 1988.)

"This is one thing that many conservatives and libertarians slip up on," Paul said of environmental regulations, which he equates with property rights. "Environments are protected because it's property, and you can't ever damage or pollute your neighbors property."

Regarding Iran and foreign policy: "On the [debate] stage I'm a lone wolf, but I'm not a lone wolf with the people."

And finally, the segment where Paul rips on Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Santorum.

Paul also addressed questions about a possible third-party run saying, "I have not ruled it out absolutely, but I have no plans or intention, because, y'know, when I'm soaring in the polls, and we're in first and second place, that's way premature." 

Paul now leads  Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa poll , which also shows Newt Gingrich dropping substantially. Paul received 23 percent support from likely Iowa Republican caucus voters, with Romney at twenty percent and Gingrich at fourteen percent. Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry were all tied for fourth with ten percent.  

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