Yesterday afternoon, when we pulled up at NBC studios in Burbank, hundreds of Ron's typically diverse and enthusiastic supporters cheered and cheered. Young and old, black, Asian and white, families and hippies, entrepreneurs and professionals, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and anarchists, they had come from all over California, and from Nevada, Washington, and Oregon too. They had been there since 5:00am to ensure that they had tickets to the Tonight Show. I wondered: how much would, say, the Giuliani campaign had have to pay people to do that? These self-organizing volunteers hadn't even had to be asked.
Then it was time to go, and as we pulled into the VIP parking lot, a big African-American security guard trotted up to the car, pointed and shouted: "Ron Paul! I love you!" An NBC page took us to the parking space near Jay Leno's Star Trek-looking motorcycle (although, to date myself, I thought: this is where Johnny Carson parked his Corvette).Staffers took us into the green room, then Jay—in blue jeans and a jean shirt—came into to go over what he planned to ask with Ron and to shoot funny lines back and forth. Jay, David Berg the segment producer, and everyone else were friendly and respectful to Ron, and there was little of the high-tension that is supposed to be the case at a certain other late-night show, where the host is famously nasty to the staff.
Tom Cruise stopped in twice to talk to Ron, who he thanked for long opposing federal mental-health screening of school children, federal drugging of school children, and the state as Big Shrink. (The other main guest, libertarian Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, hailed Ron as “President Paul.”)
Then we left for the E! Network and an interview on G4, but as we stopped out front to pick up Burt Blumert, who had sat in the front row of the audience. During the warm-up, which Leno does himself—very unusually—he chose Burt to come up on stage and dance with some beautiful girls. June tells me he was great, and I don’t doubt it!
As we stopped, supporters thronged Ron’s van, but to have a chance of keeping our next appointment, we had to go. Then a mother asked me if Ron could shake her disabled eight-year-old son’s hand. Ron hopped out and bent down to talk to the little blonde boy in walker for a few moments, then signed his t-shirt, as he had so many others.
In the van, Ron said he had asked the boy if he was there because his mother had brought him. No, said the kid, he had learned about Ron on YouTube, and had brought his mother.
Then we went to a crowded fundraiser at a great house in the Hollywood Hills hosted by a well-known investment advisor. There the Ron Paul demographic seemed to be successful guys in their thirties. (And the LewRockwell.com and Mises.org demo as well. There were many supporters. Indeed, I was told again and again that they had first learned about Ron and libertarianism through LRC.) They cheered the Leno show, which we watched on a huge screen, and every word out of Ron Paul’s mouth when he gave a short talk later. Then it was back to the hotel for Ron to catch a 6:00am flight. How does he do it? We were all dead; he was rarin' to go.
No question the Tonight Show was the best media appearance ever for Ron. Eleven-million people got to see this relaxed and funny champion of freedom, prosperity, and peace allowed to talk without interruption. How many were persuaded, or at least fascinated and decided to learn more? A huge number. Indeed, I am convinced this show will be seen as an historic moment in the story of libertarianism. Good for Leno, who disagrees on the war and the income tax and much else, but was a great host. Watch the Google Video to see. Has Austrian economics ever been praised on the Tonight Show? Go Ron Paul!
PS: I’ll blog a few of the iPhone photos I took. No ATT at NBC, so I couldn’t send them from there.