On Tuesday, Ron Paul appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ruled out an independent run for the presidency, squashing internet rumors that he was gearing up to make waves in November. (Scroll to bottom for full interview.) It was his third appearance on the Tonight Show dating back to last December, when then-candidate Paul spoke with Leno about his presidential campaign at a time when the Republican race was very much up for grabs. Paul's appearance came on the heels of the revelation that he will not endorse Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson for president. Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who originally ran for the Republican nomination this year, is ideologically the most compatible candidate with Paul in this year's presidential field.
Paul has also said that he does not "fully endorse" Mitt Romney for president, a candidate with whom he often vehemently disagreed during the GOP debates, particularly on the issue of foreign policy. Paul, however, did not endorse any candidate during his interview with Leno, and it is unlikely that he will do so at all. He did say, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Romney's convention speech was "nice," and that Paul Ryan's famed budget proposal is a "fraud."
Here's Ron Paul throwing cold water on the scuttlebutt about a third party candidacy:
And here's Paul explaining his snub by the Republican National Committee:
Although Johnson would be the obvious choice for Paul, was the good doctor simply unwilling to buck his party on the matter?
The short answer is no. Paul has made a career out of going against the grain, even if it means defying his own party, which he says has drifted away from its roots in limited government both domestically and abroad. However, Paul may be reluctant to go completely against the GOP this time around since his son Rand is a an up-and-coming freshman Senator from Kentucky. Unlike his father, Rand has endorsed Romney, much to the chagrin of many libertarians who subsequently declared him a sellout. The younger Paul seems poised to cultivate the outsider role his father did, albeit in a more tempered fashion. The older Paul may be concerned about the potential repercussions for his son if he endorses a non-Romney candidate.
Ron Paul didn't officially endorse a candidate tonight, but the GOP shenanigans regarding his delegates should have been a topic of conversation, but wasn't. In several states, Republican officials brazenly enacted ex post facto rule changes governing delegate selection, including in Maine and Massachusetts. While it's clear that Romney won the nomination outright, the GOP establishment has been determined to disenfranchise as many Paul delegates as possible so as to try to marginalize the Liberty Movement, which is attempting, likely in vain, to seize control of a Republican Party whose members are starkly at odds with the libertarian vision.