Either Jay Leno is having trouble filling time without his writers or he really likes Ron Paul. Or both.
The Texas Congressman and libertarian Republican, who is mounting an insurgent bid for the White House and was blanked Sunday night from a "forum" produced by Fox News, cancelled his lone planned campaign appearance in the New Hampshire on Monday, the eve of the first-in-nation primary, and chartered a plane for Burbank to appear on The Tonight Show.
The appearance seemed long by Tonight show standards and lasted through a commercial break.
Leno told Paul it was unfair, since Paul raised more money for the primary than any other candidate in the last fundraising quarter, not only that Fox would exclude him from the debate, but also that other networks, like CNN and MSNBC would not give more coverage to Fox's decision.
"It must be they didn't want to hear the message. Maybe they're intimidated. Maybe they're frightened. Maybe they don't want to hear the truth," Paul said.
"You seem like a gentleman?. But it seems like you should be kicking somebody's ass right now," Leno told him.
"I mean, you're being extremely polite for something I think you got screwed over, quite -- you know, I mean, I might not necessarily agree with you, but I think, as an American, we like to see everybody get an equal shot, especially someone who deserves an equal shot. And it seems like -- the American people believe that way too. And I think you've tapped into the sentiment of what America thinks," Leno told Paul.
Paul raced back to New Hampshire on a chartered jet after taping the Tonight Show and was back to campaigning in Manchester as voters began voting.
At a polling place downtown, he told reporters he expected to do better in New Hampshire than his 10 percent showing in Iowa.
"Our momentum continues to build," he said. "Everything shows that we are gaining support while others are losing it."
Paul will spend most of Tuesday doing interviews with radio shows, but has a primary night party planned ata Concord hotel.
No matter the results, he said he plans to campaign at least through February 5th, when a block of states, including large states like California hold their primaries.
Paul said Tuesday he is assuming he will be invited to a Fox-sponsored debate in South Carolina on January 10th. A Paul campaign staffer said the criteria for that debate will be a top five finish in New Hampshire.
Paul, who also appeared on the Tonight Show on Halloween last year cracked his own jokes. He told Leno -- it seemed joking -- that he might sue Fox for excluding him from their debate.
"I've been trying to figure out what to do. And I thought, 'Well, maybe I ought to sue them.' And then I thought, 'What am I going to sue them on?' I've decided what to sue them over, and that is for fraud, because of this fair and balanced idea, you know," Paul said.
This is not Leno's first foray into politics this year. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee cancelled his campaign in events in Iowa just before the caucus there June 3rd to sit on Leno's couch.
"Remember he came here the night before Iowa?" Leno asked the audience as he introduced Paul. "Won the next day. The power of this show, ladies and gentlemen," Leno said.