ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports: All the millions of dollars he has raised and his growing online army of supporters are evidence that Ron Paul is to be taken seriously as a Republican presidential candidate.
But the proof could come tonight, when the Texas congressman and Libertarian Republican appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Sure, he’s been on The Daily Show and the Colbert Report — but face it, those programs are on cable TV.
Their audiences are a fraction of the six or so million viewers that Jay Leno gets every night on network television. So, while Paul’s appearance tonight will be a thorough examination of the issues, it will mark his entrance into the larger public zeitgeist.
While neither frontrunner in the polls has appeared on The Tonight Show as a presidential candidate, other candidates have used Leno’s couch to humanize themselves or make subtle jabs at their competitors or kick off their entire campaigns.
Senator John McCain was self deprecating to Leno in August. He admitted "mistakes were made" in his campaign and suggested maybe he should have announced his campaign on The Tonight Show.
One week later, former Tennesee Senator Fred Thompson did just that when he announced his late entrance to the Presidential field on The Tonight Show. And he did so to millions more than saw his rivals in a debate held the same night.
Former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney talked on The Tonight Show about being a Mormon.
Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., talked about his wife’s cancer.
Earlier this month, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., took the opportunity to tacitly compare Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. to President Bush.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., told Leno about the tragedy of losing his wife to a car accident.
But Paul has made a point of his campaign that his message is more important than his personality. It is unclear how the erudite hero to libertarians everywhere will perform in Burbank, where personality is the message.