RICHMOND, SC, January 21, 2011–At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, I met Ron Paul.
In my capacity as an opinion columnist, I have been very critical of Dr. Paul and, maybe even more so, his supporters. Too many of his supporters are hostile to those with opinions differing from Dr. Paul.
Yet reporting is not opinion. When purely reporting, fairness to all of the candidates is essential. My role at the conference is that of speaker, then reporter. As a speaker, I have met many of the candidates many times and in many places, from the heartland of Iowa to here in South Carolina where I have met, or remet, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. However, I had not met Dr. Paul.
Until this afternoon. On this occasion Dr. Paul was set to address the convention about 30 minutes before I did.
Since I was in the green room preparing my own remarks, I was unable to hear the bulk of Dr. Paul’s remarks though he did go through his campaign boilerplate about liberty, freedom, and ending the Federal Reserve.
I entered the blue room, a staging area where we wait prior to taking the stage, just as Dr. Paul was exiting. He was receiving rock star treatment, and some young college girls were swooning over him. Regardless of how one feels about Dr. Paul’s stands on various issues, he must be given credit for inspiring young people.
Several girls young enough to be his granddaughters told him that he was the reason they finally started caring about politics.
As he was shaking hands, he made an attempt to shake my hand. While refusing to shake a man’s hand would normally be an act of rudeness, in this case it was out of consideration.
“Dr. Paul, I apologize I have a cold. I don’t want to get you sick. How about an elbow bump?” (I had never elbow-bumped until this weekend when another candidate suggested it to me spontaneously. It became my signature “move” that weekend.)
Dr. Paul elbow-bumped, and was not in any way ill at ease. He seems to be very comfortable around people. He takes time to shake every hand and talks to people. He does not just walk past them.
When he came back around the room again, he again tried to shake my hand but then remembered at the last second that I was sick. I told him again I had a cold just to be safe.
I asked him “Do you know a really good doctor?”
The question was meant respectfully, and he laughed. He is not a cold fish from a personality standpoint. I told him I was a conservative comedian. He noticed I was going to give a speech while sick. I told him what would be the opening line of my speech.
“I watched the debate last night, and John King made me sick.”
I will not repeat what Dr. Paul said out of respect for him, since all conversations should be treated as off the record unless explicitly stated otherwise. I will just say that Dr. Paul has a sense of humor.
Do I have concerns about where Dr. Paul stands on issues? Absolutely.
Was this the appropriate time and place to accost the man with these concerns? Absolutely not.
I am especially concerned with Dr. Paul’s perceived stands regarding Jewish issues, Israel, and even Jewish people themselves. Yet this is not the time or place to rehash those issues.
One of the problems with our political society is we do not separate opponents from enemies.
Ron Paul is not my enemy. I just disagree with him. Too many of is supporters treat everyone disagreeing with them as enemies, and it hurts the Paul movement.
Which is dissapointing because in my brief encounter with Dr. Paul, he was funny, polite, and deeply engaged, especially with the young people. He also had by far the largest audience at the convention on that day. Between 200 and 300 people heard him, and his supporters are fiercely loyal.
By the time I gave my speech, Dr. Paul was still on the premises. He did not hear my remarks, but some of his supporters did.
So while neither of us know much about the other one, at least I can say that meeting him showed a side to him that was pleasant.
I can also click that “elbow bump” off my list.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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