Ron Paul delivered the best line during Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in Jacksonville, Florida. In fact, it might have been his best moment of the entire campaign.
Moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN noted that, if elected, Paul would be the oldest president in history and he asked whether Paul, 76, would release his medical records. Paul said he would do so and suggested that he is in such good health that the document would only be about a page long. Then Paul smiled broadly and added: "I'm willing to challenge any of these gentlemen up here [on stage] to a 25-mile bike ride any time of the day in the heat of Texas." None of the other candidates took him up on it.
The Texas congressman also jokingly admonished Blitzer for raising the age issue. "You know," he said, "there are laws against age discrimination, so if you push this too much, you better be careful"--generating cheers and laughs from the audience. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
As it happened, I had been talking to Paul supporters and other political strategists earlier in the day about age as an issue and why it wasn't causing much of a stir so far.
They said perhaps one reason was that all the candidates, including Paul, seemed vigorous regardless of their age. Another reason cited was that politicians, reflecting a larger trend in the country, are more sensitive about discriminating against the elderly.[See photos of the GOP candidates on the campaign trail.]
In any case, Paul seemed ready for Blitzer's question, and his response could have special resonance in Florida, home to many retirees and where there will be a key primary election Tuesday.