By Craig Berman, NBC News contributor
Ron Paul didn't get a chance to speak at the Republican National Convention, but he got the next best thing ... a spot on ?The Tonight Show? couch.
Paul was shut out from the main stage in Tampa, and he had to wait for Jay Leno to finish his two-part conversation with Kevin Hart to have his say on Tuesday, but he got enough time to please his supporters -- especially one guy in the back who tried to start a ?President Paul!? chant.
It?s safe to say that the Paul and Mitt Romney camps won?t be swapping holiday cards. The best that can be said of Paul?s comments towards the Republican nominee was that they weren?t overtly hostile.
Paul on Romney?s speech: ?It was nice. He said a lot of nice things. It was very pleasant and all, but it wasn?t the speech that I would give.?
Paul on who he?ll vote for in November: ?No clue. No clue. I?ll keep plugging along.?
So much for Republican Party unity post-convention.
On the positive side for the GOP, he did make it sound very unlikely that he?d run as a third party candidate, though Leno channeled his inner political cheerleader and did his best to talk him into it.?
?Democracy isn?t all that healthy because if you?re in a third party, you don?t get into the debates,? Paul said. ?Had I tried to do what I?ve done in the past few years in a third party, I probably wouldn?t have gotten on your show.?
True enough. But even doing it within the two-party system he didn?t get to speak in Tampa, so it?s all relative.
Paul had nicer things to say about the Clint Eastwood skit. Of course, when Eastwood criticized Obama?s empty chair for not bringing the troops home, he was cheered. That was far from Paul?s experience.
?Did you ever hear of a presidential candidate being booed? I?ve been booed because I want to bring the troops home,? Paul said, recalling his treatment by the audience at the Republican debates. ?I said, ?We just marched in. We can just march out.'?
"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" also began their convention coverage. For Jon Stewart, one of the issues was the Democrats trying to answer the ?Are you better off than you were four years ago? with some nuanced variation of ?Americans understand....?
?Here?s what the American people understand: Getting a free sandwich is a good reason to buy 10 other sandwiches. Here?s what the American people understand: Angels are real.?
In other words, the answer to the ?Are you better off? question is always "Yes!?
Stewart also noted that Chuck Norris has joined the Mitt Romney bandwagon, proclaiming that this election pits the last best hope to same our nation against the start of a thousand-year descent into the abyss. Guest Tom Brokaw didn?t seem fazed.
?I?m a little worried about Chuck Norris, but I?m waiting to hear what Dog the Bounty Hunter has to say,? Brokaw said.
Odds are good he?ll find out soon enough.