Friday, October 23, 2015

A reporter rides with Ron Paul

-Sarah Palermo
Ron Paul turned 76 during the 2012 Republican presidential primary campaign, and when questioned about his ability to serve if elected, the Texan challenged his opponents to a 20-mile bike ride in Houston’s humid summer heat.

He also regularly asked his staff to squeeze rides into his itinerary when he campaigned in New Hampshire. When his schedule showed he would be riding 12 miles in Concord, I called and asked, “Could I come, too?”

The campaign staff were completely taken aback. Usually, a reporter — or two maybe — met him at the starting point, asked him for sound bites about the day’s headline topics, and then left.

After checking with someone, somewhere, the press secretary called back and said, sure, I could tag along, as long as I didn’t slow them down.

I maybe should have mentioned to them that I had not ridden more than a quarter-mile in at least 10 years. And that I’m scared of riding downhill. And that my bike had two flat tires, and I had no pump. But I didn’t.

I lugged my bike out of my building’s basement, and I walked it 3 miles to the starting point. Paul’s campaign aide luckily had a hand-pump in his trunk, and pumped my tires up off camera while the candidate gave the standard sound bite interviews to a Boston TV reporter.

Ten minutes later, we were off, just the three of us.