SIOUX CENTER, Iowa -- During a Friday Ron Paul town hall meeting, a red-headed boy identifying himself as autistic and "almost" 10 asked the Texas congressman what he would do to protect kids with autism as president.
It was an interesting challenge for Paul given his views -- the pure libertarian response would be that taking care of kids with autism is not the job of the federal government, but obviously no candidate wants to appear to be a jerk to an autistic kid.
As you can see in the video below, Paul responded that the best thing a president could do for kids would be to protect liberties, and reassured that health services for children and the elderly would be preserved from his deep budget cuts for a transitional period.
It's an answer that I had no big problem with as a limited government conservative, but if given by Mitt Romney, would have created a firestorm in the media -- the DNC and Obama campaigns would have likely pounced to portray him as insensitive and out of touch. One can just imagine the blaring headlines: "Romney to autistic boy: Drop Dead." But one of Paul's advantages has been that it hasn't been in most people's interests to attack him, so he's been able to remain free of a lot of the scrutiny that other candidates typically receive. While he's drawing more criticism from some of his rivals now, the presumption is, even if he wins Iowa, he won't be the nominee. So that's spared him, say, the Rick Perry treatment.
Anyway, here's the video of Paul's exchange with the autistic boy.