(CNN) – Ever the small-government idealist, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said he skipped Secret Service protection because it was a “form of welfare.”
“You’re having the taxpayers pay to take care of somebody,” Paul told talk show host Jay Leno on Tuesday night. “And I’m an ordinary citizen, and I think I should pay for my own protection.”
The 12-term congressman skipped the Republican primaries in Illinois on Tuesday, opting instead to spend the day in Los Angeles where he appeared on Leno’s late night talk show.
Popular with young voters, Paul enjoyed frequent applause from the audience as he and Leno discussed a number of topics, ranging from the influence of Super PACs in the 2012 election, to the current debate over access to contraceptives.
The candidate also used the opportunity to highlight his fiscal conservatism, linking it to his decision not to accept Secret Service protection.
The interview came shortly after GQ reported that presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum go by the Secret Service codenames ‘Javelin’ and ‘Petrus,’ respectively.
And, while Paul may not be eager to accept the extra security any time soon, he was willing to offer a potential codename for himself: Bulldog.