Amherst, New Hampshire (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is currently confronted by two political realities: promising poll numbers in the states that hold the first two presidential contests, and nagging questions about his electability in a general election.
On Wednesday in New Hampshire, the Texas congressman addressed them both: playing up his popularity in Iowa and New Hampshire and insisting not only can he win the White House but that his critics fear a Paul administration. Even still, if the GOP primary race morphs into a long battle, Paul questioned his own stamina to endure it.
"I'm not looking forward to anything being long and protracted. So I hope it ends rather quickly and we do real well in the beginning of the year," Paul said after reporters questioned his ability to go long in a possible fight.
"The [Paul] organization is fantastic. The question is: am I going to hold up if I keep doing all this," Paul said.
Reporters also asked Paul about his steady, and in some cases surging, poll fortunes. The question-and-answer exchange came after a stop at a small convenience store in Amherst. It was the congressman's third event over a two-day swing in the Granite State.
"It means a whole lot for the campaign. It means that the momentum is building up," Paul said. "A lot of the candidates so far in this past year would come and go. You know, they'd shoot to the top and then drop back rather rapidly. Ours has never been that way. Ours has been very, very steady growth. And this last week or two there's a sudden extra growth."
"I think in political terms it means we're probably peaking at the right time."
Recent polls show Paul not only surging in Iowa but faring well against the two current GOP frontrunners: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. A fresh NBC News/Marist poll for Iowa shows Gingrich at 24% and Romney and Paul tied at 17%. Other polls for the Hawkeye State show similar numbers, with Gingrich in the lead and Paul either tied with Romney, slightly ahead, or slightly behind.
Yet even some of Paul's own supporters wonder if he can go the distance.
At a packed town hall on Tuesday evening in Peterborough, one Paul supporter – a California native - asked the congressman: how could she convince others to vote for Paul given that many federal employees would be out of work if Paul were able to shutter the government agencies he deems costly or unnecessary. Another supporter at the event questioned whether or not Paul's overall message is resonating.
"How do you get your message out to Americans that there's a real problem?" a man asked, referring to the dangers of government spending.
And at a Wednesday breakfast meet-and-greet at Joey's Diner, one man simply urged Paul to stand up for himself.
"You need to start saying, 'I can get elected,' Ken Brumleve told the congressman. "Because nobody's saying it. You've got to say it."
"Well you know why they say that - because they're scared to death I will get elected," Paul responded. "So they have to put a negative spin on it."
Yet the congressman conceded the man's point.
"You're right," Paul said.
After the exchange, Brumleve told CNN, "Everybody I talk to about Ron Paul say he's got great ideas, he's a great person – but he can't be elected. He can't win. So he's got to get out and say he can win."
Reporters pressed Paul about that sentiment after his convenience store event.
"Everyday it seems to be getting better…We're doing well in the polls. But I don't think that we should, you know, rest on that. I think there's only one poll coming up – well two immediate. That's the 3rd and the 10th, here. So that will make the big difference," Paul said, referencing the Iowa caucuses on January 3 and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary on January 10.
"If you do extremely well or win those that might dampen that propaganda about, 'Oh, he can't win. He can't win.'
Paul was asked if he can appeal to social conservatives, national security hawks and conservative Wall Street executives within the GOP.
"Well you can't win over everybody," Paul told reporters. "But I think some of those individuals, you know, the special interests on Wall Street - they might have a lot of money, but they don't have the numbers of voters."
"Some of those you won't win over because their interests are served by the Federal Reserve," added Paul, a frequent critic of that agency. "But the people, the more they understand the Federal Reserve, and how this monetary system works, the more our numbers grow."
As Gingrich vows to run a positive campaign, Paul explained the difference between going negative and drawing contrasts.
"I think pointing out people's positions is not negative," Paul said. "If you go after people and you distort information and it becomes personal, that can be construed as negative. But if the media won't talk about a person's record I think the candidates have a responsibility to point out, 'Well his position used to be this.'"
"I mean, what is wrong with that? That's what campaigning is all about. 'Well he used to say this. And then he flipped over like this.' I don't consider that negative."
–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN
"I just am not frightened by a free society" – Ron Paul
Sorry, but Dr Quack would ruin this country.
We elected a socialist so what's the big deal about electing a Libertarian? Given a choice between Obama and Paul, I'd vote for Paul. Can't image what is going to be left of this country in four years with Obama at the helm.
Paul outperforms all other Republican candidates among independents. The reason his general election numbers lag is because some GOPers won't commit to them. If they all did, he would win the general election in a landslide. We're talking 60%.
we all know mainstream media is scared to death of Ron Paul. could u be any more biased in ur reporting? who says Ron Paul cant win? Those who dont wish him to win. Thats who...
Ron Paul has some great ideas, but he has some scary ones as well. I don't really like his foreign policy ideas. They sound a little isolationist. Kinda like America was right before Pearl Harbor was attacked.
I love Ron Paul, but this country already had a Herbert Hoover. Paul would be Hoover of steroids!
I wouldn't put it past the American people though to forget history and vote him in.
"If you do extremely well or win those that might dampen that propaganda about, 'Oh, he can't win. He can't win.'" I concur!
RON PAUL 2012!
Simple Ron Paul will win Iowa and he will win reasonable numbers of delegates in other states. If GOP primary race continue after supper Tuesday then It may end up like 1980 democratic party primary
Funny how all the people ultimately against Paul have nothing to point out directly. They just know the spin they can dig up is easy to refute as full of baseless rhetoric.
from the article:
Yet even some of Paul's own supporters wonder if he can go the distance.
Well, just shoot yourself in the foot and chop of your own legs at the knees.
Ron needs to run as a third party, if he waits the Donald will steal it from him.
The secret is Ron Paul is the most electable of the current GOP contenders. BY FAR.
Ron Paul is the most bright, honest, consistent, sincere devoted candidate. He is the one with true solutions to fix our budget. He is not greedy, nor serves the big interests. The Power of the Presidency he pursues is not for his ego, not for arrogance but to fix our budget and the excessive abusive expenses of the military. Ron Paul he is the only giver candidate in this race against Obama. May God bless him and moved the hearts and votes of Iowa to him.
I don't get why people say he can't win. All the latest polls that I've seen matching him up against Obama show him to the MOST likely to win. According to the latest Public Policy Polling numbers, Ron Paul is only one percentage point behind Newt. According to the polls, Paul has a large number of young supporters but this age group (18-35) is by far the least likely to have a land line and thus aren't included in all these polls. This is a strong indicator that Paul is doing even better than the polls suggest.
As a recovering democrat I now fervently support Ron Paul. Obama lied and is destroying our freedoms. Just the fact that a bill passed the house ans senate last week where US citizens can now be taken away and held indefinitely without a charge is terrifying. Bet the people in these comments who name call Dr. Paul didn't even know that bill existed. Wake up people. Do you like your freedom? Do you celebrate entrepreneurs and American ingenuity? Do you support our troops HONESTLY? The troops support Ron Paul because they know he will bring them home. What more proof do you need? I will be shocked if CNN posts this comment. The MSM does not want people to realize their freedoms are being taken away.
Anon-i-mouse- it's not really whining if it's true, and it's not just CNN. Pew Research Center did a study of mainstream media election coverage that showed Paul received 2% of the media coverage, less than any other candidate. Worse still, Sarah Palin received 7%, even though she was never a candidate. Many reporters have acknowledged the fact that they don'[t cover Paul, and that it is intentional.
Howard Kurtz of Newsweek and The Daily Beast bluntly pronounced, “We are in the business of kicking candidates out of the race.”
Ron Paul and Huntsman are the only 2 candidates from the republican side that are not shifty dirt bags out to make a buck off the American people.
Thanks once again CNN for the coverage on Ron Paul, funny every time I hear a media outlet talk about Ron Paul they always say that he deserves more attention then he gets....Yet they do not give it to him, you guys continue to be the exception, Wolf was a great moderator during the debate and the number of RP articles from you are growing steadily. Positive or negative keep it up, at least present the facts and let the voters decide for themselves.
Actually, I'm trying to figure out what faction Ron Paul does appeal to. It's not the neo-cons. It's not the social conservatives. It's sure not the liberals. Libertarians maybe? There certainly are not enough of those to get him elected. So I'm trying to figure out how anyone sees a way forward for Ron Paul. Personally, I think he's out on the lunatic fringe. Sometimes he says something that makes sense, but the rest of the time, he's just ranting.
Ron Paul 2012
Are all of you cnn gop war mongerers so scared of peace and freedom that you will just bury your heads in the sand and vote for more perpetual war. Voting for the status quo candidates is a vote for the murder of good honest citizens in our military and if you dont understand that then you dont deserve true freedom anyhow!
Any time I see somebody call Obama a socialist, I have to wonder if they actually know what socialism is. He's basically a 1980s Republican.
Ron Paul must feel pretty stupid watching wingnuts chase flavor of the week Lizard,of all people.