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
It amazes me that more people do not support Ron Paul. This country is on a downward spiral that was caused by Republicans and Democrats. Why not vote for someone that is REALLY about change. His ideas might seem a bit out there to some but if you really think about it, he is right. Even if you do not fully agree with him, I think we can all agree Obama or the typical Republican (Romney, Newt) or just more of the same that got us into this mess.
He was right about the housing bubble, he was right about our debt and yet still people doubt him. WHY? I will be voting for RP.
He's the most electable in a run off against Obama, that is what they are so afraid of!
The most puzzling issue concerning Ron Paul is the blatant and impulsive hostility to him – i.e. calling him "crazy" or "nuts" and slandering him in the most juvenile sense. The contest to me is quite simple: the US is in the midst of a huge crisis, a crisis much worse than we think or perceive. It did not begin, nor does it end, with our current President. Our system at present is corrupt, bankrupt, and totally without historical legitimacy. All of the candidates, except Dr. Paul, want to "fix" and "tweak" the system (military-industrial complex) and it cannot be done because the system has reached its zenith and cannot sustain itself. Add to the bankrupt mix overseas military adventurism and endless money-printing and you have a fine recipe for a worsening situation. If a return to the Constitution is wrong, then perhaps it is obsolescent.........but if that is true then we have also lost our cultural, social, and political identity. All of us need an answer, and the time has come to a return to our foundational principles. Ron Paul is the only candidate who has the honesty and integrity to solve the problem – and to his detractors I ask – is it not true that Ron Paul predicted the current crisis in great detail? If he is not elected, I do not understand how the nation can revive under the same corrupt philosophy and the same bankrupt failed policies..............
Ron Paul 2012
This is just nonsense. If you look at the actual polls, we see Romney had 16.9% reallocated average and Paul had 19.7%. How is this both at 17%? If we were to really look at electability, I think Gingrich is an insane choice. This is the guy who suggested the death penalty for those who smoke pot. The guy was supposedly having an affair while he was pointing fingers at Clinton...an absolute hypocrite. I agree the Ron Paul has his share of crazy ideas, but he certainly is the only one who is still unscathed in character. The only way they can hurt the guy is by not giving him any publicity.
I'm starting to see lame critics make lame remarks towards ron paul.
now they're scared and taking him serious.
"what was that you said about paul's chances mr. trump?"
So when Ron Paul abolishes the IRS and eliminates taxes, how does he suppose the government will operate? Sorry, I think his heart is in the right place, but many of his proposals are just fantasies, or worse.
His ideas sound great: you're in control of your own destiny! But then when you think about it it means a lot of people starving and dying needlessly, or turning to crime and getting away with it because there are no police. Ron Paul is basically an anarchist, which is a stirring contrast to the rest of the fascists and theocrats in the Republican race.
Ron Paul is without a doubt the best man for the job. If more writers would write about Ron Paul, he would gain supporters. Be Careful CNN!
Thank goodness for Ron Paul. Even if he does not win the 2012 election, I really hope he wins the Republican primary. Just to have him run opposite Obama and be in the debates is a victory of its own. We have drastic problems and Ron Paul could be the only one who can put our country back on the right track.
Those that don't want Ron Paul to win or believe that he can't, are likely to be the ones that WANT the Nanny State to continue!
Unfortunately, they fail to see that it is UNSUSTAINABLE. It is failing RIGHT NOW!
Any coutry that has a majority constituency that believes that it can vote largess from the public trust for itself at no cost is doomed to mediocrity!
Folks... it is TIME TO WAKE UP! Socialism doesn't work... it ALWAYS FAILS (look at Europe).
Ron Paul stands for freedom, property rights and smaller government. Ron Paul IS the only correct answer.
To where is Palin,
I'm a Palin supporter and I can tell you Ron Paul is honest, consistent, fights corruption and is anti-establishment – sound familiar?
Ron Paul for President
The reason people fear he can't win has its basis in the fact that media seems to avoid showing him at his best. Look at debates and see how much time he was allowed or how many times he had the opportunity to make a rebuttal compared to all the others.
There are numerous people who fear him in the whitehouse because they know he will put an axe to all the wasteful spending. The veto is a hard thing to overcome. He earned the title of "Dr. NO".
Too many of our politicians are drunk on their lust for money. It is almost like a bunch of sharks when there is blood in the water. They don't quit feeding until there is nothing left.
Congress has been overspending for years, it has to stop or America will end up like some third world country.
Somebody has to act like an adult. Congress certainly hasn't.
An article in "Fortune" magazine ripped the current set of congress people calling them idiots and incompetents.
Ron Paul’s economic forecasts as radical as they have been interpreted...are now the current events he warned us of. Late or not, this country is in dire need of an astute candidate of economics and principle. This kind of “principle” won’t sell out the American people.
For over a decade, the citizens of this country have been disappointed, dissatisfied and disgusted with both Republican and Democratic parties. That explains Independents, Tea Partiers and now Cross-Over’s. Label it what you want, Americans are tired of being lied too and played by two headed party politicians.
Ron Paul brings “truth”, the kind that many don’t want to hear or admit. I know it’s difficult for many, since we don’t get “real” news, mostly entertainment. If we are a country at “war”, then why aren’t we covering it? Most will admit there has been a lack of it this past decade?
The media has failed to report the “Failures “of economic policies…$15Trillion and counting. Perhaps, if the morning news programs started off with our “Daily National Debt Level”, and the latest casualties of war, people might wake up…but apparently keeping Americans in the dark is the plan. Wake Up, We tried it “Their” way and they have failed US All miserably
Gee, grandpa, you do realize you'd be campaigning until November if you got the nomination, right?
Richard... Sorry but we don't live in a perfect world. BTW – Do you actually believe that govt spending and all of these agencies can continue as they are now? Look at the fact that the PRIVATE SECTOR pays for EVERYTHING and is getting KILLED! Helloo...
WAKE UP... Our govt is FAILING.. It is BANKRUPT.
This stupid show is ending anyway!!
If ron paul was elected, he would immediately save the country billions per year just by ending the drug war. Any other nominee have a plan that will do that?
I am a demorat but I am telling you he is the only one that makes SENSE! I do say i dont agree with a few things.... but most I DO!
We no longer have a constiuency. We now have audiences. Constituents are individuals choosing who they think would be the best man for the job. Audiences only like to pick the consensual eventual winner. That phenomenon will prove to be the root cause of the demise of this country. Mob mentality.
I have no fear of any policies Ron Paul advocates and others called eccentric. As president, he would have a very difficult time pushing things through congress without their cooperation, but he COULD sit there and wield the mighty VETO stamp to cut wasteful spending which is 90% of what is wrong right now.
Approximately 20 years ago, he stood on the floor with dark hair on his head and warned congress it could not continue its behavior without serious consequences. Well, here we are, and he was right.
Many people have the misconception of capitalism requiring regulation, as suggested by Wall street excesses. The opposite is in fact the case. Large special interests (corporations, unions, and government) are all a result of big government spending. Cronyism doesn't exist without a big government program to fund it.
As a republican in Afghanistan I have been converted. I am going to take a chance for once on something that could actually work. Paul 2012
Just last week Newt Gingrich said that Palestinians are an "invented people" that "had many places to go". That statement by itself should be enough to discredit Newt Gingrich for President. It is an outrageous statement that is meant to kiss up to pro-Israel special interests. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians were kicked out of their own homes and land by the founders of Israel in 1948 and became refugees without a state. How do you justify ethnic cleansing Newt? Who gave the founders of Israel the right to evict the Palestinians from their own homes without compensation? Forced transfer of civilians is ethnic cleansing and is illegal under international law. The UN never called for forced transfer of Palestinians in 1947 Partition plan. And Newt has the nerve to belittle the Palestinians tragedy?
Rudy – You are totally WRONG about Ron Paul regarding civil rights issues. Do some HONEST research and stop lieing.
Donkey Party -Yur name says it all. You FAIL to see that Socialism and bloated entitlement programs are FAILING RIGHT NOW! They CAN'T be sustained. You also FORGET that if we spent a LOT less on military and wars... then we'd be safer and our country would actually have some resources available for health care. Come on man, wake up. The current state is NOT WORKING!
Jame – You need to STOP electing the idiot in the $1400 suit with capped teeth and the $400 hair cut! They don't care about you! Ron does care.
Hey marie... Did you notice something? The US is ALWAYS ar war! This is NOT NORMAL! This is STUPID.
Larry – Oba,a is definitely a Socialist. ALSO, he is a fascist because of teh mmoney fgiven to General Motors adn Solyndra (how soon we forget). Ron Paul does not support Socialism orFascism and unlike you he does understand the terms. Don't generalize and stop lieing.
Brett Nesbitt is 100% correct. A return to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is necessary if we want our freedom and country preserved. Ron Paul is the only choice here.
Ron Paul is the only one of the Republicans I would vote for come November. I disagee with him on many issue, but we need freedom restored in the USA. He is the only one for it. The others are for the 1% and themselves.
wanting to be the only authority over what you put in your body is crazy
wanting to keep all the money you earn is crazy
wanting your brothers sisters mothers and fathers out of wars for oil is crazy
its crazy to want the government out of your bedroom
keeping corporations from ripping us off is totally crazy
preventing massive bloated bureaucracies to drain the nations resources is crazy
wanting a free country to exist for my children is crazy too.
Guess I'm nuts