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 am an Obama supporter, but if Ron Paul makes the nomination, I might have to reconsider. I would support whomever wins the election, but if any other candidate got the GOP nomination, I would have to support Obama in fear that one of those circus clowns might grab a hold of the seat. Ron Paul has the power to win over a lot of unhappy democrats.
If your anti-Ron Paul then you support the establishment, whose main goal is to make the the US a police state. You people will happily lick the boots stepping on your necks.
Ron Paul Makes since. Pure and simple. Im sure that some people may think he is to old for the job,but you know he has lived longer than all the other candidates and i believe that the knowledge he brings to the table by himself is much stronger than and one elses. If he was to start talking now about who will run as his vice president and show what they will bring as a team then more people would give him the chance if he picks a strong and knowledgable vp to run with him. Then if something went wrong with his health we have a vp that we trust in to takeover for him. Go Ron Paul! Get It Done!
Mr Ron Paul continues to refer to the US Constitution and makes his decisions based on what is written in there and what is not should therefore be legal or regulated by the States. Mr Paul should consider and take into account that our Founding Fathers had no concept of the effects of corrupt businesses in our country. They had no inkling to write in provisions to cover the expanding of privacy rights. In other words they wrote in no instances designed to cover the developement of this country into the massive country it is today with all it's high tech. So does that mean that anything, as Mr. Paul says, not specifically written into the constitution over 250 years ago would be allowed based on it not being prevented or regulated by said constitution? I think not. Our Constitution has often been called and or referred to as a living and breathing instrument, meaning it is a document that lives and grows as we do by virture of the various changes that have been added and removed from it over our history. I suspect that given his way, Mr Paul would have this nation being governed in a manner as it was back in 1776 or maybe 1800 or as individual states see fit. I like his ideas but they should also be tempered with respect to the growth and developement of our nation.
America already does less for its seniors and its poor than any other civilized nation. And Paul's answer is we're doing too much?
Ron Paul is not a conservative nor is he a Republican. He is a Libertarian. He left the Libertarian party when he couldn't get elected so he turned to the Republican party. Do we really wants someone like that on the Republican ticket for president? I sure don't. I don't have Libertarian leanings and I will not vote for him. For one thing he wants no drug laws. He thinks he can sit down with Iran and talk them out of their quest for nuclear weapons. What a joke. Obama wanted to do that and how did it work out for him?? I am a conservative not a Libertarian. Paul does not have my vote.
Ron Paul at least doesn't fit into just a "liberal" or "conservative" view, which is nice because there are many more POVs than just those two, and the main voices for both those ideologies actually are not liberal or conservative at all. However, what scares me are his supporters who seem to think of him as a demi-God. I kinda hope he does win, because the disappointment that all of Obama's supporters now feel will be NOTHING compared to Paul. Being President is NOT just being king, and a lot of his ideas would never pass. He'd have to learn to compromise and to realistically bring the most vital of his ideas into reality, or he'd just be another failed Herbert Hoover type president. The truth is, we are facing complex problems, there is no simple easy answer, nor any single candidate who can solve all the big ones at once.
Also, Paul is still a career politician, and I always wonder why people think giving all the power to state governments somehow = freedom.
Representative Ron Paul continues to refer to the US Constitution and makes his decisions based on what is written in there and what is not should therefore be legal or regulated by the States. Mr Paul should consider and take into account that our Founding Fathers had no concept of the effects of corrupt businesses in our country. They had no inkling to write in provisions to cover the expanding of privacy rights. In other words they wrote in no instances designed to cover the developement of this country into the massive country it is today with all it's high tech. So does that mean that anything, as Mr. Paul says, not specifically written into the constitution over 250 years ago would be allowed based on it not being prevented or regulated by said constitution? I think not. Our Constitution has often been called and or referred to as a living and breathing instrument, meaning it is a document that lives and grows as we do by virture of the various changes that have been added and removed from it over our history. I suspect that given his way, Mr Paul would have this nation being governed in a manner as it was back in 1776 or maybe 1800 or as individual states see fit. I like his ideas but they should also be tempered with respect to the growth and developement of our nation.
if Paul doesn't get the GOP nod, it looks as if I'm voting for Obama again...
Im an Obama supporter but gun to my head to vote for a GOPer this is the only guy Id even consider.
The last thing the status quo want's is for Dr.Paul's ideals to become mainstream. You hear that sound status quo?,it's the wheels coming off the gravy train.
I hope and pray for Ron Paul. He IS the best choice we have this time around. I imagine this was what it was like before the great American Revolution. Countrymen fighting amongst themselves for control of the country. Ron Paul is like a founding father. My vote will always go to him.
Ron Paul is the only republican that I could support if I believed that a libertarian society would actually work. The problem is, I really don't believe in fairy tales. Limited government works great when talking about personal freedoms, but it is the height of naivety to assume that businesses will treat customers or workers fairly. That only works if the interests of the company, its workers, and its clients are perfectly aligned. Recent history shows us what happens when businesses can take advantage of the ignorance of their clients - the company makes huge profits.
Voting for Ron Paul is the same as handing over your car keys to a perfect stranger. The stranger seems nice enough, why not?
Personally, IDC what the others say about Ron Paul...
I haven't seen anything truly offensive about him yet. Not like the other repub candidates.
I'm a Dem and I would actually vote for Ron Paul if he were nominated. Why? I don't see Obama doing much with all the gridlock. I DEFINATELY don't see any of the other Repub candidates doing anything substantial except making money for themselves.
Personally, I'd like to vote them ALL out, put in term limits and make lobyists and their money criminal.
Run 3rd party Ron. That will kill the GOP for sure.
Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate other than Gary Johnson whose voting record is consistent with his message. Ron Paul or Bust 2012.
I will not vote for ANY of the other GOP candidates. I didn't like McCain last go around and didn't come out to vote. I have since found Ron Paul and I WILL be coming out to vote this time. But it will be for Ron Paul. <note the period
Ron Paul will win the nomination. That's something we know for sure at this point. The Obama vs. Paul debates are going to be extremely interesting.
Ron needs a really glamorous, sparkley partner for a chance at winning, that may be the next issue. These rivals need to join forces instead of exchanging cannon ball volleys in the primaries.
Some blogger claims Obama is socialist. Yeh, just as much as the Pope is atheist.
All I see is a bunch of people that have no concept of what being an American truly means,sad indeed.
@whereispalin You are absolutely right, Dr. Quack AKA Sarah Palin would ruin this country!!
The days of Rep/Dem status quo politicians are coming to an end. Bubbuy
I will LMAO if Ron Paul wins this thing in Iowa. After 6 different frontrunners, to have this guy the media has ignored all this time win the most watched primary would be absolutely hilarious.
I want Paul to go further I want Isolationism, YOU see the mess that open borders and world trade has caused.