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
Trump is the next president of united states weather you don't like him or not ,my crysta ball confirms that and i strongly believe it!!
I am an Independent, my husband is an Independent, we will AGAIN support President Obama!
Ron Paul is a nut!
No president can do anything alone, so to think that Paul, Gringrich, Rommney, or anyone else can turn anything around single handed is naive. We have to look at a total package in D.C., if there is to be any hope of returning to the great nation we once were, before these politicians and special interest groups ruined it. Washington needs to be cleaned out from the president to the congress and senate, and we need to elect a combination of people who will represent this country and not just their own interests.
I think you should really examine the constitution of the United States.
Trump is the next president of united states my crystal ball says so and time will confirm that!
Ehh he could win. I mean anything is better than Obama or newt gingrich. I actually like his beliefs on foreign policy but not his legalization of drugs. My choice was going to be Cain, now I'm not so sure. I guess I'll vote for whoever wins the primary (besides gingrich) let's just see. Maybe he stands a chance
I'm still hoping Cain jumps back in though I doubt it. CNN fox and msnbc drove him away. Still he and Paul are the only ones who want real change so any other candidate is just not an option in my opinion. That way America is just getting the same thing it's always getting.
If through some fluke Paul gets the nomination he better pick a running mate that is a whole lot younger and with brains.
I'll vote for Ron Paul for president if he's the nominee. Otherwise I'm voting for Obama. I'm not voting for anyone who might get us into a war with Iran.
We are with you Doc. No more Wars. Peace on Earth Merry Christmas to u all.
Ron Paul 2012
I will vote Ron Paul even if I have to write him in.
I'm as liberal as they come and even think we should have a national health care system like that of Germany (or Australia – they manage to stay on the gold standard and still provide real health care for all). However, we have bigger fish to fry right now, and Ron Paul is the only one who will attack them. We need to stop all these wars! They attack us because we invade them! Not because we are supposedly free! And Ron Paul also has good reason to suspect the Fed. And not to mention that he is the only candidate who is consistent.
The more I listen to Ron Paul the more he makes sense. I think he is exactly what the wake up call this nation needs. He gets what we should be spending money on and what we shouldn't. Cut all this overseas spending. Let's bring the money back home. If I see he has a chance to win I will vote for him when my time comes. Good luck Ron Paul!
I am a Democrat not by choice, but I am scared of Republicans. However, Ron Paul is a leader with a great vision for America. I respect him a lot, although I completely disagree with him on health care and his comments on killing Osman Bin Laden. Ron is an honest person, he won't talk for votes, he talks what he thinks is right. Only politician whom I respect is Ron Paul
Ron Paul has been sensible and wise so far compared to Newt.
I do not care about Ron Paul. I care about the Constitution. No matter what Paul's weaknesses might be, no matter what picky voters say they don't like about him, the fact that he follows the Constitution to the letter, and has a 30 year history of doing so, trumps all the reasons not to vote for him. There are plenty of things I like about Romney and Gingrich, and Perry and Bachman, but none of them are sticklers for following the Constitution. No matter what you like about them it is not enough if they will not follow the Constitution. The Constitution is all that matters my friends. It is the Constitution that gave us freedom, our liberty and guarantees our God given rights. A vote for anyone that does not care about following the Constitution is a vote for eventual loss of all freedoms. Maybe not over night, but little by little, they are whittled away until one day it will all be over and a free America will only be memory of what once was.
Ron Paul says he is for "a free society" and at the same time he is against free choice. I'm afraid you can't have it both ways, Ron.
Of course he can win. Who is this writer think he is, Nostradamus? The media has tried to black him out and he is still going to win. Once the media cant hide him, the populace will find out that there is a choice other than the status quo and Ron Paul will REALLY take off then. No more planting the immorals like Newt or Cains of the world as the Republican choice, people will come out STRONG for a real Republican, not a "neo-con" puke.
"Never recall any 1980s Republicans waging class warfare the way Obama does." Reagan talked about "welfare queens" quite a bit, as I recall. Oh, that was the rich saying the poor cheat–that's different. Apparently it's only class warfare when the poor say the rich cheat.
Do you really believe that things would get worse because Paul would steer us into the ditch? Even if it does get worse, we an just kill more taxes and do more stimulus!
Dr. Ron Paul will make a fine president, and I look forward to voting for him in my state's primary.
Ron Paul has the Plan: 2hrs ago
Paul is breaking into lead in Iowa. Along with young voters and swingovers Paul is leading America select (3rd party).
GOP may suffer but third party will represent 1/3 of all popular votes. That said Paul may win by default in Presidential elections........
This the guy that reckons businesses can regulate themselves? that any banning of prayer or religion in schools be repealed? schools be allowed to be segregated if they wanted it? basically anything that protects rights in the country be repealed because he thinks its government sticking their nose in?
The phrase on the presidential seal means out of many, one, He wants it to be out of one, many.
As an independent it would be Paul all the way, but if it's Newt I am going to have to vote Obama even though I don't want to. Newt is an archaic dinosaur who is completely out of touch. Newt scares me worse than Obama by far.
I am a Democrat. Ron Paul could say what ever he wants, so that he is more electable. Among the GOP candidates, he probably is the most honest. Newt just about says anything to get elected. He almost can taste it. If it requires that he saw GOD, Newt mostly likely will tell you he had dinner with GOD.
Gotta love those who talk trash on paul, because you really think the lesser of two evils will change anything? They believe being faced with big government obama, newt, and romney is going to bring them a better country in 2017. Such people just don't pay to much attention to the reality they live in, and will get what they ask for, and then I don't want to hear your damn complaints or crying.