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
Paul is a guy who appeals to people who can't think beyond the tip of their nose about the real implications of what he says. Paul is also a guy that has a way of sounding like he knows what he is talking about but like most liberterians live in an altered universe disconected from reality. The main difference between him and the rest of the Republican/Tparty candidates is that he says what he thinks even if it is crazy while the rest of them say what they think will get them elected even when they know it is crazy.
He can win if you vote for him.
I love how pretty much every single one of the anti Ron Paul posts here have NOTHING negativate of actual substance to say about him. Oh he's unelectable. Oh he's old. Oh he has a fanatic following.
While at the same time the candidates they support could fill an entire book with their past issues and lies. This is the exact reason this country is in a lot of trouble.
wow, All the way up to 13% in the republican party and he's only been at it 12 years now! What progress! A true repulbican't!
The media can report on Dr. Paul the way they do because he is a career politician who has ran for the White House 3 times now. A known commodity.
This is Iowa we are talking about. Those idiots thought Bachmann was a good candidate for president.
Ron Paul's ideas at great....IN A VACUUM! Apply them to the real world and about 80% of the population would be destitute.
I am a Ron Paul supporter, however i would like to know how he plans on helping the poor of this country, and what he plans to do in the field of medical help for its citizens to not have them go broke if they have an unexpected illness or accident.
I suppose...every dog has its day...
Libertarianism...laissez-faire economics... no government regulations...Hello Love Canal! Hello chemical dumping and polluted environment... Goodbye safety laws...Goodbye unions! Hello 18th century!
The Republicans are brilliant – brilliant at getting people to vote against their own self-interest.. How do they do it???
all of us libs really want Gingrich to win bc Pelosi has dirt on him and Obama will win because of that. Romney may stand a chance Obama bc he's almost Democrat himself. I am scared if Ron Paul got the GOP nomination bc many of us Dems or independents would vote for him and the crazy conservatives would vote for him just to get a Dem outta office...really? Ron Paul? He scares me, and it's because he is extremely electable.
i work for the federal government. I was one who was standing with Governer Walker (even though i do not live in WI). I totally thought our salaries should be frozen, but not for this long. I am not a union member. Social Security recipients are getting a 3.6% raise and federal employees are on a 3 yr? pay freeze. Many studies have proven that the federal employess get paid less than civilians.
The stimulus was a failure and a reckless use of government funds.
Federal employees are now not only not
getting raises, but we are also dealing with alot more work , with people retiring early in this dismal economy, so lots of people are applying for Disability/Retirement, and there is no help in sight. We are not getting replacements for lost workers, and cannot deal with what society expects from us, with half the workforce, and no help in sight. Expect major problems with alot of the government services, that is all i can say.
Mr. Pauls big problem is his age. He is twenty years too late in peaking in popularity. The demographics will overcome his popularity; the generational torch has already passed.
Like a broken clock, Mr. Paul is often dead right. It's the other 24 hours that are scary. Its then that he's not only not at the right time, he's not even in the right century.
I guess if you enjoy a police state and being bankrupt by policing the world, then don't vote for Ron Paul. If you understand that he's been right for the past 30 years and has predicted most of what is going on, vote for him in your caucus or primary.
It is interesting how mainstream media is starting to pay more attention to Ron Paul as of late. I suppose they don't want to look sily come election day in Iowa ad NH.
You can put BO in GOP debates and he would sound not much different from Newt Romney and co. The only person that is different, sincere and with an actual plan that works is RP. Time to endorse peace and love. Vote RP.
Yeah, Ron Paul! Take it to the house...the white house!
"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."
A guy who can't win saying he can win is still a guy who can't win.
Ron Paul may not be nominated but what is important here is the message is there and it will continue to grow in the minds of the youth and we have already seen Pauls platform take hold, even in the other candidates. We have to remember this is not about Ron Paul but the message and ideals that will be fostered in the future and change this country. Lets just hope that that change happens soon before this country falls to ruin
Simple way to think of it here. If you want real change, and I'm talking real change, not what Obama has promised and any other candidate dating back many years, vote Ron Paul. If you want more of the same, and a country that will continue to spiral out of control, more specifically the countries economy, vote anyone but Ron Paul. Its taken me 30 years to realize this, but all those things you have read in history books about how all strong empires come to and end one day, well ours is heading that way and we, the United States of America can continue that trend if we keep electing these puppets of the corporate world. Ron Paul is real, genuine, and will do whatever it takes to fix this country, a country that he has fought on the battle field for! If Ron Paul wins, he surely will have many enemies to include the banks, the media, and all those lobbying cronies in DC! I say its time for this country to elect a real leader that will get this country back on track. Vote Ron Paul 2012
Ron Paul would make a much better President than the ESPN loving Marxist teleprompter reciting zombie currently in the White House.
Phil in KC-that so called ranting you here are examples that will fix this country...Yes people in the Government will lose jobs and funding cuts will go down all together but trust me man the government is 90% a waste of you money..why do I have to pay 100 for a wrench at my job (military) when I can get that same one at sears for 30..Wasted money my friend..Our tax dollars at work i guess.
hear*...so sleepy I made a typo...Goodnight.
Ron Paul is the ONLY choice.
Ron Paul supporters remind me of members of a cult sometimes; I'm sorry, I would never vote for the man. As a moderate, I just don't support extreme stances, since they tend to benefit a small portion of the population. I trust the government far more than the free market to have my best interests in mind. I just don't see many independents or moderates supporting him, unlike the poster that claimed he'd win 60% of the vote. Keep drinking the kool-aid.
If you think that polls like the Gallup or the ORC mean anything, you're a hopeless fool.