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
If Ron Paul does take the lead to go against Obama, I would not be taking any airplane rides with him. If you think our owners are gonna let him do what he plans on doing, you are wrong.
He's the only potential candidate i'd vote for...likely it will be on a 3rd party ticket come election day.
mAD mIKE–I wasn't going to vote for Ron Paul until you compared it to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome--"Two men enter, one man leaves!!!"-YEA BABY!!!--RON PAUL 2012!!!!!!
Ron Paul is the ONLY uncorrupted politician in Washington.
Paul supporters are fixated on 1 or 2 stances? obama said he would drop the unemployment rate bring the troops Home and what? legalize marijuana right but he didnt now paul runs on the same promise but will actually follow through with It and not just lie to get elected obamas rich beyond compare now with 60 plus fundraisers i like All these terrible records obamas broke his first term wait no i dont pauls delivered over 5000 babies I think i can trust a person who does that has a steady recor and supports the constitution and was complimented by reagan while he was president obama wishes he could say that
In a field of wack-a-doo candidates, Ron Paul stands out as mad. That in itself is an accomplishment. It will be his only one, too.
Moving every service man/woman back to us soil would save us $2bil a year in Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). Then all the money that those service men/women are pumping into the local economies would now be pumped into Americas economy creating jobs. Plus all the money local contractors earn on those foreign countries would now do to American contractors creating more jobs.
IS it any surprise that greatest argument in these comments against Paul is basically if Ron Paul is elected the sky will fall? Didn't they say the same about our current president?
I like him.
It's funny how no one who dislikes Ron Paul has a well-reasoned argument. They just call him crazy or funny-looking or say he can't win. He has all these CRAZY notions of ending corrupt institutions like the Fed, of actually curtailing wasteful government spending on foreign aid and foreign wars, of Congress actually having to DECLARE war (like it says in the Constitution), and of preserving civil liberties (that should be guaranteed by the Bill of Rights but which D.C. is currently trying to trample). Yeah, he's CRAAAAAZYYYYY. He believes we should actually have the freedom and democracy that America is supposed to be about. What a loon. I'm with Marie Rich–I'll vote for Ron Paul as a write-in if he doesn't win the nomination.
Truth and Nothing But the Truth
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.
I am so sick of this hyperbole driven daily by imbeciles like Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin and then echoed by people like "Truth" because they don't have an original idea in their heads.
I challenge you to name one of your personal liberties or freedoms that are different today from three years ago. If you are honest (which the extreme right has a serious problem with) you will admit that just parroting the crazy talk doesn't make it true.
Turn off the radio and open a book for cripes sake....
Let's see Bank Bailout, Fail. Ending the War, Fail, Immigration control, Fail, Economy, Fail, Healthcare mandated, Fail, Cash for Clunkers, Fail, Fair trade with China. I'm voting for DR. Ron Paul, WIN!
There is one thing about Dr. Paul is that he doesn't flip flop. I'm sure he won't get the zionist vote because he'll cut off aid to Israel and AIPAC is just too strong. He is also against CFR, Bilderberg group, WTO, WMF, WHO, and all the other so called U.N new world order types. I'm sure the sheep will continue to watch faux and keep believing the race is between Newt & Romney. I can't wait till the honest Dr. wins Iowa.
Donkey Party–You are saying 4 more years of Obama is the answer??? He gave us Obamacare. He gave Wall St a free pass. He exported more jobs via free trade agreements. And he extended and even expanded foreign wars that so many of his supporters were counting on him to end. Even if he had good policy ideas, there is NO WAY a Republican-dominated Congress will let him succeed. I'm not saying this is right, but you know as well as I do that the Republicans would sooner tank the whole country than allow the Obama administration to produce anything resembling success. A vote for Obama is a vote for 4 years of failed policy and broken campaign promises AS WELL AS 4 more years of political gridlock.
"Woman In California," you obviously do not value freedom and civil liberties.
Hopefully one day you will understand the wisdom of limited government.
Until then, grow up.
I'm with Richard on this one... while Paul's ideas sound good and make sense, the whole 'libertarian thing' only works in a vacuum where there's no Congress or Senate and no foreign allies or enemies. I'd love a simpler tax code and less war, but even two full terms would not be enough to take us from where we are now to where Paul wants us to be. He'd be fighting against the entire government on a daily basis to even budge things an inch. Heck, even Obama's had a hard time getting this government to do their jobs – imagine if they were led by someone who isn't in either of their parties!
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Ron Paul is now a friend to Mitt Romney, just as Gingrich is a friend of Obama.
Paul, you're coming up in the rotation. Enjoy the limelight while it's there. Then it'll be back to Romney.
Crazy Ron Paul. He probably walks outside in his fruit of the looms to get the paper in the morning. He's not only eccentric, but a little bit dangerouse when he starts talking.
He is, by far, the best the GOP has to offer
Hard to believe he's GOP........
The GOP doesn't even believe it!
there is not a single, factual anti-paul comment in this thread. all the anti-paul people should start a website and have "woman in california" be your spokesperson, it would help dr. paul's cause greatly! you could have news titles like "paul's america: mad-max anarchy!" or "ignorant is you, paul supporters!"
This guy and his followers are a JOKE. Look at your own family! 50 years ago they had NOTHING, and now have lives of luxury for the most part....ban the Fed???? I say give thanks to God for the Fed.
We have the average person living a life of unbridled luxury thanks to the Fed and free markets.
The media ask the "nagging" questions and then write articles about how the candidate is being plagued by their nagging. So stop nagging! The polls have shown Paul doing better than any other Republican among independent voters.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is fascist, its your property NOT the governments. Rand and Ron have taken the correct enlightened classical liberal position. Supporting David Irving`s right to write does not make one a bigot, and the same logic applies to private property. Too many ignorant authoritarian types on here distorting the word liberal who want to use state coercion to "fix" all the social problems. People who know better from history must speak out. Do the world a favor America and get rid of the militarists.
For those of you who think a Paul presidency is scary, just wait until our monetary system falls apart (and it will, guaranteed). You know nothing about scary until all of the forces at work converge on this country at once. Without RP stepping in and ripping the "band aid" off, we're in real trouble in the near future.