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
Hey "Where is Palin".......Your name says it all. Thank God we have "real" American's like Ron Paul that care about this country running for president as oppossed to "fake" barby doll creations like Palin. As to where Palin is? right where she should be, which is nowhere near this presidential race!
Ron Paul gets my vote! Vote out all the children playing kick the can!
I see so many people say "I love half of Ron Paul's positions, but for the other half he's crazy". To these people I say, why not Huntsman? He has very similar positions for the sane ones, and he's enjoyable not insane for the rest.
Anyone who says Ron Paul is a nut has never taken the time to research his actual positions on topics as well as apply critical thinking and just plain logic. id be willing to be 100 dollars on that.
Its sad to see that the American people have become so blinded to the truth that they automatically spew back out what the MSM tells them without any personal thought. HE IS THE ONLY CANDIDATE FOR THE PEOPLE AND WILL PROBABLY ONLY EVER BE
It's either peaceful revolution with Ron Paul or tyrrany. We're at the tipping point or we may have already passed it.
What's there to debate. Obama will win re-election because of the efforts of the republicans to make him a one term president.
The big difference between Paul and the other candidates is simple: Paul is intelligent.
If we're serious about fixing this country, we'll elect Ron Paul. If not, we'll elect any of the other guys. It's just that simple.
@Woman in California
Maybe not. But with a 15% Democratic voter support, and a 10-15% Republican support, and the will from them to actually go out and vote, can result in a third party which takes 225-30% of the voting off the table.
Now the smart thing would be to get those GOP voters to get Ron Paul as the nominee, that way those 15% of Democrats would seal the fate of Obama permanently.
I am a registered democrat, the only republican I would vote for is Ron Paul. I would vote for Ron over Obama after 4 years of mild disappointment. Do not get me wrong, Obama has done some excellent things including mpg mandates for automobiles. I can only hope he stops the Keystone pipeline.
That being said, Ron wins Iowa and it includes my vote.
Yeah!! Ron Paul 2012! He'll get us out of all those money sucking wars Obama and Bush got us into. Cut the military and cut government!! Bring all the troops home from Asia and Europe too. Let them solve there own problems. We have too many here. End the American Empire nonsense that the state department worships.
I am a Democrat but I will be voting for Paul, all the others will mean 4 more years of the same crap we are dealing with today... Our country will not survive 4 more years of this. Obama has no spine, he wont veto a thing so the crap still gets signed. Obama you are a wimp. Good luck Ron, another Democrat on your side.
Ron Paul has mass appeal. Why??? – "Freedom brings people together"- Dr. Ron Paul
Let me say something here different from previous postings.
This is Awesome.
90 days ago 80% of hte Paul posts said he was crazy
30 days ago maybe 60%
Today less than 20%
Ron Paul is Rising. I work on his campaign as an unpaid volunteer in Arizona. We have over 3000 people on our contact list, and an active base in Tempe AZ of 25 people . we hold events 3-7 times per week.
Tomorrow night I have (2) locations for the GOP debate watching parties. Why because the 1t restaurant we filled last time. So now we have two.
With dedicated volunteers like us and a strong message he's gonna be tough to beat.
We also have a website with an open letter to the GOP
lastchanceforliberty dot com
Ron Paul 2012
Maybe now the Ron Paul crew will stop the paranoid whining about CNN being biased against their candidate. Look, I like him better than the rest of the gang up on stage, but he's going to lose, not because of the "mainstream media", but because he's completely unelectable. Sorry.
Mr. Gulianni what foundation to you predicate your supposition that Ron Paul does not support Civil rights? He supports our founding documents "are created equal" His voting record reflects this through and through.
Ron Paul is INCORRUPTIBLE FOUNDING FATHER MATERIAL. It is now or never!
Ron Paul 2012!
After Obama went back on plans to veto detaining US citizens indefinitely, I think I may vote for him.
If the sole reason you vote for a canidate is to get the imcumbant out of office then it is rediculous to think anything will ever change.
Rudy NYC, a person should be able to choose who they want and who they dont want on their property. from what i remember in school stores, schools, public transportation, etc were segregated by the jim crow laws which ron paul is against. yes, there will be a few private stores where they only allow whites or blacks but its the owners right to choose who he wants and who he doesnt want on his/her property.
Rudy, you said you'd like to hear examples of Obama's lies. OK, how about this one: promising that his administration would not go after anyone obeying state medical marijuana laws, then a couple months ago suddenly flip flopping and going on a spree of raids, and claim that was his policy all along? That was after he mislead young people about his marijuana policies to get elected, only to laugh in our faces on live TV when asked to seriously address this issue which is affecting (f-ing up the lives of) innocent Americans every day. Would that qualify as a lie, or deceit, in your judgment?
I support Ron Paul because he is the only candidate in the ENTIRE race who makes any sense. He is the only candidate who has consistently voted to support the U.S. Constitution, regardless of his own personal wishes and biases. Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate who has what it takes to beat Obama and put this country on the right track. He's a wise, honest fellow, and he has the guts to really and actually change Washington and this country's disastrous course. I hope and PRAY that the good, practical minded folks of Iowa have the good sense to sense this and tick the check box next to his name on the Republican ballot, and start the process of putting this country back on the right track.
Ron Paul 2012!!!!
If you're a real conservative you're already behind him
iRon Paul is this nation's only hope: the rest are neo-con's and neo-liberals; they all want the same thing: more government, more power, more control, want proof? look up gw bush's proclaimed policies before he was elected, look up bh obama's proclaimed policies before he was elected...and what did you get? there is only one party. and they are terrified of ron paul
The best reason to vote for Ron Paul?
A Sincere man that won't pander to big business, expose and correct the corruption in the Fed and central bank, as well as bring common sense and not politics to the table.
I like Gingrich, but he has an agenda that I believe is self serving, whereas Ron Paul cares for citizens rights.
Wow. I guess every dog has his day after all.
Still... the gold standard? Seriously?