Paul reacts to positive poll fortunes, nagging questions about electability
December 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET
11 years ago

Paul reacts to positive poll fortunes, nagging questions about electability

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

Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Ron Paul
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Mike

    o no, freedom, we'll never survive. that Qucky paul will lift all
    the burdens off us and we'll be so prosperous we wouldn't
    know what to do with ourselves. Wait no, lets be like the socialist
    who look to government for answers and have a mediocre economy
    and complain there isn't enough government aid.

    move back to canada or england or somewhere else, your views
    will be loved there. Leave america to the people who believe in
    what made the country great

    Ron Paul 2012 like it or lump it

    December 15, 2011 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  2. To: Newt Gingich

    I have been a conservative Republican my whole life. I have always thought of the Republican party as having a better understanding of the economy and how it runs. Unitil recently, I have never questioned the honesty and integrity of the GOP but now I realize what has been runing the Democratic party. It has been these flip-flopping Republicans that have been using their Electorial powers for their own self-worth. I feel betrayed by Newt, Mitt, and the rest of these currupted Elected officials. I am Proud to see a true man of true Principles to give all he has to restore our country.
    Thank You Ron Paul and God Bless you for all your hard work!

    December 15, 2011 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  3. rdklein

    "I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited government, and minding our own business overseas." Ron Paul

    December 15, 2011 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  4. Jimmy

    I laugh hard at the people who think Mitt Romney the guy who flip flops more than a live fish on land Ted Kennedy said it best "Mitt Romney is not pro-choice or anti-choice he's multiple choice" how pathetic does one person have to be to support this guy or Newt Gingrich the slim ball that cheated on his wife and gave her the divorce papers when she was in the hospital with cancer, the guy who voted for sending $1.6 Billion in foreign aid to Russia, had 84 ethics violations and was fined a record-setting $300,000 for ethical wrongdoing, stated that free speech should be curtailed in order to fight terrorism, called for a “serious debate about the 1st Amendment, defended Romneycare, wrote book saying he believes man-made climate-change and advocated creating “a new endowment for conservation and the environment," blames his infidelity to multiple wives on his passion for the country, etc. if you support this guy you are the definition of an idiot to support Mitt Romney is laughable but this guy is simply deplorable to support this guy and still have the means to survive contradicts Natural Selection. And to support Obama is like supporting a broom stick it doesn’t matter which one you vote for neither of them do anything.

    December 15, 2011 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  5. dave

    ron paul 2012!

    December 15, 2011 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  6. David

    @ Richard - From his previous speeches, he has promised to veto any law that aims to increase taxes ... that's a start. Keep in mind, the President is powerful, but he's not a dictator. Dr. Paul still has to work within the system to make big changes ... what he can do is change many things in the executive brach of government (which he heads) ... so he can abolish the IRS, Department of Education, etc ... obviously, it will be a progression of encouraging the states to take the lead in the areas he abolishes. For example, he could abolish the department of education and cut taxes ... that means your state could then raise taxes a bit for its own use to cover the difference. You cut out the Federal middle-man (which makes things more expensive to be honest). Just go onto Youtube and watch a bunch of his videos, you can get gems of info out of each one.

    December 15, 2011 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    I suppose all the negative comments on here are Wall Street folks. I've changed my mind, Ron Paul would be a great leader of change. I'm all in... Ron Paul 2012!

    December 15, 2011 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    In answer to your question.... Here are a few groups of people Ron Paul appeals to.

    Those Americans who...

    1. Are tired of endless wars....
    2. Are opposed to a Federal Reserve systems that picks winners and losers.
    3. Are opposed to government that is hell-bent on intruding in every facet of our lives
    4. A government that is taking money from poor people here, and giving it to rich people in other countries (foreign aid)
    5. A government that as recently as this week, passed legislation that will allow American citizens to be captured, and detained indefinitely without charge or due process (NDAA 2012)
    6. A so-called War on Drugs that since it's inception has cost over a trillion dollars and has lead to a higher incarceration rate for non-violent offenders than any other industrialized country.
    7. A government who is more concerned about the borders between Afghanistan and Iraq that our own.

    I think a better question is.....why does'nt Ron Paul appeal to everybody?

    December 15, 2011 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  9. David

    @ S.B. Stein E.B. NJ – Are you joking? How is RP an isolationist? He wants to talk and trade with everybody! You make him sound like Kim Jong Ill! And if war is required, it has to go thru Congress. What's hard to understand about that?

    December 15, 2011 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  10. willie floyd

    If Mr. Paul questions his stamina to withstand a long and tiring primary, would he have the stamina to deal with an emergency international crisis which may also become lengthy? I do not dislike Mr. Paul, however his age also concerns me as well as some of his policies. I could not vote for him.

    December 15, 2011 06:06 am at 6:06 am |

    Ron Paul is the only candidate that CAN beat Obama!

    One of three things is going to happen:

    1. Ron Paul doesn't get the nomination and runs as a third party candidate: The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests Ron Paul would win 18 percent as a third-party candidate running against Obama and Romney. Obama wins.

    2. Ron Paul drops out: fervent and stubborn Ron Paul supporters stay home or write him in. Obama wins.

    3. Ron Paul gets the GOP nomination: Ron Paul gets the following voters:

    (A) 2008 Obama voters who thought they were going to get 'Change'
    (B) 2008 Obama voters who voted to end the wars.
    (C) The VAST majority of the Independent vote,
    (D) The entire GOP voting block who dislikes Obama enough to vote for Ron Paul instead.
    (E) Ron Paul supporters coming out to vote in DROVES.
    (F) Same-sex couples who want to be set free.
    (G) Democratic, disillusioned Anti-Drug war voters.
    (H) Libertarians.

    Ron Paul and America wins!

    December 15, 2011 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  12. 40 acres

    C'mon people, Paul is merely the next in line to be the anti-Romney. Gingrich is starting to show a few glitches so the GOP faithful need to have the next guy step up. Eventually they may get around to Huntsman, who actually might have a chance, but it looks like he may be standing at the end of the line with Santorum.

    December 15, 2011 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  13. jim dollinger

    scowling pictures and questions of electability... the media bias continues but this rEVOLution cannot be stopped. the will of the people is far stronger than the shenanigans of CNN/FOX/CBS etc... RON PAUL 2012.

    December 15, 2011 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  14. 4th Eagle of the Apocolypse

    Ron Paul can't win because is own party does not support him. The social conservatives and military hawks will never nominate him. Iowa and NH don't reflect the country as a whole. In a general election he will be soundly defeated. The Libertarians need to go back to their own party. Mixing with the GOP is not helping their cause.

    December 15, 2011 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  15. General Davis

    Gurgi says that RP's ideas "sound a little isolationist. Kinda like America was right before Pearl Harbor was attacked." The fact is, Gurgi, we were taking sides back then, and the White House was hoping to provoke an attack so we could join in the fighting. Same thing with 9/11, which would have happened in Russia or some other country except that we were involved in everyone's business. And once again the White House was delighted. They had a list of seven countries to overrun, and the new war–a war on terror–would never end because we were creating new terrorists even as we killed the old ones.

    December 15, 2011 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  16. TomInRochNY

    I can think of no other RW candidate that would destroy America more than Ron Paul. He named his kid Rand for God sake! That should give you a clue. Randians have no idea how reality works.

    December 15, 2011 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  17. Todd Hollingworth

    Fear is the greatest limitation facing our country.
    Land of the free.
    Home of the brave.
    What happened?
    Ron Paul 2012

    December 15, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  18. Steve851

    While I do not believe that RP should be president, I support him because he has had a tremendously positive effect on the country and the GOP. After all, it's not like we have anyone running in the GOP or for the Dems who is worth anything.

    December 15, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  19. Cam

    People are afraid of freedom. That is why a Ron Paul Presidency scares a lot of them. Many Americans prefer a nanny state where they're taken care of from cradle to grave. This is what they have been taught, this is what they are use to. What is the cost of big governent care? Your freedom. Here's the funny part about Americans and freedom; most people don't even know they lost their freedoms because over the years government has taken so many of their rights away little by little. Take the TSA for example; twenty years ago people would have been outraged over naked scanning machines. Now people believe that it is for their own good. Dumb.

    December 15, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  20. Tim M

    The debt and deficit spending are without a doubt the biggest problem facing the United States right now.

    Borrowing more then 43 cents of every dollar we spend is INSANE!

    Only Ron Paul addresses this issue, and would cut more money in 1 year, then the Ryan plan did over 10 years.

    We can either wait until circumstances force us into an austerity program like Europe is facing, or we can take responsibility as a nation, and curb our spending.

    December 15, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  21. txwoodworker

    I agree with all that you say here Dr. Price. We are the aggressors. We are disliked throughout the world. We are being played as suckers by Israel. Our talent and treasure is pouring into the defense department black hole. The Republican Party establishment is the biggest culprit in all of this with the Democratic leadership not too far behind. I'd like Ron Paul much better if he could shed his Republican skin.

    December 15, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  22. Joe

    @Woman In California There's something on your shoulder...
    Back to topic, Paul IS electable poll's show he is just as electable, if not more so, than many other candidates on the stage, so the question of electability is not at all reasonable. The real question is why does the news keep calling him unelectable, when it is contrary to public opinion.

    December 15, 2011 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  23. larvadog

    Because he is a strict constructionist, Ron Paul is an idiot. He keeps talking about all the laws that aren't in the Constitution – 99.9999% of our laws aren't in there. Murder isn't in there – should we repeal all laws against murder? Ron Paul wants us all free to do whatever we want, to include (apparently) anything that is not strictly enumerated in the Constitution. Or perhaps he thinks every law should be an amendment? That every power be strictly enumerated?

    This is the central problem with libertarian thinking and it is one of the reasons he is unelectable to the office of president.

    December 15, 2011 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  24. DJ

    He's got my vote!! Had it in 2008 as well. He's maintained his beliefs for 20+ years & never waivered. RON PAUL 2012.

    December 15, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  25. Paul

    Most RP supporters I know, don't really know precisely why they are whooped up about him. They love his foreign policy, but only in very obtuse terms. They don't even understand the ramifications of his domestic policy. An RP presidency would be tenable, perhaps, if we were the size of Ohio, and if it were an election for the year 1898.

    December 15, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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