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Does Ron Paul candidacy have legs beyond Iowa?

Ron Paul has surged in Iowa, according to recent polls. But how does Ron Paul's candidacy look in other key GOP primary states?

By Ros Krasny and Jason LangeReuters / December 22, 2011

Republican candidate for president Rep. Ron Paul or Texas, speaks to supporters in Bettendorf, Iowa Dec. 21, 2011.

(AP Photo/The Quad City Times, Jeff Cook)

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MANCHESTER, N.H.

Congressman Ron Paul is one of the favorites to win the Iowa caucuses vote on Jan. 3 but his libertarian and isolationist message may to be too much for Republican voters and party grandees as the nomination process moves to other states.

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"What he could do is turn a victory in Iowa into a heart attack for the Republican establishment. They see him as someone they really can't relate to very much," said Tobe Berkowitz, a communications professor at Boston University.

A poll this week showed Paul leading the race in Iowa, where he has a strong organization, ahead of Republican front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

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But New Hampshire, the next voting state in the nomination race, is still a stronghold for Romney who leads polls here by double digits. The real key lies beyond the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary when the focus shifts to the heart of the Republican primary states.

Most opinion polls for South Carolina, the third state to hold a 2012 Republican nominating contest, give a resounding "no" to Paul. The Texan has been polling in single digits in the state, home to many active and retired military personal who may not take kindly to Paul's non-interventionist military doctrine.

"He's a libertarian Republican. Will that play in South Carolina, Georgia and elsewhere? The fact that he's a libertarian throws a lot of monkey-wrenches into Republican orthodoxy," Berkowitz said.

On Tuesday, Paul outlined his views to high school and college students in Manchester, and didn't hold back.

He described U.S. military spending as a subsidy that allows other countries to spend more on their own economies. Federal spending on education only pushes up costs, he said.

A trade war with China would be a tax on low-income Americans. And the United States "is moving toward a military state when the military assumes the rule of law."

He inspires a loyal following, attracted by his no-nonsense attacks on government spending.

STICKS TO HIS BELIEFS

At a Manchester town hall on Monday night, voter Sylvia Tobin, 23, said Paul's "rigidity" was a positive for her. "He has his beliefs, and sticks to them," she said.

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