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?
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"My family is very into Ron Paul. He has the guts to face pressure from the press, and from lobbyists," said Sylvain, a French immigrant who asked that only his first name be used.Skip to next paragraph
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He plans to cast his first vote as a U.S. citizen for Paul in the New Hampshire primary.
Success in the polls will bring out much more intense scrutiny from the media and from Paul's Republican rivals.
"He has positions on issues that elements of the Republican Party are going to see as extreme. If Paul manages to win Iowa there is going to be this reaction among Republican elites, who are going to say 'look we can't put Paul forward, we need a safe candidate,'" said Dante Scala, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire.
Already, Paull has had to deal with the fallout of racist commentary in newsletters that went out under his brand in the 1980s and 1990s, with titles such as " Ron Paul's Freedom Report" and the "Ron Paul Political Report."
In Manchester on Tuesday, Paul brushed off the controversy. "Everyone knows I didn't write those," he said.
When questioned about the newsletters on CNN Wednesday, Paul replied:
"I've never read that stuff. I've never read - I came - I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written and it's been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this and CNN does it every single time," he said. Paul added: "... I didn't write them, didn't read them at the time, and I disavow them."
A congressman on and off since the 1970s, Paul was an early inspiration for the Tea Party movement and he has found his small-government cause becoming more mainstream.
Some of his decades-long positions, including the need to crack down on - or abolish - the Federal Reserve, have moved toward the Republican mainstream in this election cycle, with candidates such as Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry also taking on the Fed.
Young voters are among the biggest fans of the septuagenarian former obstetrician. Many find Paul's mantra of less government interference appealing.
"He's attractive to people of my generation because younger people don't want to be controlled, and want to make decisions based on the moment," said C. J. Petersen, 18, from Bedford, New Hampshire. Petersen is still undecided.
Paul is in third place with 12.4 percent support in a RealClearPolitics compilation of national polls, behind Gingrich at 27 percent and Romney at 24 percent. (Reporting By Alistair Bell)