What if Ron Paul wins Iowa – and New Hampshire, too?
Some say a Ron Paul victory in Iowa would damage the reputation of the caucuses as favoring fringe candidates. But that would change if the momentum helps Paul win in New Hampshire, too.
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“Our New Hampshire forecasts now give Mr. Paul about a 17 percent chance of winning the state, but those odds would improve with a win in Iowa,” writes Silver.Skip to next paragraph
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By that measure, Paul is still a long shot in New Hampshire, but it’s certainly possible he could come from behind and win. That would bury Gingrich, and throw the Romney camp into Def-Con Five panic. New Hampshire is Romney’s firewall. If he loses there, his path to the nomination becomes formidably steep.
The implications for Paul himself of such a dual victory would be profound, of course. No longer would he be just a cuddly libertarian Jon Stewart loves to have on to talk ideas. He’d be exposed to the full force of his rivals’ negative energies, as Gingrich is at the moment.
Some of that is beginning to happen already. At RedState, poll analyst Neil Stevens writes that Paul is heavily dependent on young voters – as was insurgent Democrat Howard Dean in 2004. That didn’t turn out too well, did it?
Over at the Weekly Standard, journalist James Kirchik writes about the racist language contained in newsletters issued under Paul’s name in the 1980s and ‘90s. Kirchik and others have written about this in years past, and Paul has defended himself by saying that he just didn’t know what ghost writers were producing under his nom de plume.
Even Gingrich has started to take shots at Paul, despite his pledge to run a positive campaign. He’s depicted Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy positions as dangerous to American interests.
“Anyone who refuses to deal with the reality of Iran” and its nuclear technology efforts would put the US at risk, said Gingrich in Iowa on Monday. He did not mention Paul by name, but Paul has consistently said that the US foreign policy establishment appears to be looking for ways to pick a fight with Iran.
In sum, if Paul wins Iowa and New Hampshire, all bets would be off as to how the primary season would unfold from there, and Paul himself would be subject to a level of scrutiny he hasn’t faced before.
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