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It's Prime Time for Paul in New Hampshire

If the polls are any indication, it's unlikely that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul will emerge as the victor in today's primary in New Hampshire. But he's strongly positioned to take second.

Finishing anywhere in the top tier would help to propel his campaign forward, said the University of New Hampshire's Dante Scala, an expert on the first-in-the nation primary.

Paul's following in the Granite State has been well documented in recent days. His fiscally conservative and anti-federal government stances, plus his non-interventionist foreign policies, attract a motley crew of supporters, from the young to the elderly, the most liberal to the ultra conservative.

Fans of the libertarian iconoclast tell The Texas Tribune they are devoted to the man, not to the party. In that sense, the candidate who threatens his runner-up status — former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — will have to rest his hopes on the undecided voters. According to the UNH Survey Center, about 29 percent of New Hampshire voters polled in its latest survey have not settled on a candidate.

“There’s still some volatility out there, which could produce a surprise,” Scala said. “I don’t know that [Paul has] got a second burst of energy that would drive him forward in the polls. One thing he does have to his advantage is he’s one of only three candidates on the air consistently right now.”

The 76-year-old’s campaign is well-financed and much more organized compared to his last run here in 2008. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s running in a state that has a libertarian streak — and coveted status as a proportional primary.

“I think his goal is, one, to accumulate delegates,” Scala said. “But New Hampshire is never about delegates. It’s really about media and surviving to the final round.”

And the longer the oldest man in the GOP field stays in the race, the more time he will have to participate in future debates and espouse his strict constitutionalist views before a nationwide audience.

“I think his plan or his goal is to be a persistent presence — a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment,” Scala said. 

The Tribune's Thanh Tan is in New Hampshire this week. She's been talking to local voters in restaurants and at Paul's public events. Watch the video below to find out what they told her about the Texas congressman's efforts to get their vote.


Thanh Tan is a multimedia reporter/producer for The Texas Tribune. She previously worked at Idaho Public Television, a PBS station that serves a statewide audience. While there, she was an Emmy award-winning producer/reporter/host for the longest-running legislative public affairs program in the West, Idaho Reports, moderator of The Idaho Debates, and a writer/producer for the flagship series Outdoor Idaho. Prior to joining IdahoPTV, she was a general assignment reporter at the ABC affiliate in Portland, OR and a political reporter for KBCI-TV in Boise, ID. Her work has also appeared on the PBS NewsHour and This American Life. She graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with degrees in International Relations and Broadcast Journalism.
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