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Ron Paul's strength in Iowa shows it's too soon to write him off

Though he has a large and loyal following, Ron Paul's positions on key issues sets him apart from many Republicans. But he keeps moving steadily toward a position of strength in the early voting – especially in Iowa.

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Republican Presidential hopeful Texas Rep. Ron Paul answers questions during a campaign event Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 at the Lawrence Community Center in Anamosa, Iowa.

Brian Ray/The Gazette/AP

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To most pollsters and pundits, any mention of Ron Paul typically comes with an implied asterisk. Whether they say it outright or not, they don’t think the Texas congressman has a chance of being the GOP presidential nominee. Too far outside mainstream, tea party, or born-again socially conservative Republicanism, they say. More libertarian than anything else.

And yet Rep. Paul soldiers on, and you know what? As other candidates – Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain – dash forward hare-like only to stumble or be run over by the next new thing, Paul is the perpetual tortoise in the race, mild-mannered, confident and unwavering in his positions (no flip-flopper he), advancing steadily toward the first real test in the Iowa caucuses six weeks from now.

Consider these recent headlines:

“Ron Paul is for real in Iowa. Seriously.” (Washington Post)

“Niche Voters Giving Paul Momentum in Iowa Polls” (New York Times)

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