Ron Paul’s closing message ahead of the Iowa caucuses goes a little something like this: I’ve always been here, you guys just started noticing.
“It’s not because I’ve changed my message,” he told FOX News’s Chris Wallace, in one of several interviews on the Sunday political talk show circuit. “This is what I’ve worked my whole career to warn people about,” he said, dismissing criticism that he’s a candidate of the lunatic fringe.
Paul remains in good position to win on Tuesday — he’s polling just a few points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in trial heats tracking likely GOP caucus-goers, but the real key is his campaign organization. Known for being the most fervent and best organized in the state, Paul is betting his core support will be more committed to getting out and caucusing than Romney’s.
On the latest poll numbers out on Saturday night from the Des Moines Register, showing him in second with 22 percent to Romney’s 24, Paul said it’s now in the voters’ hands. “The die has been cast,” Paul said. “The other candidates come and go, and they’re all part of the status quo,” referring to late breaking former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who has moved to third in recent polling and was shown by the DMR poll to be actually scoring ahead of Paul as Tuesday approaches.
And the Texas congressman is sticking to his Libertarian guns. He doubled down on statements from one of his books, downplaying the need for sexual harassment laws in the workplace. “But because people are insulted by, you know, rude behavior, I don’t think we should make a federal case out of it,” Paul said on FOX News Sunday, saying that unless there is a threat or act of violence, a sexually harassed person could choose or not choose to work at the offending location.
To be clear, Paul seemed to be speaking literally about federal laws, which would be consistent with his belief that most power should rest with state governments. But he was very dismissive about the idea that a worker should have legal recourse if they are harassed in the workplace, saying that the individuals should be left to work that out themselves in lieu of government action.
Most of the arguments against Paul from his fellow Republican candidates have not, however, centered on his more extreme domestic policy positions. Instead, they’ve focused fire on his call for military retrenchment, particularly his calls to stand back from a potential confrontation with Iran. When asked on State Of The Union on CNN, Paul said he’s just as concerned as anyone that Iran would be dangerous with a nuclear weapon, but that the current threats of military action go too far.
“I would say that we just need to be more cautious,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “I think if we overreact and participate in bombing Iran, we’re looking for a lot more trouble. We went into Iraq carelessly. We don’t need a war in Iran carelessly.”
When Crowley asked about his chances for a win in Iowa on Tuesday, Paul struck an upbeat note. “I may come in first, I may come in second,” he said. “I doubt I’ll come in third or fourth. And the future of the campaign for liberty will always be ongoing.”
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.