Tea Party Champion Ron Paul Takes Bow in New Hampshire

GOP hopeful celebrates Iowa finish, overdue media attention, and success at making Fed a 2012 campaign issue.

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Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign is taking a victory lap this week as he is vindicated for standing by his views on the Federal Reserve, and as the national press works to make up for ignoring him after his second-place finish in Iowa at Saturday's Ames Straw Poll.

After Paul got virtually zero media attention over the weekend, comedian Jon Stewart made fun of cable news for leaving him out so blatantly, and the video of the bit went viral. The response? A flood of media attention exploring why mainstream news outlets underplayed Paul's showing in Iowa finish. [Vote now: Should the media take Ron Paul more seriously?]

"Generally, if you stick to your guns and you're persistent, things work out, you know, in the best manner," Paul said to an energetic crowd during a campaign appearance in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Though he was talking about getting overdue media attention, the sound bite could just as easily characterize his broader, long-term political strategy: to stand by his principles and wait.

While Paul has long been considered outside of the mainstream for his strong libertarian views, some of his predictions have come to pass—like the housing bubble's burst and the recent economic downturn—and some of his views are now hitting center stage. Additionally, Paul is credited with planting the seeds that led to the now-influential Tea Party. [Read: Is Ron Paul a fringe candidate?]

At the New Hampshire event, Paul pointed out that he never backed off his message that the Federal Reserve should be audited and eventually ended. "What fascinates me," he said with pride, "is we've been talking about and thinking about and understanding [this] for so long, who would ever have thought, you know, the former speaker of the House would come out and say, 'Audit the Fed!'"

And former Speaker Newt Gingrich isn't the only other candidate focusing on the issue, as Paul pointed out. "Now we have this other governor—I can't remember his name—who's coming into the campaign," he joked, referring to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "He realized that talking about the Fed is good too."

"But I tell you what," Paul continued. "He makes me look like a moderate. I have never once said Bernanke has committed treason. But I have suggested very strongly that the Federal Reserve system and all the members have been counterfeiters for a long time." [See a slide show of the 2012 GOP primary candidates.]

Some of Paul's stances are still outside of the mainstream, which makes political strategists doubt Republicans will choose him as their standard-bearer in 2012. For example, he is against sanctions on Iran over nuclear fears and, in the past, has suggested eliminating the IRS, the CIA, and the FBI.

But supporters believe that in time, as more Americans start to agree with him on issues like balancing the federal budget or pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, they may be willing to give ear to Paul's more controversial opinions as well.

  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.
  • Vote now: Should the media take Ron Paul more seriously?
  • Who's in an who's out: A slide show of the 2012 GOP primary contenders.