Could Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses?
If the Texas Congressman were a conventional candidate, the answer would be yes. He has captured a solid 17% of the vote in polls, he has overrun his rivals in local-television-ad spending, he has logged nearly 50 days campaigning in the Hawkeye State, he has built what Iowa Republican governor Terry Branstad has called the state's best organization, and he has the kind of committed core supporters who tend to dominate caucus contests. But Paul's quirky libertarian agenda has a limited appeal within the party--especially with the Evangelical wing that makes up a big part of the Iowa GOP electorate.
Could he win anywhere after Iowa?
It is hard to see Paul breaking out elsewhere. But he is spending heavily in New Hampshire on television ads, and under Republican Party rules, he can win delegates even in states where he doesn't come in first. His fervent backers will keep sending him money, whatever the delegate count. Paul feels so strongly about his agenda that he could stay in through June, picking up one-fifth of the vote to steer the platform and convention in Tampa.
Might he mount a third-party race if he doesn't get the nomination?
Paul has been evasive on that question so far. In 1988 he was on the ballot in more than 40 states as the Libertarian Party candidate and won nearly half a million votes--he could repeat that role next year. His most devoted backers would welcome it. Paul will be 77 next fall, and he has said he will not seek a 13th term in Congress; this is probably his last presidential campaign. But predicting when and how Paul's political career ends is impossible.
On Nov. 30, authorities discovered the Bellagio of drug tunnels--and $65 million worth of pot--linking San Diego and Mexico. A hydraulic elevator and electric railcars made it the most sophisticated such smuggling scheme yet.
U.S. Casualties in Afghanistan Soar
Barack Obama called Afghanistan "a war of necessity" and ordered that it be fought accordingly. In his first two years in office, he nearly tripled--to 100,000--the number of U.S. troops deployed there. Recently, and only very gradually, they have begun to head home. A new analysis shows that more than half of all U.S. casualties in the 10-year-old war have come on Obama's watch.
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WOUNDED IN ACTION
KILLED IN ACTION
SOURCE: CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
*THROUGH NOV. 16
THE HORSE RACE
The New TIME/CNN/ORC Poll
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, once given up for dead, picked the right moment for a dramatic comeback. With less than a month to go before voting begins, Gingrich leads the field of GOP presidential contenders in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida and is within striking distance of the lead in New Hampshire--a do-or-die state for Mitt Romney.
"I'm going to be the nominee," Gingrich boasted to ABC News on Dec. 1
1. Gingrich 33%
2. Romney 20%
3. Paul 17%