Odds are that Iowa will go to Romney and Huckabee. Paul could pull off a 3rd place finish there, but even that is looking increasingly unlikely because Thompson and Giuliani will most likely grab the 3 and 4 spots. That puts Paul in 5th, the same place he was at in the straw poll.

That brings us to New Hampshire, the most libertarian state out there. Think Granite State Republicans could vote for Paul? I think so, and I’ve even read in a few posts here and there that Dems will be crossing the aisle to vote for Paul. Of course this will be spun as Paul’s support being all Democrats, but most should see through that, especially if he wins. You can’t win with Dems in a Republican primary.

In short, if Paul gets a 1st or strong 2nd in New Hampshire, his next best bet to win is definitely Nevada.

And speaking of the Silver State…

Asked why more of his rivals aren’t campaigning in Nevada, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul grinned.

“Maybe they don’t feel confident that their philosophy is attractive to the people of Nevada,” he said, a twinkle in his eye. “I’m very comfortable with the people of Nevada.”

Shortly after making that comment, the puckish Texas congressman strode onto a stage at UNLV to preach his message before a crowd of more than 1,000 people.

What do you think? Sound strategy? And if Nevada picks Paul, which state will it be after that? California?

Well, Paul might have some help because a supporter of his is putting up $85,000 of his own money to put a full page ad in USA Today, um, today…

Larry Lepard, a venture capitalist and Ron Paul supporter from Massachusetts, has shelled out about $85,000 of his own money to throw what he told U.S. News is a “small hard rock at a good target”: a full-page ad supporting Paul that will run in tomorrow’s edition of USA Today—the nation’s largest circulation daily newspaper—on the busiest travel day of the year.

He noted that he bought a right-hand position in the newspaper’s front section.

“I’m trying to get maximum bang for the buck,” said Lepard, 50, a Republican who says his strong opposition to the Iraq war drove him to take out the ad. His firm, Equity Management Association, invests in emerging markets, he said, adding, “I’m good at spotting early trends.”

I’m continually amazed at how passionate his supporters are, even if they do tend to be, ahem, a bit “outspoken.”

You can view a version of the ad at RonPaulForums.com.

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