Paul hopes to ride momentum to GOP convention

Rep. Ron Paul speaks to supporters after his strong showing in New Hampshire Tuesday night.

Story highlights

  • Ron Paul expects 2nd-place finish in New Hampshire to spur funding boost
  • His campaign is spending heavily on advertising in South Carolina
  • Continued strong run could give voice to his causes at GOP convention
  • Paul is not bothering with Florida, whose primary is winner-take-all

Fresh off his strong second-place showing in New Hampshire, Ron Paul's campaign charted a path Wednesday to try to keep his momentum going, perhaps all the way to the Republican National Convention this summer.

The first step is spending big money in South Carolina, where the campaign turns next.

Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign chairman, told CNN the campaign plans to spend about $1 million in South Carolina, which is a significant amount in a state where television advertising isn't all that expensive.

Benton said in addition to television and radio ads, they have also started their direct-mail operation in the state.

Paul expects his strong showing in New Hampshire to fuel more fundraising for his campaign, he told CNN in an exclusive interview as he was learning of his second-place finish.

"I bet you will see a lot of enthusiasm which will give me encouragement. And when the supporters get enthusiastic they usually go ahead and start another money bomb," Paul said, referring to a short online burst of fundraising.

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    Paul's aides admitted his organization in Iowa and New Hampshire far exceeded the campaign organization in South Carolina and beyond. But they also hope his impressive finish in both of the first two contests will spur grassroots growth.

    Paul finished a solid third in last week's Iowa caucuses.

    Earlier this week, Paul told CNN he would not focus on Florida, which follows 10 days after South Carolina, because of the high cost of competing there.

    "It tells you we are realistic," Paul said. "I think at this stage we shouldn't be acting like the government and spend money we don't have."

    Another reason: The winner of Florida's primary takes all 50 of the state's delegates, unlike other states this time around, which dole out delegates proportional to the candidates' votes.

    But Benton said after Paul's strong finish in New Hampshire, the campaign might reconsider that decision. He suggested the Florida GOP may change its winner-take-all rules.

    But Florida Republican Party spokesman Brian Hughes said the party has no plans to reconsider the state's delegate allocation.

    "We are committed to our rules -- winner-take-all for our 50 delegates," Hughes said.

    Paul's campaign said it plans on competing hard in smaller, upcoming caucus states like Nevada, Louisiana and Maine.

    Even if Mitt Romney is unstoppable as the GOP nominee after back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Paul and his aides made clear he intends to keep his campaign going, perhaps all the way to the convention. The more delegates he can rack up, the more leverage he would have to integrate key messages of his libertarian, anti-interventionist movement into the Republican Party platform.

    "That sounds like a lot of fun," Paul told CNN's John King USA recently, calling it a potential "way for me to promote the things I believe in, and that is a political action."

    "So yes, if we have something to say, who knows, they might even have something in the platform that says, maybe we ought to look at the Federal Reserve and maybe we ought to reconsider and not (go) to war unless we have a declaration of war, which is very, very popular with the American people," Paul said.

    As for running as a third-party candidate, as some of his supporters are pushing, Paul maintains he's solidly in the Republican race and has no plans for a third-party run.

    "We're running a tight race and we'll see what happens," he told CNN Tuesday night.

        Election 2012

      • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

        A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
      • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

        The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
      • Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
      • US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

        The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
      • Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.