Ron Paul faces fire from GOP rivals

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is in a virtual tie for second place in Iowa. The economic crisis seems to be opening voters' minds to his libertarian ideas. But, could Ron Paul be the next president? As Dean Reynolds reports, he certainly thinks so.

Ron Paul

After benefiting for months from the relative lack of attention he received from his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls, Ron Paul is now in the crosshairs from opponents like Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, who are dismissing his candidacy as "dangerous" and "a very bad choice" for America just days before the Iowa caucuses.

In a Tuesday evening interview on CNN, Gingrich said he would not vote for Paul - and that a Paul vs. President Obama election would be a "very bad choice for America."

"He's not going to get the nomination, it won't happen," Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "If you think it doesn't matter for the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon, than Ron Paul might be your candidate."

Bachmann echoed that line of offense in a Tuesday interview with CBS News/National Journal campaign reporter Rodney Hawkins.

"Ron Paul would be dangerous for the United States on foreign policy," she told CBS.

Paul's hands-off approach to foreign policy has long been controversial; he has been consistently vocal in his opposition to sending American troops abroad, arguing that America should use diplomacy - not the military - to deal with countries like Iran.

"He is just fine with Iran having a nuclear weapon and they have already stated they will just use a nuclear weapon against the United States," Bachmann said, of that approach. "People see Ron Paul as too dangerous for the United States."

And in a similar swipe at his fellow Texan, Texas Governor Rick Perry told voters Tuesday they didn't have to settle for someone who would "allow Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and then ultimately America. You don't have to stand for that."

Bachmann also targeted the Texas congressman for newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s, which she decried for its "racist comments." (Paul says he did not write the newsletters and was unaware of any racist content.)

Mitt Romney was slightly more reserved when asked about the controversial newsletters on Tuesday.

"I haven't seen the Ron Paul newsletters. From what I understand, he repudiated them and from what I understand, that was the right course for him to take," he told reporters.

Still, in light of Paul's recent strength in the polls - particularly in the first-in-the-nation voting state of Iowa, which is holding its caucuses one week from today - his competitors no longer seem content to ignore him.

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