Ron Paul sets sights on Nevada caucuses

Rep. Ron Paul delivering a speech in Henderson, NV after the polls closed on primary election day in Florida CBS News

Hours after the polls closed in Florida on Tuesday night, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was setting his sights on Nevada's upcoming caucuses, telling an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Nevada that "we've only gotten started" despite his fourth-place finish in the Sunshine State.

The candidate, who essentially sat out the Florida primary (except to participate in two debates held there last week), congratulated Mitt Romney for his Florida victory, and told him he'd "see him soon in the caucus states."

Instead of following the primary calendar, Paul is invoking his own strategy, campaigning in states where he has the best opportunities to pick up delegates -- generally in states with proportional representation and caucuses -- and selectively investing his resources. Paul tends to do well in caucuses because turnout is often relatively low in those contests, and the staunch Libertarian has a particularly fervent base of supporters.

"We will spend our time in the caucus states because if you have an irate, tireless minority, you do very well in the caucus states," Paul said.

The Republican presidential contender also predicted he will do well in the caucus states because "you have an energized people... and actually believe in something," presumably a dig at his fellow Republican opponents Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

"Tonight I saw a statistic we're in third place. When it comes to delegates that's what really counts, and we've only gotten started," Paul said.

Full Florida primary results
Florida exit poll
Republican delegate scorecard
Full state-by-state GOP primary results

We had "fantastic reception up in Maine," Paul said.

"Today we had three visits in Colorado," the Republican congressman told a crowd of cheering supporters, "and we had attendance well over 5,000."

Paul spoke to an enthusiastic crowd, which chanted "Ron Paul" and "end the fed" (referring to the Federal Reserve) at various points through out his speech. He spoke about the government being too large and personal freedom being too limited.

"The problem is too much government; we need more personal liberty," Paul said.

Nevada holds its caucuses Saturday. Paul placed a close second there in 2008 behind Romney.

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Map: Keys to Romney's win in Florida

Full CBS News coverage: Ron Paul

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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