Ron Paul says third-place finish validates foreign-policy views

Paul supports ending the war in Afghanistan and greatly reducing the presence of U.S. troops abroad, views that have set him apart from the rest of the GOP field. While his positions are popular with his base, many Republicans say they are also an impediment to Paul gaining a stronger foothold in the broader Republican electorate.

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After Paul fell behind Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in Iowa to finish a close third Tuesday evening — an improvement on his 2008 performance — Paul said his campaign had made it possible to “once again talk in Republican circles” about shrinking the military footprint.

“The majority of the American people are behind us on this whole war effort,” Paul said. “They're tired of the war, it costs too much money, too many people get killed ... The majority, maybe 70-80 percent of the American people, are saying now it's time to get out of Afghanistan.”

Paul brought on stage a veteran in uniform, Army Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, who had earlier appeared on CNN as a Paul backer. “We don't need to be picking fights overseas,” Thorsen said.

Gingrich, who had attacked the negative campaign ads against him, said Tuesday he was going to have a “great debate” with Paul about the dangers facing the U.S.

“His views on foreign policy, I think, are stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States,” Gingrich said.

He said he'd ask Paul at the next debate whether he thought suicide bombers wouldn't also use nuclear weapons, and that an Iranian nuclear weapon is “one of the most frightening things we have to confront.”

Paul, however, signaled Wednesday he isn't shying away from a fight. He described Gingrich as a “chicken hawk on CNN for not serving during the Vietnam War.