By Meghashyam Mali - 01/04/12 01:43 PM EST
Fresh off a third-place finish in Iowa’s caucuses, Texas Rep. Ron Paul trumpeted his appeal to young voters and independents who he said were attracted to his foreign policy and hammered rival Newt Gingrich as a “chicken hawk.”
Responding to Gingrich’s recent claim that Paul’s views on foreign policy would be “stunningly dangerous” for the United States, the GOP hopeful hit back, criticizing Gingrich for failing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War.
"Newt Gingrich has no business talking about danger. He's putting other people in danger. People call that position a chicken hawk, and he falls in that category," he added, referencing Gingrich’s support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Paul, whose positions on foreign policy have attracted strong criticism from the rest of the GOP field, said that his views have actually attracted support from military servicemen. Among military personnel, Paul claimed, “we get twice as much support as all the other candidates put together.”
Speaking about his strong finish in Iowa, Paul claimed that his campaign was pulling support from voters outside the traditional GOP base. Paul said he was “impressed by the enthusiasm of the young people. We got a large number of the young people voting last night.” "If you look at the independent vote last night, I bet you I did the very best there," Paul said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"Republicans are going to be very neglectful if they say you don't need independents, you don't need young people. That's where the excitement is.
"If you took my votes and split them in half, one-half are very conservative and one-half are very moderate," he said. Paul joked that Romney and Santorum, who were separated by only eight votes, tied for first place. “We’re in second place,” he said on CNN. “We’re going to have some momentum … we’re going to do quite well.”
Paul said his support would boost the GOP in a general-election fight against Obama. “If you are looking to Obama … the message of liberty is appealing to everybody across the board and to others. We have a lot of Democrats who come to our rallies as well.”
Paul expressed optimism he could close the gap with Romney in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. “I’m going to go to New Hampshire and try to gain a little bit on Mitt Romney,” he said on CNN. Polls show Paul in second place behind Romney in the Granite State.