If Ron Paul was disappointed in last night's Iowa caucus results, it didn't show.
The Republican Congressman from Texas finished a strong third behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, but certainly served notice that he's a factor in 2012.
Paul wanted some legitimacy and a bigger platform for his movement, and by securing over 20 percent in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, he's on his way.
On stage before a cheering crowd Tuesday, Paul said winning elections is the best way to promote a cause, and that he was one of three winners last night:
Claiming a ticket out of Iowa, Paul vowed to continue his fight, even as GOP rivals such as Newt Gingrich, Romney and Santorum dismiss him as unelectable.
Iowa voters thought otherwise, taking to Paul’s small-government, anti-war and pro-civil liberties message in enough numbers to lift him into the top tier.
Evangelicals, home schoolers, young people, moderates, libertarians and disaffected Democrats formed an unlikely coalition that led to his strong showing.
Can it be replicated or improved upon elsewhere? That's the key question.“We have tremendous opportunity," Paul said. "It won’t be long that there’s going to be an election up in New Hampshire, and believe me, this momentum is going to continue, this movement is going to continue and we are going to keep scoring.”
With a huge smile at the end, he continued, “So tonight, we have come out of an election where there were essentially three winners, three top vote-getters."
"We will go on, we will raise the money, I have no doubt about the volunteers.”
Indeed, Paul's fundraising and organization make him formidable almost anywhere. As the field narrows (Michele Bachmann is already out), can he gain support?
We'll find out in New Hampshire.