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) -- Ron Paul came in second to Newt Gingrich in two Iowa polls released Tuesday, leapfrogging Mitt Romney in both instances as the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 continues.

The bump appears to correlate with ramping up of Paul's campaign presence in the Hawkeye state.

Paul canvased Iowa from Dec. 8 through Dec. 10, speaking at five town hall events and a rally. The three-day trip culminated in a debate appearance.

Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas).


Public Policy Polling

survey found Gingrich ahead of Paul 22% to 21%, while an

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poll showed the former House speaker had 27% of the vote vs. 17% for Paul. The polls conducted interviews this past weekend.

"Our campaign is continuing to make strides in the key early-voting states, especially in Iowa," Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign chairman said. "After witnessing packed rallies time and again in Iowa, it is no surprise that we are seeing these encouraging poll numbers."

"Meanwhile Ron Paul is building an unusual coalition of support for a Republican primary," Dean Debnam, Public Policy Polling president, said. "The big question is: will they really turn out?"

Paul's Iowa numbers had been laboriously consistent between August and October as his favor hovered between 10% to 12% in most polls, but November began an upward trend that put him reliably between 16% and 20%.

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Paul's late charge only three weeks before the caucuses could be positive news for his campaign, which almost certainly needs a victory or strong finish in Iowa to retain firm donor support as the campaign moves through New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

It should be noted that Paul has some of the most stalwart grass roots support of the GOP field, but it will take more than loyalists to push Paul over the top.

Paul has scheduled a heavy slate of Iowa appearances between Tuesday and Dec. 22, including a Republican debate on Thursday and eight town hall meetings next week.

Beyond his increased presence in Iowa, Paul has also explicitly attacked Iowa frontrunner Gingrich as the Texas congressman has launched a series of attacks against the former House speaker. The attacks include the release of a statement and a video that claim

Gingrich wants the Constitution to die:

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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