“He would get us out of our difficulties overseas”

This month, a wealthy Republican called up two officers who served as platoon leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan with a proposition: He would lend them his private jet, and they would fly around Iowa to Representative Ron Paul’s campaign events in the weeks before the Jan. 3 caucuses, telling reporters at each location that the congressman’s foreign policy and military positions were dangerous and naïve…

Jesse Benton, Mr. Paul’s national chairman, says internal polling has found that more than 70 percent of probable Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire would be more likely to support someone who wanted to bring troops home, foster a strong national defense and end the United States’ role as the world’s policeman.

“We need another armed conflict like we need a hole in the head,” Mr. Benton said. There is no question, he added, that Mr. Paul would “take direct military action to completely wipe out the threat” if there was credible evidence of an imminent attack by Iran on the United States.