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    Douthat: Ron Paul, Iowa Contender

    PELLA, IA - NOVEMBER 1:  Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (C) talks with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (L) and PBS Nightly Business Report Co-Anchor and Managing Editor Tom Hudson during a forum on manufacturing November 1, 2011 at Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella, Iowa. Five of the Republican candidates, excluding Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romeny who declined to come, are slated to appear at the forum.   (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)

    Steve Pope

    Now that Ron Paul is within 1 percentage point of frontrunner Newt Gingrich in the Iowa polls, it's not crazy to imagine a real showdown happening. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat sets the stage with a pair of evocative characterizations: "Paul is all bone and sinew and nervous energyan Ichabod Crane or a Jack Sprat, hunched and herky-jerky in too-large suits. Gingrich is broad and self-assured and faintly decadent, with a Cheshire Cat’s face and a body that looks like it’s ready for its toga." Paul has certain advantages in Iowa's unusual caucus structure, and a victory would deliver the GOP nomination "gift-wrapped to Mitt Romney."

    Read it at New York Times