Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said in July that would “hopefully come in first” at the Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll and Paul seems to be signaling something very similar about the Iowa Caucuses.  

Ron Paul finished second in the Iowa Straw Poll in August, just 152 votes behind winner Michele Bachmann. Just mentioning that makes Paul chuckle.

“Oh, you noticed that,” Paul said during an interview with Radio Iowa this weekend, rocking back in his chair before adding, “I didn’t know anybody knew that.”

Paul is spending some serious money on television advertising in Iowa now, nearly 10 weeks ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. “To move toward victory, that’s the goal of the ads…to reach people we haven’t reached yet,” he said.

In the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, Paul finished fifth, with 10 percent support. The candidate suggests he’s positioned to do far better in 2012 because of the campaign organization he’s built.  

“Many, many folds greater than what we had four years ago,” Paul said. “The enthusiasm, the ease with which we’re raising the money and the professionalism of the staff — it’s all far superior.”

While Paul is pressing for “victory” — as he put it — the polls don’t yet show Paul emerging as the chief alternative to candidate Mitt Romney. 

“One thing I don’t see is that our supporters are vacillating,” Paul said, with a laugh. “….The fact that we haven’t popped up to the front, you know, is the big challenge, but one thing is we have steady growth and others come in and they’re at the top of the pack and then they drop off rather sharply and I think that’s going to continue for a while…As long as we have steady growth, I would say that’s making progress.” 

By the end of September Paul had raised $12 million for his campaign, putting him in third place behind Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in the fundraising sweepstakes. A Des Moines Register analysis indicates Paul has raised more money from individual Iowans than any other candidate.

According to a spokesman for his campaign, Paul is spending about $2 million on a four-week TV ad blitz in Iowa and the other early-voting states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.