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For Ron Paul, Next Five Weeks Are Critical

ABC/Matthew Putney(WASHINGTON) -- In terms of numbers of votes, Ron Paul has already eclipsed his previous run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, garnering two to three times as many in the first five presidential preference contests.

In Nevada, he got more votes this time than in 2008, but he was runner-up there last time, and placed third this weekend.

But one thing remains the same -- he has still never won a state.

Paul called his third-place finish in Nevada “disappointing,” but campaign manager Jesse Benton said to ABC News he is “very pleased” with how the race is shaping up and pointed to the next five weeks -- starting with the caucuses Tuesday in Minnesota, where Paul has focused considerable energy over the past week -- as being critical for the campaign.

Benton said the campaign is immediately focused on the contest Tuesday in Minnesota, followed by Missouri, Maine, Washington, North Dakota, Kansas, Hawaii and Missouri. But the list of immediate priorities ends with Louisiana on March 24.

The timeline would match Paul’s presidential efforts four years ago, when the congressman started “winding down” his presidential campaign on March 6.

Nevada is just another disappointment for the Paul campaign, which hasn’t been able to parlay his sprawling grassroots network of supporters into wins.

When asked on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos if finishing third in Nevada would be a disappointment, despite finishing second there four years ago, Paul said: “If you go from second to third, that would be disappointment.”

Benton said Paul did win at least five national delegates in Nevada and sent a majority of delegates to the state convention.

Although the presidential race has just started and Romney has a long way to go before securing the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, it’s going to very difficult for Paul to catch up.

So far, the Texas congressman has eight projected delegates compared to Romney’s 143. And going forward, Romney’s organization and money equals, if not surpasses, that of Paul’s.

Asked by Stephanopoulos when he will notch his first win, Paul said: “It’s hard to say exactly when,” adding, “We have to just wait and see and continue to do exactly what we’re doing.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio