Republican presidential contender Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) could be poised to beat Rudy Giuliani -- once perceived as a frontrunner for the GOP nomination -- in Thursday's Iowa caucus voting, according to NBC's Tim Russert.
Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe program for a discussion about the latest Iowa polling numbers, Russert said Paul could realistically score a fourth place showing in the state.
"Having gone around and watching this thing," said Russert, "to say for example Huckabee wins, Romney is two. McCain comes in third. Thompson is out -- he has already said if he's not two, he's out. I think Ron Paul has a chance of coming in fourth here. I really do."
Assuming former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) took fifth, Russert added that it appeared likely Giuliani could slip to a lowly sixth place finish.
Conservative pundit and two-time Republican presidential aspirant Pat Buchanan said he believed the former New York mayor was now facing an uphill fight for his party's nomination.
"I think Rudy is toast...I mean, you can't go 0-4, 0-5, and come back and win Florida," said Buchanan of the possibility that Giuliani could fair poorly in the opening contests of the primary season.
Giuliani has not campaigned heavily in Iowa, choosing instead to adopt a national strategy focused on other states, such as Florida, that vote later in the primary process. More than twenty states, including New York and California go to the polls on February 5.
"When you get to Florida and the February 5th states," Giuliani told Fox News, "we're ahead in some cases by large percentages and in some case by closer percentages. We believe it's a good strategy and it's going to work."
The latest poll from Iowa's Des Moines Register tallies Giuliani's support in the state at five percent. Paul and Thompson each notch nine percent.
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on January 2, 2008.