AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced Friday that
he will run for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, the third
attempt for the man known on Capitol Hill as "Dr. No" for his
enthusiasm for bashing runaway spending and government overreach.
"Time has come around to the point where the people are
agreeing with much of what I've been saying for 30 years. So, I
think the time is right," said the 75-year-old Paul, who first ran
for president as a Libertarian in 1988.
Paul made his announcement in an interview on ABC's "Good
Morning America" from New Hampshire, where he planned his first
event for his presidential campaign on Friday.
Three years ago, the former flight surgeon and outspoken critic
of the Federal Reserve became an Internet sensation - and a
prodigious fundraiser- when he made a spirited but doomed bid for
the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
First elected to Congress in 1976, he is known for holding
unconventional views while keeping a smile on his face, espousing a
sort of modern Republican populism.
The obstetrician has delivered more than 4,000 babies and is
personally against abortion, but he doesn't think the federal
government should regulate it. That's a function of state
government, he says.
He has also said he wants to abolish the Internal Revenue
Service, favors returning the United States to the gold standard in
monetary policy and wants the U.S out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Democrats have tried repeatedly to beat him in a congressional
district that stretches from the outskirts of Corpus Christi to
Galveston. But the independent swath of coastal Texas seems a good
fit for the maverick doctor. He has 18 grandchildren, according to
his website, and he and his wife of 54 years, Carol, are known
widely in Paul's district for the cookbooks they give away to
"The secret to his success is his authenticity," said
Democratic consultant Jeff Crosby, who grew up in Paul's district.
"He's an authentic nut."
Crosby, who worked to defeat Paul in 2006 - unsuccessfully -
described the difficulty he had trying to persuade voters to reject
what he thought were the candidate's radical views.
"Just the mere fact that he does what he says he's going to do,
regardless of how nutty or ineffective it may be, they like it,"
Crosby said. "A lot of folks along the coast have never expected
much from government, and they're getting it."
Paul, a native of Pittsburgh, is both a spiritual father and
actual father in the tea party movement. His son, tea party darling
Rand Paul, won a Senate seat in Kentucky last year and has become
an ardent proponent of spending cuts and smaller government.
As far back as 2007, long before people were evoking the fabled
Boston Tea Party to symbolize their disgust with an overtaxing
central government, Ron Paul was hosting a "Tea Party Fundraiser"
aboard a shrimp boat near Galveston.
Organizer and Paul campaign volunteer Elizabeth Day remembers
that supporters wore period dress and rolled fake barrels of tea
into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
"When people come to believe in Ron Paul, there is a passion
that burns within us," said Day, a 57-year-old oil company revenue
analyst. "To me, Ron Paul is the tea party."
The elder Paul has built coalitions that include senior citizen
"granny warriors" and pot-smoking libertarians. During his 1988
presidential run, High Times magazine, which caters to marijuana
users, published a cover story under the headline, "Ron Paul:
Pro-Pot Presidential Candidate."
Paul has expressed the view that the states, not the federal
government, should regulate vices like pornography and drugs.
What sets Paul apart most from his GOP brethren are his views
that defense spending needs to shrink and that the U.S. should get
out of its two wars. Paul says the conflicts are financially
unsustainable - and another drag on a battered U.S. dollar that he
believes is on the verge of collapse.
He also disputes a fundamental underpinning of the war in Iraq,
namely that Islamic terrorists must be stopped overseas before they
can attack the United States.
"They came over here because we were over there," Paul said in
the run-up to the 2008 campaign. "We occupy their territory. It
would be like if the Chinese had their navy in the Gulf of
Paul has routinely turned down pork-barrel spending for his own
district, but he has earned praise at home for refusing to sign up
for lucrative pension benefits to which he is entitled as a member
of Congress. Paul took a break from the House after his failed 1988
presidential bid but was re-elected in 1996.
Though he has voiced support for term limits, Paul has been in
Congress for almost 30 years. Thanks to a law first crafted for
Texas-born President Lyndon Johnson, he was able to run for the
House and the presidency at the same time in 2008. Supporters
figure he'll do the same in 2012.
Former Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina counts
herself among the die-hard Ron Paul followers who won't let age,
unconventional views or the professed tea party proclivities of
other candidates shake her away from the soft-spoken presidential
"All the Republicans say we need to reduce spending," said
Medina. "They talk about it, but they don't actually deliver on
those promises. He's different."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)