DES MOINES, Iowa – Republican Ron Paul said Tuesday he is forming a campaign exploratory committee as he moves closer to running for president, declaring there are “literally millions more people now concerned about the very things I talked about” than ever before.
But the Texas congressman, who ran unsuccessfully in 2008, could now find himself in a more crowded field of candidates preaching a similar message of small government and limited federal spending.
Paul became the fifth candidate to take the formal step toward organizing a campaign. At least a dozen Republicans are considering the race.
An outspoken Libertarian, Paul would appear to benefit from a favorable political climate. Public surveys have shown voters are gloomy about the economy and concerned about the federal deficit. In his 2008 campaign, Paul’s demands for sharply cutting back government spending helped mobilize public frustration about the nation’s fiscal condition.
Since then, he has also drawn some support from the tea party movement. But Paul’s advisers acknowledge that he’ll have to run a better-funded, better organized campaign to stand out now in a field of more traditional Republicans who will also be emphasizing fiscal austerity.
“I do see a lot of support” now for making government much smaller, Paul said. “I believe there are literally millions more people now concerned about the very things I talked four years ago.”
Paul made his announcement at an airport hotel in Iowa, where the first contest in the presidential nomination process will be held Feb. 6. He finished fifth in Iowa in 2008 and did not get more than 10 percent of the vote in any state, losing the nomination to the more moderate Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.