EXETER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Representative Ron Paul, who has been called the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party, said Friday that the “time is right” for him to try once more to seize the Republican nomination for president.
Paul told an energetic audience at the town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire, that there had been a significant change in the United States in recent years in favor of personal liberty.
“The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building,” he said. “We want our freedom back.”
The Texas Republican and anti-war libertarian earlier announced his third White House bid on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program, saying he is already seeing unprecedented grass-roots support for his long-held calls to reduce the federal debt and government spending.
Paul’s chances of succeeding in the Republican primaries and confronting President Barack Obama in the general election are remote.
Recent polls show Paul in only the high single-digits behind around five other Republican hopefuls, but his presence in the race could still shape the debate.
“Paul will once again get a bundle of money, will appear in debates and will highlight some of the sharp differences in Republican ranks,” said Norman Ornstein, political analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Paul called in Exeter for less U.S. military involvement overseas, saying the United States should not be the “policeman of the world.”
Paul is 75 but popular among younger voters, who backed his 2008 campaign with enthusiasm. Since then, the political debate has tilted more toward the Texan’s positions.
“Coming in No. 1 in the Republican primary is an absolute possibility many, many times better than it was four years ago,” said Paul, an obstetrician who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in 2008 and as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988.
Analysts agree that Paul can expect more attention and money in the 2012 campaign, which could be dominated by his main fiscal issues as Obama vies with Republicans over how to reduce a $1.4 trillion federal deficit.
Polls show strong public support for reducing the deficit and the mounting federal debt, issues brought to the forefront by the success of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement in last year’s congressional elections.
Several U.S. state laws have even looked this year at how they could return to a gold standard for currency, a position long advocated by Paul.
“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,” Paul told ABC.
Paul also now carries greater weight in Congress, where he chairs the House of Representatives panel that oversees the Federal Reserve system, which he favors abolishing.
Paul joins a growing field of Republican presidential candidates. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared his 2012 candidacy Wednesday and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Republican Mike Huckabee said Friday he will have a “very important announcement” Saturday, feeding speculation that he will either launch a run for his party’s U.S. presidential nomination or rule himself out.
On ABC, Paul showed his readiness to confront controversy by questioning the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and speaking against federal relief for flood victims.
Writing by David Morgan in Washington, additional reporting by Ros Krasny in Boston.; Editing by Philip Barbara