USA-CAMPAIGN/PAUL

Ron Paul: I'm Running for President

Politics Reuters

U.S. Representative Ron Paul, who has been called the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party, said on Friday that the "time is right" for him to try once more to seize the Republican nomination for president.

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The Texas Republican and anti-war libertarian 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, government spending and the size of government.

"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.

Paul, who is 75 but popular among younger voters, was scheduled to make an appearance in Exeter, New Hampshire, later on Friday.

Analysts agree that Paul can expect more attention and money in the 2012 campaign, which could be dominated by his main fiscal issues as President Barack 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.

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"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 a House of Representatives panel that oversees the Federal Reserve system, which he favors abolishing.

But his chances of succeeding in the Republican primaries and confronting Obama in the general election are still remote. Recent polls show him in only the high single-digits.

"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.

But Ornstein said the small fraction of support that Paul enjoys "makes the announcement less than meets the eye."

Paul joins a slow-growing field of Republican presidential candidates. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared his 2012 candidacy on Wednesday and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

On ABC, Paul demonstrated his signature readiness to confront controversy by questioning the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and speaking against federal relief for flood victims.

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