Republican congressman Ron Paul is expected to announce tomorrow that he is establishing an exploratory committee to gauge whether or not he will officially mount a repeat bid for the Republican nomination for president.
Such an announcement would come one day after pro-life Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced he would not run for president.
Paul’s campaign energized libertarian Republicans in 2008 but it failed to gain him support among the conservatives and independent voters who make up the lion’s share of the Republican electorate. Thus, while he raised significant amounts of money and developed a massive following on the Internet, he did not win any of the leading primary and caucus states and eventually withdrew from the campaign.
Should Paul decide to seek the GOP nomination to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama it would make the third presidential bid he would have mounted — following a 1988 campaign on the Libertarian Party ticket that saw him lose to President George Bush. The third time could be a charm for Paul if only because the Republican party has moved in a conservative economic direction with Tea Party supporters embracing longtime Paul standards of reducing the debt and deficit.
According to a National Journal report, Paul is not only expected to announce the exploratory committee, but he will also name some of the leadership team he has assembled in Iowa — which is said to include three of the Republican members of the Iowa Republican Party.
Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain have started exploratory committees to examine a Republican primary run as has former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have also opened testing the waters accounts but have stopped short of a formal exploratory committee.
Jesse Benton, director of Paul’s LibertyPAC, told Politico earlier this month that the pro-life Texas congressman was expected to announce soon whether he will take a more formal position on running for the Republican nomination, but the “testing the waters” account was opened with the expectation of creating an exploratory committee.
“Dr. Paul continues to use LibertyPAC to fund his activities while he explores his political options for 2012,” Benton told Politico. “He remains undecided on what his plans will be, but as a final decision draws closer, his team has put the pieces in place for him to flip a switch and hit the ground running if he decides to run for president.”
In 2008, Paul received 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and garnered 8 percent in New Hampshire’s primary. He finished second, at 14 percent of the vote, in the Nevada caucuses, and eventually finished fourth in the Republican nomination process with 5.6 percent of the vote.
Like other potential Republican candidates seeking to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama, Paul has frequently visited early primary and caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire and others. He raised about $3 million for his political action committee recently, according to Politico, indicating he will have enough money to mount a fairly competitive bid should he choose to seek the nomination.
Paul also won the CPAC straw poll in February, although he was criticized by conservatives for paying for hundreds of students to attention the conference and vote for him.
On Monday, Paul said libertarians like him should take a pro-life stance on abortion. Speaking for the Iowa Family Leader’s presidential lecture series, Paul said he is disappointed when libertarians take a pro-abortion stance such as “it’s the woman’s body. She can do whatever she wants. She can have an abortion.”
“I don’t like them to use that argument – that believing in liberty means you can kill the unborn,” Paul said.
“Life comes from our creator, not our government. Liberty comes from our creator, not from government,” he said. “Therefore, the purpose, if there is to be a purpose, for government is to protect life and liberty.”
Despite his pro-life views, Paul has upset some pro-life groups by voting against Congressional legislation to stop or limit abortions because he believes abortion legislation should come at the state level, not the federal one.