Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican known for his staunch libertarian views, announced today he's forming a presidential exploratory committee.
This marks Paul's third bid for the presidency. He first ran in 1988 and again in 2008, winning a small but enthusiastic group of supporters among the GOP electorate.
Part of Paul's fervent support in 2008 was grounded in college-aged voters, a constituency that also largely favored Barack Obama. In this campaign, the 75-year-old Paul said today, Mr. Obama won't be able to hang on to the youth vote.
"I think that Obama will not be able to hang on to that enthusiasm of the young people because of what's happened in the last couple years," Paul said in Des Moines, Iowa, after his exploratory committee was announced.
The financial crisis, the bloated deficit and the ongoing wars make the libertarian views Paul is known for -- such as his anti-interventionist foreign policy and his antipathy toward the Federal Reserve -- even more relevant than in 2008, Paul suggested.
"I believe there are literally millions of more people now concerned about the very things I talked about four years ago," he said, such as "the excessive spending, the entitlement system, the foreign policy, as well as the monetary system."
"If you want to curtail spending... you can't do it without addressing the inflationary system," continued Paul, who chairs a House subcommittee on domestic monetary policy. "Congress does not have to act responsibly... they've resorted to printing out money."
Even as the issues central to Paul's campaign receive greater focus, some consider Paul's candidacy a longshot, given that several of his policy positions do not align with those of the Republican party. Still, it's likely he'll at least play a strong role in shaping the course the Republican primary debate.
That impact of Paul's candidacy in the primaries could also be reinforced by. Johnson also holds largely libertarian views and is often compared to Paul.
Paul's enthusiastic support base made it clear at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference that they are still going strong. College Republicans turned out in droves at the conference, and Paul.
Jesse Benton, an aide to Paul,Hotsheet earlier this month that Paul's political action committee LibertyPAC has already raised more than $1.2 million and that "he has the structure in place to hit the ground running if he makes the decision to run."
With an exploratory committee, Paul can raise more funds specifically for parts of his 2012 campaign. Other candidates who have formed exploratory committees include former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Paul said today that the formation of his exploratory committee does not mean he is fully the race; he said he is likely to determine whether to commit to the race by next month.
Watch Jeff Glor speak with political correspondent Jan Crawford about the packed race for the Republican nomination for President: