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Ron Paul likely to enter 2012 race in May

U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks during the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit at the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011, in Phoenix. David Wallace,AP Photo/The Arizona Republic

Libertarian-leaning Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul has formed a so-called "testing the waters" fundraising account ahead of a possible 2012 presidential run, Paul aide Jesse Benton confirmed to CBS News. 

According to Benton, Paul "is close to making a final decision and it is better than 50-50 that he will enter the race in May."

A run by Ron Paul would almost surely mean that his son, GOP Sen. Rand Paul, will not seek the presidency. Rand Paul, who shares many political beliefs with Ron Paul, has been considering a run if his father does not seek the nomination.

Benton said that Ron Paul has already raised more than $1.2 million through his political action committee "to help him weigh his political options," adding that "he has the structure in place to hit the ground running if he makes the decision to run next month." Benton is the director of Paul's political action committee, LibertyPAC.

Money from Paul's testing the waters account could be transferred into a campaign fund if he decides to move forward with a run. The Texas Republican, who attracted a small but passionate level of support in his 2008 presidential run, has made repeated stops in the key early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months.

A testing the waters account is not the same as a presidential exploratory committee, which requires candidates to file with the Federal Election Commission. A candidate who is merely "testing the waters" cannot publicize an intent to campaign for president, raise excess funds or talk about himself as a candidate - though these lines can be murky.

Rick Santorum, who is widely expected to run for president, announced the formation of a testing the waters committee on Wednesday.

Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney have filed paperwork for presidential exploratory committees, though they have not officially announced presidential runs.