Ron Paul won't seek reelection in 2012

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx., gives a speech after announcing his plans to seek the Republican nomination for president at the town hall, Friday, May 13, 2011 in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
AP Photo/Jim Cole
Republican Rep. Ron Paul gives a speech after announcing his plans to seek the GOP nomination for president at the town hall, May 13, 2011 in Exeter, N.H.
AP Photo/Jim Cole

Updated 1:13 p.m. Eastern Time

Libertarian-leaning Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, who is currently running for president, announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection next year. That means if his long-shot bid for the White House falls short, the 75-year-old lawmaker will be out of elective office after 12 terms in Congress.

Paul announced his decision on Twitter with a link to a story in a local newspaper called The Facts. He told paper that "I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election," adding that it was time to "change tactics." The comment was presumably in reference to his past failed presidential runs, including a 2008 Republican primary bid and a 1988 run on the libertarian ticket. Paul has been criticized in the past for running for two offices at the same time.

A former obstetrician who represents a district along the Gulf coast, Paul was first elected to the House in 1976. He served four terms before stepping down in 1984. He then ran again in 1996, after the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress. He has held the seat since, winning recent elections with relative ease.

Paul has a passionate but limited fan base among conservatives, some of whom view him as the father of the modern Tea Party. He has long advocated more limited government, more individual liberty and less federal spending, as well as an end to the Federal Reserve.

Paul has broken with many Republicans by pushing for the decriminalization of illegal drugs on a federal level as well as a significant cutback in U.S. involvement in foreign countries. Polls on average show him attracting about 7 percent of the GOP primary vote. He believes that the increased prominence of the issues he has long spotlighted -- as evidenced by the rise of the Tea Party movement -- will help boost his latest presidential bid.

"The country has changed, the support has changed, the number of volunteers has changed," he told the Wall Street Journal. "The country has [now] recognized so much of what I'm talking about."

Paul's son, Rand Paul, was elected to the Senate last year from Kentucky and shares many of his father's beliefs.