USA Today reports: "Paul, 75, told a local paper in his congressional district that he didn't want to be distracted by running two campaigns at once. The libertarian-thinking candidate, who has a devoted following among supporters of his small government views, is running in his third White House campaign."
In an interview with local Texas newspaper The Facts, Paul clarified, “I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election. It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”
Paul, who currently serves as chairman on the panel that oversees the Federal Reserve Board, in addition to his announcement with The Facts, also announced in a post on Facebook. “I have decided not to seek re-election for my House seat in 2012 and will focus all of my energy on winning the presidency.”
According to Paul, by making his announcement to retire from the House early, he is providing enough time for qualified candidates to consider succeeding him in the 14th District. “I didn’t want to hold off until December. I thought it shouldn’t be any later than now,” he explained.
However, those considering succeeding the long-time Texas Representative will have some big shoes to fill, as he has been the most consistent candidate for the White House with a record of voting strictly according to the Constitution.
Paul’s son Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said of his father’s record,
History will record the legislative record of Ron Paul as an extraordinary one — perhaps unparalleled. There probably has never been a more consistent believer in limited government in Congress.
Congressman Paul was first elected to Congress in 1976, serving four terms. He then made an unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat in 1984. After taking a break from politics to focus on his medical practice, Paul then sought a libertarian nomination for President in 1988. In 1996, he defeated incumbent Greg Laughlin for a GOP nomination for the House and, as noted by USA Today, “has been easily re-elected to the House ever since.”
In the 2010 midterm elections, Paul easily fought off three Republican challengers in the primary before defeating Democrat Robert Pruett in the general election.
Grateful for his constituents in the 14th District, Paul observed, “The people in the area have supported me for many years.”
Paul’s announcement to concentrate solely on the presidential bid reflects his optimism. He told The Facts that he feels his chances for a 2012 presidential bid are significantly better than they were in 2008, even though he set an Internet-driven record that year for fundraising.
“We have a lot more support right now,” said Paul. “Things are doing well for us.”
Paul’s message of limited government, reduced spending, personal liberties, and a non-interventionist foreign policy has garnered a great deal of support in recent years. But some fear that if he does not serve in Congress, that message will no longer be heard.
Paul attempts to assuage those concerns: "I have been talking about this for years. I will always be doing that. But not in the U.S. Congress.”
Libertarian political commentator Lew Rockwell voiced similar sentiments in his blog regarding Paul’s announcement:
There are sad aspects to this, of course. He has been the greatest congressman in American history, by many leagues. But I predict that he will have even-more and even-more-lasting influence as he uses his moral authority for teaching freedom, peace, and Austrian economics outside of politics.
As Paul continues to pursue the GOP 2012 presidential nomination, there appears to be reason for his optimism. The most recent Iowa caucus poll shows that he has made significant gains among likely voters. Commenting on the recent poll, Paul posted on his Facebook page, “The hard work in Iowa is paying off. We were at 3 percent in this poll last time and now we are at 14 percent.”
Photo of Ron Paul: AP Images