The Texas Republican congressman and libertarian icon formally announced Tuesday that he was forming an presidential exploratory committee, matching the moves of more mainstream GOP hopefuls such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
And in what was meant as a show of seriousness, the Texas physician made his announcement in Des Moines, Iowa, where the first votes will be cast for the GOP nomination. He also introduced an Iowa leadership team, including three elected members of the state Republican Party’s central committee.
In his 2008 run, Rep. Paul showed he had staying power, and a base of support drawn from the libertarian ranks of the GOP. But he was never able to convince Republican officials he was anything other than a fringe candidate.
Supporters this go-round say his 2012 run will be different. In 2008, his anti-war views were in opposition to George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This time, he will be challenging military conflicts being prosecuted by President Barack Obama, in Afghanistan and now Libya.