Paul thinks he has Rx for cure
One of the few doctors in the U.S. House of Representatives hopes to prescribe the cure for the nation's problems. But Ron Paul is experienced enough in politics to know that his chances of being elected president to preside over those changes are slim.
An obstetrician who lives in Lake Jackson, Paul, who will turn 72 on Aug. 20, has been an often lonely voice in the House against things like the Iraq war, the nation moving away from backing its currency with gold or silver, and the Federal Reserve.
Some view him as a libertarian kook. But his views - maverick by today's Republican Party standards, but harking back more to the states' rights, stay out of foreign military adventures, keep the federal government small, balance the budget - have produced enough nods of agreement from around the country that he raised $2.4 million in the most recent quarter.
Among presidential candidates, he's right behind Democratic hopeful Barack Obama for viewings on YouTube. With his broad fundraising base and tight pursestrings, he actually had more money in the bank than one-time frontrunner John McCain.
He attracts support from a variety of people who share his opinions on some things, but not necessarily on all of them.
For instance, he strongly opposes abortion, but believes it should be addressed at the state level, not the federal. He wants the United States to get out of NATO.
After he lost a 1984 race for the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat to Democratturned Republican Phil Gramm, Paul said he didn't regret leaving the House.
"I knew that my time to be in the House had come to an end," he told a reporter in October of that year.
He returned to concentrate more fully on delivering babies in Brazoria County. But his strong stands against many involvements of the federal government, and the base of disgruntled voters he'd built up around the country, led him to seek the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination in 1988. He beat out Russell Means, the Native-American activist.
He did not win in November, though he got just under half a million votes, and a lot more exposure among people opposed to various government programs.
The man who had declared his time in the House was over reconsidered in 1995. He met with Texas Republicans in Congress and said he thought he could win the 14th Congressional District seat held by Democrat Greg Laughlin.
But Laughlin switched to the GOP, and was embraced by many Republican stalwarts, including then-Gov. George W. Bush and his father, former President George Bush.
Paul ran anyway, and beat Laughlin, 54-46, in the GOP primary. He narrowly defeated the Democrat, Austin plaintiff's attorney Charles "Lefty" Morris, in the general election.
Although he's been challenged since, with his national direct-mail fund-raising base and Republican-tilting district, Paul has had no problem being re-elected. One reason, some only half-joke, is that he's delivered half the people in Brazoria County.
Paul is almost certain to be an also-ran in the GOP presidential primaries. But he looks at the presidential nomination process, and its attendant debates and press coverage, as a forum to spread his ideas.
He's also running for re-election to his congressional seat, and looks like he'll draw opposition at least in the Republican primary. Potential opponents include a former aide, who served on Paul's staff until just after 9/11, when they had a bitter falling out.
Some think the law was changed to accommodate Lyndon Johnson's presidential run, and it was. But until 1945, the issue never came up, because the presidential electors, rather than the candidates for whom they were pledged to vote, were the names listed on the ballot.