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Paul's long-held policies converge with Tea Party's

By Gabriella Schwarz, CNN
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Ron Paul: A serious contender in 2012?
  • This will be Rep. Ron Paul's third presidential run
  • Paul ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate in 1988 and for the GOP nomination in 2008
  • Paul is serving his 11th term in the House of Representatives

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(CNN) -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul is making his third bid for the White House armed with the same libertarian-leaning stances that cultivated a dedicated following during his 11 terms in the House of Representatives.

Those positions -- calls for limited government, reduced federal spending and less U.S. involvement overseas -- are now in the fore of national politics with the rise of the Tea Party and the country's financial situation.

Paul is perhaps most famous for his calls to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Reserve and return to a gold standard, views he often advocates as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. And as a member of the International Relations Committee, he has consistently voted against authorizing military action overseas and opposed U.S. support for the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

He has also called for constitutional amendments to abolish personal income, estate and gift taxes.

But those are some of the same issues that made him and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, darlings of the Tea Party movement and especially popular among young conservatives whom he visits on college campuses across the country.

He often says he was fighting for those issues before they were popular.

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"Mainstream is now thinking about these things. Before, mainstream was deficits don't matter, print money when you need it, endless wars, personal privacy that didn't mean anything," Paul said on CNN's "State of the Union" recently. "But believe me, mainstream is moving in the direction that I have been talking about for a long time, and therefore nobody knows what the outcome will be in this election."

Although he raises significant campaign funds, fundraising success doesn't necessarily translate to electoral wins.

While running for the 2008 GOP nomination, Paul raised $20 million in the last quarter of 2007, mostly through individual contributions, which was twice as much raised by eventual Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona. But he barely breached 10% in the early presidential voting states. After he dropped out of the race in June 2008, he used his remaining funds to form Campaign for Liberty, designed to support candidates who agreed with his policy stances.

An early champion of virtual campaigning, Paul coined the term "money bomb" for setting a fundraising goal over a set period of time on his website. He raised more than $1 million during his most recent "money bomb" in June but fell short of the $2 million goal.

The Pittsburgh native first ran for the White House in 1988 as the Libertarian Party candidate against Republican George H.W. Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis, ultimately receiving 0.5 percent of the vote, or 432,000 votes, in the general election. But don't expect him to seek a third-party bid in 2012.

"We don't have a democracy in this country. It's so biased," Paul told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "If you're a third party, you can't -- I can't get into debates as a third-party candidate. When I did it as a third party, I spent over half my money just to get on the ballot."

As a GOP candidate he will also promote more socially conservative stances, popular with Republican voters in many of the early nominating states. He has said he believes marriage is the union between a man and a woman, but voted in 2004 and 2006 against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, something he said is an increase in federal power.

Paul also told Wolf Blitzer in May that he supports the "protection of all human life."

"I'm for repealing Roe v. Wade. And it's not an attack on women's rights," Paul said on CNN's "The Situation Room." "Women have rights, but they also have a responsibility if they're responsible for life."

Paul has a unique perspective as a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology who has delivered more than 4,000 babies. After graduating from Gettysburg College and the Duke University School of Medicine, he served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force before moving to Texas with his wife Carol and eventually representing the 14th District that includes the cities of Victoria and Galveston.

He will be 77 in 2012, but Paul, a father of five and grandfather of 18, said he doesn't feel old.

"Where do I get my energy and where do I get my support and the enthusiasm? It comes from the young people," Paul told Blitzer. "That really excites me because this issue is so important. It's important to my kids. It's an important point to all the kids of America."

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