Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign, a pugnacious, ideological crusade against big government and interventionist leanings in the Republican party, will officially end Thursday at a rally outside the Texas GOP's convention, ABC News has learned.
Paul told supporters back in March, in a video posted on his Web site, that he was "winding down" his campaign and planning a new phase to what he and fans call their "revolution."
The new phase of the revolution officially begins with a speech tonight in Houston and a Web video to be posted on his site, officially ending Paul's presidential campaign and freeing up the more than $4.7 million in campaign cash for investment in a new advocacy group, The Campaign for Liberty.
The new entity will be used to push a slate of libertarian-minded Republican candidates for public office in local districts nationwide, according to a description provided to ABC News by the Paul campaign. Paul also recently published a new book on his political philosophy, The Revolution: A Manifesto.
The Texas congressman's campaign to win the Republican nomination raised about $33 million in nine months, and he and his organizers hope to reignite that grassroots support for the new organization. They're setting a goal of raising $35 million over the next year.
Despite the dedication and moxie of Paul's supporters, maintaining that level of interest without the vehicle of Paul's presidential campaign could be difficult, especially given the frenetic, laissez faire interaction between Paul and his supporters through the presidential campaign. The congressman in many ways served as a figurehead, while independent actors drawn to his message did most of the organizing.
The Liberty Campaign is meant as a means for harnessing some of that energy and maintaining interest on a more micro level, by recruiting like-minded people to seek political office.
Paul, who is a medical doctor, is not ending his political career but will seek reelection to his congressional seat in Texas.
The Paul campaign itself was defined by a dedicated army of supporters, who organized independently of Paul, worked to explode "money bombs" to sustain his campaign coffers, rallied in the streets of primary states and even skirted campaign finance law to float a Ron Paul '08 blimp around much of the Eastern seabord earlier this year.
Not Getting on the McCain Bandwagon
For all the dash and creativity of Paul's supporters, his campaign never translated into large percentages of the primary vote.
Paul has repeatedly denied calls from supporters that he run for president as an independent this year. He argues that the American political system is weighted in favor of the two main political parties.
But while he is organizing his revolution within the Republican party, don't look for Paul to jump on the campaign trail with McCain.
"Although it is not his intention to hurt McCain," said Paul's campaign spokesman Jesse Benton, "he is very unlikely to endorse."
At the height of his campaign popularity, amid the early primaries and when he was raising more campaign money than any of the other Republicans, Paul made his mark at Republican debates, often sparring with McCain and former New York Governor Rudy Giuliani over foreign policy.
Paul was alone among Republican candidates calling for an end to the Iraq war and for American troops to be brought home from long-term international postings around the world.