“I'm officially announcing that I am a candidate for president in the Republican primary,” he said.
This will be the third time out for Paul. He first ran as a Libertarian in 1988, then 20 years later as a Republican. Now he’s the second Republican this week to formally announce, following on the heels of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Paul, 75, who tweeted yesterday that he would make a “major announcement” this morning, said he wants to run because “the time is right.”
“Time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years,” he told me.
But Paul has ground to make-up. In last month’s ABC News/ Washington Post poll only 2% backed him compared to 16% for Mitt Romney and 6% for Mike Huckabee.
One thing he probably won’t lack: campaign cash. Back in 2008, he surprised the field by raising $5 million in three months.
The congressman and obstetrician – whose son is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – is well known for his stance against the Federal Reserve and has taken controversial positions such as legalizing heroine or recently saying that he would not have ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Today Paul defended his remarks about the death of bin Laden, telling me it was about the way he was killed, not the fact he was dead.
“I was talking about the procedure. You know I endorsed the whole idea of going after him. I supported going into Afghanistan. I thought we blew it then. We had him cornered, we let him get lose and we then went in and invaded Iraq…So the process has been very bad. So I have no qualms about getting him, I’m delighted he’s gone, but the whole thing is we could have done it differently,” Paul said.
Paul is worried we won’t be able to repair our relationship with Pakistan.
“Ignoring the Pakistani government doesn’t help us at all, it looks like we’re trying to be more antagonistic towards the Pakistanis. They have helped us in the past to catch many terrorists,” he told me.
So why he is running as a Republican if he is at odds with his party on foreign, domestic and social issues?
“Running as an Independent here is just about impossible unless you’re a billionaire like Ross Perot. You don’t get on debates. If I was an independent George, you would not have me on this program this morning,” he said.
Instead he told me he’s taking the opportunity to nudge Republicans to “stick to their guns on fiscal conservatism.”
In 2007 he bet me “every cent” in my pocket that he could win the presidency. Today he told me that winning the GOP nomination is an “absolute possibility.”
So Paul’s not ready to go double for nothing, but he’s running hard.
UPDATE: After his announceement on GMA, Paul held his first campaign rally in Exeter, New Hampshire. Read about it here.