Ron Paul 2012: Republican Presidential Candidate

Congressman Ron Paul hopes that the third time is a charm.

ByABC News
September 20, 2011, 11:09 AM

— -- Rep. Ron Paul hopes that the third time is a charm. The Texas representative and doctor is running in his third presidential election and hopes his libertarian message of low taxes, global retreat and limited use of federal powers here at home finds new support this time around.

Politics wasn't a natural part of Paul's upbringing. He earned a degree in biology during the late 1950s from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he was on the track and swim teams. He attended Duke University School of Medicine and then served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s.

It wasn't until his late 20s that he had time to start thinking about the world around him. He was struck by a book that his mother gave him -- "Dr. Zhivago" -- about a young medical doctor who had no interest in politics until the Russian Revolution destroyed his life. The message of the book was all about individual liberty, and he began voraciously reading about free market capitalism and solidifying the basis of his libertarian views.

But Paul still stayed away from politics. He and his wife Carol moved to Texas and he focused on his OB-GYN practice, where he is credited with delivering 4,000 babies.

But on Aug. 15, 1971, Paul was sparked to enter politics when Richard Nixon made a seemingly obscure decision to move the U.S. dollar off the gold standard. From his amateur economics background, Paul believed the decision would remove all limits on spending and corrupt the political process.

He decided to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, and though he lost that race he was eventually elected to serve Texas' 22nd district for two different stints during the late 1970s and 1980s. He made an unsuccessful Senate bid in 1984, and was voted back into the House of Representatives in 1997, where he continues to represent Texas' 14th district.

Paul first ran for president as a libertarian back in 1988. He ran again in 2008 -- this time as a Republican, gaining national attention for his fundraising and grassroots support. Since then, his movement has formed the foundation of the "Tea Party," and Paul is called its ideological godfather.

Paul's views on the controlling the nation's debt, pulling away from global intervention and even his view on reigning in the Federal Reserve have become part of the political discourse. Most of those principles have been taken up by the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party helped fuel a GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and gave rise to a new generation of stars, including Paul's current Republican rival Michele Bachmann. Another rising star of the Tea Party is Paul's son Rand Paul, now the junior senator from Kentucky.

This will probably be the last election for the 76-year-old Congressman, who recently announced he will not run for reelection to his Texas seat. But the Paul still attracts a lot of young support. His on-line "money bombs" helped him raise $4.5 million earlier this year, placing him second among Republican candidates for president in total money raised.

Paul faces a steep climb for the Republican nomination because of his controversial views that the 10th amendment delegates decisions about whether to legalize drugs and abolishing abortion (which he opposes) to the states. Buthe became a libertarian hero because of his consistent ideological message throughout his career. Win or lose, Rep. Ron Paul has succeeded in changing the dialogue in America.