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Ron Paul says he's all in for the presidency, won't run again for Congress

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Jim Cole/AP

(Read caption) In this July 1 photo, Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas campaigns in Freedom, N.H. Paul says he will retire from Congress when his term runs out in 2012 and will focus on his campaign for president.

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Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas says he will not run for reelection to Congress so he can concentrate on his third, and presumably final, run for president.

Congressman Paul telegraphed the announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday and gave an exclusive interview with additional quotes to his local paper, The Facts.

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“Big news! I have decided not to seek reelection for my House seat in 2012 and will focus all of my energy winning the presidency,” Paul said.

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The 75-year-old Paul said his current bid for the White House is his strongest. “We have a lot more support right now,” he told The Facts. The outspoken former obstetrician is making his third run for the presidency. He ran as the Libertarian candidate in 1988 and battled John McCain for the GOP nomination in 2008.

Paul said he already had spent twice the amount of time this year in the key Republican primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire than he did in 2008. And he has been a relatively strong fundraiser this year, having netted $4.5 million in the second quarter. That put his fundraising totals above other candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich but well behind front-runner Mitt Romney.

The rise of the tea party gives a clear impetus to Paul’s candidacy. His themes of cutting the size of government, concern about the national debt, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and distrust of the Republican establishment in Washington all are shared by supporters of the tea party movement.

“Time has come around to where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years,” Mr. Paul said on ABC’s Good Morning America when he announced his current run for the White House. “The time is right.”

At the South Carolina GOP debate in May, Paul claimed credit for helping launch the tea party movement when supporters of his last presidential bid raised more than $6 million on the Dec. 17 anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.

Paul was first elected to the House in 1976 and served four terms before leaving Congress. He ran again in 1996 and has held his seat since then. So his total time on the Hill is almost 24 years. “I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul told his hometown paper. “It is about that time when I should change tactics.”

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He left little doubt that his limited government message would not be changing. “I have been talking about this for years,” he told The Fact. “I will always be doing that. But not in the US Congress.”