Ron Paul announces official exploratory committee in Des Moines


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DES MOINES — Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, announced the formation of an official exploratory committee on Tuesday in Des Moines. Though he skirted any direct indication of declaring a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, he didn't dismiss the possibility, either.

"I do intend to make a firm decision in the not too distant future," he said. "I would be very surprised if I don't make that decision, to go one way or the other, in the month of May."

The committee's formation comes before the May 5 South Carolina Republican debate which requires participants to have either declared a candidacy or at least an official exploratory committee.

The declaration would be the third time the 75-year-old has tried a such a campaign, one that would promise to be a much more significant campaign, Paul said.

The congressman said he felt confident young supporters would be a driving force in the his next political run. What he labeled as President Obama's unmet promises may pull younger voters away from the incumbent and bring those voters to his own campaign.

"A lot of [my younger supporters] went to Obama, which is pretty strange to me because our views were quite different, but if you listen carefully, there were some things Obama was saying that people were interested in," Paul said. "I think there's a lot of disenchantment right now, to tell you the truth."

But one UI Democratic leader said the youth vote is a lot more diverse in its makeup, and Paul's sway with libertarian groups doesn't have much effect on votes for Obama.

"These libertarian groups, they tended to not vote for Barack Obama in the first place," said Nate Fiala, the president-elect of the UI Democrats. "So he isn't really taking the votes away from the president."

John Twillman, the chairman of the UI College Republicans, said Paul's personality and name recognition may help his campaign.

"He's not necessarily a new breed of Republican, but he definitely brings something unique and different to the table," Twillman said.

UI political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said it's important to be careful when comparing two different political climates.

"We do have to keep in mind that the young voters in 2008 are not the same voters in 2012," Hagle said.

A lot of youth involved in the 2008 election are no longer in the halls of academia, Hagle said, and many have moved on to the workforce.

Paul, who visited the UI in March, said he sees an overwhelming amount of support wherever he visits universities.

"[Universities] have been very encouraging to me," he said.

And many UI students are ready to lend support, said Ani DeGroot, the president of the UI chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.

"A lot of people have remained ignited since 2007, 2008," she said.

In addition to the exploratory-committee announcement, Paul also announced three members of his Iowa leadership team. David Fischer, who will serve as vice chairman of the team, stressed the importance of Iowa campaigning in the 2012 election.

"It's our job as Iowans to tell the rest of Americans which one of these potential candidates has the message that America needs to hear," Fischer said.

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