Election 101: Ron Paul sets sights on 2012. Ten things to know about him.

Ron Paul is hoping the third time’s the charm. The Texas congressman declared his (third) candidacy for president Friday on ‘Good Morning America.’ The ‘intellectual grandfather’ of the tea party movement is a constitutional purist who’s as popular among his fervent followers as he is disliked by the GOP establishment. He’s a dark horse pushing for an upset victory.

Charlie Neibergall/AP
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference at his newly opened Iowa campaign office, Tuesday, May 10, in Ankeny, Iowa.

1. Why is he running – again?

Brian C. Frank / Reuters
Texas Congressman Ron Paul (R) speaks during his announcement of an exploratory committee in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 26.

Representative Paul is running as much to promote his issues as to get in the White House, says Brian Doherty, a senior writer at libertarian Reason Magazine.

“That’s always what Ron Paul has been in this for,” says Mr. Doherty. “He’s not in politics to do well for himself, but to get a set of ideas out. Running for president is a surprisingly successful way to get that message out.”

Paul has already brought a libertarian flavor to the race, highlighted issues he deems important, and energized a base of voters discouraged with the religious right-dominated GOP.

And, with the US facing a gaping deficit, several ongoing entanglements overseas, and a weak GOP field, Paul sees a perfect storm in 2012.

“I believe there are literally millions of more people now concerned about the very things I talked about four years ago.... The excessive spending, the entitlement system, the foreign policy, as well as the monetary system,” he said in Iowa, after announcing formation of his exploratory committee.

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