Ron Paul is a former longtime congressman from Texas, known for his mix of conservative and libertarian views.
Who Is Ron Paul?
Born in Pennsylvania in 1935, Ron Paul began his professional career in medicine. After graduating from Duke University's medical school in 1961, he served with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. National Guard. Elected to represent Texas, he served in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1976 and again from 1979 to 1984. Returning to the House again in 1997, Paul served eight more consecutive terms, until leaving office in 2013. The longtime congressman, who became known on a national scale for his libertarian stances, is the father of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Born Ronald Ernest Paul on August 20, 1935 and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, politician Ron Paul was the third of five sons. As a child, he helped out in the family's dairy business. He continued working as a paper boy and later at a local drug store. In high school, Paul was a member of the track and wrestling teams and served as the president of the student council. Discovering love at an early age, He met his future wife Carol while in high school.
In his last year of college, Ron Paul married Carol. After he graduated in 1957, the couple moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Ron attended the Duke University School of Medicine. Finishing his degree in 1961, he and his young family then moved to Detroit, Michigan. There Paul did his internship and residency at Henry Ford Hospital. Serving his country, he was as a doctor in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 1965 and then with the United States Air National Guard from 1965 to 1968.
Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, Paul opened his own practice in Texas. During the course of his career, he is said to have delivered more than 4,000 babies. In the 1970s, Paul became active in politics, making a failed Congressional bid in 1974. But he was victorious two years later in a special election to replace Representative Robert R. Casey, who had resigned. That same year, he established the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (FREE).
Entry Into Politics
Paul's first stint in the House of Representatives lasted only a few months, as he did not retain his post in the general election later that year. However, he did win a follow-up bid in 1978 and was later re-elected twice. Emerging as a strong critic of the country's banking and financial systems, he began writing about his economic theories. His book Gold, Peace and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency was published in 1981, and was quickly followed by The Case for Gold: A Minority Report of the U.S. Gold Commission in 1982. Paul then expressed his pro-life and anti-federal government views in 1983's Abortion and Liberty.
After an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate against Phil Gramm in 1984, Paul was succeeded in the House of Representatives by Tom DeLay. Paul returned to his private practice, but did not stay out of politics for too long.
A career Republican, Paul jumped ship in 1988 to become the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. In many ways, he was a good fit for the party with his interest in lowering taxes and reducing the size of the federal government. But Paul did differ with the Libertarians over the abortion issue, as the party supports personal liberty and opposes laws and other restrictions on the actions or lifestyles of individuals. While he came in third, Paul received almost 500,000 votes in the general election.
In the mid-1990s, Paul returned to the Republican Party and fought Greg Laughlin—a Democrat turned Republican—for his party's nomination for a seat in the House of Representatives. The odds were against him as Laughlin had wide support from the party and from deep-pocketed organizations such as the National Rifle Association. Despite the opposing forces, Paul was able to defeat Laughlin and win the 1996 general election to the House, where he remained until 2013.
Over the years, Paul maintained a steadfast consistency on executive power, taxation, and pro-life issues. Unlike many of his Republican peers, he voted against the Patriot Act and against the Iraq War. Paul did, however, support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan. He voted against farm subsidies and regulating the internet, lining up with his interest in reducing government spending and the role of the federal government. In addition, he expressed his opposition to the war on drugs, saying that the government's efforts amounted to a war on doctors. This and other controversial opinions often caused tension with his Republican counterparts.
2008 and 2012 Presidential Campaigns
Paul declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in March 2007, and to some, his mix of traditional conservatism and libertarianism made him an intriguing candidate. On November 5, 2007, a group of supporters raised more than $4 million in one day for his campaign. The date was no accident—it was Guy Fawkes Day, a British holiday that remembers the attempted destruction of the Parliament building—with the king inside—by a rebel named Guy Fawkes. Paul “wants to demolish things like the Department of Education,'' one of his spokespeople told The New York Times, adding, ''we can do that very peacefully, in a constructive manner.''
Paul came in fifth at the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2018, with approximately 10 percent of the vote, beating out the better-known Rudy Giuliani. At the much-watched New Hampshire primary, Paul had a fifth-place finish, beating Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter. At Michigan's January 15 primary, he came in fourth, ahead of Giuliani, Thompson and Hunter.
Despite not winning a single state on Super Tuesday in early February, Paul elected to remain in the race, seeing the campaign as a way to promote important issues. He eventually dropped out in June, and wound up endorsing the Constitution Party's candidate, Chuck Baldwin, instead of the Republican nominee, John McCain.
In 2011, Paul again threw his hat into the ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Like before, he drew some support, but not enough to overtake the frontrunners. He remained in the race despite announcing he would no longer actively campaign in May, and later declined to endorse the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.
Life After Congress
After leaving Congress in January 2013, the longtime politician founded the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, as part of the FREE organization. In 2015, he launched the Liberty Report online channel and a corresponding website.
In July 2018, Paul caused an uproar with a tweet about "Cultural Marxism" that included a cartoon with offensive depictions of black, Latino, Jewish and Asian men. The tweet soon vanished and reappeared with a replacement image, but not before screen grabs of the original one circulated. Paul subsequently blamed a staff member for "inadvertently" posting the offensive cartoon.