Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said farewell to Congress on Wednesday in a 48-minute speech on the House floor. The 77-year-old is wrapping up his seventh term representing the Lone Star State’s 14th District, and his 11th term overall in the House.
Throughout his tenure, Paul has inspired a loyal legion of supporters that extends well beyond the boundaries of his district. Thrice a presidential candidate and never shy about his views, Paul’s libertarian-leaning brand of politics left its mark on Congress and the broader political landscape. We look back below at the most memorable moments in his career. (What stood out to you? The comments section awaits.)
2008/2012 presidential campaigns: Viewed as merely a marginal candidate by many mainstream Republicans in the 2008 primary, Paul turned heads in December of 2007 when he raised an eye-popping $6 million in a one-day “money bomb.” The physician-turned-congressman cultivated a national grassroots following and spurred an enthusiastic burst of online donations. Still, he never came close to winning the nomination and was largely shunned for the 2008 Republican National Convention.
But he would return four years later to a GOP primary campaign in which he refused to go quietly. Paul’s backers effectively took over the delegate selection process in some states he didn’t win, bringing him to within striking distance of securing a speaking slot at the convention. His relative rise prompted Republican officials to take notice — and to eventually adopt rules changes to make it more difficult to accomplish such a feat in the future.
Conscious of the strength of Paul’s following and the danger of ignoring them, Paul was welcomed more warmly at the 2012 GOP convention than he was four years before: His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was given a speaking slot, and officials helped the elder Paul secure a venue in Tampa for an event on the sidelines of the convention.
He even made a convention floor appearance (see below). For the record, he never officially endorsed Mitt Romney, even at the very end of the campaign.
The gold standard: Okay, so this isn’t any one moment, but no other member of Congress has advocated as vocally for returning to the gold standard as Paul, which is why we included this on our list. As the 2012 Republican presidential campaign went on and Paul received as much attention as ever, more Americans were introduced to a monetary idea with which those who have followed Paul for years were familiar.
Stand against FEMA: Paul, a limited government conservative, has been an outspoken opponent of the federal government’s disaster management agency. After Hurricane Ike in 2008 hit the Texas coast in 2008, Paul voted against a measure that was designed to bring aid to the area, which includes his district.
2002/2003 Iraq War opposition: A self-described non-interventionist, Paul was one of just six House Republicans who voted against authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq in the fall of 2002 and the only House Republican who voted “present” on a March 2003 resolution “expressing the Support and Appreciation of the Nation for the President and the Members of the Armed Forces Who are Participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Here’s a floor speech on Iraq that Paul delivered in 2002:
2001 vote against USA PATRIOT Act: Paul broke with his party when he was one of just three House Republicans who voted against authorizing the PATRIOT Act.