By JOE STINEBAKER
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 11, 2007; 6:28 PM
HOUSTON -- Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic, nine-term lawmaker from southeast Texas, took the first step Thursday toward a second, quixotic presidential bid _ this time as a Republican.
Paul filed papers in Texas to create a presidential exploratory committee that will allow him to raise money. In 1988, Paul was the Libertarian nominee for president and received more than 400,000 votes.
Kent Snyder, the chairman of Paul's exploratory committee and a former staffer on Paul's Libertarian campaign, said the congressman knows he's a long shot.
"There's no question that it's an uphill battle, and that Dr. Paul is an underdog," Snyder said. "But we think it's well worth doing and we'll let the voters decide."
Paul limits his view of the role of the federal government to those duties laid out in the Constitution. As a result, he sometimes casts votes at odds with his constituents and other Republicans.
He was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in 2002 against giving President Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq, contending that only Congress had the power to declare war. At times, he has voted against funds for the military.
Paul bills himself as "The Taxpayers' Best Friend," and is routinely ranked either first or second in the House by the National Taxpayers Union, a national group advocating low taxes and limited government.