Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on Thursday became the latest presidential hopeful to criticize President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying in a statement that Obama “has acted in clear disregard of the Constitution” and “must be called to account for his actions.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Paul added that he has opposed “unconstitutional power grabs” by presidents of both parties and argued that that consistency makes him “the only Republican candidate with the credibility and the record” to challenge Obama.

“If the president insists on behaving in such a cavalier manner with regard to requirements set forth by the Constitution, then action by Congress may become necessary to rein in his flagrant contempt for the rules,” he said.

Paul’s statement Thursday follows one by Mitt Romney on Wednesday. The former Massachusetts governor charged that Obama’s recess appointment “represents Chicago-style politics at its worst and is precisely what then-Senator Obama claimed would be ‘the wrong thing to do.’ ”

Reactions to the Cordray appointment have largely fallen along party lines – even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who was one of three Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the 2012 Dodd-Frank legislation that established the watchdog agency, said in a statement Wednesday that she was “deeply troubled” by Obama’s recess appointment of Cordray.

So far, only one prominent Republican – Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) – has come out in favor of the recess appointment. Brown, of course, is facing Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in what’s expected to be one of the most competitive Senate races of the year; Warren was Obama’s initial choice to head the CFPB.

At stake in the Cordray debate is not simply the matter of his nomination or even of the jurisdiction of the consumer watchdog agency but rather the manner in which Obama made his recess appointment Wednesday. By making the appointment during a recess of less than 10 days, Obama made a move that has been unprecedented in the past decade – and one that Republicans say could open to the door to similar actions by the Obama White House and others in the future.

Democrats have countered that by holding “pro-forma” sessions every three days throughout the winter recess, congressional Republicans have essentially moved to block permanently any recess appointments by the White House.