Former Celebrity Martial Artist Runs Against Bush in GOP Primary

Tom Laughlin (search), best known for helping bring martial arts into American pop culture with his 1970s "Billy Jack" films, is now throwing his punches in the political arena.

The 72-year-old actor, who lives in Camarillo, is one of 13 candidates running against President Bush in the Republican primary.

Laughlin, who first ran for president as a Democrat in 1992, said he's campaigning to draw attention to a two-party system he deemed "so corrupt it can't function anymore."

He described himself as a "messenger" candidate and said he wasn't disappointed by the New Hampshire primary, in which he earned 154 votes to Bush's nearly 34,000.

"I've never run for president with any kind of thought of winning except to make a statement that we need change desperately," Laughlin told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The issues he's most concerned about: Bush's claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (search) and Congress' recent approval of a Medicare (search) bill that prohibits the purchase of cheaper health care drugs from Canada.

Political themes have long been of interest to Laughlin, whose low-budget martial arts films pitted Billy Jack (search), a part Indian outlaw and Vietnam veteran, against racist, corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen.

"Billy Jack was always about the little guy going against the power brokers who are out to exploit and ruin," Laughlin said. "And that's why I'm running."