Ron Paul, a nine-term Texas congressman who describes himself as a lifelong libertarian, formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination Monday.
Appearing on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Paul said he was at first reluctant to run, but that "a lot of people want to hear my message and I'm willing to deliver it."
Paul, who formed an exploratory committee in January, said he had raised more than $500,000 in the past month "with very little effort."
"So far, the amount of money raised isn't competitive with those establishment candidates who will raise $100 million, but with the Internet and the amount of money and enthusiasm, I think we can become very competitive," he said.
Paul, who also ran for the White House as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, has spent three days campaigning in New Hampshire. He is planning trips to Arizona and Iowa, homes to some of the nation's earliest caucuses and primaries, and said he expects to be included in any GOP debates.
Paul, an obstetrician/gynecologist from just south of Houston, is far from the Republican mainstream and acknowledged that he has been largely shunned by the national party. He has criticized President Bush for acting unconstitutionally in sending U.S. troops to Iraq and has said he would support an investigation into whether Bush "deliberately misrepresented" his reasons for doing so.
"I'm very confident the Republican party has gone in the wrong direction," Paul said in his C-SPAN appearance. "We used to be the party of small government. Now we're the party of big government."