He hinted heavily on CNN that he may make another go of it.
“It is probably hard to believe, but I look at it a little bit differently than others,” Paul said in an interview during his recent visit to Iowa. “I don’t expect to be president. I don’t expect to be. That doesn’t mean I won’t run for president, but I am really energized when I think we make inroads … to broaden the outreach on the philosophy I have been talking about for 40 years.” [...]“I am very serious about thinking about it all the time,” Paul said about his possible presidential aspirations. “My answer is always the same thing: You know I haven’t ruled it out, but I have no plans to do it.”
This time around, Paul would have much more name recognition than on his first run, given that 2008 saw him rise— both metaphorically and, in blimp form, literally— as an internet superstar and the heir apparent to the Libertarian throne. He also led the first post-British rule incarnation of the Tea Party movement, a monster of a political effort now wrested out of his hands by social conservative icon Sarah Palin.
So while Paul is probably right in not expecting to be President, he could prove a significantly stronger spoiler in a field defined by the divisions between those who support social freedoms and those who don’t (while national security is also a point of contention between conservatives and libertarians, this particular point is nowhere near as much of a wedge in the Republican Party as social issues are). And by openly declaring that he has no interest in winning a campaign he would still want to be a part of, he may be working towards a new standard of ideologically-driven candidates that are out to send a message more than to regain power. Yes, it’s not like Ross Perot,Ralph Nader, or– if you really want to go back in time– Eugene Debs didn’t do the same, but none of them quite reached the pseudo-mythical status Paul has as the original Tea Partier.
2012 is going to be a fun year.