Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced he's forming a exploratory committee, a major step toward running for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. The filing with the Federal Election Commission will allow him to raise and spend campaign cash before officially jumping in the race; Paul said it also will allow him to join the first presidential debate on May 5. Five other Republicans have taken this step. Paul says he'll officially declare whether he's running in the next couple weeks.

 

Will this campaign be any different than his bid in 2008, when he won just 5.6 percent of the GOP vote? "One reason why most people expect it to be different is because the country is quite different. ... Millions of people are more concerned about the things I talked about four years ago," Paul said at a press conference, according to The Hill's Jordan Fabian. "The expectation is that it will be a much more significant campaign if it comes to a campaign announcement." The announcement comes after Paul's media blitz Monday on The View, the Colbert Report and Fox News.

Paul also predicted that Obama wouldn't be able to ride the wave of young voters' enthusiasm this time around "because of what's been going on over the last [several] years." The change "is intellectual, I believe politicians reflect an intellectual climate... And that is where we are having the most impact." Politico's Andy Barr reports that Paul has lined up his Iowa team, which will be led by Drew Ivers, who ran Pat Buchanan's campaign in the state in 1996 and 2000, and Pat Robertson's in 1988.