Paul had a challenging race but was re-elected to Congress in 1996. In the Republican Party presidential primary, Paul received support from conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, tax activist and publisher Steve Forbes, baseball pitcher and friend Nolan Ryan, and the Republican National Committee, which backed incumbent Greg Laughlin. In the autumn election, Paul narrowly defeated Democratic lawyer Charles “Lefty” Morris, who had criticized Paul for publishing contentious views in multiple newsletters.
Paul had introduced 620 legislation in Congress over the course of more than 22 years, but only one of them had been enacted into law, giving him a lifetime success percentage of less than 0.3%. This was as of December 2011. Paul’s only finally adopted bill, H.R. 2121 (2009), permitted the sale of a government customhouse to a local historic preservation society.
Through amending other laws, he contributed to the prohibition of funding for federal teacher certification, national identification numbers, International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the U.S. military, American participation in any global U.N. tax, and citizen surveillance of peaceful First Amendment activities.
On March 12, 2007, Paul officially announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination in 2008. Not many well-known politicians supported him, and the mainstream media mostly disregarded his campaign. Nonetheless, he drew a fiercely devoted grassroots fan base that engaged with him via online social media.
Paul’s name was the most searched phrase on Technorati.com in May 2007, just after the first televised primary debates. Paul’s team also claimed that he had more YouTube channel subscribers than Barack Obama or any other presidential contender.
As the primary season went before the Iowa caucuses in 2007, Paul raised more money through fundraising than any other Republican contender during the fourth quarter of 2007.
Paul established an official exploratory committee in late April 2011 after winning multiple early straw polls for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2012. In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America on May 13, 2011, he formally announced his campaign.
He also took part in the first Republican presidential debate on May 5, 2011. In the 2011 Ames Straw Poll, he came in second, 0.9% behind first. In a June 2011 interview, Paul said he would think about Andrew Napolitano, a former judge on the New Jersey Superior Court, as his running mate if he were nominated.