Ron Paul announces retirement from Congress

Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul made a surprise announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to Congress, spelling an end to a nearly 24-year House career amid his third run for president.

"I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election," Paul, 75, told The Facts. "It's about that time when I should change tactics."

Paul, who remains significantly behind in many current national polls, first ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988, and as a Republican in 2008.

Even though both bids came up empty, Paul significantly demonstrated the power of his base in 2008, shocking national observers with his ability to quickly raise large sums of cash from loyal followers who favored his small government ideology. That same base is rallying around his 2012 efforts.

Paul told The Facts he believes he has a better shot at the presidency now than he did in 2008.

His decision leaves his Northern Gulf Coast 14th District seat up for grabs. Paul indicated to The Facts that he wanted to reveal his decision sooner rather than later, evidently to permit the field of would-be successors to plan out their 2012 races.

The district is currently regarded as solidly conservative, but Paul faced a complicated re-election campaign in 2012 due to the state's redistricting plan. The newly configured district will now include a significant number of new voters, according to reports out of Texas.

At the time the remap was being approved by the state legislature, Paul spokesman Jesse Benton gave no indication of Paul's potential retirement.

"Dr. Paul does not feel targeted, and his home county of Brazoria remains the cornerstone of the District," Benton last month told the Texas Tribune of the former obstetrician. "If anything, this is a compliment. The GOP knows Dr. Paul will win anywhere he runs, and that his electoral fortitude allows them to strengthen other districts and have no problems holding the 14th."