GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Raul says he was a lone early voice warning about deficit perils, but now his alarms are winning mainstream support that could boost his 2012 bid for the Republican nomination.
The Texas congressman told CNN's "State of the Union" that the mainstream is "moving in the direction that I have been talking about for a long time" and that no one knows what the outcome will be in the election.
Paul was unsuccessful in two previous tries to become a serious contender for the GOP nomination. But he pointed to growing popular discontent with the nation's debt problems and military action abroad.
"They mocked me for my foreign policy and they laughed at my monetary policy. No more. No more. The people are coming over here," he said in the interview, which was taped Friday and broadcast Sunday.
A persistent critic of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and recently in Libya, Paul also took aim at "the endless silly wars that we fight that are bankrupting us." While many Republicans in Congress echo Paul's debt limit opposition, at least for the moment, the party's leaders are arrayed against him on foreign policy, largely supporting the Obama administration's build-up in Afghanistan and its air war with allies in Libya.
Paul scoffed at concerns that a congressional refusal to raise the national debt ceiling would lower the nation's credit rating, insisting White House warnings about financial fallout were "100 percent gamesmanship." He conceded, though, that a last-minute deal on the debt limit would go through.
"It will come down to the wire and they'll pass it because they will beat the drums of fear," Paul said.
Obama administration officials pressing for quick Congressional approval to raise the $14.3 trillion cap on the nation's debt pointed to a warning last week from Moody's Investor Service as ample warning not to delay. The credit rating group said it might review the U.S.'s current high rating for a possible downgrade if a deal between the White House and Congress is not reached quickly.
Despite his expectation that a deal was in the offing, Paul said he would not support the move.
"I'm not going to vote to increase the debt," he said.
Sizing up the 2012 GOP field, Paul said "most of them represent the status quo" and said he knows that the odds are against him. But, he added, "I see a fantastic movement at the grass roots."