The number Republican candidates hoping to run against President Barack Obama next November could fill a president's Cabinet. But political analysts are especially watching the three that lead in opinion polls: former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Represenative Ron Paul.
Watch: Exclusive VOA Interview with Ron Paul
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul thinks so called "radicals" have spent too much money and created too huge of a government bureaucracy. He is anti-war, anti-taxes, and opposes federal regulation of issues like seatbelts and illicit drugs. He promises to cut $1 trillion out of the U.S. budget in his first year as president.
"In my proposal, my budget I want to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas. We have to quit this spending. We have to quit this being a policeman all over the world. We don't need another war in Syria, another war in Iran," said Paul.
Ron Paul grew up in America's heartland - Pittburgh, Pennsylvania - when it was known as a steel-making town. He solidified his political views during his years as an obstetrician, a military doctor and now in Congress. His associates say his Midwest roots shine through.
"The most extraordinary thing about Ron Paul is his integrity," noted Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party, which embraces many of Paul's philosophies. "The Ron Paul you see on stage or on camera is the same Ron Paul you see in a meeting of a group activists or walking down the hall with them. He's the real deal. He's very genuine."
This is Congressman Paul's third run for the presidency. He expresses the same views as when he first ran in 1988 as the Libertarian Party candidate.
Analysts wonder if he will switch and run again on the Libertarian ticket if he does not do well in the early primaries. That could split the Republican vote in the general election.
"Ron Paul is going to be a factor in this election. He’s not going to win any primaries. He’s not going to get nominated. But he’s going to be there," noted political historian Allan Lichtman.
Others, like poliltical scientist John Fortier think Paul could win a caucus or primary because of his fervent supporter base.
"It’s small, but it’s intense and that following will give money to him in large amounts and will follow him to straw polls and meetings and conventions," Fortier explained.
The top Republican candidates, Paul included, are taking turns surging ahead in political surveys. The first real test of their electability comes on January 3 for the Iowa caucuses.