AUSTIN, Texas — Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is using his first campaign television ad to promote his long-time opposition to raising the federal debt limit.
In the ad released Thursday and set to run in early primary states, the Texas congressman criticizes both Republicans and Democrats for striking deals in the past and says Congress should not compromise this time. Paul also notes that he always has voted against raising the federal limit on borrowing.
"In the '80s, they did it to (Ronald) Reagan, a debt ceiling compromise, Democrats promising spending cuts, but delivering only tax hikes," the ad says. "The '90s brought more compromises, more broken promises and more new taxes. ... Will our party's leaders repeat the mistakes of the past?"
President Barack Obama has said that if a deal to raise the debt ceiling is not passed by Aug. 2, the U.S. government could default on its loans, creating a financial crisis. Paul and some conservative Republican members of Congress reject that conclusion and have insisted on spending cuts. Negotiations are ongoing between Obama and Republican leaders in the House and Senate over a compromise that would ensure the debt ceiling is increased.
The scope of federal spending is an important issue to conservatives who make up the Republican Party's base, and Paul is seeking to use the debate raging in Washington on one of his signature issues to gain ground in his presidential campaign. He trails other candidates in national and state polls. A poll conducted for The Des Moines Register last month showed Paul running toward the back of the pack, with only 7 percent support.
The ads are to begin airing on both broadcast and cable stations in Iowa and New Hampshire on Friday and are to run through next week, said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul campaign. Benton said the campaign is spending more than $100,000 in each state. It's a hefty sum for this early in the race. Other candidates are running ads, but at much lower levels.
Paul is running for the Republican nomination for a second time. He also ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988. Reducing the federal budget and the national debt have always been his key issues.
The former obstetrician from a district south of Houston is critical of federal economic and monetary policy. His campaign themes focus on reducing both the power and scope of the federal government, increasing states' rights and abolishing both the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service.
During his failed 2008 presidential campaign, his positions put him outside the Republican mainstream and the nomination was never within his grasp, despite having enthusiastic supporters and a large campaign chest. Many consider him the ideological godfather of the tea party movement, and his views on reducing the federal budget and the national debt have become major issues in the 2012 race.