Speaking to conservatives, Paul warns US government 'in the process of failing'

For the second year running, Texas congressman Ron Paul came out on top among conservative Republicans in a "straw poll" contest to gauge popularity ahead of the 2012 presidential race.

Paul, who calls himself a libertarian, is not really the party's typical standard bearer, by any measure. But he earned the most votes in the contest held by the Conservative Political Action Conference in which about 4,000 people cast ballots.

"There is truly a revolution going on in this country," Paul said in a speech. "We live at a time where we do need a change in attitude, a change in ideas. We don't need to just change the political parties; we need to change our philosophy about what this country is all about."

"Our country stands at a precipice," Paul warned. "America's greatness and exceptionalism are because we chose economic and political freedom.

We are not inherently exceptional. We are exceptional because we chose freedom and we chose to protect that freedom from tyranny with the Constitution."

He has been a candidate seeking the presidential nod twice in the past: in 1988 and 2008.

The straw poll comes as US conservatives clamor for a clear leader with a lot of voices seeking to be heard, and face the challenge of battling incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama.

Paul took 30 percent of the vote, followed by another 2008 presidential hopeful, Massachusetts ex-governor Mitt Romney, with 23 percent.

While the party may have been jolted internally by the very conservative "Tea Party" activists, who made gains in midterm elections last year, their candidate Michele Bachmann only earned four percent.

This video is from the Associated Press, published Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011.

Image credit: R. DeYoung, Wikimedia Commons