Fox News contributor Juan Williams on Sunday said that this was the "age of Ron Paul" during a panel discussion about the Republican presidential primary race.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian, has gained an enthusiastic following for his strong views on limited government, free market economics and non-interventionist foreign policy. In the 2008 Republican presidential primary, his views clearly made him an outlier, but — thanks in part to the tea party movement — many of his economic positions have now been adopted by mainstream Republicans.

Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said that Paul obviously had the most passionate supporters, which was understandable considering he was a "very nice" and "thoughtful" man with interesting ideas. But he warned some of those ideas were "way too exotic for mainstream America."

"I think the Republican Party has to worry that when all is said and done, he might figure, 'well, I can't make it in this party, this party is not for me,' and if he goes third party in the Fall, he is not going to be taking votes away from Barack Obama," Hume said.

"You know I think this is the age of Ron Paul in so many ways," Williams added. "I think he is the father of the tea party, his son is in the Senate, I think you're exactly right. People don't understand the power of Ron Paul."

Paul recently won the Values Voters Summit straw poll and has beat his rival Republican candidates in a number of other straw polls this year, but typically falls behind Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in traditional polls.

Watch video, via, below: