Texas Congressman Ron Paul has formed an “exploratory” committee and has pledged to announce in the “not too distant future” whether he will seek the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination. 

Paul held a news conference in Des Moines Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.

“I do see a lot of support, but sometimes you get a lot of support from very vocal supporters and you don’t know whether they’re fooling you or not,” Paul said. “Not that they’re fooling me intentionally, but how many people there really are.”

Paul said he’ll gauge his fundraising potential and the depth of his support before formally launching a campaign.

Paul ran as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 1988 and he ran as a Republican in 2008 and finished fifth in the Iowa Caucuses.

“The country is already quite different,” Paul said. “I believe there are literally millions of more people now concerned about the things that I talked about four years ago.”

Paul is an unapologetic critic of U.S. military interventions in foreign countries, but he is best known for his long-standing call for reform of the nation’s monetary policies.

“World history has never seen the monetary inflation that we have seen in the last couple of years — trillions of dollars, unmonitored by the congress, and guess what that inevitably leads to? Higher prices,” Paul said. “Higher prices will be the key issue in next year’s election because people already know that prices are going up.”

Paul also announced his “Iowa Leadership Team” for 2012.  It includes an Ames realtor and engineer David Fischer of Ivy, a small town near Des Moines — both of whom are members of the Iowa Republican Party’s state central commtitee.

“It’s our job as Iowans to tell the rest of America which of these potential candidates has the message that America needs to hear,” Fischer said. “Ron Paul is the right Republican with the right message at the right time.” 

Drew Ivers of Webster City, another member of the Iowa GOP’s state central committee, will be chairman of Paul’s 2012 Iowa effort. 

“Of the many challenges we face in America today, the imorality of spending money we don’t have is perhaps the gravest threat we face,” Ivers said. “Ron Paul has never voted for an unbalanced budget. He has never voted to raise taxes…and thus he has never voted to spend money we don’t have.”

Ivers was chairman of Ron Paul’s 2008 Iowa campaign.  Ivers worked for Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000 and, back in 1988, he worked for televangelist Pat Buchanan’s Iowa campaign.

Listen to Paul’s event in Des Moines.