Fed-basher Ron Paul is making an all-in bid in probably his last run for the presidency, and public frustration over monetary policy has rarely been higher. But is Mr. Paul’s radical vision of smaller government and free markets attractive enough to win the mainstream?

On Tuesday, Mr. Paul, 74 years old, said he wouldn’t seek re-election to Congress in 2012. The Texas Republican said he wants to focus on his presidential run, but also conceded that it is time to turn over representation of his Gulf Coast district to new blood.

“Every so often, monetary policy becomes the key element in the political process,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. He says that the role of a central bank has been debated since the country was founded. His views, he said, are aligned with those founding fathers who initially defeated a proposed central bank (the Fed was founded in 1913, the third central bank in U.S. history).

Voters are “more passionate now than they have been in 100 years,” Mr. Paul said. “They’re much more passionate about it than they were four years ago. And they ought to be passionate about it because it’s so important.”

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