Rep. Ron Paul twice sought the Republican presidential nomination (in addition to being the 1988 Libertarian Party nominee.) In those 2008 and 2012 White House bids, the then-Texas congressman presented a libertarian-conservative view that attracted ardent (if limited) followers.
But he wasn't the first.
That honor - or dishonor, depending on your ideology = goes to Rep. Howard Buffett. The Nebraska Republican congressman, for a total of eight years, is best known as father of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. But in Howard Buffett's time he presented a vision for government - or lack thereof - that preceded Paul in Congress by more than 30 years.
In 1942 Buffett, 39, was running a small brokerage business, and serving on the Omaha board of education. A New Deal critic, he was considered a Republican sacrificial lamb candidate in the midterm elections. Buffett won an upset victory in the wartime campaign.
Once in Congress Howard Buffett espoused a libertarian Old Right stance. He strongly supported the gold standard because he believed it would limit the ability of government to inflate the money supply and spend beyond its means.
He "would invariably draw 'zero' ratings from the Americans for Democratic Action and other leftist groups.
Buffett was a vocal critic of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Of the Truman Doctrine, he said: "Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns." Buffett was also one of the major voices in Congress opposed to the Korean War.
Speaking on the floor of Congress, he said of military interventionism that,
Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.
After getting to Congress in the 1942 elections, Buffett was reelected twice. In 1948 he again was the Republican nominee for another term, but was defeated for reelection; however, he was the Republican nominee for the office again in 1950 and won the office back.
In 1952 Buffett decided against seeking another term and returned to his investment business in Omaha, Buffett-Falk & Co., in which he worked until shortly before his death, in 1964. He also served as the campaign manager for conservative Senator Robert Taft in Taft's 1952 presidential campaign.
Apple Falls Far From The Tree
Warren Buffett certainly didn't inherit his father's political philosophy. He endorsed and made campaign contributions to Barack Obama's presidential campaigns. On July 2, 2008, Buffett attended a $28,500 per plate fundraiser for Obama's campaign in Chicago hosted by Obama's National Finance Chair, Penny Pritzker and her husband, as well as Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Buffett backed Obama for president, and intimated that John McCain's views on social justice were so far from his own that McCain would need a "lobotomy" for Buffett to change his endorsement.
He's also the namesake of the "Buffett Rule" - part of a tax plan proposed by President Barack Obama in 2011. The tax plan would apply a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on individuals making more than a million dollars a year. According to a White House official, the new tax rate would directly affect 0.3 percent of taxpayers.
Buffett said in early 2011 that he believed it was wrong that rich people, like himself, could pay less in federal taxes, as a portion of income, than the middle class, and voiced support for increased income taxes on the wealthy. Paul Krugman, a liberal New York Times columnist and Nobel prize-winning economist, wrote in January 2012 that "such low taxes on the very rich are indefensible".