Republican lawmaker Ron Paul has become a surprise fundraising star in the US presidential race, with a showing in the closing months of 2007 equaling that of political heavyweights Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Asked on CNN television to comment on reports that his campaign raised 20 million dollars in the final three months of 2007, the libertarian-leaning Paul credited his dedicated following of average Americans fed up with big-government and traditional politics.

“This is a special major undertaking, to take on the military industry complex, the medical industrial complex and all the special interests by individuals sending in money. So I think we’ve done a tremendous job,” said Paul, a longtime Republican in Congress from Texas.

Commentators have speculated that Paul, a darkhorse for the Republican nomination, might use his war chest to launch an independent White House bid.

“There is this large segment sending in the money to our campaign that are determined that this revolutionary spirit will continue,” he said.

The congressman shrugged off Republicans’ criticism of his foreign policy views, which include that the United States can blame itself for anti-US anger worldwide.

“The motive is that our foreign policy does aggravate a lot of people,” Paul said.

“If we continue to believe they attack us because we’re free and prosperous, we can’t win this fight,” he explained.

“We have to understand the issue of blowback, we have to understand the issue of unintended consequences. And if we have a presence in the arab world and in the muslim world, there are consequences.”

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