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Jan 17, 2012 8:16 PM by Matt Stafford

Ron Paul leaves campaign trail to vote on debt ceiling

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Ron Paul is stepping off the presidential campaign trail to vote against raising the federal debt ceiling.

The Texas congressman will fly to Washington early Wednesday. He planned to return to South Carolina on Thursday morning, two days before the state's first-in-the-South primary.

Paul has made concern over the federal debt and government spending the central tenet of his candidacy. He says he would trim $1 trillion from the federal budget in his first year as president and has called for steep cuts to military and overseas spending.

His message has found traction in the presidential contest. He placed second in the New Hampshire primary last week.

Paul's campaign says his vote against the debt ceiling increase would signal what it called "displeasure at the spendthrift habits of the administration."

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