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Surprising no one, Senator Phil Gramm formally entered the 1996 presidential race, promising to carry the conservative banner and press for less government and lower taxes. Gramm launched his campaign for the GOP nomination on the campus of Texas A&M University, where he once taught economics. "In the lives of families and businesses and even the lives of great nations," Gramm said, "there are critical moments when you must either face up to your problems or be overwhelmed by them. Now is such a moment for America.'' While Gramm is the only candidate of either party to formally declare his candidacy so far, other Republican hopefuls already hitting the hustings include former Tennesee Governor Lamar Alexander, who will announce his candidacy next Tuesday and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, the early GOP favorite, who plans to launch his official campaign on April 10 in his home state of Kansas. "If Dole is the early leader, Gramm is the man to watch," says TIME White House correspondent Michael Duffy. "His campaign will be as well-funded as anyone's. Right now, his intensity, his focus and his relentless energy make him the guy in the hot seat."