Barr to woo Lib­er­tar­ian base for funds in pres­i­den­tial run

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ralph Z. Hallow

Bob Barr’s bid for the Lib­er­tar­ian pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion will rely on tap­ping into his adopted party’s faith­ful to do­nate over the In­ter­net and on their dis­taste for the ways of Wash­ing­ton.

The for­mer Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Ge­or­gia said he will set him­self apart from the ma­jor par­ties by do­ing what those en­trenched on Capi­tol Hill can’t — sig­nif­i­cantly down­size the gov­ern­ment — and that he hasn’t given much thought about hurt­ing the Repub­li­can Party’s nom­i­nee with his run.

Mr. Barr, 59, said can­di­dates have of­ten “whined” about los­ing, blam­ing it on Ralph Nader or some­one other than them­selves, but that his goal is to of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Sen. John McCain and the two re­main­ing Democrats, Sens. Barack Obama and Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

“I will use the pres­i­dency to shrink gov­ern­ment in its power over cit­i­zens and its cost to them, while McCain would just nib­ble at the edges of fed­eral spend­ing and Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton have plat­forms to in­crease the size and power of gov­ern­ment over in­di­vid­u­als,” he said af­ter of­fi­cially an­nounc­ing his can­di­dacy at the Na­tional Press Club on May 12.

Mr. Barr said he thinks the fundrais­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the In­ter­net can make a third-party can­di­date a con­tender.

“I’m re­ly­ing on the In­ter­net, on peo­ple who sup­ported Ron Paul and oth­ers like them,” said Mr. Barr, who ex­pects to win the nom­i­na­tion at the Lib­er­tar­ian Na­tional Con­ven­tion later this month in Den­ver.

Dur­ing his an­nounce­ment, Mr. Barr was flanked by his wife, Jeri, and cam­paign man­ager Rus­sell Ver­ney, who worked on Ross Perot’s 1992 White House bid that net­ted 19 per­cent of the vote and that some Repub­li­cans blame for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s loss.

Poll­sters and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts are split on Mr. Barr’s im­pact in Novem­ber.

Some pre­dict that his third-party bid will cause a rip­ple that hurts nei­ther party, but oth­ers say it will hurt Mr. McCain’s chances.

“It’s too early to tell what Barr’s im­pact will be,” said David Pa­le­ol­o­gos, Suf­folk Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal re­search di­rec­tor. “Some Demo­cratic vot­ers are de­fect­ing to Nader, and some Repub­li­can vot­ers will leak to Barr. But we don’t know if he’ll make all 50 states’ bal­lots and where he might be a fac­tor.”

Mr. Barr would not say which states he will tar­get dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion.

“Barr has the po­ten­tial of win­ning over mil­lions of con­ser­va­tives who feel that John McCain does not want their votes,” Repub­li­can poll­ster Rick Shafton said. “The McCain forces will ig­nore the Barr cam­paign at their own risk.”

The 2004 Lib­er­tar­ian pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Michael Bad­narik, took less than 1 per­cent of the vote, plac­ing fourth be­hind Pres­i­dent Bush, Demo­crat John Kerry and in­de­pen­dent Ralph Nader.

Among oth­ers seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion this year are for­mer De­moc- ratic pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Mike Gravel, who switched his party af­fil­i­a­tion to Lib­er­tar­ian; sports hand­i­cap­per and television pro­ducer Wayne Al­lyn Root; and Lib­er­tar­ian Party ac­tivist Mary Ruwart.

But party of­fi­cials con­sider Mr. Barr the front-run­ner be­cause of the na­tional profile he de­vel­oped as a con­gress­man from 1995 to 2003, and his role in im­peach­ing Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. He helped man­age House Repub­li­cans’ im­peach­ment case be­fore the Se­nate.

Join­ing Mr. Barr on May 12 were some for­mer cam­paign­ers for Mr. Paul, the Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Texas who once ran for pres­i­dent as on the Lib­er­tar­ian ticket while still a Repub­li­can.

Mr. Paul raised record con­tri­bu­tions from the In­ter­net but lost the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion to Mr. McCain. Mr. Paul is tech­ni­cally still run­ning for the Repub­li­can Party nom­i­na­tion, which won’t be for­mally awarded un­til del­e­gates vote at the Sept. 1-4 Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Barr said he still op­poses abor­tion and the le­gal­iza­tion or de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of drugs, just as he did as a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion and as a Repub­li­can in the U.S. House.

Some Lib­er­tar­i­ans hold the op­po­site view, ar­gu­ing that it is not the busi­ness of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Mr. Barr quit the Repub­li­can Party two years ago, say­ing he had grown dis­il­lu­sioned with its fail­ure to shrink gov­ern­ment and its will­ing­ness to scale back civil lib­er­ties in fight­ing ter­ror­ism. He has been par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of Mr. Bush over the war in Iraq and says the ad­min­is­tra­tion is ig­nor­ing con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions on due process and pri­vacy.

He would be­gin with­draw­ing troops from Iraq and con­sider slash­ing spend­ing at fed­eral agen­cies such as the de­part­ments of ed­u­ca­tion and com­merce, as well as at over­seas mil­i­tary bases.

The for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney also said he would strictly en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws.

“This no­tion that gov­ern­ment owes some­thing to peo­ple just be­cause they’re here does not res­onate with me,” he said. “This is not a char­ity.”

Michi­gan Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Saul Anuzis doesn’t think much of Mr. Barr’s can­di­dacy.

“He’s no Ron Paul and doesn’t have the re­sources to make the case for any protest vote. I don’t think the Ron Paul sup­port is eas­ily trans­fer­able. With­out re­sources, Barr’s can­di­dacy is noth­ing more than a name on the bal­lot.”

This story is based in part on wire ser­vice dis­patches.

Div­ing in: Barr

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