Item: Ex CIA officer/US Attorney/Rep. Bob Barr (L-GA) Announces
Good timing: the Libertarian National Convention begins in two weeks in Denver.
His campaign slogan: "Liberty for America."
He's running because: he believes his party betrayed the country by working to gut statuatory protection for civil liberties.
Intersection with the Ron Paul movement: more theory than reality at the moment. The Paulites aim to reorganize the Republican Party the way that Howard Dean reoganized the Democratic Party after 2003 by running candidates for dozens of party functionary offices across the country and beefing up the small number of Paul devotees in elected office. The Paulites also plan to make mischief at the Republican National Convention. Ideologically, Barr is more concerned with the balance between liberty and security; Paul is obsessed with the Iraq war. Barr is distinctly a social conservative, having authored the Defense of Marriage Act; Paul, pro-life, is generally more of a social libertarian. Paul wants to return to the gold standard; Barr doesn't really care about that. Barr and Paul favor letting states determine medical marijuana policies (though Barr's position has changed -- he used to favor federal control of the issue.)
Impact on John McCain: Libertarian voters for president have ranged from a little more than 300,000 in 2004 to nearly 1 million in 1980. In order for Barr to tip the balance away from McCain, he'd need to rack up at least 50,000 votes in states like Colorado and Nevada.
There is a line of thought to which i am tempted to subscribe at this early hour that Barr actually hurts Obama more than McCain. Most of the libertarian voters would probably be tempted to vote against McCain and the horrible Republican record on those issues and if Obama was the only choice, Obama could get it (since he has actually pretty good on the narrow subject of civil liberties) which would be a way to secure those margins in the West to the Democratic party for quite a while.
It is difficult to know for sure where those voters would have gone but when a Republican constituency goes from swing voters with two choices to thirdpartyleaners, it is a loss opportunity for Obama at the very least.
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