Libertarian leader Browne dies at 72

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Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, died Wednesday night.

Mr. Browne, who was 72, died at his home in Franklin, Tenn., after a long struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the Downsize D.C. Foundation announced yesterday.

“I would describe him as the most free man I ever met,” said Jim Babka, who co-founded Downsize D.C. with Mr. Browne and had hosted the weekly syndicated “Harry Browne Show” radio broadcasts during his illness.

“His contributions to the party will forever be evident,” a Libertarian Party spokesman told the Associated Press.

His 1996 candidacy won 485,759 votes; the 2000 bid, 384,431.

A native of New York, Mr. Browne was the author of 12 books that have sold a combined total of more than 2 million copies, including the 1970 bestseller “How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation.” His 1973 book, “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,” has been compared by some to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in terms of its influence in promoting a philosophy of individual freedom.

Mr. Browne “was a consistently hard-core and vital voice for liberty,” Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty wrote at www.reason.com, noting that Mr. Browne often clashed with fellow Libertarians.

“He was a man of great principle who courageously and consistently stood up for liberty even when his position clashed with mainstream political culture and public opinion,” said Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank in Auburn, Ala.

Handsome, poised and well-spoken, Mr. Browne “looked like he walked out of central casting — he looked very presidential,” said Mr. Babka, a former Republican activist who supported the Libertarian candidate’s 1996 campaign after seeing a C-SPAN broadcast featuring Mr. Browne.

“I saw Harry on TV, and it was a ‘eureka’ moment. If I’d been a cartoon character, you’d have seen a light bulb over my head,” Mr. Babka said.

A man who never held public office, but won fame as a successful financial adviser known from his radio and TV appearances, Mr. Browne was “very gracious, very much a gentleman” and “incredibly disciplined,” Mr. Babka said.

Mr. Brown is survived by his wife, Pamela Lanier Wolfe and an adult daughter, Autumn, of Orange County, Calif. A memorial service will be announced later.

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