Libertarian Barr says he scares McCain

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NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW:

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr says Republicans are so afraid that he will spoil things for Sen. John McCain that the Republican presidential nominee is shadowing him, scheduling appearances in battleground states to match Mr. Barr’s own campaign events.

“I suppose it’s a compliment,” Mr. Barr told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “It confirms that the states where we are spending our time are really the critical ones, in which the gaps between Senators McCain and [Barack] Obama are smaller than what we are polling.

“The two states we just found out about today are Ohio and New Hampshire, where McCain apparently added stops to his schedule in order to shadow us,” said Mr. Barr, who in months past had polled in the high single digits in some states.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed the claim.

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“This from the same man that also believed Borat was a Kazakh journalist,” said Mr. Bounds, referring to British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who interviewed Mr. Barr in the guise of Borat for his 2006 spoof movie.

Mr. Barr, the former Republican congressman who switched parties in 2006 and won the Libertarian nomination this year, acknowledged that he will not win the White House but said his goal is to offer voters a clarifying moment.

“They’re Americans, and they no longer have to settle for voting for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil,” he said.

Over the summer Mr. Barr had polled in the high single digits in some states and even cracked 10 percent in a poll of New Hampshire voters, although recent polls have not shown him as strong.

Mr. Barr languishes at 1.3 percent of the national vote, according to the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls, putting him well behind Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama as well as independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Still, Mr. Barr is doing slightly better than Libertarians’ best showing in a presidential election of 1.1 percent for nominee Edward Clark in 1980, though it’s far behind what Mr. Barr said he needs to have an impact.

“I don’t harbor any great optimism we’re going to reach the figure Ross Perot did in 1992, but that provides, I think, a very clear example of what we’re talking about. In other words, what counts in terms of influencing public policy is votes in a general election,” he said.

“If you can get a significant, whatever that is, 5, 10, 12 percent vote, nationally, then you will have the opportunity to influence public policy.”

H. Ross Perot received nearly 20 percent of the popular vote when he ran for president as an independent in 1992.

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About the Author
Ralph Z. Hallow

Ralph Z. Hallow

Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.

 

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