- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

The thought of a third-party option continues to intrigue many voters. Just in time, over 1,000 Libertarians are now gathered in Florida through Monday for their official presidential convention, complete with debate and a vote. The party is poised to pick a single presidential nominee out of 18 assorted hopefuls.

The big, bustling, outspoken group has a big, bustling and outspoken agenda as well. Among the seminars to be presented: How to Abolish Government in 3 Easy Steps, Speaking Libertarian to Democrats, Anarchy vs. Minarchy, Politics: What They Don’t Want You to Know and Whatever Happened to the Constitution?

“I constantly hear from voters who feel left out of the process and are searching for a political home. To those Americans, I say, join us and be part of history, as Libertarians select their nominees and launch the most aggressive third-party effort in decades,” declares Gary Johnson, who ran for president in 2012, snagged 1.2 million votes and is the likely nominee for the party again — though he has had some strong opposition from IT entrepreneur John McAfee and social media maven Austin Petersen.

There’s increased interest in all this independent effort. A new NBC News poll of likely voters found that half said they would not consider voting for a third-party candidate — but 47 percent said they would. C-SPAN will cover the convention live at 8 p.m. Saturday and return again Sunday morning.

“We have an impressive line-up of Libertarian candidates running across the country, from local office to president,” says Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the Libertarian Party. “The major parties offer Americans more government. Libertarians advocate for much less government, the key to real, sustainable job creation; personal freedom and a peaceful, non-interventionist foreign policy.”

70% OF AMERICANS ‘UNAPOLOGETIC” ABOUT HIROSHIMA BOMB

The eager press has closely chronicled President Obama’s trip to Asia, yet another item on stop on his legacy-building “farewell tour” as he prepares to leave office. A visit to Vietnam went reasonably well this week. Mr. Obama’s jaunt to Japan has had a few tricky moments following a discussion with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about a crime committed by a former U.S. Marine in Okinawa.

Then there is Hiroshima. On Friday, Mr. Obama visited the city hit by an American atomic bomb 71 years ago. It was a complex undertaking, though the White House advised the event highlighted the president’s “continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The president did not make a formal apology but offered a memorial wreath.

Americans, meanwhile, already have an opinion. According to a new YouGov survey, 70 percent of the public do not condone a presidential apology for the Hiroshima bomb on August 6, 1945 - or the second one that hit Nagasaki three days later. Twenty percent felt an apology would be “appropriate.” About 45 percent said President Harry Truman “made the right decision” with his order to bomb the cities; one quarter disagreed, another 30 percent were unsure.

“Regardless of the results, interestingly, for years Americans have been naming Japan as one of their closest allies,” noted poll analyst Milan Dinic.

Former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton weighed in on the visit through a public-service ad produced through the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, which focuses on national security issues here and abroad.

“President Obama has made it his mission to apologize for American exceptionalism, which has damaged our reputation and standing throughout the world,” says Mr. Bolton, who chairs the foundation. “This ad reflects on the fearless and independent spirit of the American people.”

The 30-second spot comes right to the point: “America: We’ve never backed down.” It is currently featured on major news organization websites in six cities and can be seen at fasfreedom.com/apology

“I hope our next president shares the understanding that America is a great nation, and that peace is only maintained when America leads from a position of strength,” Mr. Bolton adds.

A CLANDESTINE MOMENT

“If you need permission to think big or to think differently, I’m giving it to you right now.”

— Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to an intelligence community leadership summit Thursday.

A TRUMP-IAN MOMENT

“I got here and they all said we have a great crowd, but we don’t have time for the national anthem. I said, ‘Yes, we do. We have time for the national anthem.’”

— Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a campaign rally in California; both the candidate and the crowd sang along with chanteuse Cherri Wilkins when the time came.

WEEKEND CANDIDATE TRACKER

Sen. Bernie Sanders is the busiest of the remaining trio of presidential hopefuls. The self-described socialist begins his weekend-long “California Swing” on Friday, and his destinations sound like an old school train announcement. Mr. Sanders will be making stops in Pomona, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Bakersfield and Fresno. The all-important California primary is just over a week off, so expect much activity from the determined challenger.

“What choice do Californians have in this election? The biggest one of all. You have the power to choose a new direction for the Democratic Party,” Mr. Sanders advises voters in a new campaign ad.

Republican kingpin Donald Trump has a brief sojourn in the Golden State leading into the holiday weekend. He’s stopping only in Fresno and San Diego. On Sunday, he will be in full grass-roots patriotic mode, joining Rolling Thunder in the nation’s capital — the massive motorcycle ride dedicated to veterans, POWs and those still missing in action.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

At Auction: Somers Monticello, “brick-by-brick” replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello neoclassical mansion, built on nine acres in Somers, Connecticut, by Friendly’s ice cream magnate Prestley Blake. Five bedrooms, nine baths, 10,100 square feet living space; historically accurate floor plan, double-circle staircase, blue sky ceiling mural. Exterior features handmade Virginia bricks, three-car attached garage, helipad. Interior has domed roof, locally milled oak and cedar woodworking and floors, chef-grade kitchen, marble and onyx baths. For information, consult Conciergeauctions.com under Properties heading and “upcoming auctions.”

POLL DU JOUR

88 percent of registered U.S. voters say the outcome of the presidential election will make a big difference in their lives.

77 percent of likely Democratic voters say they would be “satisfied” if Sen. Bernie Sanders wins the nomination; 71 percent would be satisfied with Hillary Clinton as nominee.

71 percent of likely Republican voters would be satisfied if Donald Trump won the GOP nomination.

50 percent of all likely voters would not consider voting for a third-party candidate; 47 percent say they would consider it.

48 percent overall say they dislike Mr. Trump’s approach and style and disagree with him on most issues; 45 percent feel the same way about Mrs. Clinton.

Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 registered U.S. voters conducted May 15-19.

Have a meaningful and productive Memorial Day weekend, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.

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