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reason: Throughout that period, though, and really up to the Republican convention, the big mainstream media story about Libertarians was what Ron Paul would do. Michael Badnarik, the party's 2004 nominee, told me in May that he was still waiting to see if Paul could win the Republican nomination before he supported the LP again. What was the effect of all this?
Barr: It was a not-insignificant frustration, let's say. It was somewhat difficult to convince people of the fact that we had a real timeline here. Certain things had to start being done in order to have the chance for the impact I knew we could have. Every day that went by with people sitting around for something to happen, which common sense told you was not going to happen, was a day lost. It was very frustrating.
reason: You were polling well through the summer, but you took a hit after John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. What was the impact of that on your campaign?
Barr: I don't think that Palin really mattered that much. Initially, perhaps, when her name was first announced and there was all of this unbridled excitement over Sarah Palin, I think there was some concern that it would stanch the flow of Republicans ditching the ticket because of McCain's liberal credentials. But by the time all the dust settled on election day, I think a lot of them realized that she was not the great savoir for the conservative movement that she was put forward as nationally, but I don't think that really mattered all that much. What killed us in the end is that the election came down to a referendum on Barack Obama, period. Nothing else seemed to matter to people.
reason: What did matter? Campaign funds? At the convention, Russ Verney told me that he hoped to raise $30 million, and the campaign eventually raised about $1.2 million.
Barr: If certain things had happened that we expected to happen early on, like gaining access to certain lists very quickly, I think we could have gotten there. But those lists turned out to be not available, unfortunately, and that prevented us early to turn over and over again into significant fundraising. We didn't get that seed money early on that we anticipated. We realistically anticipated it. We didn't sit around say ‘it would be nice to have all that money.'"
reason: Was one of these Ron Paul's fundraising list?
Barr: All I can say is that it appeared very realistic that we would have a list that let us raise a large amount of seed money that we could build on. And that didn't happen.
reason: What effect did your own running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, have on the ticket?
Barr: I enjoyed having Wayne on the ticket very much. I enjoy him personally very much. I mean, he's a very gregarious person. I enjoy his family as well. I think he brought a lot of energy to the campaign, a new dimension to the campaign, and a business perspective that got him booked on Fox Business and CNBC with sufficient regularity to have a little breakthrough there.
reason: Did you expect Root to be more of a fundraising asset?
Barr: Everything in a campaign doesn't always work out like you hoped. What can I say?
reason: You and Root both spoke frequently about bringing conservatives into the Libertarian Party from the GOP. Are you still focused on that?
Barr: First things first. I'm not going to bring anybody into an organization unless that organization is ready for it, has the groundwork laid for it, has a degree of receptivity to make it productive to bring them in. There's a lot of work that has to be done to move the party down the road it started on under [former executive director] Shane Cory into a truly professional viable political entity. There are still those in the Libertarian Party that do not want to go down that road, and there are some in the party that will have to make an important decision about that: whether they want to build themselves into a professional viable political party, or whether they don't.
If so, we've got a tremendous opportunity to increase the size, power, influence of the party. The Republican Party is in absolute disarray. And I think it'll get worse for them. I don't even think they've even reached bottom yet. If the Libertarian Party were at the point I'd like to see it at, we could shine in this atmosphere. We'd be on the news, media would seek us out, to provide the counterbalance that no one else is capable of doing.