NASHUA, NH - John McCain was chatting and smiling with aides in the lobby of my hotel as I checked out this morning. Yards away, the hundreds of Liberty Forum attendees were milling around, signing up for the weekend, shooting video of each other and the hotel. The two groups happily ignored one another: McCain has no votes to win from them and they have nothing to say to McCain.
On the way to the credentials table I ran into Bernard von NotHaus -- still a free man -- and the arguable frontrunner for the LP nomination, George Philles. "In November i think there will be only one candidate on the ballot whom libertarians can support," he said. "That's why we need a strong nominee." I asked him about his criticism of LP leadership, who've been asking Ron Paul to run. "He's a sitting Republican congressman, so the rules wouldn't permit it. If the rules changed and Ron Paul ran, I would mount a very hard campaign against him. He's not a perfect libertarian. He has real differences with libertarians on issues like abortion."
I'm struck by the realism of the Free State Project people and LP candidates, people not exactly taken seriously by mainstream New Hampshire politicos. While the full-time Paul volunteers are still hoping to win the New Hampshire primary -- lots of talk about that independent vote in Iowa -- Philles talked about harnassing the support of Paul's movement, after someone else wins the GOP nomination. Will Buchanan, who's moving from Hawaii to join the project (and walking coast-to-coast to do so), is volunteering for Paul, but he's more interested in the long-term effect Paul will have on "the freedom movement" than how many votes he'll get on Tuesday.