The Barr Effect, Confirmed

Me, May 15:

Could the Libertarians spoil Alaska for the GOP? ... if the LP shot for a 1980-sized 10 percent of the vote—around 30,000 ballots—it's possible to see Obama winning the state with 45 percent.

Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, yesterday:

Alaska is "one of the states where we think Barr can get 6,7, 8 percent," Plouffe said. "Barr will get some votes [in Georgia,] if Barr were to get two percent in most states, our belief is he’ll get four percent here, most of it coming out of McCain’s hide."

The Barr campaign knows that it's making life tougher for McCain, not for Obama. So I wasn't surprised yesterday when I attended a press conference with Barr and legal scholar Bruce Fein, in which both men excoriated John McCain's legal philosophy and made only a passing mention of Obama. The audio of the press conference is here. Afterwards, I asked Barr if he thought McCain had changed his legal philosophy over the last eight years as he mounted his new presidential bid.

"I don’t think he’s ever had one," Barr said. "He cannot run and hide from the fact that he is McCain of McCain-Feingold. How anybody whose signature piece of legislation is the most anti-freedom, anti-First Amendment piece of legislation passed in congress in generations, can, with a straight face, claim that they will support jurists who are 'conservative' is beyond me. Clearly, he’s not going to—or common sense tells us he’s not going to appoint somebody to the Supreme Court or to a lesser federal court, somebody whose philosophy is going to lead them to strike down McCain-Feingold, which is his signature piece of legislation."

I also asked Barr about Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, who's making a naked appeal for Ron Paul voters to "continue the rEVOLution" by backing him. "I have not seen the platform of the Constitution Party as they amended it at their convention last month," Barr said. "I’m not sure exactly what it says. The latest platform that I saw, I have much in common with. There’s a lot of overlap—certainly not complete, but a lot of overlap with the LP. It’s a much more heavily religious-oriented and religious-based platform than ours is."

"One of the important practical differences between the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party is that Chuck Baldwin will not be on nearly as many ballots as we will. We anticipate being on at least 49 ballots. The Constitution Party will be on far less than that, so from a practical standpoint, if Libertarians who supported Ron Paul wish to actually have a voice, to have their views represented, they're only going to have one choice and that’s Bob Barr, because Chuck Baldwin won’t be on the ballot in many of those states."

"With regards to the philosophy generally, my philosophy is a much smaller government, much greater personal freedoms, dramatically reducing the size, the scope, the power of the federal government, and whether or not Chuck Baldwin, whether or not that’s an important, substantive part of his program, I don’t know. But I can assure those supporters of Ron Paul, that’s dead center where I am."

UPDATE: After the presser, Barr filmed an episode of Bloggingheads with liberal blog empress Jane Hamsher.

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  • Nigel Watt||

    It would be nice if Barr could come out with "I am the only alternative to Obama" since McCain cannot win, but that doesn't appear to be the direction they're taking.

  • JMR||

    He should not play into the media's "spoiler" role for him. Barr needs to attack Obama's policies, too, to retain credibility. And he needs to shorten any answers about Baldwin to sound bite length.
    JMR

  • ||

    Well, he's right on McCain being a loser of a Presidential candidate...

    ...just needs to connect the dots to the other guy as well.

    The more I hear Obama and McCain speak, the more I pray for a do-over of the primaries.

  • ||

    How does one get more media coverage?

  • ||

    Threadjack: SCOTUSblog is liveblogging today.

  • ed||

    Speculating about spoilers fills empty space but serves no real purpose. Each candidate, regardless of his party affiliation, will have to win the required majority of electoral votes. It's pointless for the loser to blame a third- or fourth-party candidate for his failures. He loses by not winning.

  • KenK||

    So do Barr backers think Obama will put in judges more to their liking than McCain?

  • David Weigel||

    do Barr backers think Obama will put in judges more to their liking than McCain?

    Not "better," just not any worse. If McCain has no legal philosophy and his priority is maintaining campaign finance reform, he's not going to appoint Alitos, no matter what he says. That, anyway, is Barr/Fein's thinking.

  • ||

    He should not play into the media's "spoiler" role for him. Barr needs to attack Obama's policies, too, to retain credibility.

    Bingo. Its a target-rich environment, libertarians. Lock and load!

  • ||

    KenK, since McCain may have to get his nomonees past a fillabuster-proof Democratic majority, I'd expect the judges would be indistinguishable. Not to meantion Barr's correct point about McCain Fiengold.

  • Xenophobic Barr Supporter||

    How many Mexicans cross the border into Alaska? We need to stop them. We need to build a wall along the Mexican-Alaskan border!!!!!!

  • ||

    Even this security hawk is a little scared of replacing liberal justices with Scalias or Alitos.

  • ||

    If the goal of Barr's and the LP's candidacy is to "take back conservatism" from the neocons and/or squishes, then it would make sense for Barr to focus his fire on McCain.

    Criticizing Obama plays into this to the extent that Barr can attack him from the right on things that McCain will not, in order to show who would REALLY stand up to the liberals.

  • PC||

    The current makeup of the Court has taken a turn of late, since 9/11. So you appoint liberal judges if you want insane regulation and invasions of property and gun rights. You appoint "conservative" judges if you want to eliminate habeus corpus and want warrantless wiretapping. Roberts and his cohorts also seems to be on the payroll for verdicts like that Exxon one. I have always prefered "conservative" judges to liberal ones, but since 9/11 the choice has become much more blurred, at least for this current time period. I do not want to lose all my rights, the ones that I have left, to a unitary executive. I am greedy, I want rights in my lifetime, because this GWOT will probably be as perpetual as the WOD, but losing rights to the GWOT makes the loss of rights much more uniform and invasive than the WOD losses of rights.

    Both are horrible nowadays, and for the first time in my life I actually think liberal judges might be preferable to "conservative" ones because the of the GWOT hysteria...until both sides flip on Executive powers after Obama gets elected. Moral of the story is head they win, tails you lose, just like anything else with government. At least with the libs I have the potential chance of a day in court.

  • ||

    I totally agree that Barr should attack Obama. Don't be a libeterain philosopher/nit-picker. McCain is a loser buffoon, but he's not as bad as Obama (I know it's not exactly this way, but for most of us libertarian types there is a continuum here between us and Obama, and McCain is somewhere in between on most issues). Barr can appear to be in the race for real by drawing the huge stark contrast between his views and those of Obama. Attack the person you disagree with most Bob.

  • ||

    Good for Bob Barr; I wish him well, but I am supporting Chuck Baldwin. He is more in line with the Constitution for me.

    McCain and Obama are just clones of Bush and Cheney.

    One of the main reasons I am supporting Baldwin over Barr is because only Baldwin is telling the truth about 9-11; he wants a new investigation.

    For me; 9-11 is clearly an inside job; for Barr to help cover it up only invites another inside job False Flag where more of our civil liberties are taken away, and more Americans are murdered in the name of power and greed.

    Barr is right though; unless Baldwin and his staff get it together and do some serious fundraising, it will not matter because he will not be on the ballot.

  • ||

    Kyle, Barr isn't covering up 9/11. He's taken a neutral position on it, but just phrased his answers in a away so as to stroke the egos of know-nothings such as Weigel.

    Baldwin wants to appoint a "commission" (why not the DOJ?) to look into the findings of Steven Jones, who is a hardcore COINTELPRO cover-up agent since the Poppy Bush cold-fusion days. Steven Jones' challengers have a nasty habit of being shot in the face under suspicious circumstances.

    Given all that, Barr's neutral stance on 9/11 is superior to Baldwin's.

  • svf||

    re: the bloggingheads video...

    Bob, bud... why must you always be so WORDY...

    just tell it like it is, "straight talk", Ross Perot-esque witticisms... that is your only hope...

    this libchick was totally wanting to be on board with you but you talked her into boredoblivion...

    live it up, man... maybe a martini or two before interviews, whatever it takes....

  • ||

    Didnt he vote FOR the Patriot Act?

    No thanks. Read it, or at least know what you are voting on before you vote to STEAL OUR GOD GIVEN RIGHTS.

  • Doug||

    Barr could do well in Alaska. He should visit the state -- no one else is going to.

    There are a few other states where Bob Barr should be a big factor, the states where Ron Paul scored double digits:

    Caucus Results (votes, % reporting)

    25% -- Montana: 400 (100%)
    22% -- Washington: 2,740 (99%)
    21% -- North Dakota: 2,082 (100%)
    19% -- Maine: 851 (68%)
    17% -- Alaska: 1,955 (98%)
    16% -- Minnesota: 9,852 (100%)
    14% -- Nevada: 6,087 (100%)
    11% -- Kansas: 2,182 (100%)
    10% -- Iowa: 11,817 (98%)
    10% -- West Virginia: 118 (100%)


    Primary Results (votes, % reporting)

    24% -- Idaho: 29,741 (100%)
    22% -- Montana: 20,451 (100%)
    17% -- South Dakota: 10,054 (100%)
    16% -- Pennsylvania: 128,483 (100%)
    15% -- Oregon: 49,905 (100%)
    14% -- New Mexico: 15,319 (99%)
    13% -- Nebraska: 17,659 (100%)

  • a knight||

    To understand McCain, all one need to do is compare his statements before and after the Silberman/Robb Iraq War Intelligence investigative commission,

    Before McCain was tagged by Bush to be a member of GW's self-picked investigative committee, he was loudly saying it needed subpoena power over White House officials. The committee was foreordained to be an obfuscating bust, because it was precluded by President's Man Date from looking at whether the White House had misrepresented pre-war Intelligence.

    After the Silberman/Robb Committee had published their whitewash, McCain had become a splay-legged Bush slattern, fully supporting the CIA's De-Gossing of any public employees who had the temerity to support Kerry over Bush in the 2004 election.

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