Live from the LP Convention: Barr and Anti-Barr


I joined a few other journalists this morning for coffee with Bob Barr. (Stacy McCain's coverage is here.) I asked whether the radical side of the party would lose its home and influence if Barr was the nominee.

The Libertarian Party is a surprisingly diverse group of folks. There are different factions, certainly. But one thing I've been surprised at is that there is a, certainly not unanimous, but very broad, level of interest of the need to organize itself as a party, to deliver a message as a political party, and an understanding that we need to reach out to voters. Not just libertarian voters per se, but a broad array of voters. The only way to do that is to present a message that is both understood by the average voter, and with which the average voter is comfortable.

I also asked why Barr didn't sign the Libertarians for Justice 9/11 investigation pledge.

Some candidates will sign whatever is put in front of them if they think it will get them votes. I don't operate that way. I'm not interested in re-hashing what's gone on before. Certainly, as a former prosecuter, if anybody brings me legitimate evidence that a crime has been committed, certainly that would be duly investigated by the DOJ. But I'm not interested in conspiracy theories. I'm interested in moving the country forward.

In the convention hall, anonymous anti-Barrites have passed out two attack papers to most of the seats. The first is a faux message from the distant future… May 26, when the party's nominee will have been chosen.

LNC Votes to Change Party Name to "New Republican Party."

DENVER—In a surprise move, the Libertarian National Committee voted today to change their party's name to "New Republican Party." When asked why, newly-elected National Chair Aaron Starr explained that the change was made to "gain credibility" and "get more people elected to office. It's all about getting elected."

The party's presidential candidate, Bob Barr, offered additional insights. "After eliminating all the controversial, scary language from our platform, we decided we might as well change the party's name as well. I plan to campaign on a strong platform fighting Islamo-Fas… uh, narco-terrorists, enforcing oppressive laws at the state, rather than the Federal level, closing our borders and working for a national sales tax. These are traditional Republican issues, and I just know that John McCain isn't a true conservative, so I believe we can pick up a lot of Republican votes by making this change. I've already spoken with several of my former Republican colleagues, and I expect several of them to announce their switch to the New Republican Party in the next few days.

Barr's running mate, Las Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Root, chimed in by saying "I'm so glad our party recognizes the need to appeal to traditional Republican voters who are fed up with the GOP, at least for now. I now feel completely at home in this party."

The other attack sheet is titled "LP: Please Don't Lower the Barr!" is much longer, and attacks Barr as a non-Libertarian. This part stood out to me.

Ron Paul in a Republican primary took 10 percent of the vote. This number likely included many Democrats and independents who would never support Barr, as well as Republicans who will not want to "waste their vote" in a general election, but to give Barr the benefit of the doubt, suppose he can take 10 percent of the Republican vote. He will take close to 0 percent of the Democrats and perhaps 5 percent of the independents. This is a best-case scenario. So, let's reject from the outset the argument that Barr is the best chance to win the election. Even if he is, it doesn't matter, since he can't win.

Obviously, 10 percent of the GOP vote and 5 percent of independents, if 2008 voter identification matched up with 2004 identification would make up 3.7 percent and 1.3 percent of the total vote: Five times more than any Libertarian has ever received. Remember, this is from the anti-Barr forces.

There's a lot of evidence that tonight's debate will be make-or-break for Barr, a chance to convince radicals and waverers that he has atoned for his sins. But there's a little evidence he's making conversions, too. Remember Sherman Ball?