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.