Ron Paul's press conference with the top third party candidates just wrapped up, but it was missing one of the scheduled speakers: Libertarian Bob Barr. Barr pulled out of the conference this morning, but the LP's Austin Petersen hadn't been told. He showed up with campaign literature and was kicked out of the hallway by Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. "He was extremely angry," Petersen said. "I feel like the fall guy."
[UPDATE: A video of the press conference is here.]
I'll find out shortly why Barr decided to bail on the press conference. He wasn't going to get an endorsement apart from Paul's blanket, quasi-endorsement of all four candidates. According to Ralph Nader (who joined the Green Party's Cynthia McKinney and the Constitution Party's Chuck Baldwin on the dais), Barr's campaign manager Russ Verney affirmed that Barr agreed with the premise behind the press conference, that all the candidates had agreed to four principles.
Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.
Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.
The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.
The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds. financial institutions.
Barr agrees with all of that. It's a coup for Paul, who has settled into a role as the patron saint of political outcasts. He introduced the candidates as representatives of the real American majority. "Most people are voting for the lesser of two evils!" Ralph Nader took the sentiment further, arguing that lousy media coverage and trivia "like the newest one, Lipstickgate!" was preventing the average voter from learning how he agreed with these four candidates. As weird as the event got, this was really something: Ralph Nader, old-time contributer to the Freeman, signing on to a libertarian candidate's principles. Cynthia McKinney and Chuck Baldwin agreeing on the bulk of a political platform.
But it did get weird. There was no censorship of the candidates. Cynthia McKinney had time to tell press to watch the film American Blackout and learn how the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen. Chuck Baldwin repeated his line that when he's elected "the New World Order comes crashing down!"
A few more details:
– Paul said that the McCain campaign contacted him on Tuesday about endorsing the GOP candidate. He turned them down, again.
– Paul lambasted the Commission on Presidential Debates for excluding third parties and recalled the way that his was excluded from Dukakis-Bush debates 20 years ago. (Those wounds never heal. Who hasn't wondered what he would have done if Kitty Dukakis was raped and murdered?) Paul's stance: If you're on enough ballots to theoretically win 270 electoral votes, you should debate.
– Paul, on whether his endorsements would hurt McCain or Obama: "I don't want to hurt anybody! I want to save the country!"