MSNBC made a mistake in the way they introduced a segment with former GOP congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul this morning, one that an NPR reporter Jessica Taylor ran with on Twitter, then quickly withdrew.
Like many lies, it has doubtless made its run around the world and into your social network feed or in-box: the idea that Ron Paul has endorsed the Green Party's Jill Stein.
He did not, but what he has said about her, and about Gary Johnson, in recent appearances on Fox Business Network and that very MSNBC segment might provide some insight into the mind of a libertarian (Paul was also the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate in 1988) dissatisfied with the major parties and with Gary Johnson.
First, on Fox Business, Paul did tell progressives they should think about voting for Stein. Paul doesn't always speak in crisp complete easy to follow sentences off the cuff, but here is the context of what he said about Stein, praising her earlier for her "different foreign policy."
"If you have a sincere progressive, I knew 'em, I've worked with 'em, and they say 'one of the most important issues to me is civil liberties and change in our foreign policy,' Jill Stein, vote for her…."
He certainly was not very positive about the Libertarian Party in that Fox Business appearance, referring to what "on occasion, Johnson says about freer markets and less regulation," and suggesting that that economic part of Johnson, combined with what Paul seems to think is a more consistently non-interventionist foreign policy from Stein, would be a good combo for America.
But he's not going to tell his fans how to vote for. "Whomever they want and it probably won't matter much," Paul said when asked to give voting orders. "If they want to vote Libertarian, because I'm disappointed with the performance of the Libertarian leaders, but, stick to the principle, a libertarian believes in the non aggression principle, the market works and freedom works and if you accept one law and that law is you can't do harm to other people…stick to that principle voting Libertarian and sort of recognizing what you are doing," by which I interpret him saying you should recognize that with Johnson you are not getting that full, radical non-aggression message.
He then went on to say what I quoted above about progressives and Stein.
Mostly, he was speaking out against the status quo of the two major parties and lamented the systematic problems with third party success with ballot access and the debates.
And here is that Fox Business clip:
That "Jill Stein, vote for her" taken out of context became the hook for today's MSNBC appearance, in which Paul right from the start disabused the host of the notion that he's supporting or voting for Stein. "I haven't endorsed anybody."
Paul does not think, though he doesn't get into specifics as to why, that Johnson is delivering a "crisp" Libertarian message, and thus "I have to look for bits and pieces in all the candidates" for a full service Paulian message. "Liberty is all chopped to pieces" on the American political landscape, Paul thinks.
"On occasion Gary will say something good about the economy" is his faint praise for Johnson. He repeats that he thinks Stein is good on foreign policy. But for a full-on libertarian, Paul thinks there is no clear-cut choice. "If you want to express yourself, voting for the non-aggression principle, the principle that created the libertarian message that nobody can commit aggression, the individual can't nor government" to Paul, there is "not a crisp answer to say this person represents liberty, voting for this person you'll be voting for liberty and truly expressing yourself."
Perhaps Paul would have preferred that Darryl Perry win the Libertarian nod.
Paul does defend Johnson against the idea that "Aleppo moment" gaffes disqualify him.
While not from Ron Paul's own mouth, for more context on how people from the Ron Paul Institute criticize the Johnson/Weld ticket, see here.