The former Georgia Congressman is seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for President. Barr made his announcement today. He's already viewed as the presumptive nominee in some media quarters. From the LA Times report:
Expected to win the nomination of the Libertarian Party when it holds its convention in Denver over the Memorial Day weekend, Barr, 59, criticized Republican John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, for not being a true conservative.
"There's not a great deal of substance there in terms of a commitment to cutting the size of government," Barr said He said no one who had authored the McCain-Feingold campaign reforms that cap individual donations could call himself a conservative, "at least with a straight face."
Here's what sets Barr, or any other Libertarian candidate apart from the other three- sound fiscal policy:
Saying both the Republican and Democratic Parties have "bought into a system of running a charity called the United States of America," Barr blasted programs that use public funds to educate the children of illegal immigrants and maintain foreign military bases "that have no more efficacy in the 21st century."
"The federal government needs to get away from the notion that simply because we have all this money in the Treasury -- or we can borrow more money -- that we can provide all these services," he said. "That is not responsible government."
Strategically, I like that Barr knows what to say in response to the "Nader Effect" that worries some confused small government folks:
Barr confirmed that he was asked by McCain supporters not to run for fear he would pull votes from the GOP, but he defended his decision by saying that "American voters deserve better than simply the lesser of two evils."
Arguing that in recent election cycles, the losing candidates "blame somebody else," Barr said, "At the end of the day if I do succeed, it is not my intent to blame Sen. McCain or Sen. (Barack) Obama. I hope they would return the favor." If McCain loses to Obama, the Illinois senator, Barr said, it will be because his message or his candidacy doesn't resonate. "Each of us has the future in our own hands," he said, adding that his voters "are not likely to fall in the category of being enthusiastic about voting for John McCain, if such exists."
Fact is, there will only be one small government candidate available to voters in November- the Libertarian. McCain, Clinton, and Obama all believe in using the power of government. They merely have different recipients of the largesse. Besides, just as Dr. Eric Schansberg took votes from Democrat Baron Hill and not Republican Mike Sodrel in the 2006 race for Indiana's 9th District House race, Barr or any other Libertarian candidate stands to see more votes come from otherwise Democratic voters. Republicans know it to be true:
But Christopher Barron, a Republican political consultant, thinks it is equally plausible that Barr could hurt Obama.
"I think Bob Barr's candidacy could impact the race -- but I don't know at this point which candidate he is likely to help or hurt," he said. "If Barr's candidacy is fueled by the same people who supported Ron Paul -- college students, antiwar advocates and hard-core libertarians -- then I think it is unlikely to hurt Sen. McCain in any significant way because these are not the type of voters McCain is reaching out to. I could actually envision a scenario under which Barr's candidacy actually helps McCain by siphoning off some of the enthusiasm among college voters and antiwar advocates for Obama."
Barr's website is up and running, and is already miles better than any other LP presidential candidate's.
Best of all, Barr is a great choice for getting the libertarian message out. He doesn't carry the racist baggage Ron Paul alienated so many with. He's reformed his thinking on big government positions he used to hold.
This is a good day. I'm satisfied that if Barr is nominated, the Libertarian Party will have a candidate to be very proud of.