Sunday, March 2, 2008


What is 37.4%? That's the share of the popular vote that the first President Bush got in 1992 during his doomed re-election bid. The final results in 1992 were:
  • Bill Clinton.........43.0%
  • George Bush.....37.4%
  • Ross Perot.........18.9%
That was the low ebb of the Republican Party in the modern era. While the 1964 Goldwater campaign was considered a disaster, good old AuH2O got 38.5% -- demonstrating, I would argue, that even an "extreme right-winger" (as Goldwater was depicted by the media in '64) is more popular than a clueless "centrist."

Back when Crazy Cousin John was still only one of five main candidates for the GOP nomination, this bit of history was in the back of my mind while I was trying to warn Republicans against the dangers of a McCain candidacy.

Another bit of political history -- Bob Dole's 40.7% in 1996 -- was even more in my mind, since there are so many similarities between the Dole and McCain candidacies. Both are war heroes, both were "Establishment" choices in overcrowded primary fields, neither was exactly a darling of the conservative grassroots, et cetera.

Some readers are now saying, "Wait a minute! The pitiful numbers posted by Bush 41 in 1992 and by Dole in 1996 both occurred in three-way races with Ross Perot getting more than 10% of the vote. Where's the third-party threat that could hurt McCain that way in 2008?"

Apparently you weren't paying attention when I posted this story Feb. 11:
Bob Barr, who helped lead the 1998 impeachment of President Clinton, is the object of an alliance of conservative and libertarians seeking to recruit the former Georgia Republican congressman as a third-party presidential candidate.
Now an Atlanta-based activist with the Libertarian Party, Barr has repeatedly disavowed any intention of seeking the LP's 2008 presidential nomination. . . .
However, efforts to push a Barr candidacy were given new impetus last week when Rep. Ron Paul sent a letter to his supporters announcing plans to scale back his Republican presidential campaign and concentrate on his congressional re-election fight in Texas.
Several organizers behind the draft-Barr movement were supporters of the Paul presidential campaign. Last week, Barr introduced Paul at the 35th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, calling the Texas congressman "the Constitution's best friend" and "the gold standard of conservatism" in the GOP presidential campaign. ... (READ MORE)
An activist with the draft-Barr movement said last week the question now boils down to how much money they can raise, and how fast they can raise it. Given that they're tapping into some of the same online fundraising machinery that helped make Ron Paul's GOP candidacy so newsworthy, I'd be willing to wager that they'll clear that hurdle easily.

So think about that 37.4% number for Bush 41. Ross Perot was a pseudo-populist eccentric running on a vanity-party slate, yet in 1992 he got more than 18% of the vote. Now imagine Bob Barr -- a former member of the House Judiciary Committee, former federal prosecutor and one-time CIA employee -- running on the ticket of the Libertarians, the largest and most enduring third party in America.

The Libertarian Party holds its convention May 22-26 in Denver. The draft-Barr people know that if they want Barr to make a serious effort for the LP nomination, they've got to work fast. If the McCainiacs and the big-money GOP Establishment are not sleeping easily, it's not just indigestion from all that barbecue they ate Sunday.

There is an online Barr For President petition here.

Previous coverage at Peach Pundit and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here is video of Bob Barr introducing Ron Paul at CPAC:

UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: Headline of the day (via Memeorandum):

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