Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bob Barr IS runnning

UPDATE 4:55: Associated Press picks up the news, and Barr posts a video message:

Strong rhetoric, calling John McCain "part of the problem, part of the status quo, more of the same." He calls Obama "an empty suit" and says Hillary is "no leader."

The Hill's Walter Alarkon also has a news report.

UPDATE 3:58: Barr announces formation of his presidential exploratory committee, after quoting Dante on the perils of remaining neutral in "times of great moral crisis." The streaming video was kind of crappy. Will update momentarily with the press release.

UPDATE 4:25: Finally, the long-promised press release:

Barr Announces Presidential Exploratory Committee

Kansas City, MO – Addressing Midwestern activists at the Heartland Libertarian Conference today, former Congressman Bob Barr announced the launch of the Bob Barr 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee (

In his speech, Barr noted that, "America today faces a grave moral and leadership crisis, and those of us who care about our country's future can no longer sit on the sidelines and remain neutral."
"As Dante Alighieri said many centuries ago,” Barr observed, "the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." Continuing, Barr stated that, "some say it is not now expedient or politically pragmatic to do the right thing, for the right reason."
But, he then asked his audience, "When has there been a better time? When has the risk of inaction carried more serious consequences? When will it be appropriate to take extraordinary steps? What must happen to our Constitution before we set aside our complacency and expediency in favor of principle?"
Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA for nearly eight years.
Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and actively advocating American citizens' right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. He serves also as a board member for the National Rifle Association, and works with the American Conservative Union and other groups.
Barr's speech to the Heartland audience touched on the issues the candidates for the two major status quo parties have not addressed sufficiently, namely: the urgent need for truly cutting the size of the federal government, protecting our civil liberties, securing our borders, and fundamentally reforming our tax code.
"Removing 'earmarks' but not cutting the underlying spending is simply government as usual and is nothing more than a cynical shell game," Barr stated; adding, "and that's the high water mark in the debate thus far." Barr said this is not adequate, and that America’s voters deserve better than a choice between "the lesser of two evils."
The Libertarian Party, America's oldest and largest third party, formed in 1971, is on track to achieve ballot access in at least 48 states. Its nominee will be chosen at the Libertarian National Convention which will be held in Denver, CO May 22 through 26.

UPDATE 3:52: Barr is now speaking live in Kansas City.

UPDATE 3:45: Barr's presidential Web site just went live with this message:
Thank you for visiting the official web site of the Barr 2008 President Exploratory Committee!
Our staff is working tirelessly to establish a strong foundation of support for authentic Liberty in America, which has been too long absent from our Nation’s Capitol. We truly need the support of patriotic Americans who want to restore our government to its proper size and role.
To this end, I ask that you help me take our message of abundant freedom, true hope and government restraint to Washington with your most generous contribution.
Together, with your help, we will send the two-party system a message.
A member of the Barr entourage in Kansas City just promised me (again) I'd get the press release soon.

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: Weigel links me and observes of the Barr Web site:
It looks a whole lot like Ron Paul's site. Liked "Hope for America?" Hey, try some "Liberty for America."
(Yeah, I know, my updates aren't in any time sequence. They are, however, in logical sequence.)

UPDATE 2:30 p.m. (and bumped): Reason magazine says the announcement will be streaming on live video 3:50 p.m. EDT. A source in Kansas City says that a press release will be e-mailed to me momentarily.

While awaiting the announcement, feel free to peruse my insightful analysis, "Bob Barr: Threat or Menace?"

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: The Atlantic Monthly has a reflection on Bob Barr's candidacy by Reihan Salam, a contributor to America's Future Foundation's magazine Doublethink.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: Barr is scheduled to make his announcement speech in Kansas City at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (2:30 p.m. Central). More updates below.
* * * * *
Maybe Dave Weigel didn't make it clear enough in his Thursday post at Reason, but Bob Barr will be a candidate for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination.

Today (Saturday), the Barr campaign plans to announce the formation of an exploratory committee and Barr's people have alerted TV networks that his speech in Kansas City will be newsworthy.

It seems necessary to state this clearly because -- more than 24 hours after Weigel got the scoop -- I'm still reading tentative headlines like:

Bob Barr for president? Maybe
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Ex-Congressman Weighs Presidential Bid
(Associated Press)

Bob Barr to enter presidential race?
(CBS News)

Suggestion to the MSM: Stop with all the question marks, and try contacting some Libertarian Party sources -- you know, what used to be called reporting. You might find out, for instance, that there has actually been a poll of Libertarian Party activists (including LP national convention delegates):
Barr received 29.7 percent of the vote, followed by Root with 21.7 percent. Ruwart trailed a little bit behind Root, with 17.1 percent. She was followed by Phillies at 8.6 percent. Kubby and Gravel tied at 4 percent. They were followed by Jingozian, Smith and then Hess.
In head-to-head matchups, Barr clearly outperformed both Root and Ruwart. Barr received 48 percent of the vote, defeating Root with 30.9 percent. Barr received 48 percent, defeating Ruwart with 37.7 percent of the vote.
Barr has not officially announced his plans, because he's saving that announcement until the time and place of his choosing (i.e., today in Kansas City), but he's definitely running. I expect to be e-mailed a press release in a few hours, but I don't need a press release to report the facts.

For the record, the first news article about efforts to draft Barr for the LP presidential race was published Feb. 11. I wrote that article three days after I got the first tip while walking along the 1300 block of F Street NW. Shoe-leather reporting, Old School, that's me.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m. 4/5: Daniel Larison at The American Conservative is worried:
The fear of “irrelevance” or playing a “spoiler” role may overwhelm the desire for real representation, but that fear needs to be resisted. The way to make the antiwar right irrelevant is if we back a candidate that is either pro-war or not on the right. . . .
[W]hat worries me is the perception and the spin of the outcome that will blame any McCain defeat on Barr rather than on the appalling policies of this administration and McCain’s embrace of them.
Fear and loathing is not an unfamiliar phenomenon in election years. The problem with Larison, and other political worrywarts, is that they take this stuff far too seriously. Politics is far more enjoyable if you simply focus on the spectacle of the campaign, the carnival aspect of elections. If you want to put this stuff in proper perspective, a bit of small-stakes gambling always helps. Stop worrying about the fate of humanity and start worrying about whether you'll lose $10 in the office pool.

4/4: Bob Barr: Threat or menace?
4/3: 'Send 'em a message'?
4/3: Barr to announce?
3/27: Barr bandwagon rolling?
3/26: What about Bob?
2/11: Paulistas say, 'Why not Bob?'


  1. Bob Barr will make a fine Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, perhaps the best ever, even eclipsing Ed Clark's high water mark of nearly 1 million votes (1.1%) in 1980.

    Problem is the Party is in the grips of leftwing Anti-War Libertarians (many outright Anarchists), thes days. Most of the Pro-Defense wing has left for the GOP into the Republican Liberty Caucus, Club for Growth, ect...

    Barr will get a substantial vote among just the hardcore Libertarian set - base of about 500,000.

    But if he hopes to increase that into the millions, he'll need to walk a fine line on foreign policy, careful not to run away Pro-Defense libertarians who might be inclined to vote for him.

    Just today we learn of yet another report about to be released showing how the Surge in Iraq has been a stunning success since September.

    If Barr takes the Ron Paul non-interventionist/pacifist line and claims that the War is a "failure" he'll end up looking foolish and run off a great many potential libertarian Republican supporters.

  2. I don't understand the above comment. It is completely false. A non-interventionist foreign policy is a winning policy.

    If Bob Barr wants to do well, he'd be better off capturing the anti-war sentiment in the Ron Paul movement, and among Americans in general, and running with that. Rather than try to capture the handful of hawks still flying around.