Monday, June 23, 2008

Libertarians 'may send a message' to the GOP - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Front page coverage, again, on Ron Paul, in today's Trib.
Libertarians 'may send a message' to the GOP - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Libertarians 'may send a message' to the GOP
Wonder when the coverage is going to flip to Bob Barr? Will he get two front page stories from the Trib in the weeks after the election too?


Anonymous said...

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Libertarians 'may send a message' to the GOP
By David Brown
Monday, June 23, 2008

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As John McCain and his strategists plot how to win the presidency, there's a bur in the equation: Ron Paul.

The Texas congressman with Pennsylvania roots officially dropped out of the Republican race for the White House, but McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, still has a Ron Paul problem, analysts say.

The extent of the problem -- and how deeply it might cut into McCain's vote in November -- depends a lot on what kind of show Paul is planning when he holds his shadow convention in Minneapolis near the Republican National Convention in September.

"It's a headache for McCain," said Mike Gallagher, a conservative radio talk show host and frequent Fox News Channel contributor. "I don't know that it's fatal, but it's a problem that's going to be hard to shake off.

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"I think (McCain's) going to have a bigger Ron Paul problem if he tries to ignore him or avoid him or to not reach out," Gallagher said in an interview. "If McCain is trying to make inroads with the so-called conservative base, there is no down side for him to extend an olive branch.

"Let's face it, John McCain is going to need every vote he can get in November. I firmly believe it would be a huge mistake for him to misstep with Ron Paul and his supporters," Gallagher added.

Veteran political reporter John Mashek, writing this week in his column for U.S. News & World Report, described Paul as the political wild card in the presidential election.

"The Republican nightmare is for Paul backers to stay at home in a close presidential election. It could happen, since everything else has this campaign," Mashek wrote.

Paul, 72, a Green Tree native, hasn't released a detailed agenda for his rally in Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 2, the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in neighboring St. Paul. Organizers hope to pack the arena with 11,000 die-hard Paul supporters to "send a message" to the Republican Party and raise money for libertarian-leaning candidates in the fall.

Paul says he has no plan to endorse McCain, with whom he disagrees on the war in Iraq and several other issues.

But Paul has kind words for two third-party candidates: Libertarian nominee Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia, and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin, a prominent Baptist minister in Florida and leader among conservative Christians. Baldwin endorsed Paul and campaigned for him in the GOP contest for president this year.

"I hope they both together get a lot of votes," Paul said of Baldwin and Barr in a recent interview on CNN.

If energy and money from what his backers call the Ron Paul Revolution flow into a third-party push, it spells trouble for McCain, who stands to lose more votes from such efforts than does Democrat Barack Obama, analysts say. Votes going to third-party candidates in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, and even Georgia, could tip those states to Obama, they say.

"McCain's got a problem," said Micah L. Sifry, author of "Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America" and editor of, which tracks how the candidates are using the Web.

"In the last few primaries, Ron Paul kept getting double-digit levels of support. It's a sign of something we already know: the Republican base is divided and being pulled in different directions," Sifry said. "One of the directions it's being pulled in is the direction of the Libertarian Party."

In late contests, even after McCain clinched the nomination, Paul received 24 percent of the vote in Idaho, 22 percent in Montana, 17 percent in South Dakota, 16 percent in Pennsylvania, 15 percent in Oregon, 14 percent in New Mexico, and 13 percent in Nebraska. Overall, Paul received more than a million votes, about 5 percent of the total cast in Republican primaries, Sifry noted.

Paul surprised most of the political establishment by raising about $35 million for his campaign, mostly via the Internet. Paul won at least 35 delegates, but his campaign says he was not invited to speak in St. Paul because he refuses to endorse the presumptive nominee.

Other analysts doubt Paul will have much influence on the presidential election.

"As the voting showed in the primaries, Paul had some clout but not enough to make a real mark. Without a lot of money and support, I doubt Bob Barr is going to make his mark either," said Larry Sabato, political science professor at the University of Virginia. "Paul helps him a bit, but by and large, this will be a big-picture, clear-cut choice between the two major-party nominees."

Sabato described Paul supporters as mostly "natural Libertarians anyway." Paul was the 1988 Libertarian nominee for the White House.

Bert Rockman, chairman of the political science department at Purdue University, notes that "not all 'Paulistas' are Republicans."

"Some are independents. In any event, while they mostly seem to be for gun rights domestically and small government and low taxes, and the right to make personal choices without government interference, they are mostly against the high-profile international interventionism of the Bush administration," Rockman said. "I don't anticipate a significant Ron Paul impact because I think where it might be biggest are states already very likely to go to McCain in a big way."

Yale University political science professor David Mayhew said Barr probably won't get a big slice of McCain's vote, but the Libertarian still could be a factor.

"One or 2 percent in a close election can make a difference. McCain has enough of a problem on the conservative side that a leakage of 1 or 2 percent to an unappealing challenger on the right is not out of the question," Mayhew said.

Joseph DiSarro, chairman of the political science department at Washington & Jefferson College, agreed.

"If Bob Barr pulls a couple of points here and there in some of these key states, Obama is president," DiSarro said. "The polls all suggest McCain is behind. One of the reasons he's behind is the party is divided."

David Brown can be reached at or 412-380-5614.

Anonymous said...

John K.: I would think the Trib would give this item front page coverage. After all, the editorial staff is libertarian. They are not a Republican paper. I do hope Barr gives McCain a run for his money. McCain is no conservative but he is far better than the option.