Bob Barr Announces Presidential Run * Updated *

As has been long expected, former Rep. Bob Barr has announced that he’s running for President as a Libertarian.

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr has announced that he’s running for president as a Libertarian.

His candidacy would be a wild card in the White House race and many believe it would hurt Republican Sen. John McCain.

Barr made the announcement Monday at a news conference. He first must win the Libertarian nomination at the party’s national convention that begins May 22. Party officials consider him a front-runner thanks to the national profile he developed as a Georgia congressman from 1995 to 2003.

This is, I think, bad news for McCain. That said, I’m sure there’s a few libertarian-leaning Obama supporters who might find Barr’s run tempting if he can make a real go at it. (Like, for example, this writer.) Barr already has a website up here. All politics aside, let me just say that the design on his site is really clean and easy on the eyes. Campaign web designers, take note!

UPDATE:

In the comments below, yetanotherjohn asks why Bob Barr as the Libertarian candidate really matters, given the poor performance of Libertarian candidates in the past. Here’s why I think it does:

(a) As a former Congressman, Bob Barr has more credibility than any Libertarian candidate in recent years. This will result in more and better media coverage, which translates into better returns.

(b) It’s about the electoral college, not overall popular vote, and Barr could make a difference in swing states. As my colleague Dave Schuler points out, rightly, this Presidential race is going to be won on the margins. Bob Barr is an attractive candidate for conservatives disaffected with McCain who wouldn’t dream of voting for a Democrat.

(c) If Ron Paul doesn’t pursue a third-party candidacy, Bob Barr is an attractive candidate for his supporters who, though small in number, are well organized and can raise money.

(d) I have seen Bob Barr on TV many times, and he does not come off as crazy. This is important. It ensures that he will be taken more seriously and lead to better quality coverage.

Obviously, Barr is probably not going to be elected President, but I do think that he’s a strong third party candidate. I’m hoping that he’s credible enough that his really strong, sound rhetoric on civil liberties will help both McCain and Obama strengthen their policies and rhetoric in that direction even more–both candidates already have strong civil liberty instincts, and it’d be nice if the political winds pushed them to coincide with those.

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Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    Gee does this mean the anti-McCainiacs have in the words of Obama – Hope?

    Is he to be the “Little Engine That Could?”

    Is he to be the Molly Brown ready to wrest the leadership away from the incompetent officially chosen one?

    Tune in tommorrow for chapter ten in the saga of The Election Fiasco of 2008

    Now will we find out how many really are “my friends” John.

  2. mq says:

    I was thinking Barr’s site looked a lot like Paul’s; they were designed by the same group.

    On the topic of Barr’s run, I love the idea of him running, if for nothing other than finally having someone with name recognition running as a Libertarian. I do have worries about what draining votes away from McCain will leave us with in November. I don’t like McCain, but I really don’t like Obama.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    You are starting to sound more and more like an MSM. You make pronouncements without looking at facts. Here is the minor party vote percentages in the last 40 years of presidential elections.

    L G other
    2004 0.32 0.38 0.30
    2000 0.36 2.75 0.65
    1996 0.50 0.71 8.88
    1992 0.28 19.27
    1988 0.47 0.51
    1980 1.06 7.17
    1976 1.9
    1972 1.8
    1968 13.86

    You can make a good case that the “other” third party candidates flipped the outcome in 1968 and 1992. You can make less of a case that this happened in 1996 and 2000. In those 40 years, independent candidate Wallace won 46 EV and the libertarian won 1 EV in 1972. No other EV were awarded in the last 40 years to any third party candidate.

    The republicans and democrats both failed to win majority popular votes in 1968 and 1992 while third party candidates (not the libertarians by the way) got ~14 and 19% of the popular vote. The GOP won 1968 and the dems in 1992, for a split decision,

    in 1996 the non-libertarian third party candidate got ~9% and neither the GOP nor the dems got a majority. THe dems won with an incumbent president. In 2000, the greens got ~3% of the vote, neither major party got a majority and the GOP won.

    In all the other contests, one or the other major parties got a majority vote (5 times for the GOP and once in 1976 for the dems with 50.08%).

    The libertarians best showing was in 1980 with 1.06% under the Ron Paul banner.

    So now given the history, given the 0.32% in 2004, given the poor name recognition of the libertarian candidate, can you please spell out why you think this is especially bad for McCain? And remember that we know there will be a Green candidate and the greens though week pull better than the libertarians, so that needs to be balanced into your analysis.

  4. Hal says:

    can you please spell out why you think this is especially bad for McCain?

    Yea, I’d have to agree. Libertarians haven’t broken 1% of the vote since 1980. Libertarians seem to believe they’re this huge voting block, but this seems to a fact denied by objective reality.

    Still, the more the merrier. I’m sure it’ll be great fun to replay Barr’s greatest hits at the impeachment trial. Sure that’ll go over well with one or two voters.

  5. SoloD says:

    can you please spell out why you think this is especially bad for McCain?

    Umm, Florida . . . 2000 . . . Nader . . . 527 votes

  6. Hal says:

    Umm, Florida . . . 2000 . . . Nader . . . 527 votes

    Ummm, Nader got significantly more than 527 votes in Florida – 97,421 by most estimates. Since Libertarians pull in around 0.3 percent of the vote, that’s somewhere around 300K nationwide. Sure, it can happen, but I really doubt Barr will give McCain cause to worry.

    Simple fact is, that McCain is going to lose in a landslide.

  7. EG says:

    Oh thank you Ross Pero…Bob Barr!

    Signed,

    Democratic Party.

    PS Can you get some more Libertarian candidates to run on the state level to take away the crotchety ‘get the hell out of life, stop spending my money’ angry white man conservative vote from the republicans? That way the we can control both houses with a supermajority. Thanks.

  8. Bithead says:

    In the comments below, yetanotherjohn asks why Bob Barr as the Libertarian candidate really matters, given the poor performance of Libertarian candidates in the past. Here’s why I think it does

    I would add to that list that in past situations where a Libertarian (Cap L) candidate showed up, the split caused by such candidates was far smaller because the right wasn’t already looking for someone to better represent their interests.

    McCain’s biggest frailty, politically speaking is not that he’s losing liberal voters. His biggest problem is he’s losing conservative voters.

    As such and with McCain being the nominee, I submit Barr showing up will create more of a split than he would in situations where there was a real conservative heading the Republican ticket.

  9. Chris says:

    Umm, Florida . . . 2000 . . . Nader . . . 527 votes

    Ummm, Nader got significantly more than 527 votes in Florida – 97,421 by most estimates. Since Libertarians pull in around 0.3 percent of the vote, that’s somewhere around 300K nationwide. Sure, it can happen, but I really doubt Barr will give McCain cause to worry.
    Posted by Hal | May 12, 2008 | 01:18 pm | Permalink

    The 527 votes was the difference between Bush and Gore, not the amount Nader polled. If Nader polled nearly 100,000 in Florida, and most of those voters would ordinarily have voted Dem, then if he hadn’t run…

  10. Hal says:

    If Nader polled nearly 100,000 in Florida, and most of those voters would ordinarily have voted Dem, then if he hadn’t run…

    Yes, and my point is that Libertarians have yet to pull in 300K nationwide. Is there some reason to think that FL – or any other swing state – will be within spitting difference, given the realistic historical Libertarian vote? Doubt it seriously.

    Doesn’t matter how many votes Gore lost by in FL, rather it’s how many votes were taken away.

  11. Hal says:

    I submit Barr showing up will create more of a split than he would in situations where there was a real conservative heading the Republican ticket.

    It seems far more likely that split will reveal itself in depressed Republican voter turnout rather than votes for Barr – something that is already showing up in the primary voting patterns. That would be before McCain became the presumptive nominee, although we still find that 25% of Republicans are voting for what’s his face.

    Maybe they’ll all vote for Barr.

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  13. TedB says:

    I’m delighted to have a decent alternative to McCain who I was going to hold my nose and vote for. Barr’s got my vote now.