Ron Paul Endorses the Third-Party Field

September 11, 2008

Brad Haynes  (Wall Street Journal) reports on the presidential race.

Rejecting a specific entreaty from the McCain campaign, Ron Paul extended his support to a field of third-party candidates this morning, highlighting their shared frustration with the two-party system.

“Presidential elections turn out to be a charade more than anything else,” Paul said, and so he urged his supporters to vote for candidates who would expand the debate beyond the major party’s platforms.

Ron Paul (far left) at a news conference with third-party candidates at the National Press Club. From left: former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney from the Green Party, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, and Ralph Nader. (AP)

A phone call from McCain backer Phil Gramm yesterday was not enough to garner Paul’s endorsement and didn’t stop the Texas congressman from gathering the welterweights of the presidential race for an announcement of their common principles.

In addition to railing against the Democrats’ and Republicans’

control over national politics, Paul and his guests outlined four common principles they saw the major parties ignoring. The diverse coalition expressed their common concern over an increasingly aggressive foreign policy, the erosion of civil liberties, the growth of the national debt and commercial influence over federal monetary policy.

The candidates assembled in agreement were the Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin, a former officer in Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority; the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney, a six-term Democratic congresswoman who had made a “declaration of independence from this current political system;” and independent candidate Ralph Nader, whom many consider partly responsible for Al Gore’s 2000 loss to George W. Bush.

One conspicuous absence, marked by an empty chair at the end of the row, was the Libertarian Party’s Bob Barr, who expressed his support for the candidates’ shared principles but did not attend.

Down the hall at the National Press Club, Barr held his own press conference to explain his decision. He said that Paul had “dissipated” the impact of the libertarian agenda by supporting a field of candidates rather than focusing his efforts through the Libertarian Party. “We need bold, specific, focused leadership,” said Barr, “not amorphous leadership that says ‘all of the above or any of the above.’”
In response to Paul’s invitation, Barr sent a letter offering him a spot on the Libertarian Party ticket as vice-presidential nominee.

“Ron has politely declined,” said Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. “And it’s troubling to us that Bob would go back on his word and back out of the event.”
Benton said Paul’s best chance at advancing his agenda was through a broad coalition rather than endorsing any single candidate. “Barr has come to us with hat in hand for lots of things, and Ron’s always tried to help him out. But he definitely won’t be getting an endorsement now. Any chance that was left is gone. He’s burned a bridge.”

Paul said the call from the McCain campaign yesterday was the first he had received personally. The two Texans have bumped up against each other in the past: Gramm defeated Paul in a Republican primary on his way to winning his Senate seat in 1984.

That the call to Paul came from Gramm suggests that the former senator, once on the outs for calling America a “nation of whiners” undergoing a “mental recession,” may be returning to behind-the-scenes work for the McCain campaign.


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