Chuck Muth has a great take on rumors that Bob Barr may run for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. Don’t dismiss this race fans, read on:

A NEW PAIN FOR MCCAIN

by Chuck Muth

While everyone on Right has been enjoying the Democrat food fight between Hillary and Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s chosen candidate, it’s been assumed that John McCain’s primary troubles were pretty much over. After all, he has the delegates to win the GOP nomination and all his competitors have given up.

That is, competitors in the Republican Party.

As I warned here several weeks ago, the GOP still has the Libertarian Party to deal with on the Right…especially if the LP nominates a candidate that “Ron Paul Republicans” could support. Someone like…former Georgia Republican Congressman and House Impeachment Manager Bob Barr.

Unlike most other LP presidential candidates, Barr is a known name and quantity in GOP circles and the has the added benefit of being someone who has actually been elected to office. In addition, Barr was known, admired and respected by conservatives of many stripes for not just being a consistent, philosophical conservative, but one who relished taking the fight to the opposition. Indeed, I believe that when Barr left Congress in 2002 he sported a near-perfect 98 Lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union.

Well, word on the street (and Fox News) is that Barr has decided to pursue the Libertarian Party nomination at their convention next month. And no, this is NOT an April Fool’s joke.

The danger for the GOP here isn’t so much that Barr will win the race outright in November, but that he’ll siphon off enough votes in key swing states – such as Ohio, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico – to deny those states to McCain. Just the loss of Ohio alone could possibly throw the White House to the Democrats this year.

I know Republicans are going to be having a cow over the potential “spoiler” role Barr could be playing in November. But they have only themselves to blame. They’re the ones who nominated McCain. And they’ve never actively courted the libertarian-leaning voter. Indeed, the GOP establishment often went out of their way to insult, offend and drive off Ron Paul supporters during the primary elections and caucuses.

Making matters worse for McCain, Fox News is also reporting that Paul is prepared to endorse his former House colleague over GOP nominee McCain. That could result in a HUGE swing vote in swing states. Can McCain of McCain-Feingold anti-free speech fame woo that block of voters away from Barr and into his camp? Would he even try?

In the past, the Libertarian Party ran presidential candidates who were philosophically sound but complete unknowns to the general population and wholly inexperienced in electoral politics. Who, for instance, had ever heard of Michael Badnarik before he captured the party’s 2004 nomination? Or, for that matter, even after?

The rule for many voters in the voting booth is, “If you don’t know, vote no.” So they vote “no” for the Libertarian candidate.

But Barr is known. He has experience. He has verifiable conservative bona fides. And a reputation, unlike most congressional Republicans, for being willing to fight for his beliefs. If GOP leaders don’t think a lot of GOP voters will go with Barr – even if it means the Democrats win the White House for four years – they are deluding themselves.

Sure, a strong case can and will be made against turning over the keys to Barack and/or Hillary. But after 12 years of one GOP disappointment after another in Congress, and eight years of big-government Republicanism under Bush, many conservatives are soured to the point that they simply are not thinking of this election in those terms.

Indeed, many will legitimately argue with equal intensity that it took the disaster we now know as Jimmy Carter to get us Ronald Reagan. So maybe it will take the disaster surely to come under Barack/Hillary to usher in a new era of true, limited government conservatism in 2012.

The good news here is that the only way I see McCain being able to pull over significant numbers of libertarian-leaning voters from Barr would be to tap a strong libertarian-leaning Republican with strong pro-life credentials as his running mate. And that means South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. It would be Sanford’s job to compete with Barr for undecided voters like me. I’d welcome that competition in a heartbeat. Which candidate would promise to gut government the most?

The most chaotic, unpredictable presidential campaign, perhaps in U.S. history, marches on. Thank goodness we’re here to witness it. Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends.

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