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Presidential debate outrage! Libertarian Bob Barr wants in -- and a poll majority agrees

August 20, 2008 | 12:35 am

Here's a good one: Just because former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia is the official candidate for president of the Libertarian Party, he thinks he should be included in this fall's televised presidential debates.

Can you imagine? A third party muscling in on theFormer Republican Rep Bob Barr of Georgia is now the Libertarian Party candidate for president and wants to join the presidential debates this fall political duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats?

Shades of Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who was in a bunch of GOP primary debates last winter but was barred by Fox News from participating in its New Hampshire debate just before the voting there.

Even though Paul had garnered more votes and raised more money than some of the better-known Republicans who were included.

Paul, who was the Libertarian presidential candidate back in 1988, has given up on the Republican presidential nomination now. He is unopposed for reelection to the House, is out selling his no-longer-new book and is planning a counter-convention near the GOP gathering in St. Paul, Minn., in 12 days. Meanwhile, today he turns 73.

But now there's an absolutely outrageous public opinion poll out showing ...

... that many Americans -- a majority, in fact -- think Barr should be included in the presidential debates. Just like the grownups Barack Obama and John McCain!

What in the world for? Millions of Americans would be dangerously exposed to another point of view. How could busy voters possibly decide among three or even four candidates? Is that what presidential campaigns have come down to now? A diversity of opinion?

Whatever happened to old-fashioned criteria like who has the most money or who looks prettiest on TV?

Most voters -- fully 55% -- say Barr should be included in the fall series of presidential debates, according to Zogby Interactive.

Not quite as many -- 45% -- say that other old guy, independent candidate Ralph Nader, should also be included.

Among political independents, sentiment for a third or fourth point of view on stage in the nationally televised debates runs strong: 69% say Barr should share the stage with Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Big surprise: Democrats and Republicans, however, are less willing to share the stage: 39% of Democrats surveyed told Zogby that Barr should be included, and 41% of Republicans surveyed said so.

The younger the voter, the more the support for Barr's voice.

The Barr campaign professes itself "heartened to learn that most voters don't buy into the 'spoiler' argument being espoused by partisan talking heads." That's how Russell Verney, campaign manager for Barr and former campaign manager for H. Ross Perot, puts it.

Verney adds: "People want real change, and they know that they are not going to get it from a Republican or a Democrat. America's only hope for change is by allowing more competition in the political process, and that means opening the debates to any candidate who can meet the ballot access criteria."

Our blogging buddy Mark Silva has more on this unbelievable story over at the Swamp.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press

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