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Ron Paul to Phil Gramm: no way, no how, no John McCain

September 10, 2008 | 11:09 am

Texan to Texan, as one fellow who famously switched parties in his political career to another, Phil Gramm took one last shot this week at bringing Ron Paul into the John McCain fold. (See video below.)

Gramm not only failed, but Paul blew the whistle on him today as he castigated the choices offered voters by the two major-party presidential nominees and lent the cache he gained from his own White House bid to various third-party alternatives.

Paul held forth, as had been advertised, at a news conference in Washington where he was joined by independent (and perennial) presidential candidate Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin.

Missing from the show was Bob Barr who, true to the spirit of the Libertarian Party that tapped him as it nominee, decided at the last minute to skip the group gathering and hold his own news conference.

In his remarks, Paul revealed that a McCain representative, who he did not name, had called him as part of what has been a recent effort to score an endorsement.

Later, Paul told The Times' Janet Hook the go-between was Gramm, a former Democrat who signed up with the GOP in the early 1980s.

In explaining why he rejected the overture, Paul -- perhaps underestimating the size of his following these days -- said: "I don't like the idea of getting 2 or 3 million people angry at me. ... I said absolutely no. It might diminish my credibility."

Paul, a Republican turned Libertarian White House candidate in 1988 turned Republican again, said Gramm pitched McCain as the potential president who would do "less harm'' than Democrat Barack Obama (not exactly stirring words).

In urging a vote against the "establishment candidates," Paul said, "There's no doubt in my mind that we [supporters of third-party contenders] represent the majority."

Obama allies quickly jumped at the news of Gramm's contact with Paul. Damien LaVera of the Democratic National Committee fired off an e-mail saying it offered "further evidence" that Gramm "is back in the good graces of the McCain campaign."

He ostensibly had been banished from the inner circle after some ill-chosen words earlier this summer (such as saying the U.S. had become "a nation of whiners").

-- Don Frederick

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