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Bob Barr brings his cause to the American public

July 6, 2008 |  3:32 pm

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr is making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows (last week it was "Fox News Sunday"; today it was ABC's "This Week"), hoping his anti-big-government message will resonate with voters fed up with what he calls "the nanny state."

And just what is the nanny state?  "It is a federal government that has become so big that it has stifled individual liberty and freedom in this country," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.  "And Americans realize that."

Barr, who was elected to Congress in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, came to national prominence 10 years ago ...

... as a GOP floor manager during the House vote on the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  In his 2004 book "The Meaning of Is," he writes of Clinton, whom he described as "a failed president":  "There is no core to Bill Clinton, no principle he will not sell out, no lie he will not tell, no rule he will not break, if he believes doing so will best serve his immediate interests."

Former Republican U.S. Rep Bob Barr of Georgia is now the new presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party

But that's just the failing of an individual, Barr now says. The current occupant of the Oval Office has failed the country, he believes.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  And you now believe that George W. Bush has been a greater threat to liberty than Bill Clinton?

BARR:  Absolutely, because of this systemic assault on the Bill of Rights. 

He cites as examples the recently approved FISA legislation ("where you have a government, an administration, that believes it's OK to electronically surveil U.S. citizens in their own country without any inkling that they've done something wrong, which is what the administration wants and the Congress has now passed for this administration, we have a real problem") and statements from administration officials about Guantanamo detainees' rights to due process ("when you have an attorney general, for example, that says that habeas corpus is no longer important, we have a real problem").

Stephanopoulos noted that "a lot of your former colleagues, including Newt Gingrich, think that a vote for you is the same thing as a vote for Barack Obama, that you've going to do for John McCain exactly what Democrats think Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000 -- beat him."

"Well," Barr replied, "it really is illustrative of the sort of 'Alice in Wonderland' world that Newt and the Democrats and the other Republicans up here live in.  Their world is completely circumscribed and defined by the two-party system.  And any threat to that system is to be denigrated."

He knows he's not going to be living in the White House come January (a recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has him at 3%), but he does have a goal in mind for his candidacy:  "Success will come from opening the electoral system here so that no longer, after this cycle, will Americans feel themselves bound to the artificial constraints of the two-party system. They'll know that there's a real choice, that there is real change: Bob Barr 2008 this year, and somebody else next time."

-- Leslie Hoffecker