From the Washington Post:
ATLANTA — A fiery former GOP congressman who gained national prominence for doggedly pursuing impeachment of President Clinton has some Republicans worried he’ll play spoiler in a tight presidential contest.
Bob Barr’s Libertarian Party bid for the White House is the longest of long shots, but political experts say he may be able to exploit the unease some die-hard conservatives still feel about Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting. Combined with the surge in turnout among Democrats during the primaries and a difficult political climate for Republicans, they see what could be a recipe for trouble for the GOP.
“Bob could be the Ralph Nader of 2008,” said Dan Schnur, a GOP consultant in California who worked on McCain’s 2000 campaign but is not involved in this year’s contest.
Some Republicans aren’t worried about Barr’s candidacy. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said voting for Barr is the same as voting for Democrat Barack Obama, and said he’s confident most GOP voters will understand that.
“No reasonable conservative is going to vote for anyone except McCain,” Gingrich said.
Then Newtie excused himself to change his poopy underwear.
Even so, Barr campaign manager Russell Verney said he expects Republicans to mount challenges to keep Barr off the ballot in a number of states, much like Democrats did to Nader in 2004.
The Libertarian Party hasn’t cracked 1 percent of the national popular vote in a presidential race. But it bills itself as the third-largest political party and is already on the ballot in 30 states, with petition drives this summer aiming at 20 others.
But Barr may have the most impact in his home state of Georgia, where he is still well-known.
In recent years, Barr has earned a reputation as an iconoclast. A National Rifle Association board member, Barr has joined with the liberal American Civil Liberties Union against the Bush administration-backed Patriot Act and reversed himself on medical marijuana use, now lobbying in favor of it.
He said it is the unchecked growth of government that led him to abandon the GOP two years ago.
In the coming weeks, Barr plans to open a campaign headquarters in Atlanta.
Georgia and its 15 electoral votes have been expected to go Republican on election night, and McCain spokesman Jeffrey Sadosky said he remained confident they still would.
Still, the enthusiasm Obama has generated among Georgia’s large black population continues to worry McCain strategists. Far from writing off Georgia, Obama has a campaign team registering voters and is airing a TV ad in the state.
“If Senator McCain is not successful, it will be because his message and his vision did not resonate with a plurality of the voters,” Barr said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Barr also hopes to tap into the zealous grass-roots network of Rep. Ron Paul, who recently dropped his bid for the GOP presidential nomination and pledged to support “Libertarian-leaning Republicans.”