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Posted at 06:14 PM ET, 02/16/2012

GOP trickster Roger Stone defects to Libertarian party


Paul Manafort, Roger Stone (center) and Lee Atwater in 1985. (Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post)

The Grand Old Party has lost Roger Stone. The once-golden (if wild) child of right-minded Republicans has broken ranks — and left his past behind.

“On Monday, I left the Republican Party changing my Florida voter registration to the Libertarian Party,” he wrote Wednesday on his “Stone Zone” blog. “. . .To put it bluntly the Republican Party is hopelessly [expletive] up.”

His withering assesment of the GOP extends to its top contenders for president: Mitt Romney “converted to conservatism” to run; Newt Gingrich is a “thrice married ego-maniac with delusions of grandeur”; Rick Santorum “a religious fanatic who would tell other people how to live.”

Harsh words — but not surprising for anyone who’s worked with the flashy political operative and self-described “GOP hitman.” Stone, 59, was one of the most sought-after party insiders back in the day: He worked for Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President and administration (and has a tattoo of Nixon on his back), Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, teamed up with famed political consultant Lee Atwater and had a hand in the 2000 Florida recount circus. He is famous for his political aphorisms (“Stone’s Rules”): “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.”

But he wasn’t your average conservative. Stone resigned from Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign after the National Enquirer revealed the he and his wife had appeared in a swingers magazine. He originally denied the story, but finally admitted it was true — 12 years later.

Stone been out of the action for most of the past decade and spends most of his time in Florida these days. His last official act as a Republican was voting for Ron Paul in the Florida GOP primary. “I leave the GOP with a heavy heart,” he writes, predicting a “Libertarian moment” in 2016 and the end of his beloved old (freedom loving, fiscal conservative) Republican party.

Will he be campaigning for Paul? That could make things interesting. We’ll have to wait and see: Stone didn’t respond to requests for comment.

By  |  06:14 PM ET, 02/16/2012

 
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