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Third-Party Candidates Choose Clown Makeup Over Pig Lipstick

Ron Paul, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader -- the picture of unity.
Ron Paul, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader -- the picture of unity. (By J. Scott Applewhite -- Associated Press)

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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, September 11, 2008

There's no putting lipstick on this pig.

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Ron Paul, the libertarian gadfly who launched a mass movement in his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, convened a third-party unity event at the National Press Club yesterday to bring Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Chuck Baldwin together into one big, happy family of independent presidential candidates.

But as soon as Paul reached out to apply the Revlon to the snout, Barr went hog-wild, turning the gathering into a barnyard brawl.

"I'm very pleased that, uh, we have some special guests here," Paul told a crowded ballroom at the press club. "Three of the candidates are here with me . . . and I understand Bob Barr is on his way or, uh, will be here shortly."

Well, not exactly. Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, never showed for the unity event, instead having an aide hand out notices at the door announcing that he would be making a "major campaign announcement" at a rival news conference in the same place two hours later. His major announcement: that Ron Paul could get lost.

"I'm not interested in third parties getting the most possible votes," Barr told the cameras. "I'm interested in Bob Barr as the nominee for the Libertarian Party getting the most possible votes." In a further insult, Barr said he would permit the vastly more popular Paul to be his vice presidential running mate.

Paul partisans were appalled. "I will be withdrawing my endorsement," a man identifying himself as an "independent blogger" declared from the audience.

"Me, too!" called out another.

"I was gonna vote for the guy, but I think he's about as arrogant as George Bush," proclaimed a third.

Thus did the short-lived third-party unity movement of 2008 go in the trough.

It was an opportunity squandered, for the two major parties were busy yesterday demonstrating why an alternative to Democrats and Republicans is so desperately needed.

The bipartisan display of malfeasance began at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse a few blocks from the Capitol, where Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a longtime lord of the Appropriations Committee, was trying to get a judge to throw out his indictment on seven corruption-related counts. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected the senator's request, clearing the way for a trial the week after next.


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