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Chris Cillizza
Saturday, October 1, 2005; 1:00 PM

Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr will be online Thursday, Aug. 21 at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions about his campaign, platform and why the former Republican U.S. congressman changed parties.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

Barr was elected to the House from Georgia's 7th District in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. He left after redistricting led to a primary defeat against a fellow GOP incumbent in 2002. He is a board member for Privacy International and the National Rifle Association. He has degrees from George Washington University and Georgetown University Law Center, and worked for the CIA before getting into politics.

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Bob Barr: Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to join you today.

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Rockville, Md.: Thank you for taking the time to participate in this forum, congressman. I read The Washington Post's recent article based on an interview with you and found it dismissive and condescending towards you and your beliefs. A patriot with your record of public service deserves much better treatment from the media! How do you feel about that article? Good luck in your campaign.

washingtonpost.com: Bob Barr, the Master of a Curious Universe (Post, Aug. 18)

Bob Barr: Thank you for your comments. The Washington Post profile piece was quite extensive. I appreciate the Post assigning a reporter so much time to talk with me, my wife and the campaign staff. I believe that every story helps to raise the public's awareness of my position on issues and if anything, the Post's article drove home the fact that I am very serious about the issues our country faces.

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Washington: What is your energy policy? It has been noted by many scientists that we need to invest between $10 billion and $30 billion a year in researching renewable energy, in order to develop alternatives to oil, etc. Will you be willingly to support such funding? Thanks.

Bob Barr: I believe that we need to produce more of our basic fuel needs right here in the US. We should remove prohibitions to offshore drilling and exploration in ANWAR. We need to remove the government restrictions and regulations that inhibit domestic production and refining. Shale oil is another source of energy that could be available to us in the foreseeable future. But all forms of energy are best explored, developed and delivered by the private sector. A free market will do more to reducing our dependence on foreign oil than any government subsidy.

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Springfield, Va.: How do you feel about the new FISA bill?

Bob Barr: The recent amendment to the FISA bill allows the government to eavesdrop on every American citizen if they are 'believed' to be talking or communicating over the Internet with someone outside the US. I believe the FISA bill can allow the government total access to the phone calls and Internet communications of US Citizens without the benefit of a court order or even probable cause. Privacy issues are a corner stone of my campaign.

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Hughesville, Md.: Mr. Barr, your bio on Wikipedia gives a perplexing, enigmatic but facinating perspective of your background. Your varied travels also must give you a good perspective of the U.S. and the rest of the world. Given the train wreck that we are witnessing in the financial and housing markets from the lack of regulation, are you still of the belief that industry can regulate itself? It seems to me that this housing calamity we have could have been avoided if the banks had been reigned in. Of course, we can then extend the analogy to health care and environmental issues as well. Secondly, having been a major proponent of the Clinton impeachment proceedings, would you agree that President Bush's offenses -- including the (fairly obvious) lying to the American people about the threat of Iraq -- were far worse than Clinton's Oval Office indiscretions?

Bob Barr: The problem we are witnessing in the housing market is a product of too much government involvement, not too little regulation. The government support for private sector bailouts has encouraged banks and mortgage companies and large investment firms to get involved with risky investments. It's not a bad deal if the private sector gets all the profits and the taxpayers cover all the losses. If investment firms and banks had to feel the full impact and suffer the consequences of their losses, they would be far more careful of their investments.

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Cincinnati: Bob, will you make an appearance at Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic on Sept. 2?

Bob Barr: I have not received an invitation to Ron Paul's event in Minneapolis. It is my understanding that no presidential candidates have been invited to speak at his rally.

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Anonymous: How many houses do you have?

washingtonpost.com: The Trail: Dems Pounce on McCain Admission He Doesn't Know How Many Houses He Owns (washingtonpost.com, Aug. 21)

Bob Barr: Let me take a few minutes to count...one!!

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Rockville, Md.: Neither Nader nor Ross Perot won any states as third-party candidates. What are your chances of winning a state, and which states are you targating the most? Also, Is it true you worked for the ACLU?

Bob Barr: My chances of winning the plurality of the vote in a competitive three way race are very favorable. However, remember that even though Ross Perot didn't win any electoral votes, politics and more important public policy changed significantly because of the 20 million voters who responded to his message. The Republicans came up with the Contract With America to appeal to Perot voters, welfare reform was supported by Republicans and President Clinton in response to the Perot vote and the budget was balanced by 1998 in response to the Perot vote.

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Dayton, Ohio: Given that it's unlikely that the 111th Congress would be in Libertarian hands, how would a Barr administration be able to enact many of its proposals? Whether controlled by the Democratic or Republican party, it doesn't seem to me that a Barr administration would have a cooperative body at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bob Barr: It will be easier for me as a Libertarian Party president to put together coalitions in Congress for each public policy proposal based on its merits than for Republicans and Democrats who can only appeal to their members on partisanship or oppose a measure based on partisanship. Likewise, I can bring the best and the brightest to my Cabinet and high level positions because I don't have to limit myself to choosing just Republicans or just Democrats. My appointments will be based on capability not on party affiliation or size of contribution.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: What are your views on campaign finance reform. I would presume Libertarians do not wish to restrict the right of free speech, yet as a smaller political party, does it worry you that the current system skews toward political groups that attract the large special-interest donors?

Bob Barr: All election laws, including campaign finance laws, are written by incumbents and naturally the laws protect incumbents. Third parties and Independent candidates have no voice in writing either state or federal election laws, therefore we will always be at a disadvantage. The constitution never even mentions political parties let alone the Republican and Democratic Parties yet all the election laws help to protect them from competition.

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Washington: What would you look for in a Supreme Court nominee? Which justice(s) do you feel follow most closely your own ideology?

Bob Barr: I would appoint justices who would remain true to the Constitution. You can be assured that my appointees would not look favorably upon the Free Speech restrictions of McCain Feingold. They would respect the Fourth Amendment requiring a judicial review before the government can eavesdrop and Habeas Corpus will apply at all times.

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Chicago: Hey Bob, I supported Ron Paul, to the tune of $400, because of his unwavering antiwar stance. You seem to be in a similar state at this point. My skepticism sets in when considering your past support for interventionist foreign policy. Did you ever support the Iraq War? If so, why did you change?

Bob Barr: I supported the Iraq resolution but that was not an approval of war in Iraq and certainly was not approval for an occupation of Iraq.

I support a quick removal of US troops from Iraq. I want Iraq to take responsibility for its own securty and rebuilding.

I think we are in a dangerous situation with respect to Georgia right now and I urge you to read some of the releases I've put out on my web site bobbarr2008

I want to put Defense back into our Defense Department and end the current perception that we are the world's policeman.

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Manchester, N.H.: Mr. Barr, I agree that this country is in need of tax reform, but why should we eliminate the income tax? It is the most progressive and enforceable of all taxes. It has been used in this country's history to great success and at higher graduation than exists today. Being able to levy and increase the income tax led to our strength and triumph during the 20th century. I appreciate your answer. Thank you.

Bob Barr: I'll try this again, I was in the middle of answering this when I lost my connection.

More than tax reform we need spending reform.

Our first priority has to be cutting the size of government and government spending.

Our tax code is currently used to reward certain government determined behaviors and punish other government determined behaviors. And in the end our current tax system falls woefully short of our spending.

Step one cut spending. Step two implement some form of a consumption type tax that takes the intrusive IRS out of our lives. Step three test and finally implement a tax system that meets the needs of a much smaller government and repeal the income tax or we'll wind up with both the new tax system and an income tax.

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Bob Barr: I want to thank the Washington Post for making this opportunity available to me and I want to thank all of you for your participation and thoughtful questions.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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