WITH BLINDERS ON? BUSH CAMPAIGN WRITES OFF LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 12, 2004
SANTA FE, NM - In a close presidential election which may turn on the results in a few "battleground" states, every vote counts. Or does it?
Despite the 2000 Florida voting fiasco, which held up election results and ultimately sent them to the Supreme Court, George W. Bush's re-election campaign seems to have overlooked the potential effect of
"third party" candidates this November.
"This is a race between the president of the United States and John Kerry," Bush spokesman Danny Diaz told the Santa Fe New Mexican on Wednesday when asked about the prospects of Libertarian presidential
candidate Michael Badnarik, "and voters will make their decision between those two candidates."
Typical reaction -- but not so fast, say Badnarik staffers.
"Our candidate was at 5% in New Mexico last week," says campaign manager Fred Collins, referring to a recent Rasmussen poll of the state. "Now he's visiting the state and advertising. He will be the decisive factor in New Mexico -- and other states -- come election day."
And the candidate himself? "I'm not surprised," says Badnarik, 50, of Austin, Texas. "The typical approach of Republicans and Democrats is to ignore Libertarians. If they acknowledge us, they have to debate us. If they debate us, they lose."
"The 'ignore the man behind the curtain' approach won't work this year, though," he says, "We're speaking loudly enough to be heard over the bipartisan white noise."
Previous polling shows Badnarik at 3% nationwide and covering the gap between Kerry and Bush in several swing states. His campaign hopes to build momentum by positioning itself as the alternative to two very similar candidates on foreign policy, civil liberties and economic issues.
"A choice between Bush and Kerry is no choice at all," says Badnarik. "And their heads we win, tails you lose pitch to the voters won't play this time. They're telling voters 'you have no choice.' I'm telling voters that their votes count. And they're listening."
Then he backs off a bit. "Correction: Some of them are listening. It doesn't surprise me that Bush's people aren't. They hear what they want to hear. Does 'WMDs in Iraq' ring any bells? Maybe he's staffing his campaign with former intelligence operatives."
Badnarik will appear on the ballot in 49 or 50 states this year. The Libertarian Party is America's third largest, with more than 600 appointed and elected officials serving in public office under its banner.