Bob Barr took a swipe at soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee John McCain over the senator’s policies on federal spending, saying McCain “has put forward nothing that would indicate he believes in dramatically shrinking the size and cost of the government.”
Barr, a one-time conservative Republican House member from Georgia and current Libertarian Party presidential candidate, says in an interview on washingtonpost.com’s “PostTalk” that his candidacy will benefit from the huge amount of GOP defectors who are disaffected with the party over domestic policy and government waste.
“[McCain] does talk a great game about doing away with earmarks,” Barr says, “but that really doesn’t get near to the heart of the matter of the massive federal spending, the massive federal debt and the deficits we're running,"
Barr takes McCain to task for not connecting with the average voter and predicts he will garner substantial conservative Republican support in a handful of battleground states critical to McCain. He also hammers away at McCain for his support of the war in Iraq and his energy policies.
Barr says he and McCain differ dramatically over the government’s energy policy. He says government ought to allow immediate drilling for oil and shale in ANWR, the mountain West states, and the outer continental shelf.
“We have a 3.1 trillion dollar budget this year, and he’s proposed nothing that would start dramatically cutting that back,” he says of McCain, adding, “I would.”
Barr believes he can chisel his way into McCain’s voter base in dissatisfied red states, noting that early polls reportedly show him taking away enough votes from McCain to give Democrats a chance to win states that would otherwise be safely Republican.
“Our votes will come from disaffected Republican voters who would not be inclined to vote for McCain,” he says. “For example, blue-collar Democrats who believe in the Second Amendment and who believe in our civil liberties message but are not willing to buy into the very large expanses of the social programs of [Democratic presidential nominee] Senator [Barack] Obama.”
Barr admits that in the past he was willing to accept a greater degree of government involvement in infringing on liberties, but that’s no longer the case.
When asked why he bolted the GOP, he answers, “The fact of the matter is the Republican Party left me and many other libertarian-leaning Republicans way behind when it veered so sharply away from fiscal conservancy and in the direction of big government and big government spending.”
Barr says the tremendous growth of the federal government since 9/11 dramatically shrunk the sphere of personal liberty in this country and, correspondingly, dramatically expanded the scope of federal power.
“It has really caused me and many other Americans – many other conservatives and libertarian-leaning Republicans – to take a much harder look at government power than we did in the past,” he says.
“I can no longer support [the Republican Party], which I supported for years.”
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