State News

Libertarian candidate Barr visits N.C. campuses

Posted October 28, 2008 4:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2008 8:13 a.m. EDT

— Libertarian and Duke University doctoral student Horacio Carias said he was likely to make his presidential choice based on what he heard Tuesday in a small campus lecture hall.

Carias, 25, of Orlando, Fla., wanted to hear from his party's presidential candidate, former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia.

"I'm torn between Bob Barr and none of the above," he said before the first of two Barr campaign appearances on North Carolina campuses Tuesday. Barr also was scheduled to speak at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Carias said he held off on mailing his Florida absentee ballot until he could hear from Barr, who Carias said lacked credibility by becoming a Libertarian after a political career as a Republican.

Barr made no pretense that he believed he would win next week's presidential election. Lacking any entourage or visible bodyguards, Barr leaned on a wooden lectern and told the audience of about 100 that both major political parties were working to build a bigger, more intrusive government.

Neither the Democrats who have run Congress for almost two years nor the Republicans in charge for most of the preceding decade were interested in limiting the president's growing powers, Barr said.

"Why? Because both of the two major parties have an institutional interest in preserving the powers of the federal government," Barr said. The major parties assume it's only a matter of time before their party will retake the presidency, he said.

"Very little, if anything, will change in Washington if either of these candidates are elected," he said.

Barr focused on the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry as evidence that both major parties were intent on expanding their control over the economy.

"The job of the president is to devolve power back to the people, to protect their liberty," Barr said.

An Associated Press-GfK poll last week showed Barr's support unmoved at about 1 percent of likely voters.

A former federal prosecutor, Barr built a national following in the 1990s for doggedly pursuing President Bill Clinton's impeachment. He won the Libertarian Party nomination in May after becoming disillusioned with what he saw as unchecked growth of government and federal intrusions into personal privacy under President George W. Bush.

But Carias said he wasn't persuaded that Barr's conversion was genuine.

"I'm pretty certain I'm voting none of the above," Carias said after hearing Barr out.


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