Harry Browne's Campaign Journal April 2000
Saturday, April 1, 2000 Philadelphia
Today the Pennsylvania LP convention has a 90-minute panel for the presidential candidates Don Gorman, Barry Hess, and me. After I make my opening statement at the podium, I move from the microphone back across the platform to my place and I fall off the back of the narrow platform. I'm not hurt at all, but it startles many people. When I get back on the platform I announce that I saw Bob Dole do that in the 1996 campaign and wanted to try it for myself.
The Pennsylvania party has always been one of the LP's largest state parties. Today there are a little over a hundred people in attendance at the panel, and they are enthusiastic about the ideas expressed by the candidates.
In the evening, Nadine Strossen of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gives an excellent speech at the banquet. Part of her talk focuses on the way the Drug War has been used as an excuse to trash the Bill of Rights.
After her speech, Julian Heicklen, a chemistry professor at Penn State University, gives a short speech describing ads he has been running in local newspapers. He reads one of them to the audience:
Greta Slovensky is 32 years old. She started to experience slurred speech, body tremors, and distorted eyesight in 1990. Her motor skills were impaired. She started drooling. Over the next two years, she stumbled and fell often, had severe headaches, felt dizzy, and had trouble speaking. Finally she was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease. By the time she was treated, she could no longer talk, was informed that her vocal chords were paralyzed, and put on a feeding tube. The drugs that she was given for treatment were ineffective and had serious side effects. She had not been able to talk for two years, when she started smoking cannabis. Her speech returned after seven days, and her symptoms are improving. The tremors are almost gone. Her walking is stabilized. The Republicrats want to take away her medicine and put her in prison. Stop torturing the sick. Vote Libertarian on November 2.
Needless to say, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Sunday, April 2, 2000 Philadelphia
I'm up at 5:15 to go into Philadelphia for a 7am radio show. A couple of weeks ago I was on WIP with Peter Solomon by phone. Every time he took a call from a listener, I was disconnected. So he has invited me to join him in the studio while I'm in Philadelphia. The show goes well. The callers are about evenly divided between supporters and critics. No matter how much I hate to get up early in the morning, I don't have trouble with early shows.
After the show, Laura Carno and her husband, Bill Trees, take me to the airport, to fly south to Nashville by first going north to Detroit to change planes. I get home around 2pm, and Pamela and I take the rest of the day and evening off to be together.
Except for one scheduled interview. At 5pm I'm on for an hour with Nathan Lowe on WUSC at the University of South Carolina. There are no commercials and no call-ins, just an hour of conversation. He is very sympathetic toward libertarian positions, and I try to keep coming back to how various policies will affect young people. I think the interview is a success, and Nathan asks me to stay on for the next hour. However, as I don't know when Pamela and I will have our next day off, I suggest that we instead do another interview soon which he quickly agrees to.
Monday, April 3, 2000 Nashville
My first event is a press interview with Miles Benson of the Newhouse News Service. He is not particularly sympathetic, but I can hear his keyboard clicking away with everything I say. I'm not pleased with the way the interview is going. But towards the end I have occasion to say that a Libertarian America will be much more harmonious than the contentious society we have today. He asks why I think that. I say that, without government imposing one way on everyone, gays will have less reason to fear Christians and vice versa, the poor will have less animosity toward the rich and vice versa, races will have less to fear from each other and each of us will be free to decide the course of action he wants for himself, rather than having to fight to prevent someone else's values from prevailing. I ask whether I've made myself clear. He says, "Very!" I hope he prints that.
I'm on for about 35 minutes with Bill Press, sitting in for Ronn Owens on KGO, the big talk station in San Francisco. Press is a regular liberal spokesman on CNN's CrossFire. This is my first encounter with him, and he's generally a good interviewer. However, I just don't feel I'm getting my points across in a persuasive way. The interview doesn't seem to be a bad one, but I've certainly done a lot better. I always feel a bit disappointed after such an interview, because I know every interview reaches many people who have never heard me before and this is their only basis on which to form an opinion.
But later I receive an e-mail from Rick Adams, saying: "I heard Mr. Browne on the Ronn Owens show today and was quite pleased with his fresh view on our country's problems. Real problems like ridiculous taxation laws and imprisoning any American who doesn't agree with the government's view of narcotic consumption. I can only hope more people are upset enough to REALLY use their vote to voice our outrage at the way things are getting. It might not happen right away but I will no longer throw my vote away on either head of the beast. Keep up the good work! People are listening!" So you never know.
Tuesday, April 4, 2000 Nashville
My interview with Scott Deacle of the Danville (Virginia) Register and Bee (mentioned in the Campaign Journal for March 28) is published. He provides a good overview of what we're for and how we hope to continue growing and be far more visible this year.
Today's first interview is with Dark Starr on WCCO in Minneapolis. He's a Republican, and he says he's concerned that Libertarians wouldn't do anything to promote free enterprise. I never do figure out what he means by that. He asks whether I would step aside for Alan Keyes, and I say no. Although there is much to admire about Keyes, he isn't a Libertarian, he has no proposals to reduce government, and we won't restore America as a free country until we have a Libertarian President.
I have a phone interview with Steve Lund, a reporter for the Kenosha News in Wisconsin. He is very friendly. He asks whether the thriving economy makes it difficult to get people interested in a radical overhaul of the system. I point out that heavy regulation caused the economy to slow down in the 1970s and since then it hasn't really accelerated to a level comparable to the 1950s and 1960s. The median family income (the income of a family right in the middle of all American families) has barely grown over the past 30 years. I fax him some material from my forthcoming book.
The day's last interview is with the esteemed Gene Burns long-time Libertarian, eloquent speaker and talk-show host. This show is on WMEX in Boston, although Gene is broadcasting from San Francisco. Needless to say, we get along just fine. There are a few phone calls, all helpful.
Wednesday, April 5, 2000 Nashville
A scheduled interview with Jim McCarthy of the Brunswick (Maine) Times-Record is postponed to a later date. This allows me to sleep until 1:30pm. (I seem to mention sleep a lot, don't I?)
My first actual interview is an hour with Mike Richards on KPRC in Houston. He's a "good ol' boy" type who obviously doesn't think highly of government. We have an excellent conversation. Only two calls come in but he asks many intelligent questions.
Near the end, in response to a question, I rhapsodize again on the greater harmony that will exist in a Libertarian America: "Gays no longer will fear Christians, and Christians will no longer fear Gays. Blacks won't be so afraid of whites and whites won't be so afraid of blacks. Rich and poor will no longer be so hostile to each other. This is because the government will be so small that no one can use it to impose his values on others. Today everyone's afraid some other group will get control of the government and impose alien values. In a Libertarian America that can't happen, and so people can relax and enjoy each other without fear." The host says, "I really like that."
Then there's a phone interview with Jim Ragsdale of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It's scheduled for 20 minutes, but we talk for about 35. He's very friendly, interested in libertarian ideas, and takes seriously my hope that we'll be more visible this year.
The last interview is with Jerry Fogel on KPHN in Kansas City. It's supposed to be for 25 minutes, but he holds me over for an extra 20 minutes. He betrays none of his own philosophy, but he asks intelligent questions and is quite respectful saying that he wants me back for a longer interview.
Thursday, April 6, 2000 Nashville
Today's first interview is an hour with Roger Parent on WBET in Brockton, Massachusetts. In introducing me he says, "I'm more libertarian than anything." And later he says, "I agree with you 100%." Needless to say, I get the opportunity to say anything I want.
Next is an interview with John Day of the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. It's supposed to be 20 minutes, but I have to end the interview after 30 minutes because of my schedule. Mr. Day is very interested, he has studied the website, and wants to know how we hope to get attention. He says that occasionally lightning strikes and someone like Jesse Ventura catches the attention of the public. He finishes by wishing me good luck.
I then have a half-hour taped interview on the Florida Radio Network of 60 stations, to be played this weekend. The hosts are Reagan Smith and former Republican Congressman Lou Frye. Before the taping starts, they emphasize that the show is low key with no confrontations. They are very nice to me in the interview. However, after the taping is complete, I'm off the phone while they tape their closing comments which may be more revealing of their feelings about libertarians.
Lastly, I'm on for five minutes with Joe Palan, a reporter on WMNN in Minneapolis. He is very friendly and gives me a surprising amount of time to voice my main concerns during the five minutes.
Friday, April 7, 2000 Nashville
I become aware of an article on the Nebraska.StatePaper.Com website, the online version of some Nebraska newspaper. The article describes last Sunday's Nebraska LP convention. It is amazingly respectful of the convention's speakers who are mostly Libertarian candidates.
One such candidate is John Graziano, running for Congress, who said "the government safety net could turn into a shroud." The article also mentioned that he "attacked school officials over reacting with stiff penalties for kids bringing safety scissors or pen knives to class. This is not zero tolerance,' he said. This is infinite absurdity.'"
I wish I'd been there. It sounds as though the Nebraska party is alive and well.
There are no interviews today giving me a chance to begin correcting the proofs and creating the Index for my forthcoming book. I also can clean up my desk before heading out on the road for most of the next two weeks.
Saturday, April 8, 2000 Portland, Maine
At 7:30am, I'm on the phone with Jeff Weinstein, broadcasting from Lewiston on three Maine stations. He is a Libertarian, and is very supportive on all counts. He says he was so impressed with our 30-minute campaign videocassette that he has broadcast the audio portion on his show. He jokes that the only bad part was when the host in the video said, "Call the telephone number on your screen."
Later in the morning I'm at the airport, checking in for the flight to Portland, Maine, via a connection in Detroit. My flight is going to be late and it's obvious that I'll miss my connection in Detroit. So the Northwest Airlines agent arranges for me to take a Delta flight to Portland through Atlanta. At the Delta ticket counter, I try to get an exit row so I'll have some legroom, but no exit seats are available. The Delta agent decides to put me in first class instead, and I have the opportunity to relax, sleep, and stretch my legs throughout the flight.
I arrive in Portland in time to speak at the evening banquet for the Maine LP state convention. It is an enthusiastic audience of Maine Libertarians and outsiders who have come to hear what Libertarians offer. There are so many good people in the Maine LP, beginning with state chair Mark Cenci, and their efforts are paying off.
Ben Barth introduces my speech. He says that seeing the Libertarian national convention in 1996 caused him to change his life and become more of a self-supporting, responsible citizen. He also tells about his daughter Hannah, who represented me in 1996 in her middle-school class debate of presidential candidates. She presented my message of personal freedom so well that she got 61% of the vote. I am considering withdrawing from the race this year and having her run instead.
My speech is well received. Afterward, Michael Cloud asks people to stand if they are at their first Libertarian event, and well over half do so. He asks some of them to tell the audience what they think of what they've heard, and the responses are all enthusiastic.
When the banquet is over, Michael, Carla Howell (U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts), and I drive to Boston, where I stay overnight.
Sunday, April 9, 2000 Minneapolis
In the morning, I fly to Minneapolis to be the noon banquet speaker at the Minnesota LP state convention. The audience numbers around a hundred. This is the third state convention I've attended here, and each time the attendance seems to double each time. Charles Test and so many Minnesotans have done an excellent job building the party.
The audience is very enthusiastic, and I'm hoping for good things there this year.
Monday, April 10, 2000 Minneapolis & St. Paul
What a day. A full schedule of interviews. Matthew Gress, our Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, escorts me through the day.
It all begins at 8:30 with Ann Marie Ronning on WLTE-FM. We tape an interview for broadcast either this weekend or the weekend after. Before beginning, she explains that she almost never discusses politics on the show but decided to make an exception in this case. The interview is supposed to be a half-hour, but midway through she asks whether I can extend it to an hour. She is intrigued by the Libertarian message, even though she doesn't immediately accept it all. Once again, we are reaching an audience of non-political people who probably haven't even been voting.
The problem is that there's no way to test how worthwhile it is to devote resources to such an audience. Are these people responding favorably? And if so, will they be enthusiastic enough to actually go to the polls in November? Here again, we must be well-enough financed that we can reach them through advertising again and again over the next seven months. Otherwise, even if they remember me, they will come to feel that I don't have enough support to warrant their bothering to vote for me.
Next comes a phone interview with Joe Hallett at the Columbus (Ohio) Post Dispatch, the only non-Minnesota interview of the day. He is very friendly, and the half-hour discussion focuses on the difficulty we face in breaking through to national attention. I tell him there's no way to know when we'll have the resources to reach enough people to break into the polls and have an impact on the election, but that I hope it will happen this year.
Then another phone interview. This one is a short discussion with Steve Murphy, a news announcer at WCCO in Minneapolis, who tapes some comments to insert in the day's newscasts. Some of the soundbites concern the good growth of the Minnesota LP.
I have an interview scheduled with an editorial page editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But when I arrive I find that it's with Steven Dornfield, Glenda Crank Holste, and D. J. Tice, all editorial writers for the paper. They quiz me more on campaign strategy than issues, but I manage to insert the issues into my answers on strategy. Of course, I have no idea what they'll write about me if anything. One of them is impressed when I tell him I don't expect any newspaper to go beyond a single courtesy interview until we're large enough to affect the outcome of the election.
Now we go to KFAI-FM, an inner-city station for a taped interview with Ahndi Fridell. The conversation goes wonderfully. She asks several questions concerning poorer people such as why they should care about the income tax or investing for their own retirement. My answers are to the point and (I think) compelling. I mention that the Social Security tax takes 15% from the first dollar a person earns making it particularly difficult for someone to start getting his life together. When she asks about corporations, I say I want to take away the power of corporations to use government to impose their way on rich and poor alike. When she asks about minorities, I point out that the prize of government power makes groups afraid that others will get control and impose their way fostering distrust and making harmony and tolerance difficult.
The interview goes so well and we have covered so many questions that I don't usually get asked that I get her to promise to send me a tape we can put on our website.
From there, we head to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, only to discover that a scheduled interview had been cancelled. But I get a message from the campaign office that Al Malmberg of WCCO wants to do a quick interview. So we head for WCCO and Al and I tape about ten minutes of conversation, to be broadcast when today's baseball game ends. I've been on by phone with Al several times and he's always been very good to me. It's a pleasure to meet him in person.
The biggest event of the day is an hour on KSTP with Jason Lewis, the city's biggest talk-show host. He's a libertarian Republican, and I've been on with him before a couple of times. Ironically, I think this turns out to be the weakest interview of the day, but it still is a good one. The weakness (if I'm even correct about that) isn't Jason's fault; he is very respectful and gives me plenty of opportunity to talk. Perhaps my reaction stems from the other broadcast interviews going so well that this one seems to be a slight letdown.
As we leave the studio, I get a call from the campaign office; Ahndi Fridell called to say that something is wrong with the tape from our interview and we have to redo it. Horrors! This was the one interview I wanted most to preserve. We drive back to KFAI and redo the interview. She uses the same list of questions as before, and my answers seem (to me) articulate and compelling. But somehow the follow-up questions don't take us into the same new areas where I felt so brilliant before. She says she still hopes someone will rescue the material on the earlier digital tape, and will send it to me if that happens.
As though to put the icing on a particularly productive day, I see an article by Melissa Levy in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reporting on my speech yesterday at the state convention. The headline is, "The less government, the better, Libertarian says." Wonder of wonders, the entire article (15 paragraphs) relates the main points of my speech, starting with, "If Harry Browne were elected President, the Libertarian Party candidate said one of the first things he'd do is order a box of pens to veto bills from Congress." It goes on from there to talk about my principal issues, other parties wanting to run your life, pardoning non-violent drug offenders, pointing out how much better off you'd be without the income tax, and so on. Easily the best press coverage so far in the campaign.
Tuesday, April 11, 2000 Nashville
Upon returning home from Minnesota, I have one interview with Chris Casteel of the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. He is very friendly and respectful. As with most reporters, he's more interested in our campaign strategy than with the issues, and I have to try to keep slipping the issues into my answers to strategy questions.
When he asks how we expect to do better than we did in 1996, I point out that the party is 2-1/2 times as large as four years ago, we are in a position to spend many times as much on advertising, and we expect to be far more visible. The big question is: will we be visible enough that most eligible voters will become aware that there's an alternative to the two candidates who want to make government larger that there's a Libertarian candidate who wants to repeal the income tax, free you from Social Security, and end the insane War on Drugs?
Wednesday, April 12, 2000 Nashville
No interviews today, as I get my first day off in a couple of weeks. Pamela and I run some errands, eat out, and rent a couple of videos to watch. But before going to sleep, I slip into my office and check my email.
Thursday, April 13, 2000 Nashville & Boston
I have one interview before catching a plane to Boston. It is 35 minutes with Doug Guetzloe on WWNZ in Orlando, Florida. He describes himself as a libertarian Republican, and it's obvious that he has "libertarian tendencies." He also has invited two local county LP chairmen to join the conversation near the end. (Unfortunately, I couldn't hear their names.)
One caller asks whether the Libertarian Party is comprised mostly of former Republicans. I respond that there is no statistical evidence on this, but that my own informal experience indicates that we seem to draw about equally from Republicans, Democrats, and people who haven't been voting at all. Many people I meet in the party tell me they didn't vote for many years until they encountered the Libertarians. I also am receiving a good deal of email from people who say they intend to vote for the first time this year because they've heard about our campaign.
Like so many interviewers, the host asks me what I think about the Elian Gonzales case. I tell him that the obvious policy should be to grant political asylum to the boy's father, if he wants it and is free to accept it. But I point out the hypocrisy of Democrats and Republicans saying the boy shouldn't be sent back to Cuba, when our government since 1995 has been intercepting Cuban refugees at sea and forcibly returning them to Cuba with the full support of Democratic and Republican politicians. Just put a child on TV and every politician's posture changes overnight. Too bad we can't see all the people in Cuban prisons who were put there, in effect, by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Friday, April 14, 2000 Boston
What a day planned for today. Between our P.R. firm Newman Communications, Press Secretary Jim Babka, and Elaine Berchin of the Massachusetts LP, I have ten interviews scheduled.
It all begins at the leisurely hour of 5:30am with The Morning Show on WRKO, with Andy Mose and former Republican Congressman Peter Blute. I do this show by phone from my hotel room. Andy is a comedian and asks me the key issue question: "Which Darren did you prefer on the old Bewitched TV show?" I say I have to waffle on that one because I couldn't tell them apart. But the 25-minute interview contains a lot of substance discussions on taxes, abortion, immigration, and more. And Andy really comes to life when I mention ending Drug Prohibition an issue on which he apparently agrees with me.
Muni Savyon picks me up at the hotel and escorts me for the morning. We're joined by John Moran of Newman Communications, our P.R. firm. We begin at WZLX-FM with Ann Cody, taping a 20-minute interview that will be broadcast Sunday on a public affairs show. She is very friendly and respectful, and gives me the opportunity the make all the points that are important to me.
Next we head for WBUR at Boston University for an interview with Bruce Gellerman. The place is teeming with police and Secret Service personnel. I say, "I didn't order this protection." But, of course, it isn't for me; it's for President Clinton's trade representative (whose name I can't spell or pronounce) who the President thinks is threatened by people protesting the World Trade Organization. My interview is taped and lasts about 10 minutes. The host is skeptical of my positions, but provides a very nice, respectful introduction.
At the Boston Globe, I am interviewed by Bob Turner, who is the Chief Editorial Writer, and Don MacGillis, also an editorial writer. They are very nice to me, ask a lot of questions, and seem genuinely interested in what I have to say. They know I have an uphill battle and they are quite sympathetic. The general impression I come away with is that they take me very seriously.
On the way out of the building, Bob Turner takes me by the office of Jeff Jacoby, the conservative-libertarian syndicated columnist. I've read and enjoyed many of his articles. He says he had intended to sit in on the interview, but was prevented by a looming deadline. He asks that I let him know before my next trip to Boston, so that he can follow me around for the day and do an article on my campaigning.
We head next to the Boston Herald, where Libertarian entrepreneur Bob Willis joins us. We have lunch in the Herald cafeteria. Muni heads back to his own work and Bob takes over as my escort.
At the Herald, I'm interviewed by editorial writer Wayne Woodlief and conservative syndicated columnist Don Feder. The latter has been critical of libertarians at times apparently he considers them a threat to Republican chances and he also genuinely opposes the degree of liberty libertarians want. He tells me that he read How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World many years ago. I ask him what he thought of it. He says he liked it then. I promise to send him a copy of the newer edition. Feder also invites me to come back in the future for a longer discussion on the differences between conservatives and libertarians.
(Woodlief's article appears the following Sunday, and it's mostly about Pat Buchanan. The part about me is pretty condescending.)
The Herald recently published a very helpful article about Carla Howell, the Libertarian candidate running against Teddy Kennedy. In fact, she has received a wealth of good publicity and is being taken very seriously by the press. It's even possible that the Republican candidate won't obtain sufficient signatures to get on the ballot by the deadline in May.
We call the Boston Phoenix, a local weekly newspaper, to postpone our interview there as we're running too far behind. It isn't unusual for the interviews to last longer than scheduled, and we're now in the position that we couldn't make it to the Phoenix and still be on time for the next radio show.
That show is with Jay Severin, broadcasting on WTKK from The Rack a combination restaurant and pool hall next to the legendary Faneuil Hall, where patriots spoke in the 18th century and I was fortunate to be able to speak in 1996. It turns out that Severin is an avowed libertarian who rarely has guests, but who has invited me on to clear up for his listeners what a libertarian is. Apparently, many of his callers have said they were libertarians and others have shown interest. There's an audience of about 20 of the restaurant's patrons gathered around the stage where Jay and I are "performing." It's obvious that this is definitely not a political show. On the whole it goes well, but I notice that the setting and the noise throw me a little off balance and my words don't come out as fluently as in most interviews.
From there we go to WTKK, where PBS is videotaping me for a documentary on third parties that will air in October. Strangely, the host, Darren Garrick, asks me questions about what I hope will happen between now and election day even though when the show airs, such things will no longer be hopes; they'll already be confirmed as achievements or disappointments. But we get all that worked out.
He focuses largely on the troubles a third party must face trying to break through the stranglehold the Republicans and Democrats have on the electoral process. Despite his determination to concentrate on the strategy and mechanics of the campaign, I continually recite that we're the only party offering to free you to live your life as you see fit (and related points), so I'll be amazed if the final cut doesn't include some of our message.
He asks if we will succeed. I tell him I can't predict the future, but that it seems to me very possible that we'll elect a Libertarian President by 2008.
Bob Willis, Dave Rizzo, and I have dinner and talk about the challenge facing Dave in his race for state representative. We have a little more time than expected, because my appearance on New England Cable News has been preempted by coverage of the Elian Gonzales case.
The final show of the day is with David Brudnoy on WBZ. David is one of New England's most popular talk-show hosts. He's an old friend; my first interview with him may have been as much as 20 years ago. He has had AIDS for a number of years, and when he found that out he vowed to beat it. This evening I'm happy to see that he looks healthier than he did when I saw him four years ago. He is a strong, amazing individual.
David begins the interview by telling his audience that he voted for me in 1996 and will do so again this year. When one caller says I'm not yet the Libertarian nominee, David assures him that I will be and that he's going to vote for me. In response to another caller, he says he flirted with the idea that change would more likely come from within one of the two old parties but that he realized how impossible that would be and he's sticking with the Libertarians. I also said a few important things something about liberty, I think.
Saturday, April 15, 2000 Boston
Today is the Massachusetts LP's state convention. The party is certainly in great shape. Elias Israel is doing a wonderful job as State Chair, assisted by people like Elaine Berchin, who has established excellent relations with the media, Muni Savyon, who has been recruiting candidates, Dave Rizzo, Bob Willis, and many, many other determined people.
There are several press people in attendance. And I have two interviews before speaking. The first is with Thomas Grillo of the Boston Globe. He is very friendly and wishes me luck at the end of the interview.
The second is with Curt Lovelace, publisher of the Massachusetts News, a conservative monthly. He asks a number of questions about campaigning. He also asks why conservatives should vote for me instead of George W. Bush. I say that economic conservatives have to prove to the Republican Party that they won't any longer vote for candidates who are going to make government bigger that they can't change the Republican Party for the better if they continue to endorse whoever the party runs. I then say that social conservatives should be scared to death of Bush's proposals. He wants to use their money to subsidize private, "faith-based" charities which will effectively render them useless, just as federal aid to private colleges has made them virtually indistinguishable from state universities. And Bush wants to subvert private elementary schools with federal vouchers which will tie up the schools in government regulations until they become clones of the government schools, ending "choice" rather than enhancing it.
Lovelace says he has all he needs and asks whether there's anything else I'd like to say. I ask whether he'll be around for my speech and he says no; so I say, in effect, let's talk about your freedom. We talk for another 15 minutes and he takes another few pages of notes as I pour it on about the way we want to give you control over your life and set you free.
Carla Howell, the U.S. Senate candidate, speaks shortly before I do. She delivers a stirring stump speech. Afterward, she does an excellent job of answering questions possibly the best job I've ever seen anyone do. It makes me wonder why I can't answer questions so concisely.
Jim Sullivan is the convention emcee, and he provides a very flattering introduction for me. It is as energizing for me as for the audience to give a speech in this setting. To see 150-200 good-looking, enthusiastic people here reminds me that we have the talent, the skills, and the determination to bring about liberty in our lifetimes.
After the speech, Carla and I go to the press room to do separate interviews with Bub Hokanson on WTAG. Again, she does an excellent job of answering questions. I follow her on the show, providing a 1-2 punch, so to speak. The host is very respectful, saying that in effect we're simply trying to restore the traditional American idea of personal freedom. And yet, he is careful not to appear to be a partisan of libertarians.
Sunday, April 16, 2000 Denver
I'm up at 5:45 to catch an early plane to Denver, to attend the Colorado LP convention. Tim Sauer and Michelle Konieczny pick me up at the Denver airport the giant boondoggle airport that very few people in Colorado wanted; it's so far away from Denver that it seems as though it's in Illinois. Tim and Michelle are doing terrific jobs as the Colorado Campaign Coordinator and the Adams County Campaign Coordinator, respectively.
Shortly after my arrival, I speak at the Colorado LP convention. There are a hundred people or so in attendance. I mention that I may be the most optimistic person in the Libertarian Party that I was recently diagnosed as having Chronic Euphoria with Pollyanna Syndrome. But because of the power of our message the desire to give people control over their own lives I believe we have an excellent chance to reverse the long-term trend toward bigger government, and do it in this decade.
Monday, April 17, 2000 Denver
Today I have six scheduled interviews plus a meeting.
I wake up at 6:30 for a 5-minute phone interview, only to be told that the interview is postponed until tomorrow, as interest in the stock market has preempted me.
At 8:15, BetteRose Smith, the Colorado LP Chair, picks me up to take me to today's media events. The first is with Gary Tessler at KWAB. It is meant to be 20 minutes, but it lasts for about 40 minutes. We get along very well. He is a liberal and disagrees with a lot of what I say (except for my stand on the Drug War), but he gives me plenty of opportunity to state my views.
I was scheduled to meet with Sue O'Brien of the Denver Post editorial board, and then have a phone interview with Jeff Miller on the Morning Call radio show. But both have been cancelled and will have to be rescheduled. Normally, about one interview in ten gets cancelled. But today it is three out of six, and last Friday two out of ten interviews were cancelled.
At noon, I meet with Ari Armstrong, Dudley Brown, Bob Glass, and Mark Call all of whom are Colorado gun-rights activists. They are supportive of my campaign, and we discuss ways to reach the tens of thousands of gun supporters in Colorado, and to convince them that voting Republican in November will lead to more compromises of their gun rights.
After lunch, I have an interview with Linda Seebach at the Rocky Mountain News, one of Denver's two daily newspapers. She is very friendly and very familiar with libertarian ideas and the Libertarian Party. In fact, when the Drug War comes up, she mentions that it's one of the very few issues on which she doesn't agree with Libertarians. I don't know whether she's planning to write an article about me now, or just wants to know what's happening with the campaign. However, she says she will want to do a column on our FEC protest if we decide to go ahead with that. The interview lasts an hour and 15 minutes.
The final interview is with Jim Bryan at KNUS. He is a staunch Republican. On the way to the interview, we hear him doing a phone interview with Jim Nicholson, the Republican National Chairman. With the Columbine anniversary this week, Nicholson echoes the NRA line that there should be no new gun legislation; instead, the Clinton administration should do a better job of enforcing the 20,000 gun laws on the books.
During my hour on the show, I remind the host of what Nicholson said and ask him whether he thinks those 20,000 laws are all good laws. He says no, and has to agree that the Republican/NRA strategy doesn't make much sense. (I also thank him for having Nicholson as my warm-up act.)
Bryan is very complimentary of my handling of the issues, and he says I would make a good Republican. I tell him that I have almost nothing in common with Republican politicians. The Republicans want to keep Social Security going; I want to free you from it. The Republicans want to rearrange the tax burden; I want to reduce your tax burden dramatically. The Republicans want to manage health care better; I want to get the government completely out of it. The Republicans want to take over private schools (by managing them through vouchers) and "faith-based" organizations (by giving them welfare money); I want to get the federal government completely out of education and welfare. The Republicans like to make government bigger and bigger, and run your life better; I want to get government out of your life and let you run it yourself.
As with so many conservative Republican talk-show hosts, he says he agrees with 90% of what I say, but not on the Drug War. And, like so many hosts, he says we Libertarians would be more successful if we'd drop that issue. I point out that we couldn't be believed if we pointed out that the government that makes such a mess in so many areas is somehow going to succeed in stamping out drugs. And, while our stand on drugs was relatively unpopular five years ago, the tide has been turning rapidly in our direction.
At the conclusion of the show, Jim Bryan invites me back for a two-hour interview, so we can discuss the issues in more depth.
Despite the cancellations, the day's events have been very helpful.
Tuesday, April 18, 2000 Denver
The day begins at 6:35 with the phone interview that was postponed from yesterday. It is with April Zesbaugh and Kim Kobel on a news broadcast on KOA in Denver. It is meant to be only five minutes, but it lasts about ten. They give me plenty of opportunity to talk, and at the end of the interview one of them says something to the effect of, "There it is folks; this year you'll have a third choice instead of just the same old Democrats and Republicans." Ah, but I neglected to mention the website and phone number.
Later in the morning I catch a flight to Nashville and Home Sweet Home. Pamela and our dog Schnoodle meet me at the airport. (He is named Schnoodle because, when we got him from the Humane Society, he appeared to be a cross between a Schnauzer and a Poodle; but we later discovered he's a Portuguese Water Dog, a rare breed.)
In the evening, I do a phone interview on KABC with my friend Larry Elder, the popular Los Angeles radio host. We talk about the press release we sent out this week on the Microsoft case in which I accepted Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein's bravura challenge to debate any "libertarian" on the question of whether the anti-trust suit will help competition. We also go over many other issues and, as always, there's one caller who is certain that government is the answer to every question and who won't consider any other possibility.
Wednesday, April 19, 2000 Nashville
My first interview is at 10am with John Duane and Chris Kelly at KIDO in Boise, Idaho. During the 45-minute discussion, John says that Libertarian items are very intriguing, and in fact he confesses that he voted for me in 1996 to which Chris says that she too voted for me. Two of the callers bring up the wasted vote issue. One says he's voted Republican in the past, "But if you keep on talking as you are, I'll vote Libertarian." Another keeps saying it does no good if you don't win. I try to point out that he isn't winning either, since the people he votes for don't give him what he wants, but it doesn't win him over at least not today.
Then I'm on for an hour with Glenn Mitchell at KERA-FM, the NPR station in Dallas. He provides a very nice introduction, giving an accurate summary of libertarian ideas. Throughout the conversation, he is non-committal, very calm and pleasant and so are all the callers. Some of them support me, others are opposed, but all are polite and none are hostile. Glenn's demeanor must rub off on his listeners.
To one caller who says it's a pipe dream to think that churches and other agencies will help those in need, I say it's a pipe dream to think that government agencies are providing much help. But more important, "I want you to have control over your own life. I want you to be in a position to be able to help anyone you think is in need. And if you don't want to help anyone, that's okay, too. You don't need to feel guilty your taxes aren't really providing much help either."
My next interview is an hour with Jim Dexter, the LP chair of Utah. He has his own talk show on KTKK in Salt Lake City. Most of the callers want me to change my views on something oppose free trade or support a national sales tax. However, an elderly, disabled woman calls who says she is getting by on very little. She says she supports what I'm doing because she wants her children and grandchildren to live in a freer country than she has. I mention that this demonstrates that we shouldn't write off people who pay no taxes or who are getting government services and especially not the elderly. Most of them would be delighted to see their children and grandchildren go through life without the awful tax burden they've had to face.
Then it's a few minutes on the phone with Kelly Beaucar of ConservativeHQ.com. she's already written about me at least twice, but now wants my opinion on the controversy over the Republican Congress' desire to appoint Bradley Smith to the Federal Election Commission. Smith supports doing away with campaign contribution and spending limits (although he wants to retain reporting). She says that some of the Democrats have been comparing him to Slobodan Milosevic or David Duke. I say that this is typical when someone in government has such enormous power: the stakes are so high that people will go to any lengths to make sure that power is controlled by a political ally. The answer, of course, is to take that power away from the politicians. She includes some of my quotes in the article that appears the following day.
Thursday, April 20, 2000 Nashville
In the evening I appear on the David Gold show on KGNW in Dallas. It is a taping, to be aired tomorrow night and Russ Verney, former Executive Director of the Reform Party, is also a guest. The relationship between Verney and me is cordial, and we each point out that the parties have cooperated frequently to strike down ballot-access hurdles and on other procedural problems.
It is, as sometimes happens, an interview in which several of the topics don't lend themselves to clear-cut libertarian positions in this case, the Elian Gonzales matter and the South Carolina Confederate flag issue. In the latter case, I point out that this is an issue typical of politicians in which everyone gets riled up over something that is merely symbolic. It isn't going to change anyone's life significantly whether the flag stays up or is taken down, whether or not the Ten Commandments are posted in government schools, whether or not there's a flag-burning amendment. But politicians seize on these issues because it gives them a way of playing to their constituents without actually doing anything for them.
Friday, April 21, 2000 Nashville
My only interview today is with Michael Dresser on KFAR, the ABC radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska. My impression is that Michael and his listeners are very conservative Republicans. Today I feel very articulate and very intense. I really pour it on regarding what the politicians are doing to you and the country.
Michael asks whether I believe that Clinton's ability to flout the law and get away with it has set a bad precedent for the future. I say that the precedents were set long before Clinton with Presidents violating the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, and getting away with it. I cite the example of Clinton being able to bomb The Sudan and Afghanistan at his own whim, since Ronald Reagan was able to do so when he bombed Libya and invaded Grenada. We have reached the point that politicians can do anything they want, since there is no longer an enforceable Constitution to restrain them.
Over and over in the conversation, I come back to the point that only a strong-willed President someone determined to restore liberty to America will stand up to Congress and the Supreme Court. A President whose sole purpose is to reduce government to its constitutional functions can do so much to change the course of history. But we won't get that kind of President with Al Gore, George W. Bush, or Pat Buchanan.
Only when we have a Libertarian President will the debate change from how fast government should grow to how fast and how far government should be reduced.
Every one of the half-dozen callers is positive and supportive.
Monday, April 24, 2000 Nashville
Good news! Today the Portland Oregonian releases a state-wide poll, showing the following preferences among Oregon voters:
George W. Bush,
This is good news on two counts. First, a polling company is including us in the question posed something that didn't happen in 1996 unless we commissioned the poll. Second, we're already showing up in the results, and in a state where I've had almost no localized coverage at all no press interviews and just one radio interview on a Portland station.
Votes for me had to come from some combination of (1) national coverage of the campaign (national TV appearances like Fox News TV or national radio shows), (2) the work of our volunteer organization, and (3) growing positive name recognition for the word Libertarian.
And then another piece of good news. The Zogby poll releases the results of an April 20 national presidential poll. I'm included for the first time:
Bush, Republican, 42.5%
The third parties combined receive 9.4% of the 87.9% who had a preference. This is larger than the margin of difference between Bush and Gore. That should encourage the polling companies to continue listing the main third-party candidates, as their votes may have an impact on the outcome of the election.
My first interview today is for an hour starting at 9am with Michael Graham on WSC in Charleston, South Carolina. Not surprisingly, he wants my opinion on the Gonzales kidnapping. I say the kidnapping may have been a good thing, because it showed people the naked power of the government, but without anyone getting hurt physically. There is no question that the kidnapping was unconstitutional, unwarranted, and not even in keeping with the current court order.
Immediately afterward I'm on for an hour with Robby Noel on the American Freedom Network a handful of stations around the country. Again, the Gonzales case. But we also cover the Drug War and several other issues. It sounds as though his audience is made up of right-wing, conspiracy-oriented populists. But it seems that everything I say sets well with the host, and all the callers are supportive. It's easy to handle the question of possible conspiracies just by pointing out that reducing government is the answer taking the power away from those who want to use it to enslave you. At the conclusion of the interview, the producer asks me to arrange for another interview on the show.
Tuesday, April 25, 2000 Nashville
I have one interview today. It is with Jeff Miller, the Washington correspondent for the Allentown (PA) Morning Call. He is very friendly, and admits he doesn't know much about Libertarians. We talk for 30-40 minutes. He says he thinks every candidate should be heard, but he appreciates the fact that I don't demand that the press cover us when we might not have an impact on the outcome of the election.
He asks whether there aren't some things a nation's people should do collectively such as the programs by which Roosevelt pulled us out of the depression. I point out that the country was still in poor shape going into World War II, and the idea that the New Deal rescued America from the depression is a convenient myth of history.
More important, I mention that the idea of a nation's people acting collectively really means the politicians are deciding how all of us are supposed to act. Why is it necessary to force people to go along with a policy or program they don't approve of? I want to return control of your life to you, not to some mythical "collective" which really means to whomever has the most political influence.
Wednesday, April 26, 2000 Nashville
I receive some emails asking why I haven't spoken out on the Elian Gonzales kidnapping.
This is the not the kind of issue on which we're likely to get much publicity, because right now so many people are saying so many things. We would be lost in the babble of voices. The best kind of issue is one wherein we are standing alone while other political parties issue mild statements or ignore the issue entirely while the average person is affected directly and he knows it. The intrusive census forms were a good example of that; the LP generated a good deal of positive publicity by standing up for privacy.
We aren't issuing regular press releases now. However, shortly we will begin a steady stream of press releases, op-ed articles, and talking points for letters to editors to be distributed to our volunteers.
Thursday, April 27, 2000 Nashville
Only one interview today. It is an hour in the evening with Stan Solomon, broadcasting from WZL in Indianapolis, with coverage on several satellite stations, short wave, and the Internet. I was on once with him in the last campaign and once in 1998. He is very supportive of my positions, but he worries that a Libertarian vote will get Al Gore elected and perpetuate what he believes is the most immoral administration in history.
I point out that the Clinton administration has been good for freedom in one respect: the use of raw power has been very visible with incidents like Waco and the Gonzales kidnapping. DEA agents were busting down the doors during the Reagan and Bush administrations, but that went largely unnoticed. Clinton has helped many people realize that government is brute force.
I'm feeling very articulate this evening. It makes me wish I'd had several interviews. But then I always want more. Just call me Oliver Twist.
Friday, April 28, 2000 Charleston, South Carolina
I fly to Charleston for the South Carolina LP convention. However, my flight is delayed and I arrive in Charleston just a little while before time to speak. Waiting for me is Schuyler R. Kropf, a reporter with the Charleston Post and Courier. We have a 15-minute conversation mostly about the difficulties of running as a third-party candidate.
Don Gorman and I each give 20-minute speeches, followed by a joint question period. Toward the end of that, a gentleman in the audience rises to note that, in almost an hour, neither of us has had anything negative to say about the other. Don points out that all the presidential candidates pledged during the California debate in February that we would emphasize the positive what we want to achieve, not what one's opponents have done wrong.
Saturday, April 29, 2000 - Yonkers, New York
I arise at 5am (ugh!) to catch a plane to LaGuardia airport. I check into a hotel by the airport, and later catch a taxi to the New York LP convention in Yonkers. (The hotel in Yonkers was sold out at the time the reservation was made.)
I arrive in time to hear an excellent speech by Steve Landsburg, a columnist for Slate.com (Microsoft's online magazine). He explains that children learn to follow rules in playing with each other that are diametrically opposite to the subsidies, special privileges, and force that adults employ through government.
I'm surprised to find that Reginald Jones is there to speak. He is one of many new friends I acquired during the last campaign. He is a radio personality who also gives speeches at colleges and other venues around the country. Being a black man, his speech "Freedom is the Answer to Racism" carries special weight. He relates the history of the entrepreneurial endeavors of blacks in the South Bronx, and goes on to point out how government has kept blacks from using their own talents and skills to climb up the economic ladder effectively making them dependent on government handouts. And he notes how reluctant the black "leaders" are to come to the aid of any black individual or group who is held back by government. Afterward, Steve Dasbach tells me that he's arranged for Reginald to speak at the national convention in June. Look for his speech; you'll enjoy it.
During the banquet I give my speech, and I'm followed by John Clifton, the Libertarian candidate running against Rudolf Giuliani and Hillary Clinton.
Sunday, April 30, 2000 New York
Curses! My wake-up call doesn't come through, and I've set the clock radio incorrectly. I've missed my plane to Cincinnati, and thus my connection to Nashville. I hurry over to the airport, only to discover that the Cincinnati flight is just leaving two hours late. But I will have missed my Nashville connection, so Delta reschedules me through Atlanta.
I finally arrive home, about three hours late, and Pamela and I take the rest of the day off.