Harry Browne's Campaign Journal— July 2000
Saturday, July 1, 2000— Anaheim
Another round of interviews at the LP convention today. The first is ten minutes with Leslie Aherne and Paul Antakolski on "Living Longer and Better" on WMEX, Boston. We talk about health care, education, and taking care of the poor. Paul seems convinced that nothing would be possible if the government didn't do it. Even though he may be as old as I am, he has no recollection of the multitude of charity hospitals and free clinics that existed throughout America before government regulations ran them out of business.
ZoomCulture.com asks me to tape a series of statements to be played as video on its website. Its audience is dominated by young people. One of the statements is about two minutes on why people should vote Libertarian up and down the ticket. Then they ask me to do a video for each of the four books of mine that are still in print— to be played in its book section.
A Los Angeles Times photographer follows me around for an hour or so, taking pictures of me in various places around the convention.
Barbara Ortutay of the UCLA Daily Bruin interviews me for a few minutes. Surprisingly, she doesn't ask questions particularly related to education or young people— just for my stands on the usual issues.
I have a short interview with Greg Hardesty, a staff writer for the Orange County Register, the large local daily newspaper. He is writing a feature story on the convention for the Sunday edition, and says another reporter will be around to cover the voting tomorrow.
I tape a 5-minute video interview with Ned Martel, Chief Political Correspondent for Voter.com, a large political website. He asks which other presidential candidate I hope to take votes from. I say that they are all on the other side of the fence from the Libertarians. Al Gore, George Bush, Pat Buchanan, and Ralph Nader all want to control your life, make decisions for you, and run the world. I'm the only presidential candidate that believes you're competent to make your own decisions, so we should draw voters away from all four of them.
A young woman from Peninsula High School in the Los Angeles area interviews me briefly for the school paper.
In the late afternoon there's a presidential candidates debate with Don Gorman, Barry Hess, Dave Hollist, and myself. It seems to be a good show for the C-SPAN viewers, as a lot of Libertarian points are made. When asked about gun rights, I say that I would disarm all federal employees, outside of the military, including those guarding Congress at the Capitol— and they will remain disarmed until Congress restores the full and unconditional right of every American to defend himself. Most likely, it would take about five minutes for Congress to come to its senses.
Afterward I meet with caucuses from a number of states.
The Southern Party (a new party formed to restore respect for the Southern heritage) held its first convention today in Charleston, South Carolina. I later learn that Ron Holland gave a speech to the convention in which he endorsed me for President (the Southern Party isn't running candidates this year). The speech has been posted at http://www.ronholland.com/Ch%20Speech.htm.
Sunday, July 2, 2000— Anaheim
The day begins with the nomination speeches for the presidential candidates. Carla Howell nominates me, seconded by Fred Collins and Reginald Jones. The presentation concludes with the screening of four 1-minute ads produced by our campaign. The ads go over very well.
The roll call of delegations begins with Montana (chosen by lot) and proceeds alphabetically from there to Wyoming and then to the start of the alphabet at Alabama. Massachusetts puts me over 50%, and I finish the first ballot with 56% of the vote.
Don Gorman then goes to the podium and gives a fiery speech urging the party to unify now that the nomination has been decided. I give a short speech, thanking him and Barry Hess for running clean, constructive campaigns.
Before I can leave the auditorium, Andrew Bowers of National Public Radio catches me for an interview for tomorrow's Morning Edition program on NPR. He surrounds the interview with quotes from other Libertarians and with a nice objective description of the LP and what it's trying to achieve. (You can hear the interview at http://www.npr.org/news/national/election2000/bios/libertarian.html.)
Then it's over to the press room for a whirlwind of interviews. Reporters are lined up there waiting to talk with me. There are brief interviews with Kate Folmass of the Los Angeles Times, Victor Infante of the Orange County Weekly, Diana Chiyo McCabe of the Orange County Register, and Erica Werner of the Associated Press. TV interviews include Jon DuPre of Fox News TV, Sam Hall Kaplan of LA's Channel 11, the Fox affiliate, and Mary Moore of the Orange County News channel. There also are Internet interviews with Ned Martel of Voter.com and Kris Lotlikar of ZoomCulture.com.
The article from the Associated Press appears in dozens of daily newsletters around the country over the next few days. Unfortunately, it includes the misstatement, "the 67-year-old Nashville man said he hoped his campaign would reinvigorate his ailing party." As the Libertarian Party is anything but "ailing," I have no reason to want to "reinvigorate" it. This is an example of how people read their own preconceptions into what others say. Probably because the reporter thinks we've been overshadowed by the Reform Party, we're ailing— and because one of my goals is to establish name recognition for the Libertarian label with every American, the reporter thinks of this as my wanting to reinvigorate an ailing party. As I've said before, I would trade 10 national press interviews for one national TV appearance -- wherein I can speak directly to the viewers, rather than having to rely on someone to relay my thoughts.
The stream of interviews is interrupted by Johnny Rotten, the former lead singer of the Sex Pistols. (They apparently have been a very popular band, but since they don't play much Rachmaninoff I'm not in a position to know.) He is very gracious for a man with dyed hair and plenty of earrings. Apparently, he became a friend of Libertarians through reading Bill Winter's LP press releases, and he decided to visit the convention.
After the rush of interviews in the press room, I go back to my room to change clothes. While there, I have phone interviews with Mike Ambrosini of KNX radio in Los Angeles and Norman Hall of Associated Press radio.
Then it's back down to the convention floor to give my acceptance speech, which is telecast to the nation by C-SPAN. The theme of the speech is "We believe in you"— explaining that all other parties are trying to control your life, but that Libertarians believe you have the ability to make your own decisions. I place special emphasis on the Drug War. (Video and text versions of the speech are on the campaign website at www.HarryBrowne.org.)
The traditional Presidential Banquet, a black-tie fund-raising dinner, is held in the evening. Gary Nolan does an entertaining job as emcee. I am privileged to be able to present the Thomas Paine award— for the best communicator of Libertarian ideas — to Michael Cloud, who has done a wonderful job of developing Libertarian soundbites, of giving persuasive speeches, of writing speeches, of showing people how to persuade rather than argue, and of raising millions of dollars for Libertarian causes.
The banquet raises about $125,000.
Monday, July 3, 2000— Anaheim & Washington, D.C.
After going to bed around midnight, Pamela and I get up at 4:45 to drive with Jim Babka and Steve Willis to a studio where I will be on C-SPAN's Washington Journal at 6:15. The interviewer (in Washington) is one I haven't seen before, and I never do catch his name. The show goes well— with good phone questions that allow me to state our case in terms that show how a Libertarian America will dramatically improve the listener's life.
When we return to the convention hotel, I have the opportunity to meet for the first time Richard Cowan of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). He has been fighting for years against the Drug War. He is very kind in telling me how much he enjoyed my acceptance speech and how supportive he is of the campaign.
Susan Marie Weber is running for state representative in California. She has a telephone interview scheduled with Lou Penrose at KNWZ in Palm Springs this morning. We go to her room to await the call. When it comes, she tells Lou that I'm with her, and I speak with him for 10 minutes on the air. I've talked with him before, and he's very helpful to Libertarians.
Later I have an in-person interview in the press room with Stephen Cox and Bill Bradford of Liberty magazine. They want to know why I think we should do better this year than in 1996. I tell them the party is more than twice as large as in 1996, we have raised more money, we have much better relations with the press and broadcasters, we are getting much more media exposure, we will do many times as much advertising, and much more. No one can predict the outcome, but we have many opportunities we've never had before.
After a brief phone interview with Jay Lawrence at KFI radio in Los Angeles, Pamela and I head for the Orange County airport to catch a plane to Washington.
We have to change planes in Salt Lake City, at which time I have a phone interview with Michelle Laxalt and Barry Lynn on a radio network. Because I'm late reaching them by phone, Jim Babka handles the first 15 minutes of the interview and does a fine job. Michelle is a Republican who was very good to me during the 1996 campaign and Barry is a Democrat. Both are very respectful. We all defend Barry against a Libertarian caller who complains that Barry isn't nice to Libertarians. Actually, he is.
Tonight on CBS' Late Late Show, Craig Kilborn says, "In other news, the libertarian party nominated Harry Browne to be their presidential candidate. Not much is known about him except he will never, ever be president."
I'm glad to be noticed— negatively or positively. But we need to make sure a great deal is known far and wide about the Libertarian candidate and the Libertarian Party.
Today in the Rasmussen daily poll I jumped from 1.0% to 1.4%, undoubtedly as a result of many people seeing the LP convention on C-SPAN. This demonstrates how important national exposure is.
Our ads will start running on national cable networks later this month, and it's vital that we raise as much money as possible to show them far and wide. We are the only party offering people the opportunity to be free to live their lives as they want, but they can't vote for us if they don't know about us. And it isn't enough for them to see one ad; they need to see us often to be reassured that other people are seeing us, and therefore to know that their votes will be added to those of others and make an important statement.
Tuesday, July 4, 2000— Washington, D.C.
It may be the 4th of July, but a lot is going on.
The day starts with a phone interview with Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan at KSFO in San Francisco. It is scheduled for 30 minutes, but lasts 45. It begins with my usual "We want you to be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as Al Gore or George W. Bush thinks is best for you . . ." When I'm finished, Rodgers says, "I wish the two major-party candidates were as articulate and well-spoken as you are." The interview continues, we take a number of calls from people with concerned questions, and I consider the show to be a success.
Next there's a brief phone conversation with someone at CNN, a "pre-interview" call to get information on which to base questions for the live interview that will take place later today.
I have a 10-minute phone interview with Dave Arrowwood of WSM and WTN in Nashville. He is very friendly.
Then it's off to CNN in downtown Washington. I have a short interview with Lou Waters (he's in Atlanta). It goes extremely well. Not only do I feel that I'm in good voice, but he seems to ask all the right questions— such as "Why do you think you'll do any better in 2000 than you did in 1996?" (Answer: "Because the LP is much bigger, stronger, and better financed than in 1996. We expect to be much more visible this year — allowing us to let most voters know there's an alternative that's determined to get government out of your life.")
In the evening I have an in-studio one-hour interview with Jim Bohannon on the Westwood One national radio network. He is a liberal, and I had an extremely argumentative interview with him in 1996. Tonight, however, we get along well— although there are still plenty of disagreements. I get a chance to say everything I want to, and he recites our website address and phone number twice during the show. Afterward, he and I tape a 5-minute interview to go out to all the stations on the network tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, July 5, 2000— Washington, D.C.
A big day today. Two national TV shows, three national radio shows, and five other interviews.
While eating breakfast in a coffee shop with Pamela, Jim Babka, and Steve Willis, I have an interview on my cell phone with Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review's website. Near the end, she asks about my relations with the media. I point out that radio and TV talk shows are very good to me. But print interviews require me to spend lengthy periods talking with someone who will use the eventual article to push a personal point of view that may have little to do with my main points. I say, "For example, you probably won't mention that the essence of my campaign is to make it possible for you to live your life as you want to live it, not as Al Gore or George Bush thinks you should."
(As it turns out, she publishes the interview on the National Review website in Q-&-A format, including all of my statements. However, someone transcribed some of my statements incorrectly. One statement comes out that "government gets bigger, more expensive, and more instructive" instead of more intrusive. Elsewhere the transcript has me saying that the LP is now "well over half the size of what it was four years ago," instead of more than twice the size. I email Kathryn about it and she makes the corrections on the website the same day. (The interview is at http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/interrogatory070500.html.)
The first in-person interview of the day is with Teresa Joerger of the Washington Times, the daily competition to the Washington Post. She asks many questions and takes more extensive notes than anyone I've seen in this campaign. She is writing a series of articles on third-party candidates. She asks Pamela why she first suggested that I run for President in the early 1990s. Pamela refers her to the appendix Pamela wrote for my latest book, The Great Libertarian Offer.
From there, we go to a taping with Greg Corombos at Radio America. We talk for about seven minutes, so that he can put together material for their on-the-hour news updates. The interview goes well; both the questions and answers are brisk and to the point.
In the car, I do a quick phone interview with Kelly Beaucar of ConservativeHQ.com. She has been very good to us, and the article she puts together today on my nomination is no exception. It explains our campaign approach very accurately and persuasively. (It can be seen at http://www.conservativehq.com/chq/displayarticle?articleId=1820.)
Next is a taping at ABC radio news. Rusty Lutz asks a series of questions, from which he will extract soundbites for a report in the hourly newscasts.
We have been under the impression that I was to tape an episode of ABC's Nightline show with Ted Koppel today. But it turns out the producers wanted me to come to ABC to get acquainted and see whether they want me to be on a future show. The interview goes very well. There are about a dozen ABC people asking questions in a large boardroom.
I point out that my campaign not only might make a good subject for a Nightline episode, but that I could be someone to call on to discuss the crisis of the day. I stress that most panel discussions always assume that some government program is necessary to handle whatever is today's crisis— and the controversy is over how the government should react. Having me on will provide a different viewpoint — one that calls attention to how the government itself has caused the problem and how it can be solved by getting the government out of the way.
One of the Nightline staff members talks with someone at Newman Communications (our P.R. firm) later in the day. He says the general consensus of the people in the meeting is that I scored a B+ in my interview. So you may be seeing me on Nightline yet.
We rush from ABC over to CNN-TV for the Inside Politics show. Bernard Shaw does a nice job of interviewing me, giving easy questions that are more intended to elicit information than to be confrontational. I may be wrong, but most interviews seem much more calm than they used to be.
Then we head back to Radio America for the Oliver North radio show. Unfortunately, no one told us that North doesn't broadcast from there— even though he's on that network. Instead, he does his show from the MS-NBC studios, since his TV show is broadcast from there shortly after his radio show airs.
We make it to the MS-NBC studio about 15 minutes late, but still in time for a 35-minute interview. He has improved considerably as a host since I was on his show in 1996. He keeps the show moving along crisply. After talking with me himself for a while, we go through about a dozen calls in as many minutes. He and I disagree on several issues, but he has always been a gracious host.
In the car I use my cellular phone for an interview with Joan Buffington at KVMR in Sacramento. It is short and to the point, but I have the opportunity to cover most of the essential points.
Next on the agenda is an in-studio, 11-minute interview with Ray Suarez on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. When I was on this show in 1996, I was surprised that the interviewer was very polite and simply seeking information from me. The same is true tonight, as Suarez asks very informative questions and the interview goes swimmingly. (You can see the interview through a link on the campaign website.)
Thursday, July 6, 2000— Washington
Another good day. It starts with an interview at CBS Radio, where I have a 15-minute taped interview with Peter Maer. It goes very well, and it will be aired this weekend on the network. After the interview, Dottie Lynch comes by to see us. She is overseeing the CBS-AOL website that will be up and running soon. Apparently, we will be covered there.
From CBS we drive to Arlington, Virginia, to USA Today for an interview with Tom Squitieri. He wrote an article on the nomination that appeared this past Monday. It was as much about the Reform Party as about us, but it was still helpful. Today he is very friendly, takes a great deal of time getting information from me, and then introduces Jim Babka, Steve Willis, and me to several reporters and editors at USA Today.
Then we go to Insight Magazine, a weekly newsmagazine published by The Washington Times, for an interview with Steve Goode. He mentions that he's a "small l" libertarian, and his questions indicate a knowledge of libertarian ideas. While there, the staff photographer shoots about 30 pictures of me. Heaven only knows what will show up in the magazine.
Back at the hotel I have a phone interview with Philip Smith of the Drug Reform Coordination Network. He is writing an article on us for his email release list. As he didn't see my acceptance speech at the convention, I go over some of elements of the Drug War section. He sounds very supportive. (The interview is at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/144.html#harrybrowne.)
Another phone interview follows. This one with Gary Barrett on Policast.com, an all-politics Internet radio station. He asks several questions and takes three calls from listeners during the 15-minute interview.
The final event of the day is an appearance on MS-NBC's Equal Time TV show. It is similar to CNN's Crossfire, but with Oliver North representing the Republicans and Paul Begala the Democrats.
In the first half of tonight's show they have two opposing guests, one a Democrat and one a Republican, the usual format. The Republican is Armstrong Williams, a prominent radio talk-show host who often appears on TV as an apologist for the Republicans. We chat before the show and he tells Jim Babka to be sure to call him to arrange for me to be on his radio show.
Since I'm neither Republican nor Democrat, I'm the only guest in my 12-minute segment. The interview goes very well. I'm able to dominate the conversation and get across many of the points I want to emphasize, no matter what questions are asked.
Both hosts are in favor of the Drug War. Begala asks why I'm not a Republican, since my only difference with North is over the Drug War— and otherwise we both want smaller government. I point out that the Republicans don't deliver on smaller government, just as the Democrats don't deliver on respect for personal liberty or world peace.
Then Begala tries to engage me in a debate about the limits of the Constitution. As I can see that this could go on endlessly, I complain that we're missing the point. I shamelessly turn to the camera and say, "The real issue is whether you think government is too big, about right, or too small. If you think government is too big, you have only one choice— vote Libertarian." I expect North or Begala to interrupt me; neither does. I also expect the director to switch to a different camera, but he doesn't. I get a clear shot at the audience. I wind up inviting viewers to visit my website, and Begala apparently is so taken by surprise that he repeats my web address.
Friday, July 7, 2000— Washington, D.C.
My first interview is a 15-minute phone conversation with Marc Roberts at WERC in Birmingham, Alabama. At one point, he says, "Wait a minute. Are you saying we should legalize drugs???" He is astounded at the idea— and apparently is hearing it for the first time (maybe he just came back from a 20-year space mission). He says, "That's wacko!" I ask, "Was it wacko when alcohol Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s — ending the gang warfare, drive-by shootings, and police corruption?" Because he's never discussed the subject before (and he's a talk-show host!), he's at a severe disadvantage in the ensuing discussion.
Next I have a phone interview with Matt Santaspirt of FoxNewsOnline.com. He is writing profiles of five third-party candidates, which will appear on the their website on Wednesday, July 12. (However, as of that date the website was still under construction.) The conversation goes on for about a half-hour. He is 24 and seems to agree that government is way too big and intrusive.
I tell him that George Bush, Al Gore, and the others are just arguing over who's best qualified to run your life and run the world— and I apply this to several issues we discuss. He says John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party wants health care to focus more on prevention of disease and asks what I think of that. As I start to answer, he says, "I forgot, you don't think he should be making any decisions for the rest of us."
Jim Babka, Steve Willis, and I drive to WTOP for a live 3-minute radio interview with Debra Anderson in the middle of a newscast. She introduces me as the candidate of the "Liberation Party," but gets it right the next time the name comes up. She asks short questions; I give short answers, emphasizing my desire to stop politicians from running your life, stop interfering with your ability to get a job, stop presuming they know what's best for you.
We then head for Radio America for a 40-minute network interview with Blanquita Cullum. She interviewed me at the convention last week, and she was very good to us during the 1996 campaign. She is very cordial today, although she is ailing slightly from eating some bad food last night.
One of the callers is a radio-station owner in the Boston area who is a strong Republican. He says every vote for me is a vote for Al Gore, because it will be taken away from George Bush. I say, "You've just said that people should vote for Republicans even though they haven't earned your vote. Why? Why vote for a person or party that has done nothing to make government smaller, nothing to make your life better? They punish you and you reward them. Only by voting Libertarian will you let them know they can't take you for granted anymore."
In the car I talk by phone with Elizabeth Hurt who is writing an article for www.Business2.com. Her primary focus is on the Internet and the possibilities of taxing, censoring, or regulating the Internet. I tell her that only Libertarians can be relied upon to protect the Internet, because only Libertarians are against taxing, censoring, and regulating on principle— not just to pander to Internet users. As it turns out, she will include that quote in the article that will appear on July 13 (http://www.business2.com/content/channels/ebusiness/2000/07/13/14269).
She also asks whether Silicon Valley moguls are helping us. I tell her no, we haven't earned their support yet. They don't want to bet on a party that hasn't demonstrated yet that it can make a difference, but I hope we'll soon be in a position to command their respect, their support, and their money. Unfortunately, she makes this the theme of her article— emphasizing that I'm not seeking Silicon Valley votes.
An interview with John McColloch of WXYT in Detroit is cancelled because of a local story that has taken over the news.
The final event of the day is an interview on the America's Voice TV Network (formerly National Empowerment Television). I know that it is to be with Ellen Ratner, a liberal whose radio show I've been on several times. But when I walk into the studio, there with her is Armstrong Williams, the Republican I met last night at Equal Time. It is another Crossfire/Equal-Time type show, with a Republican and a Democrat as hosts plus guests, cookies, and chaos.
Fortunately, I'm the only guest. Neither one agrees with me, but that's okay. They try continually to interrupt me, but that's okay, too, because I've learned to take command of a show and keep people from interrupting me (as long as I'm in the same studio and not at a remote location).
Ratner dislikes all my smaller-government plans, and can't for the life of her see how children would be educated without federal education programs. Williams thinks it's ridiculous that I don't support Republicans— since Republicans are (supposedly) for smaller government.
At one point he asks whether I really believe there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats. I say there's a difference in rhetoric but they both make government bigger, more expensive, more intrusive, more oppressive. Williams claims that's crazy and says, "Look at the differences on Affirmative Action, abortion, the death penalty, same-sex marriage, capital gains."
I say "Yes, there's a difference in rhetoric, but look at each of those issues. The Republicans haven't implemented a significant change with any of them. So why should we care which of those two parties is elected?"
Ratner wants to go on to something else, but Williams stops her. After having scoffed at some of what I'd said earlier, he now says, "Wait a minute, Ellen. Listen to what the man says. He may be on to something."
Strangely, all the callers are supportive— even though only one of them appears to be a Libertarian (a woman who is running for Congress in Texas). A man says he's a Texan who likes some of the things Bush has done in Texas but really likes what I'm advocating. A Canadian woman says she saw the convention and is all for what the Libertarians are proposing — adding that they have the same big-government problems in Canada. She says she longs for the day when both America and Canada get rid of the "dumb-bells" in charge.
Another caller asks my stand on the 2nd amendment. I say that as President I would issue an executive order disarming every non-military federal employee, especially the guards at the Capitol Building, and would keep them disarmed until Congress restores to every American the complete and unconditional right to defend himself.
Finally, someone asks what I could do in the face of a Republican or Democratic Congress. I launch into my "first day in office" routine. When I mention pardoning all the non-violent drug offenders in federal prison, Ellen Ratner throws up her hands. I assume this is positively the last straw for her— but she says, "At last you're saying something I can agree with." But, of course, Williams thinks this is insane.
In short, a good time is had by all.
Saturday, July 8, 2000— Washington, D.C.
I have a 20-minute interview with Todd Hartley at KTAR in Phoenix. Before we go on the air, he says, "I'm a really big supporter of what you're doing." And he demonstrates it by boosting me and other Libertarians on the air.
Late in the interview, a woman caller says she likes everything I've said but wants to know how I feel about open borders. I tell her the borders are open, that governments will never be able to close them. All politicians can do to try to close the borders is to invade your privacy, by making you carry an identity card and by threatening employers with fines and imprisonment for hiring illegal aliens. Even so, the immigrants still will come across the borders. I say we must close the down the welfare state so that we won't worry about who comes into America. A free and prosperous nation doesn't fear anyone coming or going, but a welfare state will always be scared of poor people coming in and rich people getting out. The caller says she doesn't agree but still likes the other things I've said.
FreedomChannel.com is a lavish political website funded by a number of large foundations. Among other things, they provide 90-second video clips of candidates speaking on various issues. Today a two-person crew arrives at my hotel room to tape video clips on ten different subjects. (The clips can be seen by going to our campaign website.)
Then it's off to the airport to fly home for a few days, thankful for a very productive week— with 6 national TV shows, 8 national radio shows, 8 local radio shows, 4 press interviews, and 7 Internet interviews.
Sunday, July 9, 2000— Nashville
At last, a day off— sort of. Home after two weeks on the road, I spend several hours going through the mail that has piled up while I was gone.
In the evening I have a one-hour radio interview with Gary Nolan on the Westwood One network. Gary is guest-hosting for Wayne LaPierre of the NRA who is the regular host. I'm a bit long-winded, going into a lot of examples regarding, health care, Social Security, campaign finance reform, and other subjects. But we do cover the basics, and the two of us wind up pointing out that the way to waste your vote is to vote Democratic or Republican— because that will encourage the politicians to keep doing what they're doing now.
Wednesday, July 12, 2000— Nashville
After two days of catching up on miscellaneous writing projects and other desk-clearing activities, I'm back doing interviews.
The first today is at 7:30 in the morning— about 15 minutes with Mary McKenna and Dale Carter on KFKF-FM in Kansas City, Missouri. Normally, when the phone rings for an interview, it's the producer of the show — who then puts me on hold until the host is ready for me. Today I answer the phone, saying "Harry Browne." A man's voice says, "Mr. President." I say, "Thank you." A woman chimes in, I realize they have placed the call to me while on the air, and I thank myself for not making some kind of smart remark to what I'd thought was the show's producer.
He says he's a conservative Republican, but he immediately takes to my proposals. When I say that either Gore or Bush will inevitably make the federal government bigger, he points out that Bush yesterday proposed a new foster-care program that will cost a couple billion dollars more per year— and probably won't work any better than other federal programs. She perks up when I mention pardoning the drug prisoners.
The next show is in Kansas City, Kansas— right across the Mississippi river from the last one — an hour with Tom Becka at KMBZ. He says he voted for me last time, but doesn't intend to do so this time, because he's afraid of Al Gore being elected. He brings up the idea that the next President will make critical Supreme Court appointments. I point out that Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, and David Souter aren't that much different from Stephen Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg. The Supreme Court argument is just one more way the Republicans try to make you think one big-government candidate is preferable to another.
I then have a 20-minute phone interview with Michael Richards of a magazine called The Senior Focus. I assume he's concerned about Social Security, but he asks questions on other issues while I keep trying to get onto the topic of Social Security. He seems quite supportive of libertarian positions.
Tom Sailor of Your Money magazine calls to discuss my book, Fail-Safe Investing, for an article he's doing on alternatives to standard stock-market investing. I try to get him onto politics but to no avail.
The final interview of the day is a doozy. Don & Mike are shock jocks on CBS radio. They interview me for about 25 minutes. They want to talk about sex; I want to talk about politics. I seem to do a good job of converting their questions into opportunities to talk about politics. I decline to answer personal questions. Quite an experience, but they seem genuinely in favor of my positions (which I managed to get across). Later in the day we get some emails from people who heard the show, went to the website, and were favorably impressed with what we offer.
The interview is conducted over a digital phone line I have in my home— making it sound to the listeners as though I'm in the studio with the hosts. There is no handset for the phone — just a box, a microphone, and earphones. The phone doesn't ring, and it has to be hung up by pressing a button on the box. Usually, when the digital line is used, the station breaks the connection as soon as the interview is over.
At the end of this interview, I get a call from Press Secretary Jim Babka who's been listening to the show on the air. He asks what I think, I say, "Well, they are a bit raunchy." He tells me my voice is still coming through on the air; the station didn't disconnect the line, and the hosts are listening to see whether I say anything after the interview. Oh well.
(Tomorrow on the Don & Mike show, the announcer will introduce them by saying, "Here are the men the next President of the United States, Harry Browne, thinks are a bit raunchy.")
As I've said before, I think shows like this are quite valuable. They reach people who don't listen to the talk shows that are focused on politics. I seem to do well on almost all of them, and I may be the only presidential candidate showing up on them.
Thursday, July 13, 2000— Nashville
I start the day fully embarrassed. By setting my clock incorrectly, I have missed two early shows (one will be rescheduled for tomorrow and the other next week).
I then have an interview with Libertarian Brian Higgins on Liberty Works Radio in the Boston area. He invites three non-libertarian talk-show hosts from the network to ask me questions. One asks whether I would have a litmus test for Supreme Court appointments. I say that any prospective judge must accept the Constitution exactly as written— not as someone interprets it or as someone believes the "original intent" was. The Constitution is written in plain English, not Esperanto or Chinese, so it doesn't need interpretation.
Knight-Ridder news service has called Robert Brunner of our office. The reporter said a company named America Chews is producing a cookie with my picture on it— and Knight-Ridder wants a quote from me for a news story. I think about it for a minute and say, "I'm hoping this will give people a taste of freedom." (The company has produced cookies for each presidential candidate, and is showing them at www.AmericaChews.com.)
I drive to the other side of Nashville for a radio interview. Near the station is the Gore for President national headquarters, set up by the Gore campaign during one of its many reinventions of Al Gore— presumably to show that Gore is a good ol' boy from Tennessee, not a Washington insider. The campaign actually is still run from Washington, but there's a huge complex of offices here — probably doing very little but running up bills. When your campaign is financed by the taxpayers, there's no need to stint on the expenses.
I arrive at the local National Public Radio (NPR) station for a one-hour interview with Juan Williams, the TV pundit, who is broadcasting from Washington to 162 stations. It goes very well. He does an amazing job of being non-partial. He never once reveals any support or opposition for anything I say, and yet he asks very pertinent questions. He provides a 2-minute introduction that is 99.44% accurate— an unusual occurrence — and says a lot of what we'd like to have said about us. The callers are all skeptical, but none of them is hostile. There is a small technical problem that creates a one-second transmission delay from Juan to me and vice-versa, so there are a few awkward spots as we attempt to talk over each other.
Juan asks a number of questions about eventual Libertarian goals for society. I realize that we're going far beyond what a President could achieve at the federal level. So I twice make the point that the question isn't whether you agree right now with all these goals. Rather, it's very important that you decide in what direction you want to move, in order to know how best to vote. If you want government to continue getting larger and more intrusive, you should vote for Republicans or Democrats. If that isn't what you want, you must make sure you don't reward Republicans and Democrats by voting for them. Only by voting Libertarian can you make it clear that you want to start the process of making government smaller. (There's a link to the interview at our campaign website.)
After arriving home I have a one-hour phone interview with John David Wells on KNUU in Las Vegas. He is very friendly and supportive. He asks me to tell the first five things I'd do as President, and that becomes the theme of the show. It turns out to be ten things— including such acts as pardoning the drug prisoners, disarming the people guarding the politicians until all Americans have the same rights to protection as politicians, ordering a carload of pens from Office Depot to sign vetoes, bringing the troops home from overseas, and so on.
Friday, July 14, 2000— Nashville
Today's first interview is at 7a.m. with Brian Weigand and Eric Power, two young men on the Morning Line on WLNI-FM in Lynchburg, Virginia. They are both completely favorable to all my proposals. During the 30-minute interview, they simply assume that everyone should want to be free. They put a link to my website and to the LP website at their website at www.wlni.com/morningline/index.shtml.
On July 7 I was on a confrontational television show with Armstrong Williams. He began by being strongly opposed to a third-party candidate who he thinks would siphon votes away from George Bush. By the end of the interview, he was asking his co-host to stop interrupting so that he could hear more of my Libertarian ideas. He wasn't converted, of course, but he demonstrated an open mind in public that's very rare for a conservative or liberal talk-show host.
Today I'm on his radio show on the Talk America radio network. Once again, we have disputes over how to get to smaller government, but he's very open-minded. As we go into the first commercial break he says, "I like this guy, I really do. He makes a lot of sense."
One area in which we can't come to agreement is over school vouchers. He agrees that private colleges have become clones of government colleges, but he doesn't accept what seems obvious to me— that this happened because private colleges accepted government vouchers in the form of student loans, G.I. bill tuition, and other federal subsidies. With those subsidies come federal control. The same would follow if federal vouchers are used at private elementary and high schools. The result would be the end of the private-school alternative — in other words, the end of any "school choice." He says, "But you don't understand . . ." and he goes on to tell me how bad the government schools are — as those the severity of the disease justifies the wrong cure.
The interview lasts an hour. At the end, I point out that we seem to agree about 80-90% on what we want to happen, but we differ considerably about what we should do to achieve that. He's willing to give up hope for a free America and accept the small differences between the Republicans and the Democrats— voting for whomever he thinks will do the least harm. I'm not willing to give up; I want to do what's necessary to lay the groundwork to bring about a Libertarian America before the end of the decade.
It appears that this is the start of another good media relationship.
Next is a one-hour radio interview with Carol Pearson on the Voice of America. The show is aired in many places around the world, but it also reaches people in the U.S. through the Internet. It's interesting to receive questions from places like South Africa and India. There's also a caller from Colombia, who praises my stand on the Drug War. He says the U.S. government's program to "fumigate" the Colombian cocaine crops from the air probably will kill people with poisons, as well as destroy many other crops— putting legal farmers out of business. There also are calls from U.S. voters, listening on the Internet.
The last show of the day is with Charles Goyette at KTAR in Phoenix. This is my first appearance on this show since 1996, and I've forgotten how supportive he is. On the air he certainly seems to be a libertarian through and through. During one commercial break, we chat off the air and we agree to have several interviews this year— perhaps short ones to keep up to date on the campaign.
The callers are almost universally supportive and complimentary. However, one says, "I like a lot of what you say, but it sounds like the old hippie slogan that you should do whatever you want if it doesn't hurt others." I say that I'm not really familiar with what hippies said, but we Libertarians do believe you should be free to do what you want so long as you don't intrude on someone else's person or property. After all, you're the one who gets up and goes to work everyday; why shouldn't you be the one to control the money you earn? You're the one who's responsible for your family, so why should the politicians make the decisions? I ask him if that makes sense, and he says, "Perfect sense. I guess I'm a Libertarian."
Saturday, July 15, 2000— Nashville
The Rasmussen Poll (the only one that tracks the presidential campaign every day) showed that we have climbed from 0.4% on June 29 (the day before the LP convention) to 1.6% on July 13 (the latest poll as of this date). The climb was steady during the convention period, and then again during last week— when I appeared on six national television shows and several national radio shows. The latest figures are:
You can see the daily tracking on the Internet at www.rasmussenresearch.com/html/poll_demo.cfm?PollID=804&DemoID=199.
The figure of 1.6% represents 1.6 million votes— which is 3-1/2 times what we achieved in 1996, and nearly twice the all-time LP record set in 1980. It's still early days, but 1.6% doesn't have to be the upper limit. As our ads begin to run this month we will reach many more people. And as I continue to appear on national TV shows, we will reach even more people.
If we break out into the millions of votes, we will garner new attention and respect from the press, the public, and especially from the millions of people who have been on the sidelines— not voting because they saw no hope of getting government out of their lives.
If Pat Buchanan fails to get 5% of the vote in the election, the Reform Party will have no federal subsidy for the next election, and the party undoubtedly will wither and die— since there is no ideological glue holding it together. After the election, Ralph Nader most likely will turn his attention to other matters, and the Green Party will go back to being a quaint obscurity.
Only the Libertarian Party will remain as the challenger to the two-party system that more and more people are becoming fed up with. This will lay the groundwork for competitive Congressional races in 2002 and a much more competitive presidential race in 2004.
We have the most powerful political message possible. We're offering to set people free to live their lives as they want to live— not as Al Gore or George Bush thinks is best for them. But that message has no power if it isn't heard. It is our task to reach as many millions of people as possible this year, as often as possible this year, to let them know there's a party, a candidate, a political program that will set them free.
That will take a lot of hard work and a lot of time. And it will take a lot of money— because advertising is the one sure way to reach millions of people. But if we want to change the political climate in America this decade, we need to do it. And we need to do it now.
Monday, July 17, 2000— Nashville
Yesterday and today there are no interviews, as I do some telephone fund-raising and catch up on some campaign writing projects.
Meanwhile, there is both good news & bad news on the poll front.
The bad news is that there's been a slight slippage in the Rasmussen Poll from its 1.6% level last week:
Further bad news is that the latest Gallup Poll, released today, includes the four other main candidates, but not me.
The good news is that Zogby today released its monthly poll. This month we're at 1.7%, up from 1.3% on June 21:
Tuesday, July 18, 2000— Nashville
Five interviews today. None of the hosts are Libertarians, but all of them are very friendly and supportive.
The first is at 7:35 a.m. on A.M. America, broadcast on 15 stations of the Liberty Works Radio network. The hosts are two men and a woman, whose names I never catch. It is a typical traffic-time morning show with jokes and kidding. But all three are supportive, and I get positive responses to my plea to end the Drug War.
Then it's about 15 minutes with Mancow Muller on WKQZ-FM in Chicago. Actually, I have about 3 minutes; the rest of the time it's Mancow talking. He delivers monologues on several subjects in the middle of the interview. One of them is on the evils of the Green Party. He says, "Read their platform, folks; it's pure communism." (Later I go to the Green Party site at www.GreenParty.org, read the platform, and discover he's right.)
His only disagreement with me is over the Drug War. And even there, when I ask him what he thinks should be done about drugs, he mostly wants to end the punitive sentences and tone down the Drug War.
He says he's all for the Libertarians, but he's voting Republican because he can't stand the idea of Al Gore in the White House. However, when I point out at length that voting for Bush is giving up and guaranteeing that he'll never get what he wants, he says "Okay, I'm voting for you— for now."
Next it's most of an hour with the Jeff Johns show on WLKK in Erie, Pennsylvania. He, too, is very supportive. He says he planned to scan my book, The Great Libertarian Offer, over the weekend in preparation for the show, but he became so engrossed he read it in its entirety. There are many calls, almost all of them very friendly.
However, one person calls to oppose my stand on the Drug War. The caller after that refers to his predecessor as a nitwit. I say we must recognize that many people are bound to think the Drug War is doing good because they're exposed to only one point of view. The tide of public opinion on the Drug War is turning our way; let's encourage that movement by treating with respect those who haven't yet caught on.
The next show is another friendly one. Stephen Cobb on KSNX in Phoenix says he really liked my convention acceptance speech, which he saw on C-SPAN— and decided immediately to book me on his show. The interview lasts most of an hour and is friendly throughout.
The final show is another lovefest. Richard Dixon at WAPI in Birmingham interviews me for about 15 minutes. He says, "I love the Libertarian message," and later, "Big government is nothing but oppressive." He also says he saw a poll that showed me at 6% with Kentucky voters, but I don't get a chance to find out where he saw that.
Wednesday, July 19, 2000— Nashville
I have an early interview on the Kevin Matthews show on WXCD-FM, a rock music station in Chicago. I like to do these shows because they reach young people— and especially people who don't pay as much attention to politics as the typical talk-show listener. In the studio with him is Jennifer Stephens of the station's news department. They are both friendly and favorably disposed toward what I say. Kevin says he will put a link to our campaign on the station's website. He ends the interview with the statement, "It's certainly nice to hear someone actually defend the Constitution."
The next interview is with Barbara Schoetzau of the VOA Background Report on the Voice of America, transmitting overseas to absentee voters and others. She tapes about 20 minutes of questions and answers. A lot of the interview deals with the obstacles third parties face in getting on the ballot and getting attention.
The day's final interview is with Spence (no other name given) on the Planet Spence show on KVTA in Ventura, California. He is very supportive on and off the air. He says he's leaning toward voting Libertarian this year.
Thursday, July 20, 2000— Nashville
Two shows today. The first is with Steve Gill at WLAC in Nashville. Due to a technical glitch, a scheduled 15-minute interview turns out to be only two minutes. We cover the income tax only, but I do get in the website address and phone number.
The second interview is with Mark Scott at WXYT in Detroit. Mark has become a good friend of the LP over the years. He is very supportive of Libertarians and of my candidacy. He mentions the Great Libertarian Offer book several times.
Mark brings to mind how fortunate we are to have so many libertarian or Libertarian radio hosts around the country: David Brudnoy in Boston, Lionel on the Internet, Zoe Hieronimous in Baltimore, Neal Boortz in Atlanta, Carl Wiglesworth in San Antonio, Larry Elder in Los Angeles, Gene Burns in San Francisco, Jim Dexter in Salt Lake City, Lowell Ponte and Gary Nolan syndicated— plus several dozen libertarian hosts in smaller markets.
Friday, July 21, 2000— Nashville
My first show today is 30 minutes on WSB with Neal Boortz, Atlanta's top talk-show host and a staunch Libertarian. We talk about the attention the media are giving to Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, while rarely referring to me. I say that this could change with the kickoff of our ad campaign next week. We'll be sending videotapes of the ads and the ad schedule to many journalists. And we're almost ready to kick off a campaign to stop the media blackout. Neal and I also talk about my public appearance in Atlanta next Thursday.
Next is an hour with Jeff Styles on WGOW in Chattanooga. He seems to agree with basic libertarian concepts, but is concerned about clear-cutting in Tennessee forests. I point out that private companies don't usually do damage to their own property, because that hurts their future profits. I also mention organizations like the Nature Conservancy that raise money from people who want to keep special lands out of private hands; they band together to buy the property and keep it off the market.
He agrees that such organizations do good work, but says they don't cover all the property that needs to be protected, and so we need government to help out as well by forcing property off the market. I point out that giving the government such power is also giving it the power to tell him what he can do with his own property. He calls my statement demagoguery.
Lastly, he asks where I stand on gun control. I say I want to repeal all the gun laws— as they don't keep criminals from acquiring and using guns but they do keep innocent citizens from defending themselves. He says I'm preaching to the choir in southern Tennessee, as that's strong gun rights territory.
My last interview is with Adrian Gregory of the Galveston County News in Texas. She's preparing an article on third-party candidates. She sounds very young, but very conscientious about making sure the details are correct.
Saturday, July 22, 2000— Nashville
One interview this evening— another of the comedy shows that are working well for us. This is the Gordon Brothers' Weekend Revue on WDBO in Orlando. There are three Gordon brothers — Doug, Scott, and Jason — and they all get into the act, making it difficult for me to tell which one is talking.
They each took the SelectSmart test (www.speakout.com/SelectSmart) to see which presidential candidate was closest to his views. Two of them came up with Harry Browne. In addition, several listeners have told them they sound like Libertarians. So they've invited me on the show. The producer calls about 15 minutes in advance, and I hear their pre-interview discussion— which turns out to be a big build-up for libertarian ideas.
The interview itself goes very well. Lots of humor all around, and complete agreement on all libertarian ideas. Whenever I take a stand on an issue, there is canned applause and cheering. At the end of the interview, one of them (Jason, I believe) says, "I'm the one Gordon brother who didn't match up with you on the SelectSmart test, but as a result of your statements I'm voting for you in November."
We're slipping in the Rasmussen poll (www.rasmussenresearch.com/html/poll_demo.cfm?PollID=804&DemoID=199). I've fallen from a high of 1.6% on July 13 to 0.6% Thursday (the last day reported). But our ad campaign finally kicks off this coming week. We're running a heavy schedule of ads on eight national cable TV networks. This is bound to make a difference.
Sunday, July 23, 2000— Nashville
News comes in daily of the effective activities of campaign volunteers.
I learn that Sue Smart had a letter to the editor published in the Omaha World-Herald on July 15. Her letter began by saying, "Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, makes so much sense. . . . Imagine a candidate who thinks I should be able to run my life myself." She then goes on to contrast that with the Bush and Gore campaigns, ending with "How about we elect Harry and take our government back?"
Another volunteer, Kyle Varner, sells merchandise through eBay auctions, and is including a Harry Browne banner on each of his auction pages.
Jerry Hudson is one of many volunteers who has created his own website and is using it to promote the campaign and the Libertarian Party. He built the website with a free service athttp://www.homestead.com.
Jared Rhoads in Boston is one of several volunteers who are arranging for our 1-minute TV ads or the 30-minute campaign video to be aired on local stations— either by raising money to put the ads on commercial stations or by working to get them shown on cable-access stations.
Ernest Lewis in Washington state has a TV program called Libertarian Forum. He is going to run the ads on his show as news, and then discuss their implications with his viewers.
Ken Stricker has pointed out that, while no one likes to receive Spam (unsolicited emails), each person can add a small ad for the Browne campaign after his signature on each normal email he sends.
Here is one possibility:
[Your name, signing the email]
I wish it were possible for me to personally thank the thousands of people who take it upon themselves to write letters to editors, encourage TV shows to book me, call into talk shows, or find new ways to publicize the campaign. I believe these activities are doing a great deal to further our goal of having the campaign seen everywhere everyday.
Monday, July 24, 2000— Nashville
Three radio shows today. The first is a half-hour at 8am with Larry Hughes on WEOK in Poughkeepsie, New York. He begins by asking whether the issues have changed much since 1996, giving us reason to hope for a stronger showing. I point out that the main issue is exactly what it was in 1996: who is best qualified to run your life? All the candidates except me want to decide the most minute details of your life, and that hasn't changed since 1996.
He mentions that he was in favor of school vouchers until he read my commentary on education at our website. And he says he agrees with us on practically everything but the Drug War.
He calls attention to a survey showing that young people believe the federal government should censor the press and entertainment programs, and asks how I believe that kind of attitude came about. I say it's natural for young people to think this way. After all, they've been told for years that government can stamp out poverty or drugs, that government should decide how you should save for retirement, that government should control corporations and regulate the things that go into your home. Why shouldn't young people believe government should regulate the press and entertainment as well?
The next show is 22 minutes with Robert Wood, who is taping an interview for the 24 stations of the Texas State Network in Austin. The interview probably will run on the stations on Sunday, August 6. He asks a number of good questions that allow me to dwell on the issues and to emphasize the importance of voting Libertarian. He asks whether people are politically complacent because of the good economy. I say the right question isn't "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" It is "Are you as well off as you should be?" And I launch into all the things you might do with the added take-home pay if we repeal the income tax.
The last interview is close to an hour with Ed Flynn on WATR in Waterbury, Connecticut. He begins by asking my definition of sovereignty. I tell him it means control, and it should start with the sovereignty of individuals— to control their own lives, free from the meddling of the likes of Al Gore or George W. Bush. He asks about national sovereignty, and I say I want the U.S. out of all international organizations and mutual defense treaties, so that no one is making decisions for America but Americans.
He is very strong on the Constitution, and so I work that into the conversation frequently. We have a few calls, all of whom are friendly. I make reference to my new book The Great Libertarian Offer at one point, and he says, "I have it and it's a masterpiece." Sounds like we have a new friend.
Tuesday, July 25, 2000— Nashville
My first show of the day is an hour with Tony Macrini on WNIS in Norfolk, Virginia. I've been on with him before and he's always supportive. Early on he says, "Philosophically, I agree with you." Statements like that usually are followed with "However, . . ." but not in this case. When a caller says we need the Republicans for foreign policy, Tony says, "Would your children be more likely to wind up in a body bag in Kosovo with a Libertarian or Republican President?" The caller says, "With the Republican, of course." That seemed to end the plea for a Republican foreign policy.
Next I'm on for an hour with Michael Medved, broadcasting from KVI in Seattle and syndicated to 130 stations across America. The producer says the show has an audience of about 2 million people. That's probably an overstatement, but there's no question this is a very big show. Medved is well known as a movie reviewer on TV, and as a conservative critic of the media and the entertainment industry.
This is probably the toughest interview of the year so far. He is a bulldog— with his teeth firmly locked on the idea that third parties are exercises in futility, that even if we get several million votes this year it won't mean a thing. He cites flashes in the pan from the past — George Wallace, John Anderson, and others — who had brief notoriety and then sunk back into obscurity. I say the Libertarian Party is different — that we have a full-time, year-round party with Libertarians in office around the country, an enormous slate of candidates this year, and a permanent, professional staff.
At some point I realize he isn't going to let go of this matter, so I start introducing my points into the answers to his questions. This doesn't set well with him; he wants short "yes or no" answers to questions— but I'm not speaking for his benefit, it is to reach his listeners. Fortunately, I've had years of practice dealing with confrontational talk-show hosts, and it certainly pays off in a show like this. When it's all over, I know I could have done better, but I also know it could have been a lot worse. And I know that no one is going to run over me.
However, I know too that I couldn't do six or eight shows like this in one day; my blood pressure would go through the roof.
The final interview of the day is an hour with George Noory at KTRS in St. Louis. He is very supportive. We start with my "first day in office" agenda. At some point, he says, "Well, that's three out of three I agree with." The callers are all people with genuine questions— rather than calling to support or challenge me. This interview was scheduled at the last minute to enable me to plug our event in St. Louis tomorrow night.
Wednesday, July 26, 2000— St. Louis
Back on the road again. I'm in St. Louis for a fund-raiser tonight. Michael Cloud and our road manager Steve Willis are here, too.
Today is also the day that our national TV ad campaign kicks off. Our Social Security ad is being run several times on CNN. It will also run on several other national cable networks over the next few weeks, along with our other ads.
I arrive in St. Louis in the late morning, and Steve and I head for KSDK-TV. A news reporter tapes a 7-minute interview with me in the courtyard outside the station. She asks about the difficulties we encounter getting attention. I point out that Pat Buchanan has received a thousand times more attention than I, and yet is only about 1% above me in the polls. With our TV ads running now, we could move up and surpass him— and then Ralph Nader as well. I conclude by saying, "After that we'll set our sights on Al Gore and George Bush."
Back at the hotel I have a 30-minute taped interview in person with Shula Neuman of KWMU-FM, the local National Public Radio station. We discuss a number of issues. When we get to education I point out that a fully privatized educational system would be like the computer industry— with rapid innovation of new teaching techniques, constantly falling prices, and the continual development of new technologies to make learning easier, more exciting, and more effective. Instead we have more and more expensive education with worse and worse results.
Steve and I head back to downtown St. Louis for an interview at KTVI-TV, channel 2, with reporter Betsey Bruce. The interview lasts about ten minutes, from which she will take soundbites and put together a report for a newscast.
Unfortunately, none of today's interviews are assured of being broadcast today, so none of it will contribute to the attendance at tonight's fund-raiser.
In the evening, we have a fund-raiser downtown. Michael Cloud does his usual first-class job of eliciting money from the audience of 66. We show our new TV ads, the reaction is good, and the energy level in the room is high.
Thursday, July 27, 2000— Atlanta
Michael Cloud, Steve Willis, and I fly to Atlanta. My wife Pamela joins us there.
Steve, Pamela, and I drive to the local National Public Radio station. There James Hargrove tapes a 20-minute interview with me, for use on the Peach State Radio Network of about 20 NPR stations in Georgia. Soundbites from the interview will be used on newscasts today and tomorrow, and the entire interview will be played over the weekend.
James is very friendly, and seems to understand libertarian concepts without trouble. He gives me the opportunity to say whatever I think is important.
From there we drive to the CNN center for my appearance on CNN's Talk Back Live!. The first 20 minutes of the show are devoted to a discussion of O.J. Simpson's new website and his offer to answer questions for a price. The remaining 40 minutes are an interview with me.
The show is broadcast from the courtyard of an atrium in the middle of the CNN building. A food court is right next to it. About 200 people are in the audience, in a circle around host Bobbie Batista and me. Other people are milling around the outskirts of the set. It is an awkward situation; sometimes it's hard to hear the questions, and it's difficult to speak conversationally in such a setting.
But still the interview seems to go very well. Bobbie asks me some questions, others come from the audience, and still more come in by phone or email. Applause from about half the audience greets several of my answers— on such things as opposition to the Drug War, wanting to repeal the gun laws, and other matters.
One young black woman says my ideas seem to be just what she wants, but she wonders whether it's possible for me to get elected— and, if so, whether I could achieve anything. I say she must first ask herself, "Is this what you want?" If it is, the first step is to resolve never again to vote for those moving in the opposite direction. That means never voting for Republicans or Democrats, because such votes encourage them to bring government deeper into your life. And no matter what you think our chances are, by voting Libertarian you are helping others to stand up and be counted — and you're finally doing something to move us closer to the day when we can achieve what we want.
At the end of the show, Bobbie shows me some of the other emails she's received. One woman writes, "You just converted my Republican husband to vote for you." Another says, "I am 28 years old and will now vote for the first time— for the Libertarians." All the emails she shows me are encouraging; if she has any negative ones, I don't see them.
In the evening we have a speech and fund-raiser. The program is to start at 7:30. Pamela and I arrive at 6, and there already are 20-30 people there. The ballroom has seats for 440 people. By starting time every seat is taken, and there are 50-75 people standing along the walls, with another 30 or so standing in the doorway and the adjoining foyer. Unfortunately, this is the largest room in the hotel; so even though the RSVPs indicated an overflow crowd, there's no way to accommodate everyone who wants to get in.
Jennifer Willis organized the event in cooperation with Tracee Avery in Georgia, and they have done a spectacular job. One reason for the large turnout is that many Libertarians have made it a point to bring several non-Libertarian friends with them to the event.
PBS has someone here taping the occasion for a documentary on third parties. The local ABC-TV station has a reporter and cameraman on hand. Before the event begins, Alan Gomez of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviews me. (His report will appear in tomorrow's paper and be quite friendly.) Thad Damkoehler is here to videotape my speech for airing on cable access stations around the country.
The atmosphere is electrifying. Michael Cloud begins the program by asking those who are attending their first Libertarian event to stand. Over half the audience does. When Michael introduces me, I am overwhelmed by the reception of the audience. These people know what we stand for, they want it, and they know that only Libertarians can provide it.
My speech goes over very well. And although so many of the people are first-timers, the fund-raising also goes well— as Michael does his usual entertaining and persuasive job. Michael introduces all the local candidates, plus the volunteers who did so much to make this meeting a success. Before and afterward, I pose for photos with the candidates and volunteers.
The Georgia Libertarian Party is one of the strongest in America. It seems that everytime I come here, the audience is twice the size of the last appearance.
Events like this raise important sums of money for advertising, and they impress the media and non-Libertarians. We get numerous requests from Libertarians for me to appear at events, but too often the locals make only half-hearted attempts to assure the events' success. It isn't enough to send out some invitations and issue a press release to local media. To make the event a success requires an all-out effort to personally invite non-Libertarians and assure a large audience before even contacting the press. Then you can get some press coverage simply because of the large turnout that's guaranteed, not hoped for.
Friday, July 28, 2000— Atlanta & Nashville
Pamela and I drive back to Nashville in a rented car. In the evening, I check my email and the Internet.
Today the daily Rasmussen Poll shows declining support for all third-party candidates. Nader, Buchanan, and Browne are all down a bit:
The significance of today's poll is that I'm now only 0.4% behind Pat Buchanan. He has received a thousand times the press coverage I have, he's mentioned almost daily in newspapers, and yet he has virtually no lead over me. Imagine where we would be if I received even 10% of the coverage he gets. With the power of our message, we would be flying past Ralph Nader.
Jack Williams does a terrific job of answering all the inquiries coming to the campaign website. He sends copies of his replies to me, and I try to read as many of the inquiries as possible. He does an amazing job— sometimes answering over 50 emails in one day — steering prospects to the information they're looking for about the campaign, as well as handling objections or problems.
Today he has forwarded a number of encouraging emails we've received as a result of my Talk Back Live! appearance yesterday. For example, Matthew Link says, "His brief appearance on CNN today (which I saw while waiting in the lobby during a job interview) clinched it for me. Harry Browne is the only person I could trust enough to vote for President. And I am also convinced to vote for no other than Libertarian (or libertarian) candidates for office anymore."
Someone who gave only his email address (AwesomeCarCare) says, "Just wanted to let Mr. Browne know that within 30 min. of question and answer on CNN Talk Back Live he has made a new libertarian, me. Please keep up the good work and stay focused, no matter what the outcome of this election. Please let me know If I can help in any way."
Paula Monday writes, "Finally a reason to take part in our election process. Thank you for making me believe in America again. I am sending your web site to everyone I know."
Willy Chaplin writes, "As libertarian Web columnists (How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This? at http://www.dreamagic.com/bruce/howcanyou1.html) we . . . had planned a "Don't Waste Your Vote" column for late August, which would urge people to vote for a third party candidate— any candidate — rather then the two SOBs (Son Of a Bush and Somewhat Of a Bore). We now intend, however, to make it an outright recommendation that the only non-wasted vote is one for HB. . . . After seeing and hearing him yesterday on CNN's Talk Back Live!, we were immensely impressed. Harry so seriously outshines the other candidates as to make comparison useless. A REAL CLASS ACT, Harry, and we congratulate you on it!"
Our message is so very powerful— if we use it to show how each individual's life will be dramatically improved in a Libertarian America. The big question is: how many people will we be able to expose to it by November? That will depend on how much money we can raise to get the ads on TV, and how strongly we can pressure the TV networks to cover our campaign.
And that brings me to the final good news of the day. This evening, the Brit Hume show on Fox TV News closed by showing our Social Security TV ad in its entirety (including the phone number and web address) as news, introducing me as another alternative to Bush, Gore, Buchanan, and Nader.
Some Libertarians have complained that our TV ads are a bit too controversial or insensitive. Perry Willis designed these ads intentionally to be edgy and controversial— to attract attention and get people talking about them. In most cases, someone has to see an ad many times before remembering even who the sponsor is. People who react favorably to one of our hard-hitting ads will remember me and the Libertarian Party after seeing the ad only once or twice, while those who don't like the ads will tend to forget them. So with our limited budget, we have to run ads that are unusual enough to attract the people who ought to be supporting us. Later we can court those who are more interested in running the world than gaining more freedom for themselves.
We have sent tapes of the ads to a number of political pundits, hoping for a reaction— favorable, critical, or just amused. Today's coverage on Fox TV News is a good start.
After 24 hours at home, tomorrow I head for California for another series of personal appearances.
Sunday, July 30, 2000— San Francisco
Michael Cloud, Steve Willis, and I arrived in San Francisco yesterday for a week of California events.
The first is a fund-raiser this afternoon at the home of Terry Easton in Hillsborough, an upscale suburb of San Francisco. About 20 people are in attendance and we raise over $20,000.
Monday, July 31, 2000— San Francisco
Today begins with an hour in-studio with Ronn Owens on KGO, San Francisco's biggest talk station. I haven't talked with Ronn for several years, and I don't remember where he stands politically. He seems to be skeptical of everything— including Libertarian positions. He tries to shoot down everything we stand for, and all the callers are negative as well.
To take myself off the defensive I start asking questions of Ronn and of the callers. When Ronn says he can't imagine legalizing drugs, I ask him what he thinks should be done. He says marijuana ought to be legal, but not cocaine. So I point out that we disagree only on the matter of degree, not on the principle. When a caller says my desire for people to be free is simplistic, I ask, "Am I correct in thinking then that you don't think people ought to be free to live their lives as they believe best?" In addition to getting you off the defensive, asking questions is an effective way to make your critic realize that he doesn't have anything better to offer.
Harry Osibin of KITS-FM hears the Ronn Owens show and calls Jim Babka to arrange for me to appear on his show immediately afterward. Steve and I drive over to KITS, where Harry and I tape an hour show for airing this Sunday. The atmosphere is quite different from the Owens show. Although Osibin says he is registered with the Green Party, he is very sympathetic, the show is relaxed, and he asks questions to elicit information, not to shoot me down.
In the evening I'm on the air again with Lionel— this time on his syndicated radio show covering 40 stations (last time I was on his Internet show). As usual, Lionel is lively and humorous — and he provides a new comeback for those who say, "You want to get rid of so many government programs, but you don't say what you would replace them with." His retort is simple: "If an overweight person loses a hundred pounds, would you ask him what will replace the lost weight? If something is wrong, you get rid of it."