DENVER -- Presidential candidates and their supporters are now giving their nominating speeches at the Libertarian Party Convention. In his speech, Bob Barr sought to emphasize that he is a true Libertarian, distancing himself from his Republican past. The importance of his credibility as "the real deal" was underscored by the candidate who followed Barr, Christine Smith, who didn't qualify for last night's C-SPAN debate. Smith gave a straight-out defense of radical Libertarianism and -- without naming names -- heaped scorn on "neoconservatives" whom she accused of trying to take over the LP.
One of Mary Ruwart's nominating speakers just now told delegates "don't be fooled by the newcomers." Ruwart is just about to speak.
UPDATE: Ruwart's speech was mild and inclusive. She comes across as a very nice, sincere woman -- sort of the calming Valium antidote to the extra-caffeinated Energizer candidate, Wayne Allyn Root. George Phillies just gave a short speech -- his nominators went on and on, chewing up Phillies' allotted time, so he had just a minute or so left when it was his turn to talk.
Ross Douthat's prediction that Bob Barr will only do about as well as Pat Buchanan in 2000 is obviously the safest way to bet. Third-party challenges on the right have tended to do poorly unless the candidate has some unconservative elements that also allow him to win significant non-conservative support (think George Wallace in 1968 and Ross Perot in both his presidential runs). More purely right-wing third-party candidates have had less impact. John Schmitz, then a sitting Republican congressman, took 1.4 percent of the popular vote in 1972. Ron Paul received just 0.5 percent as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988, although I agree he would do much better today partly because he could reach beyond the right. Buchanan, the biggest-name recent conservative to bolt the GOP, won only 0.4 percent. The Constitution Party has never even cracked 200,000 votes nationally, other smaller right-wing parties have fared worse.