In the comments below, Eric Dondero says if neither Bob Barr nor Wayne Root wins the LP nomination folks like him will become Libertarians for McCain. Over at the American Conservative, Daniel McCarthy and Daniel Larison both say that it’s Barr or bust when it comes to voting Libertarian this fall. Dondero’s foreign-policy views are, to say the least, very different from the Daniels’.
Which makes me wonder if the Ron Paul Republican/Rush Limbaugh Republican coalition Barr would have to put together to be a factor in the presidential race might actually be possible. The biggest dividing line was always going to be foreign policy: the regular Republicans who oppose McCain from the right nevertheless agree with him on the war and in some cases think his views on torture and Gitmo would prevent him from waging it strongly enough. Paul supporters obviously oppose the war. How would Barr get past this?
Triangulation, perhaps. Barr’s positions on foreign policy are more hawkish than Paul’s and more dovish than McCain’s. That could end up turning off voters on both sides (and may be a liability at the LP convention). But it might be enough to convince anti-McCain conservatives that they aren’t pulling the lever for a pacifist. Paleos, on the other hand, might decide that Barr will get a larger vote and be more likely to effect the outcome of the election than Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin and that it is therefore worth putting up with ideological imperfections. None of this necessarily means Barr will get the LP nod, though the Donderos and the Daniels may end up united in a different way if he loses: I can’t imagine any of them voting for Mary Ruwart.