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Free speechifying
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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.

Both David Weigel and I are using the Barr campaign’s Wi-Fi connection — strong signal, superfast, and way superior to the Wi-Fi provided by the LP for the convention. The professionalism of the Barr campaign may, in some ways, be a drawback. Weigel just pointed out to me that Team Barr is a bunch of guys in dark suits, which doesn’t necessarily mesh with the anti-establishment vibe in the LP.

UPDATE II: Blogger Jason Pye hears what I also heard in reaction to last night’s debate:

Everyone I’ve talked to seems to believe that Ruwart really hurt herself by playing the gender card. One delegate told me that using her gender “was one of the most anti-intellectual things she could have done.” She did not have much of a stage presence either.

Indeed, Ruwart made four or five references to her status as a woman, trying to do the Hillary Clinton “it’s time for a woman” thing.

Meanwhile, David Nolan and Tom Knapp are giving nominating speeches for Steve Kubby. I rode out here in a van full of Georgia LP members, and we stopped in St. Louis to pick up Knapp.

UPDATE III: Just talked to Barr campaign operative Stephen Gordon, who says he expects Barr, Ruwart and Root to have approximately equal votes on the first round. But also talked to Ruwart’s campaign manager, Lee Wrights, who said that his candidate is the only one who could potentially score a first-round win. Not likely, but possible, if there’s a radical avalanche.

BTW, contrary to Weigel’s assertion, not all Barr supporters are guys in suits.

UPDATE IV: Holy crap! Candidate Michael Jingozian just gave the nomination speech for Mike Gravel. Jingozian’s 63 tokens combined with Gravel’s 67 tokens could mean as many as 130 votes on the first ballot, potentially outpolling Barr, Root and Ruwart. This is weird beyond words.

Gravel gives the last speech, and when he’s done, Barr’s delegates will do a demonstration on their candidate’s behalf, before the voting starts.

Robert Stacy McCain
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