Another Libertarian Blast from the Past...
by Eric Dondero
Many are not aware that Ron Paul briefly ran for President back in 1992, as an Independent. This is particularly timely news, since Paul stated on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert last Sunday, that he was leaving the door open to an eventual independent or 3rd party bid for '08. Paul stated to Russert that he needed a "little wiggle room" on the question of whether he would stick with the Republican Party.
But in 1992, he had already laid the groundwork for such an Independent run.
Disclosure: I served as the Campaign Coordinator for that effort. I had been Ron Paul's personal Travel Aide in his 1988 Libertarian Presidential run. Burt Blumert, who Chaired the Exploratory Committee for 1992, put me in charge of scheduling and grass roots organizing for Ron Paul for President.
Starting in late Fall of 1991, Burt Blumert, Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard started to put out a call for Ron Paul to run for President. Party affiliation was vague. But that didn't stop them from raising money for the "Ron Paul for President Exploratory Committee." Blumert admitted to me at one point that over "$80,000 had been raised." (Questions were raised for months and years afterwards as to what ever became of those campaign funds?)
For weeks Burt and I worked up a Committee and State Coordinators for Ron's soon-to-be run campaign. I did this all volunteer, including extensive long-distance phone calling which I was never reimbursed for.
We were particularly well organized in the New England states. One of our key operatives was Chris Tremblay on New Hampshire, who eventually went on to be Pat Buchanan's personal Travel Aide throughout the 1992 Buchanan for President campaign.
Our plan was to concentrate on New Hampshire, with the implication that Ron Paul was going to run against Bush in the GOP primary. This is a modified strategy left over from the 1988 Libertarian Presidential effort when we campaigned up in NH all throughout the GOP primary season.
It was sometime in the Winter. Ron had finally agreed to the effort after weeks of dithering to Blumert and Rockwell. We worked up our first campaign tour for New Hampshire and Vermont and Blumert had purchased both Ron and I tickets to fly into Boston Logan.
Two weeks prior to this, Pat Buchanan himself on the McClaughlin Group had hinted strongly on a "possible 3rd party challenge to President George Bush by an un-named former US Congressman." John McClaughlin couldn't weasel out of Buchanan the name of the potential candidate. This of course, inspired the contributors, and tons of donations flooded into Blumert's PO Box up in Burlingame, CA for Ron.
The very night before our scheduled departure to Boston I got a phone call from Ron himself, telling me to cancel the trip. He wanted me to cancel all the scheduled events including a speech set for Dartmouth College, A New Hampshire media tour, a visit with Supporters in Boston, and a side Trip to Vermont to meet with prominent Libertarians and State Legislator John McGlaughlin.
That night, Pat Buchanan called Ron Paul at home, and asked him point blank to drop out of the race, because he fully intended to run against Bush in the GOP primaries. Ron quickly agreed, and offered to back Buchanan. Here's another written version of the story from RRR "Rothbard-Rockwell Report" January 1992:
As if our prayers were swiftly answered by Heaven, we now have that candidate and that leader: Pat Buchanan.
One might well ask: what about Ron Paul? In November, we called for Ron Paul to enter the Republican primaries, and we joined an exploratory committee to test the waters for that race. We generated an enormous amount of interest from libertarians and conservatives, and from the media, starved fro some kind of contest in what had looked like a torpid and boring Bush coronation in 1992. Ron was determined tht Bush would ot go unchallenged, but he was no anxious for personal reasons to make the race. When Pat phoned him, without hesitation, Ron welcomed Pat's entry into the race, and pledged his support to the Buchanan effort. Unlike most libertarians, Ron Paul understands the real world of politics, and he realizes that in Pat Buchanan we have an unprecedented opportunity to forge a powerful coalition, to create a new libertarian-conservative, Old Right movement.
This is a very accurate re-telling of the story. Though, in fairness, the Presidential effort was more "Independent" oriented deliberately done so as to gain more dollars from potential Libertarian Party contributors. To some extent the GOP primary strategy was a bit of a ruse, and the eventual goal of the effort as I understood it was to forge a coalition of Howard Phillips/Constitution Party folks with disgurntled Libertarians in an Independent bid for all 50 states.
Funny how things turned out. Buchanan eventually went down that road, and now 10 years later Ron Paul himself is flirting with doing the same.
Interesting read; I may have to edit the 1992 President Foreve scenario a bit