WASHINGTON – Former Republican congressman Bob Barr is hinting strongly that he’ll jump into the presidential race as a Libertarian.
Barr, 59, who left the GOP in 2006 over what he called bloated spending and civil liberties intrusions by the Bush administration, is expected to make an announcement today at a Libertarian conference in Kansas City.
Should he run, Barr might sap votes from Republican John McCain, but whether it would be enough to alter the outcome of the presidential vote in any state was uncertain.
In a phone interview Friday, Barr wouldn’t divulge his plans. But in response to widespread speculation that he will announce he is forming an exploratory committee, he said, “I do not intend to waste anybody’s time that’s there.”
A former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Barr served eight years as a Republican congressman from Georgia before losing his seat in 2002 after a redistricting.
When he announced he was joining the Libertarian Party in 2006, he said he had become disillusioned with Republicans’ failure to cut government spending and with post-Sept. 11 erosions in civil liberty protections. He has been particularly critical of President Bush over the war in Iraq and says the government is endorsing torture and illegally spying on U.S. citizens.
He currently runs a lobbying firm with offices in Atlanta and outside Washington.
In the 1990s, he became a darling of conservatives for his persistent attacks on President Clinton. He was among the first to press for impeaching Clinton and helped manage House Republicans’ impeachment case before the Senate.
Even out of office, he has proven to be an effective fundraiser. He maintains a political action committee he formed as a congressman. In the current two-year election cycle, he has raised more than $1.2 million, spending most of it on direct mail. His staff said the mailings are intended to spread his “message of liberty.”
The party, which generally advocates smaller government, holds its national convention in May in Denver. Sixteen candidates already are seeking the nomination.