A revolutionary, Ralph Nader, a Baptist minister, and two former congressmen from Georgia are all running for president in Rhode Island. Two of these five third-party candidates are more conservative than Republican John McCain, and the other three are more liberal than Democrat Barack Obama. Supporters of each gathered the 1000 signatures needed to win a ballot spot. These candidates hope that their presidential campaigns will publicize political views not often heard in the public debate.
Getting the word out can be difficult. With little money and few supporters, third-party candidates are barely visible, except on the Internet, where each has a detailed Web site.
Here’s a summary of the five parties.
Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party (baldwin08.com)
Baldwin, a Baptist minister in Florida, is a graduate of conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Bible Institute in Virginia. His online campaign biography proudly notes that two former conservative presidential candidates, Patrick Buchanan and Alan Keyes, have spoken at his church.
Baldwin, who is on the ballot in 35 states, has also been endorsed by renegade Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The Constitution Party’s platform calls for phasing out Social Security, abolishing the Federal Reserve System and the Internal Revenue Service, and substituting private charity for government welfare programs. It also supports states’ rights and believes any state may with-draw from the union.
The party’s Rhode Island chairwoman, Newport piano teacher Monique LeMaire, says she was hooked four years ago by the party’s slogan of “Honor God, Defend the Family and Restore the Repub-lic.” Opposed to gambling, she would like to close Newport Grand and replace it with affordable housing. Although the US had to invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, LeMaire says, she adds “Let’s get our troops back from Iraq. Let’s close our borders and have our troops protect our land. That’s logical.” The Constitution Party has about 20 members in Rhode Island, she says, and is not running any local candidates.
Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party (bobbarr2008.com)
As a four-term US representative, Barr challenged the Bush administration’s restrictions on personal freedoms, but he is best known as one of the House prosecutors who presented the Clinton impeach-ment case to the US Senate.
The Democrat-dominated Georgia legislature returned the favor and redrew Barr’s district for the 2002 election, and he then lost the Republican primary. The libertarians are on the ballot in 45 states and support abortion rights, gay marriage, repeal of the income tax, US withdrawal from NATO, eliminating Social Security, and ending prohibitions on recreational use of drugs. “The less government the better,” summaries Rhode Island Libertarian Party chairman David Bibeault of Smithfield, adding, “Competition in the free market is the solution to just about every problem we have.”