Harry Browne's Campaign Journal— February 2000
Monday, February 14, 2000— Day One — Washington, D.C.
After three years of preparation, Campaign 2000 finally begins. Our effort appears to be the best prepared, best organized, best financed Libertarian presidential campaign ever. Only the next nine months can reveal how far that will take us, but I'm very excited about the possibilities.
The campaign begins with its first disappointment and its first happy outcome.
Newman Communications, our P.R. firm, had booked a week of first-class media events, beginning with the announcement of the campaign on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" TV show on CNBC this evening. Late last week, the show canceled— even though we had made concessions to give them an exclusive for the announcement.
So press secretary Jim Babka and the P.R. firm went to work to make the best of the situation. They were able to book me on C-SPAN's Washington Journal for Monday morning. And it appears the end result was better than the original plan.
Brian Lamb (C-SPAN's founder) is the host. He's a much better more tolerant interviewer than Chris Matthews, and so I'm free to tell the story my way— instead of being interrupted every other sentence. The result is powerful: our website and 800 number are flooded with inquiries. The campaign begins on a high note.
Immediately afterward, I'm on the phone with Alan Tullio at CBS Radio News in New York. We're supposed to talk for 10 minutes, but it turns out to be more like 20-25. He will pull out quotes and do a brief news item on the kickoff, to be broadcast across the country throughout the day. His friendliness reminds me how nice journalists and broadcasters were to me in 1996. He says he expects we'll be in touch throughout the year; I hope he means it and I hope we earn his continued interest.
Then we head to the Associated Press to be interviewed by Kathryn Pfleger and Douglas Kiker. This interview also runs beyond its scheduled 30 minutes. An article on the announcement is on the AP wire a few hours later. While a little condescending, it isn't hostile. I just wish it had more red meat in it— more of the message and less about how well-dressed I was. Also, the article refers to "a 12-step program that eliminates income taxes, Social Security, the War on Drugs, federal welfare and a lot of other things Washington does" — and I don't remember ever saying anything about a 12-step program.
At noon I'm on the phone for an hour with Kerry Coleman at WERE in Cleveland. He saw the C-SPAN broadcast and called immediately to have me on his show. He begins the interview by saying he never talks politics on his show, but he decided to make an exception when he saw the C-SPAN interview. Throughout the hour, he talks like a libertarian himself. At the end I realize that he hasn't taken any phone calls; he's wanted only to ask questions and air his own feelings about today's political situation.
In the afternoon, Pamela and I get to go back to the hotel to take short naps. We flew into Washington last night, in order for me to be here early Monday morning. I broadcast the final episode of my Sunday evening radio show from a Washington studio, finishing at 2am. We had trouble getting a taxi back to the hotel, and we didn't get to bed until well after 3am -- only to get up four hours later and head for C-SPAN. So we were glad to get a chance to catch up on sleep.
In the evening, I spend 40 minutes on Michael Reagan's nationally syndicated radio show by phone. He is as sympathetic as always. We disagree on some things, but he has always treated me well.
At 11pm, I'm on the Alan Colmes show, syndicated from New York. Alan, a liberal, was a great friend during the 1996 campaign and has continued to be so. He is very complimentary of me and of the Libertarian Party— saying the LP is the only party worthy to be called America's third party. We disagree on much — even on foreign policy — but the show goes well. The callers are about evenly divided between being for and against me.
Tuesday, February 15, 2000— Washington, D.C.
Jim Babka and Steve Willis pick up Pamela and me at the hotel at 10 a.m. They bear the good news that C-SPAN has rerun yesterday's interview several times. They also tell me that the website and the 800 number are being inundated with visitors, some of whom are making donations. Later we're joined by John Moran of Newman Communications, our public relations firm.
The day begins with an interview with David Judson at Gannett News Service. We talk for about an hour. About half-way through, I realize that we have gotten bogged down in discussions of policy, philosophy, and other arcane areas. I try to bring the focus back to the message: "we want you to be free, free to live your life as you want to live it— not as the politicians think best." We get onto the drug issue, and I tell him of my pledge to pardon all non-violent drug offenders on my first day if I'm elected President. I ask him to quote me on that even if he cites nothing else I say, as I want to let the prisoners and their families know there are people out here on their side. The reporter draws a big star next to the quote. We'll see what he finally publishes.
Next comes a brief noon interview at MS-NBC. It's a situation where I have to sit in a small room alone with a TV camera, to be interviewed by someone in New York. The interview begins and the first time I speak my voice comes back into my earpiece on a two-second delay. It is almost impossible to concentrate and to speak that way without slowing down to incoherence. Pamela, watching on a monitor in the waiting room, doesn't know what's wrong with me and worries that I may have had a heart attack or stroke. Suddenly the sound disappears, and my voice speeds up— like a wind-up phonograph that had run out of steam and is cranked back up again.
The interview is only six minutes, but I get plenty of opportunity to talk. The interviewer, Lori Stokes, says, "Tell me about your 12-step program"— referring to yesterday's AP article. I say, "I don't have one; that's just something a reporter made up to describe my views." Later, I find out there is an item in our new press kit about my 12-step program. Jim Babka had taken material I've written on twelve issues and packaged it by calling it a 12-step program. Because of time constraints, Jim had to print it without my seeing it -- the first time this has happened -- and Murphy's Law reigned. We get an angry note from the two reporters who did the AP story — complaining that I had misquoted them. Imagine: public figure misquotes reporters! A true man-bites-dog story.
After eating lunch in the moving car, we arrive at the Washington Times building. First is a half-hour interview with Greg Pierce of the Times. He is friendly but non-committal. Then an interview with Jennifer Hickey of Insight Magazine, a sister publication of the Times. She seems much more sympathetic and understanding of libertarian positions. Once again, however, the discussion drifts away from the message and toward matters of process— government policies, history of the LP, and so on. I bring the conversation back to the message, but by now she has so many pages of notes I don't know what will show up in the magazine — if anything.
From the Times building, I do a 5-minute radio interview with Jim Ellis of WSM News in Nashville. He saw the AP article in the Nashville Tennessean and wants some soundbites he can play during each hourly news broadcast for the rest of the day. When I tell him what I want for Americans— the freedom to live their own lives in peace, he quotes Robert Heinlein (a favorite science-fiction author of many libertarians) saying that only one law is necessary — one to keep you from intruding on others. Imagine, he not only has read Heinlein, he remembers the libertarian parts.
In the evening on the phone from my hotel room, I have a one-hour radio show with Pat Campbell, a near-libertarian, on the Catholic Radio Network. I've been on with him before, and he's very friendly. He, too, saw the AP article and put in a hurried call to get me on immediately.
After the radio show, Campaign Manager Perry Willis and Jim Babka arrive to discuss immediate campaign plans with Pamela and me. I still haven't finished my campaign book, The Great Libertarian Offer— and it should have been to the printer long ago. We agree that I must take off most of next week, check into a hotel near home, look at no email and refuse to answer the phone, and put the finishing touches on the book. If I do that, the book should be in print by the beginning of June. If I don't, I may never finish it.
Yesterday's AP article appears to be showing up all across America— in major newspapers such as the Boston Globe, the Nashville Tennessean, the Salt Lake City Deseret News, the Charleston Post & Courier, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It also was carried on some of the main Internet political sites — such as CNN's AllPolitics.com, CBS Market Watch, and the Nando Times. WorldNetDaily carries the story on February 16, alongside my announcement article, "Why I'm Running for President." There's no way to find out how many radio and TV stations picked up the AP story.
I don't like print interviews, because I don't get to speak directly to the audience— as on radio or TV — and my message is filtered through a reporter. I often wonder whether doing print interviews is a waste of time. But then I see the number of interview requests triggered by a nationwide article such as the one the AP did, and I know it is more than worthwhile.
John Moran of Newman Communications provides some good advice on bringing print interviewers back to the message I want to convey. In the ensuing days, I find it very helpful.
Wednesday, February 16, 2000— Washington, D.C.
I was able to get to bed at 10pm last night, and looked forward to nine hours' sleep— after two nights in a row of much too little sleep. But I awake this morning at 4:30pm, and can't get back to sleep. Just too much excitement going on. So I arise and get some writing done while waiting for the day to start.
The day begins at 7am with a short radio interview with Phil Paleologos on the Talk America radio network. He is very easy-going and apparently supportive. This is followed by about ten minutes on the phone with P.J. Maloney of the news department at KQEV in Pittsburgh, recording some soundbites to play on the news during the day.
At 9am we're at the National Press Club to record both a TV interview and a radio interview with John Wardock of Bloomberg Radio & TV. This is a financial service that plays on many cable TV systems around the country, as well as being transmitted to computers of investors and brokers. John has always been very supportive, and this time is no exception.
On the way to the next in-person interview, I spend close to an hour on the cellular phone with Larry Marino on KIEV in Los Angeles. He is a conservative who asks very tough and rational questions about the Drug War, the transition to a Libertarian America, and other topics. I get the impression that Larry wants to believe and wants help dealing with all his reservations. The callers, on the other hand, are almost uniformly hostile— something I've encountered only rarely in the last few years. One asks what he's supposed to do if his child wants to be a libertarian and take drugs. I tell him that I'm not here to create Utopia for him, he will have to take responsibility for his own family.
We arrive at the Capitol Building for an interview with John Bisney of CNN's radio network. We tape about 20 minutes, from which he will arrange short clips to air on the network. He seems very supportive, and adds examples to those I give of government folly.
At the Washington Post, I spend about a half-hour with Ben White, whose job is to cover third-party candidates. His reaction seems almost exactly opposite to most of the reporters I've encountered. He isn't hostile, just bored.
On the way to the next stop I have a 10-minute interview on the cellular phone with Jay Hamburg of the Nashville Tennessean— another media source who saw the AP article and wanted an interview. We get along fine. A surprising number of reporters seem to be more sympathetic to libertarian ideas and more actively involved in the conversation than I remember from the last campaign. Are some reporters drifting our way? Or am I becoming more easily deceived?
At the Voice of America, I tape a half-hour show with Tom Mahoney and Neal Lavon, to be aired for overseas Americans this weekend. They allow me to talk as much as I want (which I hope was not too much). Neither mentions that a Browne administration would likely put them out of jobs.
Our last interview for the afternoon is with Jay Ambrose at the Scripps Howard News Service. He is the editorial director and normally wouldn't handle such an assignment. But he says he took the test at the Select Smart site and found my views were the closest to his of all presidential candidates. We get along fine, but who knows what the finished article will say?
After dinner, we head out again. First we're at America's Voice TV, which used to be called National Empowerment Television (NET). It is a conservative cable network. My interview is with Israel Baldaris and lasts two segments or about 20 minutes of air time. It goes well and he asks me to come back for a longer interview the next time I'm in Washington.
In the car I have a 45-minute interview with my friend Larry Elder, a top-rated host on KABC, Los Angeles. Larry has told his listeners repeatedly that he's supporting me for President and wants me in the debates so that I can "mop up the floor" with Al Gore and George W. Bush. Tonight's interview goes well enough, although we spend one entire segment in a no-win conversation with a caller who is convinced no one in the world would help him if he lost his federal food stamps. At the end of the interview, Larry closes as he usually does with, "Harry, you de Man!"
The final interview of the day is on the Jim Bohannon show, going out to 500 stations on the Westwood One Network. I was on this show in 1996. I can't remember the circumstances, but I recall going away from the show very dissatisfied. So I'm pleased to discover that there's a substitute host, Jack Burkman. Or I think I'm pleased until the show starts. His style is to deliver a monologue extolling the virtues of some federal program, such as the EPA, ask me if I'd abolish it, then interrupt me after one sentence and attack from a different direction— or even go on to another virtuous government program. The practice was valuable for me, but I don't enjoy that kind of debate. Sometimes I had to raise my voice to get him to get back to the point, and that's not very presidential. He kept telling the audience I was winning the debate (a routine I suspect he does with every guest), but the point isn't to win debates; it is to win converts. I do a fair job of getting to the message I want to deliver, but it wasn't a satisfying experience with which to end a long day of interviews.
Today WorldNetDaily, the large online political publication, runs my article, "Why I Am Running for President."
Thursday, February 17, 2000— Washington, D.C.
Up early to talk with Dough Stephan on the Radio America network. I've been on with him before, but this was the first time I recall his referring to himself as a libertarian. The interview goes well, but because it is shorter than I had expected, I never mention the phone number or Internet address— the first such omission on a broadcast this week.
In the car I have a 20-minute phone interview on the Gene Burns show on Talk America radio network (the network that carried my own show). Gene is, of course, a beloved Libertarian and one of the finest speakers in the land. But today Jeff Santos is filling in for him. He apparently isn't a libertarian, but he likes what I say, and perhaps especially likes my going on at length without him having to ask a lot of questions. Off the air after the interview, he invites me to come back for an extended interview.
Next is a 30-minute interview with political reporter John Huiett of Newsday, a New York City daily newspaper. Huiett is a very young man, and he has a specific list of questions written out. When I stray from his agenda, his eyes glaze over and I can tell that his mind is wandering.
Political reporters often are accused of focusing too much on the "horse race" and not enough on the issues. What I'm finding this week is that the reporters want to talk about issues (as well as our strategy), but to them the issues mean policy— how a Libertarian government would do this or that. Some of that is necessary, but the message I really want them to forward to their readers is: "We want you to be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as George Bush or Al Gore thinks is best for you; we want you to be free from the income tax and from the oppressive 15% Social Security tax, free from the fear of crime generated by the insane War on Drugs." I feel that my ability to sell our message has improved considerably since 1996, but I have to discover more ways to get reporters to carry that message for us.
The next interview is with Dan Murphy and Brian Mitchell at Investors Business Daily, a financial newspaper published in Los Angeles. The paper is more libertarian than the Wall Street Journal, and these two reporters reflect that. They seem genuinely interested in everything I have to say, and they keep me a full hour. Our discussion runs the gamut— covering my message, Libertarian strategy for this year and beyond, and policy questions. The policy questions are necessary, as they need to know my assertions and proposals have been carefully thought out and I know what I'm talking about. But I must constantly be alert to bring the conversation back to the message of freedom to live your live as you think best.
Back at the hotel in the late afternoon, I have a phone interview with Massie Ritsch of the Los Angeles Times. He is very interested in all aspects of the campaign, and the call lasts a full hour instead of the scheduled 20 minutes. He's writing part of a Sunday roundup of lesser-known candidates and parties in anticipation of the California primary next month. He, too, seems to understand the libertarian approach, but I've learned never to trust my impressions of a reporter's political leanings or sincerity. He says the paper probably will send a photographer to the California convention in San Diego this weekend to take pictures during the scheduled presidential candidates panel.
Pamela and I are staying in a "suites" hotel, one of those with a kitchen and living room in addition to the bedroom. There is no restaurant, but some nights a sort of home-cooked buffet dinner is served to the guests in a section of the lobby. Tonight, however, only deserts are available. Rather than walk several blocks to a restaurant, we let our "dinner" consist of apple cobbler and banana cream pie. I guess I'll start this campaign with a build like John F. Kennedy's and end it looking like William Howard Taft.
After dinner, I have a 30-minute phone interview with Brian Higgins, a Libertarian on the Liberty Works Radio Network. He's upset from seeing the Drug Czar on C-SPAN this morning. We talk about the Drug War and Libertarian campaigning. He tells me that in 1996 his small son demanded to know of his teacher why I wasn't included in the school's mock presidential election. I can't stay on the show very long because of the next interview coming up, but we agree to do a longer interview soon.
The day's final event is a highlight for me. It's an appearance on Fox TV News' Hannity & Colmes, which is broadcast from New York. I've appeared on this show several times as the resident Drug War opponent. Whenever drugs are in the news, they get someone who loves putting people in prison, usually on remote from some other city, and they call me to join in from Nashville. It's bad enough having four people arguing, but when they're in three different cities, the chaos and unintelligibility escalate. Tonight's episode is a highlight because I finally have two segments of this program all to myself. Of course, neither conservative Sean Hannity or liberal Alan Colmes is in my camp— but at least only one person is talking at a time.
Both of them have always been very friendly and respectful toward me, and I appreciate it. The first segment goes very well; I get the opportunity to make the points I want, and the content allows me to smile more than usual. The second segment falls back into the too-common routine of a host delivering a 2-minute monologue about something, and then saying I need to respond in 2 seconds because they're about out of time. But I consider the interview overall to be a success. Afterward, Sean Hannity asks me to be on his radio show next week.
What a start to the campaign. We've had 32 interviews in four days— and most of those interviews were with national publications or broadcasts. I used to dream of schedules like this when I did book tours. And even after the nominating convention in 1996, I didn't get this kind of coverage. Perry Willis, Jim Babka, and Newman Communications have done an outstanding job of lining up these opportunities.
Most future weeks won't be this loaded with interviews, but there will be lots of good weeks. And getting this many interviews at one time will create a cumulative effect, perhaps causing some journalists seeing my name here, there, and everywhere to want to find out what's going on.
But the best part is that this isn't the climax of the campaign.
It is just the beginning.
Friday, February 18, 2000— Washington, D.C.
Today we have the final interviews of the Washington kickoff week.
The first is with Linda Feldman at the Christian Science Monitor. Unfortunately, I allow her to make the discussion a debate over various issues. Her approach to almost everything is of the "If government doesn't do it, no one else will" variety. Although I make what I think are a lot of telling points, I'm not there to show off my brilliance, but to get her to include my main message in her article.
We then head for National Public Radio for an interview with Ken Rudin, but there's no interview. Some kind of mix-up— our first of the week. NPR wants to reschedule it but we don't know when I'll be back in Washington.
Later, I'm on Jerry Hughes' show on the 57 stations of the America Radio Network, with Paul Gonzales serving as guest host. This is pretty much a lovefest. Although he doesn't refer to himself as a libertarian, he does speak glowingly of libertarians. I have plenty of opportunity to give the phone number and the website address.
I find out that Craig Kilborn, a late-night TV comic on CBS, said in his routine on February 15: "Harry Browne, who ran for president in 1996 on the Libertarian ticket, is once again seeking the nomination of his party. The Libertarians will choose their candidate at their convention in July, which will be held at a McDonald's restroom in Anaheim." Maybe we've arrived, now that comics are taking pot-shots at us.
Late in the afternoon, Pamela and I catch a plane to San Diego, which leaves Washington an hour late. It's supposed to be a through flight with one stop in Dallas. But when we get to Dallas, we're told we must switch to a different airplane— which is leaving from a different terminal. We hurry over to the other terminal, only to be told there that the plane has already left (even though it's supposedly the flight on which we arrived in Dallas). Someone checks and discovers the plane hasn't left the area yet, so it's reopened and Pamela and I are allowed aboard. This is one time I'm glad our campaign isn't visible yet; if it were, 200 people might have recognized me, assumed it was our fault the plane was leaving late, and probably vowed not to vote Libertarian.
Saturday, February 19, 2000— San Diego
We're here for the California Libertarian Party convention, which will choose the delegates for the national convention in Anaheim in July. I never do hear the official attendance, but it appears that about 200 people are here.
Arianna Huffington is the featured speaker at the evening banquet. She is an excellent speaker, and she talks about the corruption of the two-party system. She plugs her book "Overthrow the Government." However, I realize after the speech that she never really says what she wants to see happen once the two-party system is overthrown. From the few hints given— help the poor and have government finance political campaigns — it appears that she wants to replace a corrupt system with another one that will lead just as easily to corruption.
We have seen with ballot-access laws and closed presidential debates just how zealously the Democrats and Republicans protect the two-party system. Why would anyone think that government financing of campaigns wouldn't be used as another weapon to keep third parties out of competition? Who gets to decide which parties and candidates will get government money? Republican and Democratic politicians, of course. To whom will they choose to give the taxpayers' money? Guess.
Sunday, February 20, 2000— San Diego
I take a taxi to KOGO radio for an appearance on the Lynn Harper show. She is very supportive, saying she voted for me in 1996. Her engineer is also a Libertarian, who says he joined the Libertarian Party to try to get the party and me to adopt a more gradualist agenda for moving to a Libertarian society. The show goes very well with calls from around the country.
Today's featured convention event is a panel/debate with four announced candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination. Don Gorman, Barry Hess, Dave Hollist, and I are the participants, with Alan Bock of the Orange County Register moderating. C-SPAN is on hand to tape it— for showing sometime within the next few days.
The format requires that opening and closing statements and answers to questions be brief— and the show moves along crisply. I've never seen Barry Hess before, and he proves to be a very polished speaker. I use my 3-minute closing statement to address the C-SPAN cameras, drawing from my announcement article, "Why I Am Running for President."
After the panel, most everyone joins us in a nearby room for the World Premiere Showing of our 30-minute TV show, "The Great Libertarian Offer." Actually, the show was broadcast four nights earlier on the Product Information Network; but we treated that showing as a test of our ability to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours (the test was successful).
At this showing, the video is very well received. And I'm happy to be able to introduce Kristin Overn, who did a magnificent job producing the show. I say to the audience that I believe the video is evidence that Libertarian politics are entering a new, higher level. Michael Cloud gives everyone in attendance a free videocassette of the show. He then asks for donations to help air the show on cable networks and local commercial stations; the response is better than we had expected.
Monday, February 21, 2000— San Diego
I awaken at 5am for a 10-minute interview on Daybreak USA, a syndicated radio show on 300 stations. However, the network doesn't call, so I finally call to find out what's happening. The show puts me on for about five brief minutes, and the interview ends so abruptly that I don't get a chance to give the phone number or website address. Oh well, at least I was able to get back to sleep.
Pamela and I catch a plane to Nashville. We pick up our car at the airport and Pamela drops me off at a hotel, where I will stay for the next four or five days. My mission, and I choose to accept it, is to finish The Great Libertarian Offer, my campaign book. It was due at the publisher's about four months ago, but I have been prevented from putting the finishing touches on it by one thing or another preparing for the campaign kickoff. So I will hibernate in a hotel room until it's done. I won't read any email, surf the Internet, watch TV, or play Solitaire.
I'm very pleased with the content of the book; it covers a lot of ground that wasn't in Why Government Doesn't Work. But it has become an albatross around my neck, because I haven't been able to focus on the final polishing. I'm determined that it will be finished this week. If so, it should be in print by the beginning of June.
Friday, February 25, 2000— Nashville
Carlos Ball, editor of a group of Spanish-language newspapers, informs me that my article calling attention to America's 2 million prisoners and the need to end the Drug War has been translated into Spanish and published in two Latin-American newspapers— El Panama America and Venezuela Analitica.
News of publications that carried the AP story on my announcement continues to come in. I learn that it also was carried by the Colorado Springs Gazette, Albuquerque Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Boston Globe, Boise Idaho Statesman, Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette, Schenectady (New York) Daily Gazette, and Nashville Tennessean.
Dennis Corrigan of Massachusetts wrote to say that he heard Mike Siegal hosting a radio talk show discussing the Drug War. He said callers were 4-to-1 in favor of ending it. Dennis was able to get through to the show and pointed out that people who wanted the Drug War ended should express it politically by voting for me and also for Carla Howell, who's running for the Senate against Teddy Kennedy. Dennis mentioned that I would pardon all non-violent drug offenders on my first day in office.
Dennis' call highlights three important points.
Don't just voice a generalized opinion. Make a specific proposal that is uniquely Libertarian, one that can't be confused with the positions of Democrats or Republicans. For example, we want to reduce government enough to end the income tax entirely, not just rearrange the burden of big government
Each of these three points is essential. First, your call alone will give reassurance to other listeners who feel as you do but think they're alone. Second, a specific proposal gives people even more hope, as they realize that others have already gone far enough to frame a specific proposal, and the proposal will encourage them to want to know more. Third, they will be delighted to know there's a specific candidate and a specific party that thinks as they do, and they may be motivated to contact us if they know how.
Monday, February 28, 2000— Nashville
I emerge from a week of hibernation, during which I've tried to finish the campaign book, The Great Libertarian Offer. I have spent the week in a Nashville hotel room, focused for 12-14 hours a day on nothing but the book. At the end of the week, I have 19 of 23 chapters wrapped up, and I Fedex them off to the publisher. The final four chapters will have to be finished sometime during this busy week. The book ought to be in print by June, in time to be put to use before the final four months of the campaign.
Having a campaign book is important. We can publish issue positions on the Internet, and we will have small pieces of literature to introduce the campaign and get votes. But a book provides a thorough, integrated presentation of the Libertarian case— not just philosophically, but politically. And that kind of presentation can be very important for rousing people to go beyond voting for us to providing active support in money, time, and influence. Why Government Doesn't Work brought many people into the LP to stay. I'm hoping The Great Libertarian Offer will be even more influential — in helping the campaign to become visible and in recruiting thousands more people to the LP.
The week begins with a phone interview with a political Internet site, ConservativeHQ.com. Kelley O. Beaucar has already posted an article on the site announcing my candidacy. Today she interviews me to get the details of the campaign.
I am on Lowell Ponte's syndicated radio show for an hour. Lowell is an aggressive, articulate Libertarian who provides a polished, informative, and entertaining program. Needless to say, the show is a mutual admiration exercise. Although contentious interviews are valuable in dealing with the fears that many people have about a potential Libertarian society, there is great value in being interviewed by a strong supporter. The approach is more relaxed, allowing us to delve into some subjects in more depth than would be possible on a more argumentative show.
This evening I am on once again with Jack Burkman. I had a rough show with him the week before last when he guest-hosted on another show. He is a conservative attorney who is very aggressive— questioning me as though I were a hostile witness in the courtroom. He says he agrees with much of the Libertarian position but that we go too far. His routine is to pick an example, ask about it, and then interrupt me as I begin to answer the question. An interesting quirk is that several people call in to support me — and he allows each of them to state my case articulately without interruption.
With all the interviews I've done in the past five years, I'm still not happy with the way I handle this type of host. I need more such encounters to develop a method of controlling them to deliver the message I want to transmit.
Burkman says we would be much more successful if we continued our principled fight for smaller government, but leave the drug issue alone. He doesn't realize that you can't be principled and at the same time jump back and forth between "government doesn't work" and "government works"— between "We don't want the politicians to have the power to force people to change their behavior" and "We do want the politicians to have the power to force people to change their behavior."
And even though two or three callers from his rabidly conservative audience call in to argue in favor of the Drug War, Burkman doesn't realize how much public attitudes have changed over the past five years. Today most Americans have either turned against the Drug War or, at the least, have lost their appetite for the subject. Yes, there are people still promoting the Drug War, and they will take longer to come around than most people. But the great majority of Americans now have no strong opinion on the Drug War— even if they're afraid of their children getting access to drugs.
And what is overlooked is the growing number of people who emphatically believe the Drug War is an immense, destructive failure, and who want to see it ended. This group includes the millions of people who are related to, or acquainted with, someone who never committed violence but is sitting in prison right now. It also includes the people who have made the connection between the nation's crime wave and the Drug War, the people who have personally seen civil liberties trampled on, the people who have suffered from asset forfeiture, and the people who recognize that government never succeeds in delivering on its promises. Included among the Drug War opponents also are a number of conservative talk-show hosts, most of the liberal hosts, and apparently all the Libertarian hosts.
So every time I stand up for ending the Drug War, even to an audience that seems rabidly opposed to my position, I must remember that the rabid people probably won't vote for me under any circumstances. I must remember, too, that there are people listening who feel so strongly that the Drug War is a failure, and who so rarely get to hear someone publicly stating their own concerns, that they might very well vote for me because of this one issue alone.
Tuesday, February 29, 2000— Nashville
The day starts with a one-hour radio interview with Mark Scott in Detroit. Mark is a Libertarian with a large audience of conservatives and libertarians. He is complimentary and supportive of the campaign. We cover a number of topics. The program begins with a discussion of the military. I point out that America currently has a very strong national offense— our government can annihilate any country in the world and bully anyone into accepting any kind of settlement. But we have a very weak national defense — no protection whatsoever against any dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile. I present my plan for rewarding the first private company that can build a missile defense, discussed in detail in Why Government Doesn't Work. We go on from there to a wide range of topics with many callers.
A radio show on WBT in Charlotte with Richard Spires and Brad Krantz goes very well. The two ask valuable questions, as do the callers, and the hosts give me the time to answer before trying to rebut me. And by this time I'm fully warmed up and flying. My answers are crisp and impassioned. I hope I can sustain this for all of today's shows.
I'm still flying when I'm interviewed by Glen Galaich for 40 minutes on Between the Lines, an Internet show distributed by WorkingAssetsRadio.com. He is quite critical but an excellent interviewer. He lets me have my say, and I let him do the same, and I think each of us is interesting enough that the listeners enjoy the statements back and forth. The callers are all either positive or at least genuinely interested in getting answers.
Then there's a 10-minute radio interview with Jay Richie on Business Day, syndicated to 50 stations. The interview moves right along and I think it's very useful.
The day continues with a 30-minute interview with Jane Chastain on KLTX in Los Angeles. I've been on with her before, and I believe it's a religiously oriented political program. However, today we don't get into any social issues. She seems to be sympathetic to most of the Libertarian agenda, and we manage to cover a lot of ground.
The final interview of this long day is with Gary Nolan on the Radio America network. Gary joined the LP a year or so ago and is very supportive. We cover many issues and take calls. It's a lovefest.