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Candidates protest to chair on LP keynote speaker selection

In a letter sent to Libertarian Party chairman Bill Redpath earlier this evening, three LP presidential candidates — Steve Kubby, George Phillies and Mary Ruwart — protest the selection of fellow candidate Bob Barr‘s campaign finance advisor, Richard Viguerie, as keynote speaker for the party’s 2008 national convention and suggest a substitution. The letter:

Dear Mr. Chairman,

We, the undersigned candidates for the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nomination, object to the selection of Richard Viguerie as keynote speaker at our party’s national convention and respectfully request that Mr. Viguerie be replaced by a more appropriate speaker.

Mr. Viguerie is a well-known conservative fundraiser who has, in the past, established an amicable relationship with the Libertarian Party. He has spoken at several LP events, including the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance’s 2007 conference in Florida.

However, Mr. Viguerie is at the moment overtly aligned with, and a key campaign operative for, ONE candidate for our party’s presidential nomination. He has proven himself an aggressive advocate for, and supporter of, that ONE candidate. And he can be reasonably expected to use the bully pulpit the keynote address provides to advocate, subtly or overtly, for that candidate’s nomination.

The party deserves a free, fair and open competition for its presidential nomination. Such a competition requires that the national convention not be pre-packed with one candidate’s supporters in key speaking slots.

As an alternative to Mr. Viguerie, we recommend a keynote speaker whose loyalty to the party, rather than to a particular candidate, is beyond question: David F. Nolan, the party’s founder.

Since 1972, Mr. Nolan has wholeheartedly supported the party’s nominee in every presidential election cycle. In this cycle, he has commented positively on all of, and endorsed none of, the serious contenders for the nomination. He possesses all the credibility and credentials appropriate to a keynote speaker, and will bring with him to the podium no bias in favor of or against any candidate.

We request your urgent consideration of, and attention to, this matter.


Steve Kubby
George Phillies
Mary Ruwart

About Post Author

Thomas L. Knapp

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


  1. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp Post author | May 21, 2008


    I disagree.

    To me, adding a bunch of signatures of candidates whose prospects are effectively non-existent, and whose candidacies are therefore utterly unaffected by the choice of keynote speaker, makes it neither more meaningful nor more effective.


    You make an interesting argument … but I suspect that if Bob Milnes, Mike Jingozian, Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato et al were to issue a similar statement, or even a verbatim “us to,” they would get coverage of their own. It’s not like Kubby, Phillies and Ruwart have a monopoly on making campaign announcements or anything, and several reasonably even-handed publication venues now exist to cover such things — thanks, in part, to you.

  2. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes May 21, 2008

    Tom, I appreciate your analysis of the situation and the fact that you actually did this. But that is not the point. This is the point: “The more candidate signatures the more meaningful & hence effective the letter would have been.”

  3. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy May 21, 2008

    This is always an interesting debate but it cuts to the heart of the “wasted vote” issue. Third party and independent candidates complain about being cut out of media coverage even if they’re only polling at 1%.

    Tom – I absolutely understand, and I think the point is well made. I was just offering another suggestion.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp Post author | May 21, 2008


    “There seems to be some sort of mutually agreed concensus that these six are the top tier and consequently the others don’t matter.”

    Is there some sort of mutually agreed consensus that a “top tier” exists? Sure.

    Is there some sort of mutually agreed consensus concerning whom that “top tier” includes? No. That number seems to range from three to six candidates, depending on whom you ask.

    The list of candidates to whom the letter was sent for signature was left up to me — not because those involved in the letter didn’t or don’t care or think you “matter,” but because most of them were in transit, checking in by phone, etc. and not really in a position where they had brain share to dedicate to anything on this letter other than whether or not THEY wished to sign it.

    The list of candidates to whom the letter was offered for signature does NOT reflect my idea of whom the “top tier” includes. Rather, it reflects my estimate of which of the candidates have a reasonable chance of either collecting enough delegate tokens to participate in the official candidate debate, or polling at least 10% on the first nomination ballot, or both. That group is half again as large as my personal “top tier” list.

    Do the other candidates “matter?”

    On the one hand, let me be the first to thank and congratulate all of them for throwing their hats in the ring and making their arguments.

    On the other hand, at this point they aren’t especially relevant. They had months or years to make their cases. For whatever reasons, they weren’t able to do so in ways that are now likely to manifest themselves in the form of significant delegate support … and now the convention is upon us and the focus/attention span is narrowing.

  5. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes May 21, 2008

    First of all, congratulations to you G.E., Tom K. et al for your new website. Well done, timely & needed. I assume you are working on getting advertisers. You have my support. I’d like to comment on this article. I am in agreement with the letter to LP Chair Redpath re: keynote speaker selection. However I must criticize the fact that it was evidently only sent to six of the candidates for endorsement. There seems to be some sort of mutually agreed concensus that these six are the top tier and consequently the others don’t matter. I, for one, would have certainly promptly responded. The more candidate signatures the more meaningful & hence effective the letter would have been. Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone other than these six actually gets the nomination? Like maybe me in absentia.

  6. RedPhillips RedPhillips May 21, 2008

    Has Vig publicly stated he will not be supporting McCain and advised other conservatives not to support McCain? I don’t think he will, but he needs to say so publicly.

  7. RedPhillips RedPhillips May 21, 2008

    Trent, I didn’t see Viguerie’s speech at the CP Convention. It was just about the only thing I missed. I heard it didn’t go over too well on a couple of points. Is this true? What were the points?

  8. Dylan Waco Dylan Waco May 21, 2008

    Viguerie has always been kind to me, but lets be honest, he sees the LP as his “tool” for the conservative rebirth. His big talking point is that conservatives have been looking for a Reagan, when they should have been looking for a Goldwater. He saw Paul as the Goldwater, and Barr as the next step. He’s got the money, the time and organizational skills and he is going to take over unless he is stopped.

  9. MattSwartz MattSwartz May 21, 2008

    I think that Viguerie’s (percieved) heavy-handedness might cost Barr the nomination. Between buying one of the bigger libertarian news sites (TPW) and turning it into a Barr spin factory and keynoting the convention, it sort of seems like an invasion is underfoot.

    I think Barr is one of the better nominees, and I certainly think he’s the one with the highest vote-getting potential, but it would really suck if the LP turned into the GOP-lite.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp Post author | May 21, 2008


    For once, a question I can answer (I helped draft the letter and was involved in the process).

    Rule of thumb: If you’re going to make a complaint, be ready with a suggested remedy.

    Application of rule of thumb:

    We knew Nolan was going to be in Denver.

    We knew Nolan would consent to speak if invited.

    We knew Nolan would be willing to pledge not to use the keynote as a bully pulpit for or against a candidate.

    We knew that Nolan hadn’t endorsed a candidate — and that while he’s said some harsh things about some of them, he’s said at least SOMETHING positive about all or nearly all of them.

    Time being of the essence, and Nolan being acceptable to those candidates who committed to sign the letter, problem solved. If any of the above things had not been true, we’d have continued the search.

    If the chair replies with something like “I see your point and Viguerie is out, but the keynote will be [some prominent personage figure who meets the same criteria] instead of David Nolan,” I don’t think that any of the signatory candidates will complain. The problem they had will have been remedied. The fact that they offered a specific remedy doesn’t mean that’s the only remedy they’re willing to accept.

    The letter was also submitted to Wayne Allyn Root, Senator Gravel and Congressmen Barr (the last via Steve Gordon as the only personal address I had for him at the time has previously been an office-screened address with some turnaround time).

    Root declined via his staff to sign the letter, but not with any state objection. I got the feeling that he was in the middle of some heavy campaign stuff, didn’t have time to make a proper investigation and satisfy himself of the complaint’s validity, and didn’t want to sign without doing so. No problem.

    Neither Senator Gravel nor Congressman Barr responded at all. Given their hectic schedules, I don’t think it would proper to read anything into that non-response.

    Tom Knapp

  11. Mike Theodore Mike Theodore May 21, 2008

    I think Robert freaky deaky Milnes would get less protests being keynote speaker. At least I can take a quick nap over the chorus of “umms” while it plays on c-span.

  12. Jeff Wartman Jeff Wartman May 21, 2008

    There are innumerable people that would have been better Keynotes than Viguerie.

    Shit, someone like Brian Doherty would have been great.

  13. Jeff Wartman Jeff Wartman May 21, 2008

    Ed will be speaking at a different event within the LP NatCon. Promoting his speech up to Keynote would possibly be the smartest thing HQ could have done. Unfortunately, they rarely see that.

  14. Mike Theodore Mike Theodore May 21, 2008

    Ed Thompson won’t be speaking? Everyone loves him! Who did these goofballs line up?

  15. Trent Hill Trent Hill May 21, 2008

    Ed Thompson makes a great choice.

    So does Michael Cloud and his crew from MA.

  16. G.E. G.E. May 20, 2008

    How about Austin Cassidy!

  17. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy May 20, 2008

    Nolan is a little bit of a controversial choice too though. How about Ed Thompson or someone like that?

  18. Fred Church Ortiz Fred Church Ortiz May 20, 2008

    Red: be careful what you ask for.

  19. Mike Theodore Mike Theodore May 20, 2008

    I second the replacement of Viguerie with Nolan. Don’t leave me alone here folks.

  20. RedPhillips RedPhillips May 20, 2008

    Why is Vig supporting Barr instead of Baldwin? The CP is closer to Vig and movement conservatism than is the LP.

Comments are closed.