Video of SC Presidential Candidate Debate

Here is the video of the South Carolina Presidential Candidate debate shot by the Lee Wrights for President campaign.

Lee Wrights for President
Contact: Brian Irving, press secretary

28 thoughts on “Video of SC Presidential Candidate Debate

  1. Jeremy C. Young

    I enjoyed watching the debate; it was well-organized and the questions were good.

    I thought Lee Wrights clearly outclassed the others as a candidate. As in Illinois, his speaking style was polished and flexible, he handled most issues effectively, and he stayed on message. His ideas for using his campaign to grow the party were ambitious yet doable. He seemed like a candidate who has grown comfortable and polished in his role. I had two quibbles with his performance: one, he didn’t have a prepared opening statement (though he did have a prepared closing statement; perhaps he used his opening statement in his address earlier in the night). That’s an obvious and simple thing for a candidate to get, and I’m surprised Wrights hasn’t perfected one by now. Two, and your mileage may vary on this, but it really bothers me when a candidate invokes the names of friends who have died. Those people can’t say whether they would support the candidate or his campaign, and it seems to me to be a cheap attempt to buy sympathy. Better to allow one’s grief to remain private, and off the campaign trail.

    Roger Gary strikes me as a nice man and an accomplished Libertarian activist who simply is outclassed in a presidential campaign. He had no prepared opening or closing statements, choosing instead to ramble on about whatever came to mind. The long silences while he thought about his next sentence continued. His story at the end about hitting on Mary Ruwart at an LP convention was painfully awkward. Also, his two ideas about how to reach out to new voters during the campaign — petition drives and infomercials — don’t bring anything new to the debate. Every LP nominee has engaged in ballot access drives, even Barr, and the Ed Clark infomercials Gary likes were made possible only by $3.5 million of David Koch’s money, which won’t be available again. Honestly, I have no idea why Gary is running, since he seems to agree with Wrights on every issue and since he isn’t putting in the effort that Wrights is in perfecting his presentation as a candidate.

    Despite the rather explosive statements he’s made in recent days, I truly believe Carl Person is a nice man who is committed to Libertarian ideas. He strikes me as someone who is in the process of familiarizing himself with a new philosophy he agrees with, but who doesn’t have a competent guide to tell him that some of his ideas don’t correspond with the philosophy and that others don’t correspond with political reality. I think he is an asset to the LP in New York, but he simply is not ready for prime time as a national candidate, with his deviations from the platform on key issues (did I mention he wants to keep Social Security intact?) and increasing advocacy of harebrained schemes like his Libertarianism-in-one-city plan. He seems to think he can staff his campaign with Occupy Wall Street activists, which is a bit like John Brown assuming a slave army would flock to him after he’d liberated the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry; it doesn’t work like that. Also, I have to remark on his claim to have invented the paralegal profession. You can’t make outrageous claims like that and expect to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate.

    In all, I think this was an easy test for Wrights that he passed easily. I’d like to see him go up against Harris a time or two more, though; there are real contrasts to be drawn there.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jeremy @1,

    You bring up an interesting issue:

    ” the Ed Clark infomercials Gary likes were made possible only by $3.5 million of David Koch’s money, which won’t be available again.”

    Ed Clark was not the last LP candidate to do an infomercial. Harry Browne did one in 2000 — “The Great Libertarian Offer.” I’m sure Dr. Phillies will pipe up with some analysis of how much was spent on that production and where the excess probably went.

    It’s become a lot cheaper to create infomercials since 1980. It’s also become a lot cheaper to show them.

    In 1980, if it wasn’t on broadcast TV, it wasn’t noticed. These days, cable is cheap, ubiquitous and TV’s center of gravity.

    While I’m not much of a Wayne Root fan (/understatement), I can’t help but observe that he’s an experienced infomercialist who owns his own production company. My guess is that he especially could make effective use of infomercials in a presidential campaign.

  3. John C Jackson

    I got the Harry Browne VHS tape in 2000, and that’s when I first voted Libertarian. It was hosted by the actor who did Supermarket Sweep and married Janet at the end of Three’s Company. I’m pretty sure he went on to be more involved in the LP and/or one/some of the other groups started by Harry Browne and his people.

  4. Chuck Moulton

    I watched the SC debate. Wrights won: he seems to have the best organization, the best soundbites, the best positions on the issues, and the best plan of the currently declared candidates.

    None of them seem to give speeches as good as Badnarik or Root though. Hopefully they will all improve by the convention. Phillies improved immensely last cycle, so I suspect the candidates who visit a lot of state conventions will show similar improvements.

    Many of the candidates seem to list their record of activism within the LP, but have enigmatic backgrounds (education, work history, other achievements, etc.). I’d prefer a candidate with solid credentials (either a relevant degree or business experience or service in elected public office or distinction/leadership in some other activity or all of the above). I supported Badnarik in 2004 in spite of him not having such solid credentials, but he made up for that with his dynamic, engaging speeches. Candidates with the background of Badnarik but underwhelming speeches don’t cut it for me.

    In 2008 we had a former U.S. Congressman, a former U.S. Senator, two business owners, a pharmaceutical scientist, a college professor, and a marijuana legalization activist. Several of them were published authors. All of them had impressive resumes beyond LP activism. I don’t see that this year.

    Carl Person seems to have an impressive resume, but the bestiality thread from before means he won’t get my vote. Wrights is a great guy, but he seems to have all of the downsides of Badnarik (underwhelming resume, possible tax and driver’s license issues) without the upsides (dynamic speaking ability). Hopefully Wrights will become the Badnarik of 2012 by the convention and will earn my vote. Looking at Roger Gary’s bio page I still have no idea what he did his whole life. R.J. Harris hasn’t addressed Phillies’ earlier allegations of positions taken like the death penalty for drug use and extreme pro-life rhetoric. I don’t hold it against Harris that he ran for Congress as a Republican, but I will hold it against him if he took extreme un-libertarian positions.

    At this point I still support NOTA over the field. If Gary Johnson enters the LP race I’ll vote for him. If Johnson doesn’t enter I’ll probably vote for Wrights if he has a Badnarik-like debate performance in Vegas; otherwise I’ll stick with NOTA.

  5. Stewart Flood

    At least everyone liked the format. 🙂

    I agree with a number of the comments made above, but I would like to add a few of my own.

    Mr Wrights clearly has the most organized of the campaigns. I agree that mentioning party activists who are no longer living is not a good idea, especially when a number of the potential delegates in the room have only been in the party a few years and probably had no idea who he was talking about.

    Mr Wrights’ biggest challenge will be overcoming past disagreements with many others in the party. He has a volatile past, which he appears to be attempting to overcome with his “I am not a war” stance.

    Mr Gary appears to be a candidate who has positioned himself at present to not openly challenge the others who call themselves (or who’s supporters call them) front runners. Eventually he will have to make a move to challenge them, but we’re six months out so if we see it, it will probably be in the spring. I believe he was surprised at the level of support he had in the room. The straw poll result was close.

    Mr Pearson was also “introducing” himself. There were a few questions where his response was quite different from the other candidates (for example on the issue of the 99%ers.) As I noted in another discussion, no one in the room was aware of the bestiality comments, which would certainly have damaged his level of support in this state.

    Mr Wrights did accurately express the poll results. He won, by a vote, with the vote among delegates to the national convention a tie.

    Overall, I believe that all three candidates improved their positions at this event. Mr Pearson’s campaign will probably start to fall off as his positions are explored. Mr Still is already out of it, and Mr Harris’ rose garden approach to campaigning will need to be abandoned if he wants to have a chance to win.

    My call right now? It is between Wrights and Gary. This opinion can, of course, change as the campaign season progresses.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp


    “Mr Wrights’ biggest challenge will be overcoming past disagreements with many others in the party.”

    Yep. That’s a handicap for any candidate who’s put in much time as a party activist/official, rather than only as a candidate.

    If you’re deeply involved in the activities of a small party (or even a larger party — see, for example, Ralph Reed, who had a long and distinguished record as a Republican activist but completely bombed as a candidate), you’re going to pick up friends and enemies, or at least supporters and opponents.

    Even if you pick up more supporters than opponents, every opponent is a likely “not a chance in hell of you getting my vote” delegate, which reduces the pool of likely delegates whom you might convince to support you.

    It may not make winning the nomination impossible, but it certainly makes it harder.

    As an example, I’ll cite George Phillies, whose many years of activism in the LP had certainly caused people to have strongly held and not easily changed opinions of him by the time he sought the nomination.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    tk, or it could be that some people are deemed better suited for certain roles, and not others. David Lynch was a great director, but in front of the camera, he’s just kinda eccentric… He needed a Kyle McLaughlin or a Nicholas Cage to be in front of the camera.

  8. Stewart Flood

    And to follow up on that thought…

    Do the delegates who dislike a specific candidate rally around another candidate with high negatives, or around a candidate with lower negatives?

    This is why I say the race is between Mr Wrights and Mr Gary. Mr Harris will be viewed by many as an outsider, an interloper. His very recent connection to the Republican Party, his somewhat questionable stances on life/death issues are only one of his problems (his representative in South Carolina made an unsuccessful attempt to add an anti-abortion plank to our platform.)

  9. Thomas L. Knapp


    I suppose there could be some of that, but that doesn’t mean the phenomenon I’m describing doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t especially magnified in a small party where “everyone knows each other” and are therefore in a position to form strong opinions about each other prior to someone running for the presidential nomination.


    Lots of things attract delegates to this or that candidate.

    The only thing I’m trying to speak to is that a history of party involvement tends to create two “bases” — people who know you and are inclined to support you, and people who know you and are inclined to oppose you — and that of those “bases,” the latter is less subject to persuasion otherwise.

    Every member of that latter “bases” is one less delegate that a candidate has much chance of adding to his column.

    So, if you as a candidate have, for example, 35% “positives” (people who are committed to you) and 35% “negatives” (people who won’t support you no matter what), you only have 30% of potentially “undecided” delegates left from which you must get 15%+1 to get the nomination.

    A candidate who doesn’t have a long history of party involvement may have a tough row to hoe, but presumably a larger percentage of the delegates are at least open to persuasion by that candidate, and haven’t marked “not a chance in hell” next to his name in their brains.

    As far as Mr. Harris is concerned, I generally agree, but would add another factor: It’s not that recent Republicans are necessarily bad people or bad candidates, but that constantly running recent Republicans is bad branding for the Libertarian Party.

    It basically says “we’re the party of Republicans who couldn’t get elected or re-elected as Republicans.”

    It’s like selling factory seconds, sort of. The difference is that in regular business, selling factory seconds can be profitable, but in politics, each race ends up with 100% market share or zero market share, and generally speaking in such a situation “Nike, Inc.” will end up with the 100% and “Nike Factory Seconds, LLC” will end up with the 0%.

  10. Thomas Hill

    @2 Mr. Wrights mentions his deceased friends because of their impact on his activism and more importantly his life.

    There is nothing cheap about honoring the lives of three dedicated Libertarian activists that died as members of the LP.

    I understand the perception some may have, but Lee’s love and admiration for these men is genuine and heartfelt. These men influenced Lee a great deal.

    It is a shame many folks listening might not recognize these LP heroes.

    We need to educate ourselves about our party’s past and pass on the positives if we are to prosper in the future…

  11. Stewart Flood


    I don’t think that mentioning activists is bad or cheap, but many people in the party do not know all of the “old guard” from the early days of the party.

    You might want to have Mr Wrights add some commentary about what their roles were in the party over the years if he is at an event where there are new[er] members of the party.

    The perception in South Carolina was NOT that it was cheap. But about 1/3 of the room did not know who he was talking about. I’m not sure why you say it is a shame that not everyone recognizes party activists. Not everyone is active outside of their local area or even their state.

    Parties do not prosper by educating new members on history. They prosper by educating new members on ideology and methods of getting candidates elected and building the party.

    This is not meant to sound cruel, but not all new members really care to hear about Harry Brown or Ed Clark or others from the past. That does not make them less libertarian or less dedicated to the cause. Young people (in particular) want to hear about the future, not the past.

  12. Chuck Moulton

    To Thomas Hill @12 (I’m on my iphone which makes quoting hard):

    My mistake on the driver’s license / tax issues. I had recollected that Wrights always got a ride to LNC meetings from Sean Haugh when he lived in NC, which I thought was due to a principled stand against government licensing of travel. Whether I was right or wrong about his NC experience, I’m clearly wrong abot his Texas experience. It wasn’t my intent to spread misinformation.

  13. Robert Capozzi

    13 tk: It basically says “we’re the party of Republicans who couldn’t get elected or re-elected as Republicans.”

    me: This assumes that non-Ls are paying THAT close attention to whom the LP nominates. Were the LP to nominate RP or GJ, I cannot imagine many would conclude what you do. Some MIGHT see that the GOP’s claim to being the liberty party is so poor that Rs are leaving it…maybe.

    IF the LP wants to stick with no-name homegrowns who’ve never been elected to anything. This helps to explain how candidates conclude that taking a position on the raging bestiality (0r, previously, the child molestation) “issues.”

    A real politician intuitively knows that such theorizing is contra-indicated….

  14. Thomas L. Knapp


    “This assumes that non-Ls are paying THAT close attention to whom the LP nominates.”

    No it doesn’t. If you say “X,” you’re saying “X” whether anyone’s listening to you say “X” or not.

    But, to the extent that non-Ls pay attention to the LP, frequent refrains include “they’re just stalking horses for the GOP,” “they’re just Republicans who smoke pot,” etc.

    If you don’t think that that perception is reinforced by nominating recent Republican candidates or officeholders, I think you’re wrong.

    That’s not to say that there may not be benefits to doing so as well, but don’t confuse “there may be up sides as well” with “there are no down sides.”

  15. Robert Capozzi

    18 tk, sorry, sure, there are downsides. I recent minutes I’ve become interested in Buddy Roemer, who gets dissed like GJ, but has the distinction of having been both a D and R. His website even says: “America cannot, and should not, be the world’s policemen.”

    You may not recall my call for a ticket of Penny/Cuban a year or so ago. I’m a centrist. I’m intuitively attracted to balance.

  16. Robert Capozzi


    I’m even attracted to eccentric philosophical discussions about bestiality or necrophilia. I’d like to think I have the good sense to keep such discussions in a dorm-room context.

  17. Thomas Hill

    @15 Mr. Flood regarding cheap, I was responding to Jeremy (@2) comments.

    Promoting positive leaders and positions from our party’s past is not mutually exclusive of educating new converts about ideology and party building. I would say they go hand in hand.

    Loss of institutional memory due to the revolving door ebb and flow membership is one of our party’s biggest problems.

    That is why I consider it a shame that so many local activists know so little about our party’s history. Having fresh and new faces in our party is obviously crucial to our future.

    The future of our party depends on these newer members sticking around longer than an election cycle or two….

  18. Thomas Hill

    @16 Thanks, Chuck. I trust you and your reputation well enough to know you would do no such thing.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clear things up…

  19. Robert Capozzi

    21 th: Loss of institutional memory due to the revolving door ebb and flow membership is one of our party’s biggest problems.

    me: Please elaborate. Forgetting nightmares seems like a good idea!!

  20. Thomas Hill

    @23 Forgetting the past to the point of repeating it’s mistakes is not a good idea.

    It all comes down to personal perspective.

    The high turnover rate among activists, party officers and candidates – at the local, state and national levels makes for an unstable foundation. It seems our party is always trying to reinvent the wheel.

    That’s my perspective since I joined the LP in 1998…

  21. Robert Capozzi

    24 th: Forgetting the past to the point of repeating it’s mistakes is not a good idea.

    me: Yes, I’ve heard that theory. Since we are CONSTANTLY reminded of the alleged import of history, I can only conclude that the theory doesn’t work, since in fact people do keep making the same mistake over and over again. Freud called it the repetition compulsion.

  22. Jeremy C. Young

    Thomas Hill @14, I absolutely believe that Wrights was genuine when he mentioned those friends of his. I myself interacted with David Nolan here on IPR and found him to be a kind and honorable man. It’s not that I don’t think that he should honor them at appropriate moments. However, purely in my opinion, a campaign speech or debate is not an appropriate moment to mention such people because it suggests that your honoring of them is being used to benefit your campaign.

    To clarify, that is a comment about perception and campaign strategy, not about Wrights’ feelings for his friends. I absolutely believe that his affection for those men is genuine and heartfelt. In general, I like the fact that Wrights isn’t afraid to express emotion on the campaign trail; it reminds me of the best aspects of Bill Clinton (a politician I generally loathe, unlike Wrights). In this particular instance, it rubbed me the wrong way.

  23. Stewart Flood


    I can’t disagree with what you’ve said, especially about activists sticking around more than just an election cycle or two — if we are even that lucky!


    I still believe that starting out mentioning late activists without giving at least some commentary on who they were and what they did for the party has no value. That was my point. Assuming that everyone in the room knows who you are talking about is not always wise.

    Lee Wrights was certainly being genuine. No question about that. Roger Gary was also being genuine when he told his story about early party politics from the 80s.

    Of course Mr Pearson couldn’t tell us an LP story from the 80s…or the 90s…or even the first ten years of the 21st century!

    Mr Still and Mr Harris can’t either.

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