Thursday, June 21, 2007

Excluding Libertarians

John Funds reports on a move by Iowa Republicans to shut out Ron Paul from its forthcoming GOP debate:
It appears that organizers of a forthcoming presidential forum in Iowa on June 30 have decided Mr. Paul will not be welcome. Six other candidates, ranging from Mitt Romney to Tom Tancredo, will be speaking.

Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance are important groups in Iowa politics and their membership includes a large number of faithful presidential caucus attendees. It seems passing strange why they wouldn't want Mr. Paul after cable networks such as CNN, Fox and MSNBC had included him in their debates. ABC also plans to include him in its upcoming debate in Des Moines on August 5. Lew Moore, Mr. Paul's Iowa campaign manager, sought an explanation from the Iowa forum's organizers but was rebuffed. He says he was simply told Mr. Paul wouldn't be allowed to participate. Other callers have been told that Mr. Paul has "fringe type" support and isn't a factor in the caucuses.

Hmmm.... Despite his controversial views, Mr. Paul was tied for sixth place in the Republican field in last week's Wall Street Journal/NBC national poll (he had 2%), and was ahead of several other candidates who've been invited to the June 30 forum. What makes his exclusion all the stranger is that Mr. Paul just placed second behind Fred Thompson in a straw poll of National Taxpayers Union members at the group's annual convention in Washington. One of the key organizers of the NTU event was none other than Iowans for Tax Relief, the co-sponsor of the forum that is excluding Mr. Paul.

Whatever one thinks of Ron Paul, libertarians are an important part of the right, a voting block being actively courted by the left. Giving them the brush off reeks not just of intolerance, but of stupid political gamesmanship.

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