You can see the beginnings of a possible alliance this fall between Ron Paul, who formally ended his Republican presidential bid Thursday night, and Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's nominee.
Paul was the Libertarian nominee in 1988, and many of his supporters are libertarian-minded on economic and social issues. The Texas congressman praised Barr in an appearance on CNN on Thursday, and in a statement issued early today, Barr reciprocated.
"Congressman Ron Paul has fought tirelessly in both the Libertarian Party and the Republican Party to minimize government power and maximize individual liberty," said Bob Barr, a former GOP congressman from Georgia. "I want to thank him for all that he has done for liberty in this nation, and encourage him to continue his fight through whatever avenues he sees fit."
The Libertarian Party plans to get Barr on the ballot in 48 states in November. Paul's supporters could provide a huge boost for Barr, who could be a spoiler for Republican John McCain.
Paul announced his move -- ending his campaign and starting a new "Campaign for Liberty" group to help elect libertarian-leaning Republicans -- in a speech Thursday night to supporters attending the Texas Republican Party state convention in Houston.
"Freedom is very popular. Not only is freedom popular, freedom works," Paul told supporters, according to the Associated Press.
Paul hopes that at least 11,000 of his backers fill a Minneapolis arena for a counter-convention on Sept. 2, timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention in neighboring St. Paul.
"Paul fought an uphill battle for liberty every day in his presidential campaign against all of the big-government juggernauts of the Republican Party," Libertarian Party spokesman Andrew Davis said in a statement.
"Paul opened many doors for liberty in this nation through his presidential campaign," Davis continued. "By that standard--of which all politicians should be judged--he won a bigger victory than John McCain or Barack Obama ever will. Ron Paul worked to empower the people, not the government. That is a rare trait in today's political world."
UPDATE: Independent Ralph Nader also began courting Paul voters today.
"Ron Paul was a lightning rod for millions of Americans against the war in Iraq and for the protection of personal liberties that the two major parties have turned their back on--by continuing to support the illegal criminal war and the Patriot Act," the Nader campaign said in a statement.
"Now that Dr Paul has formally withdrawn his candidacy for the G.O.P. nomination and is no longer seeking the Presidency, there is a clear choice for those who want to support a candidate who will stand up against the war and stand up for personal liberties and privacy that have been trampled by the notorious, misnamed, Patriot Act."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.