Interview with Barbara
Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik
Sept. 30, 2004
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: Where are you in the campaign?
BARBARA GOUSHAW-COLLINS: Where are we on the campaign?
Well, let's see. In the last five months since Michael got the
nomination he has campaigned in 42 states. We've had him on the
road constantly. He's done almost 500 media interviews--he's
averaging 7, actually a slow day is 7 interviews a day, some as high as
14 or 20. The local media are most eager to speak with him--the
local papers, the local TV stations--so we are getting a great deal of
attention from the local press even though we're not getting any from
the national media as yet. We have run television
advertising in a couple of swing states--New Mexico and Nevada...
DIA: Can you elaborate on that--how much did you invest, what
type of advertisements were they, and when did you run them, and why
did you choose those states?
BG: Well we chose those two states because of course they're
swing states wher our vote totals will hold the margin of difference
between Bush and Kerry. And when we went into them in both of
those states Bush and Kerry were within one percent of each
other. The commercials that we have run have focused on our core
issues--certainly my favorite is where Michael looks at the camera and
says, George Bush is your war president, I want to be your peace
president. Because of course we do advocate immediate withdrawal
from Iraq. We want to bring our sons and daughtrs home safe,
healthy, quickly and not in body bags. We believe that the war in
Iraq was a mistake, that we should not be there.
DIA: In terms of the buys, when did you run these ads and
where did they run?
BG: In New Mexico we ran statewide--spent about $65,000 on TV and
about $10,000 on radio.
DIA: Roughly when did those run?
BG: Those ran second week in August, and when we finished that
run of advertising we were polling 5 percent in New Mexico. And
for a Libertarian campaign that's pretty extraordinary, and of course
that will more than hold the margin of difference...in that state.
And then in Nevada we just finished that run last week. W'ere
polling 3 percent there. We put about $55,000 into television.
Now we are currently raising funds to do it in a couple more swing
states, but I'm not at liberty to say which ones.
DIA: And the Nevada ad was that in the Las Vegas market or--?
BG: Las Vegas and Reno.
DIA: And was it the same ad as in New Mexico or a different ad?
BG: It was a different ad. In the Nevada ad we used Aaron
Russo as our spokesperson because Aaron ran for governor in Nevada and
got 26 percent of the vote, so many Nevadans know who Aaron Russo is
and respect him very much. So we had Aaron as our spokesperson
taklkng about Michael and talking about the Badnarik campaign and the
things that we would do, and the lack of difference between the two
major party canidates. Indeed we did a morphing where we took
George Bush's head and John Kerry's head and morphed them together to
become on thing.
DIA: And those are produced by whom?
BG: Aaron's producing our ads.
DIA: So what else have you accomplished? How about the
whole fundraising side of things. Where is your money coming from?
BG: Our money comes from individuals certainly. We do a
great deal of fundraising on the Internet, probably about, I'm going to
guess, a third of our total revenues come as donations through our
And I really think that the Internet is what's going to make the
difference for third party candidates, maybe not in this cycle, but
next time around; more and more people are learning that they can't get
their information from the major media and that the Internet is the way
to go and the way to get their information. And we are very, very
big on the Internet. Our website averages 25,000 hits a day and
we just hit 10,000 on Alexa, so that means that we're generating a
great deal of web traffic. A lot of people are checking us out
through that medium and I think that's why our polling numbers across
the country are higher. Many more people have heard of the
Libertarian Party. Ten percent of the population based on our
polling self identifies as libertarian, so that means that we have a
pool of voters that already agree with us and would vote for our
candidate if they thought that it was a viable choice, and our goal, of
course, is to get to those people and let them know that it is viable
and that if the Libertarian candidate were to pull some significant
numbers in this election that it would absolutely set Washington on
their ear. They would recognize that there is a group, a large
segment of the population tat agrees with us, believes in smaller
federal government, that wants to scale back the size and cost of
governmetn, wants to establish non-interventionist foreign policy, and
all of the things tat the Libertarian Party stands for.
DIA: And back to fundraising. So Internet. Are you
doing direct mail?
BG: Yeah we're doing of course direct mail to the Libertarian
Party members and constituent groups, groups that are in general
agreement with us, such as the subscribers to Liberty magazine and that kind of
DIA: Who's doing your direct mail?
BG: I am. We're a small organization and certainly while
we've got literally thousands of volunteers spread across the country,
the actual campaign staff is relatively small by national campaign
DIA: How many full-time staffers are there and is there an actual
BG: Yeah our headquarters is in Austin, Texas; we have an office
there and that's where we do all of our caging and staging and
distribution and things like that. Our full times staff is about
a dozen people. My husband [Fred Collins] and I are full time and
he and I are the manager and associate manager.
DIA: And you guys are from North Carolina?
BG: No, Michigan. One of our other full-time staffers is in
South Carolina--that's Cheryl Bates; she coordinates all of our events
and field operations and Eve ___ works for her; that's a team.
And then Geoff Neale, the former national chair of the Libertarian
Party, he's our operations manager; he's based out of the Austin
office. He came on board about six weeks into the campaign after
weeks and weeks of pleading with him to join the team. He was
ready to give up politics and just kick back after two years as the
national party chair. And his wife is on staff; she's doing a lot
of the office work and a lot of the creative and interfacing on the
fundraising and that sort of thing. Then we've got Steve Gordon,
who was Aaron Russo's campaign manager. Steve is our director of
communications. Tom Knapp, who does our press releases and does a
lot of the writing for the campaign. Gosh, I know I'm missing
some people. Rock Howard is in charge of distributing at the
office and he's based out of Texas.
DIA: Distributing means what?
BG: All of the signs and bumper stickers and literature--because
we're shipping materials like that to our state coordinators across the
country so that they can get them out to the people. And of
course that's a massive undertaking.
DIA: So that pretty much rounds out the national staff?
BG: I'm missing Jessica [Caplan] and Marina [Neale] in the
office--they're basic office staff, clerical.
DIA: You mentioned the state coordinators. Do you have a
coordinator in every state?
BG: We have a coordinator in almost every state; I believe we've
got around 45 state coordinators, and then several regional
coordinators as well.
DIA: And is all that volunteer?
BG: Yeah that's volunteer, yes.
DIA: Looking at the states, maybe you can identify half a dozen
states where you guys are strong. You've already talked about New
Mexico and Nevada.
BG: New Mexico and Nevada. Certainly we're strong in
Oregon; we've got a real active, real strong Libertarian Party in
Oregon. We're strong in Texas certainly, that's where our
candidate is from. And the Texas Libertarian Party, despite their
horrendous ballot access requirements--they just came off a petitioning
drive that cost something in the neighborhood of $80,000 just to get on
the ballot in Texas. We've got a real strong Texas party.
Florida is strong; Florida has a terrific party and they just got their
ballot access laws changed a couple years ago so they've only been able
to actually run local candidates now for a couple of years and they're
doing a great job with that. They have a couple of candidates
that might even have a shot. And let's see. Indiana is
strong--real strong local party there, lot of candidates.
Illinois is strong.
DIA: What that your candidates has done since the
convention seems to have generated the most media attention?
BG: It was certainly the advertising in New Mexico. When we
were on the air in New Mexico and then when we did the tour of New
Mexico while he was on the ground for a week. That was
extraordinary because of course he was being recognized in the street
and reporters were following him around and, just as it should be,
everywhere he went they were sticking microphones in his face.
What was also interesting about New Mexico was that while we were
running those commercials, all of the sudden George W. decided that he
had to go to New Mexico too. So out of the clear blue sky his
campaign announced that they were going to throw an event in
Albuquerque and two days later they they were. And it was not on
the original schedule but suddenly George decided that he had to go to
New Mexico and while he was there the reporters were grilling his
campaign on the effect of the Badnarik campaign on the Bush re-election
effort and I don't think that's ever happened before that the seated
president was challenged as to how the libertarian was going to affect
DIA: This was in August?
BG: Mid-August. The commercials ran there the 8th through
DIA: You've got a lot of experience; you've done this for a long
time. Anything you find surprising or different this cycle?
BG: I really expected that we would get a lot more national media
coverage than we've gotten. The blackout that they've been
working on us has been pretty extraordinary when you get right down to
it, and clearly the major parties are afraid of the impact of third
parties. There's no doubt about it.
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© 2004, 2005 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action