Interview with Barbara Goushaw-Collins
Associate Campaign Manager for
Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik
Coral Gables, FL 
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 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 website. 

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 thing.

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 standards.

DIA:  How many full-time staffers are there and is there an actual headquarters?

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 his race.

DIA:  This was in August?

BG:  Mid-August.  The commercials ran there the 8th through 13th.

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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Copyright © 2004, 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action