Washington (AP) - Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr launched a Libertarian Party presidential bid Monday, saying voters are hungry for an alternative to the status quo who would dramatically cut the federal government.
His candidacy throws a wild card into the White House race that many believe could peel away votes from Republican Sen. John McCain given the candidates' similar positions on fiscal policy.
Barr said he is not getting into the race to play spoiler or to make a point.
"I've heard from Americans from all walks of life ... they want a choice," he said at a news conference in Washington. "They believe that America has more and better to offer than what the current political situation is serving up to us."
"We intend to succeed," he said.
Barr first must win the Libertarian nomination at the party's national convention that begins May 22. Party officials consider him a front-runner thanks to the national profile he developed as a Georgia congressman from 1995 to 2003.
If he wins the White House, he said he would immediately freeze discretionary spending in Washington. He also would begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and consider slashing spending at federal agencies such as the departments of education and commerce as well as at overseas military bases.
Barr, 59, quit the Republican Party two years ago, saying he had grown disillusioned with its failure to shrink government and its willingness to scale back civil liberties in fighting terrorism.
He currently runs a lobbying and public affairs firm with offices in Atlanta and outside Washington.
The 2004 Libertarian presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, took less than 1 percent of the vote, placing fourth behind President Bush, Democrat John Kerry and Independent Ralph Nader.
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