Barr voted for the Iraq War and later said he regretted his vote. He said he had been swayed by intelligence claims that proved false, and by 2008 he was boasting: “Only one party has consistently demanded a quick and full withdrawal from Iraq: the Libertarian Party.” That same year he called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from almost every country:
By maintaining a military presence in more than 130 nations around the world in more than 700 installations, with hundreds of thousands of troops deployed overseas, the U.S. spends more to protect the soil of other nations than our own.
In Congress, Barr generally drew a tough line on immigration. In 1998 he voted against an expansion of visas for skilled workers and sponsored a bill to make English the official language of the U.S. But in 2008 Barr declared, “I don’t favor a fence. If there is economic opportunity, people should be free to come into this country and participate in the market.” This summer he changed his mind again, denouncing the Senate’s version of immigration reform and labeling it “a pathway to amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.”
In the House, Barr consistently followed the pro-life line, voting to ban partial-birth abortion, the transport of a minor to get an abortion, and “family planning funding” in U.S. aid abroad. As the Libertarian nominee, he avoided the issue entirely and deflected questions about abortion
. Now his campaign website
declares: “Bob has the experience needed to stand up for family values and most importantly protecting the sanctity of human life.”
Barr’s biography on his campaign website does not mention his dalliance with the Libertarian party, nor his work for the ACLU or the Marijuana Policy Project. It does mention his time on the boards of the American Conservative Union and National Rifle Association — exactly the stances one would expect him to hide and emphasize in a deeply conservative district in the suburbs northwest of Atlanta.
If the candidate wants to be conservative, he should be conservative. If he wants to be libertarian, he should be libertarian. But he shouldn’t shift around based on the electoral prospects before him.