Ron Paul, the Libertarian-leaning Congressman and former Republican presidential candidate who has attracted has a small but passionate following, today said he would not be endorsing John McCain for president.
According to the Associated Press, Paul said today that former McCain advisor Phil Gramm called Paul and encouraged him to back the Arizona senator. Paul refused.
Instead, Paul urged voters to back a third party candidate such as Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader or Chuck Baldwin, all of whom appeared with Paul today.* Paul supports these candidates because he believes they agree with him on what he considers to be four key issues: balancing budgets, bringing troops home, protecting personal liberties and investigating the Federal Reserve.
"The two parties and their candidates have no real disagreements on foreign policy, monetary policy, privacy issues, or the welfare state," Paul said, according to his prepared remarks. He added that the time has come to recognize that "the only way not to waste one's vote is to reject the two establishment candidates and join the majority, once called silent, and allow the voices of the people to be heard."
"At a time when 60% of the American people are dissatisfied with their presidential choices, this could be the year that third party option bring in a big chunk of the vote," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said in an email to CBS News. "That would really be something!"
*CORRECTION: This post originally stated that Bob Barr appeared with Paul today. He did not.