Although Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, 59, receives far less media attention than the two major party candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, he maintains the schedule of a prime contender.
Barr finished giving a speech in Washington Hall shortly after 4 p.m., then rushed over to O'Shaughnessy to do an interview with NPR before leaving Notre Dame to speak at another college campus that evening. On his way to the radio interview, as the Notre Dame Marching Band began its Friday afternoon repertoire, Barr took questions from The Observer and explained the purpose of his third party run and expressed some doubt about a USC victory over Notre Dame at their Nov. 29 match-up.
With Obama polling at 50 percent and McCain at 43 percent, according to daily tracking by the Gallup Poll, Barr said he does not anticipate winning the election.
"We hope to have a major impact, and even though theoretically we can win, I don't anticipate that happening," he said. "Although maybe I'll wake up on my birthday, which is Nov. 5, and I'll have won."
Barr added: "It's very important to put the ideas out there, to provide a real choice for Americans, to make sure they do have a real choice, to make sure they don't have to vote for the lesser of two evils."
He said he hopes to do with his campaign what Ross Perot did in 1992 with his candidacy. That is, gain a significant portion of the popular vote so he can influence public policy.
Although he doesn't believe he will emerge victorious on Nov. 5, Barr also doesn't want Obama or McCain to win.
"I would rather not see either of them," he said. "Both are threats to liberty."
Obama will expand the government, he said, and McCain, like President George W. Bush, will push for bigger government in terms of executive power.
"Both of them are very bad," he said.
So Notre Dame students should vote for Barr, he said.
"The heart of why they come to Notre Dame is freedom, liberty. The freedom of ideas, the freedom to excel, and you don't get that by voting for a party that is the Republican or Democrat Party that believes in government control," he said.
His party, the Libertarian Party, is in favor of "tremendous freedom," he said.
"We understand that America's greatness comes from the people, not from the government," he said.
Barr explained his position on abortion, an important issue for many American Catholics.
"I'm pro-life but I believe that the federal government ought to stay out of it," he said. "That's a decision that the people of each state ought to make for themselves."
Several times in his speech, Barr seemed to allude to and criticize Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee. He said McCain's choice was "irresponsible."
"I think it was based simply on politics and not on qualifications. And that's not leadership," he said.
Barr said he plans to focus his campaign efforts on Indiana, along with 10 to 12 other states, in the month leading up to the election, since polling has shown that these are states where he can pick up a significant portion of the popular vote.
Friday marked Barr's first visit to Notre Dame. He said the campus was "absolutely gorgeous."
Barr, a graduate of the University of Southern California, declined to make a prediction about the upcoming Notre Dame-USC football game. After USC lost to Oregon State, Barr said he's not so confident his alma mater will pull out a win against Notre Dame.
"It's going to be, as always, a tremendously exciting game," he said.
He said he won't be able to make it to the game, which will take place at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. on Nov. 29. But he said he'd love to make it if his schedule permits it.
"They truly are among the most exciting games in college football every year," he said.