As pressure mounts in some areas for besieged Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle to drop off the ticket, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ron Paul wants him to stay.
"We think he should stay on the ticket - definitely. That will help us a lot," Paul told the Deseret News Tuesday while in town on a campaign swing."We like Dan Quayle. We also like George Bush and Mike Dukakis. They have been the best recruiters we have. A lot of people who are dissatisfied with them have been coming to our party looking for an alternative."
Paul, a former four-term Republican congressmen who left that party, said the national Libertarian headquarters has been receiving 100 or so calls a day from people wanting information about the party and how to join.
He said that shows his party is attracting much more interest than in previous years and credits Bush and Dukakis. "A large number of Americans are disenchanted with the choice they have, and are looking for an alternative. I think they would come to us if they knew about us."
That interest was apparent at a small rally Wednesday night in the State Capitol where some 200 supporters gathered to meet Paul. He received an enthusiastic response to his call for passage of the three proposed tax-limitation initiatives.
"I'm in the mood for no more taxes. I'm in the mood for a lot less taxes," Paul told the crowd. "I don't think you're getting your money's worth."
State Libertarians were urged to throw their support to independent candidate Merrill Cook in the governor's race because of Cook's support for tax limitation.
And things such as the controversy surrounding Quayle help sell the Libertarian message. Quayle has been criticized for joining the Indiana National Guard, possibly with the help of friends of his powerful family, to avoid combat in Vietnam.
Quayle's appointment actually hurt the Libertarians at first, said Paul. "It pleased a lot of Pat Robertson-style conservatives who had been upset with Bush." But the controversy now appears to be drawing people away from the Republicans.
Paul also said success may be at hand for the Libertarian Party because it refuses to raise taxes, which is important to many Americans. He sees that helping especially in Utah, where residents will vote in November on initiatives to roll back taxes. The Libertarians also support liberal gun laws and elimination of drug laws that they believe provide incentive for dealers to make big money.
"I really wouldn't be surprised if we got 20 percent of the vote in Utah," he said, even though his party's candidates have not made any significant showing in local polls.
"We have been targeting the state because we find that people here are receptive to us. That may be partly because of the Western, free-frontier spirit here (his party strongly supports individual rights)."
Utah is also home of one of the few Libertarian success stories. It holds all the town offices in Big Water, Wayne County. Well-known polygamist Alex Joseph is the mayor there. Paul hopes others in Utah will see the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative and support it.
Paul said what his party really needs is publicity, and is challenging pollsters in the state and nation to start including him along with Bush and Dukakis in their surveys. "I think if people had an alternative in the polls to Bush and Dukakis, they would take it."