The Magazine

MR. SMITH GOES THIRD PARTY

Jul 26, 1999, Vol. 4, No. 42 • By TUCKER CARLSON
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It's not a totally crackpot theory. Smith will probably join the U.S. Taxpayers party, which is already on the ballot in several states. (The likelihood he'll sign up with the much larger Reform party diminished when Jesse Ventura didn't return his call.) And Smith's defection could increase the leverage of the remaining challengers to Bush. In any event, he won't need much money to run -- Smith is happy to drive himself to events -- and he seems deadly serious about staying in till November 2000. And if Bush is the nominee, Smith is betting that, as a third-party candidate, he can pick up the support Bush's failed conservative challengers have left behind.


Every candidate, of course, has a Scenario, the sometimes Rube Goldberg-like series of events that, if executed in sequence, leads to victory. Strategists at the George W. Bush campaign aren't impressed with Smith's. They have no snappy explanation for why Smith doesn't matter. They don't even bother to scoff. Bob who?


Smith seems ready for this. He knows there will always be some who will dismiss his campaign as a mere curiosity. "Some people view it as not even serious," Smith says in a tone that suggests he's passing on a secret. Then again, some people haven't seen the mail that has poured into Smith's office over the past few days. The mail that says Bob Smith of New Hampshire is going to be the next president of the United States. The mail that Smith fervently, wholeheartedly believes. "I think young people are going to be joining this campaign by the millions," he says. "I feel very confident about this. I'm absolutely convinced I can win. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't."


Smith pauses again. He's caught himself gloating. "I'm not trying to boast," he says, almost embarrassed. "I'm just trying to tell you what I think we can do."




Tucker Carlson is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.