1980 Libertarian Presidential Campaign

The 1979 Libertarian Party national convention nominated Ed Clark for President and David Koch for Vice President. Clark had made an impressive effort in the 1978 California gubernatorial race, and David Koch was a millionaire who pledged to contribute at least $500,000 to the campaign.

During the campaign, Clark urged independent candidate John Anderson to withdraw from the race.

Clark received three daily newspaper endorsements. (Republican Ronald Reagan received 443, Democrat Jimmy Carter 126, and independent John Anderson 40.)

Columnist Nicholas von Hoffman praised the consistency of the Libertarian platform and the strength of Libertarian candidates' following the platform. Hoffman railed that a vote for Carter, Reagan or Anderson is just "ratifying what has been done, reaffirming it, and giving legitimacy to what will follow. But a vote for Clark is something else again. It carries a message for now and a threat for the future."

People made a common criticism, that the Libertarian platform "is seductive -- less government, more freedom -- but in specifics in becomes less so. Libertarians call for an end to mandatory public education; phasing out of social security and welfare; dismantling of all federal regulatory agencies plus the FBI and CIA; a neutralist foreign policy; and the repeal, among other things, of laws against abortion, gambling, drugs, and prostitution."

What that boils down to, is that the difference between Libertarians and other advocates of smaller government is that Libertarians mean it.

The 1980 Libertarian ticket was on all 51 ballots and won 921,299 votes (1.05% of the total). Voter turnout was 53.95%.