London (CNSNews.com) - A California political activist is pushing an unusual candidate for president in 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Jim Bursch says that his dissatisfaction with both President Bush and anti-war Democrats prompted him to set up the Blair2004.com website.
"Between the babbling of George W. Bush on the right, the blathering of the anti-war left, and the cluck-clucking of media hens everywhere, stands Tony Blair, articulate and principled," the site announces.
The Iraq war looms large in the campaign. Bursch said he was behind the military action but has qualms about how it was sold to the American people.
"Personally, I was persuaded to support the Iraq war by the case made by Tony Blair, most eloquently presented to the British Parliament. I was not persuaded by my own president and secretary of state," he said.
As a foreigner, Blair is technically ineligible to serve as president under Article II of the U.S. Constitution. But Bursch said his tongue-in-cheek campaign "can play a role in reminding us of the principles on which we went to war in Iraq - principles that were best articulated by Tony Blair, and principles that we expect our future president to uphold."
Bursch said that although many Americans have a positive view of Blair, he was surprised at the amount of negative reaction the site has received from Britons.
"I expected to hear from cranks and crackpots, but I was surprised at the volume of the response from Britons on both sides of the political spectrum who appear to hate Blair," he said.
The site's online petition includes comments such as: "Tony Blair may as well come to America, since he's more American than British anyway," "Let's dump him to the Americans!" and "Once again we offer our rubbish to the colonies."
"One common criticism I hear from Brits opposed to Blair is that he just wants to be popular, that he's unprincipled and will adopt any stance that will increase his popularity," Bursch said. "Of course, in light of his very unpopular stance with the U.S. on Iraq, that claim appears ridiculous."
The prime minister has suffered in the polls due to his support for the war, the failure of allied troops to find active weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq and the British government's role in the suicide of a WMD expert last summer.
However, Blair is still ahead of his political competition and looks likely to lead his center-left Labor Party into general elections in 2005. British prime ministers face no term limits, and if re-elected, Blair could conceivably stay in office until 2010 or later.
"I think Tony Blair defies ideology and stands on principle. That's what confounds the ideologues on the right and the left, thus they resort to name-calling because they aren't persuasive on principle," Bursch said.
Bursch, who said he hasn't yet decided which Democratic candidate to back in the upcoming election, called President Bush "a public speaking disaster and an embarrassment."
"Bush may be a smart guy, but you'd never know it from listening to him, and I prefer my leaders to no only be smart, but sound smart, too," he said.
"Blair and Bush may be faulted for their interpretation of intelligence, but they cannot be faulted for acting on principle, and acting where international organizations have failed. And Tony Blair is the reason I believe this to be true, because he made the case where Bush did not," he said.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.