IN THE SECOND-TO-LAST WEEKEND OF THIS FURIOUSLY CONTESTED political season, one presidential candidate took a break. He slept till noon, then drove with his fiancée from their home in Rockford, Ill., to dine with friends at a Chicago restaurant. Sunday night, he went bowling. Not that Andre Marrou is complacent. The 53-year-old Libertarian Party nominee worked for three years to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states. He is realistic enough to expect no electoral summons to Pennsylvania Avenue, yet he is equally certain he has been serving a purpose. “I am the real protest candidate, not Ross Perot,” he insists. “If I had $10 million, I’d be a factor, and with $100 million I’d be the next President.”
In this, the year of the political outsider, it would be hard to be more outré than Marrou. He and his fellow Libertarians—who have raised close to $1 million and are fielding 812 candidates in federal, state and local elections—have a platform that calls for abolishing income taxes, the IRS and most other government agencies and for ending foreign aid and all federal subsidies to businesses. The Libertarians, who won 1.8 million votes in the 1990 elections—making them the third-largest party in the U.S.—also support the legalization of drugs and prostitution. “Real personal freedom is scary if you aren’t used to it,” acknowledges Marrou. “But people are self-regulating and self-governing.” He uses himself as an example: “I don’t need health insurance. I take care of myself. I watch my weight; I don’t smoke or drink. Why should I pay health insurance for someone who is a couch potato?”
Marrou, who has been married and divorced four times and has three sons, grew up on a ranch in Nixon, Tex., and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1962 from MIT. Going Bill Clinton two instruments better, he plays a mean clarinet and piano, as well as the saxophone. After ten years of working for a Boston company that manufactured parts for nuclear reactors, Marrou, an avid outdoorsman and pilot, moved to Alaska in search of good hunting and fishing and wide open spaces. There he sold restaurant supplies in Anchorage, worked as a deejay and homesteaded on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. But even Alaska wasn’t free enough for Marrou. “I tried to do things,” he complains, “but everyone kept getting in my way.” Like the state regulators who in 1975 forced him to fire two teenage employees because he was paying commissions instead of minimum wage. A year later, someone handed Marrou a Libertarian Party brochure. “When I discovered a party that wanted to get rid of idiotic regulators,” he says, “I was ready.”
A former Republican, Marrou promptly began working for his new party (which had been founded in Denver in 1972 by dissatisfied members of the Young Americans for Freedom) and in 1984 won a seat in the Alaska legislature. In 1986 he decided to spread the word to the lower 48 stales, and with fourth wife Eileen (whom he divorced in October 1990) moved to Las Vegas, where he became a real estate broker. He ran as the Libertarians’ vice presidential candidate in 1988 on a ticket with former Houston Congressman Ken Paul. Since his nomination for President at the Libertarian Convention in Chicago in August 1991, Marrou, along with running mate Nancy Lord, 40, an Atlanta physician and attorney, has been on the campaign trail, and for the last five months he has been stumping some 80 to 100 hours a week.
To his great annoyance, Marrou was barred from the presidential debates (the bipartisan commission ruled that he didn’t have a reasonable shot at winning), but he still believes he has brought word of the Libertarian Party to the “mainstream.” So after Nov. 3, he will retire: “I’ve devoted 11 years to this, and it cost me my last marriage and nearly a million dollars in lost income.” He looks ahead instead to marriage No. 5—to Rollye James, a Rockford radio talk show personality whom he met last April when he appeared on her show. Even without his own presence. Marrou predicts Libertarian victory by the year 2000. “This campaign is not a lark,” he insists. “We’re in for the long haul.”
CIVIA TAMARKIN in Chicago