Virgil Goode of Virginia served a decade in the U.S. House, achieving an unusual niche, serving at different times as a Democrat, then an independent, then a Republican. He is running for president as the nominee of the Constitution Party. He had hoped to also pick up the nomination of the American Independent Party, but it went this month to Tom Hoefling. This interview with Goode was recorded during a visit to Reno.

What makes you take on a race like this?

The belief that several things need to happen in this country ASAP for us to be a progressive, forward-going, positive growth country. First of all, we need to follow the Constitution. For example, not become involved in foreign wars unless Congress declares those wars. Second, we need a balanced budget now, not a decade down the road. Our deficit this year is over a trillion dollars. The debt is 16 trillion. You can’t balance the budget and reduce the debt unless you cut spending and I will do that, submit a balanced budget to the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. Third, jobs—we need jobs in this country, particularly for U.S. citizens. I support ending Obamacare. I think that’s a stranglehold on small businesses. … I am the only candidate in the race among the Democrats, Republicans or most third parties that has advocated a moratorium, nearly complete, on green card admissions to the United States. We must end illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration by having a near-complete moratorium on green cards. Green cards last year managed a 1.2 million being issued, the year before that about the same number. … When our unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, we should [be] preserving jobs in the United States for citizens first. We’re not doing that. It would greatly help those who have paid taxes and been in the country for a while if they had first crack at jobs. Lastly, I support term limits. I think term limits would make the atmosphere better in Washington. It would be less emphasis on constantly raising money for the next election and making the other side to look bad to enhance one’s position for the next election.

Why take on what is essentially an education campaign, rather than one—

Not for me. I’m running to win. We are going to be on the ballot, I hope and expect, in enough states so that we can win the electoral college. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln wasn’t on the ballot in a number of states but he won the electoral college.

How would you do it? How would you get past—

—the two major parties with all their money? That is a chief problem in the United States today. Big money superPACs control the Democratic candidate, Obama, and the Republican candidate, Romney. Huge amount of money being poured in on both sides. I think 2012 is going to be the year the American public wakes up and says, “I’ve had enough of this control by superPACS, by large PACS. … It’s time we had a grass roots president focused on the average citizen.” I would be that president. …

What ever made you think you were a Democrat?

Well, when I was elected the Democrats were the conservative party. The Republicans in Virginia were the liberal party. Linwood Holton was governor, very liberal. And the Democrats were conservative. They weren’t Franklin Roosevelt Democrats. They were Harry Byrd Democrats.

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...