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Gravel Joins the Libertarians

By Alec MacGillis
Mike Gravel is headed to the convention in Denver. No, not that one. The septuagenarian former Alaska senator, who, depending on your viewpoint, was an amusing or aggravating presence in the early Democratic presidential debates, has announced that he is joining the Libertarian Party and will be competing for its presidential nomination in Denver in late May.

"I'm joining the Libertarian Party because it is a party that combines a commitment to freedom and peace that can't be found in the two major parties that control the government and politics of America," Gravel said in a statement. "My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against war, the military industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American."

Gravel's run for the Democratic nomination was marked by some memorable curmudgeonly comments from the far wings of the debate stage, such his declaration in April, in response to other candidates' threats against Iran, "I got to tell you, after standing up with them, some of these people frighten me -- they frighten me." His poll numbers stayed in decimal territory, but he drew spikes of Web traffic to his debate highlights and his minimalist campaign ads, including one in which he stared at the camera for an unnervingly long time before heaving a rock into a lake and walking away.

Gravel was barred from the debates beginning with the October one in Philadelphia (which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the debate where Hillary Clinton's aura of inevitability began to crumble, with her hedged answer on several issues, including drivers' licenses for immigrants.)

Andrew Davis, a spokesman for the Libertarian Party, said that Gravel was welcome to compete for the party's nomination, noting that the only requirements for running were meeting the constitutional requirements for the presidency, being a member of the party and being willing to accept its nomination. But he said that Gravel might face a tough sell on some issues -- while the party's membership agrees with his stances against the war in Iraq and the military draft, among other issues, it differs with his stances in favor of universal health care and higher spending on public education.

"He has some libertarian inclinations, but there's still a lot of issues that he doesn't fall into step that perfectly with the platform on," Davis said. "We're hoping once he can become acquainted and see what the party's all about, he can adjust his views."

There are currently 15 candidates competing for the nomination, which will be decided by the roughly 1,000 delegates expected in Denver, who will be partly guided by the results of primaries and straw polls held in some states. The elephant in the room, so to speak, is whether Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who has run for president on the Libertarian ticket in the past, will drop his bid for the Republican nomination and take his legions of loyal supporters back into the Libertarian fold for a third-party run in November. Paul this week reiterated that he has no intention of doing that.

But still, one can dream. A Paul-Gravel ticket? "That would be interesting, no doubt," said Davis.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 26, 2008; 2:40 PM ET
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Posted by: Acyclovir | May 11, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton can be our next President if she really wants to be.
Almost everyone agrees that the DEM nomination will go to Barack Obama, but if Hillary makes a decision in the next week or so she can still win the Presidency. She has proclaimed that she is the best of the three candidates still in the race; and a calculation of potential Electoral College voting against her two competitors based on the 2008 popular vote in the Primaries supports her position. Since her potential for being selected as the DEM VP is as small as her chance of winning the DEM nomination for President, and since in 8 years she will probably be too old to be considered a viable candidate like she is this year, then she must decide in the next week or so if she will use her existing 2008 campaign team as part of the 'all in' strategy for a push towards the first female US Presidency this year.
A week from now the Libertarian Party, the oldest and most widely spread 'third' party with a Presidential slot on 48 state ballots will hold their convention to select a candidate. Like Sen. Clinton, other former Presidential candidates including Rep Barr (R) and Rep Gravel (D) are potential opponents for the Libertarian's top spot. She could ask Colin Powell to join her on the ticket as her VP and that way she will take votes away from the Republicans (those not satisfied with McCain) and Democrats (both her group of white voters and black voters supporting Powell). If she also announced Bill Richardson as Sec of State and Mitt Romney as Secretary of the Treasury, she could add Western states, Mormon, and Hispanic voters to her flock. If Hillary is running as a Libertarian there is no way that the major news outlets would exclude her from a Presidential debate.
We will know from the news coverage of the Libertarian Party Convention if Hillary believes what she proclaims in her speeches or if she is soon going to just go back to her day job like Biden, Kucinich, and others.

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Posted by: wiangb qumogtiy | May 7, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Forget a party ticket. Gravel, Paul, Nader to draft a new constitution.

Posted by: alex35332 | March 27, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Gravel is the citizen the rises up when our country is in trouble to stand for whats right.

When he was in office prior to Paul he had a 1 man 5 month filibuster which forced the end of the American draft. He was the one who made sure the pentagon papers made it into the public record so the American people could see the lies in the administration of BOTH parties that pushed us into and kept us in the Vietnam war!

Together with the 40+ Ron Paul Republicans seeking federal offices across the country we CAN save America!!!

Posted by: dddienst | March 27, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Oh my! What a dilemma this will be: Gravel or Nader? (That is, for those of us planning to vote for Obama but never for Hillary or McCain.)

Obama '08!

Posted by: jm917 | March 27, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Right on Gravel!

Posted by: Nordstrom1 | March 26, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how hot they'll be to nominate him when they discover he went bankrupt just a couple of years ago.

Doesn't seem to quite mesh with a party of supposed financial responsibility.

Posted by: info | March 26, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"Mike Gravel...depending on your viewpoint, was an amusing or aggravating presence in the early Democratic presidential debates..."

I don't suppose the author of this snarky little hit piece could imagine that some people find Gravel a welcome dose of reality in an increasingly unreal presidential campaign. That would require the author to step outside the bubble Washington journalists and pundits have constructed for themselves. Count on the WaPo to present the full range of opinion from A to B.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: cturner3rd | March 26, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Who? I say Who? Gravel, I thought that guy had been quit.

Posted by: ajtiger92 | March 26, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The Libertarian party provides a rocky path to the presidency for Gravel.

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 26, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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