I haven't paid all that much attention to the LP Presidential race since I left the party. I barely blinked at Dr. Mary Ruwart, long-time party activist, entering the race. I shrugged at word of a movement to draft former Representative Bob Barr as a Presidential candidate.
This story, however, deserves a bit of attention.
As you can read from the comments, the general Libertarian reaction was split between, "Yay, another ex-Congressman! Our existence is validated!" and, "Say WHAT?!?"
I rated Mike Gravel during my presidential candidate search at the request of an online friend. What I found is, well, a mixed bag.
The anarchists who effectively rule the Libertarian Party will not like Mike Gravel. Gravel supports universal socialized healthcare- anathema to free-marketers. Gravel supports more spending increases in education, infrastructure, social support, and a host of other things. He calls for a national concealed handgun permit program.
On the other hand, there's quite a bit to appeal to more moderate, less doctrinaire Libertarians. Gravel is a very strong supporter of civil liberties. He calls for the impeachment and conviction of Bush and his cronies and an end to the USA-PATRIOT Act. He favors allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country and seek legal citizenship after paying fines. Most interesting, not only is he opposed to war in the Middle East... he apparently favors the near-total dismantling of the army, navy, air force, and federal police forces.
Gravel, to be perfectly blunt, is a bit of a nut. Not as bad in some ways as Kucinich, nothing like as bad as Ron Paul, but still a nut. This nuttiness is demonstrated by the fact that, even though he's a hundred grand in debt in his campaign and hasn't showed any better than 2% in any of the forty-plus Democratic Presidential contests (many of which he wasn't even on the ballot for), he's declared his intent to seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for President.
That said... aside from his proposal to require a permit for carrying firearms nationwide, I didn't find anything that would out-and-out cause me to reject him. Aside from Obama and Kucinich, he's the only candidate I reviewed I could say that for.
If Obama has the nomination stolen from him- rest assured, that is what it would take at this point- and Clinton gets the Democratic nod, then I would vote for Mike Gravel as the Libertarian nominee with only a slight twinge. He's better than the vast majority of the current LP options- than Ruwart, who did not impress me when I heard her make three glaring errors in a speech on history, than Wayne Allen Root, who nauseated me when I finally saw one of his infomercials, or than Bob Barr, who has a lot of baggage from his days as a Republican water-carrier.
But I really, really do not think Gravel has any more hope for the Libertarian nomination than he did for the Democratic nomination.
Still, the LP race once more has my interest.