Gravel the libertarian. Gravel the Libertarian?

Reason’s Dave Weigel ran into Mike Gravel and managed a quick interview. For background, I had heard from two sources (names shall remain undisclosed), that Gravel was possibly interested in a Libertarian Party presidential bid. I didn’t run them without confirmation and had received no response from Gravel’s staff to my question on the topic. Weigel’s interview confirms the rumors.

Gravel on Ron Paul:

Gravel took me over to a corner and quieted down. “I don’t say this in public, but I’m more libertarian than Ron Paul. I took that article over to him this last week—we met for the first time. And the article’s got that section with the top libertarian issues. Gambling, choice, immigration. Ron looks at the list and points at each of the issues. ‘I’m not for that, I’m not for that, I’m not for that.’ He was against half of the things on the list! And I’m for all of those things.”

Gravel on his endorsement of Jesse Johnson:

I asked Gravel about the reports he was going Green and endorsing a Green Party candidate for president. Half of that is true. “I’m still running,” he said. “I just endorsed Jesse Johnson to give him a leg up over Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader.” But hadn’t Nader introduced Gravel at the 2007 TBA Conference? “Oh, yeah. He talked for 30 minutes and I got 15 minutes.” Was Gravel raw that Nader started running even though the candidate he endorsed was still in the race? “Ralph Nader is Ralph Nader,” Gravel shrugged. “I don’t think he’s going to be elected president, but he’d be a good advisor to a president.”

And finally, Gravel on an LP presidential bid:

The obvious question: Since Gravel considers himself a libertarian, would he run for the LP nomination? Yes. “I don’t have a big staff, so we haven’t done that yet, but I want to reach out to them. If Ron Paul could raise all that money with his libertarian message, you know, I think I could raise a lot of money.”

20 Responses to “Gravel the libertarian. Gravel the Libertarian?”

  1. Dylan Waco Says:

    I like Gravel, but he is legit insane. Whatever one thinks of Ron Paul’s views on social issues, you’d have to be a lunatic to believe Gravel is more libertarian than Paul. The fact that he felt the need to make that argument in hushed tones is telling.

    Also the Nader digs are funny. Once again whatever one thinks of Nader’s chances, Gravel will never get as many votes for President as Nader got in 2000 alone.

  2. Chris Moore Says:

    If Ron Paul could raise all that money with his libertarian message, you know, I think I could raise a lot of money.

    I could too. All I would need is a huge list of people who had already given me about $1 million per year for my congressional runs, some actual political success that wasn’t several decades in the past, a seat on the stage at more than a dozen nationally televised debates, a message that resonated with relatively well-to-do people on the political fringe (like goldbugs and Fed haters), and a major party label.

    I think I have the message and Gravel HAD the debate stage and major party label, but apparently 1 or 2 out of the list ain’t enough.

    Had Paul ran as a Lib out of the gate, he would have raised $3-$8 million tops for the entire campaign. If he now decided to run as a Lib he would raise at most another $1-$2 million for the general. Gravel? If he couldn’t raise more than a few hundred thousand as a Democrat, he’s delusional if he thinks he would do better as a Libertarian.

  3. ElfNinosMom Says:

    Great, now we’re going to have all kinds of mainstream politicians speaking in hushed tones about their libertarianism, trying to cross over just to get the Paul supporters’ money. What a mess, I was afraid this would happen.

  4. George Phillies Says:

    In fact, a year and a half ago Senator Gravel appeared at the LPNH convention to see if he could win a personally-pledged delegate to our National Convention. He and I did a sensibly arranged debate. We each had ten minutes to present our case, and ten minutes of questions.

    I won the pledge.

    As an incidental result, most readers saw the ten Democratic candidates and the ten Republicans each debate, and I am the one Libertarian candidate to have debated any of those 20 D/R Presidential candidates.

  5. disinter Says:

    Libertarian my ass.

    Reason is a compromised beltway rag.

  6. Susan Hogarth Says:


    Great, now we’re going to have all kinds of mainstream politicians speaking in hushed tones about their libertarianism, trying to cross over just to get the Paul supporters’ money.

    At the risk of ruining our budding pal-ship ;-) let me say I think it is ‘great’. While there is some inevitable dilution of the term ‘libertarian’, right now it’s good that it’s seen as something people want to hear from politicians.

    It’s the job of the LP’s ‘base’ to try to keep the name/brand strong and consistent, while welcoming any movement of more mainstream pols toward it.

  7. johncjackson Says:

    Gravel is not a libertarian, but that does not diminish the fact that neither is Ron Paul on a few issues.

  8. BillTX Says:

    I like Gravel too, but he’s a wacko. He needs to go home.

  9. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Gravel for LP ‘08? ROFLMAO! OK, that joke cheered me up!

  10. Richie Says:

    Gravel/Imperato 08 ;)


  11. Old Whig Says:

    Cranky septuagenarian for president. I thought McCain had that role all wrapped up.


  12. Andy Says:

    “Had Paul ran as a Lib out of the gate, he would have raised $3-$8 million tops for the entire campaign. If he now decided to run as a Lib he would raise at most another $1-$2 million for the general.”

    I think that if Ron Paul were to switch to running for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination or if he switched to an independent run for President that he could raise a hell of a lot more than $1-2 million.

  13. Brent Burk Says:


    I think he is saying if he did it before he was a GOP. Maybe. I dono.

    Anyways, Gravel, no. You are not a libertarian, not more libertarian than Paul. “I don’t agree with that” doesn’t mean “The government should enforce a law preventing that.” He’s probably against prostitution and drugs, but he wants to end the war on drugs and, well, I don’t think there are any federal prostitution laws are there?

    He is pro-life, but I don’t consider that a libertarian issue. Immigration? Well, his position is libertarian, meaning, he wouldn’t be what you guys might call “antiimmigration” if we weren’t living in a welfare state.

    Other than that, Paul would be considered pretty libertarian I’d say. And a conservative when it comes to the constitution. He’s both a classical liberal and a traditional conservative. Oh, labels are always confusing aren’t they?

  14. Stefan Says:

    One wonders what Gravel’s question to Paul was: whether his personal views or those as president. Paul is tolerant on all freedoms, but for himself would not chose a few, like gambling for instance. Indeed, Paul is pretty much a libertarian.

  15. Hugh Jass Says:

    Is this the same magazine that classified Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, and Larry Craig as libertarians?

  16. Alex Peak Says:

    When it comes to Democrats, Gravel was the best in the race. If the Democratic Party had chosen him as its candidate, I would have held my nose and voted for the Democratic Party in 2008.

    As long, however, as Gravel supports government healthcare, social security, and minimum wage, &c., he is not a libertarian.

    That’s not to say that he couldn’t become one, of course. He’s far more libertarian than Bush, either of the Clintons, Obama, McCain, Kerry, Edwards, Huckabee, &c.

    Nevertheless, he’s not as libertarian as Ron Paul (despite his leaning conservative in his personal affairs), and Ron Paul is not as libertarian as, say, Dr. Mary Ruwart.

    Had Ron Paul not been running, Mr. Gravel would have received much more money than he had. Had Dr. Paul started his run as a libertarian rather than as a Republican, Dr. Paul would not have raised as much money as he did. However, if Ron Paul had jumped the Republican ship back in February and began a bid for the Libertarian Party, the money he was gathering would have kept rolling in, albeit at a dimished rate. He would have raised no less than ten million USD for the general, I guestimate.

    Gravel has some sincere libertarian tendencies. It would greatly please me to see him give up his statist tendencies and pull a Barr, jumping ship from the Establishment parties and joining the Libertarian Party.

  17. Libertarian Dave Says:

    Gravel does not fit into what I would call the libertarian mold and I consider Paul much more closely aligned with more than 95% of the content in the LP issues page:

    That said, if Ron Paul was not running (and I will be voting for him as I am a delegate for him from my precinct) I would definitely vote for Gravel over the lying sacks of socialist manure that are Hillary, Obama, and McCain.

  18. Steve S. Says:

    Wow, I love all the talk about “purity” of Libertarianism here. The biggest problem that the LP has had over the last 30 years (and the main reason why they are still marginalized in the US political sphere) is that they are constantly arguing about who are the “real” Libertarians and who are the “fakes.”

    The fact that Gravel squawks about how he is more “libertarian” than Ron Paul is simply laughable. Gravel’s jump to the LP (in my cynical view) looks to be a blatant play for RP’s supporters and their money more than a move based on principle, especially since he shows statist tendencies in almost all of his economic positions (health care, environment, Social Security, minimum wage - the list goes on and on and on).

    Having said all of that, though, LPers need to get past the “purity test” and work together on the 90% of things they DO agree on to affect change. If they can’t do this, they will continue to be marginalized.

  19. spinnikerca Says:

    Womeone above says that Ron Paul at most would be able to get $1 mill to $2 mill for the general if he ran Libertarian?

    As someone who maxed out on his campaign and is donating to efforts that support his campaign (you do know what his 1600 meet up groups and 20,000 pledged precinct captains are up to?) I completely disagree.

    If Ron Paul said he needed a target fund amount to consider running, I can’t imagine him not getting it.

    Funds slowed when he was reported to be dropping out. Repeatedly. And he still has over $5 mill on hand with (of course) zero debt.

    I hope he chooses to run. I know I’d be happy to max out again, as I legally could, at that point.

  20. Pete Says:

    “I think I could raise a lot of money”.

    THAT is why he joined the LP.

    They just don’t get why Ron Paul is popular. Maybe it’s because he has a strong ideology and he consistently acts on it.

Leave a Reply