I had a nice, long talk with former Sen. Mike Gravel in his Arlington, Virginia apartment this afternoon, my water glass resting on a copy of The Cato Journal as he unspooled his plans for the Libertarian nomination fight. Gravel was adamant: He will not run for vice president if the party denies him the top slot.
GRAVEL: Who would I be a good vice presidential pick for? I don't know if the Libertarian Party has had, since its foundation—and I say this most modestly—a bigger fish. They'd had Ron Paul and Bob Barr: Two congressmen. Two congressmen do not make a senator. Four congressman, maybe, make a senator, but not two congressmen.
REASON: Except Alaska has two senators for one congressman.
GRAVEL: That's right, but we're talking about the powers of the Senate.
REASON: Bob Barr couldn't have read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, for example...
GRAVEL: They'd have shot him!
That's Gravel's pitch: As a former senator with some notoriety, he can run up a record vote total for the party.
If they want to nominate another person who might not have any experience in government, then, fine. They'll be a one or two percent party. They won't be able to handle themselves with McCain or Obama. Obama will eat 'em alive. The Libertarians have been pushed down for so long by the extremes that they'd be happy with 3 or 5 percent. Well, I'm going to shoot for the top. I may fail, but if I aim high I'll get a hell of a lot more than 3 percent.
On whether he'd spoil the election for Obama (a question I didn't ask: he was rolling):
People say "You'll take votes away from Obama, you'll elect John McCain" ... I got to tell you, I want to deprive both of them. If they have half the courage that they claim to have, if I get the nomination of the Libertarian Party they'll meet me in open field and debate. I'll tell you right now, they're both going to hide under the table until you get them by the scruff of the neck and drag them out.
You might ask: "Is this actually news?" As far as I can tell, the last 24 hours of the Dem-GOP race have been about the North Carolina GOP's obvious ploy to run an Obama-Wright ad and whether or not Jenna Bush will back McCain. The LP race is actually moving.