[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/26/art.gravel.gi.jpg caption="Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel is switching parties."] WASHINGTON (CNN) – One-time Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Gravel announced Wednesday he is abandoning his political party and will run for the White House as a Libertarian.
Gravel, a former senator whose presidential campaign was never taken seriously by most political observers, made the proclamation in a message posted on his Web site.
“The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR,” Gravel said. “It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism - all of which I find anathema to my views.”
Despite his long shot bid, Gravel was successful in sharing a stage several times with the more established candidates during this election cycle. He used these nationally televised opportunities to rail against his opponents and highlight his opposition to the Iraq war. Gravel represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1981, and is best known for publishing the Pentagon Papers.
“I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views,” Gravel said in the statement, in which he also solicited small dollar donations from supporters.
Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, who left the Republican Party for the Libertarian Party in 2006, embraced Gravel’s decision.
"Just as Senator Gravel believes Democrats have lost touch with the American public, I too concluded Republicans had lost their core principles, and could no longer associate myself with the GOP,” Barr said in a statement posted on the Libertarian Party’s Web site. “While coming from opposite sides of the aisle, Senator Gravel and I definitely agree on the fundamental need for systemic change in our political system, and that the only way we have of effecting that change is by supporting and working in the Libertarian Party, which is the only political party in America that consistently works in word and deed to maximize individual liberty and minimize government power.”
The Libertarian Party will choose its presidential nominee at its national convention to be held in Denver in May.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston