To me, a candidate whose worldview was shaped by Rand is exactly tantamount to a candidate whose worldview was shaped by Karl Marx. It should be disqualification unless it's clear that the candidate in question has completely broken from his past. Ayn Rand was a total nut.I disagree! Not on the nut part -- indeed, if you somehow missed Chait's excellent Ayn Rand essay, put aside some time and read it. Great piece.
But as far as the question of how terrible it is to find out that someone was overly enamored of Rand (or Marx) in college, I think Chait is wrong (and Ezra Klein is right). It's not as if someone whose "worldview was shaped" by Rand would wind up all goofy, just because Rand was, in the end, pretty much wrong about everything. If what someone takes away from a Rand flirtation (or, perhaps, an intense but short Rand infatuation) is an appreciation for individual autonomy and market economies...well, whatever one thinks of those beliefs, they're not beyond the pale of American political discourse. I don't think that sort of progression requires one to repudiate Rand.
(Marx? Well, Marx wasn't wrong about everything -- just economics and some wild, excessive rhetoric. After that, there's a lot of interesting albeit contested ideas. Again, if after a bit someone winds up taking away the idea that class matters in politics and that political systems are related to economic structure, or for that matter just gains some sympathy for the poor...once again, right or wrong, that doesn't make you goofy).
Much better is Matt Yglesias on Rand, the other day. Oh, and I should mention the context here, which is Greg Sargent's reporting on Rand Paul.