Former US senator for Alaska considering presidential campaign
Mike Gravel, a Democratic senator for Alaska from 1969–1981 who ran for president in 2008, is once again in the spotlight. According to a post on his official Twitter, he is considering another run for the White House.
The account is run by 17-year-old David Oks and 18-year-old Henry Williams of New York, with Gravel's permission. The former senator said the teens called him earlier this month and asked him to run.
“I said, ‘My god, do you know old I am,’” the 88-year-old said in a phone interview Thursday.
Oks said the teens have filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to create an exploratory committee to attempt to convince the senator to formally throw his hat in the ring.
"We still need to convince his wife," Oks said.
Gravel said he would enjoy winning but admits it’s not likely at his age. Instead, Oks said the plan is to qualify Gravel for the first two Democratic debates.
“We want to do something in the 2020 race to push the candidates to the left,” Oks said.
If Gravel makes it to the debates, he would use the platform to "issue a critique of American militarism, plutocracy, and inaction on climate," according to his website.
“It’s a funny situation,” Gravel said, “at my age to have these kids carry me on their shoulders like a football coach after the game, carrying me to the debates.”
After the two debates Gravel said he will then drop out of the race and probably endorse Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic representative for Hawaii.
“I would be her VP,” he said expressing support for Gabbard.
Gravel's website states he's an avid supporter of ending the war on drugs and has served as CEO of two companies in the legal cannabis market. His biography on the site says he was an early supporter of abolishing capital punishment and legalizing same-sex marriage.
During his first presidential run in 2008, a peculiar campaign ad appeared in which Gravel stared at the camera for about a minute then walked away and grabbed a rock, throwing it into a nearby pond. He was silent the whole time.
“It wasn’t goofy,” Gravel said in a 2016 interview with Frontier’s Rhonda McBride, “What it was, was a metaphor.”
The episode featured Art Hackney, a political consultant, and Francine Taylor, who worked on Gravel's 1968 campaign. Each had a different take on Gravel: Hackney said Gravel was more of a showman than a public servant, while Taylor believes Gravel was a man of courage and fought the good fight. Both agreed his character flaws may have contributed to the ups and downs of his political career.
At the time Gravel said he had no regrets. He believed his role as a politician was to “stir the pot,” which McBride wrote was definitely something Gravel succeeded at.
Oks said he plans to fly to California, where Gravel now lives, to meet the former senator face-to-face for the first time but said the two talk about six times a day.
“He’s a heroic figure,” Oks said describing Gravel.
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