<\body> Stories in America: On the Record: Mike Gravel

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On the Record: Mike Gravel

On today's Your Call (listen from 10:00-11:00 am PST on KALW 91.7 FM or online - you can also listen to archives or sign up for the podcast):

After the first presidential debate in April, The Washington Post wrote in an editorial that "voters trying to sort out their presidential choices aren't helped by debates cluttered with the likes of Mike Gravel."

Former Democratic Party chairwoman Kathy Sullivan recently told the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire: "I believe that going forward the networks should politely dis-invite Mr. Gravel. He just detracts from the time from the other candidates. He's not a serious candidate."

Mike Gravel was the first Democrat to enter the presidential race. The 77-year-old is from Springfield, Massachusetts. He moved to Alaska in the 1950s. After Alaska became a state in 1959, Gravel served in the state House of Representatives. He served as a U.S. Senator from Alaska from 1969-1981. In 1981, he lost his reelection campaign to Republican Frank Murkowski and has been largely absent from the political stage ever since.

Mike Gravel is best known for releasing the Pentagon papers during the Vietnam War and leading a five-month filibuster to end the draft.

He says he initially entered the presidential race to push his National Initiative System, which would allow citizens to bring proposals to a popular vote. But once he was in, he says he realized voters needed a serious alternative to his fellow candidates.

In case you’re not familiar with what the Washington Post calls clutter, watch Mike Gravel at the first debate in April taking a question from NBC’s Brian Williams.

On today’s Your Call, we’ll continue our On the Record series, where we move beyond the stump speeches and rhetorical promises and instead focus on candidates’ voting records and campaign contributions. Each month, we will highlight three of the 20 candidates running in for their party’s nomination.

Today we’re focusing on Mike Gravel. He’s not getting equal time in the media, but he’s getting a lot of attention online. After the South Carolina debate, Mike Gravel was the 15th most popular search on the Internet. He’s appeared on the Colbert Report and on Digg.com, where users post links to articles they think others should read, the two top political items recently were about Mike Gravel.

The former Senator was running his campaign out of a 300 square foot apartment. Thanks to donations from citizens, he now has a campaign office.

What are Mike Gravel’s top priorities? How did he vote when he was in the Senate over 20 years ago?

Senator Gravel will be joining us at 20 after the hour.

Also joining me are two guests who are following Mike Gravel’s presidential bid. Greg Giroux is senior political writer for Congressional Quarterly.

Joe Lauria is an independent reporter who’s writing has appeared in the Progressive, the Boston Globe and the Sunday Times of London.


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