In an already crowded Democratic field, a 2020 presidential campaign must be bold to cut through the noise. Enter Mike Gravel, an 88-year-old who was one of Alaska’s senators between 1969 and 1981.
Gravel’s announcement was an unorthodox one: he created a Twitter account late last night, alerting everyone to his intentions and linking to his website, which at that point was not live. ‘I am considering running in the 2020 Democratic primary,’ he tweeted. ‘The goal will not be to win, but to bring a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage. The website (http://mikegravel.org ) is under construction. Official announcement will be in the coming days.’
What can a little-known former senator, who is a decade older than Bernie Sanders, offer to the voters? Cockburn has been closely following Gravel’s Twitter account as he fields questions…and early signs indicate that the answer is ‘fight, and a lot of it.’
Other contenders like Kamala Harris have refused to criticize their rivals. Not Gravel. ‘Rep. Gabbard is a wonderful public servant, and she and I agree on many issues. That being said, her campaigning has been ineffective, her stance on Israel needs tweaking, and she lacks the bluntness necessary to get the message across,’ he wrote to one user.
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Another tweet reads: ‘.@CoryBooker melodramatically declared releasing inconsequential files on Brett Kavanaugh his “Spartacus moment.” This is me, in 1971, reading the Pentagon Papers into the record for hours on end, risking expulsion from the Senate. That’s real courage, Cory.’
To Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, he wrote ‘.@amyklobuchar it’s hard to fight the big tech firms that abuse American workers when you also like to abuse American workers’.
What about the front-runners, you ask? ‘i sure do hope the faucets at @JoeBiden’s house are strong, with the amount of Iraqi blood on his hands #Gravel2020 #GravelGang’.
And he’s not afraid to point out pandering hypocrisy either: ‘#KillerKamalaHarris just came around to supporting marijuana legalization, even though she smoked it herself in college. Meanwhile, I’ve served as the CEO of two marijuana companies. #GravelGang #Gravel2020’
‘The 2020 Democratic field pretends to progressivism, but don’t buy the lie,’ Gravel writes. ‘@KamalaHarris kept innocent men on death row. @JoeBiden voted for the Iraq War. @CoryBooker invented a drug dealer friend (and voted with Big Pharma).’
While Gravel says he has no chance of winning and simply wants to get to the debates, he also seems eager to borrow some of Andrew Yang’s meme magic. ‘Hmm…#GravelGang. I like the sound of that,’ he tweeted at 1 a.m.
Who’s behind the #Gravelanche? One user asked the senator why his campaign seemed to be headquarterted in Westchester, N.Y. ‘The teenagers who convinced me to run live there,’ he answered. A Politico reporter spoke to Gravel himself on the phone, who said ‘It is a group of students … who have the idea I should run. … They’re working on that, they’re going to be coming out here to California to meet with me.’
Cockburn has an aunt in her mid-nineties who for the last 15 years has been saying whatever she wants, delighting in the knowledge that the elderly can get away with anything. Sen. Mike Gravel is bringing that energy to 2020. Who knew we needed it so much?