The Atlantic

Mike Gravel’s Plan to Rock the Democratic Primary

The long-ago senator from Alaska is running for president, but he doesn’t want your vote. He just wants to get onto the debate stage.
Source: Mike Gravel 2020 / The Atlantic

It’s hard to pick the strangest thing about Mike Gravel’s campaign for president.

Is it the candidate’s 88 years of age? His blunt critique of American foreign policy? Or the fact that he refuses to travel anywhere to sell his candidacy?

Perhaps it’s that the former senator from Alaska’s campaign manager is a 17-year-old finishing his senior year of high school. Or that the stated goal of the Gravel fundraising apparatus is to raise as little money as possible.

No. The single strangest thing about the campaign is that neither the candidate nor the staff supports his bid for president.

“We don’t want people to vote for the senator,” David Oks, the wet-behind-the-ears campaign manager, told me. “The senator does not want people to vote for him.”

In fact, Gravel and his staff don’t even agree on which candidate they should back instead. Oks supports Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, while Gravel told me he’s interested in Sanders or Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Yet here they are, tied together on a quixotic, somewhat cranky campaign for president, which officially launched on Monday. The real goal of the effort is to get Gravel onstage for the Democratic Party debates, where he would be a disruptive presence—talking about issues,

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