Mike Gravel, Former US Senator for Alaska, Dies at 91 | Washington, DC News
SEASIDE, Calif. (AP) – Mike Gravel, a former US senator from Alaska who read the Pentagon documents on the Congressional dossier and confronted Barack Obama over nuclear weapons in an upcoming presidential election, has died. He was 91 years old.
Gravel, who represented Alaska as a Democrat in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, died on Saturday, according to his daughter, Lynne Mosier. Gravel lived in Seaside, Calif., And was in poor health, said Theodore W. Johnson, a former aide.
Gravel’s two tenures came during tumultuous years for Alaska when construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was authorized and when Congress decided how to settle Alaska Native land claims and whether it Huge amounts of federal land had to be classified into parks, reserves and monuments.
He had the unenviable position of being an Alaskan Democrat when some residents burned President Jimmy Carter in effigy for his moves to place large sections of the state’s public lands under development protection.
Gravel feuds with fellow Alaska Senator Republican Ted Stevens over the land issue, preferring to fight Carter’s actions and rejecting Stevens’ plea for compromise.
Ultimately, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980, a compromise that set aside millions of acres for national parks, wildlife refuges, and other protected areas. It was one of the last invoices Carter signed before stepping down.
Gravel’s tenure in the Senate was also notable for his anti-war activity. In 1971 he led a one-man filibuster to protest the Vietnam-era project and he read in the Congressional Record 4,100 pages of the leaked 7,000-page document known as the Pentagon Papers, l history of the Ministry of Defense of the country’s first involvement in Vietnam. .
Gravel returned to national politics decades after his time in the Senate to run for president twice. Gravel, then 75, and his wife, Whitney, took public transportation in 2006 to announce he was running for president as a Democrat in the 2008 election that Obama ultimately won.
He launched his quest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as a critic of the Iraq war.
âI believe America is hurting every day our troops stay in Iraq – hurting ourselves and the prospects for world peace,â Gravel said in 2006. He linked his campaign to an effort that would give all political decisions to the people. by direct vote, including health care reform and declarations of war.
Gravel has drawn attention for his fiery comments on the Democratic forums.
During a debate in 2007, the question of the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Iran was raised and Gravel confronted Sen. Obama. “Tell me, Barack, who do you want to bomb?” Said Gravel. Obama replied, “I have no intention of destroying anyone at this time, Mike.”
Gravel then ran as a libertarian candidate after being excluded from subsequent Democratic debates.
In an email to his supporters, he said the Democratic Party “no longer represents my vision of our great country.” âIt is a party that continues to support war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism – all that I find anathema to my views,â he said.
He failed to secure the libertarian nomination.
Gravel briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. He again criticized America’s wars and pledged to cut military spending. His last campaign was notable in that his campaign manager and chief of staff were only 18 at the time of his short-lived candidacy.
âThere was never a plan for him to do anything other than participate in the debates. He had no intention of campaigning, but he wanted to get his ideas out to a wider audience, âJohnson said.
Gravel failed to qualify for the debates. He backed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the contest ultimately won by current President Joe Biden.
Gravel was born Maurice Robert Gravel in Springfield, Massachusetts on May 13, 1930.
In Alaska, he served as a state representative, including a stint as Speaker of the House, in the mid-1960s.
He won his first term in the Senate after defeating incumbent Senator Ernest Gruening, a former territorial governor, in the 1968 Democratic primary.
Gravel served two terms until he was defeated in the 1980 Democratic primary by Gruening’s grandson Clark Gruening, who lost the election to Republican Frank Murkowski.
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