By M.E. SPRENGELMEYER
Scripps Howard News Service
May 31, 2007
"If I'm the Democratic nominee, I'll eat them alive," Gravel declared in an online chat with the Rocky Mountain News this week.
In the race to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Gravel is perhaps the longest of long-shots. But he has not stopped making noise since his bombastic appearance at a televised debate last month.
It was there that he declared that some of his presidential rivals "frighten me" for saying all options remain on the table when it comes to dealing with Iran and its nuclear ambitions.
Gravel, 77, has been an anti-war activist since the Vietnam era, when he fought to end the military draft and played a controversial role in publicly disclosing the Pentagon Papers.
These days, he and another long-shot, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, are the two Democrats making the most fierce anti-war statements.
In Wednesday's online interview, Gravel blasted four rivals who currently serve in the U.S. Senate - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware - saying they have the power to end the U.S. occupation but choose symbolic resolutions instead.
"That's politics as usual of the worst kind," Gravel said. "People are dying daily and all they can do is get a symbolic vote that makes them look good politically."
Last week, Obama, Clinton and Dodd all voted against a war-funding bill because it did not include a time-table for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Biden supported the resolution, saying it was critical to continue supporting the soldiers in harm's way.
"As long as there are troops who are in a position where, if we don't fund them they are going to be hurt, I'm not going to cut off funding," Biden said while campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register.
Gravel has been harshly critical of all congressional Democrats, saying that if he were in the Senate he would push for a vote to stop the war every single day until enough Democrats and Republicans agreed to over-ride a threatened presidential veto.
Negotiating with Bush is unrealistic, Gravel said Wednesday.
"George Bush is not going to disengage before he is out of office. That's a given," Gravel said. "He gets his instructions from God and there's no way Congress is going to be able to negotiate with God. Anytime the leadership of Congress thinks they're going to negotiate with George Bush, they're just being unrealistic."
Gravel had harsh words for Bush throughout the online chat. He accused the president of using the same type of "propaganda" against Iran that was used to justify the Iraq invasion.
He charged Bush with "trying to rekindle an arms race" with Russia and China.
Of Russia, he said: "We accuse them of not being so cooperative right now, but who started this? Who started the arms race in space? The U.S. did."
Political analysts have said Gravel has virtually no chance of winning the presidency, and some have treated his role in televised debates as providing comic relief among a field of softer-spoken, more diplomatic candidates.
But Gravel insisted he is in the race "to win," and said that if he does not, "I do not think anyone who voted for the war is morally qualified to be president of the United States."
On Wednesday, he was asked to make a prediction about which Republican might win the nomination in 2008.
"I don't dare make a prediction," he said, "but if I'm the Democratic nominee, I'll eat them alive."
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