After NBC blocked Mike Gravel from Tuesday’s Democratic debate citing low poll numbers, the former Alaskan senator planned an alternate debate at a cafe in Philadelphia. At Gravel’s event - which will be streamed live on his campaign Web site participants can watch the debate and ask questions until midnight.
Gravel urged all people concerned about corporate censorship and the military-industrial complex to join him in Philadelphia. “NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the war profiteers in this country. We have to hold them accountable, and I will go after them where they live.”
His team also used the debate block-out as a fundraising push. “Since the powers that be now require that Senator Gravel raise $1 million in order to participate in the debates, please make a donation to the campaign,” a supporter email read.
Meanwhile, Gravel was the number one choice of Florida’s Democrats Party at its state convention this past weekend. Gravel was also their only choice. After Democratic front-runners Sens Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., declined their initiations, the party turned to Gravel, who targeted Florida in a campaign swing last week.
Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller stated his choice for president at the convention, shouting “Mike Gravel for President!” Geller had previously endorsed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
Reviews of the convention have been mixed. A St. Petersburg Times editorial stated its view clearly in the title: A convention without relevance. The feeling among many Florida Democrats is indignation and frustration with their own legislature, which has been embroiled in controversy after voting to move their primary date forward. Beyond worrying about the loss of attention from the national party, there is a fear that Florida, the biggest of the four early voting states, will turn away from the Democratic Party.
Gravel’s Florida strategy grabbed media attention, but not always in a positive light. Newspapers have declined to talk about his views on the issues, instead preferring to use his candidacy as a punchline to describe the sorry state of Florida presidential politics. As The Los Angeles Times noted before the convention, Gravel “is out-polled by all seven other candidates as well as ‘other’ and ‘not planning to vote’” in the state of Florida.