Mike Gravel, former senator and outspoken anti-war advocate, ends run for White House

Jason Lalljee

Mike Gravel, a former U.S. senator and anti-war firebrand who launched an online-centric campaign for president, is officially wrapping up his quest for the White House. 

The Twitter account affiliated with Gravel's campaign on Saturday thanked staffers and supporters who had helped the 89-year-old former senator from Alaska raise his profile and eventually draw more than 65,000 donors to his campaign.

"Of course, the true key has been the #Gravelanche itself, our incredible supporters and donors. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts," the account tweeted.

Gravel is set to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, according to The Daily Beast

Gravel's candidacy was largely an online presence. He was not actively campaigning across the country but did occasionally sit for interviews with media organizations. When his campaign launched, Gravel focused heavily on his desire to make the debate stage to promote his anti-war stance. 

But while Gravel eventually did meet the donor requirements set by the Democratic National Committee to make the debate stage, he did not meet the polling requirement. 

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Gravel did not poll at 1-percent or higher in three DNC-approved polls. Candidates qualified for the debate by meeting either the donor or polling thresholds, but as more than 20 candidates qualified, the DNC prioritized those who did both. 

Gravel is perhaps best-known for reading the leaked Pentagon Papers into the public record while in the Senate. He previously ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign in the 2008 Democratic primary.  

Gravel officially launched his campaign in April, after being convinced to run by David Oks and Henry Williams, two teenagers from New York.

Oks and Williams reached out to Gravel by email after hearing about the former senator on the Chapo Trap House podcast. They convinced Gravel to run for president after many phone calls, with Gravel eventually letting them run his Twitter account and register the campaign with the FEC, according to the New York Times Magazine.

“I’m excited to run for president in order to qualify for the Democratic debates,” Gravel said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “My message, centered around an anti-imperialist foreign policy and fundamental political reform, is one that no other Democratic candidate is making the centerpiece of their campaign. After the first two debates, I will drop out and endorse the most progressive candidate.”

Gravel’s team signaled the end of the campaign last week.

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“The DNC kept us off the stage tonight even though we qualified, but the #Gravelanche is not over. We're gonna keep going,” a tweet posted to his account read. “As the campaign ends, we're going to help build institutions on the left which can grow power, shape policy, and create strong activists for the long haul.”

Subsequent posts on Gravel’s Twitter page announced Gravel’s plans for his remaining campaign funds, a leftist think tank called “the Gravel Institute.”

Gravel’s team wrote that the think tank will write “leftist policy papers” focused on “ending the American empire,” “reforming our Democracy,” and “direct action by elected officials to end injustice and suffering.”