Gravel names his price: $1 million to challenge Obama

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Despite speculation that President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from disaffected liberals in 2012, no candidate has emerged. That may be about to change.

“Somebody should challenge Obama, there’s no question about it. He is what he is, and it’s not what we want,” former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “I’d be happy to do it, but it takes money. Without enough money to be heard, you come off as somewhat foolish.”

Gravel said he will challenge Obama if there is sufficient financial backing.

“If [supporters] would put up $1 million, I probably would run. And that would at least fund enough activity to get a message out,” Gravel said.

Gravel contends that when he sought the 2008 Democratic nomination he learned that “without at least enough money to make some noise and to go out and raise money, it just won’t go anywhere.”

One million dollars would be more than double what he spent in 2008, Gravel noted. “If there’s enough money to be able to get a message across, whether I get elected or not is incidental. But who knows, who knows if somebody really wanted to engage this,” he said.

The former senator, most famous for entering the leaked Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, disapproves of Obama’s performance and would not vote to re-elect the president.

“We have never been in a worse situation with respect to leadership,” Gravel argued. “We’ve been in a lot of bad ones, but what we have today equals many of the bad ones of the past.” (RELATED: Nader rules out another run but ‘almost 100 percent’ certain Obama will face primary challenge)

Gravel said Obama was elected with a scant record, allowing voters to assume that his opposition to the Bush administration’s policies was based on more than mere politics.

“He presented himself not as what he is; he presented himself as you would want him to be,” Gravel said. “And then, of course, when he gets power he turns out to be what he is: a tool of the military-industrial complex and Wall Street.”

One of the former senator’s most significant grievances with Obama is an increase in prosecutions of whistleblowers. “He campaigned on transparency and he’s doing more than anyone else to stop transparency in government,” Gravel lamented.

He continued: “We still have renditions, we have secret prisons around the world, we have Guantanamo still open, obviously in these secret prisons we still engage in torture — what else do you think you’re doing in these secret prisons? — and then either our involvement or we condone Israeli assassination activities in Iran and try to change government in Iran through sabotage.”

“That’s what we’re doing. And that’s all on Obama’s watch, which is essentially worse than Bush’s watch in certain degrees.”

Gravel was hard-pressed to name others who he would like to see challenge Obama, saying that Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader appear unlikely to run.

“Ron Paul is just too far over there for my tastes,” Gravel said. “He is a strict constructionist, not believing in the people.” Gravel said that former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney would make an excellent candidate.

Unlike some disappointed Democrats, Gravel doesn’t believe that Hillary Clinton would have been any better than Obama. “Oh God no!” Gravel said, adding that Clinton “would have been a tool of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. And she’s that right now.”