Marianne Williamson rescued a fellow candidate's dead campaign

Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Let’s face it, few people know who Mike Gravel is, much less that he is a Democrat running in the 2020 presidential primary. He announced his candidacy in April. Unlike most candidates, though, he asked supporters to donate as little as possible to his campaign, not as much as they could spare.

All Gravel wants is the opportunity to qualify for the DNC debates. His first appeal was simply to meet the requirement of 65,000 individual donors. To qualify for the first debate, the candidates had to also poll at 1% or higher in 3 DNC-approved polls. Gravel didn’t qualify for the first debate but he’s hoping to do so for the second debate. He’s hit the donor requirement and announced it on Twitter Friday.

Yeah, the tweet is a little odd but frankly, so is he, at least as a candidate. He served in the U.S. Senate representing Alaska from 1969-1981. Gravel is 89 years old now. He ran for president in 2008 as a Democrat and then he joined the Libertarian Party. Now he’s running as a Democrat again. His whole reason for running for president is to get onto the debate stage and try to push the party’s candidates even farther left. No, really. That’s the goal. He calls his campaign a protest campaign, not a true campaign. He just wants to get on the stage and deliver his message. Then, he’ll drop out.

As the campaign got really close to reaching the 65,000 donor threshold, an incentive was offered – how about a signed rock? I told you he’s a bit odd. In the South, we call it “eccentric”.

Gravel admitted he didn’t have the number of donors needed to qualify for the second debate on July 5. He asked for suggestions for where to donate his leftover funds.

This is 2019 and things are weird. Fellow candidate Marianne Williamson came to Gravel’s rescue. She sent out a fundraising appeal for Gravel in order to keep his hope alive. And, just like that, he’s alive as far as the requirement for 65,000 donors goes. It’s the polling requirement that is the sticking point.

Why did Marianne Williamson help out Gravel? It may be their common foreign policy goals.

Still, Williamson’s pitch for Gravel is an interesting if probably not very consequential example of how she intends to, as she put it in the first debate, “harness love” to win the nomination and beat Trump. But it wasn’t an accident she chose the eccentric 89-year-old Gravel for this beneficence. She cited him as an example of the “diverse and provocative voices” the campaign needs. If you aren’t familiar with Williamson or with Gravel, you should understand that when it comes to foreign policy (Gravel’s signature issue and the entire rationale for his teenager-driven sorta-campaign) these two candidates make Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren look like neocon warmongers.

Williamson, a longtime proponent (along with her friend Dennis Kucinich) of a cabinet-level Department of Peace, is for deep and permanent defense-spending cuts and a complete reorientation of international relations to focus on conflict prevention. For Gravel, opposition to military interventions has been the one consistent strand of his long and winding political career, dating back to his publication of the antiwar classic Pentagon Papers in a version edited by lefty icons Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. I don’t know how Gravel feels about some of Williamson’s more ethereal preoccupations, but they are in fact natural allies, if only in the challenge they pose to mainstream views of America’s role in the world.

The Gravel campaign is now tackling the requirement on the polling threshold. He says he has been ignored by pollsters.

The campaign hammered the DNC over the polling qualifications, saying it is in talks with national party leaders and has retained counsel over the issue.

“The campaign has retained counsel and is currently in talks with the DNC over the validity of the polling method of qualification, given that well over half of DNC’s approved polls methodically and consistently excluded Sen. Gravel despite the campaign’s documented, repeated outreach to both pollsters and the DNC for inclusion,” Gravel’s campaign manager David Oks said.

“If the DNC were to exclude us, the campaign is also developing contingency plans that would allow us to spread our vital message. We kept our receipts, we have retained legal counsel. Our goal in this campaign has always been to shift the conversation, and we will persist in doing so.”

The bar is set higher to qualify for the third and fourth debates so Gravel’s time is limited whether he makes it to the second debate or not. He said from the beginning when he drops out, he’ll endorse the most liberal candidate. In the meantime, he will continue to work towards ending the American “Empire”.

Gravel has launched an ad against Joe Biden that runs on MSNBC. As I said, he’s all about his message and clearly, he is over Joe. Enjoy.