Excluded From Debate, Gravel Holds Watch Party Near Drexel U. Campus

This story was written by Stephanie Takach, The Triangle
Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel responded to his exclusion from Tuesday night's debate by hosting an alternative debate event in World Cafe Live during the MSNBC debate.

MSNBC required candidates to meet certain standards in polling, fundraising, or travel but Gravel's numbers were insufficient.

"The hope is just to democratize the entire debate process because it's controlled by the corporate media," Gravel Communications Director David Eisenback said.

Gravel's Chief of Staff Chris Petherick stated that the criteria implemented by NBC was specifically designed to exclude Gravel from the debate.

"The evolution was like this: Chuck Todd called us around five o'clock on Friday evening, which means they want to bury the story," Petherick said. "They laid out three requirements that no other organization or sponsor was required to have. They said we have to raise $1 million by the third quarter, have 5 percent polling nationally, and visit Iowa or New Hampshire 14 times a year. He was rather vague, even in defining the criteria."

Gravel's campaign rejects the notion that Gravel is down in the polls.

"Mike Gravel is tied with Joe Biden and Chris Dodd in some polls and is higher in others," Eisenback said. "If it excludes Gravel, it should also exclude Senators Biden and Dodd."

"There was no reason to cut me out of the debate, I got more time with it and I've been able to make my comments on it," said former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel. "I think I've tried to give you information on how to handle the debate in the future. This is to make Russert and Williams look good."

One of the first issues discussed in the Democratic Debate was the issue of Iran and what strategies the candidates have to engage in diplomacy.

"Mike Gravel was already pointing out how Hillary was wrong on a lot of issues," Eisenback said. "He pointed out issues such as Iran specifically. Gravel is needed in the Democratic debates, because without him, there's no challenge to the issue."

One of the main issues that concerns Gravel's campaign is that money still controls speech.

"The Founding Fathers didn't say that we weren't going to have a revolution because we don't have enough money," Lee Trager, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said.

The watch party, or alternative debate, gave people a place to watch the debate and engage in protests, according to Petherick.

Gravel paused the debate to make his remarks, as if he was actively in the debate. At points, he let the video run and talked over the candidates.

In the debate, Obama and Edwards were expected to lead a more offensive role, especially towards Hilary Clinton.

"Gravel has been doing for months what Obama and Edwards will start now," Eisenback said.

Gravel has been invited to a Nov. 2 ABC and WMUR debate and an NPR conference.
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