Democratic presidential candidate Gravel meets and greets

Sen. Mike Gravel, the vivacious democratic presidential candidate known for being outspoken and in-your-face, spoke to a group of 100 students last Thursday in the lower lounge of the University Center.

“My statements are made to shock you, but they’re based in accuracy,” Gravel said during the Meet and Greet sponsored by Student Government. “If anyone wants to challenge me, please do.”

Gravel delivered an opening statement that emphasized the need to “change the nature of representative government” through his National Initiative for Democracy, a project aimed at promoting education and understanding of democracy.

The senator spoke on multiple issues, ranging from foreign policy to global warming.

Gravel seeks to pass a tax on carbon, and “get the human race off of carbon in a decade.” He also promised, “I can get you off of gasoline in five years,” a goal he hopes to achieve by building five million wind devices.

Gravel spoke of three crises associated with the current healthcare system: lack of universality, run-away cost and cost carried by the business community. He proposed a voucher system in which the same quality of care will be offered to all citizens and citizens will be able to choose their own physician.

Student attending the event, such as freshman Eric Deutsch, believe that Gravel provides “hope for real change.”

Steve Major, a second-year graduate student, recognized that Gravel’s chances to win the presidency are slim. In a recent poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion regarding the New Hampshire Primary, Gravel ranks last among Democrats alongside Chris Dodd.

Alycia Rajendran, a junior, served as Gravel’s assistant at the Univision debate and said she admires Gravel’s “focus on equality.”

“I love that he discusses equality not just in America, but worldwide,” Rajedran said. “He’s the only one who seems real enough to vote for.”

As for the other candidates, Student Government sent letters to each of the 2008 presidential candidates at the beginning of the semester inviting them to campus to discuss their political platforms. Sen. Gravel is the only candidate to respond, said Danny Carvajal, president of SG.

President Donna E. Shalala said that she had also invited all of the presidential candidates to come to the university, which does not include the attendance in September’s Forum.

The university had originally planned to host the Republican presidential debate along with Univision on Sep. 16, but has delayed plans until the candidates respond to Univision’s invitations.

A tentative date has been set for Dec. 9, and may be finalized once more candidates accept the invitation.

Though Gravel may be one of the few candidates, or only candidate, to visit the university on his own this semester, he does not stand alone on his stances on controversial topics such as abortion or gay-marriage.

“What is so wrong about two human beings wanting to get married?” said Gravel, who was met with widespread student applause. “If there’s anything this country needs, it’s more love.”

Stephanie Genuardi may be contacted at

Need to Know

The Commission on Presidential Debates is set to announce debate locations for fall 2008 at the end of October. The University of Miami is a contender for the second time. Visit for updates.