Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, dies at 91

He was an Alaska Democrat, which was a rare position. Some residents had set fire to President Jimmy Carter's statue in effigy because he took measures to protect large portions of state public lands from development.Gravel fought Alaskas Republican Ted Stevens over the land issue. Gravel preferred to fight Carter's actions and rejected Stevens proposal for a compromise.Congress finally passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 80. This compromise set aside millions of acres to be used for wildlife refuges, national parks and other protected areas. It was one the last bills Carter signed prior to his departure from office.His anti-war activities during Gravels Senate tenure were also notable. He led a one-man filibuster in 1971 to protest the Vietnam-era draft. He also read the Congressional Record 4,100 page of the 7,000-page leaked document, known as the Pentagon Papers. This is the Defense Departments history about the country's involvement in Vietnam.After his stint in the Senate, Gravel returned to national politics and ran for the presidency twice. Gravel was 75 years old at the time and took public transport in 2006 with Whitney to announce that he would be running for president as a Democrat. Obama won the election in 2008.As a critic of the Iraq War, he began his campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.Gravel stated in 2006 that America is doing damage every day its troops remain in Iraq. This harms ourselves and the prospects of peace around the world. Gravel tethered his campaign to an effort to give all policy decisions to the people via direct vote. This included declarations of war and health care reform.Gravel was well-respected for his fiery remarks at Democratic forums.Gravel faced then-Sen. Obama in a 2007 debate about the possibility of using nukes against Iran. Gravel asked Gravel: Barack, which person do you want to nuke?" Obama responded: Mike, I'm not going to nuke anyone right now.After being excluded from the Democratic debates, Gravel ran for office as a Libertarian candidate.He sent an email to his supporters saying that the Democratic Party does not represent my vision of America. He said that it continues to support war, the military-industrial complex, and imperialism, which are all things I find unacceptable.He was not nominated for the Libertarian Party nomination.Gravel briefly considered running for the Democratic nomination in 2020. He again criticised American wars and pledged to reduce military spending. He was just 18 when he ran for his last campaign.He never intended to do more than take part in the debates. Johnson stated that Johnson didn't intend to run for office, but that he wanted to share his ideas with a wider audience.Gravel did not qualify for the debates. In the end, he endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.Gravel was born Maurice Robert Gravel on May 13, 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts.He was a Alaska state representative and House speaker in the mid-1960s.After defeating Sen. Ernest Gruening (an ex-territorial governor) in the 1968 Democratic primary, he won his first Senate term.Gravel served two terms, but was defeated by Clark Gruening's grandson in the 1980 Democratic primary. Gruening lost the election to Republican Frank Murkowski.