Former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel has said that “the Democratic Party is just as much a war party as the Republicans,” but praised US Representative and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard over her position on foreign policy.
During an interview with Hill.TV on Tuesday, Gravel dismissed most of the candidates in the 2020 Democratic race as just “empty shirts.”
“There’s just a lot of empty shirts,” the former Alaska senator said.
He signaled out South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for an example.
“Buttigieg is an example of an empty shirt — that’s the reason why mainstream media likes him because he’s not threatening,” he said.
Gravel, who suspended his own presidential campaign in August, said that there are only three candidates that should stay in the Democratic race: Representative Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Gravel, who also served in the US Army in West Germany, has endorsed both Sanders and Gabbard.
He praised Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, who has said that President Donald Trump is surrounded by neoconservative war hawks who have a history of supporting regime change wars.
“I like her position on ending wars — that’s not the strength of the Democratic Party,” he told Hill.TV. “The Democratic Party is just as much a war party as the Republicans.”
During the first Democratic presidential primary debate in June in Miami, Florida, Gabbard warned that Trump and his hawkish advisers were leading the United States towards a “disastrous” war with Iran.
“This president and his chickenhawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran,” she said.
Gabbard said it’s important that “every single American stand up and say no war with Iran.”
She also used her stance on American intervention to draw a contrast between her and Trump.
She has held these anti-interventionist foreign policy positions, which are central to her campaign, over her four terms in Congress.
Gabbard served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. She has been the US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district since 2013.
“For too long our leaders have failed us, from taking us from one regime change war to the next, leading us into a new Cold War and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end,” Gabbard said at the debate.
She argued that the US should bring back its troops because “we are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began.”
“The Taliban was there long before we came in,” Gabbard added. “They’re going to be there long before we leave. We cannot keep US troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we’re going to somehow squash this Taliban that’s been there, that every other country that’s tried has failed.”
Gravel praises Warren over policy
Gravel praised Sen. Warren over her ambitious policy proposals, but added that she would be willing “compromise” if she becomes the US president in 2020.
“With respect to Warren, I think she’s got some excellent, excellent positions,” Gravel told Hill.TV.
However, he noted that Warren “would be prepared to compromise once in power.”
Gravel argued that both Warren and Sanders share a disadvantage when it comes to issues including foreign policy.
“Tulsi [Gabbard] is better than Bernie in that regard,” he said. “The others aren’t even in the race.”