EXETER, N.H. — After Barack Obama captured the vote of thousands of students in Iowa on the way to his commanding victory, former Senator Mike Gravel stood before a few dozen students a Phillips Exeter Academy here on Sunday night with his own message of change.
But unlike Obama, it isn’t catching on among many students. And Gravel offers a reason why.
“A lot of young people, they’re sophomoric, and they haven’t really thought very much,” he said in an exclusive interview with the News. “And so they’re into celebrity. These are the people that follow Paris Hilton and Britney Spears — and they follow Obama.”
It has been a frustrating few months for Gravel, who said he has been talking about change for months. He said he is “totally” disappointed with the other Democratic candidates in the race.
“It’s as phony as a nine-dollar bill,” says Gravel, a former Democratic senator from Alaska. “They took focus groups, and the focus groups said that people want change. Are they talking change, other than articulating the world?”
He shakes his head.
“People say, ‘Who will you support?'” Gravel said. “None of them.”
Would he serve in an Obama or Hillary Clinton cabinet?
No. “It’d be a waste of time,” Gravel said.
The former senator — who was not allowed to participate in ABC’s Democratic debate on Saturday night — vowed that he will stay in the race regardless of his performance today. But he said he hopes to get five to ten percent of the vote.
— Thomas Kaplan