One Last Stop

A crowd of 100 huddled in Traditions Plaza around presidential hopeful Mike Gravel on Monday, making him the only Democrat campaigning in Florida before Tuesday’s primaries.

“You are drugged if you believe this is a democracy,” the 77-year-old former Alaska senator yelled through his microphone to seated and standing students, faculty and staff. “How much power do you think you have? You’ve got zip.”

His speech was peppered among other things with insults scolding Hillary and Bill Clinton’s leadership, at one point accusing the latter of not lowering the national defense budget during his presidency.

“Bill Clinton never cut anything,” Gravel insisted, drawing mild applause from the seated students and faculty. “The Clintons hijacked the Democratic Party and took it to Wall Street. We spend more in defense than anything [else] in the U.S.”

Pamphlets handed to students promoted Gravel’s new book Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change, while the back of the postcard displayed his campaign Web site. The brochure also included a link to his National Initiative, or a set of “legislative procedures Gravel wants Americans to vote directly on” if he is elected, according to the pamphlet.

“I’ll bring this to a nation of peace,” Gravel said, rallying attendees. “Whether you elect me as president or not, at least have the power to empower yourself.”

Other highlights from his speech:

On transportation: “We can get this country off [gasoline] in five years. We need to build a maglev [train] system” from Key West to Tallahassee “to eliminate gridlock on the highways.”

On border patrol and immigration: “I want to lower all the barriers between North and South America. [European Union members] can get a job in the European Union without even flashing an ID. In our country, we’re just building higher walls between Mexico.”

On education: “Our government should pay for all education costs from preschool to Ph.D.”