Truthdig tips its hat this week to former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who commanded the stage at Thursday’s presidential debate with a fiery and candid performance, taking other Democratic candidates to task for their positions and policies and maintaining a fiercely antiwar stance throughout. Loud and clear, Mr. Gravel.

Gravel repeatedly redirected the focus of the discussion to the bigger issues at hand, taking MSNBC host Brian Williams’ question about a comment Gravel made earlier this year — that it didn’t matter whether he was elected president — as an opportunity to lay into the “top tier” of Democratic presidential hopefuls. Gesturing in the general direction of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others, Gravel questioned their credentials, adding, “Some of them frighten me!” The apparent willingness of certain candidates to consider military action against Iran, in addition to their acceptance of continuation of the war in Iraq, was a particular sticking point for Gravel, who vowed that if he becomes president “there will be no pre-emptive wars with nuclear devices. In my mind, it’s immoral, and it’s been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy.”

Along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who discussed his crusade to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, Gravel made the strongest statements about the Bush administration’s actions. The former Alaska senator accused the others onstage of playing it safe. “We are gonna be as successful fighting terrorism as we were fighting drugs! It doesn’t work! What you have to do is begin to change the whole foreign policy,” he said, adding that the invasion of Iraq has “brought about more terrorists” rather than containing the threat. Regardless of whether or not he’s in it to win it, Mike Gravel brought up some crucial issues as he threw down the gauntlet.

Related links:

Click here for our A/V Booth clips of Thursday’s debate featuring highlights from Gravel and Kucinich’s performances.

Check out more about Gravel’s campaign on his website.

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