Mr. Gravel issued further patriotic notices on June 29, 1971. The New York Times and other newspapers were under court orders to halt publication of the Pentagon Papers, a classified and detailed government study of the war in Vietnam.
He read aloud from the papers before a subcommittee hearing that he was quick to call him after Republicans frustrated his efforts to read them to the entire Senate. He read for about three hours, and finally broke down in tears, saying, “Warms are cut off, and metal shatters in human bodies–because of the general policy which this government and all its branches continue to support.” (In a key ruling on press freedom, the Supreme Court overturned the injunction against The Times the following day.)
Mr. Gravel admitted many years later that his political ambition led him to express support for the Vietnam War early in his political career, although he said he opposed it personally.
In 1968, the Democratic Party’s initial challenge Senator Ernst GroeningMr. Gravel, one of two senators who voted against the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed President Lyndon B. Johnson to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia, said that North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and not the United States is the aggressor. . In 2007, while running for president, he told an NPR interviewer, “I said what I said in 1968 because it was meant to advance my career.”
He told Salon in the same year that Alaskans did not share Mr. Gruening’s opposition to the war at the time, and that “when I ran, being a realist politician, all I had to do was stand up and not deal with the matter, and people assumed I was to the right of Ernst Groening, While I was actually on his left.”
Mr. Gravel won that preliminary stage, confirming his youth (he was 38 vs. Groening’s 81) and campaigned in the smallest of villages, showing a half-hour film about his campaign. He went on to defeat his Republican opponent, Elmer E. Rasmusson, a banker and former mayor of Anchorage, in the general election.