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USA Today

Don't Lock Me Out: My Competitor's Comments Reveal Character Traits Voters Should Know.

Mike Gravel

Earlier this month, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., made a statement that cleared up the mystery about who has been attempting to limit my participation in Democratic debates and forums. No other Democrat has had his participation limited.

When CNN, along with The (Manchester) Union Leader newspaper and WMUR-TV, did not invite me to their prospective debates scheduled to begin in New Hampshire on June 6, my staff asked why I was being excluded and were told that the senator did not meet some arbitrary "criteria."

The public's overwhelming reaction to CNN's unfairness forced the debate sponsors to reverse their earlier decisions.

An even more surprising mystery occurred next when, the progressive anti-war organization, excluded me from its online Town Meeting. Its reasoning was that I did not receive any votes from its membership.

The final mystery occurred when the Los Angeles-based Human Rights Campaign chose not to invite me to its August candidate forum. The essence of HRC is justice and civil rights, and my positions on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are the most progressive of any presidential candidate. When supporters learned of my exclusion, there was such an outcry that the HRC, too, was forced to reverse itself.

The comment by Sen. Clinton, in an exchange with former senator John Edwards at the NAACP forum in Detroit on July 12, explains why these things are happening:

Edwards:"We should try to have a more serious, and a smaller, group."

Clinton:"There was an attempt by our campaigns to do that, it got, somehow, detoured. We've gotta get back to it. Our guys should talk."

When questioned about her comment the next day, Sen. Clinton, in an apparent attempt to shift blame to Sen. Edwards, said:

"I think he (Edwards) has some ideas about what he'd like to do."

By implying that it was Sen. Edwards who was conspiring to limit my participation in public debates, Sen. Clinton was trying to deflect attention from her previous blunder. This reveals an interesting character trait in Sen. Clinton that Americans have come to expect from her.

Former senator Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, is a candidate for president.

© 2007 USA Today

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