Gravel on 2020 Democratic field: 'There's just a lot of empty shirts'

Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) dismissed many of the candidates still in the 2020 Democratic race during an interview that aired on Tuesday.

“There’s just a lot of empty shirts,” Gravel told Hill.TV in reference to the crowded primary.

Gravel also doubled down on his criticism of South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE, pointing to him as a prime example.

“Buttigieg is an example of an empty shirt — that’s the reason why mainstream media likes him because he’s not threatening,” he said.

Buttigieg’s campaign didn’t immediately return Hill.TV’s request for comment.

Gravel maintained that there are only three candidates that should stay in the race: Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year MORE (D-Hawaii), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-Mass.).

Since suspending his own presidential campaign in August, Gravel has thrown his support behind both Sanders and Gabbard.

The former Alaska senator acknowledged during his interview with Hill.TV that he had a “bias” for Gabbard even before she jumped into the race, citing the Iraq war veteran's position on foreign policy.  

“I like her position on ending wars — that’s not the strength of the Democratic Party,” he told Hill.TV. “The Democratic Party is just as much a war party as the Republicans.”

Gravel’s comments come as 12 White House hopefuls prepare to take the debate stage in Ohio on Tuesday night, where they are expected to go head-to-head on a number of issues. 

⁠—Tess Bonn