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 ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Buttigieg surges to 10-point lead in New Hampshire: poll 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 Gabbard2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders reclaims second place in new 2020 poll New poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa MORE (D-Hawaii), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul 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