The weirdest 2020 story involves several teens and an 88-year-old former senator

How an 88-year-old former senator got a 17-year-old campaign manager.

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MONTEREY, California — What happens when you mix the online snark and idealism of podcast-listening teens and the DGAF attitude of an 88-year-old lefty?

You get the Mike Gravel For President campaign.

A group of massively online college and high school students recently talked Gravel into for president running again. They heard about him a little while ago on "Chapo Trap House," the podcast of record for the Bernie set.


Gravel got famous in 1971 when, as senator from Alaska, he read the Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, effectively declassifying them. Then, he dropped off the radar until 2008, when he ran a quixotic bid for president. He didn't get very far, but he got far enough to create a few viral moments on the debate stage. Gravel was the anti-war conscience in the primary.

And that's the same role that students want Gravel to play in the 2020 Democratic primary. Most of them are supporters of Bernie Sanders, but they think getting Gravel on the debate stage again could give Sanders an ally and help push the entire party to the left.

But this time, Gravel doesn't really want to leave his California home. He's given the kids control of his online identity, and they've used it to raise thousands of dollars — and attack just about every other Democratic candidate.

VICE News met up with Gravel as he hosted the teens in real life for the first time.

This segment originally aired April 17, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.