A New Hampshire hedge fund manager has bought a full-page ad to protest the exclusion of U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel from tonight's Democratic presidential debate at Drexel University and offered $1 million to allow him to participate.

Gregory V. Chase says in the ad, which appears on page A13 of today's Inquirer, that he would give the $1 million to NBC, which is televising the debate on its MSNBC subsidiary, to either buy ads for the long-shot candidate or as an outright payment.

Chase, 27, a former currency and oil trader who manages a family hedge fund, has also bought ads in New Hampshire on Gravel's behalf.

Gravel, a liberal who opposes the war in Iraq, has appeared in other debates.

But NBC announced on Oct. 19 that it would exclude candidates who, like the Alaska senator, had not met minimal standards in terms of money raised, campaign activity, or support in the polls.

Chase said last night in a telephone interview he had spent about $250,000 to run full-page ad in The Inquirer, the Drexel Triangle and the Daily Pennsylvanian and smaller ads in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

In the ad, he said that if Gravel were excluded from tonight's debate, voters could hear him at the nearby World Cafe, 3025 Walnut St.

"In my opinion, his ideas regarding foreign policy, military spending and energy independence are advanced relative to the other candidates," Chase said.

Chase said it was important for voters to hear what Gravel had to say. That was echoed by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who heads the Annenberg School of Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Has Mike Gravel contributed to the debates? I think he has," she said.