KAren Caifa on Dennis Kucinich
updated 3/5/2004 11:50:33 AM ET 2004-03-05T16:50:33

Friday, March 5

Saying that it’s not over until John Kerry officially has the 2,162 delegates required for the nomination, Kucinich criticized the Bush-Cheney ’04 re-elect’s ads like someone with a shot at the Democratic nomination. He called for the ads, which feature images of the remains of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, to be pulled from the airwaves.

"September 11th was a day of profound national tragedy, not a political prop," Kucinich said in a statement from Florida Thursday. "It is an outrage to seek political advantage from the deaths of thousands of Americans, and an indescribably insensitive assault on the emotions, lives and memories of family members whose loved ones were lost on that day."

"Iraq has been a political prop," he continued. "A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier has been a prop. And now the rubble and suffering of America has become yet another prop. What the President is doing is wrong. Indecently wrong."

Kucinich continued Thursday to answer the question of why the heck he’s still in the race, when rumours abound that even Al Sharpton is considering packing it in (though, unlike the Reverend, Kucinich still has money in the bank.)

"People are asking me why am I still in this race, it looks like it's over," Kucinich said in an audio postcard to supporters where he also made a plea for more funds. "You know, I said I'm in this race until the Democratic party takes a stand to get out of Iraq, to bring in U.N. Peacekeepers and to bring our troops home. I'm in this race until the party will pledge to provide universal single-payer not for profit health care, a national health care plan under which everyone is covered. I'm in this race until the party takes s stand on behalf of fair trade, where we can be sure that we have workers rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles in all of our trade agreements. I'm in this race as someone who takes a stand on behalf of those who don't have a voice."

In a message to supporters Thursday national field director Kevin Spidel pledged to "reach out to members of the Green Party, the Natural Law Party, and to Independent voters from across the spectrum so as to bring forth a movement so mighty and righteous that the filth of this administration will be swept from our government in an unstoppable, cleansing tide."

Thursday, March 4

Despite no wins and just 18 delegates to his name in 30 primary contests to date, Kucinich Wednesday opted to keep his presidential campaign going.

A campaign source said that after much consideration of the Super Tuesday outcomes – particularly painful was the failure to pick up a single delegate in California, where he spent more time than any other state and than any other candidate –

Kucinich opted to board a flight to Tampa, Florida Wednesday morning and keep campaigning.

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This bid turned the corner from "campaign" to "movement" long ago, but the decision to move on now that Sen. John Kerry is certain to secure the nomination cements that status. Deputy press secretary Nate Wilkes said Wednesday that Kucinich wants to continue to "make this campaign about the issues" and that staffers at national headquarters were "enthusiastic and motivated" about moving forward.

In a letter to supporters Wednesday, national campaign manager Dorothy "Dot" Maver said, "Congressman Kucinich has emerged as the voice of the progressive movement in the political debate. His campaign will continue to secure delegates on the way to the convention where, with our ongoing support, he will continue to be that voice. Thus we will focus on the upcoming primary/caucus states, purchase media time, operate a national campaign, and, with your help, make certain that the human values at the heart of this campaign/movement will be at the center of politics in our country."

Kucinich plans to focus on Florida and Texas for the next round of primaries on Tuesday, March 9. I’m also told that Kucinich plans to campaign in Alaska, hoping to mirror his success in Hawaii last week. In visiting the Aloha State, where no other Dem dared to travel, Kucinich secured 27 percent of the vote and 8 delegates. Kucinich also plans to campaign in Nebraska and Illinois over the next few weeks.

According to the campaign source there has been no discussion with the Democratic National Committee or with the Kerry camp suggesting that Kucinich bow out.

As to whether Kucinich will continue to campaign as feverishly as he has at the expense of his duties in the House of Representatives, the campaign says he’ll continue to campaign hard through the March 9 contests and regroup next Wednesday to figure out how to proceed. Kucinich has not had a down day since January 1st, nor has he cast a single vote at the Capitol this session.

And should we all think this odyssey will end in July or even November, a supporter noted Wednesday that he’s already staked a claim to the web domain www.kucinich2008.com. Oy!

Wednesday, March 3

The campaign had little to say Tuesday night about the outcome of the Super Tuesday contests except that the Ohio congressman will continue on. Insisting several times as the results came in that Kucinich is in the race to the finish, phone calls to get any further answers went unreturned.

Kucinich picked up only a handful of the delegates up for grabs Tuesday, including five in Minnesota and 4 in his home state of Ohio, bringing his total to 18. He won just 9% of the vote in Ohio and picked up zero delegates in California, the state where he spent the most time campaigning.

With Kerry’s lock on the nomination it’s uncertain what Kucinich would hope to accomplish by continuing to campaign at the expense of his work in the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, he is headed to Florida Wednesday.

Kucinich did, however, turn in a solid win in the Democratic primary for re-election to his House seat, winning about 85% of the vote among Democrats in Ohio’s tenth congressional district.

Monday, March 1

In a last-ditch effort to pick up support in his home state’s primary Tuesday, Cleveland’s "favorite son" made a whirlwind of appearances Monday to plea for Buckeye votes. Trying to convince voters in a key presidential battleground state he’s the best challenger to George W. Bush, Kucinich tried to prove that his platforms are "practical."

"There are so many people whose lives depend on the decisions that we make. There is so much riding on the outcome, not just of an election, but on the outcome of a society which must begin to concentrate on people's practical aspirations," Kucinich said in Cleveland Monday. "Aspirations for jobs, for housing, for health care, for education, for retirement security, and for peace. These are practical aspirations."

Keeping up with his Democratic rivals, Kucinich is focusing on jobs and trade in a state that has been hit hard by job losses. "Senator Kerry has voted for every trade agreement, every one of them," Kucinich said Monday. "And he is not going to change his direction on it, he's made that abundantly clear. He says 'We'll fix NAFTA, we'll fix the WTO.’ Well he's had time to do that, that's just not going to happen. I mean, he has another approach. And Senator Edwards, frankly has been all over the lot on this."

Despite the recent campaign blitz there, he is likely to be handed a gruesome defeat from his home state. Most polls have him in single digits. But regardless of what the numbers look like tomorrow, Kucinich is staying in the race. Lest anyone think Kucinich will pack it in after Super Tuesday the campaign has issued a schedule that includes campaign stops in Florida and Texas later this week in anticipation of primaries in those states next Tuesday, March 9.

The sting of defeat may be worth it to Kucinich. Despite being the laughable loser in this nomination race, Kucinich has boosted his profile considerably. By no means a household name, he’s still lifted himself from the obscurity that comes from being just one of 435 House members, especially one in the minority party. It’s apparent to anyone who goes near this campaign that he relishes the spotlight and wants to keep a hold on it as long as he can.

Plus Kucinich may be waiting for 2006. Word is that Kucinich may be gearing up for a challenge to Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in two years. But in order to maintain his credibility Kucinich will have to keep a hold on his seat in Ohio’s tenth congressional district, for which he faces a primary challenger on the ballot Tuesday. Some in the campaign wish their boss would be paying more attention to his re-election bid, and hope the lagging presidential campaign won’t make voters turn away.

Sunday, Feb. 29

Friday, Feb. 27

Another day, another debate.

And while the panelists in Los Angeles Thursday night kept their focus on John Edwards and John Kerry, Kucinich used the time he was granted to voice his "different" stances on peace, health care, gay marriage and trade.

"I'm here to provide the people of this country with a real choice in this election," he said. "Some of the differences that are here are stylistic. I'm offering some substantive change in this country."

Attempting to inch his way into the debate on domestic economy that has simmered between the two senators of late, both arguing they’d be the better protectorate of American jobs, the campaign specifically highlighted the difference between Kucinich and the two chief contenders on trade.

"Neither Kerry nor Edwards would commit to canceling NAFTA. Kerry voted for NAFTA and has consistently voted for other comparable trade agreements. Kerry and Edwards both voted for the China trade agreement," the campaign said in a statement following the debate. "Kucinich has been consistent in his opposition to so-called free trade."

"Edwards and Kerry both discussed plans to ‘fix’ the trade agreements. The fact is they cannot be altered," the statement continued. "Any proposed change can be overruled by the WTO. Free trade agreements have resulted in the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs. Internationally, they have failed to uphold workers rights and environmental standards."

While Rosie O’Donnell made headlines by marrying her partner in San Francisco, Kucinich also made sure to note to the Golden State audience that he supports same-sex marriages. Disputing moderator Larry King’s suggestion that marriage is "inherently a man and a woman," Kucinich said that the issue at hand is one of civil law, separate from that of the church, and President Bush’s proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is the result of "polarized thinking."

The debate was held at the University of Southern California, where Kucinich was the winner in a campus-wide caucus earlier this week.

Thursday, Feb. 26

Calls for Greenspan to resign
Kucinich called on Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to resign after the Fed chief suggested trimming social security benefits. Greenspan made the suggestion, which he proposed as a means of cutting the ballooning federal deficit, before the House Budget Committee Wednesday.

“I think it’s absolutely horrendous that the government spokesman for the Federal Reserve Board would be advocating cutting social security benefits in order to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy,” Kucinich told me in Cambridge Wednesday night. “This can’t be what this nation stands for. So I think the only decent thing for Mr. Greenspan to do is to resign.”

“Greenspan's idea to index the Social Security retirement age will put the threshold for full benefits on escalator that will slash the value of Social Security benefits for certain racial and ethnic groups because their life expectancies do not increase at the national average life expectancy,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Greenspan was asked to give reasonable economic policy advice to Congress. Instead, he advocated a policy of intergenerational theft, passing on the burden of this Administration's fiscal irresponsibility onto future generations.”

Mahalo delegates
Looks like those two trips to Hawaii – twice more than any other candidate – paid off. The campaign was totally stoked about picking up their first elected delegates in the Aloha State Tuesday night. According to the AP, Kucinich nabbed 27 percent of the vote on the islands, finishing second to John Kerry and, as the campaign gleefully notes, ahead of John Edwards for the third time. He adds 6 delegates to his total, bringing the number to 10 (including his two pledged superdelegates.)

“We’re now finally in double-digits,” Kucinich gushed about his delegate count Wednesday night. “We’re moving in the right direction and our campaign is getting a boost.”

He admits, though, the winnowing field has contributed to his latest successes. “As there are fewer candidates people are able to concentrate more on the message that we have to offer,” he said.

The withdrawal of Howard Dean from the nomination chase, for example, likely aided Kucinich’s Hawaii finish as progressives who initially saw Dean as more electable turned back to the Ohio congressman when casting their votes.

Kucinich has also benefited from concentrating time in states that have not been heavily traveled by his opponents. For example, he visited Maine a half-dozen times before their caucus and finished with 15 percent; he was also able to make a strong showing (by his standards) in Washington state.

With Kerry’s delegate count all but out of reach, it’s abundantly clear that Kucinich is campaigning less for the White House and more to become the new progressive icon.  “I’m really in a position to offer a real alternative to both Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards,” he told me Wednesday. “And in doing that I think I’m going to demonstrate that the progressive movement is alive and well in the Democratic Party and people are really ready for someone who’s going to take this country in a new direction.”

Kucinich is optimistic about picking up more support on Super Tuesday. “I think that I have a chance to pick up delegates in Massachusetts, California, Ohio and Minnesota to name a few,” he said.

Also of note, Kucinich’s campaign Wednesday filed for the Kansas caucus to be held March 13.

Campaigning in Kerry's backyard
Large and energetic crowds greeted Kucinich in the home state of current Democratic frontrunner John Kerry Wednesday. The Ohio congressman riled up over 1500 students and supporters at UMass Amherst Wednesday morning. He also spoke to full auditoriums in Brookline and at Harvard Law School before wrapping up the day with a speech before 750 folks at a church off of Harvard Square in Cambridge.

But Kucinich should not harbor any ambitions of beating the senator on his home turf. Despite the favorable crowds, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to extend his appeal beyond the core of peace activists and hard-core liberals who showed up for him at events this week. Also present in the crowds were some familiar faces from New Hampshire rallies and, hey, those guys already voted.

Careful not to be too critical of Kerry, who Massachusetts Dems have sent to the U.S. Senate four times over, Kucinich said he just wanted to present Massachusetts with an alternative.

And not just on the war, he told me. He claims he offers an attractive alternative on a variety of issues: “Senator Kerry supported the PATRIOT Act; I led the opposition against it and intend to repeal it as president. Senator Kerry continues to support a for-profit health care system. I’ve introduced legislation to create a not-for-profit health care system. And Senator Kerry would restrict the rights of people of same sex to be able to marry. I believe that the promise of the constitution, and the Bill of Rights, ought to be made available to everyone, regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.”

Talking about Nader
Kucinich Tuesday proposed a situation where independent candidate Ralph Nader would be a non-factor in the presidential race: Make Kucinich the Democratic nominee.

Describing himself as a “Green Democrat,” Kucinich said to Democrats who fret over the presence of Greens or independents on any ballot, “Why don’t you take a strong stand on environmental issues? Why don’t you take a strong stand on issues related to corporate governance? Why don’t you take a strong stand on clean money and elections? And then maybe people who might be inclined to vote for someone else would for you.”

Kucinich was respectful but sharp when speaking directly about the latest candidate to enter the ’04 fray. “When I was mayor of Cleveland he was the only person who was a national figure who came in to help me save my city’s municipal electric company from a corporate takeover. And I’m grateful for that and Ralph and I have remained close,” Kucinich said their relationship. “But let me just make something abundantly clear. My nomination will make Ralph Nader’s candidacy less necessary.”

Wednesday, Feb. 25

Kucinich Tuesday described President Bush’s proposed Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages marriages as "divisive."

"I oppose the amendment," he said in a statement. "Equal protection of the law, including the right to marry, must be made available to all Americans regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation. The amendment as supported by the president is a continuation of his divisive policies which are not worthy of a free nation or a freedom-loving people."

Kucinich has not been shy about voicing his support for gay marriages throughout his presidential campaign.

Home and away
He may not be the most successful candidate but he could possibly be the most traveled. Between Sunday morning and Tuesday night Kucinich had been to Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii, California and Massachusetts. (He was pinning hopes for winning any delegates in the "Obscure Tuesday" contests on the Aloha State, which he visited twice.)

But all the time on the road, coupled with his string of primary losses and "loser" label among the Dem presidential contenders, could be hurting him in his home congressional district. He’s got one Democratic primary challenger and four Republicans vying for his seat, including two military veterans who argue Kucinich’s anti-war stance makes him too soft on homeland security matters.

In addition, Kucinich has not cast a vote in Congress since the House reconvened in January.

Tuesday, Feb. 24

While fellow Democrats tried to relieve the agita from a Nader run repeating on them, Kucinich was likely experiencing some double takes of his own Monday. Nader’s campaign platform looks remarkably like that of the Ohio congressman’s on everything from war to health care.

An editorial in the Tuesday Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes how the similarities almost make two candidacies seem redundant: "In fact, at least some of the issues on Nader's list -- universal health care, for example -- are at the core of Kucinich's platform. Nader is running, Nader says, because none of the Democrats are doing what Kucinich, one of the Democrats, is doing."

So what gives? These two have called each other friends on several occasions; Nader was even Kucinich’s invited guest to a Democratic debate in New Hampshire last December and encouraged Dems to cast their votes for Kucinich in the primaries. Why mount a bid when your buddy is still in the race?

"I still urge Democrats in the primary to support him. I've worked with him for 30 years. I would love him to be the Democratic nominee," Nader said of Kucinich on CNN’s "Inside Politics" Monday afternoon. "It doesn't seem like he's a front-runner yet. That's the problem. The real Democrats in the progressive tradition of the Democratic Party are getting nowhere in the midst of the corporate Democrats."

Kucinich has thus far (as of this writing at least) declined comment on Nader’s bid, uncharacteristically silent for a campaign that usually screams for media attention. Whatever the status of the relationship between these two (and you can be sure your inquisitive embed is hounding both camps for it) Nader announcing his candidacy may not be the end of Kucinich just yet, but it still looks like a desperate gulp before the Ohio congressman’s last gasp. The increase in coverage surrounding Nader could draw attention to Kucinich’s platform; several articles are pointing out that there’s already a Ralph Nader in the race and his name is Dennis Kucinich (Many also note that he’s not doing that well and what does that bode for Nader?) And Kucinich has a good deal of money in the bank to keep chugging along; the monthly FEC report filed last week for January showed the campaign with $2.7 million cash on hand. Even with $1.3 million in debts that looks a heckuva lot better than Nader’s paltry $175,000. Kucinich has the advantage of being a major party candidate and he’s already attracted the support of many who were behind Nader in 2000, including his ticket mate Winona LaDuke.

But a Nader bid signals to some progressives a loss of confidence in Kucinich’s quest. A few more primary losses and even the most loyal Kucitizens will be looking for an alternative, one who will echo their platform on the general ballot in November. If he can get himself on that ballot, that alternative would be Ralph Nader.

Friday, Feb. 20

While Kucinich has been able to attract the endorsement and support of some Green Party members for his politics, some diehards are suspecting Kucinich is part of a conspiracy to keep progressive Democrats in the party.

David Cobb, a 40-year-old attorney seeking the Green Party nod for president, this week told a Bay Area newspaper that he thinks Kucinich’s pledge to stay in the Democratic race through the convention could be a way of keeping progressives from voting Green. That’s why, Cobb claims, Democratic Party officials haven’t yet pushed Kucinich or the Rev. Al Sharpton out of the race.

"I don't think Dennis knows he's doing it. I don't know whether Dennis Kucinich went through a thought process that specifically said, ‘I'm going to run to keep Democrats in the party,’" Cobb told a Metro Newspapers reporter. "I do know this. That is the end result. And I am absolutely convinced that the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Leadership Council know this, and I am convinced they are pleased to see Kucinich and Sharpton staying in the race for that reason."

Green candidate Ralph Nader won 3 percent of the national vote in 2000, which proved to be super important in a race decided by just half a million votes.

Kucinich has frequently said that he would not consider a presidential bid as a Green or an independent.

Cobb pledged in January to abandon a Green run for the White House if Kucinich were to win the Democratic nomination. Kucinich has received the endorsement of several prominent Greens, including former San Francisco mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez, who lost a very tight race for City Hall last December.

Thursday, Feb. 12

With primary results like his, Dennis Kucinich has to find comic relief somewhere. Lately he’s been getting some help from the likes of Craig Kilborn and, now, Jay Leno. Who knows, when his lackluster presidential bid is all said and done, perhaps he can find work in late- night comedy?

Making his second late-night appearance in just over a week Kucinich appeared in a pre-taped segment on NBC’s "Tonight Show" Wednesday night.

"He’s a very good sport," Leno said of the congressman prior to the segment.

Spoofing his oft-mentioned status as the bachelor in the Democratic bunch, Kucinich appeared in a Leno-style version of "The Dating Game," choosing between actresses Cybill Shepherd, Jennifer Tilly and Republican radio talk show host Kim Serafin.

Just like the original in the 60’s, complete with the large flowered partitions, Kucinich couldn’t see the contestants and prior to the game "we kept him cut off from the outside world, kind of like his campaign headquarters," Leno quipped.

Loaded with innuendo that made even your intrepid reporter blush at times (I’m not a prude but, hey, the guy is older than my dad. There are plenty of images I just do NOT need in my head) the three ladies did their best to win the candidate’s vote. Shepherd tried to woo Kucinich by cooing, "I’m ready for a wardrobe malfunction," and promising, "I’ll make you scream like Howard Dean." Serafin promised Kucinich a Valentine’s candy heart that would read, "U R 2 Cute 2 B a Democrat."

But the ultimate winner was Bachelorette #1: the Oscar-nominated yet often ditzy and spacey Tilly. The two were given dinner at a Los Angeles restaurant specializing in vegan delights.

Kucinich is also cutting up on the airwaves in a new campaign ad titled "The Only One." In one of two new spots (mentioned in my note on Tuesday) the congressman makes light of the issue that’s dogged him throughout the campaign: inelectability.

A smiling Kucinich gives a thumbs up as he listens to an announcer list his salient attributes, including, "You’re only 5-foot-6 but you really cut those other guys down to size in those debates." But the happy demeanor comes to a screeching halt when he’s reminded, "You’’ve only got one problem. The media says you’re unelectable."

"But I am electable," he retorts with his now familiar line, "If you vote for me."

The more serious of the two new spots, designed, like the others, pro bono by George Lois, (I’ll never eat another "Lean Cuisine" without thinking of my, um, interesting interview with the salty New York ad veteran) focuses on Kucinich being the only candidate in the race who cast a "no" vote on Capitol Hill for the war. They’ve just begun to air in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Kucinich will stump between Saturday and Tuesday’s primary.

Wednesday, Feb. 11

While dismal returns were drifting in from Virginia and Tennessee, Kucinich was in Atlanta getting a jump on Georgia’s Super Tuesday primary. He turned out a crowd of 60 at a gay and lesbian bookstore in midtown, where he took the opportunity to address the hot topic of same sex marriages, which he is not shy about supporting. Reminding the citizens of Atlanta what a tremendous role their city played in the civil rights movement, he described this issue as a similar struggle.

"We cannot, America cannot, exist as a free nation, we cannot exist as a United States if we begin to let basic questions of civil rights be decided by the states alone," Kucinich said. "It’s just not consistent with who we are as a nation. And so I see the rights of all gay people as being a question of civil rights and that we should not permit anyone for a political reason to try to separate the aspirations of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to be separate from the rest of Americans."

A crowd of 300 or so greeted him at a rally at Georgia Tech before he moved on to a fundraiser in Decatur.

It was probably best that Kucinich kept himself busy and away from the primary returns on Tuesday night. After gaining some ground in Washington state and Moine over the weekend, Kucinich was back to the basement in Virginia and Tennessee. How bad were the results? In Tennessee Kucinich was outpolled by Joe Lieberman, who exited the race last week, and Carol Moseley Braun, who withdrew last month. Kucinich currently has just the two superdelegates pledged to him - Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California and himself.

The campaign released two new ads Tuesday night, the first taking swipes at the Democratic candidates who voted for war in Iraq as members of Congress. While not naming John Kerry and John Edwards, Kucinich says in the ad, "Now these other candidates claim they were duped, misled, lied to. Why would the Democratic party nominate a candidate who can be so easily fooled?"

The second ad is a lighter spot where Kucinich uses the signature line he unveiled in Iowa, "I’m electable if you vote for me." (Maybe he should have told the folks in Virginia and Tennessee that.)

Kucinich has revised his campaign schedule, scrapping a swing through New England states later in the month and instead focusing on California. Kucinich has had more success in California fundraising than in any other state, with 38% of his donations in 2003 coming from the Golden State. He also has the backing of an eclectic mix of Hollywood endorsers, including actors Joaquin Phoenix, Danny Glover and James Cromwell among others.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Kucinich was offering a new twist on the merits of his anti-war stance Monday, asserting that Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic Party is questioning President Bush’s military record and contrasting current frontrunner John Kerry’s Vietnam service to draw attention away from the fact that Kerry voted for the Bush war in Iraq.

He told an audience of mostly foreign journalists and students at a New York University forum sponsored by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Monday,

"I think it’s quite telling that certain Democratic strategists want to make this the issue in the 2004 elections. Can you imagine the circumstances that this country is in right now, when we have 130,000 troops whose lives are on the line at this very moment, to try to couch the 2004 elections in a debate about the relative merits or demerits of someone’s service 30 years ago?"

He described the focus on the candidates’ past military service as a "vanity," continuing on, "That we would sweep aside a discussion of policy on why we're in Iraq in favor of this sideshow of whether or not the president served fully in the Air National Guard. I'm sorry, but if the metaphor of our nation becomes war and becomes which candidate had more authentic military service than the other, if that is where it goes at a time when we have 130,000 troops out there then shame on the rest of us if we don't challenge it. "

Kucinich himself did not serve in the military during Vietnam because of a heart murmur.

Kucinich argued that the Democrats will forfeit the election by not offering Americans a clear enough distinction between the two major parties on the issue of Iraq. "We have to realize that the Democratic Party has lost its ability to win elections because it hasn’t offered people a real choice," he said. "There’s no question that George Bush is planning to run for reelection based on his Iraq policy, the very policy which should be instrumental in his defeat. And if a Democrat stands next to him and is not in a position to challenge him, then we’re looking at a continuation of the Bush administration."

Response to Bush
Kucinich began his address at New York University Monday with his response to President Bush’s appearance on the NBC’s Sunday morning broadcast of "Meet the Press."

"This administration’s policies of preemption and unilateralism seek to be supported by what is unsupported, and that is an attack on a nation which did not attack us," he said of the president’s justification for war with Iraq. "We have been able to fully establish that there was no imminent threat nor was there any need for a any immediacy on the part of the United States

Kucinich also didn’t think moderator Tim Russert pressed the commander-in-chief enough. "Unfortunately Mr. Russert missed some opportunities in his interview yesterday, He spent a lot of time exploring the reason for the attack against Iraq. But he didn’t get into questions so much of the results," Kucinich said. "There was really no thorough discussion of accountability. Where’s the accountability for this administration leading this country into a war that’s manifesting and not necessary? And there was really no exploration of the real issues which stand behind the U.S. attack on Iraq."

Attacking the frontrunner
Now that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is enjoying the momentum that 10 victories in 12 primaries will bring, Kucinich has diverted his attacks toward the Massachusetts senator.

On the front of the Kucinich website is a multiple-choice quiz for cybervisitors asking "Who Said This?" with a quote that reads, "In the clearest presentation to date, the President laid out a strong, comprehensive, and compelling argument why Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs are a threat to the United States and the international community."

The site gives the choices of hawks like Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney before revealing, "Senator John Kerry said this on the Senate floor, October 9, 2002, before the Iraq war began."

Kucinich extended his criticism of the Democratic frontrunner Monday afternoon by drawing parallels between him and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "When you see some of the things that President Bush said yesterday on ‘Meet the Press,’ talking about Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make a weapon and let that weapon fall into the hand of a shadowy terrorist network, it actually bears a striking similarity to the kinds of things that Senator Kerry is saying," Kucinich said

He continued to criticize Kerry and other rivals for their actions prior to the United States moving troops into Iraq. "Senator Kerry, as well as other leading Democrats, spoke very strongly and, at the time convincingly, alleging that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He did not," Kucinich said. "Senator Kerry voted for the war. Senator Kerry supports the occupation. Senator Kerry supports sending another 40,000 troops to Iraq. Now I’m wondering if the people of this country are ready to trade a Republican war for a Democratic war. Because that’s exactly where we’re headed right now."

Moving forward
With just about everyone, Kucinich included, acknowledging Kerry’s intense propulsion toward the nomination, the congressman on Monday was more subdued than others in his campaign about his better-than-anticipated caucus finishes over the weekend, but still pledged to charge on. However he seems more content than ever with the impact his message, as opposed to his personal poll numbers, could have to shape the race.

"My candidacy started off way back on the pack," Kucinich told the audience at New York University. "In recent days I’ve run third place in Washington State and third in Maine. I could get as high as 17% in Maine and while that’s hardly earth-shaking, the truth of the matter is that the issues I’ve been talking about are starting to get some attention in some of the states. And as I go through to Super Tuesday, I think that some of the people will have the opportunity to make a fair assessment on this issue. Because it really is going to end up being about the war."

Reluctant to answer which remaining states look competitive for him, Kucinich told me post-speech, "I never predict."

"We’re just trying to get votes wherever we can," he continued. "We’re going to keep doing that. It’s nice to have support in Washington State and Maine. We now have support literally from one end of the country to the other. And two third-place finishes, it’s very favorable and it shows that without too much attention at all our campaign is stating to get support from around the country. It’s a good sign. We’re going to keep at it."

"Keeping at it" in Blacksburg, Virginia, Monday night on the eve of that state’s primary, the AP reports Kucinich brought in 700 people to a rally at Virginia Tech. Tomorrow morning he stumps in Tennessee, where he’s not expected to make many ripples in that state’s primary (His poll numbers have been measured in tenths of a percentage point there.) After spending a couple of hours in Nashville he’ll head south to Atlanta for a round of evening events.

Sunday, Feb. 8

After the New Hampshire primary a Kucitizen tried to boost morale by posting this little theorem on an supporters’ message board: "In Iowa, we got 1%… in NH, we got 2%… Here's my math: if we keep doubling with every week's round of primaries, we will be at 16% by Wisconsin, with the Pope and the Dalai Lama on board. By California, we'll have reached 64%, and George Bush himself will have endorsed Dennis!!! "

Freaky as anyone following the race might find it, that Kucitizen has been accurate to date (though I wouldn’t hold my breath on those endorsements.) Kucinich picked up 8 percent in Washington State Saturday and nearly doubled that in Maine’s caucuses on Sunday.

"Dennis Kucinich has broken into double-digits for the first time this primary season," the campaign said when 50% of the returns had been tallied. "He has done so, amazingly, during a virtual blackout of his campaign by the national media. The strength of the Kucinich campaign has begun to show itself, and will continue to show itself, all the way to the convention. "

The elation will likely be short-lived. Despite the stronger percentages, Kucinich was unable to pick up delegates in Washington and at 14.8% looked as though he’d fall just short of the threshold required in Maine. Looking at this Tuesday’s contests, Kucinich is polling at fractions of a percent in Tennessee and barely has his head above water in Virginia (He’ll stump in each of those states over the next two days.)

The number of states where Kucinich might be able to pull off similar surprise finishes is dwindling as well. The campaign invested a good deal of time and energy into campaigning in Washington State and Maine; Kucinich visited Maine six times, more than any other Democratic candidate, in a successful effort to overcome low name-recognition. His progressive, anti-war, maverick campaign resonated well in these two states notorious for independent thinking and views on the more liberal end of the political spectrum.

States remaining in play where Kucinich’s message and/or organization may serve him similar finishes include Wisconsin, California and his home state of Ohio.

Saturday, Feb. 7

The campaign took a very distant third-place finish in Washington state and spun it into "a great day" for the campaign.

Winning just 8 percent of the vote, but turning in his best finish in a contest to date, Kucinich thanked his supporters in Washington state in a statement Saturday night from San Francisco, where he spent the latter portion of the day campaigning and fundraising.

"It is clear from the results of this caucus that this campaign has a strong base of support on the west coast, and that strength is showing itself," Kucinich said. "We expect to do very well in the Oregon and California contests as well. The results in Washington are a positive sign of the support that is waiting to show itself as this primary season continues… The strength of this campaign, and of my message, will continue to grow as more people learn about my campaign."

National campaign manager Dot Maver added, "Between the results out of Washington, and the spectacular results of the 20/20/20 fundraiser, it is clear that the American people support the Dennis Kucinich campaign. They support Dennis Kucinich because he will get our soldiers out of Iraq. They support Dennis Kucinich because he will end the for-profit health care system in America and create a not-for-profit single payer universal health care plan. They support Dennis Kucinich because he will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, and rebuild our manufacturing base in America."

She added, "Dennis Kucinich is in this race to the end. We will see you in Boston."

It was expected that Kucinich’s progressive message would fare better in Washington, the site of the 1999 WTO protests. He also hoped to capitalize on strong anti-war sentiment in the state but, despite Howard Dean’s recent slips, wasn’t able to put as big a dent in the former Vermont governor’s support as he may have hoped.

He also wasn’t able to pick up much support in Michigan, where he finished a distant sixth among the six active Democratic candidates with 3 percent of the vote. (No spin was put on that finish - the campaign made no mention of the contest there.)

Kucinich has been able to drum up decent-sized crowds in Maine and they’re hoping all these folks will come out to caucus for him Sunday. Otherwise he could come up empty this week - Virgnia and Tennessee aren’t looking very promising for him on Tuesday, as he’s campaigned there barely if at all.

Additionally, the campaign reports that contributions "surged" this week. They say they took in $100,000 in the first three days of their new fundraising drive, fending off rumours that the Ohio congressman may run out of money and drop his flagging bid.

Friday, Feb. 6

Kucinich spent a second day campaigning hard in Washington State with just days to go before the caucus in that state.

According to the AP, Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said he thinks Kucinich could get at last 15 percent of the vote in some precincts and congressional districts in Saturday's caucuses, meaning the Ohio congressman could pick up at least a few delegates.

The AP also reports Kucinich brought hundreds of Democrats to their feet in at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle Thursday afternoon, with another fiery speech on free trade and universal health care. Yet another eclectic musician-supporter and fellow vegetarian, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, introduced Kucinich at the appearance.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Kucinich brought in a packed house - more than 1,200 people -- at Town Hall in Seattle Wednesday night, harking back to the protests over the World Trade Organization and saying. "I call on the spirit of Seattle of 1999!"

Meanwhile, the campaign’s newly-launched "20/20/20" initiative is underway, encouraging supporters to contribute $20 to the campaign, contact 20 of their friends and relatives to tell them about Kucinich’s bid and to call 20 undecided voters in the upcoming primary states.

National campaign manager Dot Maver stressed the first "20" - the money - in a message to supporters, saying the FEC "shortfall" on matching funds makes it particularly important. "It is with heartfelt joy and appreciation that I write to you, Kucitizens, as we begin the most critical two months of this amazing campaign," she wrote. "Thank you for your efforts. Together we are making a difference. The 20/20/20 Initiative is three simple things we all can do to keep our momentum rolling and keep Dennis Kucinich, the peace candidate, on track in this primary season."

Thursday, Feb. 5

The overly optimistic Kucinich campaign is viewing the massive obstacles in its path to the nomination as completely surmountable, no matter how delusional that may seem.

“The race for the nomination will go all the way to the convention," Kucinich told The Associated Press Wednesday. "It is at the convention where I will win the nomination, based on the emergence of Iraq as the defining issue."

After wiping out in Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses, Kucinich spent most of Wednesday convincing folks he was staying in the race and validating why.

In a statement to supporters after hitting the ground in Washington State early Wednesday morning he said, “Well, we finally popped our nose above the sidewalk and came up with 2 percent in Arizona, 3 percent in North Dakota, and at last count (they're still counting) we're between 5 and 6 percent in New Mexico.

“This clearly starts to show that our campaign has a heartbeat, and we're going to create some racing pulses across the country as we start to challenge the front runners on their position on Iraq, on health care, and on trade.”

The AP also reports that 600 people greeted him at a rally in Lacey, Washington, the same number that greeted Howard Dean fifty miles north in Seattle. “Keep in mind the power Washington state has — by this weekend, this entire nation can hear the word," Kucinich said.

"We're really excited about this state," Washington campaign spokeswoman Patty Kuderer told the AP. "As Howard Dean has been tanking, we've been seeing real growth in our support here. He is drawing Greens and veterans and labor people and anti-war constituencies."

Wednesday, Feb. 4

The Kucinich campaign said Tuesday night that the Ohio congressman is in the Democratic race "till the last dog dies."

Spokesman William Rivers Pitt said, "We have completed only nine races. We’re barely into the primary season," and reiterated that, despite the outcome of Tuesday’s "Mini-Super Tuesday" contests, his boss plans to take his bid "all the way to the convention. He’s in it, to quote Bill Clinton, ‘till the last dog dies.’"

Now that the field has thinned to six from (at one point) ten, Kucinich believes he’ll have a greater opportunity to get his messages through to voters.

"As the field continues to narrow, the sharp differences between myself and the acknowledged frontrunners will become more obvious, and will clarify why I am still in this race," Kucinich said in a statement Tuesday night.

He still sees Iraq as "the defining issue in this campaign," even though his stance still hasn’t won him broad backing almost a year into his bid. In addition he’ll continue to push his plan for universal, single-payer health care and his call for bilateral free trade.

There were some relative bright spots for Kucinich in Tuesday night’s outcomes. His showings in New Mexico (5%) and North Dakota (3%) were his best finishes yet and he bested Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton in both of those contests. In Arizona he finished with 2 percent.

Returns in Missouri, Oklahoma and Delaware, however, showed Kucinich with one percent of votes cast and in South Carolina he came up with zero. The only consolation for the campaign in these four states was that Kucinich spent little or no time campaigning there.

Wasting little time, Kucinich boarded a plane from Los Angeles to Washington State Tuesday night to begin a whirlwind Wednesday of campaigning in Lacey, Bellevue, Tacoma and Seattle. He’ll also be in the state on Thursday.

Under pressure?

Pitt also said he’s heard nothing about the campaign being coaxed out of the nomination race. "I have no information about us being approached by the DNC," he told me Tuesday night.

He added that Joe Lieberman’s exit from the race was more likely a way of the senator saving face than sticking with Terry McAuliffe’s suggestion that candidates who did not win a primary by February 3 withdraw from the race, a request Pitt called "inappropriate."

Staying on message
According to the AP, exit polls conducted in Arizona, Delaware and South Carolina showed that more than seven in 10 voters disapproved of the United States going to war with Iraq. In Missouri and Oklahoma, the number disapproving was more than half.

Those numbers seem like they’d be completely compatible with Kucinich’s message, but it didn’t translate into success for the congressman Tuesday. Despite that, the campaign says they won’t be retooling their message.

"We still think that Iraq is one of the defining issues in this campaign," press secretary William Rivers Pitt told me Tuesday night. "There’s still a great deal of anger among Americans on this."

"Kerry, Edwards and Dean have all capitalized on it," Pitt continued, "But we’re going to keep bringing this issue to the forefront."

"It is at the convention where I will win the nomination, based on the emergence of Iraq as the defining issue on Super Tuesday," Kucinich said in his post-returns statement.

Comic relief
Kucinich supporters Tuesday night were consoling themselves with this analysis of political struggle from Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they fight you, then you win."

Not so sure about that "then you win" thing, but this campaign is definitely in the "then they make fun of you" phase. Of late Kucinich’s bid has been prime fodder for the late-night talk show monologues, with everyone from Leno to Letterman to Jon Stewart poking fun. And this week Kucinich won the distinction of being the subject of one of the uber-cartoons in the New Yorker; a bar graph depicting "The Mars Primary" showed Kucinich with the overwhelming lead over his opponents on the Red Planet.

The candidate himself showed up on CBS’ "Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn" from Los Angeles Tuesday night.

"We’ve been preparing for his arrival," Kilborn said prior to Kucinich’s appearance, leading into a montage of previous shows’ shots at Kucinich, including an airbrushed photo of the candidate with Spock ears.

While the numerous Kucitizens in the Southern California crowd drowned out many of the candidate’s answers with their exuberance, Kucinich poked fun at his own underdog status ("I was at one percent in Iowa, one in New Hampshire… Across the United States I’m working my way to 50%."), his single status and his Croatian roots, before he and Kilborn turned serious on Iraq and legalizing medicinal marijuana.

Also as part of the host’s trademark "Five Questions" the high school athlete Kucinich was asked to make a free throw while holding a baby (not a real one, of course.) He missed both tries, but the doggedly persistent Kucinich was caught on camera attempting and making the shot after the segment was done.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Vote Hemp, a "non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp," has bestowed upon Kucinich its highest rating of any of the Democratic candidates. According to the group’s

2004 voter guide, issued Monday, Kucinich received an "A+".

The basis for Kucinich's high marks? "He expressed full support for keeping hemp food products legal, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration's attempt to ban edible hemp," says the group's voter guide. "He also supports allowing farmers to grow hemp and would loosen restrictions on industrial hemp research. We consider him the strongest supporter of industrial hemp among Democrats."

Front-runner John Kerry received an F, as did Wesley Clark and President Bush.

Go further West, candidate
In September and October it looked like Kucinich might have a shot at turning in a less than humiliating performance in Arizona or New Mexico.

The crowds were there, the volunteers were there, the organization was there. Now polls are showing that’s not so much. Looking beyond February 3, Kucinich is trying to find anyplace he can beat expectations.

He won’t be the big winner there, but some figure that Kucinich’s early and well-organized operation in Washington State could have an effect in their caucuses on Saturday, particularly given the recent slip of Howard Dean.

"One blip in national polls is a factor," in the Washington State primary writes Joel Connelly in Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "It's Dennis Kucinich. Don't laugh," Connelly continues. "The Ohio congressman and onetime ‘boy mayor’ of Cleveland -- under whom the city went bankrupt -- scored just 1 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire.

"He has, however, established a foothold at the far-left end of Washington's Democratic Party. Kucinich wants the United States to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, and to pay war reparations to Iraqis. "

Kucinich will campaign hard in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday – about 15 events and media appearances over the two days -- before heading off to Michigan.

The money trail
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Kucinich’s campaign raked in $6,227,898 in 2003 and spent $3,709,946. Cash on hand at the end of the fourth quarter of 2003 was $2,629,441, more than then-top tier candidates Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman or Edwards. The campaign reported debts of $1.5 million.

Individual contributions accounted for 76% of his donations and 0% of the money came from businesses. Californians donated the most to the campaign, accounting for 38% of the campaign’s contributions. (Maybe he should hang on for Super Tuesday after all.) Top contributors included the United Steelworkers of America and the Sheet Metal Workers Union.

Friday, Jan. 30

Backstage at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, the site of Thursday night’s South Carolina debate, Kucinich had all the comforts of home – vegan cuisine, John Lennon tunes and one very funky, eye-catching lamp.

The folks who set up Kucinich’s backstage enclave didn’t want the congressman to miss out on Southern cuisine just because of his strict diet, so they came up with something special for him: tofu with vegan barbecue sauce. “We wanted to know how to welcome a vegan to the South,” said the volunteer who put it all together.

Also in his “picnic basket” – a vegan tofu eggless salad sandwich, pita bread and tabouli.

Sitting on the floor was a boom box with one CD – a John Lennon compilation including the campaign’s theme song “Imagine.”

Then there was “the” lamp – think back to the bus that the Democreation Project drove to the debate in Des Moines and imagine it in desktop form and that’s what this psychedelic beaded lamp looked like. Handmade by a Kucinich supporter, who was “giddy” it would be in his room, the lamp grabbed the attention of nearly every passer-by, prompting a bewildered Kucinich to wonder just why everyone was sticking their head in his room.

Surprising some of its own members, the Arab American Political Action Committee endorsed the long-shot Kucinich on Thursday.

Kucinich received more than 2/3 of the committee’s votes cast, most likely because of this call to roll back most of the PATRIOT Act and for his anti-war stance.

According to the AP, the group’s chairman, Osama Siblani, who is also editor-in-chief of the Arab-American News said, "It was not a strategy endorsement, it was an endorsement of principle."

"They decided that they needed to make it clear that this community will vote for the candidate that best represents its interests, not necessarily the one that may be elected.”

The AP also said, “While representatives from the campaigns of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, Dean and Clark were on hand Wednesday to lobby for their respective candidates, there was no one representing Kucinich.”

The group endorsed President Bush in 2000 but has been at odds with the administration in the post 9-11 climate.

The most popular question asked of Kucinich post-debate was when and if he’ll quit his quest for the nomination. He's still maintaining the optimism that the nomination will come down to the convention and that his anti-war stance will put him in the best position of any candidate.

“This is a long campaign," he said. "I think this campaign goes all the to the convention. No one will have a majority of votes going into the convention. So what happens is the convention becomes a call for a candidate to come forward with a position on the war and it’s the consistency that’s going to be attractive.”

He also believes that having such a large field of candidates this late in the game is a positive rather than a negative for the Democratic party. “The more candidates you have, the more people are interested and that in and of itself will result in a new president," he said. "The problem comes when you just have a few choices. When you have a lot of choices people get excited about all of us. If I get the nomination, everyone rallies around me. If someone else gets the nomination we all close ranks. It’s great for the party. This really is true… the more the merrier.”

Thursday, Jan. 29

No fancy charter plane for this campaign. At 8:30am the morning after the New Hampshire primary Kucinich was in line with the rest of the journalists (this embed included), campaign volunteers, and everyday folk schlepping through airport security screening in Manchester.

At work chatting on his cell phone, Kucinich went largely unnoticed by the people around him (compared to what it would be like for Kerry or Clark to pass through the gate, a horde of media and staff in tow) which goes far to explain his lackluster finish in the previous day’s primary. A guy in a Kerry t-shirt commented to his companion, "Hey, there’s Kucinich," to which his friend responded a mere, "Oh yeah, that’s him, isn’t it?" and quickly went back to his copy of the Union-Leader.

Kucinich was en route to Oklahoma (sans his embed) for a handful of events in Edmond and Oklahoma City. Despite the visit Kucinich’s focus among the seven February 3 states will be Arizona and New Mexico, two states he’ll visit this weekend.

Leaving the nation’s first primary behind them the campaign said Wednesday that they are "progressing," using their fundraising base as the chief basis for the claim.

"Through the third quarter, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Kucinich campaign had brought in $2,188,700 from contributors giving $200 or less. This compares to Kerry's $2,067,116, Gephardt's $1,640,029, Lieberman's $1,060,141, Clark's
$1,042,678, Edwards' $419,756, and Sharpton's $24,614," a release said.

Pointing to some upcoming primary states, the release continued, "In current numbers as of January 26, the Kucinich campaign has brought in over $3,038,000 from 60,890 contributors of $200 or less, including $882,653 from 16,356 Californians, $194,631 from 3,971 New Yorkers, $131,822 from 2,646 Ohioans, and $115,036 from 2,259 small donors in

But perhaps one supporter’s rationale sums up this campaign’s optimism…. this from the campaign’s message board:

"In Iowa, we got 1%, knocked off Gephardt and put Dean on the ropes. In NH, we got 2% and saw Dean wounded further, with Lieberman hanging on by a thread. We gained a huge influx of energy with the arrival of Will Pitt as Press Secretary.

Here's my math: if we keep doubling with every week's round of primaries, we will be at 16% by Wisconsin, with the Pope and the Dalai Lama on board. By California, we'll have reached 64%, and George Bush himself will have endorsed Dennis!!! "

Um, riiiight. Have they been drinking that "herbal elixir" again?

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Well, it's not dead last
Another major race, another dismal finish. Kucinich made a sixth place finish here in New Hampshire, edging out only the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hardly campaigned here.

Despite three campaign offices, despite countless visits to the state, despite a full-time staff in place, the campaign was unable to muster up more than 2 percent of the Granite State vote. After two successive brutal defeats, you have to ask the candidate: When are you going to give up the chase?

“This Iraq thing is going to keep getting bigger and bigger,” Kucinich told me after the results were pretty much final Tuesday night, still believing his platform can carry him to the White House. As far as sustaining a campaign he added, “I’ve got the money.”

“We’re going all the way to the convention where we’re going to win the nomination,” he told 150 or so folks gathered at Manchester campaign headquarters Tuesday night after the final votes were cast. “And people will say, ‘Well, how is that possible? You’re in single digits.’ Well, I’ve been in single digits all my life but let me tell you something. This contest is not going to be decided in one state by one election. Some candidates put all their eggs in one basket. I put lots of little eggs in fifty baskets.”

To illustrate his marathon strategy Kucinich slipped off a black wingtip and held it up for the crowd to see. “As you know, this is the second step along the way of a long-distance run,” he said,  “And I want to tell you that the shoes that I’m wearing, these are actually the shoes of a long-distance runner.”

Kucinich spent most of Monday, his final day campaigning before the primary, trying to differentiate himself from the other candidates in the field on a familiar issue: the war with Iraq. While domestic issues had been his focus leading up to Iowa, his own failure and Howard Dean’s slip led many to believe that the anti-war message had lost its steam. Instead, Kucinich has reverted back to the issue.

Scrolling through his Blackberry, he gave an audience at the vegetarian-friendly Ecos Café in Merrimack examples of each of his opponents stating that they believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He then cited his own appearance on MSNBC’s “Buchanan and Press” in September of 2002, where he disputed the claim. He said that dissent is what makes him a stronger leader than those in the Democratic field.

"You wanna know the measure of a leader? Take the measure when you stand up to the White House, to the congressional leaders, to spokespersons in the party and to people in the media if you want to see a leader,” Kucinich said Monday. “And that’s what I did. Not what I’m gonna do. That’s what I did. To And I’ve been proven to be 100 percent right. And these others individuals have been proven to be wrong."

Kucinich also said that his fellow candidates are now ignoring the issue of the war. “See, the Democrats are risking forfeiting the election over the Iraq issue. Some of the candidates aren’t even talking about it now,” he said Monday. “They want to act like it doesn’t exist. Let me tell you, you know what Iraq is? It’s like the elephant in the living room. It’s like having an elephant that somehow got into your living room and no one wants to talk about it.  Well, you know what? I’m saying there’s an elephant in our living room and it has the words ‘W-A-R’ on it. And we’d better talk about it."

Fending off any rumors that Kucinich may exit the race, the Kucinich campaign Monday released a schedule of the candidate’s whereabouts that goes through the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2. While some speculate that Kucinich may bail after “Super Tuesday Lite” on Feb. 3, the campaign does have the money and resources to go on long after (they’ll soon be receiving a check for $3.3 million in federal matching funds.) But the disorganized way activities were run in New Hampshire make you wonder whether the organizational structure is there to sustain it.

A source tells me the campaign, frustrated with the disorganization and lack of trajectory, is now beginning a major overhaul to the staff, starting with the press operation.

The first announcement was made at the campaign's after-party Tuesday, adding author William Rivers Pitt to the press shop.

Pitt is managing editor of truthout.org and author of the New York Times bestsellers: "War on Iraq - What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know," 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence,' and "Our Flag, Too - The Paradox of Patriotism."

The campaign has long bemoaned its perceived lack of media coverage yet this is the first change to the press shop since the addition of a national press secretary in September.

Kucinich makes a trip to Oklahoma Wednesday before heading to South Carolina on Thursday.

Friday, Jan. 23

Shift in message
Much as he switched gears to pushing health care in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Kucinich’s remarks of late have been heavy on trade and less so on Mideast policy.

While he continues to push for the U.N. to bring in peacekeeping forces and pull U.S. troops out of Iraq as the New Hampshire primary looms, Kucinich is drawing more attention to his positions on trade - chiefly his call to cancel NAFTA and the WTO. In an effort to pick up labor votes now that Dick Gephardt has departed the race, he also has been touting his union membership and his AFL-CIO friendly voting record in Congress.

Kucinich’s reasoning for the shift? "My position on saving manufacturing jobs is going to attract a lot of people to this campaign," he told me after Thursday night’s debate. "As more and more people in more and more states start to watch this election process and they see that I’m standing there for saving jobs, for protecting our manufacturing base. Not just manufacturing, but saving high-tech jobs as well. More and more people will be agreeing with me on canceling NAFTA and the WTO and going back to bilateral trade which is conditioned on workers’ rights, human rights and environmental quality principles."

A new batch of campaign ads focused on the trade issue has been commissioned and they’re soon to begin airing in New Hampshire.

"This campaign isn't going anywhere..."
After being buried at the bottom in the Iowa caucuses Monday, Kucinich adopted a new mantra: "I’m running a fifty-state campaign." And he says he’ll take that campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention.

He’s not daunted by the fact he doesn’t show up in many of the Granite State polls with the primary just days away. He’s also undeterred by the Democratic National Committee’s objective of having a nominee by March, and isn’t worried about the possibility of the DNC thwarting his efforts before he can reach those primaries in all 50 states. "They have the ‘Democratic National Committee’ and I have ‘Dennis’ National Campaign,’" Kucinich told me. "And ‘Dennis’ National Campaign’ is going forward. And the Democratic National Committee will be glad it is."

Referring to his low-budget, no-frills, grassroots campaign, Kucinich said, "My campaign is intended to go all the way to the convention. We raised 5 million dollars in the first nine-and-a-half months, four million dollars in matching funds, one million dollars this month takes us to about a ten million dollar campaign. We have organizations everywhere. So I’m really optimistic that I’ll win the nomination at the convention, "he said, adding, "By the time we get to the convention, the war in Iraq is going to be a burning issue. People are going to be so upset. And I’m the only one who’s consistently been opposed to it."

Kucinich told reporters Thursday night that he’s used to defying the odds. Fumbling in his wallet he soon produced a baseball card. "This is a high school football team," he explained. "The St. John Cantius Jayhawks in the year 1960. Now it’s written on because it’s the last card I have. But there’s a player who’s in this card who I know very well. He was a four-foot-nine, 97-pound, third-string quarterback on a team that had two strings. But a third-string quarterback. That’s me right there, number 26."

"I thought that was the waterboy?" joked one reporter.

"Well, you know what, I was the ball for awhile," Kucinich cracked. "And the reason why I know anything’s possible is that I couldn’t see over my center’s rear end, though I was the quarterback. And I was able to move along the line undetected. And I could throw a ball forty yards, as long as I went 20 yards back in the pocket."

Wednesday, Jan. 21

Kucinich watched President Bush’s state of the union address with about 100 supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire, as part of a town hall meeting organized by the campaign. Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad throughout the 54-minute address, Kucinich ultimately concluded that the president’s speech was short on substance.

"I actually thought it didn’t have that much content," Kucinich told me on his way out of the meeting. "He spent a lot of time talking about terror. And see it’s kind of instructive. He can spend time talking about that and if you spend a lot of time talking about that you don’t have to explain why America’s lost 3 million manufacturing jobs. You don’t have to explain why unemployment, while it hovers around 6 percent it doesn’t really reflect the massive unemployment that exists in this country from people who have stopped looking for work. You don’t have to explain why 43 million Americans don’t have any health insurance at all. So just talk about terror and you don’t have to talk about anything else."

Kucinich criticized the president’s statements on the war on terror and especially his call to renew the PATRIOT Act, claiming that these words create a climate of heightened fear. Kucinich introduced legislation in September 2003 that would repeal many sections of the PATRIOT Act.

"You know it’s obvious from his use of the words ‘terror’ and ‘terrorism’ so many times that the president is creating a culture of fear," Kucinich said. "And it’s unfortunate because he could do more to help calm the nation instead of continuing to wave the red flag of terror and asking the people of the United States to accept the rollback of their civil liberties as a price to pay for his so-called policy of dealing with terrorism."

The audience wasn’t so hot on Bush’s speech either. In fact, it was a tough crowd watching the images projected on two large screens in the Court Street Theatre. Aside from Kucinich the only figures who got any positive response from the Nashua group were Sen. Ted Kennedy of Masschusetts (for his comical facial reactions to Bush’s health care remarks) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft elicited hisses and a closeup of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York met with raucous boos.

Post-speech Kucinich took questions and comments from the audience, the most memorable being from a 13-year-old from Londonderry, New Hampshire, who expressed concern about President Bush’s omission of a key figure: Osama bin Laden. "I just want to know what you’re going to do about him."

"What I’m going to do about Osama bin Laden or what I’m going to do about George W. Bush?" Kucinich asked to the laughter of the audience.

After the event Kucinich told me he benefited greatly from the interaction with ordinary folks. "It was interesting experience for me because this was the first time that I have not been in Washington at a State of the Union address," Kucinich said. "And it was interesting to be in a live audience, not of members of Congress, just citizens to see what their reaction is and how different it is. Which suggests to me that there’s a disconnect between Washington, D.C., and what’s happening out there in communities around the country."

He added that he suggests every member of Congress hold a similar town hall meeting on the night of a State of the union speech to get a finger on the pulse of the nation.

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Wheeling and dealing with the Edwards camp
Perhaps the only way Kucinich was going to make headlines on caucus day was by announcing an alliance with another candidate. Running a distant fifth in the polls Kucinich was a natural choice to be courted for some help in a particularly tight four-way race and it was widely speculated that the race’s other anti-war candidate, Howard Dean, would reap the benefits.

But in an alliance of some strange political bedfellows, Sen. John Edwards, who Kucinich describes as a friend, got the deal. The two campaigns agreed to a precinct-by-precinct deal; if both campaigns found themselves struggling to meet the 15 percent threshhold the campaign that was closer to 15 percent would take the support of the other in order to meet the mark. For example, in a precinct where Edwards found himself at 11 percent and Kucinich at 6, the Kucinich folks would move over to the Edwards side to make the North Carolina senator viable.

Some who planned to caucus for Kucinich were perplexed by the deal. Though precinct captains were informed of the deal Sunday word had not spread to everyone. Speaking to a crowd of 400 in Iowa City Monday the first question Kucinich faced was, "What’s up with this Edwards thing?" Another interrupted Kucinich saying, "He voted for the war," citing the marquee issue of the Kucinich platform.

Well, here’s what was up with that Edwards thing. Kucinich told me that the deal with John Edwards was in the works for a few weeks prior to the Iowa caucuses and certainly well before his big surge was launched by the endorsement of the Des Moines Register. Rooted more in their solid relationship than in issues, Kucinich said, "Both of our messages have been hopeful and positive." He also noted that, "When you’re going into one of these deals, you have to trust the other person."

Outside of their friendship and from a strategic standpoint, Kucinich said, "Our constituencies are complimentary. He’ll do real well in rural areas and I’ll do real well in urban areas and college towns." There’s been no head-to-head competition between the two campaigns so there was little reason for caucus goers to reject it.

Perhaps that’s why the speculated deal with the Dean camp never came to fruition. But the Kucinich campaign has long been frustrated by what they’ve perceived as a "distortion" of Kucinich’s stance on the war. Though Dean has recognized Kucinich’s opposition to the war during nationally televised debates, as recently as yesterday Kucinich was citing materials distributed by the Dean campaign that tout the former Vermont governor as the "only candidate who opposed the war from the start." That hasn’t sat well with the candidate, the campaign or his supporters.

Thus, while Kucinich supporters continued to tell me they’d been canvassed by the Dean campaign in an effort to hammer out an informal deal like the one struck with Edwards, it wasn’t likely to happen. And given the fierce loyalty of Kucinich supporters it was unlikely that they’d send their support elsewhere unless given direct orders from the campaign.

The Kucinich supporters I spoke with post-caucus Monday night seemed to think they got a raw deal in some precincts, where they reported that Edwards was reaping the benefits more often than their guy. They advised me to study the actual returns to really gauge the support Kucinich got. But the eternally optimal supporters found a silver lining. As one told me, "It was a win-win situation. Now Edwards really owes us one."

'Fifty state campaign'
Speaking of silver linings, the campaign was full of them Monday. You have to be when you only pull in one percent. Just two weeks ago Kucinich told me, "The media has set the bar so low that all I have to do is show a heartbeat here and it’ll be ‘Oh my god! He got one delegate!’" The deal with Edwards certainly diverted some media attention his way and Kucinich used that to reiterate that he’s in the race for the long haul."My job is to keep going from state to state picking up delegates. Again this is a fifty state race as far as I’m concerned, and the territories," Kucinich told me after his after-caucus party. "And I’m campaigning everywhere. This campaign is not letting up a bit. We had one percent of the delegates here but we had delegates. And we’re going to continue from state to state in search of delegates. And that block of delegates will be decisive. And by the time we get to the convention our delegates are going to be a force to be reckoned with and I believe that in a brokered convention we’ll win the nomination."

He also believes his campaign has the momentum to go right through to August, noting how steady his fundraising numbers have been while other campaigns have seen dollars on the decline. Kucinich told me he expects the campaign to bring in $1 million during the month of January alone; they’ve raised $1.7 million in each of the last two quarters, 80 percent of which has been eligible for federal matching funds.Anti-war backlash?
Noting the third-place finish of the Dean campaign and the lackluster finish of the Kucinich bid, it seemed that opposition to the war with Iraq wasn’t a salient issue with the Iowans. But Kucinich said making that generalization would be a mistake and will continue to make the issue the centerpiece of his campaign.

"I think it would be a faulty analysis to in any way describe the success of Senator Kerry with support for the war. I think it would be a huge mistake to do that," Kucinich said after caucus votes were tallied. "As a matter of fact, I will tell you that I intend to base my campaign from here to the convention on the United States getting out of Iraq and that my candidacy will continue to provide the American people in the other 49 states and territories with an alternative candidate who says it’s time to go to the U.N. and bring in U.N. peacekeepers and bring the U.S. troops home."

On Gephardt (and looking for labor love)
Upon hearing the news that his House colleague Dick Gephardt will likely withdraw from the race for the Democratic nomination, Kucinich had this to say: "Dick Gephardt is a great American. I’ve worked closely with him in Congress on many issues. That’s his decision. I think that he’s run a good race here and he should be congratulated on his efforts."

Last month Kucinich told an audience in New York that he’d be happy to step in and receive the backing of organized labor should the candidates they’ve already endorsed drop out. Kucinich sees an opening with the imminent departure of Gephardt from the race.

"I remain the person with the strongest AFL-CIO record in this race," he reminded, in case any rank-and-file was ready to pledge their allegiance.

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Four-day tour
Kucinich wrapped up a four-day campaign whip through Iowa on Monday, hitting his stride as a presidential candidate for the first time.

He began the day in West Des Moines before about 200 employees and supporters who gathered in the cafeteria of GuideOne Insurance before facing what would be his toughest crowd of the day at the Walnut Creek Alternative School. The students were reluctant to come in from the parking lot on a sunny, warm winter day and had to be corralled in by teachers. One student came in but left his headphones on blaring music for the duration of the presentation.

While Kucinich tried to win over the crowd of 60 or so with stories of how he almost became a dropout and how his own brother attended an alternative high school, only a handful seemed to be genuinely interested in supporting him. "This guy is really good," whispered one student to her friend. "I heard he has this bus with all these hippie kids and they play music and they’re all going to vote for him. That’s so cool."

"The toughest thing we can have to deal with in life is other people’s opinions," Kucinich told the Walnut Creek students. Those and poll numbers, right?

Maybe not. Kucinich told a cub reporter at Ames High School later in the day, where an energetic student organizer packed 100 students into their cafeteria, that he’s not thinking about who his chief opponents are, rather leaving it to the people of Iowa to decide on Monday. If the kids at Ames have anything to do with it, he’ll be a shoo-in. They offered whistles and applause.

There are several reasons why, in my opinion, Kucinich is just hitting his campaign stride a week before the Iowa caucuses. Though Kucinich has been in politics since 1967, he’s never campaigned far from his hometown of Cleveland, the widest reach being in his 10th Congressional District in Ohio. When I first started following the congressman at the Labor Day weekend activities here in Des Moines, Kucinich looked visibly uncomfortable with the traditional campaign handshakes, instead marching down the center of the street for most of the Labor Day parade and merely waving.

Kucinich was also a part-time campaigner for most of the fall months because of his stubborn refusal to miss votes in the House of Representatives. After Congress reconvened in September Kucinich often found himself tailoring his schedule to be in Washington, D.C., rather than Iowa or New Hampshire where his opponents were working it all along. For the candidate who repeatedly registered the least name-recognition in the field, the polls continue to show that losing that time on the trail was costly.

But practice makes perfect and more time on the campaign trail has made Kucinich more effective, though most folks have already pledged their allegiances. Instead of harping on the war with Iraq and finding the weapons of mass destruction in the frenetic manner that won him regular ridicule on Comedy Central’s "Daily Show," he’s become less excitable, integrating issues like health care and tax cuts into the mix. There’s more interaction with supporters, including the Ames High student who engaged him in a post-presentation conversation on North Korea.

Though the die-hard Kucinich supporters will fight their darnedest for their guy on Monday, it’s unlikely the new and improved Kucinich will be able to sway others in the short period of time. A Des Moines cab driver told me Monday that a friend of his heard Kucinich speak this week and jumped on his bandwagon. Perhaps if Kucinich had spent more time in the Hawkeye State getting his name and message out, he’d have convinced a lot more people. The crowds from the last week or so lead me to think he’ll make a better showing here than the polls currently indicate, and that this state will be his best showing. Otherwise, the niche he’s carved just isn’t significant enough.

Saturday, Jan. 10

D.C. debate
On two hours sleep and looking it, Kucinich took part in Friday morning’s D.C. Presidential Primary debate at George Washington University and airing on WTOP Radio. Despite the half-inch or so of snow that fell on the District 60 or so D.C., Maryland and Virginia supporters (the same core I’m used to seeing at most mid-Atlantic events) showed up outside with signs and all to greet the candidate, who looked weary after flying in from New Hampshire.

Kucinich’s strategist Steve Cobble later described the event, which featured Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton, as “a lovefest,” with no sharp jabs or swings flying between the candidates present. In fact, the candidate taking the most heat wasn’t even there - Howard Dean, the fourth major candidate on the primary ballot was criticized sharply by Sharpton for his absence.  (Kucinich said simply of Dean’s absence, “I would say you’d have to ask Dr. Dean about that.”)

The debate was less an attempt to change people’s minds about primary votes (looking at the large number of Kucinich buttons and t-shirts, most present were already convinced) than it was to grab attention for D.C.’s long-fought battle to get statehood and these three candidates said exactly what D.C. residents wanted to hear.

“D.C. residents are the only Americans who pay federal income taxes but are denied representation in the House of Representatives. I stand here very strongly in favor of D.C. statehood and making sure that D.C. can have two members in the Senate and one member of the House and that D.C. is accorded the full privileges of statehood,” Kucinich said. “D.C. represents all the hopes and dreams but also all of the challenges of urban America. I can’t think of any more powerful cause than for our party to adopt the cause of statehood for D.C.”

At a post-debate lunch attended by 40 supporters and community leaders at Mimi’s in Dupont Circle, Kucinich said he plans to introduce legislation that would create those 3 congressional seats when Congress returns.

Kucinich, who says he remained on the ballot in D.C. because “I live here, I work here, I’ve been known to eat here,” denied that he had been approached by the DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe and asked to boycott Tuesday’s primary.

Things were tame between the three. A round of the candidates asking questions of each other consisted of Kucinich and Moseley Braun lobbing softballs at each other; Kucinich asked the former ambassador if she’d advocate a universal single-payer health care system (Duh.) while Moseley Braun countered by asking if Kucinich thinks homeland security can be maintained while making cuts in the Pentagon budget (Double duh.)

Moseley Braun came to Kucinich’s defense after questioner Mark Plotkin asked why Kucinich hadn’t mentioned the issue of D.C. statehood in nationally televised debates or forums, saying that both she and Kucinich have done more for the issue than most other candidates.

Sharpton, when asked who would chair the DNC should he win the nomination, cracked he’d choose Kucinich, to which the congressman replied, “Wait a second. I thought you said I was going to be your running mate.” Can you imagine THAT administration?

Second to the number of Kucinich supporters in Friday’s audience was the mobilization of supporters of perennial jailbird candidate Lyndon LaRouche, three of whom disrupted the debate and had to be escorted out of the hall.  While perennial protestor Sharpton and Moseley Braun spoke up and reprimanded the protestors, Kucinich remained quiet.

And what D.C. political event would be complete without Faith Dane and her bugle? The end of a round of questioning elicited a trumpet riff from the 80-year-old former showgirl and perennial candidate who’s run for mayor in the District six times and touts a long-standing friendship with actor Marlon Brando.  Questioner Mark Plotkin acknowledged her presence, though she’s not one of the 11 candidates who’ll appear on the ballot on Tuesday.

First place in the D.C. primary is all but guaranteed to Howard Dean, despite his absence today and between now and Tuesday.  Many of the political folks I talked to Friday expect Sharpton to capitalize on the city’s large African-American population to finish second, but if Kucinich doesn’t finish higher than third it could seriously put a dent in his already-lacking perceived viability.  Though Sharpton has campaigned hard in the District, Kucinich is a sitting member of Congress and has the advantage of more fundraising dollars and more ads in D.C. (print ads started running in early December.) A 2nd place finish could give Kucinich a much- needed boost going into Iowa. Conversely, a fourth place finish could really wreck the campaign morale-wise and in voter confidence, of which there is little to being with. And all those supporter who showed up for Kucinich? About 1/3 don’t live in the District, rather suburban Maryland and Virginia.

Friday, Dec. 12

Picking another battle
Further responding to ABC’s decision to pull its off-air reporter from the campaign, the Kucinich folks have launched a new section of their website Thursday devoted to “media reform,” including a link to order a new campaign bumper sticker: “Annoy the Media, Vote Kucinich.”

In addition to pulling the reporter, the campaign reports that the network has pulled a “World News Tonight” profile scheduled to air next week. To protest, the campaign has listed the names and contact information of several ABC News execs and encouraged Kucinich supporters to contact them and voice their dismay.

Kucinich meets his lady
A match made in heaven. Ok, maybe not heaven but cyberspace. Kucinich met with the winner of the PoliticsNH.com “Who Wants to be a First Lady?” contest in Concord, N.H., Thursday. 34-year old Gina Marie Santore beat out over 80 other women to share breakfast at the Holiday Inn on Main St. with Kucinich (the vegan congressman went with traditional oatmeal) and discuss a variety of campaign topics including health care and prescription drugs. As to whether or not there’ll be a second date, that’s probably up to Santore’s boyfriend.

Thursday, Dec. 11

Campaign attacks media again
In yesterday’s note I pointed out that perhaps the presence of more reporters on the trail with Kucinich signified that perhaps their rocky relationship with the media was ameliorating.

Well, there’s been a setback. Apparently, last night’s New Hampshire debate reopened a lot of old wounds. Even though Kucinich was fielding handshakes, hugs and kind compliments for how he handled Ted Koppel’s questions as he went around the Granite State Wednesday, campaign and candidate were still miffed.

“If we could find a recipe for getting more people not to vote, this is it: ‘Don’t bother, Ted Koppel’s got it under control,’” Kucinich press secretary David Swanson said Wednesday, responding to last night’s questions about lagging poll numbers and low fundraising totals. “Clearly Dennis Kucinich took them to task for their unprofessional journalism and got thunderous applause.”

Adding fuel to the fire, ABC News pulled their off-air reporter from the Kucinich assignment late Wednesday afternoon, along with the reporters assigned to the Rev. Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun. (I knew something was amiss when my ABC counterpart ducked out of an event in Hopkinton, NH, to take a phone call, retrieved her coat and took off without saying goodbye.)

Kucinich heard of the ABC loss shortly before taping an appearance on CNBC’s “Capital Report” with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger. He said it’s not just ABC, but the entire media that’s calling him out of the race too soon. Citing those same low poll numbers and fundraising totals, Borger asked him, “Can you blame them, Congressman?”

Kucinich remained defiant. “They’re not passing out candy here. I’m a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. Referring to FCC codes, he said, “These broadcast rights belong to the people of the United States.”

Wooing undecideds in New Hampshire
Kucinich made the rounds through New Hampshire on Wednesday, starting with the youngest voters at Manchester High School and moving on to his labor friends for a Human Rights Day rally.

The folks in New Hampshire are extremely savvy thanks to their early primary; I asked many of them at these events if they’ve met at least one of the presidential candidates – most have seen 4 or 5. And despite the prevalence of Howard Dean signs along the back roads, there are a good deal who are still undecided.

Many people, regardless of where their allegiances lie, told me that Kucinich stole the show last night. “He was a champion for everyone last night,” said one woman. “He came off really, really well,” said one man.

But despite the performance, there are those who won’t vote for him because they just don’t think he can win. George Chase, a former member of the New Hampshire House who came to hear Kucinich speak in Hopkinton told me, “I wouldn’t mind voting for him, but I think everyone is focused on Bush and I need to cast my vote in the best way to do that.” He doesn’t think Kucinich is it.

New Hampshire state director Mary MacArthur tried to persuade people that the primaries are the place to vote your heart. One person mentioned that she voted her heart in 2000, casting her vote for Ralph Nader, and got burned. MacArthur said the primaries are a completely different scenario. “The election wasn’t decided by a vote last time, it was decided by the Supreme Court.”

In perhaps the most rustic spot on the campaign trail, Kucinich addressed members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association and an eclectic mix of avid supporters (the president of the New Hampshire Hemp Council was there) and – something I’ve not seen yet at his events – a good deal of undecideds.

25 people gathered out in the snow and ice to greet the congressman upon his arrival at the Hopkinton farm, while another 2 dozen waited inside a wood shop (kid you not, I was leaning up against a wood-cutting band saw) for his late arrival.

“There may be other candidates who say, ‘We can do it,’” Mac Arthur told them. “But what is it that they are trying to do? Look at Dean, look at Clark and look at Kucinich. They are all very different ‘its.’”

Kucinich spent about 45 minutes with the Hopkinton crowd, totally not dressed for the farm in his crisp dark suit with baby blue pinstripes and matching shirt and tie. He fielded a variety of questions ranging from agriculture to family leave to legalizing marijuana.

In a small victory, one woman who was seen sporting a Dean button at the beginning of the forum left wearing a Kucinich button instead.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Issues over Gore
Kucinich reacted to Monday’s endorsement of Dean by Al Gore by insisting the Democratic nomination will be won by issues, not endorsements. “I think that the issues more than the endorsements are going to be what defines this election,” Kucinich told me outside a Washington, D.C., fund-raiser Monday night. “And the issue that will define this election in the primaries as well as the general election is the issue relating to the occupation of Iraq. We must end the occupation of Iraq and we must bring our troops home and we can’t do it soon enough.” He also added congratulations to Dean for getting the nod. Dean, like Kucinich, has been tagged for being too far to the left to seriously contend for the White House. The endorsement of Dean by such a prominent party figure could be an indication that “Republican lite” may no longer be so en vogue among Democrats, giving left-leaning Dems like Kucinich some hope. Perhaps that explains the congressman’s gracious remarks.

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