by Joe Shea and Ted Manna
American Reporter Correspondent
December 5, 2007
DETERMINED, STEADY KUCINICH QUADRUPLES SUPPORT
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 5, 2007 -- It's been a long time coming. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, 10th), the former mayor of Cleveland who is serving his fifth term in the House of Representatives has quadrupled his standing in the polls, according to the current USA Today/Gallup Poll.
The poll of Democrats and those leaning toward the Democrats in the 2008 presidential election shows Kucinich tied with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), the well-known chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson; he is far ahead of second-generation Conn. Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd.
Among progressives, according to a presidential straw poll released today of 15,000 members of the grassroots Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Kucinich is far stronger than the rest of the Democratic field. Kucinich placed first in the poll with 41 percent of the vote; his nearest competitor was former Sen. John Edwards, with 26 percent. Among other candidates, only Iowa frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama, with 13 percent, scored double digits in the poll.
These improvements come as Kucinich's message of competence, integrity and foresight is reaching a wider audience through the multiple debates sponsored by the parties, CNN, YouTube and the major television networks. He has also had to fight off ridicule after NBC debate host Tim Russert asked him if he had seen a UFO.
Kucinich, like President Jimmy Carter and orbiting NASA astronauts, admitted that he had - during a visit to the home of Shirley Maclaine - and precipitated a wave of late-night jokes aimed at his supposed gullibility.
But Russert didn't ask Kucinich why he had stood alone in the House in opposition to the initial resolution empowering the President to start the Iraq War, or his singular opposition to the PATRIOT Act - matters that have far more import - but despite the distraction, Kucinich has finally gained parity with the top "second-tier" candidates and is determined to move up again.
Kucinich's Colorado state chair, Paige Tomson, 31, credited Kucinich's recent surge to his stance on Iraq and Iran and the recent interest in beginning impeachment proceedings against current Vice President Dick Cheney.
"His platform is the same as the Democratic Party's platform," Tomson told the American Reporter Tuesday. "He is the one candidate in sync with the platform of the party," she said.
He's earned it the hard way: by letting time prove him right. As recently as Monday, Kucinich was still a lonely voice in the House of Representatives as he urged moderation and diplomacy in dealing with Iran, while many lawmakers of both parties voiced support for a strike against purported nuclear weapons factories in Iran.
Kucinich was vindicated by a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) done by America's top 16 intelligence agencies, which was released on Monday and revealed with "a high degree of confidence" that Iran halted work on nuclear weapons projects in 2003.
In the wake of the NIE Tuesday, he said in a press release the report "is proof positive that this pro-war Administration has been manipulating intelligence," and added, speaking of other presidential candidates, thatthe report "reflects their inability to recognize when they're being duped - again.
"Whatever those candidates say today, remember what they said before: 'Iran must be stopped at all cost.' The fact that Iran stopped pursuing nuclear weaponry four years ago is more than an inconvenient revelation for those candidates. It's an indictment of their judgment and their qualifications to lead this nation," Kucinich said.
The American Reporter talked with Rep. Kucinich at the CNN Las Vegas Democratic presidential debate about his stand on China trade and his standing in the polls.
Kucinich was only 23 when he was elected to the Cleveland City Council, a young firebrand with a sharp message of dissent that galvanized his working-class district. Elected Mayor in 1977 at age 31, he soon found himself at odds with the Establishment over an effort by banks with strong financial and directorship interests in the private Cleveland Electric (CEI) power utility to take over city-owned Muny Light, the city's far-cheaper electricity producer.
Long before the age of Enron, Kucinich saw the plan for what it was. The six banks that demanded that the city give up the public's utility owned 1.8 million shares of the private CEI, and the banks had eight of their own directors on CEI's 11-person board. The result was a vicious, all-out 1978 mayoral campaign against Kucinich, generously funded by the banks' and the utility's shareholders.
Facing the first loss of his career, Kucinich remained steadfast to his principles, a stand that cost him the race. But Cleveland Magazine in the mid-'90s summed up the underlying victory of his stand: the savings of more than $195 million that Cleveland utility subscribers would have paid the CEI utility, and several hundred union jobs.
Undaunted, Kucinich returned to service on the City Council, and was soon elected to the Ohio State Senate. He was elected to Congress from Cleveland's 10th District in 1997.
Few Members of Congress can talk convincingly about poverty, but when Kucinich tells of nights his homeless family of seven was forced to sleep outside in a car, and what it was like to live in 21 different places before he turned 17, he can utterly still a restless audience. Few can leave a speech by the Cleveland Democrat without understanding his deeply he feels an obligation to America's poor, jobless, homeless and abused, or deny his determination to expand and protect America's middle class.
Today, he serves as chair of the House's Domestic Policy Subcommittee and brings the same urgency that compelled him to face off against the Cleveland banks to his goals of ending the war in Iraq, preventing an attack on Iran, bolstering health care for America's children and uninsured, and preserving immigrants' rights.
On Friday, Dec. 7, Rep. Kucinich will speak at 7:45 p.m. at the Lane Auditorium in the Albemarle County Office Bldg. at 401 McIntire Road (at Preston Road) in downtown Charlottesville, Va. At least one activist, David Swanson, believes the candidate is going to make major news at the event.
But then again, he often has, with a progressive agenda that is finally making progress in the mainstream.
Joe Shea interviewed Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Nov. 15 at the CNN Las Vegas Democratic presidential debate. Ted Manna shot the video and contributed to this report from Denver.