Trailing polls, he acts like a winner
On his sixth stop of the day in Iowa, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, met with nearly 20 supporters at the home of Buena Vista University professor Nadine Brewer to discuss his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
"Don't ever forget we are a brave people, we are a strong people, we have made our mistakes, sure, but we believe in the law, we can make it through this time by being strong, by being brave," he said. "I know there has been no closure on 9/11 and we as a nation need closure on that. Instead this administration took us to war based on the exploitation of fear after 9/11, but we still have to come together as a nation to heal from that event," he said.
Standing in Brewer's living room in his stocking feet, Kucinich, seemingly undeterred that he wasn't speaking to 10 times the number of people, outlined his vision for the country.
Saying the Bush administration is bent on making the most for the few at the expense of the many, Kucinich stated that the White House was guilty of lying prior to the invasion of Iraq. "Not only have we bombed a nation, but our government is now engaged in war profiteering and this is reducing the government to criminal activity."
"The current administration lied about almost everything since 9/11," he said. "It lied about the connection of al-Aqaida and Saddam Hussein, it lied about the weapons of mass destruction and it lied in those famous 16 words in the State of Union address."
At this point a woman across the room interrupted Kucinich to ask him why he and fellow Democrats in Congress weren't leading the effort to appoint a special prosecutor.
"We know they lied, we knew they were lying when they lied," she said.
Kucinich, addressing the group as "the ladies and gentleman of the jury," said there does need to be accountability. But the candidate know for his willingness to be the iconoclast, dodged the question when he said Democrats wouldn't want to risk "a sympathetic backlash" at this time. "Winning the election is the best answer to your question."
Introduced by his hostess as a man of Croatian ancestry and a politician willing to take a stand, Kucinich said, "I think it's important to know where we come from. We are a nation based in principles, created by people who believed in human liberty. Which is why our forefathers created templates for us with documents like the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution."
Kucinich said the current occupant of the White House has become an "imperial president who is using Iraq as his footstool." Offering his own perspective on the U.S. troops in Iraq, the candidate stated that he would bring them home. No waiting. He then outlined a plan to end unilateralism by this administration and approach the United Nations and the world community to seek a true coalition of support to rebuild the war-torn country.
Kucinich, who has been able to garner only 1 percent of polled voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and has been dismissed by most major news outlets and pundits, addressed the group as if it were an arena full of supporters and he was leading in every national poll.
"Fear has enveloped this country," he said. "And because of that we are putting our basic liberties at risk. The government has the right to look at our health records, our library records, what books we buy.
"There is no earthly reason for this kind of intrusion. If that is how we are fighting terrorism, than we are strengthening terrorism."
Kucinich said he is running for president because "our citizens' basic freedoms are at risk."
Kucinich said, fear was also driving the Pentagon.
"This war has cost the American people $155 billion and 450 lives," he said. "Are we getting ready for Armageddon? I am calling for the rebirth of freedom."
Hitting another one of the highlights of his platform, Kucinich talked about the difference between homeland security and his proposal "hometown security." With his plan to bring the troops home, rather than stretch the flow of funds to the war in Iraq, Kucinich pointed out that these domestic needs could and should receive those billions of dollars.
"I would help to make sure our community have security, the funding for fire, police, health, schools that we need to keep our communities strong and safe."
The third pillar of his platform, healthcare, drew the most response from the group. They asked him to clarify his plan to provide healthcare for every man, woman and child in America. Kucinich drew a pointed comparison between himself and his Democratic rivals by saying, "You will hear my respected colleagues promise to provide you with health insurance."
"I'm sure there are some great insurance salesman out there, but surely the job of the President of this country is not to sell insurance."
An appreciative laugh went around the living room.
"I intended to provide health CARE," he said.
He gave an example, "This smile cost a lot of money," he beamed at the group. "I could have spent that money on a lot of other things."
He said his healthcare program would be just like Medicare is now, it wouldn't cost any more, it's just how the funds would be allocated. Not to advertising and other extraneous costs incurred by insurance companies. "Insurance companies," Kucinich pointed out, "are in the business of denying you healthcare."
Kucinich said he wasn't interested in a third party candidacy, rather he was interested in making the Democratic Party, as he put it, a viable second party.
"We need to stay focused on the issues," he said. "This needs to be an election where we talk about the needs of the country."
A final question from a woman sitting near the door, "How do we overcome our frustration and our apathy? To make the changes you see?"
Kucinich said everyone in the room needed to caucus and vote, call neighbors and friends to go to their caucuses.
"You can make a difference, one vote at a time," he said. "A vote is all about an expression of power. The caucuses are the place to go. All we need is a little momentum out of Iowa. If we get that, that will build and keep building."