Not quite last man standing

Dennis Kucinich, easily the most Liberal of any of the Democratic candidates who ran in 2004, is still in the race. Don’t count him out quite yet! (click for story).

Dennis has been going around, spreading the message of universal healthcare, the repeal of NAFTA, and countless other issues that are close to his heart – to what he believes in. And as long as he keeps talking issues, it can only do great things for the Democratic Party.

Remember, it was Howard Dean who gave the Democratic party back it’s spine. Dennis is trying to give it back it’s ideology – the roots which it came from. Like many people, I will be supporting Dennis in the upcoming primary in my state, but I’m willing to back Kerry when the time comes. Passionate Democrat

Dennis Kucinich visits Roseburg: Presidential nomination is clinched, but former Cleveland mayor stil pressing ideas

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Spinning with his arms wide out, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich announces that his campaign has ‘No strings attached!’ as he spoke to a packed room in the Douglas County Library Sunday night.
ANDY BRONSON / News-Review photos

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JOHN SOWELL, jsowell@newsreview.info
March 29, 2004

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich knows that Sen. John Kerry has enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination for president. That didn’t stop the Ohio native and former Cleveland mayor, however, from coming to Roseburg on Sunday evening and addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the Douglas County Library on issues that he feels should shape the party platform. In doing so, Kucinich said there is still plenty up for grabs in Oregon’s May 18 primary.

“New Hampshire and Iowa helped to decide the nomination. The direction of the Democratic Party is far from settled. The vote Oregonians have is important to the direction of the Democratic Party,” Kucinich said in addressing more than 250 people who crammed into the Ford Community Room.

Kucinich advocates universal health care for all Americans. More than 43 million residents do not have health insurance, Kucinich said, and basic medical, dental and vision treatment can cost several thousand dollars.

Growing up poor in Cleveland, where he lived in 21 different places and even out of a car a couple of times, Kucinich said he understood the problems of not being able to afford adequate health care. For his family, there were higher priorities.

“Americans have found they can’t afford to be sick and they can’t afford to be well,” Kucinich said.

Even among those with health insurance, coverage continues to shrink while premiums, co-payments and deductibles for service continue to rise, he said. Meanwhile, profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies have also increased. Insurance companies, he said, are making money by not providing services.

Kucinich said the $1.6 trillion spent annually on health services in the United States could adequately fund universal coverage. But the United States would have to change the way it operates the system.

Kucinich came to Roseburg after giving a speech and sitting down for an hourlong radio interview earlier in the day in Eugene. About 1,700 people attended his speech there at Lane Community College, campaign officials said.

Sunday was the third of four days Kucinich was scheduled to be in Oregon. He spent Friday and Saturday in Portland, Salem and Corvallis. He will end his tour today with stops in Ashland and Medford.

Kucinich spoke for about a half-hour at the Roseburg library and then spent another hour answering questions from the crowd. When he was finished, he went to the outside door of the library and thanked and shook hands with each person leaving.

Photo by ANDY BRONSON/The News-Review
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Autograph
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich gives an autograph to Erik Jung, 9, after his speech Sunday at the Douglas County Library. Kucinich shook hands with everyone leaving the speech and signed a few autographs.
ANDY BRONSON / The News-Review
“Thank you so much people of Douglas County, Roseburg and surrounding areas for taking this opportunity to talk about this nation we love so much,” Kucinich said.

Kathy Dailey, who joined a group of local Kucinich supporters that have been meeting since last fall, said she was impressed. Kucinich spoke in a conversational tone that revealed his passion for the issues he felt were important, she said.

“I was so elated. I was just blown away,” Dailey said. “He was obviously affected by the mood in there.”

By appearing in Roseburg, Kucinich will renew the enthusiasm of supporters who may have been disappointed when Kerry wrapped up the nomination, she said.

“I think the Kucinich supporters will be energized,” she said.

Elma Trotter, a Roseburg resident who had supported former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in his presidential campaign, said she was swayed to vote for Kucinich in the primary based on his speech Sunday.

Kerry, Kucinich and Lyndon Larouche Jr. will appear on the Oregon primary ballot. Kucinich is the last remaining Democrat officially campaigning against Kerry, although he has not won a single primary.

“I was real impressed with him,” Trotter said of Kucinich. “I think he would make a good president.”

Trotter said she does plan to support Kerry in the general election.

Kucinich said that Americans should be able to receive full Social Security benefits at age 65. He said it’s unfair that the government has begun increasing the age at which full benefits can be obtained.

On the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, Kucinich said they’re to blame for the large number of American companies taking jobs oversees. It all comes down to cheap labor, he said.

“The pyramids were built with cheap labor, slave labor,” Kucinich said.

Under those treaties, workers do not have the right to bargain collectively, to strike or to receive retirement benefits, Kucinich said. There’s also no provisions for worker safety or for environmental protections.

NAFTA does not even allow the United States to take action to prevent companies from moving factories overseas or taking other measures. That, Kucinich said, would be considered an unfair trade barrier.

Photo by ANDY BRONSON/The News-Review
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Kucinich listener:
It was standing- or sitting-room only for supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich in the Douglas County Library Sunday night. Tim Moll, 14, finds room on the floor to listen to Kucinich’s speech.
ANDY BRONSON / The News-Review
“This is no longer nation versus nation — that’s old hat. This is just about corporations maximizing profits,” he said. “We need to take a new direction here.”

He suggested dropping out of NAFTA and the WHO and setting up separate trade agreements. Trade should be a two-way street, he said.

“Every nation wants to buy from the United States. But they should have to buy something from us to gain access to this market,” Kucinich said, to applause.

He told the audience the United States should get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Kucinich opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning and he hasn’t changed his mind since.

“Iraq had nothing to do with 911, with al-Qaida, with anthrax,” he said. “This whole war was based on lies. It was wrong to get in and it’s wrong to stay there.”

Kucinich noted that his first job was as a copy boy for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. He drove to the homes of families with sons killed in Vietnam and asked for a photograph to publish in the paper. The experience of seeing those families in their grief touched him greatly, he said.

“Once again we’re placing the treasure of our nation at risk. That’s wrong,” he said.

Kucinich, who has raised between $13 million and $14 million, half through contributions of less than $200, advocated the public financing of presidential races. President George W. Bush will spend $200 million on his campaign and that makes any candidate beholden to large corporate interests, he said.

Kucinich said he hopes the Democratic Party will embrace his ideas when it works to develop the platform. He said if that happens, it will give voters less of a reason to vote for independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Nader’s candidacy as the 2000 Green Party nominee was widely seen as propelling Bush to the White House by siphoning votes that would have otherwise gone to Democratic Party nominee and former Vice President Al Gore.

“My candidacy gives you the opportunity to take the Democratic Party in a different direction,” he said.

* You can reach reporter John Sowell at 957-4209 or by e-mail at jsowell@newsreview.info.

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