Interview with Dennis Kucinich, Jan. 2, 2004

The Progressive Populist: How do you get past the cynicism or skepticism of people who believe you're not really in the race, but you're one of the 'minor candidates'?

Dennis Kucinich: That will be taken care of after a while. I'm like Seabiscuit. I'm a dark horse. I'm going to come from the back of the pack and move up. The whole story of politics is people thinking they've got it and the next thing you know they don't have it, and people who are written off and they come out of nowhere, and they end up winning the election. So that's the name of the game. You have to always have faith and the willingness to work hard and in this case a lot of volunteers all around the country. And we're moving on up and I'm excited about it.

TPP: Your career has been built on beating expectations ...

DK: The whole thing! New York Times had a big story on page one today and they had a quote where throughout my life I've been making the impossible possible and so I'm used to that. That's nothing that bothers me.

TPP: Is there an issue you think the election will turn on?

DK: Absolutely -- the war. I'm saying that we have to get out of Iraq. It was wrong to go in and it's wrong to stay in. Now all the other candidates with the exception of Al Sharpton are saying, 'Oh, we're going to have to be there for a few years or years and years.' Oh, no, we aren't. We don't have to stay there. What are we going to stay there for? For oil, for contracts, to privatize Iraq, to run Baghdad by remote control? What possible good could come from US continued presence there? This is the time we need to go to the UN with a whole new plan. I've had that plan on my website, at, for almost three months now. And that plan brings UN peacekeepers in, brings our troops home. Our troops could be home in 90 days. We don't have to stay there. And that is going to be the defining issue in this election. And I'll tell you, name the candidate and I'm going to take this challenge to that candidate on the issue of Iraq.

TPP: Will that be a bigger issue than the economy?

DK: It is the economy. Think about it: We spend $155 billion in Iraq since March 17. One hundred fifty five billion. Now if we spent that in just less than a year, how much are we going to spend if we're there for years as some of these other candidates, like Dr. Dean, want to do?

So I say it is the economic issue. It's an issue because it affects our ability to fund education, health care, housing and all the programs in the United States. So it's an economic issue, it's a peace issue. It's everything. We have got to get out of Iraq and I'm the candidate that's going to push this issue, and if people want to rally behind a candidacy that's going to change the direction not just of this election but change the direction of this country, that's what my campaign is about.

TPP: How do you get that message out to the rest of the country?

DK: That's what I'm saying at every debate, at every national appearance, every time I'm interviewed -- get out of Iraq, get UN in and US out. We're going to do it on radio commercials and TV commercials and every appearance; it's the word on our web site. Every communication we have we're getting the word out and, I'll tell you, as we get closer and closer to the primaries this is going to be the defining issue. People can talk about whatever they want but it's going to come back to: 'OK, You want health care? How are you going to pay for it if we stay in Iraq. You want more money for education? How are we going to pay for it if we stay in Iraq? You want more money for housing? How are we going to pay for it if we stay in Iraq?' So that's why I'm saying that my campaign is going to start moving up very quickly as people see that this is the campaign that's going to help this country move in the direction of peace and prosperity.

TPP: But people need to pay attention to the campaign.

DK: They do, but a candidate has to be willing to carry the ball and I've done that consistently. I've led the effort in the House of Representatives at challenging the Bush administration's march towards war in Iraq. I organized 126 Democrats and I didn't just say I'm agin' it. I went and organized. I spoke against it I spoke to half a million people in New York. As a matter of fact, the only one next to me on that was Al Sharpton. All these other candidates who have things to say about the war they were nowhere to be seen then. And yet now people are saying they were opposed to the war then but we're going to have to stay there. Oh really? Well if it was wrong to go in it's wrong to stay in and I'm going carrying that message consistently all the way through and I think people will appreciate not just the consistency but the interity.

TPP: Are you getting a lot of feedback?

DK: Absolutely, people are responding ... [at that point an aide broke in to take Kucinich to next appointment.]

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