On Friday, December 7, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich will appear at Lane Auditorium in the County Office building to, as he says, "organize, so that we can have the financial and human resources to be able to run a campaign in Virginia." C-VILLE recently caught up with Rep. Kucinich by phone.
"We have to remember the powerful role that Virginia itself has played in the history of the United States," says Dennis Kucinich. "I’m not unmindful of that, maybe because my mother’s name was Virginia."
C-VILLE: Where are you right now?
Dennis Kucinich: I’m in Manchester, New Hampshire.
On Friday you’ll be in Charlottesville.
I will. I’m looking forward to it.
Is there something specific about Charlottesville that’s drawing you here?
There’s a powerful movement for peace, for social justice, and for protecting the Constitution in Charlottesville, absolutely. We have to remember the powerful role that Virginia itself has played in the history of the United States. I’m not unmindful of that, maybe because my mother’s name was Virginia. Virginia was my mother so maybe we can birth a new politics in Virginia as well.
You were here in 2004. What do you remember about that experience?
I was well received, and thoughtful people got involved. We have a much stronger campaign now and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to engage people and people can look at it now and say, hey, Kucinich was right about the war, he was right about the PATRIOT Act, right about not going to war with Iran. So now people see that I have a record to look back on that the others don’t.
Considering how Iraq looks now, and all the opposition to wiretapping, for instance, can you take pride in having opposed these things?
Well, it’s not just pride. This is a direction that America needed to go and I was able to demonstrate the correct judgment that people have a right to expect of their president. People have a right to expect that their president on matters of war and peace will make the right call. I made the right call, these other ones didn’t. Why are they qualified?
We have had Hillary and Barack already come here, candidates whose messages are firmly out there. Is part of a coming to our area trying to communicate who you are?
I am a candidate of the mainstream in this election. Most Democrats think it was wrong to go into Iraq, think it was wrong to fund the war, think we should have a not-for-profit health care system, think we should repeal the PATRIOT Act and think we should repeal NAFTA. I’m the candidate of the Democrat mainstream. These other candidates are more like Republicans.
Do you feel that you’re treated fairly by the media?
That’s their business, none of mine.
Do you ever feel marginalized?
I’m going to have to campaign a little bit harder than the rest of them, but I have a responsibility to work to get our message out and that’s what I’m working to do. And I think that if people hear my message, they’re going to support my campaign. So it’s my responsibility to get out there and let people know.
You got some news recently when you said you were interested in running with Ron Paul.
I indicated that I wanted somebody who would be opposed to the war, and opposed to the PATRIOT Act, and a lot of our Democratic candidates have not been. Obviously, Ron Paul is running as a Republican and I’m running as a Democrat, so the chances of us being on the same ticket are slim. Of course, I’ve got a long way to go before I can think about picking a running mate. I have no illusions about that.
Would you ever consider running as an independent?
No, I’m running as a Democrat. I’m the independent inside the Democratic party. I’m an independent spirit and an independent thinker.
If you’re busy running for president, is it hard to stay on top of your congressional agenda?
It is. I’m told that I have one of the best voting records of any one running from Congress. Of course it’s hard to do.
If you were elected president, what do you think would be the first thing you would do in office?
Cancel NAFTA, get out of the WTO. Bring our troops home. Reintroduce legislation for a not-for-profit health care system and for fully paid two- and four-year college for every American young person. Put in motion legislation to create a full employment economy. I want to create jobs, that’s what I want to do. I want to get people back to work and get them in health care, make sure their children have education. This is fundamental.
Have you ever had a chance to take in anything in this area?
Every place is a dash wherever I go. If I want to slow things down, I walk.
If you do have some spare time, what do you like to do?
Watch movies. I love to hike. I love to climb hills. My wife and I love to spend time together with our dogs. My wife and I cuddle up with our dogs and we watch a lot of romantic comedies.
You’ve held elected office since a very early age and you’ve held all sorts of elected offices.
I’ve been a councilman, clerk of courts, mayor of Cleveland, state senator, U.S. congressman. I’m probably one of the few people running who has experience at local state and federal levels, as well as legislative, executive, and judicial.
What kind of advantage does that give you?
I understand the system of government pretty well.
It doesn’t seem to have made you cynical at all.
No, I don’t believe we have any right to be cynical in a country which has so many opportunities, and we have so many possibilities for the future. Cynicism is a luxury. We need to take all of our hearts to transform things and you can’t do it if you’re cynical. Cynicism implies you know more than anybody else too, you’re not still learning.
What makes you want to be president?
To take this country in a new direction for sustainability, for jobs for all, for education for all, for health care for all. Save the planet, stop wars, work with the nations of the world to achieve a condition where we can live in peace and harmony. These are all things that are possible, we just have to start believing them and have leaders with the capacity to create a better world, instead of dwelling in fear. I don’t come from fear, I come from courage.
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