Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich
Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting
Washington, DC
February 22, 2003


Thank you.  Thank you.  You're probably wondering why I'm running for president and how I will become the nominee of this party.  My name is hard to pronounce.  Kucinich.  It's K U C I N I C H, Kucinich, as in the web site  [laughter].

Now I have an admission; it wasn't always Kucinich.   I changed it to get the ethnic vote and to bring back the Reagan Democrats.  Now two days before I filed at the FEC I had 2 percent in the polls; hadn't even started and had 2 percent.  Since no one knows who I am, I can only go up.  And money, with me money is no object, because it's never been a subject.  [some laughs] But after people hear what I have to say I expect millions of people will contact my website at to contribute to my campaign.

I will point out that I come  from a state which sent the last person from the House of Representatives to the White House.  Sure that was over 122 years ago.  But with global climate change look how many of these hundred-year storms recently.  I was told before I started that it would be a cold and snowy day in hell before a liberal Democrat made it back to the White House.  Yet the moment I began my campaign last week, sure enough freezing temperatures, blizzard conditions hit from Iowa to Washington.  [laughter].  It's the sign we've been waiting for.

I tell you I am ready and so is this party and so is America.  We will replace Crawford, Texas's square dancing and tractor pulls and pork rinds with Cleveland's polka, bowling, and kilbasi.  [cheers, applause].  Cleveland!  Cleveland, the new face of America., think about it.  [laughter].

Of course we have other things to think about this morning.  We have other things to think about.  The world is on the brink of a war initiated by our own government against a nation which did not attack us.  A war which will steal from this nation the joy of our purpose, our purpose in the world and faith in our purpose at home.

This may be the most important gathering of this party any of us have ever attended.  Because from this meeting we will send a message about what we stand for.  From this meeting we will either emerge as a party divided by war or united in a cause of peace.  From this meeting we can emerge with a new sense of optimism and power or we will leave with a sense of dread and futility.

I'm a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.  I'm also the co-chair of the largest caucus in our party, the Progressive Caucus, and the top Democrat on the Government Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over national security.  I led 126 Democrats, nearly two-thirds of the Democratic caucus in the House, to oppose the Iraq resolution.  [applause].

And I must say, and I must say that Iraq was not responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.  Iraq has not been credibly linked Al Queda's role in 9-11.  Iraq was not responsible for the anthrax attack on our nation.  Iraq does not have technology to strike at this nation.  Iraq does not have nuclear weapons.  As reported in the Washington Post, the CIA says Iraq does not have the intention to attack this nation.  The United Nations inspectors have not been able to prove that Iraq has usable weapons of mass destruction but if they have any hidden, we know that they're sure to be used against our invading troops.  Iraq has been contained before; it can be contained again.  Inspections are necessary; war is not.  This war is wrong.  This war puts the lives of millions of people at risk, innocent people at risk.  [applause].

The administration's battle plan calls for a two-day missile attack on Iraq, a total of 800 missiles are to be aimed at Baghdad, a city of 5 million.  An invasion will follow with house to house fighting.  This war will put America's moral standing in the world at risk.  This war will make America not more safe, but less safe.  It will bring more, not less terror to our shores.  This war will make the entire world less safe, and will like all wars cause other wars to break out.  This war will put America's sons and daughters at risk for no good reason.  This war illustrates the total bankruptcy of the administration's policies.  A trillion dollar tax cut for the rich; a trillion dollars for war in Iraq, but no money for the needs of our people.

We are told that we have money to blow up cities in Iraq, but no money to rebuild cities in America.  [applause].

We have money to blow up bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates, but no money to build bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

We have money to retire Saddam Hussein, but no money to protect Social Security.  [applause].

We have money, We have money to wage war to ruin the health of the people of Iraq, but no money for a plan that would restore the health of the people of America.

Unemployment is up.  Foreclosures are up.  Wholesale prices are up.  The trade deficit is up, and all this administration wants to talk about is war.  People are losing their jobs, losing their health care, their retirement security, and all this administration wants to talk about is-- [Crowd: "War."]

Our state governments can't fund education or health care or road improvements, and all this administration wants to talk about is-- ["War."]

We have stepped into the world of George Orwell, where peace is war, where security is control, where bombing innocent people is liberation.  This generation of Americans did not travel from the days of duck and cover, where we worked to do away with nuclear weapons, to arrive at the days of duct tape and plastic cover where our nation rearms with nuclear weapons to take on the world.  We didn't travel this far to go back to rearming.

Someone must step forward, someone must say stop.  Someone must say America must take a new direction.  Someone must say it is time for a fundamental change of the kind that FDR brought in 1932.  We must shake this nation from its color-coded nightmare of terror alerts and attack on our civil liberties.  We must remind America that its historic mission is not found in dark doctrines of unilateralism and preemption but in the light of international cooperation for peace and security.  [applause].

We Democrats, we Democrats must remember who we are.  We must remember where we came from.  We must sound the trumpet and call all Americans back to the party of the people.

We are the party of Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society.  We are the party of John F. Kennedy and the New Frontier.  We are the party of FDR and the New Deal.  We are the party of the people.  We are the party whose president faced a broken nation--a nation of people without jobs, without homes, without health care, without retirement security--and he exhorted our people to have courage.  Seventy years ago, FDR stood before a fearful nation and said, We have nothing to fear but fear itself.  And he ignited a nation to reaching its promise and that brought almost a hundred new Democrats into the House.  It enabled a sweeping mandate to bring deep, transformational change to our social, our political, and our economic structures.

It remade a government of the people and for the people.  That kind of change is needed today.  We can empower a new beginning.

Democrats, I remind you that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  We need a new faith in America and in ourselves.  Faith that we can change the present condition; faith that we can change the outcome; faith that we can regain the confidence, the optimism, the whole world has identified with America; faith that it is the Democratic party that can once again lead the way to a better day, to a better America, to a better world.

Democrats, Democrats can move this country forward from a condition where of 8 million people out of work to a full employment economy with a living wage for all.  If you believe our party can do that, let us tell this nation yes we can.  [scattered response "Yes we can."].

Democrats can move this country forward from a loss of 3 million good paying jobs to NAFTA and we can cancel NAFTA.  We can start over, we can start over.  We can start over and condition trade with America on workers' rights and human rights and environmental quality conditions.  Do you believe we can do that?  [Response].

Democrats can move this country forward from 40 million people without health insurance to a single payer system which provides quality health care for all.  Do you believe we can do that?  [Response].

Yes we can.  Si se puede.

Democrats can move this country forward from underfunded schools, underpaid teachers, and undereducated youths to
making education our top funding priority and providing free college education for all.  Do you believe we can do that?  [Response].

Democrats can move this country forward from a condition where our air, our water and our land is now being ruined
by multinational corporate interests; where we can demonstrate that environmental protection is our path to sustaining the life of the planet.  Do you believe we can do this as a party?  [Response].

Yes we can.  Si se puede.

Democrats can move this country forward from the destructive Patriot Act to restore for Americans the rights protected under this Constitution, the rights to free speech, the rights to be free in our persons from unreasonable search and seizure.  Do you believe we can restore civil liberties in this country and restore them from an administration that has forgotten what this Constitution is about?  Do you believe it?

We have a right, we have a right in this government to take a stand on behalf of our basic liberties.  Just as FDR proclaimed four freedoms, it is time for us to reclaim our basic freedoms and our mission as a party of the people.  With declaration of  the human economic rights of the American people in this campaign:  We have a right to a job.  We have a right to quality health care.  We have a right to good education.  We have a right to decent housing.  We have a right to food fit to eat and water fit to drink, and conditions that are free of fear.  We have a right to be free of war.  And we have a right to be human.

In the months ahead I will travel this nation with this message.   I will ask for your support.  And if I am the nominee of this party together we lead this party to victory, this nation to greatness, this world to peace.

Thank you, and let us call on God to bless this country.  Thank you very much.

Transcript Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.