Photo: Kucinich for President

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
Announcement of Candidacy
Democratic Nomination for President of the United States
Cleveland City Hall
Cleveland, OH
December 12, 2006

[applause]  Good afternoon.  Thank you for joining me and my wife Elizabeth on this important occasion.

On November 7th, the people voted for a new direction for our nation.  They voted for the Democrats because they expected us to end the occupation and to bring our troops home from Iraq.

On October 1st Congress appropriated $70 billion for the war in Iraq.  The money is in the pipeline right now to bring our troops home.  Unfortunately our Democratic leaders have already announced that they will support an additional appropriation for the war of up to $160 billion dollars.  Not only are we not listening to the voters and taking steps to withdraw our forces quickly, we're actually planning to spend twice as much on the war as we did last year.

Somebody didn't get the message.  And unfortunately it is the leadership of the Democratic Party, and the consequences may be disastrous for our party, our nation and the world.

My home is in Cleveland.  Each day I see the effect of our misplaced priorities on my city: The number of factories and businesses, large and small, closing.  My constituents and people just like them across America are losing their jobs, losing their middle class status and being pushed into poverty.  Blue and white collar workers in the city and suburbs are losing their homes.  They're losing their hard-earned retirement.  A total of one hundred million Americans have no health care or are underinsured.  Budget deficits have crippled school districts.  Many cities are in financial trouble, forced to lay off vital workers, unable to finance repairs to bridges, roads, water systems and sewer systems.  The price of natural gas is rising.  Huge utility rate increases are in the offing.  It's getting more and more difficult for people to make ends meet.

Meanwhile millions of entrepreneurs whose ingenuity will create new jobs by bringing forth advanced clean energy technologies are being starved for capital.

I live in the same working class neighborhood in the same house I purchased thirty five years ago.  My parents raised seven children and never owned a home.  We lived in twenty-one different places by the time I was seventeen, including a couple of cars.  I know what people go through.  I've seen first hand the effects of poverty and social disorganization.  I also know of the powerful strivings of the human heart.  I know that with just a little help, just a little bit of encouragement, and a little money, people are capable of creating new wealth and new worlds.  That creative power is part of the birthright of all Americans.

I also know what the destructive power of war does to families and to our nation.  I know what Vietnam did to our nation and to my family.  I know how it divided our nation and set America apart from the world.  The war in Iraq has already taken its toll on Cleveland and communities like Cleveland across the United States.  The war, tax cuts for the already privileged, and our trade policies have become a massive engine to redistribute upwards the wealth of our nation and to transfer our national wealth out of the country.  Policies which divide people and fracture the social compact are inherently un-American.  Our nation's very name makes of striving for unity a sacred cause.

How can we unite America around the health care needs of our people if we instead spend trillions of dollars in the war in Iraq?  How can we meet the educational needs of the children in our nation if we have money for arms build-ups, but no money for education build-ups?  For example, $160 billion dollars which our leaders are ready to appropriate for more war is equal to three times the annual federal education budget.

In a period of two years the budget for the military, plus the war in Iraq, will exceed one trillion dollars.  The billions that we are spending in Baghdad we are borrowing from Beijing.  We must end this reckless sacrifice of blood and treasure.  We must stop sacrificing our dreams and the dreams of future generations of Americans to this nightmare of war.

How can we have strong neighborhoods in our cities, with solid city services, good police and fire protection, if cities are starving for tax resources because the federal government has money for war and not much else?

The National Priorities Project issued a report on the year 2005, and they said that twenty-nine cents of every federal tax dollar went to the military, plus another nine cents went to pay for the interest on borrowing to finance the military.  That's 38% of federal tax income being spent for guns not butter.  Contrast this with 0.3% for job training, 2% on housing, 4% on education.  Consider that our government right now is spending more money on arms then all the other nations of the world put together, and then you can understand why our leaders have trouble extricating themselves from a war based on lies.  As President Dwight David Eisenhower recognized, the dramatic shift of resources to grow a military industrial complex does not help protect democracy, it destroys it.

This is the moment to remember first principles, to remember why America was founded, to remember our strivings for liberty, for truth, for justice, to remember the primacy of our Constitution.  This is the moment to remember the deep historic mission of the Democratic Party.  We are the party of the people.  We are the party of FDR and the New Deal.  We are the party of JFK and the New Frontier.  We are the party of LBJ and the Great Society.  We are the party of the courage of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, the moral power of Cesar Chavez, the daring of Robert Kennedy, the compassion of Jimmy Carter, the brilliance of Bill Clinton.  We have a sacred responsibility to keep alive the spirit of our nation, to protect people's faith in not just our party, but in the political process itself.

At this moment, people's trust in government is on the line.  Trust in the Democratic Party is on the line.  What does it say if only one month after the voters gave us control of Congress on the issue of Iraq, that we turn around and say we'll keep funding the war?  What kind of credibility will our Party have if we say we are opposed to the war, but continue to fund it?

There is still time to change the outcome.  There is still time to rescue people's confidence in the Democratic party and their trust in government.  But only if someone steps forward quickly to wake the nation and tell the people, to travel to those dozens of cities like Cleveland, to go to the villages, the farms and the factories and say: This is the moment to stop the US occupation.  This is the moment to end our war against Iraq.  This is the moment to bring our troops home, because the money is there to bring them home.  And bring them home we must, to rebuild our cities, to invest in our children, to restore our environment, to work with the world to create new opportunities through peace.

My constituents have called me to action.  Their economic future calls me to action.  My country calls me to action.  My conscience calls me to action.  I am not going to stand by and watch thousands more of our brave young American men and women killed in Iraq or permanently injured while our leaders are ready to take action to keep the war going.  [applause].

We Democrats were put back in power to bring some sanity back to our nation.  We are expected to take a stand.  We are expected to assert our constitutional power as a co-equal branch of government.  We are expected to do what we said we would do: Get out of Iraq and bring the troops home.

Clevelanders remember that twenty-eight years ago this week, I put my career on the line to protect the people's right to own a municipal electric system.  They remember that I had the courage to stand up for the people, to stand against all odds and to prevail.  Years later I was proven right.  [applause].  I know what it's like to take a stand.  I know what it's like to put my career on the line.   And today I am prepared to put my career on the line once again to save my community and my nation from the devastating effects of more war.

Therefore, I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States with the intention [applause]...  therefore, I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States with the intention of rallying the American people to the cause of our troops in the field, to the cause of stopping more American families from suffering, to the cause of ending a deepening tragedy in Iraq, to the cause of repairing America's reputation in the world, to the cause of the dreams of people in my own neighborhood and in my own city.

I fully expect to win because [applause]...  I fully expect to win because when the American people hear this clarion call for a new and a true direction, this call to confirm their intent, their power, I am confident they will respond as powerfully as they did just one month ago, to demand that America quickly change course in Iraq and demand a leader who will make it happen.  [applause].

My campaign will be about truth in action.  It will be about the power of decisiveness, the power of compassion which comes from an understanding of the imperative of human unity, the imperative of human security, the imperative of peace.

In 2002, I led the effort in the House of Representatives, challenging the Bush Administration's march towards war.  It was that effort which gives me hope.  Because although the opposition to the war began with only a handful of members of Congress, it soon grew to 125 Democrats.  Everything I said then has proven to be true [applause]: Iraq had nothing to do with 911.  Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq had no intention or capability of attacking the United States.  But we attacked Iraq.

Consider these facts and consider that, according to the prestigious Lancet publication, over 650,000 excess deaths have occurred in Iraq as a result of the war.  Think about that.  650,000 excess deaths in Iraq as a result of the war.  What an injustice has been done to the Iraqi people.  We must stop this betrayal of our own heart and work immediately to rally the world community in the cause of relieving the suffering of the Iraqis.  But we cannot do it as occupiers.  [applause].

Now I ran for President in 2004, not just to challenge the war and the Democratic Party policy, but to bring forth a message: Fear ends.  Hope begins.  My candidacy will call forth the courage of the American people to meet the challenge of terrorism without sacrificing our liberties and everything that is near and dear to us.  My candidacy will inspire hope for a new America, where social, economic and political progress is grounded in work for peace.

My stand for peace is not simply about being against the Iraq war.  It is against all war.  We have a right to defend ourselves, but our leaders have confused offense with defense.  We have a right to defend ourselves, but our leaders have confused offense with defense.  America has separated itself from the world, put itself beyond the reach of international law.  We must reunite with the world.  We must rally the world in the cause of human unity, in the cause of the survival of the planet facing challenges from global climate change, from nuclear proliferation, and from useless war.  I believe that as human beings we have evolved to a point where we can settle our differences without killing one another.

This is what President Franklin Roosevelt, who knew war, meant when he spoke of our responsibility to pursue "the science of human relations."  It was this thinking that inspired legislation to create a cabinet level Department of Peace which seeks to meet the challenge of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools, racial violence, violence against gays, and to resolve conflict between police and community groups.  My fellow Clevelanders and my fellow Americans, war is not inevitable.  Peace is inevitable if we are willing and dedicated to creating new structures for peace.

Einstein once said "the significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."  Yet that is what we are doing in Washington with respect to Iraq.  Even though we know our presence in Iraq is totally wrong, we seem unable to do anything about it, except keep spending more money for the war.  We must end this march of folly.  Together we are going to change this and we are going to rescue our nation.

This is a moment.  We need to call our Democratic leaders to courage.  This is about leadership, clear vision and integrity.  The people were behind us in November.  They are behind us now.  We must stand by our word and bring the troops home.  [applause].

Finallly, I'm the only member of the House or the Senate running for President who has consistently voted against funding for the war, based on a principled opposition. [applause].  I was against the war then and I'm against it now.  A leader must have not just hindsight, but foresight.  The prophet Isaiah said "Without vision, a people perish."  I am stepping forth at this moment because I believe, as did Lincoln that"“this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth."  Thank you.

Length of speech: a tad over 18 minutes.

Observations: In a passionate announcement speech, Kucinich set forth a clarion call for ending the war in Iraq and bringing the troops home now.  "We are expected to do what we said we would do: Get out of Iraq and bring the troops home," Kucinich declared.  "We must end this march of folly," he said.  Kucinich challenged the Democratic leadership's support for continued funding of the war, arguing instead that the money should be used to bring the troops home.  "Somebody didn’t get the message.  And unfortunately it is the leadership of the Democratic Party...," he stated. 

Taking reporters' questions immediately after the speech, Kucinich said he had decided to run only a week earlier.  "And I decided to go forward quickly so the American people know that there's someone they can rally around," he said.  In contrast to other '08 hopefuls, Kucinich has not been laying the groundwork for a campaign over the past several years, he didn't go through an exploratory phase, and he starts with no campaign organization in place.  Nor did Kucinich go on a choreographed announcement tour following his speech.

The event concluded dramatically as a woman in the audience, Rose M. Allen of Euclid, Ohio, tearfully told of her daughter who has been told she must go to Iraq. Kucinich left the podium to hug the woman and address the woman directly.  

In the 2004 Democratic primaries Kucinich was relegated by the media to the second tier of candidates and achieved meager results, but in his speech he declared, "I fully expect to win because when the American people hear this clarion call for a new and a true direction, this call to confirm their intent, their power, I am confident they will respond as powerfully as they did just one month ago, to demand that America quickly change course in Iraq and to demand a leader who will make it happen."  Kucinch reprised a theme from his 2004 campaign, that of "Fear Ends.  Hope Begins."

In his speech Kucinich kept very close to his prepared remarks.  During the course of the speech, in addition to his wife Elizabeth, Kucinich mentioned more than a dozen individuals by name: President Dwight David Eisenhower, various Democratic and progressive leaders (FDR, JFK, LBJ, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton), the Bush Administration, President Franklin Roosevelt, Einstein, the prophet Isaiah, and Lincoln.

prepared remarks

After a kiss from his wife, Kucinich took questions:

KUCINICH:  Thank you very much.  I'd be glad to entertain any questions.  Yes sir.  And if you could identify the--who you're with.

QUESTION:  Congressman Kucinich, Paul Thomas with the NBC station out of Cleveland, Ohio.  You say you fully expect to win.  Can you define what that means today, winning?

KUCINICH:  What it means is that when I rally the American people to bring the troops home now--because the money's there in the pipeline to bring the troops home--people will come in great masses to support my candidacy because they will recognize that this is not only a time for confirming the direction that people set in November, it's time for a leader to come forward who's willing to deliver that to the people.

QUESTION:  ...ask you a follow up then.  Would winning then being out in front then and having someone from the party, perhaps another candidate take on this issue straightforward or having the Democrats embrace your position on this?  Would that be considered a win?

KUCINICH:  In the last few weeks we have seen the leadership of the party make strong and emphatic statements about supporting the appropriation which will be in front of the Congress in the Spring, that will appropriate another $160 billion.  That money will be used to continue the war through the end of the Bush administration.   I'm the only candidate running for President in either the House or the Senate who has consistently opposed funding for the war.  It is not credible to say that you are opposed to the war and vote to fund it.  And so... [applause].

I mean this is where, this is where the American people are going to look at my candidacy and say there's integrity here.  And this campaign is a quest for integrity.  The American people are looking for a leader to come forward who's not only been consistent on this, who had the foresight as I did years ago, but also to look at the situation as it is now and say the money's there right now to bring our troops home.  How can we stand by and let our sons and daughters in the fields of Iraq die in a cause that has already been written off--there's no military victory?  We have a moral obligation.  The people voted in the Democrats because they expected us to take action to bring the troops home.  What does it say when our leaders come forward and say we're going to vote to continue appropriating money for the war?

Again I'm the only person running for President who is in the Congress who has consistently voted against the war.  And I say and I challenge all the Democrats out there who are thinking of running, you cannot support funding for the war and claim you're against the war.  It's not credible.  [applause].  So that's why I expect to win.


QUESTION [Mark Naisbitt Plain Dealer]:  Congressman, can you explain what you meant when you told me and others in October that you had no plans to run?

KUCINICH:  That's exactly right.  When I made up, I made a decision actually last week, Mark, and I'll tell you how it happened.  The Democrats win back the majority.  We're all excited about it.  I'm excited about it.  I'm in line to be the chairman of a subcommittee.  Looking forward to that service.  We had a caucus right when we came back, right after the Thanksgiving break, and in that caucus it was made manifestly clear that the leadership was taking us in a direction of continuing to fund the war.  Oh they talked about transparency and about investigations and things like that, but they didn't talk about stopping the war.

When I heard that and I saw our leaders go forward in press conferences all over Washington, say that they're going to continue to fund the war, Mark, I knew that despite the fact that it's going to make major changes in my life and in the life that my wife and I have built for ourselves--you know we have decided to go forward and to step up to this challenge.  It would be much more comfortable to just serve as a member of Congress and not say anything about this.

But I have an obligation to the people of my community, whose sons and daughters are out there on the line in Iraq.  I have an obligation to the people of this nation.  When I made a commitment years ago to say I'm going to do everything I can to end the war.  Now the Democrats are in power.  Now we can do something about it.  Now we have the ability to take a new direction.  And then our leaders at the same time are saying they're going to keep funding the war.  It's not credible to say that you're opposed to the war and you keep funding it.

So I made the decision last week.  And I decided to go forward quickly so the American people know that there's someone they can rally around.  That we can move forward.  That there's a voice to challenge the thinking that put us in the war.  There's a voice to challenge the thinking that keeps us in the war.  There's a voice to challenge the thinking that says war's inevitable.  There's a voice to bring forward new thinking that says that we can work to develop peace, we can work with the community of nations, that we can create an America free of fear, free of the kind of violence that we've seen and that's the direction I intend to take this country with the help of the American people.  [applause].

QUESTION:  [inaud. woman TV reporter]  Congressman, you've been likened to Don Quixote tilting at windmills.  In the last primary you marked only single digit numbers in most primaries and did not take enough delegates to even win a single seat.  You this time around are looking to win on the same kind of platform that you ran on before.  How is this different?

KUCINICH:  Well it's greatly different.  First of all in the past campaign the Democrats weren't in power.  We were trying to win the presidency, but unfortunately with all due respect to Mr. Kerry, he chose not to carry a banner of opposition to the war from the convention into the November election.  And I would submit to you that was one of the reasons why he lost.  If he had challenged George Bush directly on the war we would have, I feel we would have won.  Not only that but because he had supported the war, I predicted that when the general election debates came about he'd be in a position that'd be very difficult because the President could turn to him, as he did, and say well wait a minute, you supported the war, you voted for authorization and in fact he voted to fund it.  I'm saying the same thing to the Democrats today.

Except we're in power.  We were given power in November to change the direction.  The Congress has the opportunity here.  We don't have to wait two years.  We don't have to wait 'til the 2008 election.  The American people need someone who's willing to stand up right now and speak the truth, that themoney's there to bring the troops home right now.  And that's what I'm doing.  And in doing that I cause the American people to understand that somebody's willing to lay it on the line.  Somebody's willing to stand up and speak out.

Now yes, I've been compared to Don Quixote, and all those who are familiar with Don Quixote know the song "Impossible Dream."  Well I, my friends, am willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause, and I'm willing to march the hopes and aspirations of the American people out of Iraq by taking this stand.  [applause].

QUESTION:  Is part of your campaign going to be a call for the President's impeachment...?

KUCINICH:  No, listen, frankly speaking at this point the impeachment needs to be--let me restate this.  The most important thing this nation needs to do right now is to bring our troops home and all talk about impeachment just would prolong the troops being in Iraq.  It would be a distraction.  It would enable the war in Iraq to keep grinding on without anybody focusing on it.  So no I'm not talking about that.  I'm looking at uniting the country to bring our troops home, to get out of Iraq, to reunite with the world.


QUESTION:  [off mic.]...there's a school of thought that suggests maybe, just maybe you might have more influence in Congress because of your longevity and because of your positions on committees.  Now to what degree might you be concerned about alienating some of the Democratic leadership with your positions?

KUCINICH:  Well see this is the old faustian bargain.  If you just shut up and take your place and go along, you get along.  America did not become a great nation that way, and in times of crisis leaders have a responsibility to stand up and speak out, without regard to the risks that are taken.  [applause].  I'm speaking out on behalf of the American people, and I'm a Democrat and I'm a good Democrat, and I want my party to succeed.  But my party cannot succeed if we continue to take a stand to finance a war and keep the war going.  We need to take a stand that says, let's bring the troops home now.  The money is there right now.  It's in the pipeline.  Let's spend it to bring the troops home.  [applause]


QUESTION:  [off mic.]...with AP.  Last time you ran you fell far behind the other candidates in fundraising.  How can you make that up this time?

KUCINICH:  Actually you know I did pretty well.  I raised over $13 million, much of it was on the Internet.  And our website, by the way, you can go to right now.  Our presidential campaign website is already set up and I expect that we will raise millions of dollars over the Internet.  I don't think I'm going to have any trouble raising the money I need to run a full scale presidential campamign and I think the American people, when they see someone standing up, will rally behind this campaign and money is not going to be an issue.

The issue right now is who's taking a stand to bring the troops hom now, not to say oh in a year or two years, not to say we'll do it when a Democrat becomes president, but I'm challenging our Democratic leaders right now to take the stand, to say the money's there and to say we are going to push the President to bring the troops home now because when the Spring comes we're not going to give 'em another dime to finance the continuation of our troops in Iraq.  [applause].

QUESTION:  John Quinn, Bloomberg News.  Our preamble of the Constitution states we're supposed to form a more perfect union.  How are you going to bridge the gap between the Democrats and Republicans to work together, not only for troop withdrawal, but looking ahead through the term of your presidency to ensure jobs.  You mentioned last time when you were running about the WPA project, that you'd like to have a reinsurgence of jobs as well.  How are you going to form that perfect union between Republicans and Democrats so we can have a common goal?

KUCINICH:  This is one of the most important questions that would be asked, not only in this news conference, but in any place in America.  Our nation, the very name of the United States, the United States, is a statement of unity.  The first motto of the United States, e pluribus unum, out of many we are one, speaks to the imperative of oneness which America's early fathers and mothers felt about this nation.  But the United States, this idea of the United States, is not just about the unity of the 50 states, it's about human unity, it's about understanding that all people all over everywhere in the world are interconnected, that we are interdependent, that we have a common destiny and a common fate, and that our commonalities require usnot only to challenge war and global climate change and nuclear proliferation, but to challenge each other to be more than we are and better than we are, to show our capacity to evolve.  And so I believe that unity is required.

That's why at this moment and throughout the campaign you'll hear me speak of the imperative of unity, you'll hear me speak of how we must unite our Democratic party, you'll hear me speak of the imperative of working with Republicans as I've always done.  You'll hear me speak of how important it is that we unify the people around certain principles, and the imperative of human unity is the first principle.

The second principle is the imperative of human security, that people have a right to be safe, they have a right to jobs, they have a right to housing, they have a right to health care, they have a right to water fit to drink and air fit to breath, they have a right to an education.

And the imperative of peace.  We have an obligation to work to create peace in the world.  And leaders have an obligation to stand up for peace.  And this isn't a Democratic or a Republican idea.  Abraham Lincoln talked, after he saw a war that was dividing his country, he talked about the necessity of proceeding with malice towards none, with charity for all.

And it's [in] that spirit I'm going to go forward.  But we need to remember that right now at this very moment when you wak out this door, I want you to remember that the money is there right now to bring those troops home.  I want you to remember that October 1st the United States Congress appropriated $70 billion and that money is available until the last day of June to bring the toops home.  We don't need to appropriate another $160 billion.  If you take $230 billion for FY 2007 that's twice what we spent in 2006 whe the war escalated.  Where are we going?  Where are we headed?  Where are our hearts?  Whe're our soul.  This is what this campaign's about.  Inspiring the American people and informing them that someone's stepping forward to challenge this war, to say bring the troops home now.  We're not going to wait; we're going to make this an issue everywhere, all over this country and inspire the Democrats to have courage to do the right thing.  That's what the American people expected when they voted to give us the power on November 7th.  [applause].

I'm sorry would you start again.

QUESTION:  [off mic.]...I'm wondering how are you serving your constituents who just elected you to Congress when we're talking about an appropriations bill, which is an issue for Congress, if you're going to be traveling around to Iowa and New Hampshire and the rest of the country?

KUCINICH:  Are you kidding?  I mean this war is changing the lives of my constituents.  This war is robbing the people of my district of a hope for more money for schools, for health care for housing, for senior citizens.  Someone has to take this on.  It would be easy for many people to just stand in the background and say, well I've got it made; I'm a member of Congress.  I don't have to do anything else.  This is not a time for comfort or convenience.  This is a time to stand up.  This is a time to rescue the needs of my constituents and I will tell you this; I already know this and any of you who have served in other markets outside of Cleveland you understand this.  The people in Cleveland have much in common with people all over the United States.  The idea of differences city to city, state to state, region to region, it's a false notion because it belies the fact that there's an underlying unity.

So my obligation is to step forward.  And I have just as much of a right as any other member of Congress who's in this race for president to do that.  And I have just as much of a responsibility to stand up, and I invite every other candidate who's a member of Congress who is running for president to stand and join me, to take the very position that I've taken.  They can take the position too.  I'm waiting for them to step forward and join me in saying the money is there right now to bring the troops home.  Join me in doing that.  This is what leadership is about.

AUDIENCE:  Dennis?

KUCINICH:  I'll get back in a second.  I want to get the people in the press.

QUESTION:  ...When did you discuss this with Elizabeth and what was your reaction?

KUCINICH to ELIZABETH:  Do you want to?  Why don't you?  Please.

ELIZABETH:  I believe in Dennis.  As you know I'm from England but this is the voice that the world craves of America and this is the voice that the United States craves of our politicians here.  I fully support Dennis in every endeavor that he has.  [applause].

KUCINICH:  Anybody else who hasn't asked a question?  Yes in the back.

QUESTION:  ...19 Action News.  To expound upon a question that the gentleman had earlier.  What do you say to some of your constituents, folks from your district, that may not want you to run for president?  That may want you to honor your commitment to represent them as a congressman.

KUCINICH:  I am representing my constituents when I stand against this war.  I am representing my constituents when I challenge [applause] the Congress to keep good on its promise to bring the troops home.  I'm standing up from my constituents when I stand up from the troops in the field, when I say bring those young men and women home.  I'm standing up for my constituents when I say stop wasting the money on this war and take care of the concerns of the people here. Do you think that we can keep spending money on this war endlessly?  Do you know that Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has already predicted that we will spend at current rates between $1 and 2 trillion on this war.

My constituents know me well.  I'm not a rookie in politics.  For those of you who have been around for a while, next year will be my 40th year, my 40th year involved in the politics and civic life of this community.  People know me well.  They know that I'm not afraid to stand up and speak out.  They know that when a municipal electric system was on the line, I was the one who stood up and spoke out and challenged even people in the medai about their position [s?].  People called me to do that.  People called me to do something about saving hospitals.  I stood up when many said oh you can't do that; you'll never save those hospitals.  We saved two community hospitals, and one endures today.  People said do something Dennis when they're ready to close the steel mill.  There were 30 steel mills that closed across America.  I stood up, rallied the community, and that steel mill today is the flagship of an international company.

People are calling me now to say Dennis do something about this war.  This war affects our district.  This war affects our city.  I've gone to too many funerals already of young people who have represented this country, brave people who stood up for this country.  I don't want to got to any more of those.  I want to make sure that people know there's a member of Congress to take this country in a new direction.

I'm a congressman from the 10th congressional district.  I am also a congressman of the United States, and I serve my district when I serve my country.  [applause].


QUESTION:  Dennis, I've been with you for nearly 30 years.  I'm not one of your constituents, but I want to know what can we do with the people who aren't constituents to help get behind this?  Because my daughter, who wasn't suppose to have to go, she's two and a half years from retirement has just been told that she's going to have to go to Iraq.  I don't want to have to have to bury my only family.  So we've got to get people mobilized to stop this madness.  I can't bear the thought of losing my only family.

>>KUCINICH stepped away from the podium and walked over to the woman to give her a hug.

QUESTION CONT'D (KUCINICH standing close by listening and looking at the woman):  I just know what I have to do to help you to make other people wake up to the reality of what's happening?  This war doesn't just affect Ohio, this war affects everybody in this country.  This war affects people in England.  This war affects people all over the world and it is not really a war, this is an invasion of a country because we have a president who won't listen to reason.  And we've got to do something, so what in the world can we do to make people wake up and stop paying attention to who Tom Cruise married and pay attention to the fact that we've got a president who went to Vietnam for the first time and never ever paid any attention to what he needed to do as a president.  That's what I'm asking here.  What can we do to wake people up and get them out of their stupor of idiocy and do something to stop this war?

KUCINICH (speaking to the woman):  I'm going to make sure--  [applause]  I want you to know and I want every parent of every young person who's serving in Iraq or may serve in Iraq to know that I am going to do everything I can to end this war as quickly as possible and get these kids home.  I want you to know this is why I'm running for president.  This is why I'm challenging my own party to say the money's there right now to bring them home.  I don't what you to have to fear for the safety of your child.  I don't want you to have to fear if someone who you've given your life to, who you gave birth to could end up in jeopardy in Iraq.  So I want you to know that I'm there for you.  That's why I'm running.  Thank you.  Thank you.

QUESTION CONT'D:  I know you're there and I want other people to be with you.  Thank you.

KUCINICH:  I think we've covered it.  I want to thank you very much.

KUCINICH with wife ELIZABETH returned to hug the woman again and talk with her.

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