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Interview with Representative Dennis Kucinich

Interview with Representative Dennis Kucinich

By John King, USA - December 30, 2011

CROWLEY: Joining me now to discuss his campaign to stay in Congress is veteran Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

I know this is a tough thing for you, not to mention for Congresswoman Kaptur. But let me ask you just kind of what went through your mind. As Dana mentioned, she's the most senior female in the House. She's brought home to Ohio more federal dollars than any other state lawmaker. What do you bring to the table that she doesn't already have there?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Well, first of all, the seat doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the people.

And my approach has always been to stand up and speak out on behalf of the economic rights of people. In the Cleveland area, I have been instrumental in helping to save or create thousands of jobs. People know me there as a person who gets involved. When everyone else that stands on the sideline and says it can't be done, I get involved, change the outcome, not only in the big-picture items, like helping to save a steel mill or an electric system years ago, but also on the matters where people need help, Social Security, Medicare.

My office gets involved and helps people, in some cases, save their lives. So my -- I'm a can-do person. I'm used to being in tough situations. And it's been the story of my life and landing on my feet. So I'm -- I know that this is a competitive race.

CROWLEY: You know, tonally, how is this going to work? She was asked what's the difference between you and Congressman Kucinich? And she said that she's operationally effective, the implication being that you don't get things done, you always have a point of view, but that she gets things done.

How do the two of you get through this campaign without going negative? Is that a pledge you're willing to take, that you won't take out negative advertising on her? How will it work?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, this campaign is not about, you know, my criticism of another candidate. I'm not going to do that.

Marcy Kaptur's my friend.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: So you will do no negative ads?

KUCINICH: I don't even think in those terms.

Candy, one of the problems with politics in America today -- and I have seen the coverage of Iowa primaries -- people are just tearing each other up. It's important for candidates to say what they're going to do for people to create jobs, health care for all, education for all, retirement security for all, and peace.

And that's the message I'm going to take to people in Ohio. And, frankly if they hear it and I get my message out, I should have a chance to succeed. But one cannot succeed by simply disparaging another. That's what's wrong about our politics and it's something that I can demonstrate in this campaign, a way of changing the direction of our politics.

CROWLEY: So, from you, no negative words, no negative ads about Marcy Kaptur?

KUCINICH: Why should I? It's about -- first of all, she's a friend of mine. But beyond that, we need to change our approach to politics.

People are fed up with the politics where candidates just rip each other apart and then the voters lose in the end because no one really knows what anybody stands for.

I'm going to continue to get my message out to people from Cleveland to Lorain to Toledo about my efforts to save and create jobs, my efforts to stand up and speak out as a vigorous spokesperson for peace in a time when people are rattling the sabers to drag us into more wars. And take a look at what's happening with Iran right now and you will see why it's important to have a voice like that.

But I -- but it doesn't have to be done at the expense of another candidate.

CROWLEY: OK.

Let me ask you, just -- you brought up 2012. I want to ask you a couple of 2012 questions. The first is, do you think that -- would you welcome any kind of inter-party challenge to President Obama? There's been lots of complaints on the left about some of what he's done. Do you think there will be a challenge to him?

KUCINICH: No. I think that President Obama is assured of the nomination. This is really going to be a choice between President Obama and whoever the Republicans nominate.

CROWLEY: And I want to play you something that Rick Santorum had to say yesterday about one of his colleagues on the presidential campaign trail, Ron Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very important vote you're casting here in Iowa. On national security, there's no more important. Iowa needs to send a message that we want a candidate that is not in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party running for president under our ticket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I wonder if you consider Ron Paul to be in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party.

KUCINICH: Ron Paul is a force in and of...

CROWLEY: You both do agree on...

KUCINICH: He's a force in and of himself. And I'm not going to inject myself into Republican politics.

But I will say this. When you have candidates that are trying to take us into war against Iran -- remember, we went to war against Iraq based on lies. I led the effort in the United States Congress in challenging the Bush administration's march towards war.

I said in October of 2008 that there was no proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or had the intention or capability of attacking the United States. Here we are. Almost 4,700 troops died, tens of thousands injured, over a million Iraqis dead. It will cost $5 trillion in the end for the war. What did it prove?

It proved that the people who supported the war were wrong and the people who are beating a drum for war against Iran are just as wrong. It's time for us to take a new direction. Don't we have problems here at home? Don't we have a need to create jobs and save homes and give people a chance to have their kids go to better schools and protect Social Security and things like that? They're still talking about war? Come on.

CROWLEY: And on that, there's some bipartisan agreement, I think, between you and Ron Paul across the party line.

Thank you so much, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, an interesting year ahead for you. Thanks for joining us.

KUCINICH: Happy new year.

CROWLEY: Same to you. 

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John King, USA

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