Dennis Kucinich out: Left loses a combative, cheerful voice in Congress
Former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich lost in the Democratic primary Tuesday to Rep. Marcy Kaptur after their Ohio districts were merged by a Republican redistricting plan.
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"That's because I read it," he fired back, to loud applause from the audience.Skip to next paragraph
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Blending ambition and self-awareness
In 2003, Kucinich and other back-of-the-pack candidates were confronted in a debate with questions about the viability of their candidacies. "Are you in this as sort of a vanity candidacy?" ABC's Ted Koppel asked.
Kucinich blasted Koppel for focusing on candidate fundraising, endorsements, and poll results well before 2004 primary voting had begun. "When you do that, you don't ... talk about what's important to the American people," Kucinich said. He said he would pull out of the race "when I take the oath of office, when you're there to cover it."
In other venues, he showed an awareness of his long odds. Asked by David Letterman in 2007 how his campaign was going, he cited a poll showing him with 3 percent support, "which means that some people, with a margin of error, believe that I actually exist."
Ventriloquist ... and more
Not every politician is known as a vegan, a friend of Shirley MacLaine, a self-described UFO sighter, and a ventriloquist. Most aren't known as any of those. For Kucinich, it is "yes" on all counts.
He appeared in a humorous profile by Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" in 2011, in which he, on a serious note, confirmed that he supports a cabinet-level department of peace. He then showed off his abilities as a ventriloquist, and played along with a gag in which his interviewer purportedly discovers that Kucinich is an unstoppable cyborg (who happens to quote "Age of Aquarius" lyrics).
Pressed in one presidential debate about account by Ms. MacLaine that he had seen an unidentified flying object, Kucinich responded in the affirmative. Moderator Tim Russert cast his question as a serious one, but Kucinich supporters called the question an unfair hatchet job.
The Ohio native became mayor of Cleveland at just 31 years of age, in 1978. He backed out of a prior plan to sell the city's electric utility, Municipal Light. The saga continued as banks refused to renew credit to the city, prompting the Kucinich administration to default on obligations. The mayor was finally voted out of office in a recall election, leaving office in 1979.
Kucinich and his supporters say his decision on the utility has been vindicated over time, and that the banks were unfairly conspiring against the city regarding a privatization from which they stood to profit.
Progressive in Congress
Since winning a seat in Congress in 1996, he has championed a range of causes from support for labor unions to combating climate change.
On foreign policy he has argued against major military operations, including the recent one in Libya, that are launched without direct congressional authorization.
As a congressman and presidential candidate, he has backed the idea of a single-payer (government) healthcare system for all Americans.
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