Iowa Public Television

 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich

posted on January 6, 2004

LIVE FROM THE STUDIOS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, IT'S "THE CANDIDATES WITH DAVID YEPSEN." TONIGHT DAVID YEPSEN'S GUEST IS CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH OF OHIO, CANDIDATE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. HERE IS "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: WE CONTINUE OUR CAMPAIGN CONVERSATIONS WITH THE CANDIDATES SEEKING THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION, AND TONIGHT WE TALK POLICY AND POLITICS WITH CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH, A MAN WHO TAKES PRIDE IN THE FACT THAT THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER HE'S BEEN LABELED A POLITICAL UNDERDOG. NOW, THERE ARE OTHER LABELS ASSOCIATED WITH CONGRESSMAN KUCINICH, TERMS LIKE "UP-FRONT," "IDEALISTIC," "TOO LIBERAL," "FEISTY." MR. KUCINICH WAS ELECTED TO THE CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL AT THE AGE OF 23 AND WAS THEN ELECTED MAYOR OF CLEVELAND AT THE TENDER AGE OF 31. THAT EARNED HIM THE LABEL OF "THE BOY MAYOR," AND HE SERVED ONE CONTROVERSIAL TERM. MR. KUCINICH STAGED A POLITICAL COMEBACK TO WIN A SEAT IN THE OHIO LEGISLATURE, AND TODAY HE'S IN HIS FOURTH TERM REPRESENTING OHIO IN THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. NOW HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. CONGRESSMAN KUCINICH, WE WELCOME YOU TO IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. >>

Kucinich: THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND THANK YOU FOR SPARING ME THE REST OF THE LIST OF THE LABELS. I APPRECIATE IT. [ LAUGHTER ]

Yepsen: WE MAY GET INTO SOME OF THEM HERE. WELL, CONGRESSMAN, WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS GIVE PEOPLE SOME HELP IN MAKING UP THEIR MINDS ABOUT WHO TO VOTE FOR. GIVE ME YOUR COMMERCIAL. WHY SHOULD AN UNDECIDED IOWA DEMOCRAT STAND UP FOR DENNIS KUCINICH ON CAUCUS NIGHT?

Kucinich: BECAUSE I'M THE ONE CANDIDATE IN THE CAUCUS RACE WHO IS DEDICATED TO GETTING THE UNITED STATES OUT OF IRAQ AND QUICK. I'VE HAD THIS PLAN ON MY WEBSITE SINCE OCTOBER 9 AT KUCINICH.US TO BRING THE U.N. IN AND BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, AND I THINK THAT COULD END UP BEING A DEFINING ISSUE IN IOWA. THERE'S NO REASON WHY THIS COUNTRY HAS TO STAY THERE FOR YEARS AS, FRANKLY, ALL THE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES HAVE SAID. SO I SEE THE PLAN THAT I HAVE, WHICH CALLS FOR THE U.N. TO HANDLE THE OIL ON AN INTERIM BASIS ON BEHALF OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE, THE CONTRACTS, THE CAUSE OF GOVERNANCE, THE NEW CONSTITUTION AND ELECTIONS AS BEING THE BRIDGE THAT ENABLES NOT ONLY THE STABILIZATION OF IRAQ BUT ENABLES OUR TROOPS TO COME HOME. YOU KNOW, WITH 60 MEMBERS OF THE IOWA NATIONAL GUARD HAVING BEEN ACTIVATED AND SENT TO DUTY IN THE REGION, I THINK THIS STATE UNDERSTANDS HOW URGENT IT IS TO START TO BRING ABOUT SOME RESOLUTION. I'M NOT FOR STAYING THERE. I WANT TO BRING OUR TROOPS HOME.

Yepsen: WE'LL GET TO IRAQ IN A MOMENT, BUT BEFORE I LEAVE YOUR CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL, IF YOU WILL, AND WHY PEOPLE SHOULD STAND UP FOR YOU, WHY NOT HOWARD DEAN? HE'S AGAINST THE WAR IN IRAQ TOO. HE'S THE FRONT-RUNNER.

Kucinich: TIME OUT HERE, BECAUSE THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, HE HAS SAID REPEATEDLY THAT HE EXPECTS WE'LL HAVE TO BE THERE FOR YEARS. HE SAID THAT REPEATEDLY. YOU KNOW, EVEN HOWARD DEAN SAYS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO BE THERE FOR YEARS. SO MY CANDIDACY, YOU KNOW, IT COMES, FIRST OF ALL, FROM CONSISTENT OPPOSITION TO THE WAR. I LED THE EFFORT IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN CHALLENGING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S MARCH TOWARD WAR. I ORGANIZED 126 DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE. I'VE BEEN ON THIS ISSUE FOR A LONG TIME, AND I CAN TELL YOU IT WAS WRONG TO GO IN AND IT'S WRONG TO STAY IN. SO HOWARD DEAN, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS COMMITTED IN MANY STATEMENTS ON BROADCAST TELEVISION TO STAYING THERE FOR YEARS, AND I'M SAYING THAT HE'S WRONG. HE'S WRONG. THIS IS THE TIME THAT WE NEED A PLAN FOR AN EXIT STRATEGY, AND I'VE HAD THAT PLAN, NOW, FOR THREE MONTHS. SO, YOU KNOW, IT'S WRONG -- IT'S WRONG FOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES TO START SAYING WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR YEARS, BECAUSE THAT PLAYS RIGHT INTO THE HANDS OF THE PRESIDENT WHO GOT US THERE FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS.

Yepsen: LET ME GIVE YOU ANOTHER COMMERCIAL: WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?

Kucinich: I WANT TO BE PRESIDENT BECAUSE I THINK I CAN LEAD THIS NATION TO A ROLE IN THE WORLD WHICH CONNECTS US WITH THE WORLD COMMUNITY, WHICH CAN BRING ABOUT PEACE IN THIS WORLD. I THINK THAT PEACE IS INEVITABLE, THAT WAS IS NOT INEVITABLE, BUT WE HAVE TO WORK TOWARDS IT. I ENVISION AMERICA AS COOPERATING WITH THE WORLD COMMUNITY IN A WAY THAT CAN ACHIEVE PEACE. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY WE'RE GOING TO BE SECURE AS A NATION. AND ALSO, THE DIVIDEND FROM THAT COOPERATION COMES IN TERMS OF THE RESOURCES THAT WE NEED HERE AT HOME TO CREATE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL, EDUCATION FOR ALL, JOBS FOR ALL. AND THE REASON WHY I CONNECT WITH THAT AND THOSE ASPIRATIONS IS THE WAY I GREW UP IN CLEVELAND.

Yepsen: LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT. GO INTO YOUR BIOGRAPHY. WHO ARE YOU, CONGRESSMAN?

Kucinich: I'LL TELL YOU -- START BY SAYING THAT I GREW UP IN CLEVELAND AS THE OLDEST OF SEVEN CHILDREN OF FRANK AND VIRGINIA KUCINICH, AND MY FOLKS NEVER OWNED A HOME. AS THE FAMILY GREW, WE JUST KEPT MOVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE. BY THE TIME I WAS SEVENTEEN, WE LIVED IN 21 DIFFERENT PLACES, INCLUDING A COUPLE CARS. AND AS A RESULT OF THAT EXPERIENCE, IT CREATED IN ME A GREAT SENSITIVITY TO THE STRUGGLES THAT PEOPLE HAVE IN TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET, TRYING TO HAVE JOBS -- GOOD PAYING JOBS, AND TRYING TO HAVE A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD AND TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN PAY THE BILLS AND SEND YOUR KIDS TO DECENT SCHOOLS. ALL THESE THINGS I UNDERSTAND BECAUSE I GREW UP IN NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE PEOPLE SHARED THESE KIND OF ASPIRATIONS FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND FOR THE FUTURE. RIGHT NOW THE HOUSE THAT I LIVE IN, IN CLEVELAND, OHIO, I BOUGHT IN 1971 FOR $22,000. SO WHEN LINCOLN TALKS ABOUT GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE -- HE TALKED ABOUT THAT AT GETTYSBURG -- YOU COULD ALSO ENCOMPASS THE POSSIBILITY OF A PRESIDENT FROM THE PEOPLE. I CONNECT WITH PEOPLE'S ASPIRATIONS BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE I COME FROM.

Yepsen: SOMETIMES I WONDER IN LISTENING TO YOU SPEAK, THERE'S A BIT OF AN EDGE THERE TO YOU THERE, CONGRESSMAN. DO YOU EVER SUPPOSE YOU'VE GOT A LITTLE BIT OF A CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER TOWARDS WELL-TO-DO PEOPLE OR WEALTHY PEOPLE BECAUSE OF YOUR BACKGROUND?

Kucinich: I DID AT ONE TIME. DID I? SURE. DO I NOW? NO. BUT DID I GROWING UP? YEAH. I MEAN WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR FAMILY, WITH WHAT FEW GOODS YOU HAVE, GETTING CARRIED DOWN THE STAIRS AT 10712 ST. CLAIR AND THE STUFF PUT OUT ON THE CURB, YOU KNOW, THAT CAN CREATE SOME FEELINGS OF SADNESS, LET'S SAY. AND WHEN YOU SEE HOW CORPORATIONS CAN EXPLOIT PEOPLE AND HOW THEY ELIMINATE JOBS AND DRIVE DOWN PEOPLE'S WAGES AND POLLUTE THE ATMOSPHERE, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF AN EDGE. BUT LET ME TELL YOU WHERE I AM NOW. WHERE I AM NOW IS THAT I THINK THAT WE NEED TO CREATE A COUNTRY WHERE EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE TO SHARE IN THE WEALTH, WHERE EVERYONE HAS THE CHANCE TO LEARN HOW TO CREATE WEALTH. BUT YOU'RE PERCEPTIVE. I MEAN AT ONE POINT I DID HAVE THIS ATTITUDE ABOUT WEALTH, BUT I DON'T ANYMORE BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND THAT, YOU KNOW, WEALTH CARRIES WITH IT A WHOLE DIFFERENT SET OF PROBLEMS. BUT WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN THIS COUNTRY IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE'S A MORE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF THE WEALTH, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I THINK I COULD PROBABLY HELP TO EFFECT BETTER THAN ANY OTHER CANDIDATE.

Yepsen: I GATHER THAT WAS -- EXCUSE ME. I GATHER THAT WAS YOUR MOST FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE IN YOUR LIFE WAS THE POVERTY THAT YOU GREW UP IN?

Kucinich: I WOULDN'T SAY IT WAS THE MOST INFORMATIVE, BUT IT WAS INFORMATIVE.

Yepsen: WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO GO INTO POLITICS? YOU COULD HAVE DONE A LOT OF OTHER THINGS WITH YOUR LIFE, BUT WHY ARE YOU IN THIS POLITICAL GAME?

Kucinich: IN THE NINTH GRADE HOMEROOM OF SR. SEBINA AT ST. JOHN CANTIUS, I HAD THE CHANCE TO WATCH JOHN F. KENNEDY BEING SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN JANUARY OF 1961. WHEN HE SAID, "LET THE WORD GO FORTH FROM THIS TIME AND PLACE THAT THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED TO A NEW GENERATION OF AMERICANS," I WAS IN THE NINTH GRADE, I THOUGHT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT ME AND MY CLASSMATES. WHEN HE SAID "ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY," I HEARD THAT AS A CALL, AND I THINK A LOT OF YOUNG AMERICANS DID AT THE TIME. AND SO I FELT CALLED TO THIS PUBLIC SERVICE AND TO A SENSE OF COMMITMENT TO MY COUNTRY. THAT'S THE SAME THING I'D LIKE TO DO FOR YOUNG AMERICANS TODAY, TO RALLY THEM TO THE CAUSE OF COMMUNITY, TO THE CAUSE OF OUR NATION, TO HELPING TO PARTICIPATE COLLECTIVELY TO CREATE A BETTER COUNTRY.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE TO DO WITH THESE CONVERSATIONS IS GET CANDIDATES -- GIVE CANDIDATES A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO SOME OF THE CHARGES THAT ARE MADE OR THE ATTACKS OR THE NEGATIVES. ONE THING I HEAR ABOUT YOU FROM DEMOCRATS AROUND IOWA IS: TOO LIBERAL; CAN'T WIN; I LIKE HIM BUT HE JUST CAN'T WIN. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE?

Kucinich: WELL, I SAID THE OTHER NIGHT I CAN WIN IF PEOPLE VOTE FOR ME. I MEAN IT'S FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS. YOU KNOW, THROUGHOUT MY CAREER I'VE WON MANY ELECTIONS, AND I'VE WON DESPITE BEING AN UNDERDOG. I'VE HEARD THIS FROM THE TIME I FIRST RAN FOR CITY COUNCIL. AND WHEN I RAN FOR MAYOR; CAN'T WIN. WHEN I RAN FOR STATE SENATOR; CAN'T WIN. WHEN I RAN FOR CONGRESS; CAN'T WIN. AND BECAUSE I'VE HEARD THAT, I'VE BECOME SO ACCUSTOMED TO BEING ABLE TO BEAT THE ODDS, THAT'S WHAT I DO. THAT'S WHAT MY LIFE IS ABOUT. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO NEED A PRESIDENT WHO KNOWS HOW TO BEAT THE ODDS AND CAN ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME THING BECAUSE FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, THEY'RE A LONG SHOT TO BE ABLE TO GET THE JOB THAT THEY WANT, THEY'RE A LONG SHOT TO GET THE HEALTH CARE THAT THEY WANT, IT'S A LONG SHOT WHETHER THEY'LL GET THE HOUSING THEY WANT. WE'RE A NATION OF LONG SHOTS BUT, YOU KNOW, LONG SHOTS DO WIN. YOU KNOW, LOOK AT SEABISCUIT. LONG SHOTS CAN BE ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I'M ELECTABLE IF THE PEOPLE OF IOWA SAY I'M ELECTABLE.

Yepsen: ANOTHER THING IN YOUR BACKGROUND WAS YOUR TENURE AS MAYOR OF CLEVELAND: TWO YEARS; YOU LOST REELECTION; THE CITY HAD FINANCIAL TROUBLES. HOW IS THAT AN ARGUMENT FOR YOUR CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WHEN YOU LOST REELECTION AS MAYOR, THE ONLY EXECUTIVE POSITION YOU HAD?

Kucinich: WELL, ACTUALLY THE TERM THAT I HAD AS MAYOR IS WHAT QUALIFIES ME TO BE PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I WAS ELECTED MAYOR OF CLEVELAND ON A PROMISE TO SAVE THE CITY OF CLEVELAND'S MUNICIPALLY OWNED ELECTRIC SYSTEM FROM A TAKEOVER BY A UTILITY MONOPOLY. THE CITY OF CLEVELAND HAS HAD AN ELECTRIC SYSTEM SINCE THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY, AND THAT ELECTRIC SYSTEM HAS PROVIDED A SAVINGS ON PEOPLE'S ELECTRIC BILL OF, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES 25 PERCENT. AND SO WHEN THIS UTILITY MONOPOLY WANTED TO TAKE IT OVER, I CONDUCTED A CAMPAIGN THAT BLOCKED THE SALE, BECAUSE I KNOW IT MATTERS HOW MUCH PEOPLE PAY FOR ELECTRICITY, AND SO I GOT ELECTED. AND MY FIRST ACT IN OFFICE WAS TO CANCEL THE SALE. BUT A YEAR LATER ON DECEMBER 15, 1978, THE LARGEST BANK IN OHIO CAME TO ME AND SAID, "LOOK, YOU'RE GOING TO SELL THAT ELECTRIC SYSTEM BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T, WE'RE NOT GOING TO RENEW THE CITY'S CREDIT," ON LOANS THAT I HADN'T EVEN TAKEN OUT. AND SO I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE. WAS I GOING TO STAND FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST, WHICH WAS REPRESENTED BY SAVING THIS MUNICIPAL ELECTRIC SYSTEM OR WAS I GOING TO CAVE INTO THIS BANK WHICH WAS A BUSINESS PARTNER OF THE UTILITY? AND SO I CHOSE NOT TO SELL THE SYSTEM, AND THE CITY WAS PUSHED INTO A DEFAULT. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN AMERICAN POLITICAL HISTORY, BUT IT HAPPENED TO ME. I TOOK THE STAND. I SAVED THE PEOPLE'S ELECTRIC SYSTEM, AND FIFTEEN YEARS LATER I WAS ON MY WAY TO A POLITICAL COMEBACK BECAUSE THAT ELECTRIC SYSTEM SUDDENLY ENGAGED IN THE LARGEST EXPANSION OF ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE OF CLEVELAND SAID, "WELL, THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED IF DENNIS" -- THAT'S WHAT THEY CALL ME IN CLEVELAND -- "HADN'T TAKEN A STAND." AND THEN THEY SAID, "WELL, WHERE IS HE?" AND I WAS, LIKE, FAR AWAY FROM POLITICS AT THAT POINT, BUT THEY ASKED ME TO COME BACK. AND THAT'S WHEN I GOT ELECTED TO THE STATE SENATE ON A SLOGAN WHICH SAID "BECAUSE IT WAS RIGHT." AND SO PEOPLE IN CLEVELAND APPRECIATE THE LEADERSHIP THAT I SHOWED. I MEAN IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO HAS EXPERIENCE OF STANDING UP TO CORPORATIONS, WHO'S NOT AFRAID TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC INTEREST, WHO CAN TAKE ON THE AGRIBUSINESS ON BEHALF OF THE FAMILY FARMERS, WHO CAN TAKE ON THE BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES AND THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM A CORPORATIZED HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. I MEAN PEOPLE WANT A PRESIDENT WHO IS INDEPENDENT AND FEARLESS, AND THEY'LL HAVE A CHANCE TO HAVE ONE IF THEY VOTE FOR ME IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES.

Yepsen: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THE CAMPAIGN, CONGRESSMAN. YOU MENTIONED IRAQ. ALL THE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE SAYING IN VARIOUS WAYS MAYBE WE SHOULDN'T BE THERE BUT WE CAN'T CUT AND RUN. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

Kucinich: THAT'S WHAT THEY SAID IN VIETNAM. AND YOU'RE RIGHT, ALL THE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE SAYING THAT. SO LOOK AT THE WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY THAT PEOPLE IN IOWA HAVE IN THIS ELECTION. THIS ELECTION CAN BE A REFERENDUM ON IRAQ. THEY NOW HAVE ONE CANDIDATE WHO IS PREPARED WITH A PLAN, AN EXIT STRATEGY TO GET OUT. THIS IDEA OF WE'RE STUCK, WE'RE IN A RUT, THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS -- BETWEEN A RUT AND A GRAVE ARE IN THE DIMENSIONS. AND WE NEED NOT SEND OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED INTO GRAVES IN IRAQ, BECAUSE WE CAN HAVE A WAY OF GETTING OUT OF IRAQ BY ENGAGING WITH THE WORLD COMMUNITY. FRANKLY, THE PLAN THAT I'VE OFFERED IS THE ONLY WAY THE UNITED STATES CAN GET OUT OF IRAQ WITHOUT A GREAT TRAGEDY, BECAUSE SOONER OR LATER WE'RE GOING TO NEED THE UNITED NATIONS TO SERVE AS A BRIDGE FOR IRAQIS TO BE ABLE TO TAKE OVER THEIR OWN FATE.

Yepsen: GIVE ME A FEW HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR PLAN. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET.

Kucinich: WELL, YOU'RE RIGHT AND I APPRECIATE THE CHANCE TO DO THAT. THE PLAN WOULD BE AS FOLLOWS. FIRST, WE WOULD -- THE UNITED STATES WOULD HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE AN END TO POLICY AS A PREEMPTION IN UNILATERALISM THAT WE THEN WOULD RECONNECT WITH THE WORLD COMMUNITY TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. WE'D GO TO THE UNITED NATIONS AND TELL THE U.N., LOOK, WE'RE NO LONGER INTERESTED IN CONTROLLING THE OIL IN IRAQ. WE'LL TURN THE OIL ASSETS OVER TO THE UNITED NATIONS TO HANDLE ON AN INTERIM BASIS ON BEHALF OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE, UNTIL THE IRAQI PEOPLE CAN BECOME SELF-GOVERNING. SECOND, WE'LL TURN THE CONTRACT PROCESS OVER TO THE U.N. THERE'LL BE NO MORE HALLIBURTON SWEETHEART DEALS, NO MORE NO-BID OR LOW-BID CONTRACTS GOING TO ADMINISTRATION FAVORITES, NO CONTRACTS GOING TO THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTE TO THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND MEMBERS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. AND WE'LL HAVE THE U.N. HANDLE THE CONTRACT PROCESS ON BEHALF OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE UNTIL THE IRAQI PEOPLE ARE SELF-GOVERNING. THE THIRD THING WE DO IS RENOUNCE ANY INTEREST IN PRIVATIZING IRAQ. THIS PRIVATIZATION PLAN THAT WAS SET FORTH ON SEPTEMBER 19 BY PAUL BREMER IS ACTUALLY ILLEGAL. IT'S A VIOLATION OF THE GENEVA AND THE HAGUE CONVENTIONS. NO NATION CAN INVADE ANOTHER NATION AND JUST GRAB ITS ASSETS AND CHOP THEM UP AND SELL THEM, AND SO WE HAVE TO RENOUNCE THAT. THE FOURTH THING THAT WE NEED TO DO IS TO MAKE SURE THAT WE LEAVE TO THE U.N. THE CAUSE OF DEVELOPING A NEW CONSTITUTION AND ELECTIONS IN IRAQ SO THAT NO ONE WILL BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS TRYING TO RUN BAGHDAD BY REMOTE CONTROL. THAT, TOGETHER WITH PAYING REPARATIONS TO THE FAMILIES WHO LOST INNOCENT LOVED ONES AND REBUILDING WHAT WE BLEW UP AND HELPING TO FUND A U.N. PEACEKEEPING MISSION WILL ENABLE THE U.N. PEACEKEEPERS TO COME IN AND OUR TROOPS TO COME HOME. AND, FRANKLY, THIS IS THE ONLY PLAN THAT ANY CANDIDATE IS OFFERING. IT'S THE ONLY EXIT STRATEGY THAT'S OUT THERE, AND IT'S REALLY A SHAME THAT THESE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE FALLING RIGHT INTO THE TRAP THAT PRESIDENT BUSH IS SETTING FOR THEM BY SAYING THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR YEARS. I REJECT THAT BECAUSE IF WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR YEARS, THAT MEANS HIGHER CASUALTIES. WE'VE ALREADY LOST ABOUT 470 MEN AND WOMEN SINCE MARCH 19. IT WILL MEAN THE COST IS GOING TO BE STRATOSPHERIC. WE SPENT $550 BILLION ALREADY IN THE COST -- EXCUSE ME. THE COST OF IRAQ ALREADY IS GOING AT A RATE OF -- IT'S ALMOST AT THE RATE OF $200 BILLION A YEAR. AND SO WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT IF WE DON'T DO ANYTHING TO GET OUT, THAT COST COULD GO OVER A TRILLION DOLLARS IF WE'RE THERE FOR FIVE YEARS, AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR ENTIRE DOMESTIC AGENDA.

Yepsen: WELL, YOU'VE LED US RIGHT INTO THE ECONOMY, WHICH IS THE NEXT QUESTION, THE BIGGEST ISSUE PEOPLE SAY IS ON THEIR MINDS. WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THE ECONOMY?

Kucinich: WELL, WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS THE FOLLOWING. WE CANCEL THE BUSH TAX CUTS THAT GO TO THE PEOPLE IN THE TOP BRACKET. WE GET OUT OF IRAQ. WE TAME THIS INCREASING PENTAGON BUDGET, WHICH IS REALLY BEING DRIVEN BY FEAR. THE WAR ON IRAQ AND INCREASING THE PENTAGON BUDGET WORK SYNERGISTICALLY. THEY GO HAND IN HAND. SO WHAT I INTEND TO DO IS TO, WITHOUT IN ANY WAY ADVERSELY AFFECTING NATIONAL SECURITY, REDUCE THE PENTAGON BUDGET BY A MINIMUM OF 15 PERCENT. I'M THE RANKING DEMOCRAT ON A SUBCOMMITTEE THAT HAS JURISDICTION OVER NATIONAL SECURITY. IT'S AN INVESTIGATIVE SUBCOMMITTEE. AND I KNOW THE KIND OF MONEY THAT'S BEEN WASTED. THERE'S OVER A TRILLION DOLLARS IN ACCOUNTS THEY CAN'T RECONCILE OVER AT THE PENTAGON. AND I KNOW WHAT WE NEED TO DO. WE NEED TO ELIMINATE WEAPON SYSTEMS THAT ARE ANTICIPATING WORLD WAR III, LIKE BUILDING NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS, THE STAR WARS MISSILE SHIELD, THE WEAPONS IN SPACE. ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE SET ASIDE. WE NEED TO FOCUS ON A STRONG DEFENSE. WE MUST HAVE A STRONG DEFENSE. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO DEFEND OUR COUNTRY, BUT WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO DEFEND OUR TAXPAYERS AS WELL, AND THERE'S A LOT OF WASTE THAT I'LL ELIMINATE. IN ADDITION TO THAT, TO RESTART THE ECONOMY, I WANT TO REBUILD AMERICA. I WANT TO REBUILD OUR ROADS, OUR BRIDGES, OUR WATER SYSTEMS, OUR SEWER SYSTEMS, BUILD NEW ENERGY SYSTEMS, NEW LIBRARIES, NEW POLICE STATIONS, NEW FIRE STATIONS. THAT'S WHAT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT DID IN THE 1930S. IT WAS A WPA-TYPE PROGRAM. IT PUT MILLIONS OF AMERICANS BACK TO WORK. I WANT TO DO THE SAME THING. I WANT TO HAVE SIMILARLY A CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS, JUST LIKE FDR DID, THAT PUT MILLIONS OF YOUNG AMERICANS TO WORK RECLAIMING THE ENVIRONMENT. I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE SAVE OUR ECONOMY BY CANCELING NAFTA AND THE WTO. WE'VE HAD SO MANY OF OUR MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES LEAVE THIS COUNTRY, AND NOW THE NEXT STEP IS THEY'RE GOING AFTER HIGH TECH AS WELL. THESE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS ARE SETTING THE RULES WHICH ARE DRIVING WAGES DOWN, CREATING A RACE TO THE BOTTOM. YOU KNOW, THESE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS I WANT TO ADDRESS IN SAVING OUR ECONOMY, AND UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IS ESSENTIAL TO RESTORING OUR ECONOMY.

Yepsen: YOU'VE TOUCHED ON SEVERAL THINGS. LET'S BACK UP FOR ONE MOMENT. TRADE... A LOT OF PEOPLE IN IOWA GROW THINGS THAT ARE SOLD ABROAD OR THEY MANUFACTURE THINGS THAT ARE SOLD ABROAD. THEY WORRY THAT IF YOU DO THINGS LIKE REPEAL NAFTA, YOU'LL START A TRADE WAR, THAT THIS IS A LITTLE TOO PROTECTIONIST. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THOSE CONCERNS?

Kucinich: WITH GLOBAL CORPORATIONS REWRITING THE RULES OF TRADE, WITH GLOBAL CORPORATIONS FORCING THE MOVEMENT OUT OF THIS COUNTRY OF GOOD MANUFACTURING JOBS, OF NOW HIGH-TECH JOBS, OF PROFITING FROM DUMPING EXPORTS HERE IN THIS COUNTRY AND HURTING OUR FARMERS, SOMEONE BETTER THINK ABOUT PROTECTING THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. SOMEONE BETTER THINK ABOUT PROTECTING THE AMERICAN ECONOMY, AND THAT'S WHAT I'M THINKING ABOUT DOING. NOW, NAFTA AND THE WTO HAVE WORKED AGAINST US. FOR ALL THE HIGH-MINDED IDEALS THAT WERE BEHIND IT, FREE TRADE HAS NOT MEANT FAIR TRADE. SO WHAT I INTEND TO DO IS TO GO BACK TO BILATERAL TRADE, WHICH WOULD BE CONDITIONED ON WORKERS' RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY PRINCIPLES.

Yepsen: BILATERAL TRADE, MEANING THE U.S. NEGOTIATES SEPARATE TREATIES WITH EACH COUNTRY.

Kucinich: WELL, THAT'S WHAT WE DID BEFORE -- BEFORE NAFTA AND THE WTO. BUT YOU KNOW WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW? A $550-BILLION TRADE DEFICIT. WHERE DOES THAT LEAD US? WE'RE GOING TO BE BORROWING MONEY TO PAPER OVER THAT DEFICIT, AND AT SOME POINT WE'LL BE CALLED UP TO SELL ASSETS. I MEAN I STAND ALONE AS A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT IN SAYING THAT I WILL WITHDRAW FROM NAFTA AND THE WTO. OTHER CANDIDATES ARE SAYING THEY'LL FIX IT. BUT MAYBE THEY'RE -- EITHER THEY DON'T KNOW OR THEY'RE NOT BEING STRAIGHT ABOUT IT TO SAY THAT YOU CAN'T FIX NAFTA WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF CANADA AND MEXICO AND THE CORPORATIONS THAT WERE BEHIND THE AGREEMENT, AND THE WTO DOESN'T PERMIT TO ANY MODIFICATIONS. YOU'RE EITHER IN IT OR YOU'RE NOT. YOU TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. I MEAN LOOK WHAT THE WTO DID LAST MONTH. THEY WERE GOING TO PUT $2 BILLION OF PENALTIES ON OUR AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS UNLESS WE AGREED TO TAKE AWAY THE TARIFFS THAT WE HAD TO PROTECT OUR STEEL INDUSTRY, WHICH WAS A VICTIM OF DUMPING BY COUNTRIES ALL AROUND THE WORLD SELLING STEEL IN OUR MARKETS BELOW THE COST OF PRODUCTION, RESULTING IN A LOSS OF 50,000 STEEL WORKER JOBS, 35 STEEL MILLS BEING CUT, AND 200,000 STEEL WORKER PENSIONERS WITH THEIR PENSION AND HEALTH CARE BENEFITS IN JEOPARDY. SOMEBODY BETTER THINK ABOUT PROTECTING THIS ECONOMY.

Yepsen: HEALTH CARE -- YOU MENTIONED HEALTH CARE. FLUSH OUT YOUR POSITION ON THAT ISSUE.

Kucinich: WELL, UNIVERSAL SINGLE-PAYER SYSTEM, MEDICARE FOR ALL, IT'S ACTUALLY EMBODIED IN LEGISLATION THAT I'VE WRITTEN WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, HR-676, LEGISLATION, I MIGHT ADD, THE PRINCIPLE, WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY 8,000 PHYSICIANS. AND THIS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM CREATES A SHIFT IN OUR APPROACH TO HEALTH CARE. IT GOES AWAY FROM A FOR-PROFIT SYSTEM TO A NOT-FOR-PROFIT SYSTEM. PEOPLE ASK ME, "HOW YOU ARE GOING TO PAY FOR IT, DENNIS?" WHAT I SAY IS THIS. WE ARE ALREADY PAYING FOR A UNIVERSAL STANDARD OF CARE, BUT WE'RE NOT GETTING IT BECAUSE OF THE $1.4 TRILLION THAT'S SPENT FROM ALL SOURCES IN HEALTH CARE IN THIS COUNTRY EVERY YEAR. HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS GO FOR CORPORATE PROFITS, STOCK OPTIONS, EXECUTIVE SALARIES. I MEAN HERE'S AN EXECUTIVE -- A HEALTH CARE EXECUTIVE PAY LIST. LISTEN TO THE KIND OF MONEY THAT HEALTH CARE EXECUTIVES GET PAID: $33 MILLION, CARDINAL HEALTH; $33 MILLION, UNITED HEALTH GROUP; $31 MILLION, TENET HEALTH CARE CORPORATION. IT GOES ON AND ON. THIS MONEY SHOULD BE GOING INTO HEALTH CARE FOR ALL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. SO I SAY WE GET OUT OF THE FOR-PROFIT SYSTEM; ELIMINATE THE COST OF ADVERTISING, MARKETING, LOBBYING, THE COST OF PAPERWORK IN THE PRIVATE SYSTEM 15 TO 30 PERCENT; AND PUT ALL OF THAT MONEY INTO HEALTH CARE WHERE PEOPLE WILL NEVER AGAIN HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PREMIUMS, COPAYS, AND DEDUCTIBLES; WHERE ALL MEDICALLY NECESSARY PROCEDURES ARE COVERED INCLUDING DENTAL CARE, VISION CARE, MENTAL HEALTH CARE, LONG-TERM CARE, WHICH IS A BIG ISSUE HERE IN IOWA, WOULD BE COVERED TOTALLY UNDER THIS; A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT, COMPLIMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE. WE CAN HAVE A CLASS "A" HEALTH CARE SYSTEM WHICH TAKES CARE OF EVERYONE, BUT WE NEED TO MAKE A SHIFT AWAY FROM A FOR-PROFIT SYSTEM.

Yepsen: EDUCATION... A LOT OF CAUCUS GOERS CARE A GREAT DEAL ABOUT EDUCATION. WHAT'S THE FEDERAL ROLE IN OUR K-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM?

Kucinich: IT OUGHT TO BE SUBSTANTIAL. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT -- I'VE GOT THIS CHART HERE WHICH TALKS ABOUT WHAT THE PRIORITIES ARE IN OUR COUNTRY. THIS PURPLE AREA HERE IS -- REPRESENTS WHAT WE SPEND FOR THE MILITARY, NATIONAL DEFENSE THEY CALL IT, 50 PERCENT OF THE DISCRETIONARY BUDGET FOR 2004. AND IF YOU LOOK HERE, 10 PERCENT, EDUCATION, TRAINING EMPLOYMENT, AND SOCIAL SERVICES. TEN PERCENT. WE SPEND FIVE TIMES MORE ON THE MILITARY THAN WE DO ON EDUCATION. WHAT I INTEND TO DO IS THIS. I INTEND TO HAVE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVOLVED FROM THE EARLIEST AGE ON EDUCATION. I WANT A UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL PROGRAM WHERE CHILDREN AGES 3, 4, AND 5 WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO A FIVE-DAY-A-WEEK CHILDCARE PROGRAM WHERE READING SKILLS WILL BE TAUGHT, SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL SKILLS, AS WELL AS NUTRITION. THIS PROGRAM WOULD BE FUNDED BY THAT 15-PERCENT REDUCTION IN PENTAGON SPENDING THAT I TALKED ABOUT. AND THAT WOULD IN NO WAY COMPROMISE NATIONAL SECURITY, BUT WHAT IT WOULD DO IS ENABLE PARENTS TO PUT MONEY IN THEIR POCKET. RIGHT NOW PARENTS PAY BETWEEN $5- AND $7,000 A YEAR FOR CHILD CARE. A LOT OF FAMILIES CAN'T AFFORD THAT. THEY'RE FORGOING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET DECENT CHILD CARE. THIS WOULD ADDRESS A MAJOR CONCERN OF YOUNG FAMILIES. THE NEXT THING I'D DO IS FULLY FUND THE ELEMENTARY SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT. RIGHT NOW WE'VE SEEN EDUCATION CUT. THIS ADMINISTRATION'S BUDGET PRIORITIES ARE TAX CUTS TO THE WEALTHY, WAR, AND A MILITARY BUILDUP. MY PRIORITIES WILL BE -- WILL PROTECT THIS COUNTRY BUT WILL ALSO HAVE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION. AND WITH EDUCATION, I'LL FULLY FUND THE ELEMENTARY SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT, I'LL MAKE SURE THAT WE BUILD NEW SCHOOLS, THAT WE HAVE SMALLER CLASSROOM SIZES AND BETTER-PAID TEACHERS. I'LL ALSO CREATE THE SHIFT AWAY FROM THIS EMPHASIS ON THE TEST-BASE APPROACH TO EDUCATION. WHEN THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT REQUIRES SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO TEST, TEST, TEST, AND THEN USES THOSE TEST RESULTS AS A FUNDING -- AS A CRITERIA FOR FUNDING, IT'S WRONG. AND I'LL CHANGE THAT SYSTEM. AND FINALLY, I AM FOR A UNIVERSAL COLLEGE EDUCATION PROGRAM SO THAT EVERY YOUNG PERSON WHO WANTS TO GO TO COLLEGE, PUBLIC COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY, WILL BE ABLE TO GO TUITION-FREE. LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED WITH IOWA'S BUDGET, FOR EXAMPLE. YOU'VE SEEN THE COST OF EDUCATION IN IOWA AT STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES GO UP BECAUSE OF CUTS IN FEDERAL FUNDING. WE NEED TO -- WE NEED TO SHIFT THE EMPHASIS TO EDUCATION AND ENABLE A PROGRAM WHERE ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO GO TO COLLEGE TUITION-FREE. THINK OF WHAT THAT WOULD MEAN FOR FAMILIES WHO DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TODAY TO SEND THEIR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COLLEGE. THINK OF WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO FINALLY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY WHERE THEY COULD GO TO SCHOOL WITHOUT HAVING TO POSTPONE IT FOR YEARS WHILE THEY'RE TRYING TO SAVE MONEY. THESE ARE THE KIND OF PRIORITIES I WOULD HAVE FOR EDUCATION.

Yepsen: WE ARE IN IOWA TONIGHT. THIS IS RURAL AMERICA. RURAL AMERICA IS ALSO FAIRLY IMPORTANT IN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE. WHY WOULD YOU BE THE BEST PRESIDENT FOR RURAL AMERICA?

Kucinich: BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND WHAT PARITY MEANS. YOU KNOW, THERE'S A BOOK THAT I WAS SHOWING YOU EARLIER CALLED "UNFORGIVEN," BY CHARLES WALTERS. IT TALKS ABOUT THE AMERICAN ECONOMIC SYSTEM SOLD FOR DEBT AND WAR. WHAT MR. WALTERS TALKS ABOUT IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN FARMERS LOST 100-PERCENT PARITY, WHAT HAPPENED WHEN FARMS -- THIS FAMILY FARM STARTED TO DETERIORATE, BECAUSE THE SPINOFF EFFECT OF FAMILY FARMS IN THE ECONOMY HAS HAD A MAJOR IMPACT IN PROTECTING THE OVERALL AMERICAN ECONOMIC POSITION, BECAUSE THE FARMER BUYS NOT ONLY SEED AND FEED AND IMPLEMENTS AND TRACTORS BUT ALSO HIS ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS FELT IN THE COMMUNITY IN THE SMALL RURAL AREAS. BUT BECAUSE OF THE DECLINE OF THE FAMILY FARM, FAMILY FARMERS HAVE -- THE IMPACT HAS BEEN LOST. SO WHAT I INTEND TO DO IS THIS: BREAK UP THE AGRICULTURAL MONOPOLIES SO FARMERS CAN GET THEIR PRICE, GET THEIR PRODUCT TO MARKET, YOU KNOW, WORK FOR 100-PERCENT FARM PARITY AGAIN; HAVE A RELIANCE ON ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FAMILY-SCALE FARMING SYSTEMS; AND ALSO RENEGOTIATE TRADE RULES THAT WOULD STOP THE DUMPING OF EXPORTS IN OUR MARKET THAT UNDERCUTS OUR FARMERS.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, WE'VE GOT LESS THAN A MINUTE LEFT. I'LL GIVE IT TO YOU. WHAT DO YOU WANT CAUCUS GOERS TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOU AS THEY WALK INTO THEIR CAUCUS ON JANUARY 19?

Kucinich: THAT MY ELECTION AS PRESIDENT MEANS THE END OF FEAR AND THE BEGINNING OF HOPE FOR AMERICANS; THAT I'M THE PERSON WHO CAN STAND UP AND CHALLENGE PRESIDENT BUSH ON A WHOLE RANGE OF ISSUES, INCLUDING THE WAR; THAT I COME FROM THE PEOPLE; THAT MY BACKGROUND IS ONE OF UNDERSTANDING WHAT PEOPLE GO THROUGH; AND THAT WE CAN HAVE A COUNTRY WHICH WE CAN CALL OUR OWN. BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE LEADERS WHO ARE UP TO THE CHALLENGE. WE HAVE TO HAVE LEADERS WHO ARE READY TO RALLY THE COUNTRY FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. WE HAVE TO HAVE LEADERS WHO ARE READY TO RALLY THE COUNTRY FOR PEACE. WE HAVE TO HAVE LEADERS WHO ARE READY TO PROCEED FEARLESSLY AND WORK WITH THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD, WITH A WORLD VISION OF A WORLD AS ONE, OF INTERCONNECTED AND INTERDEPENDENT. WE MUST HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE AUTHENTICITY OF OUR DREAMS. AND AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, MY DREAM IS FOR AN AMERICA WHICH IS UNIFIED, AN AMERICA WHICH HAS PEACE AND PROSPERITY. AND I NEED YOUR SUPPORT IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES. THANK YOU. >>

Yepsen: THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN. WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

Kucinich: THANK YOU.

Yepsen: WE CONTINUE WITH OUR TEN-PART SERIES TOMORROW EVENING AND ENGAGE IN CAMPAIGN CONVERSATION WITH THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE NINE-CANDIDATE FIELD OF DEMOCRATIC CONTENDERS, CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS AND FORMER AMBASSADOR TO NEW ZEALAND. SO JOIN US AT THIS SAME TIME, 6:30 P.M., TO DISCUSS THE CAMPAIGN OF 2004. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER." THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

 

CAPTIONS BY: MIDWEST CAPTIONING DES MOINES, IOWA.

 

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.


Tags: campaign 2004 Congress Iowa presidential candidates