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From 23 May 2004 Issue

Kucinich Targets National Convention
By Tom Diemer
Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 by the Cleveland Plain Dealer

WASHINGTON - Rep. Dennis Kucinich, no longer claiming he can capture his party's presidential nomination, unveiled a strategy Monday he hopes will make him a force to be reckoned with at this summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston.

He is planning an ambitious schedule of activities for convention week - the last week of July - including daily issue workshops, "peoples' parties," peace vigils and an alternative "progressive" convention on the last day of the big gathering.

"There are a number of ways to have an impact," he said in a phone interview. "We are going to keep in touch with all of the delegates, and we are talking about 2,000 people [supporters] coming from all over the country."

Although he was in Oregon on Monday campaigning for that state's May 18 primary, Kucinich opened the convention office, which will be headed by convention manager Tim Carpenter, and addressed supporters over a speaker phone.

Kucinich has won about three dozen delegates and hopes to have 50 by the convention, where most of the 4,000-plus delegates will line up behind Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Before Boston, Kucinich's first goal is to influence the party's platform, which will be shaped at hearings throughout the country later this month and in June, and adopted at the Boston convention.

The Cleveland Democrat wants a near-immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, establishment of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace, repeal of the Patriot Act, and creation of a universal, single-payer health care system. His positions are further to the left of the political spectrum than those of Kerry, the presumptive nominee.

"Forget about left, right, center," Kucinich said Monday. "You have to motivate people along the lines of their practical aspirations."

Kucinich says if Kerry embraces his positions on issues such as the Iraq war, he can attract voters who otherwise might defect to independent Ralph Nader.

"We are trying to have an impact on the direction of the party," he explained. "Sen. Kerry has run a very good campaign in the early primaries and he does not need me to get to 47 percent of the vote. But he needs help to get to 50 percent, or 51 percent."

Last Thursday in the House, Kucinich voted against a resolution condemning prison abuse in Iraq, saying it did not go far enough.

Lawmakers should have called for a congressional investigation and the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

"I hope anything he does helps unify the Democratic Party and helps put John Kerry in the White House, because we cannot afford another four years of President Bush's failure," said Ohio Democratic Chairman Denny White.

"He [Kucinich] needs to get with Sen. Kerry and needs to be singing out of the same hymn book as Kerry and a majority of delegates at the convention."

Kucinich has said he will support Kerry after the convention.

2004 cleveland.com

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