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