By Ardeth Baxter
Published Aug 28, 2007
Is Dennis Kucinich lagging in the presidential race? Not by much, according to a number of recent polls. In an ongoing Internet political “blind taste test”, as of this writing, 79,911 respondents out of 138,563 have placed Kucinich on top, by ranking specific issues of importance to voters, not the candidates themselves. Gravel comes in a distant second at 9680, Paul at 9413, Romney at 6167, and Clinton rates fourth at 5143.
Kucinich also won the online ABC news poll after the Des Moines debate with 10,000 votes as the most frequent answer to the question “Who do you think won the Democratic debate?” Obama came in second at 8,000 and Hillary third at 5,000. Even after ABC inexplicably pulled this poll and replaced it with a second poll posing a different question-“Who do you think is winning the Democratic debates?”-Kucinich finished neck-in-neck with Hillary Clinton. Interestingly, ABC failed to announce the results of the poll, and even cut Kucinich out of an online Democratic presidential candidate group photo, with no explanation offered.
Kucinich came in second in a poll after the HRC/LOGO presidential forum with 25% of the votes, behind Obama at 46%. Clinton came in third with only 14%. As well, after the AFL-CIO presidential forum in Chicago shown on MSNBC, to the question “Which Democrat will best represent labor?” Kucinich ranked second at 22% (with Edwards) after Obama at 24%, with Clinton fourth at 17%. And at the Howard University forum, he was rated third behind Clinton and Obama by a number of political analysts based on his responses.
All in all, these are excellent showings for a so-called “third-tier” candidate. Why is he ranking so highly? Part of it is undoubtedly Kucinich’s consistently courageous, cogent and informed responses to questions. Voters know exactly where he stands on the issues. The other part is that he’s just plain witty and adds sparkle to often dull proceedings. Even career conservative Pat Buchanan somewhat patronizingly declared recently on “The McLaughlin Report” that Kucinich shouldn’t be excluded from the Democratic forums because “he’s a great little debater”.
At one point in the ABC debate noted above, in answer to a question about what role prayer played for the candidates, a frustrated Kucinich quipped to moderator George Stephanopoulos, “George, I have been standing up here for 45 minutes praying that you would ask me a question.” The audience loved it.
Speaking to an AFL-CIO Democratic forum, Kucinich recalled digging holes as a child and being told, “If you dig it deep enough, you’re going to get to China.” He added drily, “Well, we’re there,” to the amusement and applause of the union crowd.
In February during a New Hampshire stop, he sat in a chair and spun in a circle, explaining he was doing something no other candidate could do. “Do you know why I can do it?” Kucinich asked. “No strings. Imagine a president with no strings attached?”-in reference to his independence from corporate control.
Kucinich proudly proclaimed his liberalism in the recent CNN/YouTube Democratic debate by commenting: “You notice what CNN did? They didn’t put anybody to the left of me,” to laughter and applause.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week”, Kucinich responded to George Stephanopoulos’s comment that only the liberal base of the Democratic party supported him, and that the centrist Democratic Leadership Council believed Kucinich’s ideas could “hurt the party”, by saying, with a smile, “You have to keep in mind that the center has shifted in our politics. I’m really at the center, and all the other candidates are to the right of me. And they’re to the right of the American people.”
I agree. I believe the majority of the American people-not just the liberals-are tired of the Republican and Democratic politics-as-usual status quo and want the New Deal-style revolution in their government that Kucinich offers, as well as an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. If not for the fact that in our post-democratic country, the support of the corporate media and big campaign bucks have a great deal to do with who wins the presidential nomination, Kucinich would be a shoo-in for the presidency. And he still may have that chance, if more Americans see through the glitz, hypocrisy and corruption of the system and vote their consciences, to save our country from those who are either too politically timid to effect real change or who want to destroy what used to make it unique among other nations and worthy of their admiration.
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