I want to let you know what’s going on in Iowa.
The Des Moines Register put out a press release last week announcing that six of the eight Democratic candidates for President had “accepted invitations” to debate this Thursday. Congressman and Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich was not among them.
What the Des Moines Register press release should have said is that they offered invitations to this debate to only six of the eight nationally recognized Democratic presidential candidates and that all six who were invited accepted.
The Des Moines Register is a prominent newspaper. Their editors and writers know how to turn a phrase. And the way they turned that phrase in that news article, the implication is that Dennis Kucinich did not accept the invitation they offered to him. That phrasing by the Des Moines Register implied that Kucinich declined their invitation to debate.
That is not true.
In phrasing its news article the way it did, the Des Moines Register did not tell voters in Iowa — and voters across the nation, since this debate will be nationally televised — the whole truth.
Here’s the truth. Here is the arbitrary list of criteria for inclusion in this debate, and in other debates held in Iowa this fall:
Eligible Participants for Des Moines Register Debates will include Presidential Candidates who:
1. Have filed an FEC Form F-2, “Statement of Candidacy,” with the Federal Election Commission; (CHECK)
2. Have publicly announced an intention to run for the nomination of the Republican or the Democratic Party for President of the United States; (CHECK)
3. Have employed at least one paid campaign staff representative to perform full-time campaign duties in the State of Iowa on behalf of the candidate since at least October 1, 2007. (CHECK – Kucinich has had a full-time staffer – an Iowa resident – on board since April)
4. With at least 1% in the Des Moines Register October, 2007, Iowa Poll (CHECK)
5. And lastly, have a Campaign Office inside the State of Iowa as of October 1, 2007 (to which the Kucinich campaign says CHECK, but the Des Moines Register says CHECK-OUT)
The whole truth, the truth the Des Moines Register is not telling you, is that Dennis Kucinich has a political organization in Iowa. It is small, but it is energetic and energized. His paid state coordinator, Marcos Rubenstein, works out of his home. Dennis and his wife Elizabeth have campaigned in Iowa many times.
The Federal Elections Commission recognizes that the Kucinich campaign has paid staff in Iowa. The IRS recognizes the legitimacy of a home office. Across the country, the Kucinich campaign has at least 15 high-ranking paid campaign staff members who work out of their homes. Their offices are campaign offices.
The Des Moines Register, however, does not recognize a home office as a campaign office.
This is what they sent to the Kucinich campaign when it protested his exclusion from Thursday’s (Dec. 13) debate:
“It was our determination that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa.”
So is a full-time person on salary and working well more than 40 hours a week not a full-time person because he doesn’t waste time and energy lugging his cell phone and laptop from one address to another twice a day?
Yes, the Des Moines Register has determined, arbitrarily, that a campaign must have real estate in Iowa, a storefront, to be a legitimate campaign.
Two things wrong with that. The concept that only landed gentry should be eligible to participate in the political process is an idea that we threw out, not in the last century, but in the century before that.
And if a storefront is necessary before you can do business in Iowa, then Amazon.com is ineligible to do business in Iowa. Ebay is ineligible to do business in Iowa.
You see what I mean?
The Kucinich campaign is a very internet-connected effort, which does not spend money needlessly. It is, in fact, running the kind of energy-efficient campaign most of the American public wants.
The criteria used to keep the Kucinich message from Iowa voters, and from the American people, is arbitrary, capricious, and downright silly. But also dangerous. We cannot as a nation have corporations such as the Des Moines Register determining our political dynamic.
Why would the Des Moines Register do that?
For the same reason that the AARP excluded Kucinich from its Presidential Health Care forum earlier this fall here in Iowa. The AARP did not want people to hear his message of national, not-for-profit health care, already embodied in a bill before Congress (HR 676). Why? Because AARP sells health insurance. The Conyers/Kucinich plan to guarantee health care to everyone in America excludes private health insurance, because that is the only way a national health care plan can work financially. And that makes that plan a direct threat to that part of AARP’s business.
I might add that AARP’s willingness to hear about the health care plans of the other presidential candidates tells you that none of those health care plans would be a threat to AARP. Okay?
And clearly the Des Moines Register newspaper likewise does not want people to hear Dennis’ other messages –
— on how he is the only Democratic presidential candidate to vote against the Iraq War and against every funding bill for that war;
— that he has introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney (now in committee for review) and that he is drawing up similar ones against President Bush;
— that he has promised that ALL of our troops will be out of Iraq within three months of his becoming President, but also that the United States will be withdrawn from NAFTA and the WTO by the summer of 2009, to name a few.
For some reason the Des Moines Register does not want Iowa voters or voters across America to hear that message.
But that message is getting out.
Kucinich polled second in a California straw poll earlier this fall, behind John Edwards. Edwards received 29% of the total votes cast, Kucinich received just under 24%, and Obama and Clinton came in third and fourth, with 22.5% and 16.8% respectively. The other Democratic candidates were all in the low single digits.
Kucinich polled first in both the ABC and MSNBC “who won the debate” polls a few months ago, to the extreme embarrassment of ABC, who put up a second poll, which he also won, which forced them to drop the internet links to those results. Now, that link is still up, but it opens to a blank white page, the color of whitewash.
Dennis Kucinich is first in the online vote taken by The Nation Magazine a few weeks ago, with 35%, nine points above Barack Obama, and 22% points above John Edwards. (Edwards polled 13% to Hillary Clinton’s 5%.)
In last month’s Democracy for America poll, Kucinich received almost 32% of the 150,000-plus votes cast, more than Edwards and Obama combined. He polled first in 47 states, including both Iowa and New Hampshire.
He polled first in the Progressive Democrats of America online poll of its membership last week, with 41%. Broken down by states, in that poll he came in first in 46 states, including both Iowa and New Hampshire. Edwards was second with 26%, topping out in four states, beating Kucinich by one vote in Utah and two votes and the District of Columbia.
And when people go to various sites, non-partisan internet issue sites — several of them are out there – internetstrawpoll.com/, dehp.net/candidate/, Minnesota Public Radio —
where you can list your issues and find out which candidate most closely matches your own ideas and ideals, Dennis Kucinich has consistently come out as the leading candidate, as the candidate whose views are most closely aligned with the vast majority of Americans. Not second, third, fourth, or fifth. First.
So why do you only hear that Dennis Kucinich is polling in the single digits in national or statewide polls? I don’t know. You tell me.
I do know the mainstream media does not report it when Kucinich wins these other polls. They want to foster the idea that he is “unelectable” because they don’t want him and his “radical” ideas to be front and center in the White House:
– like protecting Social Security
– like establishing a Department of Peace,
– like his Works Green Administration plan for energy independence, a revitalized manufacturing base and a sound infrastructure,
– like national health care,
– like competency and accountability,
– like protecting the Constitution,
– like rejecting war as an instrument of foreign policy.
One traditional poll last week said that 55 percent of Iowa voters are undecided in this race. Fifty-five percent undecided less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. Perhaps it’s that way because the media has yet to focus on the issues of this campaign.
I would love it if Dennis Kucinich suddenly decided to go to Iowa tomorrow (Thursday) and show up at the debate site. I want him to accept their implied invitation, since he did not have an actual invitation to accept. I’d love to see what the Des Moines Register would do about that.
And here’s what I want you, the voters in Iowa, and across the nation, to do.
I want you to protest the exclusion of Dennis Kucinich from this debate. Write letters to the Des Moines Register. Email them. Give them a call. Give them a piece of your mind. Also contact Iowa Public Television, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, C-SPAN 3, who are all televising this debate.
And, even more importantly than this one debate, I want you, Iowa voters, to stand for Dennis Kucinich in your caucuses on Jan. 3. I want you to send the nation a message that you will not tolerate this manipulation of our political system.
The caucus system is fascinating and complicated. It’s what my sixth grade math teacher called a “story problem.” You caucus-goers know what I mean.
So, in those caucus rooms, I want you to stand for Dennis Kucinich. But, if the numbers in that particular room are such that he falls short of a delegate, or a second delegate, stand for “uncommitted.”
I’m asking you to vote Kucinich or to vote uncommitted. Work to get as many of either as you can.
You see, if, on the second round, you vote for another candidate instead of uncommitted, the impact of the support for Dennis Kucinich disappears.
The way the caucus system in Iowa works, those people you elect to be uncommitted delegates will get another chance to vote, at the Iowa county caucuses on March 15, after much of the dust has settled in this race.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the uncommitted Iowa delegates elected at the Jan. 3 caucuses mirrors the “undecided” in that poll I mentioned, and turns out to be half the Iowa delegation. And that means Iowa is still a player after Jan. 3. Because the presidential candidates will be back in town in early March, pitching for those uncommitted votes.
Why? One analysis I heard said that a single candidate would have to win 90% of all the votes in all the primaries and caucuses held from now through super-Tuesday on Feb. 5 to seal the Democratic nomination. With this race as tight as it is, that just isn’t going to happen. If Iowa has a large “uncommitted” delegation, Iowa will still be in play in mid-March.
This will be an exciting nomination process. Please help Dennis Kucinich in any way you can to get that nomination. Please help him become the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.
Spread the word. Contribute to his campaign (http://www.dennis4president.com). Volunteer. Collect petition signatures for him, if your state requires that.
His nomination is our first step on the way to winning back the White House, to bringing back America to its greatness, to the fulfillment of its promise of justice, equality, peace and prosperity for us all.
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