Concerned Kucitizens question strategy


Geraldine Sealey
January 22, 2004 12:35AM (UTC)

Long-shot lefty presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has many true believers scratching their heads after a deal with the John Edwards campaign to swap delegates at the Iowa caucuses. The strategy was: If either candidate fell short of viability in a precinct -- 15 percent -- he would throw support to the other campaign. In the end, of course, Edwards placed an impressive second in Iowa, perhaps owing in part to some intended Kucinich caucusers. Kucinich finished a distant fifth.

The alliance deflated many devoted 'Kucitizens' who until the caucus bail-out strategy believed, despite dismal polling, in the electability of their candidate. Why was Kucinich helping a competitor? And, perhaps a bigger question: Why Edwards? The centerpiece of Kucinich's peace-love-and-happiness campaign is his opposition to the Iraq war and the continuing U.S. "occupation." Howard Dean comes closest to a true anti-war candidate, while Edwards voted for the Iraq resolution in the Senate.

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Kucinich, knowing he had to explain himself to the troops, posted a statement on his Web site saying he and Edwards were the only candidates running positive campaigns. Kucinich and Edwards are also personal friends. But that didn't appease some of his supporters. The doubters are posting their misgivings for Kucinich's strategy on his Web site forums.

"Come on, this is getting a bit insulting to all of us here in Iowa who busted ourselves for the Kucinich campaign," one posting says. An entire forum topic is named: "Is this a betrayal?" Although, it must be said, some see shrewd genius in Kucinichs plan. Moves like this are the thing that eventually brings a candidate out into the limelight despite the black out. A few more like this and Dennis will take up position as front runner and they won't be able to deny him, says one die-hard.

It's not that Dean is very popular among Kucinich's liberal supporters. His support of keeping troops in Iraq makes him just a shade better than the pro-war candidates. Some call Dean a liberal Republican who'd only bring "regime rotation" not "regime change" to Washington. But Dean could reasonably be viewed as a more logical choice than the North Carolina senator. So what gives with Kucinich's choice? It may have been motivated more by his dislike of Dean than his support for Edwards' platform. ABCNEWS' Melinda Arons says his campaign was miffed by Dean's failure to reach out to Kucitizens and his repeated claims that he was the only candidate to oppose the war from the start. "In Kucinich's eyes, to imply that he voted for the war by lumping him in with the other candidates is the worst insult one could make. And the Dean campaign's justification that Kucinich isn't one of the candidates Dean is referring to -- meaning he doesn't see Kucinich as competition -- only makes matters worse."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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