WASHINGTON – Rep. Dennis Kucinich plans to file papers to launch a presidential campaign next week, a source familiar with the Ohio Democrat's plans said Saturday.
His entry into the 2004 presidential race bumps the Democratic field of candidates to eight.
Kucinich has said voters need to hear alternative points of view on Iraq, trade and the nation's economic policies, all issues expected to be at the center of his campaign.
Kucinich told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in a story for Sunday's editions that he is "testing the waters" by filing to form a presidential exploratory committee and will commit to running for the nomination in June if his candidacy wins wide support in the next several months.
The fourth-term congressman will announce his plans on Monday, which is Presidents Day.
He is scheduled to be in Iowa Sunday, where he is to meet with Democratic Party activists in advance of an appearance Monday with other presidential hopefuls at an AFL-CIO forum.
The Iowa caucuses next January mark the first major contest of the 2004 presidential primary season.
Those already in the race are former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Kucinich, 56, is best known nationally as being Cleveland's "boy mayor" in the 1970s. However, since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the increased attention on the inspection of Iraqi weapons, Kucinich has become a national voice for civil liberties and peace.
"We need to start asking why is war considered to be an instrument of policy," Kucinich said at a recent news conference in Washington.
"Inspections are an adequate substitute for war, diplomacy is a substitute for war, human relations are a substitute for war, and so I think that there is no case made for war," he said.
A spokesman from Kucinich's office said the congressman receives "tens of thousands" of phone calls and e-mails each day urging him to run for president, an outpouring he said started after Kucinich gave a speech last February called "A prayer for America."
In that Los Angeles address, Kucinich used patriotic language to denounce Bush administration policies that he says tread on personal liberties and take the country in a dangerous direction internationally.
The text of the speech circled the Internet and led an Oklahoma City computer consultant to launch a Web site asking people to urge Kucinich to run. The site http://www.draftkucinich.com gets about 5,000 visitors a day.
Ralph Nader, who also appeals to economic populists, has spoken publicly about his support for Kucinich, saying the race needs a progressive candidate. Nader was the Green Party's presidential candidate in 2000.
As chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which consists of 55 of the most liberal members, Kucinich has pushed in Congress for a worker-friendly economic stimulus package and been a longtime advocate for establishing a Department of Peace.