Dennis Kucinich on 2004 Presidential Race

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, November 28, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

GREGG JARRETT, GUEST HOST: He's one of the nine major Democrats with an eye on the White House, but Dennis Kucinich (search) is not your typical candidate.

Earlier today I spoke with the Democratic presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich. I asked him if he is discouraged by his very low poll numbers. And that is today's big question.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually in Iowa, The Des Moines Register had a story a few days ago that suggested that three-fourths of potential caucus-goers haven't settled on a candidate, so I think that our message, which centers around getting the United States out of Iraq, getting the U.N. in and the U.S. out is going to begin to resonate with people as the casualties keep mounting.

JARRETT: Well, you have said you think one of your problems is the media, that we have prematurely declared you, "a fringe candidate who's unelectable." Those are your words. Why do you think you have been portrayed as unelectable?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, let me say, I am the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus (search), which is the largest caucus inside the Democratic Party. I am a four-term member of Congress. I don't think that I need to prove to anyone my electability, because the very fact that I have a record of defeating incumbent Republicans ought to speak to the reality that Democrats need someone who has a demonstrated record in that regard.

JARRETT: But, look, these polls show that you are unelectable, and it is not just us. In fact, let me quote a political science professor ...

KUCINICH: So you keep repeating that.

JARRETT: Here it is, "Is he electable?," said Ohio State University political science professor Herb Weisberg, your own state. "Not unless he is away from Washington, D.C. on a day that a nuclear attack wipes out everybody else in government, and even then he would be carrying the wrong message to win." What is your response to that?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, there are people who specialize in being commentators, but they are not in the arena. My candidacy is about getting the United States out of Iraq. I think there's a lot of people who support that, and as they learn of my candidacy, they will be supporting me.

JARRETT: In fact, you...

KUCINICH: Hold on. My candidacy is about universal single parent healthcare, so everyone has healthcare in this country. And also about getting out of NAFTA (search) and the WTO (search).

JARRETT: I understand.

KUCINICH: As people hear about my campaign, I think more and more people are going to want a candidate who expresses a desire to get out of Iraq, have healthcare for all, and get out of NAFTA and the WTO, go back to bilateral trade.

JARRETT: Well, let me ask you about what is certainly one of the principal issues and that is Iraq. You would, as I understand it, pull troops out of Iraq by New Year's. What do you think would happen if we did that?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, my plan is 90 days. I put that on the Web site at a month ago.

JARRETT: Ninety days, what would happen if we pulled out in 90 days?

KUCINICH: Well, keep in mind, I'm not saying just pull out, I'm saying, get the U.N. in, have U.N. troops in there, so we can get our U.S. troops out. And the only way we can do that is to take a whole new approach. We have to get rid of this ambition for oil, the ambition to privatize Iraq, the desire to be able to give contracts to the likes of Halliburton.

When we engage with the world community in a whole new approach, I have no doubt the U.N., through its member nations, would participate. And this plan is desired to bring our troops home. I think it's not sufficient to say we're there for the long haul. We need to get out of Iraq.

JARRETT: You would also undo the Bush tax cuts. And I want to point your attention to Scott Rasmussen's — he is an independent pollster, well considered — and he asked the following question in a recent poll. “Would undoing the tax cuts, help the economy, hurt it or have no impact?” A substantial plurality believes it would hurt the economy. Are all those people wrong and you're right?

KUCINICH: Well, let me tell you, what I want to do is cancel the tax cuts to the Americans at the top brackets, and put that money right into a universal college education plan where all of America's young people could have the chance to go to college free. Now, you tell me, do you think it's better to give a tax cut to the wealthy or would it be better to put the money into providing free public college and universities for all of America's young people?

JARRETT: Yes. As I understand it, you essentially want to abrogate the North American Free Trade Agreement. If I understand your position, you are kind of creating a fortress America philosophy, and nearly everybody else in both parties believes in one form or another of some measure of free trade. How far would you go in throwing up protectionist walls?

KUCINICH: First of all, do you have any idea how many jobs NAFTA has cost this country, how it has actually resulted in a race to the bottom?

JARRETT: I feel certain you are about to tell me.

KUCINICH: We have lost, because of our trade policies overall, three million manufacturing jobs since July of 2000. NAFTA and the World Trade Organization make it impossible for the United States to be able to get any economic equilibrium. As president, I'll have a manufacturing policy that says steel, automotive, aerospace, shipping and textiles, are vital to America's national economic security. We don't have such a program today.

We're reduced to a situation where the WTO is threatening to punish our agricultural exports if we don't agree to let our steel industry collapse by removing any kind of trade protection. So we have an obligation to protect our economy. We're not doing it.

At the same time, I'm talking about working with the world community on matters of international security, because we need international cooperation. We just don't need control by global corporations.

JARRETT: Quick question on a lighter note. You need a first lady. There is a movement afoot to find a Mrs. Kucinich. Are you joining in on that?

KUCINICH: That's taken a life of its own. I have stayed pretty focused on getting out of Iraq, on healthcare for all, and if FOX wants to pursue that, that's up to you

JARRETT: All right. Your poll numbers might go up from one percent.

KUCINICH: You know what? If we only pay attention to the polls, we don't have to talk about issues? Right. Let's get out of Iraq.

JARRETT: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, many thanks sir.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

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