Transcript: Kucinich's Take

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 23, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, it is a time of war. And the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate is calling the commander in chief, in his words, dangerously incompetent. Does this border on treason?

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blasting President Bush earlier this week, when the president stated that future presidents will ultimately decide when all our troops leave Iraq.

Reid said, "To me, it shows how dangerously incompetent he is," adding: "We need to change course in Iraq. I think the president burying his head in the sand is not going to do the trick."

Now, we invited Senator Reid to come on today, but he declined our invitation. But someone who agrees wholeheartedly with Senator Reid's attack is former presidential candidate and current Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Welcome, Congressman. Good to have you.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, D-OHIO: Thank you very much, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you think, Congressman? We are at war. And regardless of what you think of the president, we are at war. To call him dangerously incompetent is a little risky, don't you think?

KUCINICH: Well, I would suggest, Neil, that it really is not so much about competency or incompetency.

It's about right or wrong. And my position is that this war has been wrong right from the beginning. It is dangerous. The United States is making a commitment to permanent bases. Our troops are going to be there for the long haul.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said the cost of this war could be $2 trillion. Think about what this does to our domestic agenda. China is eating our lunch on trade. And we're, you know, digging a grave for our economic policy in the sands of Iraq.

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, Congressman, and to be fair to you, you were against this war from the start. You never wavered, unlike many in your party. But those who did waver, those who did go back and forth, to come back now and use words like dangerously incompetent, idiotic, some of the stronger adjectives I have heard, do you think they serve any purpose? Never have I heard you say that.

KUCINICH: Well, I think that the rhetoric that any of use at all times has to be tempered.

We all feel very strongly about this war, no matter what side we're on. I don't think it serves any useful purpose for anyone to characterize any of our leaders as incompetent. I mean, obviously, the people make choices and send leaders to represent them in the presidency and in the Senate and the House.

But I do think that it is critical to give a serious examination of what's actually happening in a war. And, in doing that, I think Senator Reid and many others have taken the right course.

But when you get into the rhetoric, it can kind of divert from the real facts that we need to look at.

I mean, let's face it. This administration misrepresented the cause of war. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. It had nothing to do with 9/11.

CAVUTO: We could go off on a tangent here, and talk about how others, at the time, thought he did have weapons of mass destruction, how a Democratic president, his predecessor, Bill Clinton, thought he had weapons of mass destruction. I don't want to go down that alley.

I do want to address, as you said, some of the fiery rhetoric that has been used here, and whether, if you're a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and you hear your commander in chief referred to as a leader by the other party as dangerously incompetent, is that wise?

KUCINICH: Well, again, you know, it's important for all sides to watch the rhetoric.

There is a problem with the president of the United States going out and continuing to tell the public that everything's all great in Iraq, when it's falling apart. Our soldiers are caught in the middle of a civil war.

And, again, I agree with you, that we need to caution everyone about the rhetoric, because that then causes the American people to just, you know, look at the attack, what might be construed as a personal attack on the president, when, in fact, that we ought to be looking at the policies, which absolutely are subject to question.

I mean, everything they said about the basis for war has fallen apart. We really need to get out of there, Neil. We need to bring our troops home, and have a plan for international involvement with the United States out of Iraq.

CAVUTO: All right, well, you have been, again, consistent on that, Congressman. And I give you credit for that.

But, as you know, the president has indicated that this is going to still be going on into the term of his next predecessor — his successor, I should say. That being the case, this is a defining issue in 2008 and you have Democrats running who originally supported this war...


CAVUTO: ... and, no offense, Congressman, are back and forth on this issue. Do you think that the Democratic nominee should be someone who was opposed to this war from the beginning?

KUCINICH: Well, I would tend to agree with that.

However, we also have to allow that all of us have the opportunity to grow. And we should be able to evaluate new information and change the position that we take, base — based on that new information.

I mean, you know, that's why John Murtha came out strongly against the war — although he had originally voted for it. I think that this shouldn't be a partisan matter. And your point is well taken, when, you know, you cite what appear to partisan statements.

However, I believe that, if the Democrats were to make this misadventure in Iraq the centerpiece of a challenge to the administration's policy in 2008, that the Democrats could not only take back the White House, but could also take back the Senate and the House.

And our party wouldn't do that, though, at this point. It doesn't appear they want to do it. And you're right. You know, why say one thing and do another? I mean, if you're consistently opposed to the war, then act that way.

CAVUTO: All right.

KUCINICH: If you're going to criticize the president, and you're not opposed to the war, well, come on. I mean, I think a lot of people will raise questions about that.

CAVUTO: I think you're right. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

KUCINICH: Neil, always grateful to be on your show. Thanks.

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