Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Why He Supports Kofi Annan

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Dec. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, Republican Senator Norm Coleman (search) (Minn.) and Democratic Senator Carl Levin (search) (Michigan) have sent a letter to the U.N. chief Kofi Annan (search ) demanding that he stop blocking the Senate's investigation into the oil-for-food scandal. We just talked about it. Now Marc Rich may be involved.

But, last week, President Bush said he wants Annan to keep his job at the U.N., and that statement is echoed by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic presidential contender, who joins us now from Cleveland.

You know, I never thought I'd see you and President Bush absolutely agreeing on this issue.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: (D), OHIO: And it's a...

O'REILLY: Why? Why you do — I'll get to your opinion in a moment, but why do you think President Bush, who Annan has not certainly helped out, wants to keep him in the job?

KUCINICH:: I think the White House has an awareness that — of the complexities of the oil-for-food program, of the trade protocols that cause money to be diverted, of the role that the White House itself played, and of their own difficulties in trying to account for the revenue over there post-invasion of the — of the oil income.

So, you know, it's — when you're talking about Iraq and oil, you're talking about a mess, no matter who's in charge.

O'REILLY: Yes, but, look, I mean, Annan has had a checkered past, and I'm doing — I'm being charitable now. He was in charge in the Rwanda situation, and about a million people died, OK?

Then he goes over, and he takes over the U.N., and then we have the Balkans chaos. We have people running away, we have a genocide going on over there, and the Americans have to step in and remove Milosevic (search) by bombing through the air.

Then we have Iraq where Annan says that he lost control of the oil-for-food thing and enabled Saddam to stay in office.

So why would you want to keep a guy, even if you liked his ideology, with such a poor performance?

KUCINICH:: Well, Bill, when you look at the sanctions, even Colin Powell had said that sanctions were fairly effective.

There weren't any weapons of mass destruction. They limited Saddam Hussein's ability to rebuild his army. They constrained his efforts to re- arm.

That was in the Duelfer report (search). So the sanctions were largely successful.

The problem is that the trade protocols that were developed gave Saddam Hussein the chance to have his own deals with Jordan, Syria and Turkey...

O'REILLY: Sure. It increased...

KUCINICH:: ... and that enabled...


O'REILLY: ... his power...

KUCINICH:: ... to amass billions of dollars

O'REILLY: ... because the United Nations couldn't run the program or — and we think this is true and will be proven — Benon Sevan (search), who we had on this program, who didn't need it — were getting paid, were getting bribed by Saddam.

But, look, be that as it may, be that as it may, you've got Kofi Annan in three historical positions, all right, Rwanda, Balkans, Iraq, all of them screwed up beyond belief, and you still want him to stay? I mean, that's like managing a last-place team 10 years and you still manage it, no?

KUCINICH:: Well, you know, I — you know, Boston found out about having teams that could never win and then they hung in there and won.

O'REILLY: Yes, they fired their manager, they got a new one, and they won the World Series. Look, this guy — this guy Annan — even if you like him, he's not a good administrator. He's just not.

KUCINICH:: But — well, let's look at Iraq, for example. I mean, the Bush administration, clearly, in my view, Bill, made a mistake with its policies in Iraq. You can't charge Kofi Annan with that. As a matter of fact...

O'REILLY: I'm not.

KUCINICH:: ... if we were to listen to the U.N. weapons inspectors, how much better off would we have been?

O'REILLY: I don't know. Saddam would still be in power...


KUCINICH:: We were told they didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait. Wait. That's a good question. How much better off would we have been? Saddam would still be in power. His sons would still be murdering people. Are we going to — are we better off with that scenario, Congressman?

KUCINICH:: I think...

O'REILLY: He'd still be getting bribes from oil-for-food.

KUCINICH:: ... he would have been largely contained, though. I — look it, I — as you know, I totally opposed the U.S. invasion, and...

O'REILLY: No, but you asked the question!

KUCINICH:: ... I continue to.

O'REILLY: You raised the question. How much better off would we be if Saddam were still there?

KUCINICH:: I think we'd be much better off. I think Iraq would have—Iraq was contained. If you look at all the evidence, there were no weapons of mass destruction.—That's why we went in there.

O'REILLY: That's true, but I don't know if the world is better of if Saddam's still sitting there getting more powerful by — because he'd still be getting oil-for-food money and his sons murdering people every single day. I don't know if that's what we want to fall back on.

Now — all right. So you want Annan. Bush wants Annan. I don't want Annan.

Let's go to the Democratic Party. You've got a real interesting struggle now. This is great! Howard Dean against Harold Ickes, the Clinton guy, for the struggle of the Democratic Party, the DNC chief. Who you do want?

KUCINICH:: I want to identify the issues that the candidates are running on before I'm going to make a choice. I mean, I think — I think what's important is what our Democratic Party stands for, and I happen to believe that, for example, if we stood for universal health care to make sure every American, those 44 million Americans who don't have health insurance, that they're covered...

O'REILLY: But everybody wants that.

KUCINICH:: I think — I think we'd have — people would say, of course, I'm going to vote Democrat. The part...

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Ickes...


KUCINICH:: ... what causes people to want to vote Democrat.

O'REILLY: Look, you're giving me spin now. You're a no-spin guy. Don't give me any spin.

KUCINICH:: I'm not giving you spin. This is...

O'REILLY: You've got — you know what's going on. You're wired in there. You've got Dean, the lefty, all right, the "" guy. You've got Ickes, the Clinton guy. OK. They're fighting each other for control of the party. Now you're a big member of the party, Congressman. Who do you want? Do you want Dean?

KUCINICH:: I'm not into inside baseball, Bill. I know that might be hard to believe, but, you know, my focus has always been to be out there with, you know, groups of people...

O'REILLY: So you have no preference. You don't care whether it's Ickes...

KUCINICH:: ... and trying to organize on issues.

O'REILLY: You don't care whether it's Ickes or Dean running the party for the next four years. You don't care.

KUCINICH:: I care what each of them stands for, and they're going to have to make their case to the people. Now Howard Dean himself...

O'REILLY: You don't know what they stand for?

KUCINICH:: Howard Dean himself would be the last person to take your description as him being liberal. At the same time, Mr. Ickes has to demonstrate to people what he actually stands for. Howard Dean reinvigorated the party with his campaign.

O'REILLY: All right, but he ran on a — he ran — you were the only guy in the race more left wing than Howard Dean. So is the real Howard Dean going to stand up? I don't even care.

KUCINICH:: Actually, my values are pretty conservative, Bill. I want to conserve the air and the water, conserve Social Security, conserve people's health.

O'REILLY: You want to tax me blind, Congressman. You want to come to my house and take my furniture. That ain't conservative, sir, OK? I'll send you a chair, if you need it, because I'm the kind of guy I am. But don't give me this...

KUCINICH:: I always wanted to be a chairman.

O'REILLY: ... you're a conservative guy. And I want to conserve the air and water, too. So you're not going to tell me, No Spin, Congressman KUCINICH:, who you want, Ickes or Dean? You're not going to do it.

KUCINICH:: No, I'm not — you know what? The — I'm not entering into that at all because I'm not part of that process that tries to determine who's going to be leading the Democratic Party.

O'REILLY: All right. You know who I want for DNC chief? You know who I want?

KUCINICH:: Oh, I know one thing. The party should stand for full employment...

O'REILLY: All right.

KUCINICH:: ... for protecting Social Security, health care for all...

O'REILLY: And for — and for kissing the babies.

KUCINICH:: ... and then we can win elections.

O'REILLY: I want Kofi Annan, DNC chief.

Thanks a lot, Congressman.

And our poll question asks: Do you approve of President Bush supporting Annan?

We'll be right back.

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