Kucinich brings his campaign to region
The presidential candidate was in Keene to open his first New Hampshire campaign office. He also spoke to a crowd of 50 students, teachers and area residents at Keene State College.
Kucinich focused his comments on the Iraq war, arguing that he was the only Democratic candidate who has consistently voted against the war and its funding.
"Do you want a Democratic version of war or a Democratic version of peace?" he asked the crowd.
At the Keene State event, Kucinich compared himself to several leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war. She voted 100 percent of the time to fund the war. John Edwards voted for the war and voted 100 percent of the time to fund the war. Barack Obama voted 100 percent of the time to fund the war," he said. "I not only led the effort against the war, but I led the effort against funding the war."
Kucinich, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2004, was elected mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31. He has served in the House of Representatives since 1997 and is known for calling for a federal Department of Peace to counter the influence of the Defense Department.
Though Kucinich spoke about domestic issues such as the environment, health care and education, he framed them in light of the war.
"As long as you're talking about war, people don't have to talk about anything else," he said. "Our future is being stolen by the war."
Kucinich argued that Congress should divert money currently spent fighting wars abroad to programs that would help Americans at home.
As president, he said, he would seek to provide universal health care, create jobs through massive public works projects, encourage building "green housing," and increase federal education funding.
The candidate said that though his opposition to the war raised eyebrows during the 2004 campaign, his position "is now the mainstream."
"I don't see this as being about left or right. I see it as war or peace," he said.
Kucinich was scheduled to visit Brattleboro this morning to speak on Brattleboro's "Live and Local" show on WKVT-AM. According to host Steve West, Kucinich was unable to make it to the studio, but conducted the interview over the phone.
West, who supports Kucinich's candidacy, said that the congressman "was very affable and quick on his feet. I found him to be very genuine."
At the same time, West said that Kucinich may face an uphill battle in his quest for the Democratic nomination.
"I'm realistic to know that he has a long way to go. There'd have to be a tsunami of a cultural shift" for Kucinich to beat his many formidable opponents.
Vermont Rep. Daryl Pillsbury, I-Brattleboro, who also participated in the radio show, said that though he has not yet endorsed a candidate, he was "very impressed with (Kucinich's) comments on a lot of things."
"I think the people in this area should start paying attention to this candidate," he said.
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