WASHINGTON - The most underreported story of the 2004 election is the never-give-up, never-give-in campaign of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) for president. With considerable grassroots support, the Ohio lawmaker has carried his message of world peace, jobs, equality and universal health care across the country. He has done it in the face of a near-total corporate media blackout
Kucinich, campaigning in California, launched the "Other America Tour" from the impoverished Sunnydale public housing complex in San Francisco. "I'm from the other America," he said, noting that he grew up poor and sometimes homeless in Cleveland, Ohio.
An impressive 15 percent of Maine voters and 8 percent of Washington state voters came out for Kucinich in the Feb. 10 "mini-Super Tuesday" primaries. He also placed second in Hawaii's Feb. 24 primary.
Sharon Gradischnig, head of the Kucinich campaign in southwest Iowa, is a native Iowan. She told this reporter she was drawn to Kucinich in part because his election could change her own life.
"I pay $637 a month for health insurance so even when I qualify for Medicare, I will need to keep working to provide myself with supplementary health coverage and prescription drugs," she told the World. "One of Dennis' billboards up the street says it all: 'Health care not warfare.' He is the only candidate advocating universal single-payer health care."
She said, "This is the voters' opportunity to tell the nation and the world exactly what kind of nation and world we want. We are a banner for change, for a world that is safe for people here at home and around the world."
In the northwest corner of Washington state, Marion "Honey Bee" Burns was elected as a Kucinich delegate to the Clallam County Democratic Convention in Port Angeles when she and her neighbors decided to stick with a candidate that clearly supported their issues. "This is a time to take a stand on principle," Burns said.
Kucinich received a standing ovation from hundreds who crowded the Modjeska Theater on Milwaukee's near-southside Feb. 15, following his appearance at a Democratic candidates' debate at Marquette University. Jim Carpenter, a Kucinich volunteer and a professor of economics at a community college in Milwaukee, said, "Dennis' campaign is the most underreported campaign of this election. But people love the truth and Kucinich gives them the truth. He speaks from the heart."
Carpenter said Kucinich is the clearest of the candidates on "peace over war, cooperation not domination, and supporting a single-payer health care plan that is not based on profits. He understands that we need a public works jobs program."
Michael Berg, coordinator of the Kucinich campaign in South Carolina, said the Ohio lawmaker made a positive impression when he appeared in the first Democratic debate in Columbia, S.C., last May 3.
"The textile industry is being destroyed in South Carolina. It has crushed many small towns across the state. We've lost about 120,000 jobs. Kucinich was the only one who called for the repeal of NAFTA. He pushed the other candidates and some of them even plagiarize his positions," he said.
Baltimore hospital worker Jim Baldridge is running as a Kucinich delegate in Maryland's March 2 Super Tuesday primary. "I see the poverty and unemployment up close," Baldridge wrote in an open letter distributed to his neighbors. "A vote for Kucinich is a vote to take back our country from the Halliburton corporate looters, to make the rich pay their share of the taxes ... Our school deficit cries out for a president like Dennis Kucinich who will deliver on the promise, 'Leave no child behind.'"