Democratic Candidates The Media Aren't Telling You About [Part 2]

[ Posted Thursday, April 5th, 2007 – 04:58 UTC ]

A continued look at the underdogs of the Democratic presidential field.

[Part 1 of this article ran yesterday and examined Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel.]

Inadvertently omitted from yesterday's article were statistics for the frontrunners, for your comparison. Money: Hillary Clinton, $26 million; John Edwards, $14 million; Barack Obama, $25 million. Washington Post mentions: Hillary Clinton, 139; John Edwards, 56; Barack Obama, 101.



Dennis Kucinich

Representative Dennis Kucinich from Ohio is a man with many ideas, most of them good. I'd wager 80% of Huffington Post readers would agree with 80% of his policy positions, which are all solidly progressive. Liberal, even. It's refreshing to see a red-blooded liberal in the race for president, I have to say.

His web site is a little rough around the edges, not as slick and polished as the other candidates, but what it lacks in flashy web design it more than makes up for with content. His "Issues" page has 90 links to position papers by Kucinich -- far more than any other candidate's website I have ever seen. Click on almost any of them, and you'll find yourself agreeing with what Kucinich is proposing. He also provides all of his speech transcripts online.

Kucinich has a 12-point plan to get out of Iraq. He's strongly for universal health care. He may be most known for championing a "Department of Peace" cabinet department. And that's just scratching the surface -- he's got ideas on issues as varied as the Drug War, genetically engineered food, and DC statehood. If he were the frontrunner, or even given half a chance, a lot of people would be astounded at how many good ideas he has. But of course, the media is writing him off as unelectable. The media ignored him when he ran in '04, so he didn't make much of a splash. The media will ignore him again this time around, which is a shame.

The media are even ignoring the fact that Kucinich now has a beautiful young redheaded wife (he made news in '04 just because he was single). And although he seems to have forgotten to update his bio page (which doesn't mention her, but does mention the fact that he's a vegan), he's not trying to hide her, as she has her own page on his website.


Washington Post mentions this year : 26

"Contribute" buttons on main web page : 2 (also one for Kucinich store)

Money raised in the first quarter of 2007 : $??? [Once again, I tried to find this figure but came up short. Anyone with correct info, feel free to post a link.]

Biggest weakness : Seen as completely unelectable, for various reasons (he lost before, he's too wonky, he's from the House not the Senate, he isn't photogenic, his ideas are too far left, etc.) by the entire mainstream media, therefore his message will never get out.

Interesting quotes from his web page :

Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 8, 1946. He is the eldest of 7 children of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. He and his family lived in twenty-one places, including a couple of cars, by the time Kucinich was 17 years old. "I live each day with a grateful heart and a desire to be of service to humanity," he says.

. . .

Kucinich has advocated the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Peace, to make non-violence an organizing principle within our society. He believes that peace, not war, is inevitable, if we are willing to work for peace. He sees the world as being interconnected and interdependent. This vision always strives to find the commonalities, the points where unity can be formed. He believes the United States can best lead the way through full support of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention; joining the International Criminal Court, signing the Landmine Treaty and the Small Arms Treaty. As we rejoin the world in full support of principles of international law, we help build the cause of human unity, he believes. In his fifth term in the United States House, Kucinich has been a leader for Universal Health Care, a full employment economy, fully-paid tuition at public colleges and universities, repeal of the Patriot Act, the development of bio-fuels as alternative energy and restoration of America's basic manufacturing and infrastructure. He is currently leading an effort to support the role of NASA in the development of basic research for civil aeronautics.



Bill Richardson

If you measure candidates by experience alone, Bill Richardson has a valid claim for being the best prepared to be president. As New Mexico's governor, he has executive experience (something all the current frontrunners lack). Foreign policy experience? Richardson was Ambassador to the United Nations. He's also got cabinet-level experience as former Secretary of Energy. And although he was in the House of Representatives, he's never been a senator (which may be a plus, since historically it's been tough to jump from the Senate to the White House). Plus, he's the first Hispanic candidate running. Immigration? His mother was Mexican, giving him a unique perspective on the issue.

So why isn't he getting more attention? In a field of candidates crowded with (as the mainstream media labels them) "rock stars," Richardson has mostly been sidelined. The media seem content to focus on the woman candidate and the black candidate, so being the Hispanic candidate hasn't been enough to break out into the public's attention. This is a shame, because Richardson would probably be a great president if elected.

Richardson is already an impressive guy, from a progressive point of view. He was in the news last week both by being named to a bipartisan delegation to North Korea by President Bush, and for signing into law a medical marijuana law for New Mexico. In his campaign, he has called for pulling the troops out of Iraq this year -- sooner than most Democratic candidates have called for. I'm no expert on health care, but Richardson's plan seems to be closest to the new Massachusetts law: first reform health care a bit, offer vouchers to some to purchase it; and then when that's done, require everyone to purchase it.

Richardson's website is very professional and good looking. It's not as heavy on content as others, but what is there is adequate. He has staked out the "I'd be the best candidate to get the crossover vote" territory by calling on Democrats to run a "clean" primary campaign and avoid negative ads, and points out that he was just re-elected by 69 percent of his (red) state's voters. Speaking to the Democratic National Committee, he had this to say: "You know, I don't buy this nonsense -- I don't buy this nonsense that negative campaigns toughen up a nominee. Save it for the Republicans."

Plus, Governor Richardson just signed a law making the bolo tie the official State Neckwear of New Mexico. What's not to like about the guy?

Richardson, like Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, may have a good shot at the nomination if one of the frontrunners stumbles badly enough that the mainstream media gets bored with them (think: Howard Dean). He would be in an excellent position to step into the center ring if this happens, especially since he raised more money in the first quarter than either Dodd or Biden.


Washington Post mentions this year : 35

"Contribute" buttons on main web page : 3

Money raised in the first quarter of 2007 : $6 million

Biggest weakness : It's hard to find a weakness about Richardson. He's too nice a guy. That's about his biggest weakness, I guess, if you believe the adage about where nice guys finish....

Interesting quotes from his web page :

When New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson speaks about embracing diversity, the American dream, and serving others, he speaks from unparalleled experience.

Born November 15, 1947 in Pasadena, California to an American father and Mexican mother, Governor Richardson grew up in Mexico City before moving to New England, where he attended high school and college. He has dedicated his life to public service, as a United States Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy, and now as Governor of New Mexico.

. . .

Iraq is in a state of civil war, and only they can stop it. Bush's policies have brought us to the point where we now have to choose between bad options and worse ones. We need to choose the path that will do the least damage to American national security-not the one that does the least damage to the President who created this catastrophe.

I agree with Senator Levin that our leverage is the withdrawal of our troops. Once Iraq's leaders understand that our military presence in Iraq is neither permanent nor unconditional They are far more likely to take the political steps necessary to deal with their political crisis.

We should give the Iraqi cabinet the opportunity to discuss the details of our departure with us and to make suggestions, but we need to establish a 2007 departure date. If the Iraqi government agrees, we should announce jointly that our mission is over, and that we will leave by the specified date. If they don't agree, we should announce that date without them.

We should harbor no illusions. This withdrawal will not be pretty. People will die. But fewer will die than if we stay. There are no guarantees that our departure will end the civil war. But it is sure to continue so long as we stay.


I have limited this article to examining declared non-frontrunners in the Democratic race, as you will have noticed. I refuse to take the bait from prominent Democrats toying with the media by playing the "will he or won't he run" game (paging Al Gore...). Tom Vilsack was briefly a candidate, but then pulled out when he realized that "favorite son of Iowa" wasn't going to raise him enough money. And Senator Russ Feingold has already disappointed me (he was my favorite) by announcing that he is not going to run. So I have examined the field as it stands. If the field changes, perhaps I'll revisit the issue.

In conclusion, I hope I have done what I can at this point to help make this a true race of ideas and positions, instead of just the usual beauty contest and money race. I think it's a shame the way elections are run in this country for our most important job, and I wish it were different (I'm a personal advocate of free television ads for all as a way to remove the influence of money from campaign politics). But in the world we live in, and with the soapbox I have here at Huffington Post, I'd like to think I have done what I could to help the "underdog" candidates (like many Americans, I'm a sucker for underdogs) get some valuable free media exposure and, by doing so, get their message out to the voters.


[See the original Huffington Post article, complete with comments.]

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