Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kucinich won’t rally for Obama until he gets answers

Kucinich won’t rally for Obama until he gets answers

By Joey Michalakes

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has yet to officially endorse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president and indicated he will not rally his liberal supporters this fall until he knows “what the party stands for.”

In an interview this week, Kucinich said it is too early to see which direction the Democratic Party is headed this election year. Pressed on when a formal endorsement of Obama would be announced, Kucinich replied, “[Obama and I] will be talking.”

Kucinich, who attracted a small but avid following when he ran for the White House in 2004 and this year, is not the only Democrat who has not endorsed Obama. But he is an anomaly because many of the other endorsement holdouts are conservative or centrist Democrats.

An unabashed liberal, Kucinich stumped for both Al Gore in 2000 and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) four years ago. The Ohio lawmaker told The Hill in June of 2004 that he was rallying the liberal base for Kerry, a role that he said at the time "could make all the difference" in the general election campaign.

Kucinich also spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which featured addresses from all 10 of the candidates who vied for the nomination that year. He has yet to be asked to speak at this year’s event, and was unsure whether he eventually would be getting a spot in the program.

“That’s not up to me,” he said.

Asked if he will play a similar role in 2008 that he did in 2004, Kucinich replied, “That depends on what the party stands for. It all depends.”

He is not shy in criticizing his party, having consistently lambasted Democratic leaders in Congress for continuing to fund the Iraq war. More recently, he publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the compromise bill on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Kucinich refused to comment on Obama’s stance toward the FISA bill. Obama recently announced he would be supporting the measure but would try to remove its controversial provisions that offer immunity to telecommunications companies who had assisted in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

He described his relationship with the Illinois senator as "cordial," and mentioned that he had started to do organizing work on Obama’s behalf within his Northern Ohio district.

Some were led to believe that Kucinich would endorse Obama sooner because at the Iowa caucuses, the congressman called on his backers to make Obama their second-choice candidate.

Like Kucinich, many of the other non-endorsers did not elaborate on why they had not yet publicly backed Obama. Referring to the possibility of supporting Obama, a spokeswoman for Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) said, "That is a conversation [my boss and I] have not had yet."

In response to the same question, the office of Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), refused to comment. Both Solis and Pastor, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who has not endorsed a candidate, has been critical of Obama, Clinton and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for skipping a May vote on an amendment to a flood insurance bill that would add coverage provisions for wind damage.

Taylor authored the measure, which may come up for debate again when the House and Senate meet to conference on the final bill this summer.

He explained that the stance the candidates take on his provision will influence who he supports. "The way they vote will affect how I vote."

The Obama campaign declined to comment.

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