Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dennis Kucinich Endorses Obama?

Polling about 1% in Iowa just a day before the Iowa Caucuses, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) urged his supporters to back him, but in places where they do not have enough votes to make an impact, to throw their support behind Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

Kucinich was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying:

"I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change.”

To which Obama replied:

“I have a lot of respect for Congressman Kucinich, and I’m honored that he has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change. He and I have been fighting for a number of the same priorities -- including an end to the war in Iraq that we both opposed from the start."

Unfortunately the Iowa Caucuses have a history of unfriendly results for front runners. Both George H. W. Bush (1980) and Bob Dole (1988) won it, but failed to win the nomination in those years.

In 1972, Sen. Edward Muskie beat Sen. George McGovern, who ended winning the nomination. In 1988 Rep. Dick Gephardt won Iowa but lost the nomination to Dukakis. In 2004, Howard Dean was leading in the polls but posted a third place finish. If Obama's slim holds, will his fate be similar?

But also recall that Sen. John Kerry, who lagged in the polls leading up to Iowa, won in 2004 and also won the nomination. John Edwards finished second.

Some polls suggest, however, that because Edwards scores high as a second choice for many likely caucus goers (and because he scores well in the population groups that tend to show up for the caucus – older, white and activist), he has a real chance to squeak out a victory.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters seem to be worried about the impact of her failing to win the caucus and have ratcheted up her populist appeal. (Sen. Clinton's campaign originally wanted to skip the caucus, and if she doesn't win, her people will likely downplay the significance of it.)

She has begun to deliver sharper messages about the war: "the United States should not stay one day longer being the referees of Iraq's sectarian conflict." She is calling for a massive program to find alternative energy sources to fight global warming. she is calling for tougher trade, environmental, and labor standards in the global economy.

Evidently, the issues Rep. Kucinich has cared about for most of his career have begun to surface in Sen. Clinton's stump speeches, but it is difficult to say to what extent his campaign has influenced the general tenor of the programs and promises of the various candidates.

More evident is the general discontent among the people with neoconservative politics: war agendas, anti-working families trade and economic policies, subservience to Big Polluters, etc. Meanwhile people across political leanings have come to demand more: universal health care, out of Iraq, workers' rights and protections, real policies to control climate change.

Kucinich plans to spend some time in Michigan prior to that state's January 15th primary. He will likely talk about workers' rights, globalization and trade policies, immigration policy reform, civil rights – all of which have a direct and strong impact Michigan, its economy and its people. Let's see what impact, if any, he is able to make there.

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