- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich's announcement yesterday that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination further muddles the field of candidates.
The four-term Ohio congressman, who was expected to file papers creating an exploratory committee today, has become one of most visible congressional leaders making the case against war in Iraq.
"Iraq was not responsible for 9/11, for al Qaeda's role in 9/11, for the anthrax attacks on our country; this administration has not made its case for war; Iraq does not have missile technology which can reach our shores," he told the Iowa Federation of Labor yesterday evening, as he began making the rounds of the early contest states in the Democratic primaries.
This past fall, leading up to the congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq, Mr. Kucinich held frequent news conferences opposing Mr. Bush and voted against the resolution. The other candidates in the race who are members of Congress all voted for the resolution.
"Every grade school athlete knows the difference between defense and offense. And America is about to go on the offensive in the world, for empire, for oil, but not for us," he said yesterday.
His candidacy means that if war wasn't already front-and-center in Democratic politics, his message ensures that it will be.
Mr. Kucinich also declared his first act in office as president would be to "cancel NAFTA," arguing that the North American Free Trade Agreement has dramatically tipped the balance of power to corporations.
In addition to Mr. Kucinich, former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, who in 1992 became the first black woman ever elected to the Senate, expects to file papers exploring a candidacy this week.
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the former leader of House Democrats, already has filed his paperwork and is expected to officially announce his candidacy tomorrow at the elementary school he attended in St. Louis.
Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton already have announced their candidacies.
Mr. Edwards, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lieberman have been supportive of U.S. action in Iraq, to varying degrees, as has Mr. Gephardt.
But Mr. Dean has strenuously opposed the president's policy and Mr. Sharpton has expressed opposition, and they are now joined by Mr. Kucinich.
Mr. Kucinich's campaign, a long shot by any estimation, says a lot about the state the Democrats are in, said Republican strategist Michael McKenna.
"It's symptomatic of the deep pathologies of the party," he said. "In a normally functioning political party a midlevel elected official like Dennis Kucinich is kept out of things like this, because all he serves to do is remove time and resources from people who could actually win."
Republicans said another issue for Democrats is geography. Even with this large a field of candidates, only one Mr. Gephardt is from west of the Mississippi River, and just barely.

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