Transcript of Interview with Representative Dennis Kucinich by Link TV
Political Correspondent Mark Hertsgaard
that they can...
about it [in the next president.] I would bring about such an open discussion, just so American
can, we can put this behind us. Because all the questions that, that loom about 9-11 in away
divert us from being able to heal our nation. We had a great tragedy in our national family. The
loss of lives and the families who were effected and the heart of this country was, was wounded.
When you have a death in the family you, you bring the family together to talk about it. You try
to see if thereís any reason or rhyme to it, and then you try to find a way to have some closure.
But you can only do that by getting to the truth of the matter. This isnít about blame. This is
about reconnecting with the purpose of our nation, not, not for the purpose recrimination but for
the purpose of continuing to unfold as to who we are and not be stuck, not be so traumatized by
9-11 that we canít get off of it and weíre forced to start attacking other nations and thinking that
somehow thatís going to be the solution. We need to get to the deeper truths of 9-11 and as
president Iíll help lead this country to the kind of healing that will enable us to get to the truth,
have some closure and move on to do the great things this nation is capable of in the world.
Mark Hertsgaard: Letís take another question. This from a member of the U.S. Studentís
Association, Steven Alvarez in Santa Cruz, CA.
Q: Hi, my name is Steven Alvarez and Iím with the undergraduate student government at the
University of California, Santa Cruz. Based on the recent ruling about gay marriage in
Massachusetts, I wanted to ask you would you support legislation for domestic partnership and
would you include the same benefits that heterosexual spouses are guaranteed?
Rep. Kucinich: Yes. And I already support such an effort. Furthermore, as President of
the United States, the matter of, of gay marriage needs to be addressed in a forthright way. I
think, that the protections of civil law ought to be made to everyone regardless of race, color,
creed or sexual orientation. We should not ask that, that this nation turn its back on those who,
people who love each other very much but happen to be of the same sex and that they somehow
should be denied the protections of over 1049 different civil laws that married couples are able to
achieve. I think that this is neither a liberal nor conservative issue. Because the conservative
approach would say that people who, who love each other ought to be together and ought to stay
together and that adds to a stable society. I think what we need to do is be openhearted as a
nation and as president, I will lead the nation in that direction. And furthermore as a candidate
Iím fully prepared to challenge the President if he feels that he can use this as some kind of a
wedge issue to divide the American people. I think only an American, only a Democratic
candidate who is courageous and forthright in bringing this issue to the American people can
touch the hearts of the American people and, and turn this in a new direction, away from
polarization, away from condemnation and towards tolerance and acceptance.
Mark Hertsgaard: Let me ask you a question off of issues for a second, because certainly part
of what makes Americans vote for president is where they stand on the issues, but part of it also
their sense of the person. Iím always struck as a reporter, those of you who run for president, run
for public office, it is an exhausting, exhausting process, I salute all of you about that. My
question is when is the last time that you had a genuine day off? I mean a day off. No work.
what did you do that day, how did you spend it?
Hertsgaard: And how did you spend it?
Rep. Kucinich: Thanksgiving. I spent it with friends, at Thanksgiving dinner, just you
know, spent some time walking on a beach and had a great Thanksgiving dinner and it was just
I enjoyed it immensely.
Hertsgaard: No campaign calls.
Kucinich: Oh, no, no, no.
Hertsgaard: Just friends and family or...
Mark Hertsgaard: And I have to ask you, howís the search for the future first lady coming?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, you have to remember the context of this, Mark. The context is I
was asked a question as were all the candidates what would be the role of, of a first lady in, or
first mate, in your administration? And by the time the question got around to me I said, look,
Iím not married, I can only fantasize about this but Iíd want a woman who is passionate about
health care and working for peace and, and a full employment economy, and then I said so, if
youíre out there, call me. And I heard from a lot of women.
Mark Hertsgaard: The phone rang and rang.
Rep. Kucinich: Well, you know what it shows, though, it shows that American women
are, want to be taken seriously about the role a first lady could have in an administration. That
itís not just going to be as some kind of a prop. But that women are playing a vital role in our
society and expect to be taken seriously and, you know...
Mark Hertsgaard: So how would the first lady function in a Kucinich administration?
Kucinich: Would be a partner.
Kucinich: Someone who is an advisor.
Mark Hertsgaard: In a way that, for example, Hillary Clinton was during the Clinton years,
that kind of a partner?
Rep. Kucinich: I think that Hillary Clinton and you know, there have been other first
ladies that have I think been very close to their husbands. You can go back through most of the
first ladies in one way or other have played a role in providing advice. They may not have been
as high profiled about it, but I think itís important for a would be president to acknowledge that
whoever the first lady would be, or if weíre talking about in a case of a woman candidate, the
first mate, would be in a position to have some influence. You canít ignore that, I mean, weíre
all, the people who are closed to us have some influence in our lives and I think itís important to
acknowledge that our significant other or our spouse would have some impact on whatís going
on in the country. Itís inevitable. The question is, there are certain areas that I think women in
particular have a strong interest in and we want to make sure that, that, that is acknowledge.
And the young lady who actually won a contest that politics New Hampshire put up. I had a
chance to say hello to her and we got together for breakfast the other day and she really, I think,
her nameís [Ginny Santore], and she in a sense is [emblemative] of women all over this country
who, who are serious about public policy and want a president to take their interest in these
issues in a serious way, and I, I do.
Mark Hertsgaard: One question about that, abortion. A number of women that I talked to
preparing this broadcast were concerned about you because of your position on abortion. In the
past you were pro-life, quite outspokenly so in your early career. Since then youíve come around
to being pro-choice. Can you explain a little bit about that.
Rep. Kucinich: Well, when you say outspokenly so, I actually [never] gave a speech on
the floor of the House about it except recently in defense of a womenís right to choose. Iíve had
a journey on this issue and itís not the kind of issue that you can just [snap] flip like that. This
has been a product of, of many years of discussion with women in my life and with members of
Congress, women in Congress and the Supreme Court made a ruling in a Nebraska case,
Sternberg v. Carhardt, which said that the, the legislative body in Nebraska had to take into
account or failed to take into account a womenís health, her, the definition of the procedure and
it, that it did not meet their test of Roe v. Wade and that it imposed an undue burden on a
woman. That was with respect to a late term abortion bill. The Congress of the United States
brought that identical bill back and that was a moment for me to, to look at where the issue was
Mark Hertsgaard: [Thatís it.]
Rep. Kucinich: That was the moment, it looked, yeah, I looked at it and I said, you know,
theyíre not even concerned about a womanís health? I mean, you know, we, we need to, after the
Supreme Court has stated that, that this is something that you must consider, it was just like
swept aside. And so when Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin offered an amendment to meet the
Constitutional test, to say that it has to take into account a motherís health, that there has to be a
definition of procedure and that it cannot constitute an undue burden, Congress rejected that. So,
then for the first time in my career I voted present on an issue that I had consistently voted in, in
favor of and that signaled a shift and then the women in the Congress and in my life started to
talk to me some more and say, this is not simply a matter of privacy, which it is, itís not simply a
matter of choice, which it is, itís a matter of whether a woman is going to have true equality in
society. So I can sit here and say that since that moment that I have consistently supported a
womenís right to choose. This is before I became a candidate for president.
Mark Hertsgaard: What year?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, this happened last year, but it was long, it was long before I became
a candidate for president. And that I, that Iíve supported a womanís right to choose, and in the
last bill that came up I not only voted to, to defend a womanís right to choose, I spoke on the
floor of the House, and for the fir, and actually for, you know, one of the first times Iíve ever
spoken on the issue because I felt that itís important, you know, while we, while we want to
make abortions less necessary through sex education and birth control, we can only do that in the
context of protecting Roe v. Wade and a womanís essential equality in society. For those who
are interested in trying to make abortions less necessary will also need to support pre-natal care,
post-natal care, childcare, a living wage, universal health care, and that way we can, we can help
improve the quality of life in our society. And Mark, because of my journey on this, I may be
the only presidential candidate whoís in a position to understand peopleís hearts, whoís in a
position to try to balance what is really a, a very difficult issue for, for our American community.
And to try to reconcile people to get away from the judgement and the condemnation that is so
afflicted this consideration of this issue. And to try to create circumstances where abortions are
less necessary but only to affirming that a womanís essential equality by protecting Roe v. Wade.
And finally, as President, I will ask anyone who wants to be appointed to the Supreme Court to,
to commit to protecting Roe v. Wade so that we donít go back into this very difficult national
debate which could serve to undermine not only a womanís right to choose but her equality.
Mark Hertsgaard: You mentioned health care. Letís take another question from one of our
viewers. This is a LinkTV viewer.
[Audio tape side A ends/Side B begins]
Q: ...and itís even more important to put that idea into effect. Are you in favor of national
health insurance or a single payer plan, similar to that in Canada and if so, how would you
implement such a plan in view of the hostility of the health care industry and the high probability
of a Republican Congress?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, first of all, thank you for the compliment. It is laudable to be for
universal, single payer. And as a matter of fact, I have such a plan. Iíve introduced legislature
with John [Connors] of Michigan, HR 676, to create a universal, single payer health care system,
a national health plan, extended Medicare for all. Now the way that we would accomplish it is
this. Currently the United States pay $1.4 trillion for health care, thatís from private resources
and from the government. And all that money goes into, into paying for the health care services
for this country, except for one thing. Hundreds of billions of dollars of that $1.4 trillion go for
things like corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, lobbying, marketing,
cost of paperwork in the private sector is 15-30%. Weíre already paying for a universal standard
of health care but weíre not getting it because of the allocation of dollars. My plan is to take
America away from a for-profit system where health care is rationed by according to ability to
pay and create a not-for-profit system where all the resources go into providing Americans with
medical care for all medically necessary procedures, with dental care, vision care, mental health
care, long term health care, a prescription drug benefit, alternative and complementary medicine.
All that would be covered. And we have the money to do it now. The question is do we have the
political will and leadership? And thatís where I come in. I intend to make this the defining
domestic issue in this election and by doing that I will demonstrate to the American people that
if they will follow the same lead that the people in 1932 gave this country when it gave FDR a
mandate for sweeping economic change by electing 88 new members of the House and 13 new
members of the Senate to create the context of the New Deal, I will ask the American people
give me a Congress that will give you health care. Thatís the way that we challenge the
insurance industries who have a, a stranglehold on our political process. We can make this an
issue in every congressional district. And Iím ready, Iím prepared to do that. Now there are some
candidates for president, Mark, who have said, you know, if you want fundamental change in the
system Iím not your man. And one of those candidates is a doctor...
Mark Hertsgaard: Howard Dean is the man youíre referring to.
Rep. Kucinich: Frankly. And you know what, I think that itís time to get a second opinion
and a second opinion would give the American people the understanding that you can have a
not-for-profit system. Now Governor Dean has said that you know, well, he wants everyone to
have health insurance, even though ten million people would be left out of his plan, he wants
everyone to have health insurance. We must look at that description. Health Insurance. That
means you can have health insurance but youíre still going to be stuck with an insurance
company thatís going to raise your premiums, increase your co-pays, increase your deductibles
and shrink you area of coverage because insurance companies make money not providing health
care. So, my plan is to take it out of the hands of the private insurers and out of the hands of the
pharmaceutical companies, and create a not-for-profit public health care system where everyone
is cared for. And thatís a major difference between Governor Dean and I and I think itís going to
one of those defining issues in this election.
Hertsgaard: Youíve called it ďMedicare for All.Ē
Mark Hertsgaard: And youíve pointed out that the United States almost alone of advanced
industrial countries, weíre the only country that does not have universal health care.
Rep. Kucinich: Yes.
Mark Hertsgaard: But I have to ask you, having spent time in Europe and other places, what
do you say about the people who say yes, they have universal care but they wait forever to get to
a doctor, they wait in long lines to get non-emergency procedures. Does that concern you at all
about a public health care program?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, thereís two answers to that. First of all, today many people canít get
any health care at all. We have 43-45 million Americans who donít have health insurance, cause
they canít afford it. This market-based approach towards health care inevitably is going to
exclude more and more people, and inevitably itís creating a kind of poverty in this country
where you either have the ability to pay or you donít. And if you donít have the ability to pay
youíre out of luck. Thereís a lot of people experiencing bankruptcy because they canít afford
their doctor bills. Now thatís a fact. This system is, is a system that is, is becoming increasingly
corrupt because itís ignoring a basic concern of the American people for health care because itís
held by certain financial interests. So, Iím going to break that hold. Now, the question is will
you be able to provide health care for all the people under this system and will they have access
to it. The answer is absolutely. We built in to the financial projections the, the, the inevitability
of increased utilization.
Mark Hertsgaard: What does that mean? More and more people will use it.
Rep. Kucinich: More and more people are going to use it, absolutely. And that what does
it mean is that also we have to build out our health care infrastructure. We have to create more
medical education opportunities so more people will be able to go to medical school and Iím
working with someone, someone whoís, whoís an expert in this field, weíll have to be able to
have more individuals going into nursing and other medical technologies so we can create the
context for people to be able to provide the support as the system grows. And we also will have
an emphasis on prevention. You know, so much of our health care costs today get driven up
because the emergency rooms end up being the health care of last resort when people are in
serious condition they end up going to emergency rooms when the ounce of prevention would be
worth a pound of cure. So the emphasis will be on preventative medicine and there will also be
an emphasis on maintenance of health care where people can get taken care of and they donít get
into the kind of extreme expenses that come from not having your health taken care. It will
mean a healthier nation, a more productive nation, a nation which care feel a little bit more
freedom [being that] itís not constrained by private health care companies. So, you know, this is
really a, an all encompassing issue in this country and I intend to, as I said, make it a defining
issue in, in this race for president.
Mark Hertsgaard: I want to turn to foreign affairs in a second but first one more question on
the domestic side. Education is obviously another big issue. Youíve talked about giving, and Iím
sure many parents around the country will love to hear this, free college tuition. How will you
provide free college tuition to, and how many American would be available, eligible for free
Rep. Kucinich: Well, right now, based on the fact that there are about 12 million people
going to public colleges and universities in this country and figuring that perhaps the average
cost of it could be between $5000-6000 a year. You know, you extrapolate that, you have
between $60 and 72 billion a year that would have to be set aside for tuition free education at
public colleges and universities. So the question would be where, where could that money come
Mark Hertsgaard: $72 billion.
Rep. Kucinich: Right. Well, anywhere from 60-72. You know, the numbers keep getting
recalculated because whatís happening is states are experiencing budget cuts and are now passing
along the costs to the students in terms of higher tuition. If we change our budgetary practices
and take some of the pressures off the states and, and you then have a little bit more play where
thereís some more resources. Well, we donít have that right now. So letís talk about where our
governmentís resources are going right now. We have seen an administration that provide tax
breaks to people in the top bracket, people who werenít asking for such breaks I might add.
Thereís been a redistribution of the wealth upwards. Itís not healthy for this country. I want to
see the tax breaks that went to people in the top bracket canceled and put that money right into a
fund for universal college education, tuition free.
Mark Hertsgaard: Could anyone then who wanted to go to college, who obviously passed the
scholastic part of it, could they then be assured under a Kucinich administration money will not
be an obstacle, you will be able to go to college?
Rep. Kucinich: Thatís the direction we want to take the country, absolutely. Now keep in
mind, this administration has created a, a budget deficient from $276 billion surplus in the year
2000 to an over $500 billion deficient in this coming year. We have to be aware that theyíve
created some serious financial problems. But we can remedy some of those problems. We can
remedy them by getting the United States out of Iraq. Weíre already into the war there for $155
billion. The continued occupation of Iraq will cost this country dearly, not only in terms of our
national reputation, and not only in terms of loss of lives of the men and women who serve this
country, but it will be a drain on Americaís ability to be able to meet a domestic agenda for
education, for health care, for housing and all of, and a whole range of social programs. So as
President of United States, I would put a priority on education. Thereís another area here, too,
that speaks to the use of our national resources. The Pentagon budget has been expanding very
rapidly. I would contend that itís being driven by fear. One doesnít look too much at the
spending policies inside the Pentagon, but actually thatís my job. Iím the ranking member on a
sub-committee that has jurisdiction over national security and weíve held hearings on spending
practices in the Pentagon. We know, for example, that the Pentagon has over a trillion dollars in
accounts it cannot reconcile. We know about...
Mark Hertsgaard: Because theyíve lost a trillion dollars through bookkeeping errors.
Rep. Kucinich: Means they canít, means they canít track it down. You know, they have
over a thousand accounting systems. They canít track it down and so we donít know. We also,
we also, what we do know though is that for example, this missile system that they want to put
we know that that system...
Hertsgaard: The space weapons system? Yeah.
Kucinich: The missile shield.
Rep. Kucinich: We know that that system, right from the beginning, as been fraught with
fraud. And that we shouldnít be spending money on it. So Iíll set that system aside. Iíll set aside
the building of new nuclear weapon. Iíll set aside the building of, putting weapons in space,
creating a weapons platform in space. We have so many weapon systems right now that are
being developed when we havenít even used the previous generation. Thereís a tremendous
amount of waste thatís going on. I believe a 15% reduction in the Pentagon budget can be
achieved without any adverse impact on our national security whatsoever. As a matter of fact,
weíll have a better enhanced national security because we wonít be wasting the tax payers
Mark Hertsgaard: Will they find the trillion dollars then?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, you know what, weíll find a way to straighten out the books. I mean
is a nightmare for the taxpayers as well as for fiscal management.
Hertsgaard: A trillion dollars.
Kucinich: Thatís right.
Hertsgaard: That is a thousand billion, is that what that is?
Kucinich: Well, yes.
Mark Hertsgaard: As they say, thatís more money [TALKING OVER EACH OTHER]
Rep. Kucinich: Well, right a billion here, a billion there, it starts to add up, thatís what
Mark Hertsgaard: Yeah.
Rep. Kucinich: And see, this, and I would further contend that our entire defense strategy
is outmoded. That weíre fighting the last wars, that we need to encompass a view of the world as
interconnected and interdependent. That the challenges in the future are not nation states against
nation states. The challenge of the future are these non-state actors. And the only way you meet
that challenge is to organize with the world community. So, Iíll have a, a strong defense but it
will be lean. Itís not going to be wasting the tax payers dollars. And that means that weíll have
more money for a domestic agenda. So, isnít it, you know, whatís interesting? It always just
[___] me when people tell me well, you know we have money for education, you know, we donít
have money for health care, but we have money for tax cuts for people in the top brackets, we
have money for war, we have money for an expanded Pentagon budget. We have money for
those things but we donít have money for the basic needs of the country. Wrong! As president, I
will direct a shift in priorities in America where we start taking care of the basic needs of our
people here at home, and thatís what government ought to be about. It ought to be about meeting
peopleís practical aspirations. And weíre not doing that right now because Iíll tell you, people
donít aspire to war. You know, this is like a riff on, on Marie Antoinette who said, you know,
years ago, the French, let them eat cake. Well, now weíre being told by administration, let them
Mark Hertsgaard: Well, that is a perfect introduction to our next question. Here again from
our young friends at Wiretap, Eleanor [Polly] from Colorado.
Q: Hi. My name is Eleanor. Iím calling from Colorado. Iím a Wiretap reader and a member
of [Peace Jam]. Iím asking this question because I would like to see peace achieved in my
lifetime but I am confused by the irony of the practice around, trying to achieve peace through
war. My question is, do you have any new ideas for achieving peace?
Rep. Kucinich: Yes, I do and you have a right to ask that because the future always knows
when the place thatís being prepared for it is threatened and the young people of America today
are very aware that our government is moving in a direction which threatens their future. On
July the 11th, 2001, I introduced legislation now supported by 50 members of Congress to create
a cabinet level Department of Peace. That new idea will take America in a new direction, which
connects us to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, to the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and others
whoíve worked for peace, so we can look at our own nation and the challenges we have in our
own society, challenges like domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, and through
education, through working with community groups and non-governmental organizations, we
create a whole new context in our society to address those issues that have vexed our homes and
our communities, issues including gang violence, violence in the schools, racial violence,
violence against, violence gays, police/community relations challenges that keep percolating.
These are things we need direct programs to deal with, and we need an awareness in our society.
We need it to become the work of our society in addressing this, to teach children at the earliest
age peace giving, peace sharing, mutuality, reciprocity, looking at the other person as an aspect
of oneself. We can actually teach this. We can become a more peaceful society through, through
dedicating our society to do that. And, Mark, on an international level, the Department of Peace,
will work with the other nations of the world to make war itself archaic. We must believe in our
capacity to evolve. War is not inevitable unless we act on the belief that it is. If you believe war
is inevitable, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So my work as PREsident of the United
States will be to work with nations of the world to create a new structure for peace so we can
make the work of peace, that work in the everyday lives of nations around the world. And you
know whatís really interesting is that, and now a member of Parliament, John McDonald, has
taken up this bill that Iíve introduced in the House of Representatives and has introduced it into
Mark Hertsgaard: In Great Britain.
Rep. Kucinich: To create the discussion in Great Britain. And Iím in touch with other
legislators from around the world. And I think this idea is going to start catching on. So we can
create peace and I want, I want our young caller to know that you have a right to expect that.
You have a right to expect your leaders will take us away from war. War is not inevitable. And
war is proving increasingly, as we go into a complex society, to be a way that is wasteful,
counterproductive and we must proceed with what President Franklin Roosevelt called the
science of human relations in finding a way to work together. As President Kennedy said, you
know, we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or weíll perish together as fools.
Mark Hertsgaard: Franklin Roosevelt though, of course, also fought and led American forces
in World War II, and I wonder if there arenít sometimes when violence as unwanted as it may be
is necessary. I want to ask you about something quite specific here. In 1999, the War in
Kosovo, Clinton administration intervened there to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanians. And
at the time you opposed the U.S. intervention and at the time you told, or at least were quoted in
the Cleveland Plain Dealer as saying that people should instead pin their hopes for peace ďon
whatever source of humanity remainsĒ in [Slovidon Molosovich]. He, of course, was the
Yugoslav dictator, who had spent the last eight years ethnically cleansing people throughout the
Balkans. So, some people might ask how can you in a situation like that, a man who has shown,
Molosovich in this case, who has shown an eagerness to direct the murder of thousands of
people. Isnít it necessary for the U.S. or some force to intervene to stop that evil?
Rep. Kucinich: Well, itís necessary for the world community to cooperate in a manner that
can meet that kind of challenge. Absolutely. However, letís look at what happened. What
happened is that the Dayton accords which were designed to create a workable framework for
the settlement of all of these issues in the Balkans actually ended up being nothing more than a
papering over of the differences that occurred. So that you had Molosovich, [Turdjesman and
Isobegavich] walk out of Dayton without a real hard and fast agreement about the direction they
Mark Hertsgaard: These are the Balkan leaders.
Rep. Kucinich: Thatís right. We just, what we did was basically shove this under the
carpet and call it an agreement. The fact of the matter is that the violence continued to percolate
and was not addressed throughout the region. What happened with the Clinton administration is
that there was a meeting with, with the Serbian government at [Ramboiere] in which Secretary
Albright gave them a non-negotiable demand that basically said turn over your country and that
set the stage for the intransigence. Look, we, and then the bombing of Belgrade, which I
opposed. Look, we canít make any mistake about the fact that there are people in the world who
want to engage in a path of violence without restraint. Thatís why itís so important to have a
strong United Nations. Thatís where the strength of the U.N. comes into play. You have to
remember that with this action against Serbia, what happened is that the North Ame, the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization took a new stance where they became an offensive organization
instead of a defensive organization. We really went around the process that could have been, I
believe, effective over a long period of time at the U.N. I have a strong belief that the U.N.
process can work if itís funded. I met with [Koffi Anan] who told me the greatest problem that
he had is he didnít have the funds to do the job. If the U.N. is funded we can work through the
world community. But what we need to do, Mark, we need to be wary of an administration that
wants to proceed on a [doctorate] of unilateralism and pre-emption to try to justify wars
anywhere. This administration in Iraq attacked a country that did not attack us and that we, we
could have worked the U.N. procedures of weapons inspections to prove that there were no
weapons of mass destruction. So it isnít as though weíre fated to, to attack nations whose leaders
get out of control. The idea of a Department of Peace is youíre, youíre on the ground early on
and youíre seeing where the violence is percolating. That, that what we often find is the
intervention comes in long after just, you know, reams of data have appeared that indicate youíve
got a problem. Itís like you have a small fire and you wait until it engulfs a forest. Well, the
Department of Peace would be there early on in finding ways of meeting those difficulties that
are occurring. And if nothing can be done, thatís what the United Nations ought to be about. No
nation should take it upon itself to become the enforcement mechanism for international
principles. Thatís what the U.N.ís about. Thatís the only way weíre going to have peace in this
Mark Hertsgaard: Letís take a question that relates to this from one of our viewers. This is a
member of the World Affairs Council Betty Overhoff from Danville, CA.
Q: Hello. My name is Betty Overhoff and Iím Contra Costs Chair of the World Affairs
Council. My question is about North Korea. Do you view them as a possible threat to the United
States, and if you do, how will you handle this problem?
Rep. Kucinich: When President Bush declared North Korea part of the Axis of Evil and
then he proceeded to attack Iraq without any justification he created a North Korea a problem for
the United States. As President of the United States, I would meet with the North Korean
leaders and assure them that we have no intention of attacking their county. I would ask them to
give up any of their ambitions for any kind of nuclear power. I would ask them to understand
that as president I intend to lead the way, to live by the tenets of the Non-Proliferation Treaty
which called for all the nuclear nations to get rid of their weapons and for the non-nuclear
nations not to develop weapons. The United Statesí credibility is on the line through the
presidency and as president I would set aside the ambitions outlined in [the nuclear posture]
review, for a nuclear first strike and the development of new nuclear weapons. Iíd lead the world
in an effort to abolish nuclear weapons. Iíd provide comfort not only to the North Koreans on
the security issues, but Iíd also provide comfort on the economic issues. North Korea right now
is having difficulty feeding its people. We need to make sure that they have the resources so that
their people will be fed. We also need to make sure that the ambitions of North Koreans and
South Koreans to reunify are not in anyway defeated because of the [re___ politic] of American
foreign policy. And so, I think that we can achieve a [reproach ________] with the, with the
North Koreans and I think that we can move in the direction which will lessen the kind of, of
tensions which now exist.
Mark Hertsgaard: Can you talk quickly about the role of China, here, not only in relation to
North Korea, but Nick Christophe said in the New York Times the other day that the rise of
China is the most important fact in the world today, not just because Chinaís economy is, is
taking away jobs from, from others, but also their industrialization is creating enormous
environmental difficulties. As president, what would you do about China?
Rep. Kucinich: I remember meeting with a Chinese energy minister in Buenos Aires a few
years ago at the Conference of Parties, the Global Climate Change talks and was talking to him
about this new development thatís going on in China and the damage to the environment and one
of the things he said, he said, well, you know, youíre not one to talk. Weíre still, our people are
still riding around on bicycles. And I said, great idea. We, we need to recognize that China has
been for quite a while an emerging economic power and the United States needs to be in a
constant dialogue with China. We also have to look at what our trade relations are in, in effect
enabling China to gain an enormous amount of strength through, you know, we have a $130
billion trade deficient with China alone right now. And I think the, the lack of a dialogue has
been created by global corporations essentially setting the tone for what the, for the exodus of
jobs out of this country and for the growth of China. One of the first companies I had in my
office after I got elected to the Congress was Boeing who explained to me, they were promoting,
they were asking me to support most favored nation status for China and I, and in the course of
the conversation it was very clear that they were ready to provide prototypes to the Chinese
government so they could develop aircraft and that, you know, set the stage for, you know, I
think a threat to our ability to make what is really one of the biggest products that we make in
this country: airplanes. We need to be aware of what our economic needs are first in this county.
I do not want to see America go out of manufacturing. I think the maintenance of steel,
automotive, aerospace, shipping, textiles, and agriculture are vital to our national security. We
need a cooperative relationship with China. But my administration will be about reviewing the
most favored nation status. We want trade with China but you know what everyone wants
access to our market as well. And we have, as Lester Theroux has written, there has to be some
correspondence between what a nation sells from us and what they buy from us. So we need a
more even relationship with China. And also, on the issues of peace, I think the Chinese will find
that Iíll be the kind of president who will give them a sigh of relief, they wonít have to go into a
huge arms race, having to worry about an aggressive United States intent on expansion.
Mark Hertsgaard: Weíre about to run out of time. Let me ask you one last question. As a
reporter overseas, foreigners often tell me, you Americans, when you elect your president, youíre
not just electing the President of the United States. Youíre so powerful youíre in effect electing
the President of the World. How would you as president live up to that responsibility?
Rep. Kucinich: I bring, and I will bring to the presidency, an holistic world view, a view
of a world as one. A world that is interconnected and interdependent. A world that is linked not
only nation to nation but heart to heart. And my presidency will be one which will reach out to
embrace the fullness and the diversity of the world, to let people know that America is ready to
participate as a nation among nations, not a nation above nations. The highest principles and
aspirations that our founders set forth for this nation are principles that we can share with the
world to the extent that countries are ready to embrace them. But for those who are not, we need
to find a way to have peaceful co-existence. And as the President of the United States, I will
create an affirmative culture of, of international law, by supporting not only nuclear abolition but
by having the United States sign the biological weapons convention, the chemical weapons
convention, the small arms treaty, the land mine treaty. America will join the international
criminal court. We will sign the Kyoto Climate Change treaty. We will participate in a global
effort to meet the problems of AIDS. Weíll work to achieve the treaty with, the [SEDAR] treaty,
affirming the rights of women and children. Itís through an American leader whoís ready to
recognize the importance of an affirmative structure of international law and cooperation, that I
think we can be about the beginning of a new era of peace in the world. And Iím ready and Iím
up to that challenge.
Mark Hertsgaard: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, thank you very much for joining us.
Rep. Kucinich: Thank you.
Mark Hertsgaard: You know, during this campaign just about every candidate has said that
this election is really about listening to the American people, hearing their ideas and answering
their concerns. In the end, thatís what should decide who ends up in the White House. Thatís all
we have time for. Iíd like to thank Representative Kucinich for joining us. Iíd also like to thank
the citizens groups who participated with us. You can learn more about all of these groups at our
Web site, www.LinkTV.org. And you can read about this program in full transcripts online at
Salon.com. Iím Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco, for the Peopleís Voice, thanks for joining us.
What if you could sit down with each of the presidential candidates for an hour to ask them hardhitting
questions about issues that real people care about? Link TV is doing just that with its
new series, THE PEOPLEíS VOICE ó one hour, in-depth, interviews with presidential
candidates. From Iowa farmers to environmentalists to the nationís newest voters, Link TV is
putting the people back in the electoral process by linking the candidates with the nationís
leading citizen activist groups and membership organizations. The first edition of THE
PEOPLEíS VOICE features Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
An election series unlike any other on national television, THE PEOPLEíS VOICE promises to
mobilize the mobilizers and activate the activists by enlisting the people most involved in
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Journalist Mark Hertsgaard, the host of THE PEOPLEíS VOICE and Link TVís political
correspondent, has a national reputation for probing deeper. His hard-hitting journalism has
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publications around the world. He is the author of five books, including most recently ďThe
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Partnering citizen groups are being encouraged to organize ďhouse partiesĒ across the country,
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one of the collaborating citizen groups.
Funding for the THE PEOPLEíS VOICE is provided by The Sheiírah Foundation and Link TV
About Link TV:
Founded in 1999, Link TV is the first U.S. network offering a global perspective on news,
current events and culture, presenting viewpoints seldom covered in the U.S. media. In fact, 95%
of the stationís first-run documentaries on global issues have never before been shown in the
Link TV is seen nationwide via satellite broadcast on DIRECTV Channel 375 and on DISH
Network channel 9410 and is accessible to more than 21 million households, one out of every
five, in the U.S. Linkís programming, combined with its innovative use of two-way digital link-
ups and a participatory web site, deepens audience engagement and encourages active
participation. Link TV is a national non-commercial channel funded by viewer contributions and
grants from major foundations. For complete program scheduling and Internet streaming, go to
Founded in November 1995 by David Talbot, Salon.com (NASDAQ:SALN) is an Internet
company that produces 8 original content sites as well as two online communitiesóTable Talk
and The WELL. The content sites, updated daily or more frequently, include News and Politics,
Opinion, Technology & Business, Arts & Entertainment, Books, Sex, Life and Comics.
About Participating Citizen Activist Organizations:
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the oldest and broadest-based civil rights
coalition in the United States. Founded in 1950, LCCR is currently comprised of more than 180
organizations representing persons of color, women, children, labor unions, individuals with
disabilities, older Americans, major religious groups, gays and lesbians, and civil liberties and
human rights groups. LCCR works to effect meaningful legislation, policies, and judicial
appointments, and to ensure the proper enforcement of civil rights laws to unite us as a nation
true to its promise of equal justice, equal opportunity, and mutual respect.
The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) represents 34 grassroots farm, resource
conservation, and rural advocacy groups from 32 states, and works with farmers and others to
preserve and strengthen family farms.
United States Student Association (USSA) is the countryís
oldest and largest national student
organization, representing millions of students. Founded in 1947, USSA
is the recognized voice for
students on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the Department of
Education. USSA believes that education is a right and works on
building grassroots power among students to win concrete victories that
expand access to education at the federal, state, and campus levels.
is the independent information source by and for socially
conscious youth that showcases
investigative news articles, personal essays and opinions, artwork and
activism resources that
challenge stereotypes, inspire creativity, foster dialogue and give
young people a voice in the