Continues to fight for workers, justice

CLEVELAND — Surrounded by dozens of friends, family members, public officials and labor leaders, Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced Jan. 25 he was withdrawing from the race for president to focus on his re-election to Congress and to be able to continue the fight for social and economic justice in Washington.

“We fought the good fight,” the Ohio Democrat said. Turning to the labor leaders standing behind him, he added, “We stayed strong because your voices needed to be heard. We told the truth, no matter how unpopular and inconvenient.”

Kucinich said voters sent him to Congress to tell the truth and that was why he rejected “a war based on lies.”

“Why did I see through the lies?” he asked. “Because I grew up in the streets of Cleveland and was confronted by people who rolled up their sleeves and tried to sell me a watch. I won’t buy a phony watch and I won’t buy a phony war.”

Kucinich said his decision to withdraw came after being “locked out” of six debates and recognizing he therefore could not get his views out to the American public.

“Workers here know about lockouts,” he said.

In addition, Kucinich said, two weeks earlier he met with local labor leaders who voiced concern that continuing an unwinnable presidential campaign could jeopardize his seat in Congress.

“I heard you,” he said. “I took what you said to heart.

“The seat does not belong to me. It belongs to the working men and women of the 10th District,” he said. “I only hold the office in trust for you.

“Now the same corporate interests that we have always fought think they can buy it. They think it’s like an auction.”

Kucinich has four opponents in the Democratic congressional primary, but one of these, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, admits to having already received $230,000 and has the support of the corporate media, especially the Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s largest newspaper.

Kucinich rejected charges by his opponents that he neglected his congressional duties in running for president. He said the war and growing economic crisis were caused by policies from Washington and Wall Street and had to be taken to a national stage to be addressed.

“I have a 95 percent lifetime [pro-worker] voting record,” he said. “I have done my job and just as I worked to save the city’s light plant when I was mayor, our steel mill and the Richmond Heights hospital are still standing because of my efforts. I have been here whenever the people needed me.”

Kucinich added that his presidential campaign had forced the other candidates to address issues he raised and modify their views.

The campaign, he said, “moved the debate on health care so the other candidates had to acknowledge the insurance and drug companies as the source of the problem. It moved the debate on the war and caused the other candidates to commit to ending it as soon as possible. It moved the debate on trade so that even Sen. Clinton was forced to admit that NAFTA is costing us millions of jobs.

“My country is in trouble. Democracy and the Constitution are in trouble. The economy is in deep trouble. I see fascism moving in unless we make a fundamental change.”

Kucinich announced he was launching a new national organization, Integrity Now, to restore “our sense of belonging, our ability to regain control of democratic institutions and win the fight for jobs, health care and education.” A website, IntegrityNow.org, has been secured for the group. Kucinich’s campaign for Congress uses the website kucinich.us.

ricknagin @yahoo.com

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