Kucinich excluded from Iowa debates

CLEVELAND — It would seem that front-running candidates for president in the Democratic primaries should have nothing to fear from Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Although he claims growing support and leads three other candidates, the Ohio legislator’s poll numbers are still only at 3 percent.

Nonetheless, Kucinich was excluded from two major events in Iowa last week. And in a highly publicized incident in July, candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were caught on tape discussing how to eliminate Kucinich and other Democratic candidates from the debates.

The frontrunners are evidently uncomfortable that audiences continually voice strong support for Kucinich’s positions even if they are not ready to support his candidacy. The suspicion is that the frontrunners also do not like his repeated charges that they are unwilling to take on corporate interests.

This became evident in Iowa last week when Kucinich was not invited to the Democratic Steak Fry in Indianola and was excluded from the debate in Davenport on health care sponsored by the AARP and broadcast on Iowa Public Radio.

Kucinich charged that the Iowa Democratic Party and “other groups aligned with the entrenched political power structure” are “rigging the game.”

“The whole purpose of the primary and caucus season is to provide voters with opportunities, not to enable a carnival of interest groups to subvert the process,” Kucinich said.

The five Democratic candidates permitted in the AARP debate, including Sens. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd, who have less support than Kucinich, all opposed a single-payer national health plan, such as the Medicare for All bill, HR 676, which Kucinch co-authored with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

“They all decry the plight of the American people and then they turn around and promote the very system which is driving people towards ill physical and economic health, bankruptcy and death: the for-profit health insurance system,” Kucinich said. “They do not believe they can get a consensus for change in Congress, yet there was no demonstration of any intention to change the system, despite the fact the 47 million Americans have no health insurance and another 50 million are underinsured.”

Kucinich charged that the AARP had a special interest in keeping him out of the debate. Recently, he said, it “signed a sales and marketing agreement with Aetna and United Health which would bring AARP $4.4 billion over seven years.”

HR 676, on the other hand, “means the beginning of an honest, accessible and cost-effective system of health care for the American people and American businesses. It is the end of for-profit health insurance,” he said. “No more premiums, co-pays or deductibles. America already pays twice per capita what other nations pay for health care, but Americans are still not covered. Americans aren’t getting the care they are rightfully entitled to because the debate is controlled by private insurance companies.”