Dennis Kucinich (D)

Refused to debate Congressional opponents (new!)

Dennis Kucinich called it "an insult to the voters" when other Democrats pulled out of a Fox News debate slated for August. But Kucinich himself has refused to debate any of his Congressional opponents over the years -- dating back to 1997! The Cleveland Scene laid it out on 3/20/07:

Mike Dovilla, Kucinich's GOP general election foe in 2006, was stood up by the congressman at two separate scheduled debates: First, at the prestigious City Club of Cleveland (where Dovilla debated Kucinich's empty chair) and then at a major candidates forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters (LWV) at Cuyahoga Community College.

Both times, Kucinich claimed "scheduling conflicts" prevented his participation. The previous April, the congressman stood up Barbara Ferris, his 2006 Democratic primary challenger, at another City Club forum. Ferris was so angry that, after leaving the event, she traveled to Kucinich's Lakewood district office and, in full view of a group of veterans and a local TV crew, challenged the congressman to debate. (He refused).

And in October 2004, Kucinich failed to show for still another City Club primary debate with Ferris (running then as an independent) and Ed Herman, the GOP challenger. Despite having confirmed his appearance beforehand, he cancelled at the last minute, saying "the people already knows where I stand."

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New Age hippie?

After losing his reelection bid for mayor of Cleveland, Kucinich took what he calls "a journey into the poetry of my own life," living for a while with actress Shirley MacLaine and meeting with MacLaine's spiritual advisor, Chris Griscom, whose New Age institute teaches followers about "liquid enlightenment" and reincarnation, according to Mother Jones. Kucinich is also a strict vegan, who believes in "the sacredness of all species." At a 2002 Praxis Pease Institute Conference in Croatia, Kucinich gave a speech saying, "The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: one with the universe, whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental; we, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic spiraling. We receive the blessings of the Eternal and we are showered with abundance. We ask and we receive. A universe of plenty flows to us, through us. It is in us. We become filled with endless possibilities."   Kucinich has also put forward a bill to establish an official Department of Peace in the U.S. government.

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Anti-abortion flip-flop

Kucinich amassed one of the most stringent anti-abortion voting records during his time in Congress, but then changed his position when he began running for the presidency in 2003. Kucinich's record includes votes in favor of the "gag rule" which cuts off family planning aid to foreign countries and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.   He has voted against budget initiatives funding research into the abortion drug RU-486 and against healthcare coverage of contraception for federal employees. As The Nation put it in a 2002 profile, "In his two terms in Congress, he has quietly amassed an anti-choice voting record of Henry Hyde-like proportions." Kucinich's anti-choice record earned him a 95 percent from the National Right to Life Committee.

Yet when Kucinich launched his presidential campaign in 2003, he vowed to support a woman's right to choose and even told a crowd in Iowa that "as president, I would protect that right [to abortion], and I would also make sure that appointees to the Supreme Court protected that right."

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Drove Cleveland into bankruptcy

When Kucinich ran for mayor of Cleveland in 1977, he campaigned to stave off the buy-out of the city-owned Municipal Light System from a private electric company. When Kucinich refused to sell the Muny Light the next year, the city was forced to default on its loan from the Cleveland Trust Bank, and for the first time since the Great Depression, a U.S. City declared bankruptcy. Kucinich barely survived a recall election only to lose his reelection campaign the next year. A 1999 book by University of Illinois professor Melvin G. Holli, ranked Kucinich the seventh worst city mayor between 1820 and 1993.

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Reversed stance on gay marriage

Kucinich has made legalizing gay marriage part of his official platform both for 2008 and in 2004. In his 2003 run for the democratic ticket, Kucinich told a crowd in San Francisco that the support of same-sex marriage "fundamental civil rights issue ... that shouldn't even be a close question.'' But this stance seems to have been recently arrived at. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had the story on July 16,2003:

As a candidate for Congress in 1996, [Kucinich] said he opposed a change in law to allow same-sex marriages.

. . .

Asked about his apparent change since 1996, he told The Plain Dealer that gay issues were not in the forefront of his race that year. . .

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Conspiracy Theorist?

In 2002, Kucinich introduced a bill (H.R. 2977) to ban various forms of "space-based weapons" including bans on "exotic weapons systems" such as "psychotronic, or information weapons" and "plasma, electromagnetic, sonic or ultrasonic weapons."   Included in his list of banned weapons were "chemtrails" a term coined by some for jet contrails, vapor emissions that trail behind jets, which some think cause changes in weather or other more pernicious harms to the public.   In 2000, four federal agencies wrote a joint fact sheet to debunk the chemtrails myth and Air Force Fol. Michael Gibson wrote a letter to Congress saying, "In short, there is no such thing as a 'chemtrail' -- the actual contrails are safe and are... natural phenomena. . . . They pose no health threat of any kind."   Kucinich quietly rewrote his bill to omit the chemtrails reference. (Akron Beacon Journal, 3/16/2002)

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