MS. CARLSON: Our next candidate is Congressman Dennis Kucinich,
who has represented the 10th District of Ohio since 1996. This is his
second run for president.
Congressman Kucinich. (Applause.)
MS. CARLSON: Congressman, nice to see you.
REP. KUCINICH: How you been?
MS. CARLSON: Good, thanks.
REP. KUCINICH: It's great to be here. Thank you.
MS. CARLSON: Thanks. Have a seat.
REP. KUCINICH: You bet.
MS. CARLSON: They really like you here on the
Left Coast .
REP. KUCINICH: Actually I represent mainstream
MS. CARLSON: That's true. You can't get more mainstream than
REP. KUCINICH: That's right.
MS. CARLSON: Thank you for coming. We're delighted you're here.
And Jonathan, would you begin?
MR. CAPEHART: Congressman Kucinich, you're seemingly for
everything the gay community wants. I took a look at your HRC
questionnaire. You support, support, support, support, support. So
is there anything that the LGBT community -- (laughter) -- wants --
REP. KUCINICH: By the way -- finish your question.
MR. CAPEHART: Is there anything the LGBT community wants that
you're against? (Pause.) There's got to be something. (Laughter.)
REP. KUCINICH: All I can say is, keep those contributions
coming, you'll have the -- (laughter) -- and you'll have the president
that you want. (Applause.)
MR. CAPEHART: I'll take that as a "no."
REP. KUCINICH: That's a "no."
MR. CAPEHART: So you're one of just two candidates who fully
supports same-sex marriage. Why do you think that is?
REP. KUCINICH: Well, I can tell you from my own experience. I
mean, this is really a question of whether you really believe in
equality. I mean I see the "equal" sign there, and I have that same
sign in my office in
Washington , D.C. And imagine that "equal" sign
inside a heart. Because what we're really talking about here is human
love. And there's no power on this Earth greater than human love.
And when you understand what real equality is, you understand that
people who love each other must have the opportunity to be able to
express that in a way that is meaningful, and that the state should
not be intervening against people, the state should be there on behalf
of people, to make sure that that love has a chance to be facilitated.
So to me, this isn't even a close question.
MR. CAPEHART: So, Congressman, what you're saying is that
Senator Obama and Senator Edwards, and who sat here just moments ago
both espousing equality -- they're for equality, they're for all these
things you just talked about.
So are you saying that they don't truly oppose same sex marriage, that
they're just playing politics?
REP. KUCINICH: I'm saying that I stand for real equality and
that I believe -- (interrupted by cheers, applause). And this is
really part of an American tradition because when you look at the
founding documents, the idea of "all being created equal," "we hold
these truths to be self-evident," that all are created equal endowed
by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, to me this is a
foundational principle of who we are as a country.
So because I believe in that and because I live it, to me it's
very easy to be here to take a stand for that principle. It would be
very easy for me as president of the
United States to issue executive
orders that will require all federal contractors, anyone who's doing
business with the federal government any way, every federal agency to
have to follow the principles that are written in ENDA and to -- let
the federal government be the agent of change that it should be, and
then to lead the way as president of the
United States in bringing
about the kind of unity that shows that real unity is to respect each
other's inner equality and real unity is to respect the power of human
The greatest commandment is love, and I think that if someone
embodies that and lives it, then things change in a country. That's
-- love has that transformative power, and that's what I have always
tried to bring in to public forums, and that's what I'll bring into
White House as well.
MS. CARLSON: Congressman, you're so evolved for a member of
Congress. (Laughter, applause, cheers.)
You're at the end of your journey, if I may borrow a phrase from
Senator Edwards. (Laughter.) But as mayor of
Cleveland , did you feel
this way, when you were in high school? I mean, how did you get here?
REP. KUCINICH: Well, I was -- when I was mayor of
Cleveland , I
was attacked for hiring a police chief who was said to be sympathetic
to gay rights, and so, you know, my -- and I had members of my cabinet
who were gay. And to me, it -- who cares? I mean, it really doesn't
matter. (Laughter.) Really, I mean, what's -- (applause, cheers).
MS. CARLSON: Again, totally evolved!
REP. KUCINICH: But it -- listen, every one of us through taking
a stand has the potential to help any one of us evolve. That's what
-- that's the gift we give to each other. And when someone is
president of the
United States and is willing to share that with a
nation, we can have -- lift up the whole nation in so many ways not
only in matters of equality, but in matters of peace, in matters of
all social and economic justice. I mean that's what I'm about.
So to be here is an honor because I recognize the journey of so
many people in this room, of solitary journeys of courage, real
courage, and when you understand that, then of course as president I
want to exemplify that because so many of you have already taken that
path, and you deserve a leader who's ready to take the same path.
MS. CARLSON: Congressman, Melissa is quite courageous.
Do you have a question?
MS. ETHERIDGE: Thank you. They told me not to fawn over you --
(laughter) -- so I'm trying not to.
REP. KUCINICH: Go ahead. (Laughter.)
MS. ETHERIDGE: No, because really we have to -- but it's kind of
hard not to. I hope you always run for president until you are
elected. I do. (Laughter.) I do. I'm fawning. (Applause.) I
wasn't supposed to do that.
REP. KUCINICH: I feel I need to point something out to you,
although I'm hopeful it's not going to take that long. But I was
elected to the Congress on my fifth try.
MS. ETHERIDGE: See, okay. I'll wait.
REP. KUCINICH: If at first you don't succeed -- it took me five
times. So I'm working on the second time here.
MS. ETHERIDGE: Yeah. I think this country really, really needs
a leader, someone who will sit or stand and say, "This is what I
believe in because it's right." And that's so refreshing, so
amazingly refreshing to me. (Applause.)
I do have a question. I actually do. Many people in our
community with AIDS and HIV, and then many people in general with
cancer -- I myself one -- have benefited, especially here in
California , one of 11 states who have legalized medicinal marijuana.
And it relieves the symptoms and many, many things. And we are
completely at odds with the federal government, and they even have
California and have raided our medicinal marijuana shops,
and it's quite bad.
So do you think we should have this law for the whole country?
What is your stance on that?
REP. KUCINICH: Well, four years ago, when there were raids in
California , I, as a member of Congress, objected to that. And, of
course, it's a matter between doctors and patients. And if doctors
want to prescribe medical marijuana to relieve pain, compassion
requires that the government support that. And so, as president of
United States , I would make sure that our Justice Department was
mindful that we should be taking a compassionate approach.
I want to go one step further, because this whole issue of drugs
in our society is misplaced. I mean, drugs have infected this
society, but I think we need to look at it more as a medical and a
health issue than as a criminal justice issue. (Applause.)
We really -- and let me say one step further, for those who do or
whose friends may suffer from AIDS, I'm the only person in this race
who is standing for a not-for-profit health care system, single payer,
universal, Medicare for all, where long-term care is totally covered.
People should not be locked into these higher premiums, co-pays and
deductibles, which are destroying people's economic capabilities.
So under the plan that I have, if someone has AIDS, they're
totally covered. Under the plan that I have, if anyone needs long-
term care for any kind of an illnesses, they're totally covered. And
the fact of the matter is, we already are paying for a universal
standard of care; we're just not getting it.
Other candidates are talking about maintaining this for-profit
health care system, and anyone who has ever had a loved one who has
needed medical care and couldn't get it because they didn't have the
money understands the urgency of having someone not just in the race
but in the White House who's ready to rally the American people in the
cause of not-for-profit health care, Medicare for all. And I'm doing
Thank you. (Applause.)
MS. CARLSON: You know, it may take you five times before --
because you're further out than most -- many people, I mean, most
Democrats. (Laughter.) And I'm wondering how do you -- how are you
going to get elected president?
REP. KUCINICH: Well, let me tell you why -- I am the candidate
right in the center of the aspirations of the American people's hopes
and dreams. I led the effort in the House of Representatives five
years ago in challenging the administration's march towards war
Iraq . No other candidate in this race can say that, nor can
they say that they voted against the war and/or voted against funding
for the war consistently. The rest of the country's come in my
direction on that. I took the stand when it was really unpopular to
Being president of the
United States means that you have to do
the right thing the first time. And it means that when you're talking
about civil liberties, marriage equality, employment non-
discrimination; when you're talking about standing for people's rights
to be who they are without fear of being attacked, you're talking
about something that is really essentially American. And so I'm at
the center of all of those discussions.
And so my candidacy for president is not only transforming the race,
but I want you to understand how it will transform this nation when
you have a president who cannot be bought or bossed, who has the
willingness to stand up and speak out when others would be silent, who
can challenge war, who can challenge corruption. Because my heart is
clean, because I have the ability to see and pierce that veil of
falsehood which covers so much of our country today.
We -- I see the world as one, Margaret. I see the world as being
interconnected and interdependent. Anything that separates any of us
needs to be looked at, and we need to find ways of discussing the
imperative of human unity, but not just discussing it. It's one thing
to talk about it; it's another thing to act from that understanding
and awareness. And that's what I'm prepared to do as the next
president of the
United States , elected in 2008. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. CARLSON: (Laughs.) Congressman, I have a viewer-generated
question for you, or of the people with the -- from the same -- who
have the same aspirations as you do.
This is Robert Armstrong from
Morristown , New Jersey . He said,
I'm living with AIDS and speak regularly to students in high school.
The kind of AIDS prevention outreach is no longer eligible for Ryan
White funding if it includes frank talk about gay people. Will you
reinstate AIDS prevention as a category in Ryan White funding? And
how can you bring Congress along, given that you're perceived as being
on the -- in the left wing of the political -- on the left wing of the
REP. KUCINICH: Well, you know, I mean, I'm the co-author of the
bill that creates a -- first of all, the answer to your question is
yes. And I'm the co-author of the bill that creates Medicare for all.
I see -- you know, this is a very serious health issue.
And through our education system, a president must help the
country, and help our children, in particular, learn the kind of
conduct that promotes health. And that also means sex education.
Now, some parents may not want that, and they should have the right to
opt out. But the truth of the matter is that we need to have sex
We also need a president who is ready to embrace people with AIDS
in a real, meaningful way that says that, look, we want you to receive
all the care that you need by having a not-for-profit health care
system so you don't have to worry about working a lifetime, having
AIDS, and then losing everything you've ever worked for and not being
able to give it to your partner, for example, or to share it with
someone you love.
This is something that, to me, the challenge of AIDS relates to
not just funding, but it relates to having a president who's wise
enough and courageous enough to take this issue on in a very direct
way and do it without any fear whatsoever.
MS. CARLSON: Let me give Joe a few minutes here for a question.
MR. SOLMONESE: Congressman, you haven't just been an outspoken
hero for our community as a presidential candidate, you've been there
for your entire time in Congress, and I want to thank you for that.
And to that end -- we are engaging in an attempt to pass the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as you mentioned, in the House of
Representatives, and I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about
what you see as a potential hurdle to getting that done, and what you
might be able to do or what you might be able to talk to us about in
terms of getting that done.
REP. KUCINICH: Well, as you know, Barney Frank has introduced
the bill again. And I think that -- and I think we need to
acknowledge the role that Barney Frank has played as someone in the
Congress who's been very powerful. (Applause.)
And I've been privileged to work with HRC in the past as being
the person who goes to members of Congress and asks them to sign up to
support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And I've certainly
looked forward to working with you again to do that.
I think that this issue of employment discrimination is becoming
-- it's acknowledged as affecting everyone, because if any group can
be discriminated against, then all groups can be discriminated
against. And so yes, I'm there on that issue, there's just no
question about it.
And when we're talking about discrimination -- I'd like to go
back to the marriage equality issue for a minute. When you look at
Orange County case, you really see where we have a society that
wants to enshrine separate and unequal. This is a basis for
discrimination in employment, but it's a basis for discrimination when
two couples want to get married and have that partnership recognized
as equal before the law.
In our society -- you know, when you got to math in first grade,
you learn one plus one equals two. But when you're talking about
domestic partnership before the law, sometimes one plus one equals
zero, and that's not right. And so what I'm saying is that a
president who understands that real equality means that you take a
stand, equal protection before the law, equal justice, equality of
opportunity, and it has to be equality of opportunity without regard
to race, color, creed, or sexual orientation period. I mean this is
what it means to be an American.
MS. CARLSON: Congressman, we're almost completely out of time.
Do you want to take 30 seconds to wrap up?
REP. KUCINICH: Yes. (Short pause.)
I send you great love. I want you to know that the love of
country, the love of equality is something that every one of us
embodies, but we need a president who's ready to testify to that, to
be an exemplar of equality, to understand love in the deepest sense.
I -- my wife Elizabeth is here.
And let me tell you something: We've talked about this. I can't
imagine what it would be like to have met the love of my life and to
-- and to have such a depth of feeling for her and then be told that
no, you can't -- you just can't be married, because there is a certain
rule or law that won't let that happen. That would be devastating.
And because we understand that, and because I understand it, I'm
ready to be your president. I'm ready to be the person that
transforms this nation, that lifts up this nation, that causes not
just an American evolution but takes us and reconnects us with the
deeper truths of who we are.
I love all of you. Thank you so much for the chance to be here.
Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. CARLSON: Again we'd like to thank Congressman Kucinich -- I
feel the love -- (laughter) -- Senators Obama and Edwards for sharing
their time with us. We should not that all of the major Republican
candidates running for president were invited to take part in a
similar forum and all of them declined.
PANELISTS AND AUDIENCE: Aw. (Laughter.)