Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kucinich-Paul '08?

Much is being made of a potential Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Ron Paul (R-TX) bipartisan ticket for the White House, thanks to comments made over the weekend by Congressman Kucinich while campaigning in New Hampshire.

"I'm thinking about Ron Paul" as a running mate, Kucinich told a crowd of about 70, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The antiwar Ohio Congressman says a Kucinich-Paul ticket could unite Republicans and Democrats and "balance the energies in this country."

Now some may think Kucinich is simply trying to get some free press by attaching himself to the growing support for Ron Paul, who has enjoyed a large amount of media attention after he raised more than $4.2 million for his campaign in just 24 hours. But that's not likely the case, as Kucinich and Paul have long worked closely together on issues concerning war and civil liberties, and Paul has said he would likely vote for Kucinich were he himself not running. Back in May I spoke with Kucinich for a piece that I was working on for Ohio Public Radio regarding his anti-war, anti-establishment campaign. During the course of the interview I asked him what he thought of Congressman Paul:
DAVIS: You guys probably disagree on a lot, but you come together a lot when it comes to issues of war and peace. Could you a little bit talk about your relationship with Ron Paul over the past couple years?

KUCINICH: Ron Paul is a great American. I have tremendous respect for him. He has the courage of his convictions, he’s not someone who goes with the crowd. I like him. I admire him.

DAVIS: What do you think about his campaign? He’s kind of almost playing the same role [as you] in the Republican Party, in that he’s the only antiwar candidate on stage.

KUCINICH: I can tell you, Ron Paul -- more often than not -- is right. And he’s somebody who’s a great American.

So what are the chances of a joint Paul and Kucinich ticket happening? Not good. The Paul campaign has already shot down the idea, with spokesman Jesse Benton quoted as saying "there are too many differences on issues such as taxes and spending to think a joint ticket would be possible." And, of course, both Paul and Kucinich have a long way to go in terms of getting their respective party's nomination before they could even considering naming a running mate.

That said, I raised the prospect of a Paul-Kucinich ticket when I interviewed Congressman Paul earlier this year:
DAVIS: Congressman Dennis Kucinich is kind of similar in that he is one of the more vocal antiwar critics on the Democratic side of the debates. I know you guys probably disagree on a load of things, but you’ve come together a lot to work on issues of war and peace. So could you talk about your relationship with Congressman Kucinich over the past couple years, what it’s been like, what you think of him?

PAUL: We’re close friends, and we certainly agree [on the war]. And I think we may end up voting closely all the time on the war issue. Sometimes some of these funding bills are a little bit complex, and even Walter Jones and I will disagree even though we agree on what we’re supposed to be doing, but the interpretation will be a little bit different. But I think Dennis and I usually come down on the same side of it. That is, if you don’t want the war you quit the funding, and that’s our responsibility and it’s not the president’s authority to do what he wants because we have the purse strings, so you have to vote against the spending. So we get along very well on that, and since it’s such a major issue I think I will continue to work with him the best we can. And you know, take some of the liberal welfare spending that Dennis might support more than I. But you know, I’m not hostile toward that. If I can save the money from overseas, put some of it against the deficit, end up with a net reduction in the size of the budget, at the same time stopping a war, I may well be very open to funding some of these programs. Because I’m not out to gut some of these programs that have taught people to be very dependant on the government, like medical care. I mean, that’s not my goal. I’ve never run for office with the goal of slashing [those programs] even though philosophically I don’t think it’s the best way to deliver services and prosperity to poor people.

DAVIS: So can we look forward to a Paul-Kucinich 2008 ticket?

PAUL: Not likely, but I think that Paul and Kucinich will continue to work together and do the kind of work that we’ve been doing for a couple years now.

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