Kucinich says state knows to reject war
The candidate for president says he feels a "strong connection" linking him to Hawaii
In his 2004 presidential campaign, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio had his best showing in Hawaii -- where he won 32 percent of the state's Democratic Caucus vote and finished second behind eventual nominee John Kerry.
So in the run-up to the 2008 bid for the White House, Hawaii was a logical stop along the way.
"I have a strong connection to Hawaii, and Hawaii has a strong connection to me," Kucinich said yesterday in an interview with the Star-Bulletin. "I see it and I feel it."
"People in Hawaii understand how important it is for America to take a new direction, rejecting war as an instrument of policy," he said.
Rejection of the war in Iraq will be among the topics on the agenda as Kucinich continues his tour of the state this weekend.
His four-day campaign swing began on Thursday in Hilo, where he touted his message of "strength through peace" to an audience at the University of Hawaii.
Kucinich was on Maui yesterday with plans of returning to Honolulu today for a full schedule of events -- including a health care forum at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a peace rally in Kaimuki and a slam poetry event at the Ala Moana Hotel.
Aside from organizing his campaign here and fundraising -- he raised $2,060 in Hawaii in the first six months of the year -- Kucinich says Hawaii is important to him for its potential in a global economy.
"If you look at Hawaii and you see the work that's being done on campuses and organizations throughout the islands, there are many people who are talking about Hawaii as a center for healing, as a center for international peace and a center for new energy policies," he said. "There's a lot happening here."
His visit to Hawaii comes amid criticism over some of his more recent political moves, including his lone dissenting vote Tuesday -- the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- on a congressional resolution to commemorate the day.
Kucinich said Congress should "wake up to the truth and exercise its obligation under the Constitution to save our nation from being destroyed from the lies that took us into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used to set the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined our basic civil liberties here at home. The Sept. 11 resolution that Congress considers today should have made reference to those matters. It does not, so I cannot support it."
University of Hawaii political scientist Neal Milner said the Iraq war could be a boost for Kucinich, who faces an uphill battle both in Hawaii and nationally going up against the likes of Hawaii-born U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and current front-runner U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
"Because of the way the Iraq issue is breaking -- because most Democrats are caught in a really bad bind on how to move on this -- Kucinich might be able to pick up some votes on the more intensely anti-war left," Milner said.
Regarding legislation specific to Hawaii, Kucinich said he hopes to speak with Sen. Daniel Akaka in detail about issues related to native Hawaiian recognition and the so-called Akaka Bill.
"There needs to be not only an understanding of native Hawaiians' history, but of what happened when the territories were taken by the United States government; what happened when Hawaii became the 'property' of the United States of America; what effect that had on native Hawaiians and how that changed their rights," he said.
"Whatever the people of Hawaii feel is fair and the right thing to do, I can support."