March 12, 2004

Kucinich will address issues in campus visit

Dennis Kucinich, the four-term Democratic Ohio congressman running for the Democratic presidential nomination, will address supporters at a rally in Rockefeller Chapel on Saturday, March 13 at 7 p.m., where he plans to discuss issues such as health care, unemployment, and recalling troops from Iraq.

Kucinich has run on an unabashedly progressive platform since entering the Democratic primary race, and he currently garners support from only 23 delegates for the Democratic National Convention next summer. Though Democratic primary leader John Kerry has all but clinched the nomination, Kucinich vows to campaign until the end to articulate his platform and draw America's attention to his ideas.

On the domestic front, Kucinich has been the Democratic candidate most critical of the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, and he is the only candidate to vocally support gay marriage. Kucinich has also called for a national, single-payer, non-profit healthcare system that would insure all Americans.

Kucinich was recently admitted to a Cleveland-area hospital for stomach-flu symptoms, possibly caused by food poisoning. He was released on March 10, and resumed his campaign.

The rally is co-sponsored by the UC Democrats and the University of Chicago Vegan Society. Kucinich is a vegan himself, a dietary decision he says improves his health and upholds his belief regarding the sacredness of all animals.

Jolinda Hackett, co-chair of the Vegan Society and a second-year graduate student at the Divinity School, expressed admiration for Kucinich and his unique, populist campaign.

"The Kucinich campaign has had incredible momentum in the Chicago area, particularly because of Kucinich's history of supporting striking workers in Chicago," Hackett said. "The UC Vegan Society was more than thrilled to invite him to make the University his main stop here in Chicago before heading on to the southern parts of the state on his campaign trail."

The rally's coordinator, Dr. Peter Caithamer, said the University is the ideal place to hold a rally because it is a center for many constituents that the Kucinich campaign wants to reach.

"We decided to hold the event at the University because it has many of the groups Kucinich is trying to appeal to," Caithamer said, "We want to send our message to academics, to students, to minorities in the area. They are all groups Kucinich has expressed interest in."

Martin Galese, a fourth-year in the college and member of the UC Vegan Society, said a member of the campaign approached the group and asked if they would be interested in sponsoring the event. The UC Vegan Society does not necessarily support Kucinich's political views, according to Galese, but it accepted the offer to bring an interesting vegan speaker to campus.

Hackett admits that the event has not been well publicized on campus, but said that Kucinich's message will attract many students to the rally.

"Several groups on campus are active in workers' rights movements, which has been fundamental to Kucinich's political career," Hackett said. "Similarly, immigration issues, anti-globalization, anti-war, and free and fair trade issues all seem to be of central importance to students."

Hackett added that, in addition to Kucinich's vegan beliefs, she admires him for his politics and actions, which show him to be a man of conviction who does not compromise his ideals.

"His political record is full of moves that, though inconvenient and may have cost him some popularity, show that he is consistently true to both his campaign promises and his anti-corporate and environmental ideals," Hackett said. "It's so often difficult to discern whether politicians desire to be true public servants or to serve their own inflated and wealthy egos. Refusing to sell out to large corporate interests is one example of his willingness to put the interests of the people first.

Kucinich's personal ethics begin on his plate and extend into a deep and earnest commitment to better the lives of all Americans."

Kucinich will also share the stage with two other speakers: Dr. Tad Daley, his senior policy advisor and a former policy strategist for the RAND Corporation, and Reverend Geri Solomon, a director of several social services agencies and Kucinich's stage campaign manager. Local musicians and Kucinich supporters Flutter, Jaik Willis, and Barrelhouse Bonni & Little Scotty will also perform during the rally.