Paul Wellman

The South Coast saw its second democratic presidential candidate make his way to the area in less than a month this past weekend, and organizers of a new election campaign committee are hoping to bring a third candidate to Santa Barbara in the coming months. Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich spent an extended weekend in Santa Barbara, making several public appearances in Ojai, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura before making his way to Burbank for a Monday night guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

A former mayor of Cleveland who has served as a Congressional representative for ten years, Kucinich is the self-proclaimed peace candidate, and peace was a central theme to the several speeches which he gave over the weekend, including one Sunday at Arlington West and another Monday at Santa Barbara City College.

The Kucinich appearance at City College Monday couldn’t have contrasted more with Sen. Barack Obama’s Sept. 8 appearance there. While Obama’s appearance brought more than 4,000 people, a slew of media and a host of Secret Service protection with it, Kucinich appeared to a smaller but passionate crowd of about 250. Kucinich was much more personal with rally attendees and the media. He also lacked the caravan of cars and security detail Obama was working with, instead choosing two non-descript Lincolns to take him and his wife Elizabeth down the coast to Burbank.

Kucinich is asked by KJEE's Adam Lundquist if he is tall enough to be president.
Paul Wellman

During his speech Monday, Kucinich told the crowd there was no need to wait for a new president before getting troops out of Iraq. Instead, Kucinich said that Democrats-especially those who decried the war when seeking election two years ago-must either tell President George W. Bush to bring back the troops or cut off war funding. Kucinich also said that, as president, he would engage in open dialogue with the leaders of other countries, whether they agree with the U.S. or not. “We need a president who can work fearlessly on the world stage,” he said, “using the power of the human heart, not as a nation above nations, but a nation of nations.” His wife vouched for Kucinich, telling the crowd he isn’t afraid to take a stand, even if he’s the only one doing it. “He didn’t vote for the Patriot Act,” she informed the crowd. “You know why? He read it.”

Afterward, he entertained questions from media and supporters alike, including one from KJEE morning show co-host Adam Lundquist, who asked Kucinich if he could be elected despite his short stature. “I promise as president I’ll stand on a ladder,” said Kucinich, who often gets ribbed for his short height, which is especially noticeable when he stands next to his wife, who, when wearing heels, is almost a head taller than he is. He also cracked a joke while explaining how the U.S. government often forgets about the small people. “I’m sensitive to those arguments,” he said.

On Sunday, Kucinich visited Arlington West, a memorial of crosses organized each week by the local Veterans for Peace to remember the soldiers killed in the Iraq War. After walking through the memorial with his wife, and placing flowers at some of the crosses, Kucinich addressed a crowd of people during a short speech.

Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich
Paul Wellman

Meanwhile, a group of local politicians and activists-led by former county supervisors Susan Rose and former California assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson-have started the Santa Barbarans for Hillary election campaign committee, a grassroots organization dedicated to the presidential election of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. The group plans to urge Clinton to campaign here as well as distribute campaign information throughout Santa Barbara and hold house gatherings for televised debates.

Today, Thursday, Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani will be back in Santa Barbara for another fundraiser. This is the second trip of 2007 for Giuliani to Santa Barbara, both times for private fundraising events. In March, the former New York City mayor arrived at the home of Lee and Lori Mikles, where roughly $275,000 was raised for his campaign. This time he’ll be at a private luncheon at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito. Cost is the maximum $2,300 a person for a VIP reception and photo opportunity, but supporters could also have paid $1,000 a couple just for lunch. Comedian Dennis Miller is also expected to speak at the luncheon.


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