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Kucinich Stands Alone: Progressive Members Have Yet to Support His White House Bid

Last week when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) held a news conference to tout the growing momentum for his resolution calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) stood by his side.

But when it comes to Congressional support for his quixotic presidential campaign — the centerpiece of which he has made ending the Iraq War — the leftist Congressman stands alone.

Kucinich is active in both the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Out of Iraq Caucus. But none of the 72 Progressive Caucus members — and no Member of Congress for that matter — has endorsed Kucinich’s 2008 bid.

For his part, the six-term lawmaker says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My approach to this campaign is to first build support with groups around the county,” Kucinich said in a brief interview last week.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) was the only Member to back Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination. But this time she said she’s staying neutral, at least for now.

“I’m not endorsing anybody at the moment,” Woolsey said.

Woolsey and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) co-chair the Progressive group and this summer they are planning a series of town hall meetings in early presidential voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire in hopes of influencing White House primary voters. Waters, the chairwoman of the Out of Iraq Caucus, also is participating.

The “Triad” — as Woolsey said the trio of women is known — has decided not to endorse any of the White House contenders until after their teach-in sessions conclude.

Woolsey said it “would be wrong to have already picked a candidate” before that conversation takes place.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a fellow Progressive, was somewhat surprised to learn that Kucinich is without official backers on Capitol Hill. But she praised her home-state colleague’s leadership in organizing opposition to the Iraq War and said that through his perseverance despite “knowing the Mount Everest you face” he has engendered the emotional support of his peers.

“I think there’s a lot of spiritual support for Dennis, and there’s a lot of admiration,” Kaptur said. “People here are so wed to the money imperative.”

Kaptur said she has offered to travel around Ohio with Kucinich, who she said prefers to go directly to the people instead of seeking the affirmation of his colleagues on the Hill.

“He’s never asked me for an endorsement,” she said. “I don’t think he feels like he wants to pressure his colleagues.”

Kucinich has not actively sought the support from his colleagues and he stressed that he strives to keep his presidential campaign separate from his legislative work in Congress.

“I spend my time on the floor of the House on issues,” he added, a veiled reference to the cajoling that takes place there to win support on behalf of his top-tier opponents.

Kucinich also said that Members were cognizant of his grass-roots appeal.

“Areas where I do have a lot of support, I think Members there are aware of it,” he said.

Kucinich’s resolution laying out grounds for articles of impeachment against Cheney has a total of seven co-sponsors.

Aside from Waters, Lee and Woolsey, other Democratic Members who have signed on to the bill are Reps. Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), William Lacy Clay (Mo.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) and Albert Wynn (Md.).

Three of those Members have already signed on or are supporting other presidential campaigns. Clay and Schakowsky are supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) while Wynn is unofficially whipping support for former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). Clarke has yet to join her fellow Empire State Democrats in signing on to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign.

Kucinich isn’t the only Member running for president not to score the backing of any of his colleagues. Neither Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is running on a platform that appeals to Libertarians, nor Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who has focused his campaign almost solely on the issue of illegal immigration, have any public Congressional supporters.

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