Dennis Kucinich



The information presented below reflects the 2008 election season and is not representative of changes in titles, roles, or policy views expressed since then.

Dennis KucinichRep. Kucinich (D-OH) is one of the most left-leaning members of Congress, and his campaign emphasized a policy he called “strength through peace.”  Kucinich is the only Democratic presidential candidate (of those serving in Congress at the time) who voted against the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. He remains one of the strongest critics of the Bush administration’s agenda and of fellow Democratic candidates who have voted to approve Iraq war-funding legislation. Kucinich has also spoken out against any move toward war with Iran, and has sought to curtail infringements on civil liberties in the war on terror.

Kucinich has spent his entire career in public office. He was elected to Cleveland’s city council at age twenty-three and elected mayor at thirty-one after a populist campaign. His term as mayor was turbulent, marked by Kucinich’s refusal to privatize the city’s public electric utility. The struggle over the utility’s sale led to the city of Cleveland’s default and Kucinich lost his reelection bid two years later.

He won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1996, which he has held since. He now sits on the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Kucinich’s presidential campaign was seen as a long shot, although his firm antiwar positions garnered him the support of disillusioned liberal Democrats and left-wing voters. He ran on a similar antiwar ticket in the 2004 presidential race and finished with low poll numbers. Kucinich was the only House Democrat running for president. He withdrew his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in January 2008.

Campaign Issues

U.S. Policy toward Africa

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has been a critic of U.S. policy in Africa, saying at a June 2007 debate at Howard University: “It’s time for the United States to stop looking at Africa as a place where our corporations can exploit the people.”

Kucinich has called for significant increases in U.S. funding for international humanitarian organizations. He blames the IMF and World Bank for the huge debts faced by many African countries, and has called for an “immediate cancellation of all bilateral debts of poor countries as well as cancellation of debts to the IMF and World Bank.”  

In April 2007, Kucinich voted in favor of a House resolution condemning the Zimbabwean government for its violent crackdown against opposition activists. That resolution passed.

Kucinich cosponsored the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, which prohibits the U.S. government from contracting with companies that do business in Sudan. That bill passed in the House but awaits action in the Senate. Kucinich also voted for the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006.

U.S. Policy toward India

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) opposed the U.S. and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006, arguing that it would “threaten global security and unilaterally modify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”

Kucinich also cosponsored a May 2007 House resolution that the United States “should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India.” That resolution passed in the House, but has not yet been voted in on the Senate.

Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) says the problems at Guantánamo are symptomatic of the larger issues at play in the Iraq war. “You could close Guantanamo; that’s a good move—but until the United States ends the occupation (of Iraq), we will still have this war,” he says.

In June 2007, Kucinich cosigned with 145 other members of the House a letter urging President Bush to close Guantanamo and transfer the prisoners (McClatchy) to military detention facilities in the United States.

Kucinich voted against the Military Commissions Act.

Domestic Intelligence

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has been a vocal critic of the NSA’s domestic surveillance. In May 2006, Kucinich sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales calling for an investigation into the NSA’s “illegal coercion” (PDF) of phone companies into cooperating with its wiretapping program.

He also fought against (PDF) the confirmation of Hayden as CIA director, primarily because of Hayden’s supervision of domestic wiretapping.

Kucinich opposed the Intelligence Authorization of Act for 2007 because it would allow intelligence agencies to arrest U.S. citizens. He voted against the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act of 2006, which would have granted legal status to Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. That act passed in the House in September 2006, but never became law.


Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has opposed virtually all aspects of Bush’s war agenda, including the USA PATRIOT Act and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. When asked to explain his position in the June 2007 Democratic debate, Kucinich said “the global war on terror has been a pretext for aggressive war” and that as president he would reject “war as an instrument of policy.”

Democracy Promotion in the Arab World

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is a skeptic of democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East. “Iran had a democratic government which was overthrown because of oil,” Kucinich said in a September 2006 speech, referring to the U.S. role in the 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq. Kucinich opposed the 2006 Iran Freedom Support Act, which would toughen sanctions on Iran and grant the president the authority to “provide financial and political assistance (including the award of grants) to foreign and domestic individuals, organizations, and entities that support democracy and the promotion of democracy in Iran.” Kucinich saw the act mainly as a way for the Bush administration to build up to war with Iran. That bill passed and was enacted in September 2006.

Energy Policy

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) voted for the Clean Energy Act of 2007, which stipulates increased investment in clean alternative energy sources. That bill passed in the House and the Senate is working on its own version. He also opposed efforts in 2005 to repeal a moratorium on drilling for oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Kucinich notably did not vote on the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act in August 2007. The act, which passed, requires that utilities get at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. He supports phasing out nuclear power and coal use. He also would "break up the monopolies in utilities" and closely (Grist) regulate thier activities.

Kucinich cosponsored the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, which passed.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is critical of Israeli use of force in the Palestinian territories. Although he has said that Hamas should renounce terrorism, he opposed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, arguing that the legislation would exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. He said the United States should urge Israel to “accept the Palestinians' right to self-determination and economic survival and humanitarian relief, for food, medical care, for jobs.

In July 2006, Kucinich expressed concern that Israel’s response to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was disproportional and risked worsening conditions for Palestinian civilians. He called on Hamas to back down, but also argued that Israel should “halt its incursion into Gaza” and begin to work again toward a two-state solution.

North Korea Policy

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) supports direct engagement with North Korea and for the President to “meet personally with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-Il.” He advocates working closely with South Korea to pursue a “permanent peace settlement” with the goal of reunifying the peninsula.

Cuba Policy

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) says U.S. policy toward Cuba “has failed.” He calls for an end to the embargo and a repeal of the Helms-Burton Act. He also opposes the travel ban.

Kucinich voted in favor of a 2001 House bill which would stop the enforcement of travel restrictions on Cuba once Castro released all political prisoners and extradited those sought by the United States.

U.S. Policy toward China

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is critical of China ’s labor policies and human rights abuses. He voted for the Political Freedom in China Act of 1997, which provided for “improved monitoring of human rights violations” in China. That bill granted $5 billion over 1998 and 1999 for the National Endowment for Democracy to help develop democracy and civil society in China.

More recently, he voted in favor of a 2006 House Resolution condemning religious persecution in China. That resolution passed in the House.

Kucinich voted against the U.S.-China Trade Relations Act of 2000, which normalized trade relations with China. Kucinich spoke out against granting China Most Favored Nation (MFN) status. Granting that status, says Kucinich, “has cost the U.S. the best leverage we have to influence China to enact worker rights, human rights, and religious rights and protections.”

In a December 2007 Democratic debate, Kucinich called for a policy of "constructive engagement" with China. He also said the United States should "stop the arms race" with China.

Defense Policy

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has been a prominent critic of the Bush defense agenda. He voted against every major Defense Department authorization bill since he was first elected in 1996. He also opposed the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. He has argued that the new weapons developed by the United States are not appropriate in the current wars. He cited the U.S. acquisition of the F-22 fighter jet as one example, saying it is “an expensive Cold War jet fighter that is only a modest improvement over the F-15. Yet, in every conflict since 1990 we have quickly achieved air superiority. Al-Qaeda lacks hard targets and is not threatened by the F-22.”

Kucinich said of the National Missile Defense system: It is “extremely expensive, has inherent technological flaws that will make it impossible to work as promised, would have a destructive impact on nuclear nonproliferation and accompanying treaties, and would have a destabilizing effect on U.S. relations with allies worldwide.”

In reference to the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, Kucinich said “The defense-industrial complex follows a misguided strategy of buying weapons that provide Americans with no increased safety; buying ever more expensive fighter jets, massive naval ships, and a missile defense system that provides no additional protection for our nation.”


Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is one of the sharpest critics of the Iraq war and one of the few congressmen who opposed it (PDF) in 2002. Kucinich’s twelve-point plan for Iraq includes a complete withdrawal. Upon pulling out, Kucinich calls for an “international security and peacekeeping force to move in,” led by the United Nations.

Kucinich would turn all U.S. contracting business in Iraq over to the Iraqi government and call on the international community for more reconstruction aid. Like many of his fellow candidates, Kucinich advocates a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq. He argues that the United States should then fund a national reconciliation conference under the auspices of the United Nations.

Kucinich introduced a House resolution in early 2007 “to end the occupation of Iraq immediately.” That bill, which would request that the international community supply peacekeeping forces to “move in as our troops leave,” has not yet been voted on. He criticized congressional lawmakers who favor ending the war but supported the White House's request for more funding.


Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has been one of the most adamant congressional critics of free trade, saying it is responsible for lost jobs in the United States and abusive working conditions abroad. He voted against the creation of FTAs with Oman, Singapore, and Chile, and against the Trade Act of 2002. He says if elected, he will withdraw the United States from NAFTA immediately. In November 2007, Kucinich voted against legislation authorizing an FTA with Peru. That FTA passed in the House, however.

Kucinich also voted against the CAFTA Implementation Bill in 2005, saying, “trade agreements are seeking cheaper labor where they can go to countries where the labor is cheap, but they are not selling American goods there. So we are seeing that we are not finding new markets for our goods; yet, we are finding markets for cheap labor. That is what these trade agreements do.”

Kucinich voted in favor of a 2005 House resolution proposing U.S. withdrawal from the WTO. Although that resolution failed, he continues to advocate withdrawal. He also voted against the Africa Free Trade bill. Kucinich has generally voted against any bills that extend normal trade relations treatment to China. He voted against the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2002, which authorized the extension of normalized trade relations between the U.S. and China, as long as China agreed to join the World Trade Organization.

Homeland Security

Kucinich has voted against most of the major homeland security laws passed in Congress. Most notably, Kucinich has been a vocal critic of the Patriot Act since its creation. In 2001, Kucinich voted against the act, which he says, “poses an unprecedented threat to Americans' individual freedoms and is a violation of our civil liberties.” Kucinich voted against the Real ID Act of 2005. He also voted against the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which established the Department of Homeland Security. However, he voted for the 2006 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act. Kucinich voted against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act in 2004. That bill passed the House but was not voted on in the Senate.


Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is in favor of opening diplomatic relations with Iran and says, “There's no reason for war.”

Climate Change

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has been one of the leading voices for legislation to stop climate change for the past several years. In this interview with the BBC, Kucinich says the United States has a “moral responsibility to lead on the issue of climate change, since we create so many greenhouse gases here, and have a very large carbon footprint." He has criticized President Bush’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 addendum to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that sets environmental goals and obligations for its signatories to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases. In 2004, Kucinich was the only member of Congress to attend the Conference of Parties (COP 10) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Argentina. Kucinich cosponsored the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2005, which would reduce pollutant emissions, including carbon dioxide, from power plants. That act has yet to be passed.


Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) has generally supported amnesty for illegal immigrants and has called immigration in its current state “a system that is really a form of slavery."

Kucinich was against most of the key immigration bills that his Democratic colleagues voted for, including the Secure Fence Act, the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006, and the Border Security Bill of 2005, among others. With Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Kucinich co-sponsored the Family Unity Legalization Act, which would grant legal status to those who have been living in the United States for over five years. The act was not passed.

United Nations

In his 12-point plan (PDF) to end the war in Iraq, Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) says the UN’s role is “indispensable” as it is “the only international organization with the ability to mobilize and the legitimacy to authorize troops.” Kucinich voted against the UN Reform Act of 2005, which stipulated the creation of an Independent Oversight Board to assess UN operations and pegged U.S. dues to the UN meeting certain reform benchmarks. He also proposed an amendment to the act that was meant to strengthen the International Labor Organization (ILO). That amendment failed.

U.S. Policy toward Russia

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) favors the elimination of nuclear weapons and has called for new talks with Russia and all other nuclear countries to accomplish that goal. Kucinich supports preservation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which the Bush administration announced it would opt out of in December 2001. “Scrapping it and building a missile defense system will only invite Russia and China to build up arsenals able to overcome our defenses.”

He says the United States should cancel ballistic missile defense plans, which he has called "a wacky idea that will never work."

U.S. Policy toward Pakistan

Kucinich blames U.S. meddling in Pakistani affairs for the unrest there, and he urged the United States to “stop adding fuel to the fire” in the region after Bhutto’s death. He said the U.S. government should work to "convene a meeting at the highest levels to begin a new effort towards stabilization and peace" in the region.

Kucinich cosponsored the Pakistani Temporary Protected Status Act of 2005, which would have given temporary protected status to Pakistani immigrants after a major earthquake there. That measure was not voted on.

In July 2006, Kucinich expressed concern that the U.S.-India nuclear deal could spark an arms race between India and Pakistan.

Nuclear Nonproliferation

Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament worldwide. The proposed use of nuclear weapons is “dehumanizing through its calculations of mass casualties,” Kucinich wrote in a 2002 essay.

Kucinich says the United States must demand an end to “illegal use of depleted uranium munitions,” and must “lead an international effort to recover depleted uranium.”

In 2006, Kucinich introduced a House resolution “calling for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.” That bill never reached a vote. Kucinich cosponsored the Nonproliferation Treaty Enhancement Resolution of 2005. He also supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.



The Bush Administration's Outsourcing Disaster

Author: Dennis Kucinich

Representative Kucinich says American job losses to foreign countries is accelerated by U.S. participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and that canceling American participation in NAFTA and the WTO would allow the United States to protect high-tech jobs.


Interview on NPR's "Morning Edition"

Author: Dennis Kucinich
Foreign Affairs

Representative Kucinich says he's proud to have voted against the war in Iraq and that he represents opposition to a policy that "sets America apart from the rest of the world." He calls for increased U.S participation in the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Nonproliferation Treaty and advocates U.S. withdrawal from the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Announcement of Candidacy for President

Author: Dennis Kucinich
Council on Foreign Relations

Representative Kucinich says as president he would create a cabinet-level Department of Peace and Nonviolence; sign the biological weapons convention, the chemical weapons convention, the small arms treaty, the land mines treaty, and the Kyoto climate change treaty; join the international criminal court; and get U.S. troops out of Iraq.


U.N. In, U.S. Out

Author: Dennis Kucinich
Council on Foreign Relations

Representative Kucinich announces his plan to pull American troops out of Iraq and transfer administrative and security responsibilities to the United Nations. He calls for elections in Iraq within one year and says U.S. taxpayers should pay only for damage directly resulting from the toppling of the Hussein regime.


Speech to the Urban League National Convention

Author: Dennis Kucinich
Foreign Affairs

Representative Kucinich says, as president, he would reject a unilateralist foreign policy and a pre-emptive military strategy, cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement, and withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization.