Dennis Kucinich, super-underdog Democratic presidential candidate, climbed out of a blue minivan in front of Craig Street's Kiva Han on April 25 to tremendous applause from a small group of supporters, who packed the coffeehouse and spilled out into the rain.
"We've been waiting for this for a long time," said Ceci Wheeler, coordinator for the Pittsburgh Kucinich campaign and possible Kucinich delegate to the Democratic National Convention. "We've been campaigning since last year and he finally will be making contact with Pittsburgh."
Iraq is still his No. 1 issue, Wheeler said, and during Kucinich's 15-minute speech he took his familiar strong stance against the war: "It was wrong to go in, it is wrong to stay in, bring our troops home." His progressive platform included universal everything -- from universal health care to free college education and a full-employment economy, with the government acting as the "employer of last resort."
"You are already paying enough [to pay] for universal health care," Kucinich said, pointing to the $1.6 trillion Americans annually pay for medical expenses and insurance.
Kucinich also called for the repeal of NAFTA and spoke of "human unity," ending all war, and "cooperation with the world community." Supporters of the Congressman from Cleveland said they were happy he is still campaigning to add his more radical voice to the Democratic Party. Kucinich said he hopes to prove to the Democrats that a large number of Americans agree with him -- and thus affect the Dems' platform.
As the coffeehouse cleared, Kucinich was asked whether he was happy with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as the Democratic candidate. "Listen," he said, "I'm still running. If I was happy, about it -- 'Hellloooo.'"