Dennis Kucinich on the Campaign Trail

Nov. 13 — Either Kucinich is gaining in popularity or the PoliticsNH.com Webmaster finally got around to adding those other entries to the site. There are now 16 entrants to the site's "Who Wants to be a First Lady?" contest, eight times the number from a few days ago. The descriptions range from the serious (a woman who was inspired to enter because her family fled dictatorship, she suffers from a disability and she's witnessed layoffs at her company) to the superficial (a 28-year-old Ivy League graduate who wants the free trip to New Hampshire to visit her parents) to the just plain bizarre (a woman who claims her astrologer Madame Lee says Kucinich is a Libra-Dog so they'll be "great friends and lovers"). The campaign still says no dice to participating, but if it keeps growing at this rate Kucinich might not have a choice but to agree to meet the lucky winner.

Not to be confused with the contestants, the band Barenaked Ladies has endorsed Kucinich. Singer/guitarist Steven Page rants on his blog: "Why does even the left-wing media say things like 'Howard Dean is the most progressive option for the Democrats (besides Kucinich)?' This occurs in both the Progressive and the Nation's current issues. It's time to take Dennis Kucinich out of the brackets and treat him as the viable and believable candidate he is." Too bad the band is Canadian.

Kucinich faces insurance employees

Nov. 12 — Rep. Kucinich, who never gives a speech without bashing insurance companies (signature line: "Insurance companies make money NOT providing health care") and touting his plan for a universal single-payer system, took the unusual step Tuesday of speaking to a group of employees at the Principal Companies, a huge insurance company known in Des Moines simply as "The Principal."

Though the crowd was cordial and there were several supporters present, including one who works for Principal and volunteers for the campaign, Kucinich finally got the question everyone was anticipating: "This is an insurance company that provides millions of people with health care plans. What happens to us if there's a single-payer system, and how are you so sure Medicare for all will work when it often doesn't work now?"

Kucinich, whose tone was the calm and deferential one reserved for appearances he makes when introducing himself to undecided voters (as opposed to the fiery battle cries he delivers to avowed supporters), tried to appease the audience by explaining that with the new system the government would need workers with the skill set of the insurance company employees, so there would be a place for them, and that although they might not be happy with the results of the single-payer system, his presidency would work to reduce environmental damage that he says costs the insurance industry money because of the higher number of claims being processed.

It's a tough sell in insurance industry-heavy Des Moines, even among Democrats like the questioner. The logic is essentially, elect me and my health care policy will shut you down, but there might be fewer beach erosion housing claims in 50 years.

While not convinced, the man who asked the question seemed pleased that Kucinich didn't dodge it, and Kucinich thanked him for asking it, as he always does when faced with more confrontational queries The Congressman spent the rest of the day visiting with veterans at the Des Moines Veterans Hospital and giving speeches at Drake University and Grandview College.

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