Kucinich's Secret Weapon

Rep. Dennis Kucinich makes second bid for White House, third for love.

May 25, 2007 — -- There is no doubt about it, 2008 presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, stands out.

Kucinich is the only candidate who wants to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney over the Iraq War; as he did in the 2004 election, he's proposing a Department of Peace, and has introduced a House bill calling for a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system.

And if that weren't enough, the self-proclaimed peace candidate has a secret weapon.

Kucinich is the only candidate married to a woman 30 years younger and more than 5 inches taller than him.

This 6-foot-tall red-headed beauty is making her husband stand out now more than ever, and Elizabeth Kucinich is taking center stage on the trail, at Democratic debates and on her husband's Web site.

English Roots

Elizabeth Kucinich may not have the traditional biography that some political spouses possess, but that doesn't mean she's short on experience or goodwill.

Born Elizabeth Harper, she grew up in Upminster, England. The volunteerism bug bit her early on: Shortly after high school, she moved to India to work at one of Mother Teresa's homes for poor children. She also volunteered in a rural village in Tanzania, the British Red Cross Refugee's Unit and cared for detainees at London's Heathrow airport.

She attended the University of Kent, earning a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies and theology, and a master's in international conflict analysis.

Mrs. Kucinich worked at the House of Lords in London, which eventually led to a job, an ocean away, in Chicago.

'Terms of Endearment' at Shirley Maclaine's House

The then-Ms. Harper had been living in United States only a month before she traveled with her Chicago-based employer, the American Monetary Institute, to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's office. It was a meeting of chance that she would never forget.

Instantaneously drawn to each other, Mrs. Kucinich recalled, "I walked into his office. I saw him and I knew. I knew nothing about his political views. I couldn't even pronounce his last name, but I saw him and I knew."

Kucinich was instantly attracted to the young, spunky woman as well but didn't know if she felt the same about him. Then, with one click on his e-mail a few days later, he knew he had a chance with the English beauty.

The two exchanged e-mails daily and once again by rare chance discovered they would be in New Mexico for work at the exact same time.

The congressman invited Ms. Harper and her boss to lunch at "Terms of Endearment" movie star and friend Shirley Maclaine's home. Maclaine, who is godmother to Kucinich's daughter, asked the three visitors to stay the night.

Elizabeth Kucinich said it was that night that she knew he was "the one." After leaving Maclaine's house, they spoke on the phone and decided soon thereafter to get married.

She said she'll never forget that phone conversation.

She told ABC News, "Over the phone I said, 'I can't stop thinking about us and I think we should get married.'" The congressman had been thinking the same thing.

The new bride jokes that "He didn't actually propose to me until the day before the wedding. That's when he got down on bended knee."

The couple married in the public square of the congressman's hometown of Cleveland in 2005.

Talkin' About My Generation

At first sight, the couple stands out. She's tall; he's short. She's in her late 20s; he's in his sixties. She has a tongue ring, the congressman does not.

"Attention: Welcome to the next generation. The woman who has a tongue ring and wears pearls," Elizabeth Kucinich joked about her accouterment of nine years.

"Some of the blogs and things, they've called me a dirty hippie," she exclaimed in bewilderment to ABC News. "I've never thought of myself as a hippie chick. I am happy with who I am … it's an expression."

Elizabeth Kucinich, who is new to media critiques of her personal style, adds with a laugh, "I'm wearing pearls today!"

Buy One, Get One Free

The self-confident Mrs. Kucinich has been on the front lines of her husband's second bid for the White House.

She hits the campaign stump for the congressman while he's in Washington working his day job, and tackles policy issues head on.

"If you get Dennis, you get me," she said.

And she argues she's no novice to the campaign trail either. Her husband won re-election to the House in 2006, shortly after their marriage, but the congressman was a bachelor during his first bid for the White House.

"I've been married for just over a year and a half, and I've already been though a primary, a general and a presidential election, so I am learning fast and learning on my feet."

Learning on her feet, Mrs. Kucinich will definitely keep on her toes.this election cycle