September 20th, 2007
03:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Kucinich, Gravel: We were snubbed - again

Kucinich and Gravel were not invited to two big Iowa events this week.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - For the second time in one week, Democratic presidential candidates Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel will be absent from an Iowa stage on which the majority of their opponents will be standing.

Thursday night marks the Divided We Fail/AARP/Iowa Public Television presidential candidate forum on health and financial security. It also marks the second time this week that an event or organization has not exactly welcomed these two candidates with open arms.

The first was Sunday– Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry.

Spokespeople from both Sunday's and Thursday's events say the two candidates would have been allowed to schmooze and hold hands with the rest of the pack had they met the criteria–a stronger physical presence in Iowa.

Mark Fetterhoff, a spokesperson with the AARP Divided We Fail initiative, said every candidate was invited, but there were two stipulations for Thursday's forum that neither candidate met by the deadline: a physical campaign office in Iowa and at least one paid campaign staff representative performing full-time duties in the stateon behalf of the candidate since at least August 1, 2007.

August 1, 2007. The letter informing all candidates of those criteria was sent out, according to Fetterhoff, on July 2. This means they had a month to meet them.

Gravel spokesperson Alex Colvin said they do have offices and staff in Iowa, however, they're all unpaid and work out of their homes.

"It shows a complete disregard for grassroots organizing," Colvin said.

Kucinich spokesperson Andy Juniewicz contends that their campaign does, in fact, have a paid staffer in Iowa–a state coordinator. The drawback? He works out of his house, as well.

"So, I mean, is that hairsplitting?" Juniewicz said. "Our campaign is not like a lot of other campaigns. We have resources all over the country who focus their attention on Iowa."

Both campaigns said they made an effort to be included, but ultimately, neither made the necessary additions to their Iowa organization to be included.

However, in a press release Wednesday, Kucinich seems to give the impression that he wouldn't be too keen on being there anyway. In a statement, Kucinich accuses AARP of having "a $4 billion, vested interest in preserving the role of private, for-profit insurance companies." He claims that AARP only invited the candidates whose health plans "preserve and promote the interests of for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies."

Kucinich cites that as the reason it was made so difficult for him to attend.

"It's clear that they didn't want me upsetting their multi-billion dollar applecart."

It's worth noting that Kucinich was invited to - and was allowed to attend - an AARP-sponsored forum when he ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 because, according to Fetterhoff, he met the qualifications that year.

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Dennis Kucinich • Iowa • Mike Gravel
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Robert Hightower, Walland TN

    At first I thought John Edwards had possibilities but not any more. We do not need a president whose wife does the talking for him. If Mrs Edwards wants to help her husband then she should speak out in favor of his programs rather than critizing those who are also running. She sounds like a mother defending her son against all "those bullies."

    September 20, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. James, Fredonia New York

    Denny, Mike, the reason you weren't invited is because you haven't gotten any support. You don't have any media coverage, among the mainstream media or elsewhere, you don't have any money. And your grassroots movement pales in comparision to Ron Paul. Drop out, and take Brownback, Tancredo, Keynes, and Hunter with you.

    September 20, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. James, Phoenix AZ

    Since race issues are so dominant right now – WHAT would be the outcry if Kucinich and Gravel were black?

    September 20, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. JLE, Seattle, WA

    I'm amazed at how dumb the democrates are. The two canidates that could possibly offer change are snubbed out. We're in a lot of trouble America, its time to wake up!

    September 20, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  5. MC for Obama

    Dear CNN

    The comment above has nothing to do with the article, please remove it

    September 20, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Denny Lyon

    Seems like the previous poster has reading comprehension issues. The article is about Kucinich and Gravel, too far down in the polls in Iowa, to qualify. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff – no matter how much you like these guys.

    As to the We Hate Edwards Squad, the Republican Nasties Idiot War Room is at it again. Just goes to show you how much they fear this guy Edwards, knowing, that from the polls, he is quite capable of beating a Republican in the general election.

    Besides, Independents like me are already organized across the nation to pick the Democratic nominee – and it isn't Hillary.

    September 20, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Connie, Tn.

    This sounds like a state can bribe a candidate to get any attention in their state. Hope these two win the primaries.

    September 20, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    Look, it's nice to have Kucinich and Gravel during the debates because they represent diversity of opinion and they often act as comic relief.

    However, there is a point at which we should face reality and accept that these candidates are not going to win. We should be seeing more from the frontrunners by themselves.

    September 20, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Edwards is a viable candidate and rising as a direct result of his and his wife's willingness to paint the "inevitable" Hillary as what she is– shrill, inexperienced, divisive, corrupt and unelectable in a general.

    September 20, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Leon, Vista, Ca

    They probably won't get elected into office, but if they're running, they should at least be given a chance to let people know what they think is right for our country.

    September 20, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  11. laurinda, shokan,ny

    Well the keebler cookie elf is standing there smiling, so I don't think he's to unhappy about not being invited to Harkin's annual Steak Fry.

    September 20, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. Marie, Flint, Michigan

    Mr. Hightower, you're joking, right? As I recall, Bill Clinton had a wife who did a lot of talking for him too. Mrs. Edwards seems to only be taking a page from the Mrs. Clinton play book.

    September 20, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Zack, Boston, MA

    Christian wrote, "However, there is a point at which we should face reality and accept that these candidates are not going to win. We should be seeing more from the frontrunners by themselves."

    I agree, there should be a time the public should face reality and accept that these candidates are not going to win. That time should be the day the results of the primaries are made public, and never before.

    September 20, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. RoseHann New London, CT

    Dennis, too bad. Gravel, you sound like an evil uncle no one wants to be seated next to on Thanksgiving. Save it, you are a distraction and a grump.

    September 20, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. Kirk Rolson, Duluth, Mn

    The facts are Dennis is for a not for profit health care system and that would eliminate the need for Health insurance. ARRP has a $4.4 billion vested interest in preserving a for profit health care system. Dennis is a Presidental Canidate who was not allowed to attend.

    September 21, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. MCD, San Francisco

    The people running this debate are only hurting themselves. These two guys have a lot of good things to say and they should be heard. We need to mix it up with fresh ideas. Goodness knows we don't want the same old, same old. Those who are lowest in the polls have less to lose and are more likely to think outside the box and are also more likely to tell it like it is.

    September 21, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  17. Pickles, Monaca, PA

    Once again, mainstream organizations which want mainstream solutions are selling us mainstream candidates. America, if you ever wonder why our so-called leaders are corrupted, bloated, unaccountable to the people they are supposed to be serving, and impervious to change, it's because your candidates for office are chosen for you by powerful interests who want to keep it that way.

    September 21, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. Bob, Elburn, IL

    I find it highly ironic that the oldest candidate can't show up at an AARP sponsored debate and that the man who is sponsoring a bill that would be most beneficial to the retired is also excluded. Gravel & Kucinich have diverse and different views from the rest of the Democrats. These views are needed to be heard. Putting them down and marginalizing them in the news, and shutting them out of the debates because they aren't getting the money to get their message out is a vicious circle! These 2 are not beholden to corporations. We should celebrating their inclusion as a democratic society in the political process, not penalizing them.

    September 21, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Tomi Phillips, The Woodlands, TX

    Until the Primaries ALL Americans deserve to hear from all of the candidates in order to make informed choices. I agree with the poster who states that the oldest candidate and the candidate who offers to take the profit out of healthcare weakened the debate and allowed those who want to increase the profit of health insurance companies (now, why would that be? Think for yourselves!) to continue this charade that we have to allow insurance to profit from our health or illness. I am very disappointed that many Senior Citizens still do not know about the Kucinich health care plan! I hope he will push this issue front and center in the time remaining and won't be excluded simply because he doesn't have as much money as the others. Do we want a "bought" President? One that owes tons of favors? NO!!!

    September 22, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. kucinich nader gravel paul - st louis area

    Four, united for truth, cause: fear, smear, and media blackout.

    November 4, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Erin, Greenville, Mississippi

    I was wondering why they weren't there. I am voting for Ron Paul, and am every bit as outraged at this as when Ron Paul was not invited to the Energy debate, coming up in Houston. You can tell who the truth-tellers are.


    December 13, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. relsOrdetry

    Good afternoon. I the first time at a forum. Very much at you it was
    pleasant to me.

    December 29, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |