Dennis the Menace runs for Prez (again)

Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, said Monday he is planning another bid because his party isn’t pushing hard enough to end the Iraq war.

In a statement, Kucinich said he plans to formally announce his candidacy on Tuesday at Cleveland’s City Hall, where he served as mayor of his hometown in the 1970s.

The liberal, anti-war Ohio congressman said he was inspired to run because he disagrees with the way some of his fellow Democrats are handling the war, including approval of a proposal to spend $160 billion more on the conflict.

"Democrats were swept into power on Nov. 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq," said Kucinich, 60. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."

The anti-war message was also the cornerstone of Kucinich’s 2004 bid, which drew support from some Hollywood celebrities. His previous presidential proposals also have included a national peace department and a single-payer, universal health care system.

In 2004, Kucinich posted single digits in most primary elections, including his home state of Ohio, yet stayed in the race.

He celebrated his bachelorhood on the campaign trail, telling New Hampshire audiences that he was seeking a mate. Women vied for a date with him during a contest arranged by a New Hampshire political Web site, but nothing romantic evolved from Kucinich’s breakfast date with the winner. It did earn him appearances on late-night comedy talk shows, though. He married for the third time in 2005.

He won re-election to his House seat in 2006 with 66 percent of the vote. He based his campaign on job creation and criticizing rising gas prices. He also was an outspoken critic of his own party, saying Democrats have lost their soul by moving away from liberal ideals.

He was elected mayor of Cleveland at age 31, the youngest leader of a major American city. He also became the mayor of the first city since the Great Depression to go into default. Kucinich, whose confrontational style of politics earned him the nickname "Dennis the Menace," refused to sell the city’s municipal electrical system, so local banks foreclosed on the city.

The city’s failure plagued his career for years. Kucinich survived a recall by 236 votes but lost re-election by a landslide to Republican George Voinovich.

After his ouster, Kucinich couldn’t find employment in Cleveland, so he left the city. He returned to Ohio to work as a radio talk show host, TV reporter and media consultant. In the 1980s, he briefly served on the Cleveland City Council and lost or withdrew from other races.

Kucinich made a comeback in 1994, winning a seat in the state Senate. In 1996, he won an upset victory to the U.S. House over incumbent Republican Rep. Martin Hoke. At his swearing-in ceremony, Kucinich summed up his political career: "If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try again."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press