Kucinich: Edwards Trying to Rig Election

Dennis Kucinich is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more.

An angry Dennis Kucinich lashed out at John Edwards on Friday, saying his Democratic rival showed “a consistent lack of integrity” by suggesting fewer candidates should participate in presidential forums and then trying to explain his remark to reporters. “This is a serious matter and I’m calling him on it,” Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in a telephone interview Friday. “Whispering, trying to rig an election, then denying what’s going on and making excuses. It all reflects a consistent lack of integrity.”

Kucinich’s comments came after Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton were overheard Thursday discussing the possibility of limiting the number of participants in future presidential forums. In an exchange captured on camera and open microphone by broadcasters after an NAACP forum in Detroit, Edwards approached Clinton onstage and whispered in her ear. “We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group,” Edwards said, and Clinton agreed. “Our guys should talk,” Clinton said, complaining the format had “trivialized” the discussion.

[…]

Later Friday, Kucinich sent letters to both Clinton and Edwards challenging them to one-on-one debates, the Kucinich campaign said. “If you are truly seeking debates where there are fewer participants and where there is more meaningful and serious discourse, this is a great opportunity for us to join together in an open discussion on behalf of the American people,” the letter said.

That’s actually a rather clever response, although presumably not what they had in mind.

And, while I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by Edwards and Clinton in their private exchange, they’re not covering themselves with glory in their disingenous attempts to deny they meant it.

Both Edwards and Clinton were asked about the exchange Friday, and offered different explanations.

In New Hampshire, Clinton seemed to lay responsibility on Edwards. “I think he has some ideas about what he’d like to do,” she said, adding she liked participating in the forums.

For his part, Edwards told reporters in Iowa that he wasn’t in favor of barring anyone from future gatherings. Rather, he said he wanted to see them separated into two groups of four each, chosen randomly. “The result would be that we would have a much more serious discussion and people would actually be able to see what the differences are between us,” he said.

How hard is it to admit that they think it’s silly to invite guys like Kucinich and Mike Gravel to debates, eating up the time that could be given to serious candidates for the nomination? In addition to wasting everyone’s time, vanity candidates often derail the discussion with inflammatory rhetoric and off-the-wall commentary. There’s nothing unseemly about narrowing the focus to legitimate players.

UPDATE: Chris Dodd chimes in, a day late.

“I’d remind them that the mike is always on,” Dodd told reporters on Saturday after addressing a state convention of Utah Democrats. “Celebrity and money are not going to decide this race,” he said. “People take some offense at it in these early primary and caucus states.”

[…]

Dodd blasted debate organizers for giving Democratic candidates little opportunity to offer voters more than “bumper sticker answers” on important issues. “My problem is you’re insulting me and the American public when you give 30 seconds to talk about Darfur and Iraq,” he said. Sudan’s vast western Darfur region has been torn by ethnic conflict for four years, with more than 200,000 people killed and millions displaced.

But the reason they’ve got only 30 seconds each to talk about important issues? Too many candidates. Unless we subject people to five hour debates, truncated responses are the price of inclusion.

Unlike Kucinich, Dodd is a serious national figure. Like Jim Gilmore, though, he simply has no shot at winning the presidency.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    “they’re not covering themselves with glory in their disingenous attempts to deny they meant it.”

    John Edwards did not have enough make-up with him to cover his political blemish.

    Hillary Clinton, since her participation has been exposed she has been trying to cover her ass. Good Luck….. that would be a huge cover-up job.

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    ha ha I saw it, Its going to be fun to watch. I wonder how their media will react.

  3. daveinboca says:

    ROTLMAO on the Bailey comments above! As for the MSM, I doubt that they will lay in heavily on leftardo pretty-boy & the steatopygous Chillary. The Clinton Inc apparatus is clanking toward a vast left-wing conspiracy to cover up Generalissima’s vicious boo-boo.

    Dennis understated Mr. Elizabeth Edwards’ “consistent lack of integrity.” There ain’t enough coiffing & pancake goo in the USA to cover the fact that John-boy, the “hedge fund investigator’s” a moral leper.

  4. How hard is it to admit that they think it’s silly to invite guys like Kucinich and Mike Gravel to debates, eating up the time that could be given to serious candidates for the nomination? In addition to wasting everyone’s time, vanity candidates often derail the discussion with inflammatory rhetoric and off-the-wall commentary. There’s nothing unseemly about narrowing the focus to legitimate players.

    The more I actually listen to politicians the more I learn they’re incapable of admitting fault. It’s like there’s something hardwired in their brains.

  5. Janis Gore says:

    Oh, right. How nicely corporate:

    “My people should talk to your people …”

  6. dk2 says:

    As far as I am concerned – it would be good to hear the most viable candidates – that leaves out Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, and Gravel.

    Thank goodness Edwards and Clinton understand that this is important enough to get past those on the far end of all the polls and get to the real viable candidates.

    I am tired of hearing the bla bla bla’s from the others.

  7. jamark says:

    Listening to viable candidates? Let’s refrain that, only listen to the candidates who raise the most money and pass on some significant funds to the media to influence the vast majority of Americans.

  8. bains says:

    Well…
    If they weren’t having presidential debates a year and a half outside the actual election, you might have a point.

  9. Eneils Bailey says:

    “There’s nothing unseemly about narrowing the focus to legitimate players.”
    I agree, limiting the forums to the top three or four candidates would violate no ones free speech rights. A Democrat Party policy such as this won’t happen anytime soon. While the top four candidates currently poll 85 to 90 percent of the Democrats, they really can’t afford to put 10 to 15 percent of their party on the outside of the tenting pissing in.

    Coming up with rules limiting candidate participation would have to be driven at the National Democrat Party level. Not in secret(latter to be denied chats) between two candidates.

    Interesting Democrat poll over at RCP, the undeclared candidate Algore leads John Edwards by a couple of percentage points. I guess if Algore declares, John Edwards would be in trouble for a top three debate.

  10. sherlock says:

    “Kucinich: Edwards Trying to Rig Election”

    Would it not have been more appropriate for K-man to have said they were trying to rig a “nomination”?

    I detect a bit of arrogance in the assumption that the Dem nominee will become President! I know the MSM has already scheduled the coronation, but they may have to try to return that tiara and cancel the band.

  11. Ruth says:

    Kucinich is the most serious candidate in the race for the nomination because he is the only Democrat who can win in 2008. The Democratic Party is divided and angry at most of its leaders and it will not unite behind a candidate who has voted for the war or the war funding. Only those who are working towards a Republican victory or those actively working for another candidate could possibly want to exclude the only viable candidate (Dennis Kucinich) from the race.

    WAKE UP! Why do you think Congress is so unpopular with the American people? It will be too late for Democrats who only get it the day after the general election.

  12. An angry Dennis Kucinich…

    Edwards is a trial lawyer. When did they ever show a consistent presence of integrity?…