Rep. Dennis Kucinich hasn’t said whether he will run for president in 2012, but the liberal Ohio Democrat seems to be acting like a candidate with his recent crusade against President Barack Obama on Libya.
Today, Kucinich will take to the House floor to offer his rebuttal to Obama’s Monday night speech outlining reasons for international attacks on Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s military. Kucinich has long been an anti-war advocate, but this time, he’s challenging the policies of a president from his own party.
“I am making a principled challenge to the actions of the administration, and I can’t tell you that I’m doing it with any enthusiasm because it’s not easy to challenge individuals who you otherwise have an affection for,” Kucinich said in an interview this week. “This goes beyond friendship, it goes beyond party; it goes to principles involved in finding this nation.”
Kucinich, who twice ran for the presidency on an anti-war platform, said he “hasn’t really been thinking about” waging a primary challenge to Obama in 2012. But he nevertheless said the president violated the Constitution by committing U.S. troops to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya without first getting Congress’ approval. And he has vowed to push an amendment into the next continuing resolution to block funding for the effort.
Democratic aides note that Kucinich’s anti-war rhetoric is nothing new, and they say most Members are relatively unfazed by his latest offensive on Libya. But Kucinich has been attracting the attention of media outlets and has found some uncommon Republican bedfellows in the process.
“I don’t know if he’s a renewed leader as much as the subject he’s most vocal about is again in the news,” one House Democratic aide said.
Even Kucinich admits that a moment has met opportunity when it comes to challenging Obama’s position on Libya.
“When a platform presents itself ... I’ve not hesitated to speak out on these issues,” Kucinich said. “I was active in challenging what I felt was an abuse of war powers by the Clinton administration, the Bush administration. It’s not as though I’ve taken a partisan approach to this.”
Kucinich sought the presidency in 2004 and again in 2008, largely because of his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kucinich attempted to bring articles of impeachment against then-Vice President Dick Cheney in 2007 and later against President George W. Bush in 2008, primarily over the war in Iraq. And for years, Kucinich has advocated for the establishment of a Department of Peace.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.