There was no campaign song playing when Dennis Kucinich entered MUB Theater I this past Wednesday. He was not flanked by security, nor was he given a grand introduction. In fact, Kucinich did not even pick up a microphone when he began speaking.
Instead, the Democratic candidate, who is currently tied for fourth place with Bill Richardson in the New Hampshire primary, stood casually before the small crowd as if he were addressing a roomful of acquaintances.
"He seems most humanitarian," noted Alyssa Brady, a junior history major from Epping. "I'm here to learn more."
With one hand in his pocket, and a poster bearing the words to the constitution behind him, Kucinich spoke about connecting history to the current election and the administration.
The town hall format of the talk was part of a series of stops around the country aimed at discussing the constitution and the potential impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Kucinich, who has often been called an underdog candidate, introduced an impeachment resolution against Cheney in early November on the grounds that he had led the country to war under false pretenses and deliberately ignored evidence suggesting that no weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. Kucinich is currently in the process of putting together a second and more extensive resolution.
Audience members, who had been given mints labeled with the words "Impeach Mints" listened as Kucinich read from the constitution. Afterwards, his meek voice filled with feeling as he said, "Forget the fact that I'm a candidate for president. As a member of Congress, I have to speak out."
Kucinich, who says that he is "not a very partisan person," questioned the effectiveness of democrats in Congress, criticizing members of his own party for their hesitance in speaking out on impeachment, the Patriot Act, and the rights of the public, which he believes are often pushed aside in the name of private interest.
Citing an organizational meeting in Dec. 2006, Kucinich claimed that democratic leaders chose to support troops through funding the war rather than by bringing soldiers home.
After his main discussion, the presidential hopeful took questions from audience members, many of whom had put their Thanksgiving plans on hold to be present at the event. Several of these questions dealt with the manner in which Kucinich has been treated by the media thus far in the primary.
Kucinich, who says that he is frequently excluded from debates because he thinks differently than other candidates, emphasized his often non-partisan viewpoints by asking for a show of hands from those who found news to be politically biased.
The room was close to unanimous in agreement. He then went on to praise New Hampshire residents for being free-thinking and open minded.
"My disposition is such that I could be a native of New Hampshire," Kucinich said.
After the event, Kucinich sat in the front row of an empty theater in the MUB without campaign members, assistants, security or any of the typical fanfare that surrounds most candidates.
In the same style in which he connects the constitution with today's political issues, he related his past term as mayor of Cleveland, OH, to his current role on the campaign trail and in Congress.
Recalling a time as mayor, during which he was pressured to sell the city's municipal electric system, he compared his defense of "the people's power" to his staunch viewpoints against the war.
"There was enormous pressure to go along with the war," said Kucinich. "But I saw something else. Just like I saw something else when I was a young mayor who everybody was trying to push and say 'you gotta sell this electric system.' I said: 'What for? It savesthe people money. Why do we have to sell it? It would give the private company a monopoly.' Well here in the war, I said: 'Why are we going to war?' I don't see any reasons for it."
Seldom smiling and always appearing ready to defend his ideals, Kucinich cited his unusual upbringing, during which he lived in 21 places, including several cars, as the reason for his unique perspective and the frequency in which he stands alone when it comes to fostering the "understanding that the public has certain rights."
These rights, he claims, include employment, health care and education. Kucinich plans to provide a tuition free public university education in exchange for two years of service.
"I just take a look at things and I make my decision based on what's in front of me, not when somebody's whispering in my ear, not when somebody's putting money in my pockets or trying to engender fear," he said. "I can't be easily pushed. I'll do the right thing no matter what. I can't be corrupted. I've already had those tests in my life."
© 2007 The New Hampshire via U-WIRE