Skip to comments.Kucinich Counts On Muslim Votes In Dark-Horse Presidential Race
Posted on 12/31/2003 5:09:37 AM PST by PogySailor
TAMPA - In the 2000 election, U.S. Muslims voted overwhelmingly to put Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the White House.
This time around, four-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a long- shot White House candidate, is campaigning aggressively for the Muslim vote on a platform built around immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Kucinich brought his message to Tampa on Tuesday in a tour of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area and a speech to about 100 local Muslims, many of whom said they liked his civil liberties pitch.
``The defining issue for Muslims is the restriction of civil liberties,'' Kucinich said, while being shown around a free medical clinic, full-time Muslim school and food pantry for the needy at the Sligh Avenue mosque.
The appearance was organized by local members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's biggest Islamic civil liberties group. The nonprofit group does not endorse candidates. A Kucinich rally with music and poetry was held later at Viva La Frida, a Florida Avenue restaurant.
Kucinich, whose support stands in the low single digits in most national polls, is hoping to use antiwar sentiment to ignite a candidacy that has, so far, failed to take off. Asked why, he said he believes voters will begin to rally to him if public sentiment turns sour against the continuing occupation of Iraq.
Kucinich also is using his condemnation of the 2001 Patriot Act to win support from groups such as Muslims who feel the post-Sept. 11 law is a serious infringement on civil liberties. He said he would make repeal of the act, and attempts to expand it, among his top priorities. It gave government broad powers to restrict immigrants and conduct surveillance against suspected terrorists.
At a time when the major Democratic candidates are focusing their campaigns on the upcoming Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Kucinich was making his first appearance in Tampa and the latest of several stops in Florida.
With about 60,000 Muslims active in the 2000 election, more than half of whom lived in the pivotal Interstate 4 corridor, Kucinich was trying to tap a constituency that is widely expected to reject Bush in 2004.
Besides the invasion of Iraq, among policies that have alienated Muslims are those allowing racial profiling of Arab and Muslim men, use of secret evidence in cases said to touch on national security, and the detention and deportation of many Arab and Muslim nationals without the right to legal representation.
The Council on American- Islamic Relations, American Muslim Council, American Muslim Alliance and Muslim Public Affairs Council recently agreed to cooperate on a voter registration drive that they hope will deliver about 1 million Muslim votes against Bush in the 2004 election.
Yawer Nensey of Tampa said he supports Kucinich because Nensey dislikes the restriction of civil liberties that followed the attacks of Sept. 11.
Another Muslim, Mazhar Rishi, who said he was visiting Tampa from Pennsylvania, said Kucinich ``has a lot of sincerity in his feelings about what's going on in the world, especially Iraq.''
But Abdul Waris, a Tampa engineer, said that although he likes Kucinich's ideas, his chances of being elected president, or being nominated as the Democratic candidate, appear dim.
``I think Howard Dean's got it wrapped up,'' Waris said. But Kucinich ``will get the spotlight on some hot-button issues'' such as Iraq and civil liberties.
No. He needs to ask the American people: "Who would Osama vote for?"
They do, however, endorse "Jihad" and suicide bombing.