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Kucinich formally launches White House bid

'Put an end to the lies'

Democrat Dennis Kucinich smiles Monday as he waits to formally announce his presidential bid in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Democrat Dennis Kucinich smiles Monday as he waits to formally announce his presidential bid in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

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CNN's Bruce Morton reviews the political record of Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
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From the '04 Dems debate: Dennis Kucinich on Iraq and the United Nations.
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Dennis Kucinich
Presidential Election

(CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich formally declared his Democratic candidacy for president on Monday, promising supporters in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio that he would get U.S. troops out of Iraq if elected.

"It is time for us to support our troops," Kucinich said. "And I say, 'Support our troops -- bring them home.' "

Kucinich, a liberal four-term congressman, has been running since February. But his formal announcement in Cleveland's City Council chamber, where his political career began in the 1970s, drew a raucous, enthusiastic crowd.

Kucinich has urged the Bush administration to hand over all administrative and security duties in Iraq to the United Nations, and allow the world body to administer Iraq's oil revenues and all reconstruction contracts. He advocates replacing U.S. occupation forces with a U.N. peacekeeping mission and bringing American troops home "as quickly and safely as possible."

An outspoken critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he accused the administration of leading the nation into war based on "lies."

"I am running for president of the United States to end the United States occupation of Iraq, and put an end to the lies that brought us into Iraq," Kucinich said. "To help make this country whole again in the world community, and to challenge those lies, which if left unchallenged, will cause this administration to lead this country towards another war."

He said he opposes President Bush's $87 billion spending request Iraq and Afghanistan, most of which would go toward the occupation of Iraq and reconstruction efforts there.

The 57-year-old vegetarian serves as chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has proposed creating a federal Department of Peace if elected. In language taken from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, he promised to "heal the breach" between the United States and its allies.

"If America is to live in peace, it must be the leader in peace by rejoining the world community," Kucinich said.

Kucinich was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1977 at age 31, but was defeated two years later amid a financial crisis in which the city defaulted on $15.5 million in loans. He was elected to Congress in 1996 and is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives, where he sits on the Education and Government Reform committees.

His presidential bid is a long shot: The most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows him at the back of the nine-member Democratic field, with the support of about 3 percent of those surveyed. And Federal Elections Commission reports in late June indicated his campaign had raised about $1.7 million -- a fraction of what the leading Democratic candidates have brought in.

He was introduced by actress Mimi Kennedy, formerly of the ABC comedy "Dharma and Greg." And being in Cleveland, the announcement was followed by reception featuring a polka band: Kucinich's congressional Web site features a page devoted to "polka, bowling and kielbasa," three touchstones of the city's culture.

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