Kucinich moving up in Democratic Presidential 'horse race'

DES MOINES, IA – If the quest for the Democratic nomination for President is a long-distance horse race, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the self-described longshot Seabiscuit of the field, is steadily moving up on the front-runners.

In fact, as of this morning, Kucinich was winning the online ABC News poll following yesterday’s Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, IA. In answer to ABC’s question "Who do you think won the Democratic debate," Kucinich received more than 10,000 on-line votes. U.S. Senator Barack Obama was second with more than 8,000; U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton was third with more than 5,000; U.S. Senator Joe Biden was fourth with about 3,200; and former Senator John Edwards was next with about 3,000. About 35,000 votes had been cast by 11 a.m. today.

Admittedly, the poll was unscientific, but it reflects a growing trend in which the Congressman has been highly rated – second or third in most cases – during the last several Democratic Presidential forums.

Following the HRC/LOGO presidential forum last week, Kucinich came in second (25%) behind Obama (46%) in an on-line poll among forum viewers. Clinton came in third with 14%, and Edwards scored only 5%.

Also last week, the candidates appeared at an AFL-CIO Democratic Presidential forum in Chicago that was televised on MSNBC. Following the debate, the network asked the on-line question: "Which Democrat will best represent labor?" Obama came in first with 24%. Kucinich and Edwards were tied at 22%. Clinton came in fourth at 17%.

At a PBS-televised forum at Howard University, some political analysts, notably Roger Simon of "Politico," rated Kucinich third behind Clinton and Obama.

And, in an ongoing "blind taste test" Internet poll in which respondents identify and rank the issues that are important to them, without knowing in advance where the candidates stand on those issues, Kucinich has been the runaway winner "on the issues" for the last several weeks.

The ABC results were especially encouraging to the Kucinich campaign because the Congressman was not even asked a question until 35 minutes into the forum and received the least time on camera of any of the leading candidates.

At one point, in answer to a question about the role of prayer in the candidates’ lives, Kucinich quipped to moderator George Stephanopoulos, "George, I’ve been standing up here for 45 minutes praying that you would ask me a question."

Senior Kucinich campaign officials see the growing momentum as a sign that Kucinich’s key messages – withdrawal from Iraq, national not-for-profit health care, cancellation of job-killing foreign trade agreements, and expanded educational programs from early childhood through college – have begun resonating with American voters.

"The more people see the Congressman and hear what he has to say, the more impressed they are with him," the campaign said in a statement this morning. "He was the only Democrat who voted against the war before it began, the only one with legislation for a truly universal national health care plan, and the only one with the courage to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdraw from the World Trade Organization. He was right when it counted, and he’s been right along. People are beginning to notice."