Kucinich speaks from experience on homelessness
MANCHESTER, N.H. --Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich remembers well those who helped his struggling family while he was growing up, including a nun who rescued him from a particularly hideous pair of pants.
As a boy, Kucinich was in charge of scanning the classifieds, looking for affordable apartments for his parents and six siblings. They moved 21 times -- sometimes into their car -- by the time he was 17.
"If people want to know what kind of president I'll be, they only have to know my background to know who I'm in government to represent: those who aspire to decent jobs, a decent wage, health care, a roof over their heads, education for their children," he said Wednesday after speaking with families involved in a program that provides transitional housing and support to the homeless.
"I come to the political system as an advocate for people, not an advocate for any special interest group. That really is what distinguishes me from anyone else in this race," Kucinich said.
What distinguished Kucinich from his peers at one point in his life, however, was a pair of turquoise blue pants with black pinstripes -- "like something out of a psychedelic prison" the Ohio congressman recalled. One of the nuns at his school noticed other kids making fun of him for wearing the same pants a lot and provided clothing for the entire family.
"Every step along the way, there was someone who offered the roof over our heads, clothing, or financial help," said Kucinich. "Any family who's ever been through that knows you don't make it through life alone."
He told clients of the Families in Transition program that he understands their struggle because he lived through it.
"When you experience the kind of ups and downs people in this program have experienced, it gives you a great sense of compassion," he said.
Saying government should play a strong role in helping people meet their basic needs, Kucinich touted his plans for a single-payer, not-for-profit health care system and universal, full-day preschool. He said he supports increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour and would put millions of people to work rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.
"The purpose of government is not to serve as a serving station for wealthy interest groups but actually to help people and lift up their lives," he said.
Later, Kucinich made a brief appearance at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, noting that McAuliffe's backup for the tragic 1986 Challenger mission, teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan, blasted into space last week for a two-week mission.
"The jobs of our future are being created in our space program," he said, calling the planetarium an example "of how our vision always has to be fixed on the stars."
"A president who stands for building technologies for peace, a president who stands for strength through peace, a president who sees the jobs of the future being created by supporting the space program is a president who can help strengthen the country, strengthen its economy and strengthen our (relationships) with the countries of the world," he said.