Published on Monday, November 9, 2009 by The
Kucinich Withdraws as
by George Bennett
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich lasted less than 24 hours as headliner for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party's annual fundraising dinner after some of the party's elected officials blasted the Ohio Democrat's stance on Israel and threatened to skip the event.
Kucinich, who has a history of criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and opposing congressional resolutions in support of Israel, withdrew Friday as the keynote speaker for next week's dinner after being announced Thursday.
The liberal former presidential candidate had been called in as a last-minute replacement for moderate Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. Landrieu was dropped as keynoter this week because party activists were upset by her refusal to commit to blocking a Republican filibuster of health care overhaul legislation.
While Landrieu was the target of behind-the-scenes grumbling, Kucinich sparked public revolt.
State Rep. Kevin Rader,
State Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, who's running for the seat that U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler is vacating, called Kucinich "someone whose position on
Kucinich has opposed sanctions against the anti-Israel government of
Kucinich said Friday in an e-mail to county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel that he supports the Jewish state and its right to defend itself and said his critics are "falsely characterizing me as 'anti-Israel.' "
But Kucinich said he did not want the controversy surrounding him to hinder the party's ability to raise money, so he would "humbly withdraw."
Siegel said the decision to invite Kucinich was made by a "leadership circle" of about 20 people and no one raised concerns about Kucinich's record on
Siegel heard those concerns Friday.
"People feel he's anti-Israel. I don't read it that way, but the leadership of AIPAC (the American
Siegel said he doesn't know who the party will get as a keynote speaker for the dinner, which is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the
The event has traditionally been called the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, but the name was changed this year to the Truman-Kennedy-Johnson dinner because of qualms among party activists about Thomas Jefferson's slave ownership and Andrew Jackson's Indian-removal policies.
Siegel said the nixing of two keynote speakers this week shows party leaders are listening to the concerns of Democrats.
"In both cases, the same thing happened," Siegel said. "We responded to complaints from important elements of our constituency and neither one of them is speaking."
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