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Kucinich delegates: What to do?
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Former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich visited with Minnesota delegates Wednesday morning. He encouraged the nine delegates committed to him to support John Kerry instead. (MPR Photo/Bob Collins)

Boston, Mass. — (AP) - As the hour grew near to nominate John Kerry as the Democratic presidential candidate, about 60 delegates, including nine Minnesotans, struggled to find a way to show party unity and still express their support for Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

"He expressed my values. He expressed what I believe," said Mary "Faith" Kidder, who ran his Minnesota campaign. "War is not the answer. Every one of his positions mirrors my own."

Kerry's name was the only one on the list of nominees Wednesday, meaning delegates could vote for him during the presidential roll call of or simply call themselves "present" - in essence, a vote for also-rans, including Kucinich.

I'm not particularly congenial to the Democratic platform, but it's a starting point. Don't let anyone tell you there isn't room for change within the Democratic Party.
- Dennis Kucinich

Kucinich has urged supporters to back Kerry, but Kidder, 49, a nurse from Minneapolis, was leaning toward the "present" vote.

"I want to show myself and others that dissent is allowed in this party," she said.

When she talks, she refers to the one-time presidential candidate from Ohio simply as Dennis.

She first met met him - briefly - when he was handing out literature at a rally in Washington in January 2003. She liked him, but called him a month later to complain about his support for sanctions in Iraq.

She said he was on the phone, but tried to reach her six times via phone and e-mail over the next few days. Finally, he called her after her shift as a nurse ended at 10 p.m. CST and listened to her rant.

"I let him have it," she said.

But Kidder said the whole thing was a misunderstanding: Kucinich supported military sanctions, not the humanitarian sanctions she objected to. By the end of the conversation, Kidder said, she was a convert.

She said she cried for two weeks when Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash and vowed, "If I ever find a politician I believe in, I will wear down the soles of my shoes to get him elected."

Kucinich made a swing by the Minnesota delegation breakfast on Wednesday.

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Image Al Franken

"This convention, this lovefest, under the surface of course, there are these differences of opinion - and they're fierce," Kucinich said. "What's new? We're Democrats. It's like a big family."

Regardless of the delegates' decision Wednesday night, he urged them to support Kerry in November.

"Unless we have a firm and unshakable resolve for John Kerry, we will have no opportunity to take America in a new direction," Kucinich said.

"I'm not particularly congenial to the Democratic platform, but it's a starting point," he said. "Don't let anyone tell you there isn't room for change within the Democratic Party."

Daniel Brown, a 44-year-old delegate and Kucinich supporter from St. Paul, agreed and said he'd help campaign for Kerry this fall.

"I think the Democratic Party is big enough for all of us," he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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