Widely publicized Presidential debates in New Hampshire in April and in Nevada in August were cancelled after some candidates either backed out after agreeing to participate or declined invitations to attend.
"Whatever their excuses, some candidates are clearly trying to avoid any head-to-head public debate where they will have to answer tough questions -- questions about their votes in favor of the Iraq war, their votes in favor of trade policies that have wiped out millions of American jobs, their votes in favor of abridging Constitutional rights by approving the Patriot Act, and their collaboration with insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations to deny Americans adequate health care protection."
Kucinich said "it's an insult to the voters, and the height of cynicism, for candidates to refuse to take the public stage and subject themselves to public scrutiny."
The New Hampshire debate was announced on January 12. Only two days ago, Kucinich pointed out, did some candidates back out because of "scheduling conflicts."
"Is it possible that the real conflict was having to take the stage to defend their votes to fund the war?" Kucinich asked. Votes in the House and the Senate on a $100 billion supplemental appropriation are expected soon.
Other candidates were trying to sidestep the Nevada debate because they claimed that the sponsoring television network, Fox News Channel, was conservatively biased.
"If you want to be the President of the United States, you can't be afraid to deal with people with whom you disagree politically," Kucinich said. "No one is further removed from Fox's political philosophy than I am, but fear should not dictate decisions that affect hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of others around the world who are starving for real leadership."
Kucinich said "the public deserves honest, open, and fair public debate, and the media have a responsibility to demand that candidates come forward now, before the next war vote in Congress, to explain themselves."
"I'm prepared to discuss the war, health care, trade, or any other issue anytime, anywhere, with any audience, answering any question from any media. And any candidate who won't shouldn't be President of the United States."