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2004-07-19

Fmr. Rep. Cynthia McKinney Seeking to Win Back Georgia Seat

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We speak with former Congressmember Cynthia McKinney is seeking to win back her congressional seat in Georgia. She lost her re-election bid two years ago after coming under fierce attack for her support for Palestinian rights, and her early call for a 9/11 investigation of the Bush Administration. [includes rush transcript]

Former Congressmember Cynthia McKinney is seeking to win back her congressional seat in Georgia. She lost her re-election bid two years ago after coming under fierce attack for her support for Palestinian rights, and her early call for a 9/11 investigation of the Bush Administration.

As Georgia’s first African-American Congresswoman, McKinney became an internationally renowned advocate for voting rights, human rights and Africa in her nine years in Congress.

In April 2002, McKinney issued a statement pointing out that "President Bush’s father, through the Carlyle Group had — at the time of the attacks — joint business interests with the bin Laden construction company and many defense industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since September 11." In May, McKinney was among only 21 House members who voted against a pro-Israel resolution that passed with 352 votes.

In October, McKinney wrote to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, thanking him for offering $10 million to New York after September 11th. City officials rejected the money because bin Talal used the occasion to say: "Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek."

The attacks on McKinney crossed over to help her opponent, Rep. Denise Majette, defeat her in the 2002 Democratic primary. Two years later she is seeking to win back her seat. She faces five challengers in this year’s primary that is being held tomorrow. The winner is considered a shoo-in for November.

  • Cynthia McKinney, former Congress member from Georgia who is running in her district’s primary in an effort to regain her seat.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We welcome former Congress member Cynthia McKinney to our airwaves. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Good morning, Amy. It’s very good to be with you this morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, this is just 24 hours before people go to the polls in your district. Can you tell us why you are once again seeking re-election as Congress member from Georgia?

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Oh, gosh. There’s so many reasons why, but basically to wrap it up in a nutshell, there’s so much work that’s left to be done. And of course, with the Bush economy having many American people on the ropes, and the war, the Bush wars, there’s going to be a lot more work that will need to be done on behalf of the people of the Fourth District and of course this country. So, given the fact that two years ago we were literally blindsided by a tremendous Republican crossover vote, the likes of which we had never seen in Georgia before, the Democratic voice was actually snuffed out by the tremendous weight of the Republican voters who decided to pick up a Democratic ballot on election day. We have open primary statute here in the state of Georgia. There’s one antidote to that, and that so it make sure that solid Democrats actually show up at the polls on election day. So, that’s what we have been trying to do for this campaign season. We have reminded the voters of exactly what it was that I brought to the district that was unique. We have reminded the voters of the need for the kind of uncompromising representation that is also unafraid to tackle the huge issues in a critically analytical way so that we can get to root causes and have real solutions.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking with Congress member Cynthia McKinney. I’m looking at a piece written by a Sierra Club member who — whose headline is, "Betraying Another Green Champion, the Sierra Club’s Inexplicable Treatment of Cynthia McKinney." It asks the question why the Georgia state chapter of the Sierra Club has failed to endorse you, a long-time champion of Sierra Club causes. Can you talk about that controversy?

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Well, I can talk about my record with respect to environmental issues. It was my legislation, the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act known as the the "Tree Bill" that I carried for several years in the United States Congress, the co-sponsor of the legislation was Jim Leach of Iowa, a Republican. And the interesting thing about this particular piece of legislation is that it was crafted by a group of environmentalists and me, and so if you put 'Sierra Club, Cynthia McKinney' into your search engine, there’s no dearth of issues of — of articles that come up where the Sierra Club touts that piece of legislation which I actually helped to write. My intellectual property is a part of that legislation which the Sierra Club put as its number one agenda item. I cannot explain and I shouldn’t have to explain what happens inside the Georgia Sierra Club or the National Sierra Club. All I can say is that at the end of the day, there was something going on inside the Sierra Club that was more important than supporting the person who has been a champion along with them and for them.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at a piece in the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," that says, "The biggest problem for the six Democrats in the Fourth Congressional District primary race may be a simple one: They have too much in common." Then it goes on to say that, "Political observers believe that two of the candidates may end up in a run-off race with you. They are: Georgia State Senator Lee Ann Leviton and the Atlanta City Council President, Cathy Woolard." What do you say about that?

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Well, that’s the kind of gross hyperbole that we would expect from the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." Not a single one of the candidates other than me, can tout ten years of experience on Capitol Hill and actually having delivered for the constituents of the Fourth Congressional District. In fact, it was not that Democrats in the Fourth Congressional District abandoned me two years ago. The vote is clear — and the Republicans are clear — that they were the ones who affected the outcome of the election. Any kind of analysis of the election results will make it clear, and so what we have done over and over again is to remind the voters of the concrete things that they can ride around the district and see, that are the results of my work, the fruits of my labor for them in Washington, D.C. So, for the "Atlanta Constitution" to say that the candidates are so similar is a misrepresentation of the field itself by the "Altanta Constitution"

AMY GOODMAN: Finally —

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: In fact, we have some candidates who don’t even live in the district. And so, one could say that their delivery of services and advocacy on particular issues hasn’t even been tangential to the interests of the people of the Fourth Congressional District.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Cynthia McKinney, you said that persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America’s new war. Your follow-up on that? Do you still believe that?

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Well, it’s clear that Halliburton is one company that has received tremendous no-bid contracts from the Pentagon. Of course, I served on the House Armed Services Commitee, and there I had the opportunity to see some of these contracts in action. The Carlysle Group with the Crusader missile is one particular instance that I spoke out against and actually officially dissented to the defense budget legislation as a result of the inclusion for money for Carlysle Group in the Crusader missile there. In addition to that, we also discovered that the anthrax and smallbox vaccinations being given to our young men and women in the service was also being administered by an insider corporation, Dyncorp, of which much has been written.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there. Tomorrow the primary for the congressional seat in Georgia that Cynthia McKinney is running for. We will keep our listeners and viewers updated. Thank you for joining us.

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