Break out the American flags and partisan rhetoric because presidential election season starts today for UC Santa Barbara.

Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio senator Dennis Kucinich will speak at Campbell Hall today at 4 p.m. as part of his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Admission to Kucinich’s speech is free to the public, though Kucinich is asking for donations of $10 from those who attend.

Kucinich’s platform focuses primarily on positions not offered by other Democratic candidates, such as withdrawing the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. Kucinich said the withdrawals from the WTO and NAFTA would save manufacturing jobs and farms in the U.S. and create new ones that would spur economic growth. He is also an advocate of universal health care and a reduction in military spending. He also reintroduced his proposal to create a cabinet-level Dept. of Peace last month.

“I am the only candidate for president who will take this country away from fear and war and tax giveaways and use America’s peace dividend for guaranteed health care for all, ending health care for profit,” Kucinich said in a recent statement. “I intend to begin a new debate in America over the purpose of government and its responsibilities to the American people.”

Kucinich’s campaign for the presidency has not gathered much steam since he announced his candidacy in February 2003. He has raised about $173,000 as of April 15, hired just five people for his campaign staff and opened offices only in Cleveland, Northern California and Iowa. Despite this, Kucinich said he believes both in his campaign and his chances.

“I’m used to fighting for lost causes,” he said in an interview published on his website. “I am used to doing things that other people say are impossible. I have learned throughout my whole life that you can turn it around.”

The majority of Kucinich’s comments while campaigning concern President Bush’s economic policies, which he said are out of step with the needs of our nation.

“This administration’s policy has led to cuts in spending on important domestic needs such as education, health care, veterans benefits, child care and led to sky-high state budget deficits,” Kucinich said. “Bush’s tax cuts will not stimulate the economy because they are slow to phase in and invest money in the wrong areas.”

Despite national public opinion strongly supporting America’s actions in Iraq, Kucinich has continued to voice his disapproval of the Iraqi conflict, calling the war a diplomatic and foreign policy failure.

“The administration, with its policy in Iraq, has isolated the United States from the international community and threatens to make our country less safe, not more safe,” Kucinich said. “America was led into a war based on false pretenses.”

Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1946, the eldest of seven children. His political career began while he was still in college, unsuccessfully running for a seat on Cleveland’s City Council in 1967. He was elected to the position two years later. Kucinich was later elected as mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31, making him the youngest ever mayor in a major American city.

Kucinich will host a fundraiser dinner in Montecito after speaking at UCSB.