Ignored by the Democratic political establishment, perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, Jr. has raised nearly $5 million for a 2004 White House bid, more money than four major candidates whom the Democratic National Committee acknowledges and invites to its events.
The DNC isn't the only organization excluding Larouche. The party's allies, like the AFL-CIO, make no mention of LaRouche on their websites or at their candidate forums.
The Republican Party ignores LaRouche as well, even when disparaging the field of Democratic candidates seeking to replace George W. Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Then there are the pollsters - Gallup, Opinion Dynamics, Zogby, Quinnipiac University - and poll-sponsoring news organizations like ABC, the Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. All pretend as if LaRouche isn't even a candidate.
To be sure, LaRouche, who likens himself politically to Franklin Roosevelt, espouses a long list of unconventional views.
He alleges, for example, that Vice President Dick Cheney deliberately promoted false intelligence about Iraq seeking nuclear material in Africa; that Cheney is influenced by 20th century philosophers with Nazi connections; that the DNC is run by a "right-wing mafia"; and that Bush officials may be plotting something akin to the infamous 1933 burning of the German parliament building that aided Nazi party ambitions.
LaRouche also served five years in prison after being convicted in 1988 of mail and tax fraud. Specifically, he was convicted of taking money from the credit card accounts of elderly contributors without their permission in order to fund his political organization. LaRouche calls this "a fake" perpetrated by political opponents - "George Bush and company. They wanted me off the scene, and that's the way they did it."
Cheney, LaRouche said during a July 27 interview on Chicago's WVAZ-102.7 FM, "is maybe not exactly Hitler, but in the sense he is playing the kind of role that the Nazis played in Germany - he's playing it in the United States."
Nonetheless, LaRouche has raised a total of $4.8 million for his 2004 presidential campaign, which places him sixth in the Democratic fundraising field of 10 declared candidates, according to a running tab kept by the Center for Responsive Politics. He claims to have more individual donors than any of the other Democratic candidates.
The leader in cumulative fundraising, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, has raised a total of $16 million, while at the bottom of the fundraising heap, Al Sharpton has raised under $200,000.
"He (LaRouche) does raise substantial amounts of money," observed CRP spokesman Steven Weiss. "And he is a candidate with a... substantial following. And we thought it relevant to show where his campaign contributions come from, in addition to the amount he raises, just as we show it for any other candidate who raises a significant amount of money."
The 80-year-old LaRouche has run unsuccessfully in every presidential election since 1976, first as a U.S. Labor Party candidate and later as a Democrat. He also failed in a bid for the U.S. House from Virginia in 1990
LaRouche told CNSNews.com that the DNC and its political allies exclude him out of fear.
"They're afraid of me," said LaRouche. "There are certain factions in [the party] who think that what they're doing [to] me is idiotic, but [Connecticut Sen.] Joe Lieberman and people around [2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al] Gore would probably rather sink the United States than have me on the ballot."
The DNC, LaRouche asserted, believes he has the ability to win. "That's what they're afraid of. The DNC would never do this (exclude him) unless those who are pushing for it were afraid I could win.
"The way they deal with a candidate who they think is not effective is they ignore him," LaRouche said. "They just let him run according to rules, period, because they know he's going noplace. The only time they'll block a candidate is when they're afraid of him."
An AFL-CIO spokesperson could not say why LaRouche was not invited to speak at its summer conference that featured the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates. And the DNC did not return calls seeking comment on the matter.
But Democratic consultant Mark Mellman didn't hesitate to offer an explanation.
"He has his own [political] party," said Mellman. "And they have on occasion tried to use the Democratic Party, to take over the Democratic Party, to further their own interests.
"The formal Democratic parties have disavowed" LaRouche and his surrogate candidates, said Mellman.
"We're a pretty big tent, but the tent doesn't include lunatics and criminals," Mellman said.