UFO discussions aren’t completely alien to politicsPresidential candidates have flip-flopped on taxes, on abortion, on gun control and on the war.
By ROBIN ABCARIAN
By ROBIN ABCARIAN
But rarely has one flip-flopped on flying saucers.
In September, a spokeswoman for Rep. Dennis Kucinich dismissed a report that the Ohio Democrat had a close encounter with a UFO.
“If you have a serious question, just ask me,” Kucinich staffer Natalie Laber told a Washington Post reporter who inquired about Kucinich’s knowledge of UFOs. “If not, then just keep your silly comments to yourself.”
But Tuesday night, Kucinich had no wiggle room when debate moderator Tim Russert posed this question:
“The godmother of your daughter, Shirley MacLaine, writes in her new book that you’ve sighted a UFO over her home in Washington state, that you found the encounter extremely moving, that it was a triangular craft silent and hovering, that you felt a connection to your heart and heard direction in your mind. Now, did you see a UFO?”
Kucinich replied: “I did.”
Kucinich did not elaborate much. He joked about moving his campaign headquarters to Roswell, N.M., the site of the country’s most famous alleged UFO crash.
This, in fact, is why a second presidential candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, was drawn into the fray.
When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Richardson after the debate what he thought of Kucinich’s UFO response, Richardson smiled, giggled a little and explained that as governor of a state that depends on the UFO-enthralled tourist dollar, he was not in a position to criticize.
Although, Richardson hastened to add, he has never seen a UFO.
He also said it was time for the government to “come clean” on the Roswell matter.
Matthews began to sputter in disbelief, but as it happens, Richardson was not boldly going where no one (including his own self) had gone before. He has said many times that the mystery surrounding the 1947 crash in Roswell has never been adequately explained.
“Clearly,” he wrote in a foreword to a 2004 book about the crash, “it would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows.”
Kucinich is not the first presidential aspirant to report seeing a UFO.
According to many news accounts, when Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia in 1973, he filed a report with the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, saying that he had seen an unidentified glowing object four years earlier in Leary, Ga. Carter said later that he did not believe the object to be an alien craft, and some “ufologists,” as specialists call themselves, think he saw a halo around the planet Venus.
Ronald Reagan thought he had seen UFOs at least twice — once on the West Coast while driving to Hollywood with his wife, Nancy Reagan, and once, as governor of California, on a plane flying near Bakersfield.
In Landslide, their 1988 book about Reagan’s second term as president, journalists Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief, and Jane Mayer, now of The New Yorker, wrote that Reagan’s staff worked hard to keep the UFO sighting stories under wraps.
That’s easy to understand, because, as Alejandro Rojas, who handles media relations for the Mutual UFO Network, pointed out, “It’s typically an issue used on politicians to make them look bad.”
But, added Rojas, whose group investigates UFO sightings as well as reports of alien abductions, he was happy to see the issue raised in a presidential forum: “It’s great because the debate highlighted it.”