America Rocks the Vote Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum
Boston, MA, November 4, 2003
November 4, 2003 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum
BYLINE: Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper hosts America Rocks the Vote democratic presidential candidates forum.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome.
We are live in Boston's Faneuil Hall for America Rocks the Vote.
Tonight, we have brought together hundreds of 18-to-30-year-old Democrats and independents. Millions more right now are watching around the country and literally around the world.
Tonight, you here, as well as you at home, get to challenge the candidates who would be president.
Let's meet them right now.
Governor Howard Dean.
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
General Wesley Clark.
Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Senator John Edwards.
Senator John Kerry.
Reverend Al Sharpton.
And Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Welcome, gentlemen, lady, have a seat, please.
You all may notice that Congressman Richard Gephardt is not here. He was apparently here yesterday, doing something at Harvard. Tonight, he's in Iowa, in a diner.
Personally I don't think he's going to have quite as much fun as we all are going to have here.
Very briefly, our goal tonight: a conversation between the candidates and young America. You at home can e-mail us questions right now or text message us with the questions you want to put to the candidates. The candidates will have up to a minute to respond.
Now, the candidates, about your responses—and you all can have a seat if you'd like—we've already seen your debate. We've heard the stump speeches, the talking points, the sound bytes. In fact, I don't know if you all know, but there is actually a drinking game on some campuses during these debates.
No, it's true, and that when you say your stock phrases, somebody downs a shot.
And I hate to do this, but just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at these videos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was in the United States Army...
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was serving in Vietnam...
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad worked at a mill his whole life.
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've always been a woman...
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My Web site, joe2004.com...
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My Web site, al2004.com...
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a plan to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out, to get the U.N. troops in and the U.S. troops out, to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out.
CLARK: I voted for Al Gore.
LIEBERMAN: You've got to start where Al Gore...
Al Gore said to me...
EDWARDS: ... to Al Gore and I, we want to reach out to the middle class.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Shrinking middle class.
SHARPTON: Particularly the middle class..
DEAN: Ken Lay...
EDWARDS: Ken Lay...
MOSELEY BRAUN: Enron...
KUCINICH: No more Halliburton...
DEAN: We benefited in Vermont...
We've actually done this, and a lot of this in Vermont.
KUCINICH: This is a grassroots campaign to take back America...
DEAN: It's time to take our country back.
CLARK: Take this government back.
EDWARDS: Back to the American people.
COOPER: All right, now, you all haven't walked out yet, so that is a good sign. That's a very good sign.
COOPER: And I know that you all don't want to contribute to drinking on college campuses, after all, there is school tomorrow. So tonight, let's try to keep things real.
Let's go to our first question, which I believe is over here.
QUESTION: I live in southeastern Michigan in a community with over 500,000 Arab-Americans. Since September 11th, many Arab- Americans have seen infringements on their civil liberties, like lack of due process and forced interrogations by the FBI.
Senator Lieberman, you voted in favor of the Patriot Act. If you become president, how do you plan to protect the civil liberties of Arab-Americans?
LIEBERMAN: Very important question and I thank you for it.
The best thing we did with the Patriot Act was to sunset it, was to say—right—to say that it needs to be reauthorized or it'll go out of existence. And we're going to look back and see what happened with the Patriot Act.
But I'll tell you—and in fact, the Bush administration has been typically secretive about what it did with the Patriot Act, so we don't really know yet how much it may have protected us or compromised our liberties.
But I know something bad that happened under immigration law under John Ashcroft as the attorney general. Almost 800 foreign nationals, immigrants, mostly Arab-Americans or people who looked like Arab-Americans, were arrested, put in jail, held without charges, no notification for their families and no right to counsel. That's un- American and I will fight to end that as president of the United States.
We can have security and liberty.
If we fight the terrorists who attacked us because of our liberties by compromising our liberties, shame on us.
COOPER: All right, your time is up.
Let's go to the next question over here.
QUESTION: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: You're the manager of the Boston Red Sox.
QUESTION: It's game seven.
(UNKNOWN): That's one way to get Kerry out of the race.
QUESTION: It's game seven of the ALCS versus the New York Yankees. Your starting pitcher appears to be tiring.
You know it's best for the team to replace him, but the star asks to stay in. Do you make an executive decision and take him out? Or do you listen to your star and let him, the person who you hired in that role, and let him finish that job?
KERRY: That's a great question.
Wilmington, thank you very much for the question. I thought it was tough running for president of the United States. Now he wants to make me manager of the Red Sox.
Let me tell you something. You know why I will be a great president of the United States? Because I've been a long suffering Red Sox fan. I know adversity.
Like most of you here, I was throwing things at the television set, screaming at Grady Little, “Get him out of there. Get him out of there.”
And regrettably he didn't. Now we have another round. But that's our role in life. You have to understand. If you come from Boston, you come from Massachusetts, you love the Red Sox, your role in life is to put up with it.
And I'll tell you what. Every single one of us ought to celebrate the Marlins beating the Yankees.
And the reason it's extra special is that's the first legitimate victory out of Florida since 2000.
COOPER: I take it that means you'll leave him in?
KERRY: Leave him in? Hell, I was throwing things at the set. He's out. Take him out. Take him out.
COOPER: Next question over here.
QUESTION: My question is for Governor Dean.
I recently read a comment that you made where you said that you wanted to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. When I read that comment, I was extremely offended.
Could you explain to me how you plan on being sensitive to needs and issues regarding slavery and African-Americans, after making a comment of that nature?
DEAN: Sure. Martin Luther King said that it was his dream that the sons of slave holders and the sons of slaves sit down around a table and make common good.
There are 102,000 kids in South Carolina right now with no health insurance. Most of those kids are white. The legislature cut $70 million out of the school system. Most of the kids in the public school system are white. We have had white Southern working people voting Republican for 30 years, and they've got nothing to show for it.
They vote for a president who cut 1 percent of this country's taxpayers' taxes by $26,000, which is more than they make. And I think we need to talk to white Southern workers about how they vote, because when white people and black people and brown people vote together in this country, that's the only time that we make social progress, and they need to come back to the Democratic Party.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, I just want to point out, in the last couple days, earlier last week, you have called some of Governor Dean's positions anti-black. It sounds very close to calling him racist.
SHARPTON: No, I don't think the governor is a racist. I think some of his positions would have hurt us. But I think that doesn't answer, Governor, this young man's question.
First of all, Martin Luther King said, “Come to the table of brotherhood.” You can't bring a Confederate flag to the table of brotherhood.
And you can't misquote Martin Luther King like that. I come out of the King movement, I didn't just read him. He talked about us leaving racism there. And I think that Maynard Jackson said that the Confederate flag is America's swastika. If a Southern person running, if John Edwards, a Bob Graham had said that, they'd have been run out this race.
I don't think you're a bigot, but I think that is insensitive, and I think you ought to apologize to people for that.
When Bill Clinton was found to be a member of a white-only country club, he apologized. You are not a bigot, but you appear to be too arrogant to say “I'm wrong” and go on.
COOPER: Governor Dean?
DEAN: We're not going to win in this country, and even worse, Democrats, if we don't have a big tent. And I'm going to tell you right now, Reverend, you're right. I am not a bigot. And Jesse Jackson Jr. endorsed me and has stood up for what I said.
And Reverend Jesse Jackson went down to South Carolina last week and went to a trailer park which was inhabited by mostly white folks making $25,000 a year. We need to reach out to those people, too, because they suffer as well.
I understand the legacy of racism in this country, and I understand the legacy of bigotry in this country. We need to bring folks together in this race, just like Martin Luther King tried to do before he was killed. He was right. And I make no apologies for reaching out to poor white people.
SHARPTON: But Confederate flags is not for white people, and that's sounds more like Stonewall Jackson than Jesse Jackson. And he...
Jesse Jackson went to South Carolina with all of us protesting the flag. The issue's not poor Southern whites. Most poor Southern whites don't wear a Confederate flag, and you ought not try to stereotype that.
COOPER: All right, let me bring Senator Edwards with his comments.
Senator Edwards, in the last couple days you have been very critical of Governor Dean on this issue. And let me try to understand, are you basically saying that the votes of those who fly the Confederate flag are too loathsome to even accept? And if so, are there any other groups whose votes you don't want?
EDWARDS: Well, let me say, first of all, unless I missed something, Governor Dean still has not said he was wrong.
Were you wrong, Howard?
Were you wrong to say that?
DEAN: No, I wasn't, John Edwards, because people who vote who fly the Confederate flag, I think they are wrong because I think the Confederate flag is a racist symbol. But I think there are lot of poor people who fly that flag because the Republicans have been dividing us by race since 1968 with their Southern race strategy.
I am tired of being divided by race in this country. I am tired of being divided by abortion, by gay rights.
I want to go down to the South and talk to people who don't make any more than anybody else up north but keep voting Republican against their own economic interests and that's what I am saying.
EDWARDS: But may I respond?
May I respond? And I want to respond to this young man's questions.
Because let me tell you the last thing we need in the South is somebody like you coming down and telling us what we need to do.
That's the last thing in the world we need in the South.
I grew up in the South. I grew up with the very people that you're talking about. And what Al Sharpton just said is exactly right. The people that I grew up with, the vast majority of them, they don't drive around with Confederate flags on pickup trucks.
One of the problems that we have with young people today is people talk down to you. You know, you get all pigeon-holed. They've stereotype you.
Exactly the same thing happens with people from the South. I have seen it. I have grown up with it. I'm here to tell you it is wrong. It is condescending. And the only way that we as a party are going to win the White House back is to reach out to everybody and treat them with the dignity and respect that they're entitled to.
That's what we ought to be doing.
COOPER: Ambassador Braun, you make a comment. And then, Governor Dean, you can respond. And then we'll move on.
MOSELEY BRAUN: You know, when I was in the Senate I opened myself up to the venom of the right-wing conspiracy by battling Jesse Helms over the Confederate flag. And I'm sitting here in Faneiul Hall and looking at that picture of having to do with the framing of our Constitution. And if you think about it, the women are relegated to the balcony, and the blacks aren't even in the room.
We have to as Democrats begin to engage a civil conversation among ourselves how we can get past that racist strategy that the Republicans have foisted upon this country, how we can bring Southern whites and Southern blacks and northern blacks and northern whites together, how we can come together to reclaim this country—and Latinos, and Asians, and Christians and Muslims and Jews and Protestants.
I mean, we have to be able to bring people together to find a solution. Because guess what, we are in a global economy. We are in a global competition. We have to deal with and address the rest of the world. And we can't do it as long as Americans are still fighting each other. And we need to find ways as Democrats to come together.
Yes, this is an important conversation. But it has to be done in a way that does not play into the hands of the real racists and the real right wing.
COOPER: Governor Dean, your response, and then we'll move on.
DEAN: I'm not going to take a back seat to anybody in terms of fighting bigotry. I signed—I am the only person here that ever signed a bill that outlawed discrimination against gays and lesbians by giving them the same amount...
What I discovered is that fear of people who opposed that bill, which is the majority of people in my state, was mostly based on ignorance.
We have to reach out to every single American. We can't write—we don't have to embrace the Confederate flag, and I never suggested that we did. But we have to reach out to all disenfranchised people.
Robert Kennedy brought people together in Appalachia. Jesse Jackson did it. And we're going to bring people together in this country.
I understand that the Confederate flag is a loathsome symbol, just as I understood that all the anti-gay slurs that I had to put up with in Vermont after I signed that bill were loathsome symbols. If we don't reach out to every single American, we can't win.
I have had enough of campaigns based on fear. I want a campaign based on hope.
COOPER: All right, we've got to move on on this issue. We've got a lot of questions from the audience. We have a question over here.
QUESTION: I'm a freshman at Brown University. And going to college this year, I was confused with an important decision. My mom advised me one way; my dad the other. And so my question for you all is—and it's not quite boxers or briefs, but Macs or PCs?
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, Mac or PCs?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Macs or PCs? I'll answer.
I like them—my son has a Mac, he loves it. I use a PC.
COOPER: The question was actually to all of you.
So, Governor Dean, Mac or PC?
DEAN: PC. PC.
LIEBERMAN: Hand-held wireless. That's what I have.
COOPER: Somehow I knew you were going to say that.
SHARPTON: A politically correct Mac.
COOPER: All right. Let's go for the next question.
Actually, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, we have asked all the candidates to prepare 30-second videos addressing young voters. When “America Rocks the Vote” returns, you'll see the first of them and decide for yourself who's really listening to the next generation.
Plus, we're going to have your e-mail questions, what do America's young voters want to know about Iraq—that when we return.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are live from Boston's Feneuil Hall. “America Rocks the Vote” is back.
We're going to return to the questions in just a moment.
First, all of the candidates here tonight were asked to deliver a message directly to young voters in a 30-second video.
Unlike MTV, we actually play videos. So we're going to bring you all...
Hey, hey, you know.
We're going to play you all of them throughout the program at different parts. Our first batch includes Senators John Edwards and John Kerry, but we start with Senator Joseph Lieberman in 30.
Take a look.
COOPER: All right, the next video is Senator John Edwards.
Take a look in 30.
COOPER: And the last one in this group, Senator John Kerry's video.
COOPER: We'll have the rest of the videos sprinkled throughout the evening. But right now, let's go back to questions.
QUESTION: My question is for Senator Kerry. As a member of the United States Army Reserves, many of my fellow young soldiers have experienced the hardships of combat because of the commitment they have to this country. My question is, do you—what specific actions would you take to ensure that these soldiers receive the benefits that they deserve?
KERRY: I will do what I have done for 35 years, which is fight to make certain that we keep faith with those who wear the uniform in our country. George Bush has 135,000 veterans waiting six months to get their first visit with the doctor at the VA. Four hundred thousand veterans have had their cutbacks and their accessibility to the VA altogether.
We have families with children in the military who've had cuts in their ability to get education. And the Reserves have been turned into active duty, and they are over-extended.
I say to you, this president has made our military weaker by overextending them, and he has in fact made America less secure by conducting an arrogant, blustering, unilateral foreign policy that has put America in greater danger, not less.
Our troops deserve a president who's going to keep faith with those who wore the uniform. And that means making certain that they have the benefits they were promised.
COOPER: All right. We have a wireless question for General Clark. By the way, we have questions on this topic for all of you.
General Clark, this is a wireless question. Would you reinstate the draft? I think they asked this because one of your senior campaign advisers, Congressman Charlie Rangel, says the draft should be reinstated. It's time. Is it?
CLARK: No. I don't think it's time to reinstate the draft. America's armed forces need people who want to be there. And I would not reinstate the draft.
I am worried about the armed forces. And I agree with a lot of things John said. He's exactly right. The armed forces are overextended and particularly with our Reservists and our National Guardsmen. We're using them in a way that, frankly, was never intended.
But the answer to this is first to take care of the Reserve, the National Guard, give them the health care they need, give it to them while they're still in their civilian status as reservists and guardsmen, and give them the health care they need and their families need when they're deployed and when they return home. And keep them on their full pay and allowances if they're injured in some way and then brought back to the States.
You know, it's a shocking that we found down at Fort Stewart, Georgia. A bunch of guys who fought over in Iraq were left alone in concrete cinderblock buildings. They were reservists and guardsmen. They didn't have enough medics and doctors to keep them there. And they were there for months without getting proper medical care. We should fix it.
But here's the key thing on the draft. We believe that the armed forces are better with a volunteer force. And what this country has to understand is that when it puts a foreign policy in place that the American people don't support, the answer for that is not to reinstitute the draft, but to change the foreign policy, and that's where we're headed with Iraq.
COOPER: And I'm just throwing it out there, I don't want to be a schoolmarm tonight, but when you do hear that clever little computerized chime of ours, please do respect that.
We have a question for Congressman Kucinich: You talk about the U.N. pulling out of Iraq—or you talk about the U.S. pulling out—the U.N. in—I should have been watching the video.
Why do you have so much confidence in the U.N.? I mean, there are those who say, look, the U.N. is already pulling out of Iraq, in the face of terror. There are those who say that the U.N. closed their eyes in Srebrenica, in Bosnia, and that they debated while a million people were killed in Rwanda.
Why are you so confident...
KUCINICH: First of all, we have to understand that the United States has not been particularly supportive of the U.N. process—we know that—over many years.
For many years, the United Nations was having trouble getting funding. And the inability to get funding had a material impact, an adverse impact, on the ability of the United Nations to do its job around the world.
As president of the United States, I've said, as you recorded, I want to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out of Iraq, because we have to acknowledge that the United States made a grave mistake in the first place in going in there, that we are—if it was a mistake to go in, it is a mistake to stay in.
And the only way that we could be safe as a nation is to reach out and to engage with the world community in the cause of international security. So the U.N. going in would mean the U.N. would handle the oil, with no privatization of the oil assets.
The U.N. would handle the contract. No more Halliburton sweetheart deals. The U.N. would handle the cause of governance.
The U.N. would handle the cause of helping the Iraqi people become self governing again. And as we do that, we affirm the United States' intention to work with the world community. And it's time for us to rejoin the world, I think.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton—Reverend Sharpton, you have said, quote, “I would absolutely take the troops out of Iraq.” With U.S. troops gone, how do you prevent terrorists from just moving in?
SHARPTON: First of all, I think we've got to start at the beginning. We were told we had to go to Iraq because we were in imminent danger. That was not true. You cannot start wrong and then end up right. You are going to get wrong from wrong.
We were misled, and we are still being misled.
Now, if we go to the United Nations, if we go to the world community and we say to them, “We are not in charge. We will submit to a world body. Kofi Annan is in charge. We will be part of a partnership,” the world can then come forward.
What Bush is saying, “We are in charge. We are going to keep our sweetheart deals going with Halliburton, and you guys line up behind me.” Why would anybody that disagreed with you when you were misleading them in the first place invest in the end of your deal when they told you in the beginning they were not part of the deal.
COOPER: So you are talking about putting U.S. troops under the command of the U.N.?
SHARPTON: I'm talking about stopping U.S. troops from dying senselessly. There is a young man in New York, in Long Island, would have been 21 years old, who is dead. Why? Young people dying from helicopters in Iraq. Why? What is the rationale? And the man that is responsible for what happened on 9/11, we are not even pursuing him.
We're in a Vietnam in Iraq, and it's wrong.
COOPER: Ambassador Braun? Ambassador Braun, you have talked about...
MOSELEY BRAUN: I can't even hear you.
COOPER: Ambassador Braun, you have talked about bringing home troops with honor. What exactly does that mean?
MOSELEY BRAUN: That means we blew Iraq up. We have a responsibility to at least stay and leave it in better shape than we found it.
I did not...
I've called this a misadventure and called on the president not to put boots on the ground in Iraq from the very beginning. I asked the question, how much it was going to cost the American people from the beginning. We still don't have the truth on any of these things. They've lied to the American people consistently.
Ten thousand Iraqi civilians it's estimated have died as a result of this. And we're heading into 300 American combat troops have died in Iraq. This has been a tragic misadventure.
But those people having given their lives, at a minimum we have, I think, our honor at stake. And to preserve that honor, we have to leave the Iraqi people no less—no worse off than we found them. And that means repairing and rebuilding the infrastructure, not new phone deals and sweetheart deals for Halliburton, certainly.
We don't need to give them a new phone system when we hardly have our phones working here at home.
But at the same time, I think we have to leave that place restored on some level and come out as we internationalize the effort as we bring in NATO and the United Nations troops.
COOPER: Senator Edwards, there are a lot of people who say, you know, the Democrats are very good at criticizing, but in terms of specific policies on the ground, how would you do things differently? For instance, how would you get allies to work with the U.S.? I mean, how are you going to convince them? Are you going to charm them? What are you going to do different that George Bush hasn't been doing?
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, if I were president of the United States, I would put the Iraqi Civilian Authority under the control of the United Nations today. That should have been done a long time ago. Use that to create the kind of energy we need to bring allies and friends to this effort, to help relieve the burden on American troops, relieve the burden on American taxpayers.
And also, as some of my colleagues up here have mentioned, put a stop to these sweetheart deals for Halliburton, the president's friends.
The very idea—how would you expect the American people to react? The very idea that the president's campaign manager and long- time friend, Joe Allbaugh, a couple of months ago or a month ago, set up a consulting firm in Washington for the purpose of getting contracts in Iraq. How in the world would you expect the American people to react to that? They are reacting exactly as they should. The president's looking out for his friends and not looking out for the American people.
COOPER: Senator Lieberman, it is November 4th, 22 soldiers have died in this month alone in Iraq. You voted for the war. You have been very critical of President Bush's handling of it.
Specifically, if you can, what would you do differently with the troops on the ground now?
LIEBERMAN: Let me say first, I understand how this discussion tears the American people. I understand how it tears the generation that's in this room because most of the troops that are there in Iraq today are from your generation.
What I would do today—and again, we can look back—Bush made this so difficult by alienating most of the rest of the world, for reasons that aren't even related to Iraq, by pulling out of the global warming agreement internationally, by pulling out of arms control treaties...
... by not getting into the International Court of Criminal Justice, for having no plan for what to do when Saddam fell.
But here we are today, we've got 135,000 Americans there. I would try to—I would go back to the United Nations, and I would come off the Bush high horse and negotiate and turn over the civilian administration of Iraq to the United Nations and the Iraqis.
I didn't support the war in Iraq so that America could control Iraq. I supported it to get rid of a homicidal maniac named Saddam Hussein and to let the Iraqis control Iraq.
And let me say one final word. Our troops need support there. They're stretched, and we're losing lives. If this administration doesn't come to their aid, shame on them.
I'm going to be a leader who will do what's right for America, whether it's politically popular or not. That's what a commander in chief should do.
COOPER: OK, Governor Dean, talking about Iraq...
Governor Dean, if you could respond perhaps to what Congressman Kucinich said.
DEAN: Sorry, I didn't hear the question.
COOPER: If you could respond a little bit to what Congressman Kucinich said. Does the U.N.—can they really handle the job?
DEAN: I don't think we have any choice.
Let me just tell you what the difference between me and General Clark and Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards and Senator Lieberman are.
I thought it was bad judgment to support that war in the first place, because the president—I supported the first Gulf War, I supported the Afghanistan war. Our people had been killed. We have a right to defend ourselves.
But this time the president of the United States did not tell the truth to us about why we were going. And I think one of the most important things in a president is to have judgment and patience. I think it was a mistake for Congress to give the authority to the president to go into Iraq. And if I had been president, we wouldn't be there right now.
Secondly, the way to get out—we can't just cut and run. Carol Moseley Braun is right about that. What we have to do is do what George Bush's father did. He had over 100,000 troops in Iraq from foreign countries, mostly Arabic-speaking or Muslim troops.
We need to bring troops from Arabic-speaking nations in so this is an international reconstruction and not an American occupation. And I think, yes, the U.N. can do that.
COOPER: All right, we're going to take a short break. Coming up, we have more videos in General Wesley Clark, we have an Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, plus your e-mail questions.
Stay with us, we'll be right back.
COOPER: All right, Welcome back. We are live at Boston's Faneuil Hall, “America Rocks The Vote.” We have given the Democratic candidates a chance to tape their own messages, which we are playing throughout the evening.
On deck right now are videos from General Wesley Clark, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, in 30. Let's take a look.
COOPER: I'm not sure who the next video is from—the next video is from the Reverend Al Sharpton. Let's take a look.
COOPER: And the last video's from Ambassador Moseley Braun. Let's listen.
COOPER: All right, I'm told we have a question in the audience.
QUESTION: My question is this: Who were you when you were 20 years old? And did you ever think that you would run for president?
COOPER: Who is your question to?
QUESTION: Any of the candidates.
KUCINICH: I was a candidate for a city council in the city of Cleveland. And I determined that I wanted to serve my country by being involved in public service. I had a heart murmur. I couldn't get into the military. But I knew that my life doesn't belong to just me. It belongs, I feel, to the community. So I chose a life of public service. And I think that every person who ever serves wants to be able to help more and more people.
And so, I'm grateful to have the chance, here—actually, because a New York Times reporter had asked me, I went back to get an autobiography I wrote in the 10th grade. And I looked at it today, and I saw that in the 10th grade I said that I wanted to pursue a career in national politics because I was interested in public service.
So, what it says is this: If you have a dream in your heart about the kind of world that you want to help create, if you have the passion, trust that. It's what Emerson wrote about trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string. And when you trust that inner-knowingness, you could follow it all the way. You can follow it here. You could follow it to the career of your dreams. Thank you.
COOPER: General Clark?
CLARK: When I was 20 years old, it was the fall of 1965. I was a senior at West Point. Our Army was engaged in Vietnam. The country was still divided, but mostly supportive. I remember going to college campuses, and the organizing was just started.
My classmates and I at West Point were worried. For the first time, we really recognized that when we graduated, we'd be at war. We saw people starting to die. We had about 200,000 troops there.
I realized what it was to serve in the United States Armed Forces. I volunteered for that, because I wanted to protect the country.
I stayed with it through Vietnam. And I know today what young people feel, in and out of uniform, when they look at the situation in Iraq.
I went to West Point. I served in the Army because I wanted to protect our country and serve the public. That's why I'm running for president. I never expected to do it.
But I will tell you this. In the fall of '65, I went to Georgetown University for a student conference on the Atlantic Community. I met another young guy from Arkansas. His name was Bill Clinton. And I knew he was going to run for president.
COOPER: Changing the subject a little bit, Governor Dean, I know you took a year off after college, spent a little time skiing. Is that something you would recommend for college graduates?
DEAN: When I was 20 years old, I was a junior in a college in New Haven, Connecticut. And I was totally turned off politics. I thought that the President of the United States was a crook, which turned out to be right. It was Richard Nixon.
And I thought that the Vietnam war was a mistake. And I had no idea I was going to end up in public service. I was teaching school in the inner city middle school, which was—I also learned at that time that teaching was one of the hardest professions in the world, because you're required...
... because it requires you not only to connect with kids—I usually had a card game going on in the back of the room, which shows you how effective I was—you also have to stand for five hours without going to the bathroom, which may be good training for president.
COOPER: Senator Lieberman. Then we'll move on. Go ahead.
LIEBERMAN: You know, when I was 20, I was in college—also at that unnamed school in New Haven. And I was inspired by the person who was president, John F. Kennedy, who ended his campaign for the presidency in 1960 right at this building. It's historic and moving to me.
Why? Because he said to me and my generation that if we got involved, we could make a difference. We could make the world better.
The first thing I did was not political. I got into the civil rights movement. I marched with Dr. King in Washington in 1963. I went to Mississippi to fight for the right of African-Americans to vote. And that eventually led, through the heroism of a lot of people greater and more courageous than I, to the Voting Rights Act and to the right of African-Americans to vote and affect a presidential election such as the one I'm in today.
So I never would have dreamed that I'd be here today. That's America. That's the American dream. I have been blessed to live it.
Under George Bush, it's been slipping away from too many Americans. I want to bring it back and keep it alive for your generation so that one of you can be here one day, running for president of the United States.
COOPER: All right, we've got a question over here.
QUESTION: Hi, good evening. Ambassador Braun, my question is, in the State of the Union address, President Bush encouraged more young Americans to give back to their country and join AmeriCorps, our national service program.
Yet this year, thousands of people were turned away from AmeriCorps and national service because of mismanagement and lack of funding. I was wondering what you plan to do to grow AmeriCorps? And also what your feeling is on the national service movement and how you can assure that young people who want to serve for barely minimum wage are going to be able to do so and give back to their community?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you.
I think AmeriCorps is important. I think public service is important. And the thing that inspires me the most are the young people who, in spite of school and in spite of the barriers that they might face, continue to give and to reach outside of themselves to make the community better.
That kind of service goes to the heart of who we are as a people. We are really a generous people.
You mentioned the president's State of the Union Address. The sad thing about it is that this administration has become famous for bait and switch. They say one thing and they do another. Where they're saying—supporting AmeriCorps with words and then cutting the funding; clean, healthy forests and then cutting down old growth trees; clean skies and allowing for more pollution. They have done this consistently to the American people.
And I'm running for president because I sincerely believe that young people ought to be optimistic about the future, ought to be optimistic that their leadership will be honest with them, will tell them what the real deal is and that will allow for young people to contribute to making this society better, to breaking down the barriers and making us as Americans who we can be.
COOPER: We have a question for Senator Edwards on the floor right here.
QUESTION: Like many youths, I haven't fully gotten behind any one candidate. What are you going to do to impress me and other youths in this year that we have ahead of us? And what ultimately makes you the strongest candidate that can defeat an incumbent president?
EDWARDS: Well, thank you. Thank you for the question.
First, what I'm going to do for you and other young people is I'm going to reach out to you, hear what you have to say, listen to what you have to say, try to give you a decent start in life by helping you be able to buy a house, helping you to be able to save, making sure that you have access to health insurance, all of the things that'll actually—and having a job, which is very difficult while this president is in office.
But the reason I'm the best candidate against George Bush is very simple. I come from middle-class working people. I grew up that way. I spent all of my adult life, first as a lawyer fighting for those people against big corporations, against big insurance companies. I fought the same fight on the floor of the United States Senate. It has been the cause of my life. I will wake up both as a nominee and as president of the United States every day standing up and fighting for you and people just like the people I grew up with.
These are the people that George Bush has left behind. These are the people he has to get in order to be re-elected.
When I'm on a stage, when I'm on a stage—almost finished—when I'm on a stage...
... when I'm on a stage with George Bush, as I intend to be in 2004, they're going to say, “John Edwards understands me; George Bush does not, and we're going to put John Edwards in the White House”—that's what's going to happen.
COOPER: You can actually stay there because I've got a follow-up question for you.
Last year on CNN you said this, quote, “It's absolutely critical that Democrats reach out to people like Zell Miller.” He's now endorsing President Bush. What did you do wrong?
EDWARDS: Well, I disagree with Zell Miller, obviously. I know Zell, I know him very well. I think Zell Miller has the wrong feeling and the wrong view of what we need to do in the South in order to be successful.
I think Zell Miller, for whatever reason, has decided that the policies of George Bush are good for Southerners.
COOPER: Does he speak for all Southerners?
EDWARDS: Actually, I don't believe he does. I think the people that—I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina, about 800 or 900 people. I don't think he speaks for the people that I grew up with.
These are people who have lost their jobs. They've seen the plants closing. They have no health insurance. They're struggling, and they're suffering.
And what they want in a president is somebody, first, who will solve the real problems they have in their day-to-day lives; and second, somebody that will treat them with respect, not somebody who looks down on them, saying, “We know what's best for you, we're going to take care of you,” but somebody who actually gives them the power to do what they're capable of doing.
These are the people I grew up with. I know them very well. And I can get them in 2004.
COOPER: Senator Kerry, we've got an e-mail for you. It says, “What do you think about the recent polls that put Hillary Clinton 20 percent ahead of all you guys?”
KERRY: Well, it all depends on which poll you look at. I saw a poll the other day...
COOPER: I knew you were going to say that.
KERRY: I saw a poll the other day that showed me about 15 points ahead of her.
Look, here's what's important to all of you.
Every young person that I talk to in this country is disappointed by politics, by Washington and the sense that nothing that happens is real and it doesn't affect your lives.
I want your help in this race because I have lived the experience of being a young person who is trying to make a difference for our country. Lived it during the civil rights movement in the '60s, in Vietnam fighting. When I came back, standing up against Richard Nixon and fighting to end the war; taking on Ronald Reagan's illegal, clandestine, unconstitutional war in Central America; blowing the whistle on Oliver North and his private aid network...
... blowing the whistle on Noriega; standing up with John McCain to get answers for our families that they hadn't had for 20 years. I took on Newt Gingrich when he tried to gut the Clean Air and Clean Water Act. And I led the fight to stop them drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
What we need is a president who has a proven record of taking on the special interests; standing up and fighting for people and making life better for Americans.
And that's what I'm going to do.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll just last week showed that young people, 18 to 29, are actually more conservative than their parents. And, actually, 61 or 62 percent of them said they agree with the job George Bush is doing.
What are the Democrats doing wrong?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that first of all, a lot of young people don't understand what George Bush is doing. And a lot of them have been confused because a lot of the Democrats have played this game of trying to be Republican-like.
I say that we've been...
I think that we've had too many elephants running around in donkey jackets that are not real Democrats. When we stand up...
COOPER: By the way, I think someone's drinking right now, because I think I heard that before.
SHARPTON: Well, while they're gulping, let me give you another two lines. Anyway...
COOPER: Thirty seconds to break.
SHARPTON: I think that when we stand up as real Democrats and show young people that we have to have a job-creating president, that we have to have a president that wants to build alliances with the rest of the world, it is in their interest, they could not side with Bush. They would side with their future.
COOPER: We got to go to break.
SHARPTON: Anyone up here is better than George Bush.
COOPER: We got to go to break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And we are back, live, Faneuil Hall, the heart of America's biggest college town where America rocks the vote. And, dare I say, rocks it pretty darn hard.
Our Democratic candidates here will take more of your questions in a moment.
First, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Governor Howard Dean, in 30. Take a look.
COOPER: And the next, Governor Howard Dean, in 30.
COOPER: Let's get back to the questions from the audience. We have a question over here for Senator Lieberman.
QUESTION: The Bush administration promotes abstinence as the only way to protect against STDs and pregnancy, there is no mention of condoms or birth control. And I just wanted to know what you think is the best way to handle sex education.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you. Real important question for a lot of reasons. Number one, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases hurts a lot of people. Two, one of the foremost indicators of poverty is if you have a child out of wedlock before the age of 18.
Now, you've got to be realistic in dealing with these problems. Sure, abstinence is an important option, and it ought to be part of what's done in school-based sexual education programs. But if you're only teaching abstinence, you're only going to teach so many and affect so many lives. You've got to expand that to cover condoms and birth control and other means of doing it.
And if you've got to talk about right from wrong, you've got to say don't do what is—what feels good right now that may make it hard for you to live the kind of life you want to live and help your child live that kind of life as well.
So I'd say, broad-based sexual education. You've got to be realistic and practical. And right from wrong to make a better future for yourself.
COOPER: All right, we have a question over here.
QUESTION: My question is for Reverend Sharpton, though I'd love to hear from the other candidates as well.
My question is this. What's the first thing going through your head the morning you wake up in the White House?
SHARPTON: Well, I think the first thing going through my head would be to make sure that Bush has all of his stuff out.
And that we changed the locks on the door, so none of his crowd can come back.
And that we need to have an authenticity in politics—one of the reasons I'm running. We need politicians that believe in something.
In my career, I have fought in controversies. I have gone to jail for civil disobedience. I've been stabbed.
You need people that don't say what they want people to feel they believe in, but people that stand for something.
I would want—the Sharpton White House would stand for something. It would fight for things that are fundamental and that are basic for every American citizen. And I'd wake up in that White House every day saying that people that wanted me to be here are depending on me to fight for ordinary average people to have equal opportunity and equal justice in this country.
COOPER: Another question for General Clark, I believe.
QUESTION: What's your personal comfort level with homosexuals? And do you have any gay friends?
CLARK: The answer is, I do have gay friends. And there are gays who serve in the United States armed forces, and they do a very good job. But when they are—when they acknowledge who they are and their sexual preference, they leave. So I've got a very good comfort level with it.
I think everybody deserves the right to serve. And when I'm president, I'm going to make sure that we treat every man, woman and child in America with dignity and respect. And that includes the opportunities to serve in the United States armed forces.
COOPER: Let me ask a follow-up then. Did you ever serve with soldiers who knew were gay? And did you ever turn anyone in?
CLARK: Never turned anybody in. But I had people who came to me after they had turned themselves in. And it's a very sad thing because a lot of these people wanted to serve, but they just had a conflict between what they felt on the inside...
COOPER: Are you saying “Don't ask, don't tell” works?
CLARK: I don't think it works everywhere. I've seen it work in some units, but I get a lot of reports where it doesn't work. And I think it depends on the service, it depends on the unit. I think it depends, to some extent, on the commander.
And so, I think the policy, as I've said, the policy needs to be reviewed because there are so many indications that it's not working. I think you start a review with the presumption that it isn't. And let the armed forces leadership go back through it and give us a better policy so that every American who desires to serve can.
COOPER: We've got another question on the subject down here.
QUESTION: My question is for Senator Kerry and for General Clark.
Gays and lesbians have made a tremendous amount of progress in the last 10 years under Clinton and thanks to many of the people on the stage tonight. But what I have a question is, when people want to build a family, they are prevented from doing so. There are adoption barriers. There are problems with permanent partner immigration. And there are also problems with collecting Social Security benefits for deceased partners.
My question is: What can you do to help make sure that every American, including those in the GLBT community, have an opportunity to build and love their families?
COOPER: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Could I have some clarification? Were you asking that specifically about gay and lesbian? Or are you asking that specifically generically?
QUESTION: I mean, specifically gay and lesbians have a lot of legal barriers to...
KERRY: Right, that's what I thought you were asking and I wanted to make certain of it.
There is a cemetery, the congressional cemetery in Washington D.C. where there is a tombstone. And the tombstone says, “My country gave me a medal for killing a man and gave me a dishonorable discharge for loving one.”
I have always fought for the right of people to be able to be treated equally in America. Long before there was a television show, long before there was a march in Washington, in 1985, I was the sole sponsor of the Civil Rights Act to make sure we enforced that in America. I was one of only four people who testified before Senator Strom Thurmond and the Armed Services Committee on the right and ability of anybody to serve in the armed forces of the United States.
I am for partnership rights. I am for civil union. I am for the Employment Non-discrimination Act. I am for the hate crimes legislation. Because in America, we're going to have a country where everybody has a right to be who they are, period.
COOPER: We want to get you all in. The question was also directed to General Clark, SO very briefly, if you could.
CLARK: Well, I already told you how I feel about gay and lesbian rights and the right to serve.
But let me put it this way to you: My position's gotten pretty well known now and I've spoken out a lot.
One of my Army friends came to me. He said, “Sir, I've got a little bit of trouble with your position on gays in the military.” I said, “Well, let me explain it to you this way. If you had a son or daughter who was gay, would you love them?” And he said, “Well, yes.” I said, “Would you want them to have the same rights and the same opportunities in life as everybody else?” And he looked at me and he said, “Now I understand why you're saying what you're saying.”
We need to do a lot better job in communicating in this society and crossing barriers and setting aside a lot of old mythologies. And as president of the United States, I'm going to take the lead in doing that.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, where do you stand on this issue? I mean, what is your position on gay rights?
KUCINICH: As president, I would help to create a culture in America so that people could be whoever they are, because if America is about anything, it has to be about a chance for people to live out their dream and to express their own authenticity.
The question that was asked earlier by the young woman about why would young people want to pick any particular candidate, and in my case it's because the same passion that I felt at age 20 about changing the world, that fire in the heart, that fire in the spirit, that same willingness to try to change it all resides in me right now. It's that spirit rebellious that doesn't accept the status quo, that's ready to take a vision and take it to the farthest place.
If you want to rock the boat, you have to rock the boat. You have to be willing to challenge the status quo.
And so, gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender people under my administration would have full participation, and they would also have the right to marry.
COOPER: Governor Dean, we know—you talked earlier about what you did in Vermont regarding...
DEAN: Oh, I'm sorry.
COOPER: You talked earlier about what you did in Vermont regarding civil unions. And you've also been quoted as saying, quote, “that gay marriage,” quote, “makes me uncomfortable, the same as anybody else.”
I don't know if we have it. We had a photo from The New York Times this Sunday, two guys who went—oh, we don't have it—anyway, two guys who went up to Canada to get married. What about that makes you uncomfortable?
DEAN: You sound like Tim Russert. I said that, the day after the Supreme Court decision, or the day of the Supreme Court decision.
Look, when I signed the civil unions bill, I didn't know anything more about the gay community than I did 25 years earlier. I did it, not because I knew a lot about the gay community, it was because I believed every single American deserves equal rights under the law, not just the ones you play golf with or you live next door to, but every single American deserves equal rights under the law.
So, you know, I have come to know the LGBT community over time because I signed the first equal rights under the law bill for gay and lesbian Americans.
But, you know, I think most Americans don't understand the gay and lesbian community. And that's part of getting equal rights, is to reaching out to Americans who don't understand and help them to understand.
And the single-most important act in helping gay and lesbians get the same rights as everybody else is not my signing the civil unions bill, it's people who are gay and lesbian standing up and being proud of who they are and saying so. And that way, Americans get to understand them as human beings, which is the process I went through and every heterosexual goes through.
COOPER: Ambassador Braun?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you.
COOPER: Actually, I have a question in the audience for you. Would you rather have the question in the audience or this?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, I'd just as soon do this. I got off the chair. I am ignoring the chair. I'm going to ignore the ding-dong, too.
MOSELEY BRAUN: I just wanted—you know, when you start off life both black and female, it is not hard to understand the aspirations of the GLBT community. Because at the end of the day, it really is about discrimination and allowing people to contribute to the whole of the society based on what they have inside, what the content of their character, the capacity of their intellect, the energy that they have to bring to bear.
And when we as a society allow everybody to contribute to the maximum extent of his or her ability, what we do is lift up the whole community. We help the whole society take the benefit of tapping 100 percent of the talent that's available to it, as opposed to just 50 percent or 25 percent.
My record in regards to this issue goes back almost 20 years when I started in the state legislature fighting to end discrimination against people who—not just race discrimination, not just gender discrimination, but discrimination against gay and lesbian people. And I believe that that's the only way to go.
If we're going to achieve the promise of America, we have to begin to move in the direction—continue the movement in the direction of liberating the human spirit, of allowing people to contribute to the maximum extent of what they can give to the whole community.
COOPER: All right, thank you very much.
We have a question over here. Wait one second, wait. Sorry, no one could hear you, just wait a second until the applause—OK, go ahead.
QUESTION: Good evening. This question is for General Wesley Clark.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Cold War ended over a decade ago. Still the U.S. imposes an ineffective and inhumane embargo against Cuba. If you were elected president, would you change this policy?
CLARK: The way we won the Cold War was not by isolating Eastern Europe, but by engaging it. We won the Cold War not just because we had great armed forces, but because we had the AFL-CIO, we had Citibank, and we had a Polish pope. And we reached out to Eastern Europe, and we connected with humanity.
That's why I'm against embargoes. They don't work.
When you isolate a country, you strengthen the dictators in it. If you want to change the dictators, you've got to open it up so ordinary people in those countries can see what they're missing in the rest of the world, and gain strength and ideas from everybody else. And they'll take control of their future.
We're not going to reward Fidel Castro, but we are going to make sure that Cubans have a democracy and they have the same rights as everybody else on this planet.
COOPER: We're going to move on. We've got a lot of e-mails still to get to. An e-mail for Senator Kerry. “Senator Kerry, why did you have to kill those two pheasants in Iowa last week? Do you find it necessary to kill animals for photo-ops?”
KERRY: Well, it's a tough economy now, and it's amazing what you have to go through to put food on the table.
No, look, I've been a hunter all my life. But I make a point of eating what I kill. That's no different from what happens if you go down to the store and buy it.
So I think it's a legitimate thing. But let me say something about guns, because that's the point I was trying to make.
Howard Dean and I have huge difference on guns and what's appropriate. I don't want to be the candidate of the NRA in this country. I don't think the Democratic Party should be the candidacy of the NRA.
And when I was fighting to ban assault weapons in 1992 and '93, Howard Dean was appealing to the NRA for their endorsement, and he got it. He's been endorsed more times by the NRA than the NEA.
And I believe it's important for us to have somebody who is going to stand up for gun safety in America and make certain that we make our streets safe, our children safe, and not allow people to get assault weapons in America.
You want an assault weapon? Join the Army.
COOPER: All right. Governor Dean.
DEAN: I told a group of press people in Iowa that the reason I knew I was the frontrunner is because I keep picking buck shot out of my rear end all the time.
Here's my position on guns. I support the assault weapons ban. And I fought the renewal of the assault weapons ban. I do not support the elimination of liability for gun owners. I support background checks. And I support background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows.
However, I come from a rural state where people hunt. We have the lowest homicide rate in America. So my attitude is, let's have those federal laws. Let's enforce every single one of them. And then let's every state make additional gun control, as they see fit.
New Jersey and California are going to want a lot more gun control. Let them have it. We need a base of federal laws that make sense. And then we need to make additional laws, as states think they need it. And I think that makes a lot of sense for every state in the country.
COOPER: We've just got another question here.
QUESTION: My question is for Senator Edwards. You mentioned that job creation is one of the things you would do to help out our generation. Can you give some more specifics about that, how you'd go about that process?
EDWARDS: Sure, I'll be glad to.
First of all, the unemployment rate among those in the 18-to-24 age group is almost the highest it's been over the last decade.
And you all are facing that, every single day, when you get out of college, looking for a job. Here are the things that I would do to create jobs in this country.
First, I would identify those places in America where we need to bring jobs, particularly to urban areas, poor, rural areas. And in those communities, I would say if you've got a new business and you're willing to start there and create not just jobs, but good jobs with decent benefits, the kind of living conditions, the kind of wages that people can actually live on, we'll help you. We'll have a national venture capital fund that will help give you the seed money to do that.
The second thing we'll do is say if you have an existing business or industry, and you're willing to locate in one of these areas where we desperately need jobs, we will help you do that.
Third, we're going to change the tax system in America so that what George Bush is doing now, which is putting the burden on the middle class and on working families, the engine of this economy, that instead of putting a burden on those folks, we're actually going to help them, help them buy a house, help them invest, help them to save, create wealth for the people who need wealth.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Imagine what it's like for young people who are working very hard to complete a college education and then find out—you get the diploma, there's no jobs. Under my administration, I intend to take the following steps to get this American economy moving.
Number one, cancel the Bush tax cuts that went to the people in the top brackets.
Number two, get the United States out of Iraq. We have to stop these misadventures around the world. We have to work with the world community. And that will save us hundreds of billions of dollars.
Number three, cut the Pentagon budget by 15 percent and put that money into universal pre-kindergarten.
Number four, take the money from the Bush tax cuts that went to the top bracket and put it into a fund to create universal college education, tuition free, for all those young people who go to public colleges and universities all across this country. We can afford it. What's our priority?
Number five, get the National Aeronautics and Space Administration involved in developing new energy technologies, new environmental technologies. Create a whole new America, a new economy and jobs for all, a full employment economy.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We'll get to you when we come back.
We'll be right back with more questions in a moment.
COOPER: All right. Welcome back to “America Rocks the Vote”, only have a couple minutes left before our final round of questions.
On behalf of CNN, I want to thank our partners in this forum, specifically Jehmu Greene, the president of Rock the Vote, for helping us out this evening. She is over there.
We also had problems, video problems, with two of the videos that we showed, so we're going to just reroll them and show them.
Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards' video—we're going to begin with Senator Kerry's video. Let's show it.
COOPER: And the next one, obviously, is Senator Kerry.
COOPER: All right, Senator Lieberman, last week, 7.2 percent GDP growth. Honestly, the moment you heard that, did you think great news or did you think, “Oh,oh?”
LIEBERMAN: Well, I thought good news, encouraging news. But not enough to say that it's a recovery.
The economists may think it looks like the beginning of a recovery, but until middle class Americans and those working hard to get into the middle class get their jobs back, the 3.5 million that they lost under George Bush; until they begin to be able to afford their health insurance or get it back -- 2 million lost their health insurance under George Bush; until they have some sense of ability to send their kids to college and you can go to college without coming out with an enormous burden of debt on your back, then we don't have an economic recovery.
I want to just go back. Two questions come together. One of the most outrageous bait-and-switch flim-flams in American politics is when the Republicans say, “Don't vote for the Democrats. If they get in, they'll take your guns away.”
But then what happens when the Republicans get in, they take your job away. They take your health care away. They take your student loans away.
So we need a Democrat in the White House who will not only not take away the guns of law-abiding American citizens, but will give them back their jobs, their health care, their retirement security and help their kids go to college.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, there are those who say jobs are just a lagging economic indicator, that they're going to come around.
SHARPTON: It's like somebody that is in a hospital. And surgeons compare notes on how great they were and how effective they were. But the patient died.
You can't talk about recovery without talking to those who needed to be recovered.
The people that are unemployed, the people that have an insecure place in the economy, have not recovered at all.
And I think that we must create jobs. I've called for a five- year, $50 billion a year infrastructure redevelopment plan, public works to create jobs so that we can put America back to work.
I said before, I come out of the King movement, we believed in dreams. Mr. Bush believes in hallucinations.
He thinks that to announce a recovery gives a recovery. We need to go from the hallucination to the reality, and put America back to work and protect workers that are working so that they can organize, have unions and build stable families.
COOPER: All right, we are getting a lot of e-mail pouring in. Probably a predictable question just got asked. It is an e-mail from a viewer: “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?”
And they want us to go around and ask each of you.
DEAN: We'll all keep our hands down on this one.
COOPER: John—Senator Kerry? Yes or no?
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, yes or no?
KUCINICH: No, but I think it ought to be decriminalized.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton?
SHARPTON: I grew up in the church. We didn't believe in that.
COOPER: OK. Senator Edwards?
COOPER: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I have a reputation for giving unpopular answers in Democratic debates. I never used marijuana, sorry.
COOPER: General Clark?
CLARK: Never used it.
COOPER: Ambassador Braun?
MOSELEY BRAUN: I'm not going to answer.
COOPER: And Governor Dean?
COOPER: Yes, all right.
A question over here.
QUESTION: Going along with this less serious note, but still this is a question of a lot of importance to me, I think.
You guys seem to get to know each other fairly well. I'd be curious to find out, if you could pick one of your fellow candidates to party with, which you would choose. But keeping in mind, partying isn't just, you know, who do you think can shake their groove thing.
I mean, we're talking, who's going to be loyal to you? Who is going to stand by your side? If you get sick, who's going to hold your hair back?
Second of all...
There's more. There's more to it. Who's going to be a team player, you know, if you—imagine if you were single again. If you see a cutie across the room...
...who's going to be your wing man? Who's going to take one for the team?
COOPER: I think that question probably goes to everyone.
Who would you like to party with of this group?
KUCINICH: Well, first of all, this sounds like a run-up to a version of Survivor. This one could be really interesting.
COOPER: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: I hope my wife understands this. I'd like to party with the young lady who asked that question.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton?
SHARPTON: I hope mine understands it. Probably the best person I've met to campaign, to party with—Mrs. Kerry. I'm sorry.
KERRY: I was going to choose Carol Moseley Braun, but now I'm going to have to choose you so I can keep an eye on my wife.
COOPER: We have 30 seconds left. I just want to thank all the candidates for coming out tonight, very much appreciate it.
And I want to thank the crowd. You did a great job.
I'm Anderson Cooper for CNN and “America Rocks the Vote.”
Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night, 7 p.m.
Content and programming Copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.