Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate
Sponsored by ABC News and the Democratic National Committee
SPEAKERS: TED KOPPEL, ABC NEWS
Durham, NH, Tuesday, December 9, 2003
SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR-TV
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RET.)
FORMER GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN (VT)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS (NC)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD GEPHARDT (MO)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY (MA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH (OH)
U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (CT)
FORMER U.S. SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (IL)
THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON
KOPPEL: Good evening and welcome to the 973rd Democratic debate of this young political season.
It isn't, of course, but I suspect that to many of the folks standing up here and to my colleagues in the press room who are watching at times it seems like it.
What is it, Governor Dean? We're about 20th, 24th, 25th.
DEAN: Some number like that.
KOPPEL: Some number like that.
DEAN: It's a big number.
KOPPEL: So it's been going on for 25 times.
And I'm joined this evening by my colleague from WMUR, which is our ABC affiliate up here in New Hampshire, Scott Spradling. And he and I will be asking questions according to a rigorous discipline that has been set up by representatives of the candidates here and by the Democratic National Committee.
The way it goes is, we are obliged to ask each of the candidates three questions, so that'll be 27 questions over the first half of this occasion.
Our questions are supposed to be 30 seconds or less. Your answers are supposed to be one minute or less. If somebody says something nasty about somebody else it is up to us to decide whether the victim of that assault gets a chance to respond, but you almost certainly will.
And that's about it. That'll be the first half of it.
The second half is much more wide open, and we hope to engage you with one another a little bit more. But let's get to it right away.
And if you will forgive me, or at least bear with me for just one second, I'm going to ask you to do something physical, and then I promise I will give you an opportunity to elaborate at greater length orally.
This has been an extraordinary day for Governor Dean. As we all know, he got the endorsement of former Vice President Al Gore.
KOPPEL: Things are going very well for him in the polls. Things are going very well for him in terms of raising money.
So I would like all of you up here, including you, Governor Dean, to raise your hand if you believe that Governor Dean can beat George W. Bush.
DEAN: That wasn't what I said.
KOPPEL: So don't look at me. Look at these eight other folks. I'm...
DEAN: You kind of put them on the spot, though.
KOPPEL: Yes, that's the idea.
Tell me, Senator Kerry, why didn't you raise your hand?
KERRY: For the very simple reason, Ted, that I believe in my candidacy and I believe in my vision for the country, and because every indication is that I can beat George Bush. And that's been shown in some of the national polls.
I was sort of surprised today, actually, by the endorsement, because I thought that Joe Lieberman had shown such extraordinary loyalty in delaying his own campaign...
... that it surprised me.
But let me tell you-and I think I speak for every candidate up here-this race is not over until votes have been cast and counted.
KERRY: And I am running for president because I believe I can offer the leadership that our nation needs at a critical time in its history.
We're at war, and the world is looking to us for leadership.
George Bush has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country.
I am going to return us to the United Nations. I'm going to restore our place in world leadership. And I am going to break the stranglehold in this country of special interests that have brought us an energy bill...
KOPPEL: Senator Kerry, forgive me for interrupting. You may have noticed that red light.
KERRY: I didn't notice any red light.
KOPPEL: Well, I mean, that's why I'm drawing your attention to it. And I let you go a little bit longer.
KERRY: I apologize.
KOPPEL: By the time we get to the flashing yellow light, it means you got 15 seconds left.
Congressman Gephardt, you didn't raise your hand, either. None of you did.
I'm not really asking you-at least, I wasn't then-whether you think you're the better candidate. I was simply asking you whether you thought that Howard Dean could beat George W. Bush. Not a one of you raised his or her hand.
GEPHARDT: Well, I'm sure that all of us think that we have the best chance to beat George Bush. But I think we're all united in wanting to replace George Bush with a much better president.
GEPHARDT: This president has let this country down every time, every possible...
Now, you know, I think I have more experience than anyone on the stage at the highest levels of government, fighting for the values of the Democratic Party, fighting for middle-class families-something that I came from and something that I feel very strongly about.
But I think I've translated that experience into bold ideas, big ideas, that address the problems we face.
And finally, I think I can beat George Bush in the states where you got to beat George Bush. In order to beat George Bush, you've got to beat him all across the top of this country, not just in California and New York, but in places like Missouri and Ohio and West Virginia.
KOPPEL: You're out of time, Congressman.
Senator Lieberman, you've got a bit of a shot to the solar plexus today. You had to be surprised by it; you have to be a little disappointed by it.
Fact of the matter is, someone has got to win the primaries and the caucuses and, ultimately, the Democratic nomination before they can hope to win the presidency against George Bush.
Have your chances received a bad shock today?
LIEBERMAN: Ted, I think in some unpredicted, unexpected way, my chances have actually increased today. I can tell you that our phones have been ringing off the hook at the campaign headquarters. I've been stopped in the airports, people angry about what happened.
And I was raised to face adversity in one way: double my determination to continue to fight for what's right for the future of our party and our country.
And I'll tell you why I didn't raise my hand in response to that question: This campaign for the Democratic nomination is fundamentally a referendum within our party about whether we're going to build on the Clinton transformation in our party in 1992 that reassured people we were strong on defense, we were fiscally responsible, we cared about values, we were interested in cutting taxes for the middle class and working with business to create jobs.
Howard Dean-and now Al Gore, I guess-are on the wrong side of each of those issues.
So I'm ready to fight for the future of this party that I love and fight for the future of this country, because we're only going to defeat George Bush if we have an independent-minded, center-out Democrat...
KOPPEL: You're out of time, Senator.
I'm sorry. I'm going to do this to all of you. It's the only way to be fair to you.
KOPPEL: Reverend Sharpton, you were raising your hand before. In response to which part of what happened?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that-I think all of us have an opportunity to beat Bush if we do not break and chase away from our party the people that we're going to have to mobilize to come out.
What I start hearing today is dangerous. That's why I didn't raise my hand.
Al Gore went to New York today. He should have noticed Tammany Hall is not there anymore. Bossism is not in this party. To talk about people ought not run and that people ought...
... to get out of this race is bossism that belongs in the other party.
We waited four years after some of us were disenfranchised, some of us in Duvall County couldn't vote, so we can express ourselves. And we're not going to have any big name come in now and tell us the field should be limited and we can't be heard.
The Republicans shut us up four years ago. Al Gore-no Democrat should shut us up today. Let the people decide on the nominee. Bossism shouldn't happen.
I know that Governor Dean and Al Gore love the Internet; www.bossism doesn't work on my computer.
KOPPEL: All right.
Ambassador Braun, rather pointedly Al Gore went up to Harlem today with Governor Dean to make the announcement of his endorsement.
The implication was clear, that somehow Al Gore may be able to transfer some of the allegiance that he has within the African- American community to Governor Dean. You buy that?
MOSELEY BRAUN: You know, Ted, Paul Simon died today. He was a friend and a mentor and a giant of an American who was beloved in all communities. I worked with him...
KOPPEL: Let me just interject, if I may. You're talking about former Senator Paul Simon.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Former Senator Paul Simon. I apologize.
KOPPEL: No, no, no.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Not the singer. They actually had a running joke while he was alive about which Paul Simon.
But Paul Simon, I think, was a model for the kind of direction that Democrats should take at this time, which is to turn toward each other and not against each other, as we take on the real challenge of getting George Bush out of the White House and putting our country back on the right track.
In fact, I just spoke with Paul on Sunday before he died today, and we had a conversation because he had endorsed Governor Dean in Iowa.
And he was going to great lengths to explain to me that he liked you, Governor Dean, he loved me, and that it didn't mean...
... that it didn't mean that he was detracting from his endorsement of my candidacy at all.
MOSELEY BRAUN: And we talked about this race and the importance of caring about people and having government that works for people and shows compassion for people and government that holds up our standing as Americans in the rest of the world.
I see the red sign.
KOPPEL: Ambassador Braun, I'm afraid...
MOSELEY BRAUN: I'm sorry.
Well, just to say, in short, I think it's important that in the memory of Paul Simon and all the Democrats who are looking to us for leadership, that we turn toward each other, not against each other, and take on the real enemy here.
KOPPEL: Senator Edwards, what I was trying to get to with Ambassador Braun was whether loyalty can, in any way, be transferred by an endorsement from one politician to another. What do you think?
EDWARDS: Well, I have this kind of curious notion that I think actually most voters in America make their own decision about who they believe should be the president of the United States. I don't think you can tell them what to do.
The one thing I am absolutely certain of, having now spent a lot of time here in the state of New Hampshire, is you sure can't tell the people of New Hampshire what to do.
That's one thing I'm absolutely certain of.
And the other thing I'm certain of is we're not going to have a coronation.
EDWARDS: The Republicans have coronations. We have campaigns, we have elections. And that's exactly what's going to happen in this particular case.
And I think there's a fundamental decision that has to be made by voters here in New Hampshire and all across the country. In order to change the problems in Washington, in order to have real reform, do you want someone who has spent most of their lives, most of their adult lives in politics, because there are a lot of people on this stage who represent that.
I have not. I am very much an outsider. I have spent most of my life fighting against the powerful special interests. They keep you from having your interests represented. They keep you from getting the democracy that you deserve.
EDWARDS: And that's what this election fundamentally is about.
KOPPEL: You're out of time.
General Clark, you're relatively new to the process. It is rumored, however, that you are a favored candidate by the Clinton family. If Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton, or former President Clinton were to offer you his endorsement, would you take it?
CLARK: Well, you know, I really have never even thought about that.
KOPPEL: Oh, sure you have.
CLARK: Because just to quote another former Democratic leader, I think elections are about the people, not about the powerful.
CLARK: I think there was a man named Al Gore who once said that.
And so, to me, this is about going out to the American people, listening to them, talking about the ideas. This is a very important election coming up, and it's not going to be decided by endorsements.
This is an election that's going to be about national security. It's going to be about facing down George Bush and his failure to
perform his duties satisfactorily as commander in chief, his failure to keep the American people safe.
From 9/11, he has taken us into a war without any justification after 9/11. I'm the only candidate on this stage who can take that fight to George W. Bush.
And I intend to do it. That American flag doesn't belong to John Ashcroft and Tom DeLay and George W. Bush. I'm, for one, very tired of seeing him pose in front of our soldiers and sailors and claim the mantel of their heroism after he ordered them into combat unnecessarily.
KOPPEL: We're out of time, General.
Congressman Kucinich, I remember you when you were the boy mayor of Cleveland. You've been at this for a very long time.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on what endorsements like this mean or don't mean.
KOPPEL: When you hear some of your colleagues here-you know, I get a little bit of a sense of sour grapes here, that if anyone else on this stage had gotten Al Gore's endorsement, he would have been happy to have it. What do you think?
KUCINICH: Well, I can't say I was really counting on it.
But let me say, Ted, let me say-let me say that some of the best talent in American politics is on this stage right now.
And with all due respect to you, Ted Koppel, who I've admired over the years greatly...
KOPPEL: There's a zinger coming now, isn't there?
To begin this kind of a forum with a question about an endorsement, no matter by who, I think actually trivializes the issues that are before us.
For example, at this moment there are 130,000 troops in Iraq. I mean, I would like to hear you ask during this event what's the plan for getting out. This war is not over. I have a plan, which is on my Web site at kucinich.us, to get the United States out of Iraq.
KUCINICH: I want to talk about that tonight, and I hope we have a substantive discussion tonight and that we're not going to spend the night talking about endorsements.
KOPPEL: Well, we've got...
Governor Dean, what is it that makes me think that while there may be eight people up here who aren't crazy about that endorsement and who think it trivializes politics, that you probably don't?
DEAN: Let me just say a couple of things.
First of all, I think John Edwards is right, the people will decide, not Al Gore or anybody else.
Secondly, I'm going to give an invitation which I have not yet given, but I am going to do it now. If you guys are upset that Al Gore is endorsing me, attack me, don't attack Al Gore.
Al Gore worked too hard in 2000 to lose that election, when he really didn't lose the election. He got 500,000 votes more than George Bush. And I don't think he deserves to be attacked by anybody up here. He doesn't-he's not a boss.
He's a fundamentally decent human being. We share a lot of values. We both believe that this earth is in environmental crisis because of what George Bush is doing.
We both believe that middle-class people in America ought to be able to send their kids to college and get some help.
We both believe that 3 millions jobs lost is 3 million too many. And under the Clinton-Gore record, we had a whole lot better economy than we do right now.
We both believe that the Bush tax cuts are grossly irresponsible and they ought to be reversed.
DEAN: We both believe the war in Iraq was put forward on the American people unjustly because we were not told the truth about why we're there.
And I think Al Gore deserves credit for being the kind of moral leader in this country that we have lost since the last election.
KOPPEL: Thank you, Governor.
This is, as I indicated to you at the beginning, sort of a tag- team debate. And I turn things over to my colleague Scott Spradling.
SPRADLING: Ted, thank you.
General, I'd like to pick up from where you left off, talking about this being a foreign-policy primary-election.
We did a WMUR poll just a few weeks ago in which we asked voters: What are your top priorities?
They cited the economy, they cited health care, they cited honesty of the candidate. All of those came ahead of anything remarkably close to foreign policy.
Like Ted said, you're new to this. You started later than everybody else. Do you believe that you're actually listening to the voters out there that are telling you something different than you're telling us tonight?
CLARK: Well, I've answered all those questions and worked those very issues, and I hear a lot of those issues from the voters. I am listening.
But I'm also listening to the voters as they talk about George W. Bush and what he's going to run on. He's going to run on the idea that he's the commander in chief, that it's about his patriotism, that he kept us safe after 9/11. We've already seen the initial ad produced by the Republican National Committee.
CLARK: And we know what it says. It says his opponents are attacking him because he's attacking terrorists. And the simple truth is I'm attacking George Bush because he's not attacking terrorists.
He hasn't been an effective commander in chief. He let us down before 9/11; he's led us astray after 9/11. And that's going to be the issue in the general election.
I understand what Democratic primary voters want and what they're concerned with. But the time has passed in America when this party can be the party of compassion and let the executive branch run foreign policy. It won't work. We have to be the party that can stand toe to toe with George W. Bush on national security, as well as the party of compassion.
SPRADLING: OK, General. Thank you.
Congressman Gephardt, you said before you believe you are the best hope for beating President Bush. In 2000, President Bush said that he would get elected and change the tone of the debate in Washington. He is, I'm sure all of you would agree, something that you've put forward, certainly very partisan to this day.
But just a few weeks ago in Bedford in an AARP debate you were talking about the prescription Medicare plan and you referred to it as, "This is a GOP bill, therefore it is a bad bill."
Given what you said, do you believe that you're any better than George Bush in terms of changing the tone of the debate in Washington?
GEPHARDT: Well, Scott, the Republicans are selling our government and our country to the highest bidder. That's what happened with the prescription drug bill; that's what happened with the energy bill.
Those are the facts. That's what's happening.
Look, we got problems that you mentioned out there in the country. When I go out in Iowa, New Hampshire, the other states, people come up and talk about losing jobs-losing good jobs to China or Mexico or to some other country in the world or just going bankrupt.
They talk about losing their 401(k). They talk about not having health care insurance when their children are sick.
We have to give people hope. And I believe we have to show people a path, plans that can be accomplished that will solve these problems.
I have the experience. Everything I'm talking about in this campaign, getting everybody covered with health care, Apollo 21 energy plan, a universal pension plan, an international minimum wage, come from my experience and my heart.
These are things that I've seen, lived through myself, and have seen people live through. And we've got to give people hope and optimism that we can solve these problems.
SPRADLING: Congressman, thank you.
SPRADLING: Senator Kerry, I'd like to talk about your colleague, Governor Dean, for just a second.
KERRY: What if I don't want to?
SPRADLING: I'm going to make you.
The issue of religion-Governor Dean said recently that religion does not play into his policy decisions. Contrast that with President Bush, who has made it clear that religion plays into his policy decisions.
From your perspective, do you believe that this could hurt the Democratic Party's chances in areas of the country, like the South, where politics and religion tend to go very much hand-in-hand?
KERRY: No, I think I agree completely with Governor Dean. I think that we can be people of faith, and we are. But as President Kennedy made clear to the nation in Houston in 1960, we cherish as a country the separation of church and state. It is one of the great definitions of our nation.
And in fact, there is nothing conservative or traditionally Republican about this administration. It is radical in the way that it has trampled on that fine line drawn between church and state and in the way it has trampled, through its attorney general, on the civil rights of Americans.
One of the first and most important things any of us will do as president is have an attorney general whose name is not John Ashcroft...
... who respects the rights of people in our country.
KERRY: And I-you know, I think that many of us turn to God in our private moments and also when we go to church or mosque or synagogue. But we recognize that the beauty of America respects the divisions. And I think it is critical to have an administration that honors that tradition in our country.
SPRADLING: Senator, thank you.
Reverend Sharpton, good to see you here tonight. By our count at WMUR, you've only been here once in 2003.
SHARPTON: You counted wrong.
SHARPTON: You must be using the Florida Republicans count.
SPRADLING: Nevertheless, as far as your visits are concerned, you have been here far less often than your colleagues here who have gone through the paces, met with the voters, done the grassroots style of campaigning that the voters of New Hampshire are expecting and looking for.
Why shouldn't those very same voters not think of you as disrespecting them by not coming here and doing the same thing?
SHARPTON: Well, I think, first of all, I've been here several times last year and this year. I intend to be here-in fact, I was to preach here Sunday, and the snow stopped me. I intend to be here between now and the primary. And I think that's any more than any of us.
SHARPTON: There are many places that some of my colleagues have not been to often at all. I think that people go and campaign based on their resources and their availability.
So I think that that is not something that they should read into any of us about any particular primary.
I also want to address your first question as a minister. I think that you can have a personal motivation of religion, but you should not try to act like your religion is something that dictates where people ought to go.
I pray every day. I can assure you, in my talks in with God, he is not a registered member of the right wing of the Republican party.
SPRADLING: Reverend, thank you.
Ambassador Braun, I effectively put the same question to you: How do you anticipate winning the New Hampshire primary, winning over the hearts and minds of these voters watching tonight if you're not here?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, that's interesting because our last conversation, you referenced the last time I saw you here. We've spoken before, and I've done the best I can to get my message out to New Hampshire voters. I care very much about this state, as with the other primary states.
I have a message that I believe will resonate. I want to rebuild America. I want to get our civil liberties and our privacy rights back. I want to make sure that the environment is protected and that disability rights are respected and that children have an opportunity for an education and that we can turn over in our time, our generation can turn over to the next generation no less than we inherited from the last one.
MOSELEY BRAUN: So my message is one, I speak from the heart. I tell people what I believe. I hold myself accountable for my service.
And I believe that New Hampshire voters can cut to the chase, can separate the wheat from the chaff and can recognize someone who brings the kind of experience that I do at the international, national, state and local levels of government to make government work for people, both in ways that are compassionate as well as ways that are effective.
And that is my message, and that's one I hope the voters of the state will respond to.
SPRADLING: OK, thank you.
Senator Edwards, in two polls in the last few weeks, 27 percent of likely Democratic voters headed to the polls in January still say they have no idea among the nine of you whom they are going to choose.
Tonight, on this stage, at this point, what can you tell us that makes you the better choice, that if by choosing you, you get something that the rest of them cannot offer?
EDWARDS: Very simple. You talked earlier with Dick Gephardt about jobs, about health care, about moving this country toward energy independence, which we so desperately need.
People know all of these things need to be done. So why aren't they happening in Washington?
You also know why they're not happening: because of the powerful lobbies and special interests that exist in Washington, D.C.
EDWARDS: So the question is: Who on this stage is in the best position to change what's been going on in Washington for the last 20 or 25 years, so that the democracy works for you?
Well, I'm an outsider. I have not spent my whole life in politics, like most of these folks, but I have spent my whole life fighting against these powerful interests.
And it keeps things like the Medicare prescription drug bill that just passed, a giveaway to drug companies and to HMOs; the energy company bill-energy bill, which had billions of dollars in giveaways to energy companies-it's the last thing we need.
The question is: Who is in the best position to change what's going on in Washington? People who've spent a lot of time there, people who've spent most of their life in politics? Or somebody who comes from a different place, who's been fighting these people all his life? That's me, and that's why people should vote for John Edwards.
SPRADLING: Senator, thank you.
Congressman Kucinich, your position on abortion has changed in recent months.
KUCINICH: That's not true.
SPRADLING: When was it?
KUCINICH: I would say last year...
SPRADLING: Last year.
KUCINICH: ... before I became a candidate for president, long before I got into the presidential campaign.
SPRADLING: OK. With that said, you started pro-life; your voting record shows it. But on your Web site-I checked-it says, quote, "After hearing from women in my life and in my community, I began a more intensive dialogue on the issue. That dialogue led me wholeheartedly to support a woman's right to choose."
SPRADLING: My questions are this: Can you elaborate on what that was that made you change your mind on an issue like this?
And, secondly, do you still see that life begins at conception?
KUCINICH: I think that I may be the only person who is capable of uniting this nation on this very divisive issue, specifically because of the journey that I've taken.
And I've always worked to make abortions less necessary, through sex education and birth control.
But the direction that Congress has taken, increasingly, is to make it impossible for women to be able to have an abortion if they need to protect their health.
As a matter of fact, in the Stenberg v. Carhart case, the Congress just rejected the Supreme Court's decision that said that the health of the mother had to be taken into consideration.
So when I saw the direction that was taken, all the years of discussion that I've had with women in my life, with women in Congress, it finally came to the point where I understood that women in this society will not be truly free unless they have the right to choose.
And I think that we can work to make abortions less necessary, through sex education and birth control, but only in the context of protecting Roe v. Wade.
And we also need to strive to have a society which favors prenatal care, postnatal care, child care, a living wage, universal health care and all of those things that help affirm life.
KUCINICH: We need to reconcile this nation. We need to stop the judgment and the recrimination and help heal this nation. And I think I can help heal this nation on this issue.
SPRADLING: Congressman, thank you.
Governor Dean, you had once stated that you thought it was possible that the president of the United States had been forewarned about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. You later said that you didn't really know.
A statement like that, don't you see the possibility of some Democrats being nervous about statements like that leading them to the conclusion that you are not right for being the next commander in chief?
DEAN: Well, in all due respect, I did not exactly state that. I was asked on Fox fair and balanced news that...
I was asked why I thought the president was withholding information, I think it was, or 9/11 or something like that. And I said, well, the most interesting theory that I heard, which I did not believe, was that the Saudis had tipped him off.
We don't know why the president is not giving information to the Kean commission. I think that is supposed to be investigated by Congress. I think it's a serious matter. I agree with Wes Clark, the president is not fighting terrorism. And we need to know what went wrong before 9/11.
I did not believe, and I made it clear on the Fox News show that I didn't believe that theory, but I had heard that. And there are going to be a lot of crazy theories that come out if the information is not given to the Kean commission as it should be.
SPRADLING: Governor, thank you.
Senator Lieberman, a jobs question for you. Here in New Hampshire, Jac Pac Foods in Manchester just lost 550 in layoffs. Up north at the mills in Berlin where you visited 130 more layoffs this winter.
You have a jobs plan that talks, in part, about public-private partnerships. That sounds like that's going to take a long time for the people that are now struggling to find jobs.
How specifically quickly do you think you can provide actual jobs with a plan like that?
LIEBERMAN: Scott, this is our number one priority. I always remember the President Kennedy line that a rising tide raises all boats. And under George W. Bush, the tide has dropped and a lot of boats have suffered. Three and half million people have lost their jobs, millions of jobs in manufacturing hemmorhaging out of this country.
So I've said the first thing we've got to do, stop the hemmorhaging. And what does that mean? Get tough on foreign countries that are not playing by the rules of trade. And then be even more aggressive about opening up foreign markets for goods made here to create jobs here at home.
My plan of economic recovery has a goal, and we can deliver on it: 10 million jobs in the first four years of my administration.
LIEBERMAN: How are we going to do it? Let's give a tax credit to manufacturers to keep jobs here in the United States of America. Let's take some of those tax cuts that went to people at the high- income level that don't need them that George Bush gave; take them away. Give them to the middle class and give them to small businesses to create jobs and opportunity. And then give life-long opportunities for retraining to America's workers.
We can get this economy going again. We need a Democratic president to make it happen.
SPRADLING: All right, Senator, thank you.
Ted, back to you.
KOPPEL: This is a question to Ambassador Braun, Reverend Sharpton, Congressman Kucinich. You don't have any money, or at least not much. Reverend Sharpton has almost none. You don't have very much, Ambassador Braun.
KUCINICH: We've raised $4.5 million. I mean, that's not nothing.
KOPPEL: You've got about $750,000 in the bank right now, and that's close to nothing when you're coming up against this kind of opposition. But let me finish the question.
The question is, will there come a point when polls, money and then ultimately the actual votes that will take place here in places like New Hampshire, the caucuses in Iowa, will there come a point when we can expect one or more of the three of you to drop out? Or are you in this as sort of a vanity candidacy?
Reverend Sharpton, you go first.
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think the fact that I'm doing so well in many states in the polls and ahead in national polls of people with far more money shows that I know how to deal with the national deficit probably better than anybody on this stage.
So I think that in all seriousness the problem is that we are reducing politics to people with money. I think that Americans want people with ideas.
The suggestion is that if you can't buy your way now, that you can't seek the highest office in the land. That is to really sell the White House.
I think that people with no money that can generate the kind of support I'm generating, that can galvanize a lot of young people, a lot of people that left this party and voted for Ralph Nader, this is what wins elections. I refuse to allow us to continue to act like the person with the best dollar-or the biggest dollar-has the best message.
If money is going to win this, Bush is going to win. Nobody up here is going to raise the money Bush raises.
KOPPEL: You're out of time.
SHARPTON: What we must do is raise the votes he can't get. And you can't buy those votes.
KOPPEL: We're talking about two things. We're talking about money and we're talking about ultimately standing in the polls. There are only a couple of ways that you can measure how someone is doing at this stage in the election process, money and polls. You're not doing terribly well with money; you're doing even worse in the polls.
KOPPEL: When do you pull out?
KUCINICH: After I-when I take the oath of office, when you're there to cover it...
... and I can tell you, Ted, you know, we started at the beginning of this evening, talking about an endorsement. Well, I want the American people to see where the media takes politics in this country.
To start with endorsements...
We start talking about endorsements, now we're talking about polls, and then we're talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people.
Ted, I'm the only one up here that actually...
... I'm the only up here on the stage that actually voted against the PATRIOT Act and voted against the war-the only one on this stage.
... I'm also one of the few candidates up here who's talking about taking our health-care system from this for-profit system to a
not-for-profit, single-payer universal health care for all.
I'm also the only one who has talked about getting out of NAFTA and the WTO and going back to bilateral trade...
... conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.
KUCINICH: ... I may be inconvenient for some of those in the media, but, you know, I'm sorry about that.
KOPPEL: Ambassador Braun, I never realized what a capacity I had to unite the Democratic Party.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you for that.
And I want to start off thanking both Dennis and Al Sharpton for defining the issue. All three of us are doing better in the polls than some other people on this stage who have more money. So it really is about money.
But let me say this. My niece the other night called me into the room and said, "Auntie Carol"-she's nine. She showed me her Social Studies book. She said, "Auntie Carol, all the presidents are boys."
The fact of the matter is that all the presidents have been boys.
And at some point-at some point we have to make the point that women have a role to play in providing leadership for this country.
I bring ideas. Dennis talked about single-payer for health care. A single-payer plan is the centerpiece of my candidacy.
Against the Patriot Act, I was the first of the candidates to raise the Patriot Act in our debates, to say what an aberration it was.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Against the war. The people want to hear ideas. They want some energy. They don't want to just embrace the status quo and expect change.
If you want to embrace the status quo, then let George Bush continue selling the White House and the American people out. But I think...
KOPPEL: Ambassador, I'm afraid we're out of time.
MOSELEY BRAUN: If I may?
MOSELEY BRAUN: I am the clearest alternative to George Bush and I will take the "White Men Only" sign off the White House door. Thank you very much.
KOPPEL: Senator Edwards, just so that our three friends here don't think I'm only picking on them, you're not doing terrific in the polls, either.
And you do have a lot of money, and you came into this race with huge expectations being raised. What's gone wrong with the campaign?
EDWARDS: Nothing, nothing. What's about to happen is the real campaign is about to occur.
Where I'm going to be out there, as a lot of these candidates have just talked about, talking to voters here in New Hampshire, telling them what my vision is for the country, my detailed ideas about where the country needs to go. And I am doing the on-the-ground campaigning in houses, in town hall meetings. I'm having over a hundred town hall meetings here in the state of New Hampshire.
And I'll tell you something else. I am the only candidate on this stage that will not take a dime from Washington PACs or-from PACs or Washington lobbyists. We have got-several people have mentioned this-we have got to take the "For Sale" sign off of the White House, where drug companies, insurance companies, energy companies are buying Washington, D.C.
EDWARDS: In fact, I'd go further than that. I think we ought to ban Washington lobbyists from being able to make campaign
contributions to presidential candidates. And I would challenge all of my colleagues on the stage to agree that we are going to be different than George W. Bush, and we're going to make that difference clear, starting tonight. We will not take money from Washington lobbyists in this presidential campaign.
KOPPEL: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Kerry, at the risk of exposing myself to yet another lecture-not from you, from Congressman Kucinich and the others down here...
... what is it that Governor Dean has done right? Whether or not people want to acknowledge it, he does have more money than anybody else in this campaign; he is doing better in the polls than any of the rest of you. He's got to be doing something right. Is there anything to be learned from his campaign?
KERRY: Well, Ted, I'll tell you, there's something to be learned from your question. And if I were an impolite person, I'd tell you where you could take your polls.
You know, this has got to stop.
KERRY: There's a couple in Salem called Lisa and Randy Denuccio. They live next to a lake. They can't drink the water. They can't-kids can't make the lemonade now. They don't take showers with the water. They have to buy bottled water.
MTBE is the culprit. One-sixth of the water bodies in New Hampshire are polluted by MTBE or other pollution.
This administration is trying to prevent accountability for MTBE -- $50 billion worth of add-ons in oil and gas subsidies in the energy bill, $139 billion of return-on-investment for $139 million of lobbying money in Washington.
Those are the things that the American people care about.
And I love John Edwards, but I'll tell you I've been spending a lifetime fighting against those special interests. I'm the only person in the United States Senate elected four times without ever taking a dime of PAC money.
And I have additionally...
And I led the fight to stop Newt Gingrich from undoing the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.
KERRY: And I led the fight to stop...
KOPPEL: ... we'll have more time.
KERRY: ... the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
KOPPEL: We will come back...
KERRY: Those are the fights that matter, Ted.
KOPPEL: Yes, sir.
SPRADLING: Governor Dean, I'll start with you. You can beat me up some more if you'd like.
SPRADLING: Under what circumstances is it OK for a president or someone speaking on his or her behalf to lie to the American public?
DEAN: Under what circumstances?
SPRADLING: Under what circumstances?
DEAN: I can't think of any circumstances, with the possible exception of some sort of national-security matter that would-if some piece of information were put out that would endanger American lives or some circumstance under which peoples' lives would be in danger or something of that sort.
SPRADLING: Governor, thank you.
Congressman Gephardt, one of the issues that consistently gets, I think, applause lines in the crowds to which all of you speak is the talk of trying to work to end unfunded mandates in Washington.
But for a number of years, the special-education unfunded mandate has hung over the head at least of the people of New Hampshire and certainly of other states.
You've been in Congress for years. You haven't been able to get it done. What credibility do you have on that issue here tonight?
And secondly, can you give us a time and date, specific time, when you'll end that unfunded mandate?
GEPHARDT: We need a whole new approach to education. This administration has led us down the wrong path.
One of the things I say is if we're going to fix Leave No Child Behind, we have to leave George Bush behind. That's the only way it's going to get done.
GEPHARDT: We need a whole new approach. We've got to fund the unfunded mandate of special education. That has particular application here in New Hampshire. It's a real problem all across the country. I will do that.
Why haven't we been able to do it? Because we've had to deal with Republicans who don't want to fund unfunded mandates.
We need a program to really deal with the problems families have today. We've got to have more preschool and more Head Start, more afterschool programs. We've got to have smaller classroom size. We've got to help the local districts build and expand school buildings.
And I've got another idea I call Teacher Corps. I'll say to young students if you'll train to be a teacher, teach where we need you for five years, I'd have the federal government pay your college loans. If it's good enough for the Army, it's good enough for teachers.
We need good teachers in front of all our kids.
SPRADLING: General Clark, there is an ad that's been airing here in New Hampshire featuring former U.S. Senator-New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman. He talks about the fear that he has, the sense of urgency he's trying to create about the Russian nuclear weapons that are sitting, that he fears may fall into the hands of terrorists.
He wants all of the candidates to be talking about what they're going to do about it.
SPRADLING: My question to you is, how big a problem is this? Is this a post 9/11 priority? And how do you feel about Congress not funding the act that was designed to buy and decommission those weapons?
CLARK: This is a significant national security problem. We've been talking about loose nukes in this country for more than a decade. And Senator Nunn and Senator Lugar put together a bill, funded at a billion dollars or so a year, to work this problem.
But we've still got over 20,000 Russian tactical nuclear weapons, including some suitcase nukes, they call them, suitcase A bombs that were atomic demolition munitions that are, we think, inadequately guarded. We don't know where they are; the Russians say they do.
I think we need to be putting a real sense of urgency on this. We need to fund these programs. We need to be working with the Russians on a priority basis to deal with this issue.
It is a national security problem.
And let me just add one thing: You can get a whole lot more security for the United States of America in nonproliferation out of a billion dollars spent on this program than by putting another billion dollars into Iraq.
SPRADLING: General, thank you.
Senator Lieberman, I looked up the numbers from the New Hampshire general election. Gore-Lieberman got over 266,000 votes.
LIEBERMAN: I'm very aware of these numbers.
SPRADLING: OK. Your name was affixed to all those votes.
SPRADLING: Right now it seems like you're struggling here in New Hampshire.
SPRADLING: What is going to change, starting tonight, for you to put it back on track to win New Hampshire?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I feel very good about what's happened in New Hampshire over the last couple of weeks. The numbers in the polls have picked up. But the guy leading the polls is a guy named-or a woman named "Undecided."
And the people of New Hampshire are classically independent minded. So I'm reaching out to them. We just got great endorsements from a bunch of independents who supported John McCain in 2000. They said they're going to continue their battle against George Bush for Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary this year.
And I'm reaching out. This Saturday night, if I may give a plug, on WMUR at 7 p.m., an ABC affiliate here in New Hampshire....
... I will have a televised town meeting. I'm carrying my message of hope, specific plans for cutting the taxes of 98 percent of the income taxpayers, of giving paid leave to families that want to care for one another, of creating 10 million new jobs, of protecting the environment and wrap it all up in this package.
I'm going to do what's right for the American people in this beloved country of ours, whether it's politically popular or not. I've had one message all along. I don't change it from group to group or time to time. And that's going to be required to defeat a president who has broken his promises, deceived the American people, time and time again, yielded to special interests and ideological extremists.
LIEBERMAN: I'm going to work to unite our country, our party, and then make our future as safe and good as we all want it to be.
KOPPEL: We've actually made it through the first half of this debate and we are now moving into a more unstructured part of the debate, during which, Senator Kerry, you can feel free to tell me precisely where to put those questions if you don't like them.
Let's begin with this one about Iraq. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued a memorandum today at the Defense Department saying that no country that is not a member of the coalition, that has not been active in Iraq, is going to be permitted to have any contracts in Iraq for the rebuilding of that country. What do you think about that?
KERRY: I can't think of anything dumber or more insulting or more inviting to the disdain and potential failure-disdain of countries and potential failure of our policy.
This policy is not about Halliburton. It's about Iraq. It's about the Iraqi people. It's about America's role in the war on terror.
And what this administration is doing is actually putting America at greater risk, putting our soldiers at greater risk, and making the chances of success more remote.
KERRY: The only way to be successful ultimately is to transfer to the United Nations the full measure of authority for the reconstruction of Iraq, and for the governance transformation of Iraq.
And by doing that, we will undo the sense of American occupation and take the target off of American troops. This administration is inviting failure.
And if I can just say very quickly, the ad they're running in New Hampshire, right now today, denigrating Democrats for asking questions, is an insult to the politics and democracy of our country. And George Bush ought to be ashamed of the campaign that he's already running.
KOPPEL: When you talk about turning to the United Nations to run the reconstruction of Iraq, who do you envision having the responsibility for the safety and security of those U.N. personnel?
KERRY: The security component in the proposal that I've put forward several times now, and most recently at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York several days ago, envisions the United States being responsible for the security component, but with other nations.
KERRY: The problem is you can't begin to get the other nations participating until you share the outcome risks and responsibilities.
As long as we're stiff-arming the world, the way this administration has on three separations-when we first took the vote, when the statue fell in Iraq, and finally when George Bush went to the United Nations-on each occasion, he has pushed the U.N. and the world away from us.
We deserve leadership that knows how to build real alliances, that respects multilateralism and that understands that our troops today are at greater risk because of the arrogance and ineptness and recklessness and ideological rigidity of this administration.
I will change that. And I will go back to the United Nations and invite the world to respect the influence and power of the United States again.
KOPPEL: Governor Dean, you no doubt...
... you no doubt heard or heard about Senator Clinton's views that we will, in all probability, have to keep if not the same number, possibly even a greater number of U.S. troops in Iraq for some extended time to come.
Do you share that view?
DEAN: I don't share that view. I think we need to bring in foreign troops. I think Senator Kerry is right.
First of all, here's what has to happen. What the United States did was appoint an governing council for Vermont-for Vermont, for Iraq.
That was-they'd like to appoint one for Vermont these days, I'm sure.
You cannot expect the Iraqis to think that they have their own government if we're appointing their people. We need an election.
Oddly enough, one of the mullahs over there who is a conservative Shiite is right. If you don't have an election, then the Iraqis themselves are going to have no investment in their reconstruction.
KOPPEL: And if you do have an election, then the Shiites hold a significant majority.
DEAN: They may, but it doesn't-the Shiites are not necessarily uniform. Those people-actually, the model is Afghanistan.
Our military did a great job in Afghanistan. And I supported the war in Afghanistan because 3,000 of our people had been killed, and I thought we had a right to defend ourselves.
But the fact is, since the military did a great job, this president has made a mess of it. He's trying to turn Afghanistan into a democratic country by signing over four-fifths of the country to the warlords.
However, the thing we ought to take out of Afghanistan is their model for how they're writing their constitution. They had an elected group of people who came to meet in Kabul for quite some time. They wrote a constitution which is an Afghan version of democracy. That can work in Iraq, and that's the first prerequisite.
KOPPEL: You're talking about doing a constitution before you have an election?
DEAN: No, we're talking about doing the election first in order to have the people who write the constitution who are not seen by the Iraqi people as stooges of the Americans.
DEAN: That's the only way to get the Iraqis to buy into their own constitution.
Then we need to go to all those countries that the president insulted on his way into Iraq and get them to rethink their policy towards helping us under the auspices of both the United Nations and ourselves.
That means a new president. This president is never going to repair the damage he did to the moral leadership of this country, because he's incapable of it. He personalizes policy difference, and that is a fatal mistake when you're running anything, whether it's a business or a state or a country.
If we do that, we will be able to do what the president's father successfully did, which is bring 100,000 foreign troops into Iraq, preferably from Arabic-speaking and Muslim nations, to internationalize the reconstruction of Iraq.
Now, the reason I agree with Senator Clinton is this. We will be able to withdraw our Guard and Reserves-who have no business being over there for a 12-month tour of duty-we will be able to withdraw at least one of the two divisions. But we will not be able to withdraw an American presence.
The tragedy of what we did in Iraq, which I have opposed right from the beginning, is that now we're stuck there, because
there was no serious threat to the United States from Saddam Hussein, but there is a threat from an Iraq with Al Qaida in it or with a fundamentalist Shiite regime which is closely allied with the Iranians.
President Bush said a few weeks ago on a Sunday night that Iraq was at the crossroads of the battle against terrorism.
DEAN: That wasn't true before we went in, but he has made it so and he has endangered the security of the United States of America by going into Iraq and that was a mistake.
KOPPEL: And having said that...
KOPPEL: ... I just want to make sure I understand you correctly and then...
KOPPEL: Just one second.
KOPPEL: I just want to make sure that I understand Governor Dean correctly. In other words, you're saying, given where we are today, a continuing presence of some number of U.S. troops is going to be essential over a period of, what, years?
DEAN: Over a period of a few years, until the Iraqis really are able to have a democracy which is strong enough not to allow Al Qaida to emerge and has a constitution that's widely enough respected so they will not have a fundamentalist Shiite regime.
KUCINICH: Well, I'd like to take issue with something that's been said here. You know, the war's not over. The war is not over. We have 130,000 troops there. And the occupation equals a war.
Now, my plan, which I mentioned earlier, which is on a Web site at kucinich.us, and I'd like everyone to look at it, calls for the end of the occupation, for the United States to get out.
Now, the U.N. will not cooperate unless the U.S. takes a change of direction. And here's the change of direction: The Bush administration must let go of its aspirations to control the oil in Iraq.
They must hand over to the U.N. the handling of the oil, on a transitional basis, so the U.N. can handle it for the Iraqi people until the Iraqi people can be self-governing.
KUCINICH: The U.S. must hand over to the U.N. the contracting process. No more Halliburton sweetheart deals, no more war- profiteering, no more bids going to people who have contributed to the administration.
The United States must let go of the plan to privatize the Iraq economy, because, frankly, that's a violation of both the Hague and Geneva conventions, and that's another sticking point.
We have to turn over to the U.N. the cause of governance and helping to write a constitution.
You know, you can't say, as Dr. Dean has, that you're against the war but you're for the occupation.
Because by keeping our troops in Iraq for years, you're essentially keeping the war going.
The New York Times had the article yesterday, Ted, and, you know, maybe you saw it, how there is tough new tactics by the U.S. to tighten the grip on Iraqi towns. I mean, the tactics that this administration is having our men and women use are intensifying the war. There's going to be greater casualties.
Now, the plan that I just talked about, in addition to having the U.S. provide for rebuilding what we blew up, providing reparations to the innocent Iraqis who were killed, providing an opportunity for-we have to provide some money so that we can bring U.N. troops in.
KUCINICH: But, Ted, unless we get the U.S. troops out of there totally, we're never going to see a situation where that war is going to be over. We're going to continue to be attacked.
And we need to get the U.N. in and get the U.S. out, end that occupation. And this is a centerpiece of my campaign for the presidency of the United States.
KOPPEL: Let me just point out that while we do have significantly more flexibility in this part of the format, I'd like you to keep your answers a little shorter, just so that we can get around to everyone.
Reverend Sharpton, you wanted to speak.
SHARPTON: I think that it is very important that we not play word games with the American public. I was the first one in the debates-Mr. Kucinich and Ms. Braun was not in yet-to unequivocally oppose this war.
Now, we're saying that some of us are for occupation but against the war, like if there is a difference. Occupation is a continuation of the war, it's a continuation of operating on a unilateral strategy...
... by this administration.
As raised by your question when you say that they're saying now that unless you help us, or unless you engage with us, you can't engage in contracts. That is, again, purporting the same unilateral intervention that began this war, is the philosophy of this war, in the beginning.
We must unequivocally say-we must go to Kofi Annan and the U.N. and say, "This body or some body must take over the restructuring and redevelopment of Iraq; we will participate as partners," and withdraw.
SHARPTON: Americans are dying around what cause and purpose?
I eulogized a young man in Orangeburg, South Carolina, four weeks ago. Young, 23-year-old man died 11 days before his birthday at war in Iraq. For what purpose? For Halliburton contracts? For us to continue to say that we need to control it all, and if the world doesn't come in behind us, then there's something wrong with them?
I think that we cannot fight George Bush by saying, "We support his occupation, but we think he shouldn't have gone in there in the first place." If he shouldn't have gone in the first place...
... how can you support him staying in there? That's like calling the cops, saying there's been a breaking and entry, but the people that broke in can stay in the house. There's something wrong with that.
LIEBERMAN: First, I want to ask Reverend Sharpton, in those daily conversations with God, would you please mention my name, Al?
SHARPTON: I have. And I'll tell you, in private, his response.
I ask for equal time.
Ted, I supported the war against Saddam Hussein.
LIEBERMAN: And I didn't need George Bush to convince me of that. I decided a long time ago-John McCain and I, Bob Kerrey and I-this man is a homicidal dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of his people...
... invaded two of his neighbors, used chemical weapons, supported terrorism and suppressed the rights of his people. He was a danger to us, a ticking time bomb. I'm glad that he is gone.
But I didn't support this war for the occupation of Iraq, I supported it for the liberation of Iraq.
And that is the error that the Bush administration has made.
I'm glad to hear Howard Dean confirm, because I've seen such confusing statements by him before, that he agrees we can't pull out of Iraq now. We've got to win this, because if this axis of evil, the Saddam loyalists and the terrorists working with them win this one, Iraq will be chaotic, the region will be chaotic, the terrorists will be emboldened. We could turn this around, and when we do, we will provide stability, a modernizing quasi-democratic or democratic Iraq, stability in the region, and a defeat for the terrorists so they won't strike at us again.
George Bush has lost the moral authority to lead an international coalition against terrorism because of his one-sided, unilateral, arrogant foreign policy. I am ready to be the president who will lead an international coalition to adopt an international Marshall Plan for the Muslim world.
LIEBERMAN: We are going to win the war against terrorism only in the first instance by capturing and killing every terrorist we can find.
In the longer term, we're going to win it by winning the larger war for the hearts and minds of people in the Islamic world, giving them an opportunity, helping them to live in freedom.
George Bush cannot do that. I can and I will.
KOPPEL: General Clark, some of the speakers we've heard up until now make it seem, first of all, relatively easy that we can get the kind of international help that would permit us to take U.S. troops out of Iraq. But secondly, there is a certain innocence in the references to oil from that region as though we can simply say we don't need it.
Now, if Saudi Arabia is no longer a reliable ally; Iran clearly is not a reliable ally; if Iraq is allowed to descend into some kind of chaos, just whom do we have out there in the Persian Gulf who is going to supply the oil to the United States, to Japan and to Western Europe?
CLARK: Well, Ted, I think the real issue up here is, put the emotion aside, we disagree-I disagree with some of the people on this stage about going into Iraq.
CLARK: I think it was a strategic blunder for the United States to do it. But we are there. An early exit means either retreat or defeat. Neither one is acceptable.
The United Nations is not able and willing to pick up this mission politically and nobody can provide security for the Iraqi people as they develop their own internal defenses, except a force under U.S. leadership.
Now, those are just the facts.
So we need to create an international organization. Take Paul Bremer, let him come back and consult for Henry Kissinger again. We need to get rid of the American occupation, put an international organization in place, put the United States forces reporting through NATO, take our force structure, make it lighter, lethal, more mobile, intelligence driven, and work to turn this problem back to the Iraqis.
Now, we have to have an end state that we're working for. This administration has not yet defined what our real purpose is in Iraq. There's no end state. What is it? Is it to create a model of American democracy? Is it to create anything other than a theocracy? We don't know.
I think we need an Iraq that stays together. I think we need something like some kind of a representative government.
CLARK: We need an Iraq that's strong enough to protect itself from Al Qaida, but not so strong that it threatens its neighbors.
CLARK: And if we work toward those objectives, I think we can quickly change the force structure, bring international support in, and make it happen.
I'm the only one who's ever done this. I worked it for Haiti. I worked it for Bosnia. And I worked it for Kosovo. So I know a little bit about how to do this.
It can be done. We can be successful if we're not too grandiose in our schemes.
KOPPEL: You indicated...
CLARK: And by doing this, Ted, we'll still have access to buy oil on the international market.
I'm one of those people who doesn't believe in occupying countries to extract their natural resources. I think you buy them on the world market.
KOPPEL: Congressman, why don't you pick up, and then I'll pass over to Scott again.
GEPHARDT: Terrorism, I think, presents to us and the world an adversary, a foe, that is dangerous and the likes of which we've never seen. We've got to remember 3,000 Americans were slaughtered in New York City when those buildings came down.
We had, at that moment, an opportunity to put together a world alliance, to not just deal with the symptoms of terrorism, which we haven't done as effectively as we should, but also to lead the whole world to address the root causes of terrorism.
GEPHARDT: If we just find the terrorists and do away with them, but there are waves of young terrorists coming at us and the whole world, we will not ever solve this problem.
So we needed a president, which we didn't have, who will put together the world to fight this.
I said to President Bush in the Oval Office a number of times early last year that he had to get the U.N., he had to get NATO, he had to start the inspections, he had to weld together an alliance to do whatever needed to be done.
He failed at that. We're now seven months into the event, or eight months, and he still hasn't gotten it done.
And in the meantime, we are not coming up with a long-term energy policy that will lessen our dependence on these shaky countries in the Middle East. We're not working with the world to get a trading alliance and to have trade policies that will get standards up in these other countries so that people can feel there is hope in their lives. We're not doing anything to bring better governance in places where there are brutal dictators.
So this is a magic moment. This is our moment for America, as we did in World War II and as we did in World War I and Korea and so many other horrible conflicts, to lead the world.
What's missing is a leader, a president. This president is not doing it. He is not pulling the world together.
GEPHARDT: I've said many times, you know, if you-in your grade school, you've got your history grade and your math grade, and then it said, "plays well with others."
He didn't do well in that.
I'm very serious.
I get asked all the time, "How could you get people in the world together when he couldn't?" It's really simple. You've got to listen to people. You have to respect people. You have to talk to people. And you have to pull an agreement together to do something that's very important to this world.
That's what I'll do.
SPRADLING: Before-I'll stay on this topic, but just before we move to a couple of domestic issues, I'm looking for a show of hands on this question. There's a lot of talk about objectives, but there's no real specific talk about time frame.
Obviously the opinions vary about what needs to be done. But with a show of hands-and I'll run around real quick-does anyone have a time frame for when the U.S. troops can be pulled out, whether it's ending the war, getting them out now or whether it's the transformation plan where you're having to move the international troops in?
Can anyone give us a time, date specific on when that can happen?
SPRADLING: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: The resolution that I talked about, going to the U.N. with a totally different approach-from the time the U.N. approves that, 90 days later we can bring our troops home, rotate the U.N. troops in and bring our troops home.
We are not stuck there, Dr. Dean. The only difference between a rut and a grave is in the dimensions. We are not stuck there.
SPRADLING: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: Scott, it's a fair question, but we've learned from history, you cannot set a time line in this kind of situation. You've got to set a goal line.
Because if you set a time line by which you're going to exit, your enemy will lay back and then strike when you leave. The goal is to stabilize Iraq. When that happens, we can leave.
SPRADLING: General Clark?
CLARK: Everybody wants a time line, but you can't get a time line because, in Iraq, it's not a one-sided mechanical problem. It's about the human dimension. It's about persuading people to work together. And it's about the region, because Iraq is part of a region.
And so, with this administration in office, we could be in Iraq for the next 50 years. They can't fix the region because they don't have a diplomacy that will bring people together and work with them.
CLARK: With a new administration, with the right leadership, we can reduce that time dramatically, but we still-we can put an Iraqi government in charge in the next week or two, if we use indirect democracy, while we're waiting for the plebiscite.
But we cannot rush the stand-up of an Iraqi security force and pull our people out prematurely. That may take a year, it may take two years. But what's important is we set the right diplomatic overtones in the region. This administration can't do it. We need new leadership in Washington. That's why I'm running.
SPRADLING: General, thank you.
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I agree with a lot of what's been said about our responsibility to internationalize this effort to get the U.N. involved in the transition period, to make sure that the security force is, in fact, an international security force, and, when that's done, to create a meaningful time line for putting the Iraqi people in charge of their own governance.
But I want to say something about a subject that Dick Gephardt brought up just a few minutes ago. The whole issue of the war on terrorism and what needs to be done to keep the American people safe, see, this president is claiming he's taking the steps necessary to keep America safe. In fact, he's not. A lot of the criticisms about his foreign policy have already been voiced.
EDWARDS: I embrace those. I think they're right.
It is impossible-I was involved in investigating September 11th, why it happened, how we keep it from happening again. The
reality is we will never stamp out these terrorist groups and terrorist cells that exist all over the world, in countries all over the world, unless we have a positive working relationship with those countries.
But in addition to that, there is so much that needs to be done here to keep the American people safe that's not being done. We have nuclear plants, chemical plants all over this country that are extraordinarily vulnerable. The president is not doing the things that need to be done.
This is just another example of special interests. The administration recognized there were over 100 chemical plants in America, any one of which if they were attacked could cost a million or more lives. So they wanted to do something about it. We were urging something be done. The chemical industry pushed back and as a result nothing was done. The chemical industry lobbyists pushed back.
The same thing's true with trying to protect our ports. Right here in New Hampshire that danger exists. There are thousands and thousands of containers coming through our ports every single day. And we look at 3, 4, 5 percent of them on a good day.
EDWARDS: The reason is we don't have the people and we don't have the technology to do the job.
And I also want to say something about-that's all defense. The question is, what are we going to do offensively about the terrorist cells that everyone on this stage knows exist all over America today, tonight, right now? I'm not talking about something that might happen. It's happening right now.
If we don't aggressively go after those cells, which in my judgment means taking that responsibility away from the FBI, giving it-because we know that they're structurally incapable of doing it because of what we've seen happen in the past, the failures that existed before September 11th. They're a law enforcement agency. They're not in the business of fighting terrorism, and we've seen the problems that exist as a result.
And what we need to do is we need to go after these terrorist cells and have human penetration of them.
So if we want to take the steps that actually need to be taken to keep the American people safe, the steps that are not being taken by this president, we need a president who understands what needs to be done and has a clear plan for doing it.
SPRADLING: All right.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you very much.
You know, I'm reminded-to break the tension a little bit, I'm reminded of an argument my parents had when I was a little girl. The toilet broke, and there was water spewing out. And my mother sent my father off to the hardware store, and he came back with a brand-new lawn mower.
MOSELEY BRAUN: That is the relationship of the fight against terrorism and what has taken us into Iraq.
The fact of the matter is, the issue, the goal here is the security of the American people, which means we should have had a real war on terrorism that went after terrorist cells, that dealt with first responders, that funded local efforts to provide protection for the American people before running off hell-bent for leather halfway around the world. That's my first point.
The second point, however-and I think this is important, and particularly here in New Hampshire that, you know, starts the whole process off-and that is, remember the Constitution of the United States, ladies and gentlemen.
Article I, Section 8 says that it is the Congress' job to make decisions about when we go to war. And the practice of just passing resolutions saying the president...
... can make these decisions unilaterally has got to stop.
It puts us on a slippery slope toward arbitrary, unilateral, preemptive war, shooting first and making decisions that have no relation to protecting the domestic security of the American people.
Having said that, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy...
KOPPEL: Can I just jump in?
MOSELEY BRAUN: ... but he was not bin Laden.
KOPPEL: I've heard you say that several times before, Ambassador Braun. Do you remember the last time that Congress made a declaration of...
MOSELEY BRAUN: Second World War.
MOSELEY BRAUN: That's correct.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Korea was an action; Vietnam was an action. Now, putting Korea aside...
KOPPEL: Right. Somalia was an action, Bosnia was an action.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Was an action, and that...
KOPPEL: Iraq was an action. We haven't had one in 60 years.
MOSELEY BRAUN: And I make the point that the Constitution had that language for a reason. And the reason was that if elected representatives had to be accountable to their constituents for sending their sons and daughters off to face an enemy combatant, then they would think more carefully and be more judgmental about the decision to do that.
KOPPEL: So, let me see-let me see if I...
MOSELEY BRAUN: And the problem here...
KOPPEL: So I can rest assured that President Braun would never go to war without a congressional resolution?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Would not shoot first without doing it, that's correct.
MOSELEY BRAUN: And I think, frankly, the American people should-we owe it to them. That's what our Constitution provides. There's nothing wrong with getting back to some guidance that makes...
KOPPEL: No, no, no, I'm just trying to figure out where everybody is.
Senator Kerry, can I put you on that same list?
MOSELEY BRAUN: Oh, thank you very much, John.
KERRY: ... and I are old pals. You know that.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you.
I just want to make the point, Saddam obviously was a bad guy. Nobody's sorry that he's gone. We should have gotten rid of him. But that should and could have been part of an overall strategy that had an end game, that had some steps to it and some logic to it.
MOSELEY BRAUN: These people just went off and left the American people less secure, provided terrorists with a unifying principle with which we will be held up before the rest of the world community and isolated, and put the American people at risk in addition to the 460- odd children-not children, but young men and women who've already sacrificed their lives.
KERRY: Ted, can I just...
Sometimes a president has to make tough decisions.
Listening to General Clark a moment ago talk about Haiti and Bosnia and Kosovo, I thought he also ought to remind people that President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen, Bill Perry and Ambassador Holbrooke, as the civilian leaders, played very critical roles in that.
And, in fact, the president of the United States made the decision to deploy troops without the Congress of the United States, because he had to, because politics was being played with the resolution. And he made the right judgment in both cases to deploy troops to protect the interests of our country.
So while I agree in principle with what Carol is saying, sometimes it doesn't happen.
We're missing a larger point here, if I could make it quickly.
This is an extraordinary moment in world history. When you think back to New Hampshire and what happened at Bretton Woods and the capacity to bring people together and change the world, this is a moment to change the world.
KERRY: This president is making worse the potential of a clash of civilization, of a radical state of Islam against the world.
And what we need is leadership that understands how to reach out to the world, not just in the Middle East, where, incidentally, if we're not successful in Iraq, we will make life worse in Pakistan, worse in Saudi Arabia, worse in Egypt where 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30, 50 percent is under the age of 18. They're unemployed, and they're unemployable.
Now, I've recommended that we have a Mideast-greater Mideast initiative, as well as a larger involvement-we can't turn our backs on global warming and dis 160 nations who've worked 10 years.
We can't ignore North Korea for two years and expect to have the respect of other countries.
We can't turn our back on AIDS in Africa. I wrote that legislation three years ago. We're still struggling to get this administration to do what's right.
We need leadership that's prepared to bring the world together. Bring the religious leaders of the world together-the pope, the archbishop, the mullahs, the imams, the clerics, the Dalai Lama-have a global effort to understand the true state of Islam, the true role of religion, the true role of secular society, and move the world to a better place, live up to our responsibilities.
That's what's at stake in this race.
KOPPEL: Governor Dean, you wanted to get into this.
DEAN: I did want to get in this.
You know, I just did something that George Bush's father did, I looked at my watch during the debate. We have about 12 minutes left. We've spent almost all our time on Iraq.
Now, Iraq and national security are important, but it's not what this debate's about.
I was in a car the other day with a woman who was a teacher. She told me she'd taught for 23 years. She made a decent salary. Her husband had lost his job, but he was able to find another one that was for less pay.
They made too much to get any help sending their kid to college, and they couldn't afford their one child's tuition for college. That's what this election is about.
This president has lost 3 million jobs. He has given tax cuts to people who make $1 million a year of $112,000. Sixty percent of us got $325.
What this election is about is taking back this country for ordinary people. And we can argue all we want about Iraq...
... but average people can't send their kids to college. Average people have health-care payments every month that are more than their house payments.
We need to talk about how to move George Bush back to Crawford, Texas, so ordinary people in this country don't have to worry about their jobs going to China; so that we can have a president of the United States who doesn't think that big corporations who get tax cuts ought to be able to move their headquarters to Bermuda and their jobs offshore.
DEAN: So that we do something for small businesses in this country that create 70 percent of the jobs in America and keep their jobs in their community.
What this election is about-yes, national security is important, but I don't think it's an hour and a quarter out of an hour and a half debate.
We need to talk about jobs. We need to talk to about health insurance for every single American. We need to talk about an education system that's different than No Child Left Behind, which has left so many children and so many teachers behind and given huge unfunded mandates to Americans all over this country.
I do not think the president of the United States, for example, ought to be able to run the school systems of New Hampshire and Iowa, for example, from Washington, D.C., and I don't think Tom DeLay ought to be the chief superintendent. Those are things that we need to talk about as well.
KOPPEL: Governor Dean, just for the record, for the first 45 minutes, we didn't even touch on Iraq, so slight exaggeration there. And we only have about 10 minutes left, however, and I would like to ask that each of you, and we're going to try and move around as quickly as we can, keep your comments a little bit briefer.
EDWARDS: Thank you, Ted. I just want to add something. What Governor Dean said about George Bush and what he's doing to keep ordinary people's voices from being heard in Washington is correct, but it leaves out something that's very important.
EDWARDS: It's not just George Bush. It is these powerful lobbies and special interests, which others have mentioned and I have talked about tonight. They've been there for a long time. And whether we're talking about drug companies, insurance companies, whoever we're talking about, they've been there a long time.
But what's happened in the last three years is we have an unholy alliance between the president of the United States, who, in fact, is supposed to stand up to those people and stand up for the American people. And he is completely married to them.
And it shows over and over and over in everything he does. We have energy policy-America's energy policy-being written behind closed doors by Dick Cheney and lobbyists for the energy industry. We have lobbyists for the energy industry helping write our national energy bill?
We have a prescription drug Medicare reform bill that has huge giveaway to HMOs and big drug companies.
These are the president's friends.
I mean, the simple...
KOPPEL: Senator, let me-let me move it around...
EDWARDS: I was going to say one last thing. The simple question for the American people is who's looking out for you? Who
in Washington, D.C., is standing up for you? The American people are absolutely desperate for a president of the United States that will stand up for them and stand up against these powerful interests that are literally taking their democracy away.
KOPPEL: Congressman Gephardt?
GEPHARDT: Something fundamental has happened in our country.
GEPHARDT: The middle class is going away. People are losing jobs that would allow them to educate their children and have health care. People are losing health care every day.
When I'm out in these states talking to people, people come up to me and say, "I've got a kid with diabetes, and I don't have health care. And I don't want to go on welfare. I want a job, but I can't get health care and have a job." That's wrong.
We've got people that can't get the money together to send their kid to college.
I grew up in a poor family. My dad was a truck driver. It was the best job he ever had. We had nothing. He'd sit at a little desk in our house, tried to pay the bills every month. He could never pay them.
I got to go to great universities, because I got church scholarships and loans and government grants. You can't-kids that are poor today can't get enough loans together, and the Pell grants don't cover much of anything.
We have to address the underlying fundamental issue in this country, is that how do we have a middle class? That's what's made this country what it is. And we need new leadership to get that to happen.
KOPPEL: Congressman, we're down to our last five minutes, so General Clark and then Senator Lieberman.
CLARK: I think, Ted, that all of us up here share a common appreciation of what's wrong in America today. It's like Howard said, we've got to get this administration out. We've got to deal with the special interests.
But we've got to do more than that. We've got to take America forward.
Our president today has no vision. He's repeated his father's war, Reagan's tax cuts for the wealthy. Now he wants to repeat John Kennedy's challenge to go to the moon.
CLARK: He thinks America's best days are behind us. I don't. I think they're ahead of us.
We've got a turnaround plan for America: a plan to raise family incomes; get a million more kids into college; save 100,000 lives through cleaning up the environment and putting clean air back in America; get health care for every child in America and make health insurance accessible.
We need pragmatic, forward-looking leadership that can pull America together. I'll get us out of the mess in Iraq. But I'll do more than that, I'll turn around this United States.
KOPPEL: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Ted.
I want to respond to what Howard Dean has said. Of course, the primary responsibility of all of us is to make the case against George Bush. And it ain't hard, is it?
I mean, this man has compromised the American dream. He has hurt some of the basic institutions of our domestic life that help people up into the middle class: our education system, public schools and our health care system.
We've got ideas, all of us, about how to make that better. And I'd compare mine with Howard's. I'm the only one on this stage who has proposed a tax cut for the middle class.
LIEBERMAN: Some of my opponents would actually bring about the reduction in bank accounts for middle class, to average family in this state by $2,700 a year.
I'm the first of these candidates to take the Family and Medical Leave Act, a great proposal by President Clinton, and propose paid leave for up to four weeks at 50 percent pay for a worker who wants to go home and take care of a sick relative.
But we will not win this election and we will not deserve to unless we not only have plans for getting our economy going, fixing our health care crisis, improving our public schools, guaranteeing and protecting Social Security and Medicare, including drug benefits, we have to present a candidate who can guarantee the American people that we will do a better job than George Bush at keeping them secure.
Remember what the Constitution says: We have to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and ensure domestic tranquility. I'm the candidate...
KOPPEL: We're down...
LIEBERMAN: ... who will do all of those for the American people.
KOPPEL: We're down to our last, what is it, minute?
KUCINICH: I'll be brief. First of all, thank you Ted Koppel and ABC News.
I would suggest that Iraq is actually what this debate is about. And if you don't make the connection between the $155 billion we've spent in less than a year, the $400 billion in the bloated Pentagon budget and the fear that's driving this nation into greater and greater involvement in Iraq, if you don't make that connection, then you're never going to understand why we don't have money for health care and housing and education.
KUCINICH: If you don't make that connection, then you're never going to understand why we don't have money for health care and housing and education.
Our entire domestic agenda is at risk because of our occupation of Iraq. That's why I suggest it is urgent to put this on the agenda, to end the occupation, to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out.
We want this country to be safe. We want this country to be secure. Our presence there is leading to greater instability.
My administration, my election will be about the end of fear and the beginning of hope in America.
KOPPEL: I lied. I lied. We had two minutes, which means we only have one.
Take us out, Ambassador, and just give me 10 seconds to say goodnight.
MOSELEY BRAUN: I want to take the "Men Only" sign off the White House door and do things differently and provide for the domestic security of the American people, so that we can have a future of hope, an economy that works for everybody, an environment that we're proud, and a legacy we're proud to leave to our children.
KOPPEL: I thank you all.
I'd like to extend my thanks to my colleague Scott up here.
And to all of you, if I may make the observation, what you need every once in a while is someone up here who ticks you off a little bit. You're much better when you're angry.
LIEBERMAN: You've succeeded, Ted.
KOPPEL: Why, thank you.
SHARPTON: And, Ted, we appreciate you. And even though you're lower in the polls, you don't have the ratings of "Saturday Night Live," I showed up anyway.
KOPPEL: You're right, I don't.
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