Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate
Presidential Candidates Forum on Women's Issues
Gloria Feldt: This is so incredibly exciting. Hello everybody! Welcome to this Presidential Candidates Forum on Women's Issues. The one and only in the United States this election, so you're at a special place! Very special!
Manchester, NH, November 5, 2003
I am Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and I am very honored to be able to see each of you here in this room, to be able to not only welcome you we're being live web cast on Planned Parenthood's website going all over the country if not the world. And for those in the C-span Audience we're delighted you're here with us. This is as I said, an historic event and I am so thrilled to be able to be doing it with some incredibly wonderful co- sponsors as well. I want to thank all of you: The New Hampshire Business and Professional Women, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the New Hampshire Women's Lobby, the New Hampshire Women's Policy Institute, the YWCA of Manchester, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
I'm so excited to be able to see all of the Presidential Candidates who are here, (you will be introduced to them momentarily,) as well as the incredibly wonderful panelists we have here tonight. It's going to be a great evening.
When Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood 87 years ago, contraception was illegal. In fact, it was illegal to hand out information about contraception in the United States. The constitution did not give women the right to vote. Nellie Taylor Ross had not yet won election as America's first female governor. And the idea of a presidential candidate's forum on women's issues —unthinkable. But after 87 years of hard work and history, that has changed. We at Planned Parenthood have worked to insure that all people have the means and information to decide freely and responsibly whether and when to have children. And countless other groups, and millions of individual women have pushed American society and it's economy forward towards greater justice and equality for women during those years. So today women have come of age in public life. But it's fair to say that the choices many of our politicians make don't reflect that. The unconstitutional legislation that was signed today that affects decisions women and their doctor's can make about women's health care, that bans necessary abortion procedures with no protections for the health of the woman, is just one example.
Clearly all though we've come a long way we still have a very, very long way to go. There is an anti-woman constituency aligned today with other constituencies with an aggressive agenda to take us backward instead of forward. To turn back the clock. And that is why we are holding this forum on women's issues.
The decisions that women make in the workplace, at home, in the voting booth, and in numbers greater than ever, the United States' House and Senate and in State Legislatures all over the country, have in the past and can in the future, reshape not only politics, but American culture as well. If and only if, we participate. We will see one vital element of that reshaping, in fact, on April 25th of 2004—if I may take this opportunity to do a small commercial and invite everyone to come and march on Washington on April 25th 2004-- Save Women's Lives, March for Freedom of Choice.
And that's one thing that we're doing to get our issues front and center. But we will see another very important element of that reshaping here, tonight. And I know that you all are as eager as I am to hear from the Democratic presidential candidates about the particular issues that women face.
Now the topic of, quote, "women's issues," is a very broad one. The truth is that what we're calling women's issues affect women, children, men, families, of every age, every race and ethnicity, every language, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, income, marital status, and religion. From reproductive freedom, to pay equity. From childcare to domestic violence. The issues that women face are crucial not just for women, but for our society at large. So, this is really about you. This is your country. This is your election. And this is your forum on women's issues. And so with that, I want to introduce to our moderator, Laura Knoy of New Hampshire Public Radio. Laura?
Laura Knoy, moderator: Hi everyone. I know I've been covering New Hampshire politics for a long time because I think I know about half the faces out there. So welcome! It's good to see all of you. And thanks also to the sponsors for inviting me tonight. I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and I am so thrilled to be here. I'd like to first introduce my fellow panelists for this evening: Ellen Goodman, syndicated columnist, in the green. I always read Ellen's columns and I want to be her when I grow up. It's true. Robin Young, Host of Public Radio's Here and Now, heard on NPR's stations and produced at WBUR at Boston. She does a fabulous job.
Now, before I introduce the six Democratic candidates who join us tonight, this is a great crowd and a rowdy crowd and that's wonderful. However, if you are supporting a particular candidate, I would ask that you try to hold back just a little bit. Because if we're overtaken by applause all night we won't get to as many questions as possible. So just try.
The campaigns drew names out of a hat earlier, and that is the order in which I will introduce them now. Retired General Wesley Clark, US Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, and US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Ladies and gentlemen, come on out please.
Thank you all very much for taking the time to come here and participate in this forum. We're all looking forward to what you have to say tonight. I want to let everyone know that the views expressed tonight are those of the candidates and not those of the supporting organizations. And that sponsorship of this forum is not intended as an endorsement of any candidate.
Now, to the format. We are using two of them tonight. In our first segment, Ellen and Robin will each ask one candidate one question and that candidate has one minute to answer. I will then ask one more candidate to respond to that same question for thirty seconds. This means different candidates will answer different questions. Not every candidate will be answering the same questions down the line. It's a little bit different. I will ask the questions, some of which were asked by the sponsoring organizations. Robin and Ellen will ask questions that they have worked on together.
[explains timer signals]
Out second segment is the more traditional debate format, where one question is asked to each candidate – we've dubbed it "the lightning round," because we want it to go fast. The questions are designed to be answered in a short amount of time – some of them only need a simple yes/no answer, and candidate responses in this segment are limited to 30 seconds.
At the end of the forum, candidates will make two-minute closing remarks and the order in which they speak, again, was determined earlier by that drawing.
So, we will begin now with two questions from Ellen Goodman.
Ellen Goodman: Thank you. The dress code tonight is quite different than last night. My question is for Senator Kerry: Just a few hours ago the president signed the first law criminalizing a specific abortion procedure, the so-called "partial birth" abortion. This law makes no exception for the health of a woman. You voted against the ban but a recent Gallup poll suggests that 68% of the American people favor the ban. So my question is, how are you going to explain this to voters who disagree with you?
Kerry: Let me just say first of all, thank you for the privilege of being here tonight. Secondly, I want to tell everybody a Nebraska judge, I'm happy to say, put a stay, an injunction against the law. And thirdly, look that's what leadership is about. This president has exploited this issue. There's no such thing as a quote "partial birth." It is a late term abortion.
They've done a very effective job of giving people a sense of fear about it and it's part of their assault on the rights of women in America. It is the first step in their effort – there's nothing partial, may I say, about their effort to undue Roe v. Wade. And I am the only candidate here who has said declaratively, I will support no person to the Supreme Court of the United States whose philosophy is to undue Roe v. Wade. They call it a litmus test; I call it protecting Constitutional rights in America. And we need a president who stands up and does that.
Moderator: And the response goes to General Clark.
Clark: Well, I would not have supported such legislation and the way I would explain it is I simply believe this is a matter between a woman and her doctor and her family and we've got to stand up strongly for the right of privacy in this country and for the rights of women and we've got to avoid the sort of litmus test labeling that the Republican party has done. They can't define the issues; we should be defining those issues. This is an issue that's been settled constitutionally. There is a whole body of law about this. We should not surrender the initiative to the Republican Party on this.
Goodman: Senator Edwards, in the last election, there was a 10-point gender gap. A majority of women voted for the
Democratic candidate, a majority of men voted for the Republicans. Governor Dean said he wanted to be the candidate for the guy with the Confederate flag on his pick-up truck, and you criticized him. So my question is, what is your strategy for attracting men, the so-called "Nascar dads" to the Democratic Party?
Edwards: Well, first of all, I will point out, as I'm sure he will, that Governor Dean apologized today, which I think was a very good thing. He should be applauded for doing that. I think it was the right thing for him to do. I've said that to him privately tonight when we arrived here.
First, what we need to do to reach out to which you described as Nascar dads, is focus on the very issues that affect their day-to-day lives. Which means, making sure that their kids are educated the way they should, that they have a decent job with decent benefits, that they have health care – affordable health care – for themselves and for their families, but also not to treat them with disrespect. To be sensitive to the things that are important to them in their day-to-day lives. To talk about issues in a way that recognizes what they care about, the culture they come from, what they believe in. So at the end of the day, I think the most important thing to do to reach out to these very voters that we are talking about, is to stand up for principles, stand up for Democratic values, but to have a candidate that they connect with in an intuitive, gut-level. I think that's the way to reach these voters.
Mod: And the response goes to Governor Dean for thirty seconds.
Dean: First of all, let me thank Senator Edwards for his gracious remarks. I'll repeat something that I said last night, there are 102,000 kids with no health insurance in the state of South Carolina, and most of those kids are white. South Carolina legislature cut $70 million out of their school system. Most people who are in the public school system in South Carolina are white. We need to reach out and connect with people based on their economics. You've got people in the south and in the north voting for George Bush who make less than the tax cut he gave to people who make a million dollars a year. Those are our voters and we've got to connect with them.
Mod: The next questions come from Robin Young. Two questions from Robin Young.
Young: Gov. Dean, I'm going to stay with you and you've just mentioned tax cuts. You've dismissed President Bush's tax cuts and pledged to repeal them, but according to some estimates a family with an income of only $25,000 and one child had savings of over $1,000 over two years. That's a lot of groceries. And also the Republicans are sure to be crowing that the recent surge in the economy is due in part to the tax cuts. Is this a dangerous platform for you and how would you explain to those families who feel that they benefited from those tax cuts, that you in fact feel they didn't.
Dean: Because there was no middle class tax cut. The truth is there are few people who fit into that category. According to the Center for Budget Priorities, 60% of the people in this country got a $304 tax cut. Tell me what your college tuition has done in the last year or two. Tell me in New Hampshire, what your property taxes have done because of the unfunded mandate. We need to get rid of every dime of the Bush tax cut and put that money into fully funding special education, getting rid of "No Child Left Behind" and starting to bring down property taxes. Most people in this state would rather have their property taxes cut than a $304 tax cut.
Mod: The response goes to Congressman Kucinich. You have 30 seconds.
Kucinich: Well, I believe that the Bush tax cut that went to the top brackets should be eliminated. The other tax cuts, the childcare tax credit and the so-called marriage penalty, which I don't believe should be eliminated. However, the total tax cuts yield about $1.5 trillion. That's about $155 billion per year. I would want to see the bulk of that money that would go to the people in the top brackets to be put into a fund to provide free college education in every public college and university in this country. We can do that; we have the money to do it. It's a question of our priorities.
Mod: Next question to Senator Moseley Braun. I thought one of you might mention the jobs that were expected in the recovery. Ambassador Moseley Braun, some small business owners are saying they can't afford to hire back workers because they can't afford to pay health benefits. You said you would switch the burden from the employers to the government, suggesting a single payer system. How can the debt-ridden government with an ongoing war, even with repealed tax cuts, possibly pay for universal health insurance?
Moseley Braun: Thank you for the question and I wanted to say from the outset that I am happy that you are having this forum. To say in response specifically to your question about health care, that a single-payer system that is both universal – that it to say, covers everybody- and comprehensive – that starts with prevention and wellness and goes through long-term care, will not cost the American tax-payers one dime more than we are currently paying on our expensive, dysfunctional, and inadequate health-care delivery system. Indeed, it will lift the burden on employers and employees for that matter. First, by decoupling health care from employment, working people who pay more in payroll taxes than they do often in income taxes, will get an immediate boost in their paycheck. Our export sector will be in a better competitive position. Every car that's made in Detroit has a $600-700 addition just from health care that their competitors abroad don't have to carry. It will finally help small business create jobs and I think single payer is the only way to go to fix this long-standing problem.
MOD: Thank you. Senator Kerry, response from you, please.
KERRY: Well let me just say, I could not disagree with Governor Dean more about the impact of the tax cut. In fact, if you roll back the high end of the Bush tax cut, which is what I did, and follow the lessons of President Clinton where we protect the middle class, put more purchasing money in the hands of consumers, we'll be able to kick the economy without punishing people, we could still pay for healthcare. I do it. My healthcare plan would get the 99% coverage of all
Americans within three years, all children covered immediately, everybody with access to the same health plan that Senators and Congressmen have… but I don't want to do it at the expense of the middle class, and there are 64 million American who just get the benefit of the 10% credit. Everybody gets the 10% credit – would get the benefit of the childcare credit. You don't want to do away with that. You got to make it easier for people to raise their families.
MOD: Thank you. I will now ask one question from a forum co-sponsor. This one is from the New Hampshire Business and Professional Women. This question goes to Dennis Kucinich. Although the wage gap for working women can be partly explained by differences in education or time in the workforce, part of it is also the result of gender discrimination. As president, would you sign the Fair Pay Act, and what other initiatives would you support to close the earnings gap between men and women.
KUCINICH: Well, first of all we have to recognize that such an earnings gap exists and I would sign that legislation. I think we have to recognize that the federal government first should be looking at all federal employees wherever there is any kind of inequity, the president can sign an executive order that would bring the pay up so that women would be in fact paid equally. We also have to make sure that business women, in particular, are given the opportunity in contracts. In my office, we reach out to small businesses and give them the opportunity to learn how to go after contracts. But I can tell you that it is so important that women are given the opportunity to have access to the money that's in the government. So I would say that we have to further expand our vision and look at the pension issue, because there are many women who are denied equal pension rights. We have to have legislation that addresses that, and make sure that women have fair access to promotions. So whether it's pay, pensions, promotions, business – these are all things that I would focus on and make sure that women would have the opportunity to experience equal pay.
MOD: Senator Edwards, North Carolina.
EDWARDS: The answer is yes. You know, this is a basic issue of equality. We have big parts of America where women are being 75, 80 cents on the dollar for doing the same kind of work that men are doing. Is this really the America that you and I believe in? This is George Bush's America, but it is not ours. This is so core to our values, whether it's civil rights, whether it's equal rights, whether it's protecting our freedoms and liberties, we need a president of the United States who will stand up and fight for the equal rights of women, and make sure that they're paid exactly the same way that men are paid for doing the same work, and treated with the respect and dignity that women are entitled to.
MOD: Now back to Ellen Goodman for two questions.
Goodman: General Clark, it's not exactly a news bulletin that Americans are stretched out between work and family. The United States is almost the only country in the world that doesn't offer a single day of paid family and medical leave even after the birth of a child. Are you in favor of paid leave, and what specifically would you do as President to help workers care for families without risking their jobs?
CLARK: Well, I am in favor of family leave. I've seen it in the United States Army. Paid family leave, absolutely. I've seen this in the United States Army. We're very careful about our soldiers when they're spouses are going to have children we don't deploy them. We help them stay home and help, and we encourage them to help afterwards. Now we don't always go through a formal family leave, but we understand that if you want people to be their best on the job, you have to pay attention to their personal family needs, because that's what people rank highly. The kind of society I would want to be in is a society that would respect peoples' obligations outside the workplace, as well as holding people accountable for their performances on the job. So I would support legislation, the enforcement of rules, and most importantly job owning from the bully pulpit. I think we need to put quality of life into the American family and work place. We did it in the military. It works. It's important. We need it for this country.
MOD: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun.
MOD: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun.
25 minutesModerator: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun. Thirty seconds.Braun: Thank you very much. I was proud to be a part of the passage of the first Family Medical Leave Act and I've seen first hand the difference that it makes. It helps families to adjust to changes in the family—whether it's the birth of a child or the illness of a family member—and it is a very positive and constructive thing. I will promote policies and promote efforts to move in that direction—in the direction of paid family leave—but I would be careful that we not put additional burdens on business. That would kill job creation as opposed to helping to create employment opportunities. Because the best family value is still a good job.Moderator: You all are doing a very nice job staying within the time by the way. I just wanted to say I really appreciate that. Question: Senator Kerry, five years ago the congress passed the welfare reform bill that said in essence, a poor mother's place is in the work force and since then more women have gotten off of welfare than have gotten out of poverty.
And now the bill's up for reauthorization and now the administrations answer to this is to add another ten hours of required work for welfare mothers and I would like to know what's your answer for poor mothers? Kerry: The answer to poor mothers is not to take them away from their families without adequate capacity to be able to have child care, number one.
Number two, you need to have more breadth to what qualifies as education and training so that they have the opportunity to be able to get the jobs in the future. In addition to that, we have to stop, in this country, asking people to go to work the way we do today and barely allow them for a full week's work and not be able to work outside of poverty. We have stop talking about just raising the minimum wage, and having a living wage in the United States of America so people have the opportunity to be able to get ahead. And it is punitive and contradictory to all family values to be suggesting that you got to go to work but you don't have a place for your kid to be able to get childcare. You got to go to work but you don't have the ability to be able to live out the family values. And it's wrong. This administration is assaulting the rights of women across the board—Title 9, Family Medical Leave, Violence Against Women's Act, and Ashcroft spends more money to cover a statue in the Justice Department than he does to prevent discrimination in the work place. Moderator: The response to the welfare reform question goes to Senator Edwards.Edwards: Well, actually John said most of it. He's exactly right. This is a basic issue of values. This president says he wants to debate with us about values, we ought to give George Bush a debate about values. His values are not our values. They are not the values of the American people. Do the American people believe that a single working mom should not get transportation to her job? Do they believe that a single working mom should not get the training and education that John Kerry just talked about? They believe that a single, working, mom shouldn't have a decent place where she can allow for her child to be while she's at work? Those may be George Bush's values, but they are not our values and they are not the values of the American people.Moderator: Now two questions from Robin Young.
Robin Young: I'll stay with childcare, and this is to Gov. Dean. Head Start right now only covers about 60% of eligible children and daycare is increasingly a problem for middle class working parents as well. But in Denver a 2% rise in the city sale tax to pay for day care was twice voted down. In Seattle the Latte (sp?) Tax was voted down as well.—that was for daycare. As president would you commit to cover all the children who need Head Start and would you also consider doing a universal daycare when it seems as if taxpayers don't want to pay for it.Daycare.... 29.05 minutesDean: Let me tell you what we did in my state. In my state we subsidized every mother, every family who makes up to $40,000 a year helping them get childcare. And we give a 20 % bonus to the childcare center if they are certified with the National Association for the education of young children. We have something very close to universal childcare in my state. Its not—We had to weave the system together because you have Head Start, you have early Essential Education and then you have all the "Zero to Three" programs. We dropped our child abuse rate by 43% for kids under six. Child's sexual abuse down by 70% for kids under six. If you want to invest in schools and even have kids succeed in Head Start you have to start when that child is between zero and three years old. That's what we've done in my state that's what we'll do in America.
Moderator: Thank you. The response goes to General Clark. General Clark, 30 seconds.
Gen. Clark: I worked very hard in the United States Army to make sure that Head Start was available for each one of our children in Europe. I believe in early childhood education, it's absolutely essential. And as president, I will work to get Head Start for every child in America. But more than that, we're going to put an emphasis on early childhood education, starting with private foundations and public and private initiatives to make sure that we're preparing children or what we call "learning readiness" at the earliest possible age. There are a number of foundations doing this. I'm strongly in favor of it and we'll move toward something like a learning readiness in a universal daycare.
Moderator: Thank you General Clark.
Young: Same question to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. You've been critical of President Bush's "No child Left Behind" education reform, which is based on a testing requirement and a rating of schools based on barometers such as "reported violent incidents." But what's your plan? How else, if not through testing and rating, and parent's choice, would students and teachers be held accountable?Braun: Well accountability is important in education and in education reform, but at the outset I think the national government has a responsibility to pay for such reforms as it mandates and pushes down on states and local governments. "No Child Left Behind" is the single biggest unfunded mandate that will give rise to the single biggest property tax increase— in as much as the property tax pays for education in most places in this country—and so what I would suggest is that the national government, instead of just having a stick on local districts, to have a carrot and provide some additional financial support above and beyond the 7% that's presently given, to help provide support for local governments and communities, and parents and teachers to work to improve the quality of education and make education work at the local level. That's where the decision making in education, I believe, is best reposed. National money, national financial support – as with my legislation to rebuild crumbling schools. "No Child Left Behind" is being called "No Child Left Untested" in some quarters and "No Behind Left in Others." We can do better and we can provide the kind of national supports that recognizes our national interests in having an educated work force, a work force that is capable of competing in this global economy.
Moderator: The response to that question goes to Senator Kerry.
Sen. Kerry:Well I'm going to fully fund the special needs education, I'm going to fully fund Title 1, and disadvantaged communities and Head Start. But I propose a major program for zero to eight, which is the only comprehensive way to begin to guarantee that our children are prepared to learn for the rest of their life. We passed some: I introduced the first bill to do that in 1996, we actually got about 20 million dollars in 2000. The Bush administration has cut that. We have to commit to early childhood education and we have to change " No Child Left Behind." Change the certification process for teachers, change the adequate yearly standard progress and we deserve a president who begins by respecting teachers themselves and their experience. And I intend to do that. Moderator: (Question from the NH Women's Policy Institute)Recent news stories include the possible stoning death of a woman in Nigeria and Jordan's legislature, refusing to take action against so called honor killings of women accused of infidelity, this question goes to Congressman Kucinich: As President what steps would you take to curb these abuses and integrate women's rights into US foreign policy?
Congressman Kucinich: Well there are some obvious ways to do it and that is with respect to our trade policy. And I've said very clearly that the United States trade policies are failing because it doesn't include workers rights and workers rights are women's issues. The right to organize, the right to collective arguing, the right to strike. It doesn't include human rights.
It doesn't include prohibitions against child labor, slave labor. It doesn't include prohibitions of the sort you just talked about. It doesn't include protections for the environment. So as president, what I would do is to change it all and to use the clause that's available—in both NAFTA and the WTO and to repeal NAFTA and the WTO and to move forward with a new bilateral trade policy that's conditioned on workers rights, human rights and environmental quality principals. We know that big corporations stand behind all of these policies and my independence, my willingness to challenge the status quo will create new policies which will enable the protection of human rights and the rights of women all over this globe. Mod: The response goes to Senator Dean. Senator Dean?
Dean: I agree that we have to incorporate human rights and labor rights and environmental rights into our trade agreements. I do want to take issue with something that Senator Kerry said however and all the folks from Washington. The folks from Washington voted for No Child Left Behind. That was a mistake. It is bad policy and we do not need the federal government running our school systems. In NH and in VT we can run our school systems very well ourselves. I'm against it because it's an unfunded mandate, but its bad educational policy. And that's just one thing on my long list the Democrats should have said no to in 2001. Mod: Well I hope we get back to the previous question because I don't think it was really answered but this is for Senator Edwards: In the last few elections the pivotal swing voters were called "soccer moms" and after 9/11 those "soccer moms" were redefined as "security moms," more worried about terrorism at home, more anxious for a strong leader and they want to feel safe. How will you convince those who think that you're still untested to think that you can make them safe? Sen. Ed: Well first of all, I'm not untested. Not having spent your entire life in politics or in Washington DC doesn't mean you haven't spent your life in tough fights. In fact a lot of people here and across NH believe that real life experience is just as important as time spent south of the beltway in Washington. To answer your question, I would tell them exactly what I would do as President of the United States—something this president is not doing. Much better job of protecting our ports and protecting our borders, a much better job of protecting our most vulnerable targets: nuclear plants, chemical plants. Integrating communities both in getting the warning out if a terrorist attack occurs and in having a comprehensive response system in place. Being more aggressive about fighting domestic terrorism, fighting terror cells that are in this country all over America right now. And I might add, simultaneously setting up an independent watchdog of civil rights and civil liberties so people like John Ashcroft can't take away our rights, our freedom and our liberties in this fight on terrorism.Mod: The response to that question goes to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. Ambassador? You have thirty seconds.
Braun: Well simply to say that I think that defining women as having concerns that are more flexible than that of the general population makes a mistake. Women are concerned about the same issues that every other American is concerned about.
And I think there we have to start with engaging our international allies, " working well with others," bringing some, frankly, feminist values to the way that we interact to the world community. It is very important that we begin to integrate all of the people of our society—You asked a question about international women's agenda in the international arena. I would say we have to put a woman's agenda in the national arena. The fact of the matter is that we have a responsibility to pass the equal rights amendment, to get women engaged, to get women involved in an equal bases across in making decisions about the direction our country will take in this next century.37:53Mod: General Clark you've spoken favorably of the military as a role model for working families programs, but today we also have an unprecedented number of Americans in the military overseas and if one of them gets pregnant, she can't have an abortion in a military hospital even if she pays for it with her own money. What do you think of this? And would you change this?Clark: I think its wrong and I would change it. Now I have another 53 seconds... I think it's very important that we treat every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine with respect.
That they have a sense of privacy, that they have as much control over their own lives as we can possibly give them and still be consistent with the demands of the service. I'm totally against an ideologically driven program that prevents women in the service from taking advantage of the permission of law to deal with personal and private medical issues. That's simply wrong and I don't support ideological agendas, so I'm against it. I'm in favor of treating people with dignity and respect and taking the full advantage of every single person's potential, skills, qualities, motivation and inspiration in the armed forces. And it's a good standard for America.Mod: The response to that question goes to Congressman Kucinich. Congressman?
Kucinich: I supported the Sanchez amendment, which sought to provide women who work on military bases the right to have an abortion. I want to say that the issue of abortion overall is something that has bitterly divided this country. And I'm glad that the judge today made the decision to in effect block the law that President Bush signed. As someone who has not always been identified with the pro-choice movement, I think that I have the capacity, not only because I support a woman's right to choose, but also because I think I can help heal this nation. In bringing together the nation and help reconciling the differences that do exist. The nation needs healing on this issue.Mod: Governor Dean, what exactly are you saying? --Dennis Kucinich seemed to imply you would have sanctions against countries that the UN is friendly with—would you, say, institute sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women? Dean: I think Saudi Arabia ought to be sanctioned for a lot more than that. How about the funding of the teaching of small children to hate America in the entire Islamic World? That's a good reason to have sanctions against Saudi Arabia, without even getting into women's rights. I believe that it is very proper for America to stand for human rights everywhere. And I agree with Dennis, I think that the WTO—he wants to get rid of the WTO now, I don't want to do that—but I do want to change it so that they will include human rights, labor standards and environmental standards. And I do believe it is proper to file a complaint, some human rights complaints, about behavior towards women that is unacceptable. And I don't care what religion you are, or what country you are, it is unacceptable to use stoning as a punishment for adultery—particularly when you have to have witnesses and the guy gets off because his testimony counts four times as much as the woman's. We're not going to put up with that in this world.Mod: And the response goes to Senator Kerry.
Senator Kerry: Well, before you shoot from the hip and go off sanctioning Saudi Arabia, while there is a great deal for us to engage with in Saudi Arabia, it would be a good idea, since they have 46% of the world's oil and we import 60% of it, to know what the alternative for our economy is going to be. We need to engage with Saudi Arabia, but we better go about the business of making sure that no young American ever has to go abroad and defend our dependency on fossil fuel oil. And that means creating energy independence in America, creating alternatives and renewables. I'm for getting tough with Saudi Arabia and I laid out an agenda for how we'd do that, but you've got to do it smart and just coming out with sanctions, I don't think is the right way to do it.
Question: And we move to the death penalty now and to Ambassador Moseley Braun. Polls show that the majority of Americans would favor the death penalty if only the guilty were executed. If DNA and other evidence insured that only the guilty were on death row—and Massachusetts is considering this—would you favor the death penalty in the case of, say, a murdered child?
Braun: No. I filed the first moratorium on the death penalty in the state of Illinois in 1984. Now our governor has come out with the moratorium—our former governor—because it is impossible at this time to be assured that the processes work in a fair and equitable way. Our criminal justice system has to follow our values and most important among those is the rule of law. And if people don't have confidence that the rule of law doesn't apply equally, then the system begins to break down. The death penalty, unfortunately, cannot and has not been applied equally across the board—there are huge disparities in application having to do with race, having to do with wealth, having to do with circumstances. And because it is so fraught with uncertainty, I think we are better off as a society and we'd be prouder of ourselves if we air on the side of caution and resort to penalties such as life imprisonment, as opposed to using our collective will to put someone to death.
Moderator: Thank you Ambassador Braun. The response to that question goes to General Clark. General Clark thirty seconds please?
Clark: I am in favor of the death penalty as an ultimate sanction that a state has the right to impose. I don't like the way its been applied. It's been applied discriminatorily in the past. We should be using DNA evidence to go back and look at all the cases on death row. Ultimately, it's a matter of states as well as national resolve. But in principle, I do not want to take away the right of the state to seek the ultimate sanction, because when I think of someone like Osama bin Laden who's done something really terrible to this nation, I think we need the right to ask for the ultimate sanction against a criminal like that.
Moderator: Thank you, General Clark. And it is exactly 7:45. And now the second segment of our presidential debate begins. Our format changes here into the more traditional one that we're used to seeing—when each panelist asks one and each candidates gets to answer it. The questions are designed to be answered in a short fashion, sometimes easier said than done. Candidates have thirty seconds for each response—I'll be gentle with you. I will call on the candidates in such a way that everyone has a chance to go first. So what I'm going to do it I'll start with Senator Kerry and go down the line and the next time I'll start with Ambassador Braun and go down the line like that. So that makes sense to everyone. So again we will start with one question from each panelist and you all get thirty seconds to answer it. So lets begin our lightening round with Ellen Goodman.
Ellen Goodman: You're all parents, you're all working parents—some of you have been single working parents. How would you grade yourself as a parent, and what has been the hardest part of balancing work and family for you personally?
Kerry: Well, in public life its extraordinarily hard, I admire John Edwards, a couple of young kids who really works hard at it, I think I was a good parent because I learned a lot from the deficits that I felt from my own parents who were abroad and missed many of the things when I was growing up. So I made a point—I never spent—over 17 years in Washington—I never spend one weekend in Washington DC. That didn't mean I was always home, but I tried to be and I came back for their games, their plays, for their parents weekends, parents visits, and I'm proud of that, and my kids are extraordinary and I'm very proud of them.
Moseley Braun: I'm the only mom up here.
Moderator: I'm up here.
Moseley Braun: I did it all. I did it all. You know—sick babies, nursing, day care, picking them up from soccer classes, down to faxing homework when I was elected to the United States Senate. So my son is a great young man. He's 26 years old. I am so proud of him, I can't tell you. He's a gentleman, he's a thoughtful person, he reflects even better than I think of myself, so I could not be prouder of the job that I've done as a mother. For those of you in the audience who know Matthew Braun, I mean, I could go on for hours. I mean, I'm a mom.
Congressman Kucinich: When I began this event tonight, I picked up this picture of my daughter Jackie who's 24 years old I just keep it here to remind me of my responsibility to her, when her mother was pregnant, her mother and I had the opportunity to go to Lamaze classes. And when Jackie was born, the kind of bonding that takes place between the child and parent, when you have the time to spend with them can be very powerful. I'm a divorced father now and when her mother and I separated, I made it point to be there for every important moment of her life, even if it meant driving 125 miles three times a week to take her to a preschool program. So I know what this means and today she's an incredible child, who's on her way to a great career in journalism, and I'm very proud of her.
Moderator: Thank you. Governor Dean.
Howard Dean: Well, unlike Ambassador Moseley Braun, I did not nurse my children, but I did everything else, the diapers and all that other stuff. And I will not sit here and pretend for a moment and say that I did 50% of the work, I didn't. But I did a lot of it and, including on those days off when they had parent-teacher conferences, and Judy was in the office, I would take my kids to the legislature and would draw pictures and behaved reasonably well, while I was perhaps behaving a little less well at the podium, when I was Lt. Governor. We spent a lot of time together. If you want the grade, you're going to have to ask them. I always say I'm very proud of my kids, but that's why I have white hair.
Moderator: Thank you. Senator Edwards please.
Senator Edwards: There's nothing more important to me than my family. I am attached at the breast to my children.
Elizabeth and I have been married 26 years, we have 4 kids, we have a very unusual family because our children are very spread out – we have a daughter who's a senior at college, and we have a 5 year old named Clair and a three year old, Jack, I have coached my kids for 12 years in basketball and soccer, my older kids, my younger kids are on top of me every minute when I am home, which is exactly where I want them with me, touching me and they are simply the joy of my life.
Moderator: Thank you Senator. General Clark.
General Clark: Well I was a very young father, and I was a very lucky father. My wife was three months pregnant when I left for Vietnam; my son was born when I was in Vietnam. I got wounded, I came home, I saw him for the first time when he was 4 or 5 months old, I had a hook on my hand, and it scared her when I tried to hold him. He didn't seem to mind. But I've been really lucky because I don't give myself that good a grade, but I had an A+ wife and our son's 33 years old and he's a great young guy and sometimes you get better than you deserve in life, and I've been lucky.
Moderator: Thank you.
Ellen Goodman: So, we have to ask the kids for the grades. Can we have all your kids fax the grades?
Moderator: The next question comes from Robin Young. Robin.
Robin Young: This current administration has been called one of the most faith-based in U.S. History. And a lot of Democrats don't want to cede spirituality to the Republicans, so a question to each of you, do you practice a faith, and if so, can you see a time when you might invoke the name of God in discussing policy?
Moderator: And this round starts with Ambassador Moseley Braun and moves on down the line ending with Senator Kerry.
Moseley Braun: My faith is very important to me, but my faith is very personal as well. And the fact is, this nation is founded on the precept that citizens should be able to embrace whatever relationship with God they wanted to and that separation of the church and state did as much to preserve the rights of the church as it did the responsibilities and the rights of the state. So I think that if anything, while people like me, who are very spiritual, to use the terms, the "right Christian" that we at the same time have to vigilant, to see to it that religion does not become the basis by which Americans are divided, or that politicians don't use it to pander to other kinds of xenophobia and other kinds of things that does a disservice to at least my faith and my belief of what our relationship with God should be.
Moderator: Congressman Kucinich.
Kucinich: I happen to be Catholic, and I express my faith and experience in a very expanded way in connection with all religions and all forms of beliefs and non-beliefs. Our founders wanted a separation of church and state, but they didn't want America separated from spiritual values. And I believe we should live our spiritual values in our public policy.
Because I think a full employment economy is a spiritual value, it reflects the caring about people; health care for all is a spiritual value. Education for all is a spiritual value. A government that stands for peace reflects spiritual values.
Moderator: Thank you, Congressman.
Howard Dean: Well, I'm a nice, New England Congregationalist, I pray every night, and don't go to church very often, my wife is Jewish and my kids are Jewish, so we go to temple once in a while, and last time I went, we got a lecture about Jews that only go to temple on high holy days, just like I used to get a lecture at the Congregational Church about Christians that only go to church on Christmas and Easter. My religion does not inform my public policy, but it does inform my values. I am a strict believer in separation of church and state. And I think it's fine to talk about your faith, but not to enforce it on anybody else.
Moderator: Thank you.
John Edwards: Well, my faith is enormously important to me, like Governor Dean, I pray every day. And my prayer is important to me—it's gotten me through a lot of hard times. I also believe that when we set this country's policy, we need to treat all American with the respect that they're entitled to, and that includes respect for their faith, not imposing our faith on them. It's part of the reason America exists today, the President of the United States should not be setting policy for the country based on his or her faith.
Moderator. Thank you. Senator Clark.
Senator Clark: Well I believe in the strict separation of church and state. I'm the most ecumenical person up here, I think. I father was Jewish, I was brought up as a Baptist, I became a Catholic, my wife and I go to Presbyterian services, and I quote the 12th chapter of the book of Matthew, where Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Bring me a coin," and he says, "Whose face is on this coin?" And he said, "Caesar's." And he said, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and give unto God that which is God's." And so, I've been in the United States Armed Forces, I believe in public service, but I don't mix church and state.
Moderator: Senator Kerry.
Senator Kerry: Both Therese and I are practicing Catholics and we both debate and struggle with some of our feelings about public policy versus the teachings. And that's the right of everybody in this country. But we are also deeply, deeply committed to the notion that our founding fathers where, which President Kennedy so brilliantly articulated in Houston, in the 1960 race, that there is a clear separation, which is essential to who we are as a people. It's what makes us different. And we can't be who we are as Americans when the collection of Jews, Muslims, Catholics, all of the Christians, the various denominations, unless we embrace everybody.
Moderator: Your time is up Senator.
Kerry: This administration violates that, every day and in every way. And we need to stand up to it and be clear about what defines us.
Moderator: I will ask the next question. Again the round will start with Congressman Kucinich, and ends with Ambassador Braun. Congressman Kucinich, should 18-year-old girls be required to register for the military, as boys are now required to do?
Congressman Kulich: No. Not that they can't if they want to. But I think that the militarization of this society presents a real challenge to our future. That we need to make a transition away from a society that spends $400 billion dollars a year on the military, away from a society that puts aside programs for education, health and housing in favor of the military. I want to encourage all young people to serve their country, in the same way that President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." But we have to move away from the militarization of thought, and that's what's behind my proposal for the cabinet level department of peace.
Moderator: Thank you. Governor Dean.
Howard Dean: I also believe that we ought to encourage national service. One of the most depressing things this President has done out of a long list of many things that he has promised and done the opposite on is to cut AmeriCorps by 60 or 70 percent after he promised to increase it. And I want to quadruple the size of AmeriCorps because that is a true national service. Having said that, I think the answer is yes. I disagree with him—
Moderator: Yes, 18 year-old women should be…
Howard Dean: I disagree with Dennis, because the reason is, yes 18 year old young women should be able to register, and the reason for that is that if you have different standards, that begins the path towards discrimination.
Moderator: Thank you. Senator John Edwards.
Senator Edwards: The answer is no, but I do believe that this issue of service is enormously important. Elizabeth and I started 2 after school programs in North Carolina. Elizabeth worked over there full time for many hours a day, six days a week, and I have seen how important it is – not only for the young people who are getting help in these after school programs but for the young people who are there, serving their community, helping other kids, they get invested, they care, we need to have programs across America, that reach out to young people, not just in high school, but also in university and draw them into public service. So they get engaged, and stay engaged and they help to shape the future of their country.
Moderator: Thank you. General Clark.
General Clark: Yes. 18 year-old girls should register for the draft. Not because we expect to restart the draft, but because first, women are serving the armed forces today. They are doing it very, very well. Secondly, we should not be discriminating at this stage, and third, every young American should feel this sense that there is an obligation to serve one's country, and when they register we are going to open up our proposal, which is a national civil reserve where they will indicate what they are interested in volunteering for, will give them the opportunity to volunteer for it, it could be at home, it could be abroad, it will be far more diverse than AmeriCorps…
Clark: …far broader and the starting point for that will be registration at the age of 18.
Moderator: Senator Kerry, please.
Kerry: Absolutely. It is impossible to have equality in America, to begin that march. It's also impossible to respect, the reality that exists today. We have women flying F-16s. We have women who have been in combat positions. We have women in the war, Private Lynch – others. And you can't have a double standard. So you have to make it clear that registration is part of it. I'm not for a draft under the current circumstances, unless we were to broadly go to war in a way that we don't contemplate today, and if we did, I would make certain that draft was applied in a fair and equitable way, unlike the way it was delivered in Vietnam.
Moderator: Thank you.
Moseley Braun: I would have less of a problem with this question if it were not for the fact that the women who presently do sign up for military service have a very hard row to hoe. The air force academies right now, one in four girls who are in the air force academy are victims of sexual assault or rape. It's no better in the other academies. Until we get our act together in terms of the way young women get treated in military service, I would not mandate that they sign up.
Moderator: Our round continues with a question from Ellen Goodman. We will start this round with Governor Dean and move on down to Congressman Kucinich.
Ellen Goodman: For a lot of women, the personal is political, as they say, so we're wondering if you could name one—the strongest female role model that you have in American History, with one caveat, no moms, and no wives.
Howard Dean: I would probably think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was an extraordinary woman who struggled mightily for the rights of women to enjoy equality and she was a woman who took great risk to herself and others and there are many other women who have contributed an enormous amount, but that's the one that comes to mind. You can also name Eleanor Roosevelt is another extraordinary woman, but those two are probably good starts.
MOD: Thank you. Senator Edwards.
EDWARDS: You didn't get two. He just stole mine with his second choice. Eleanor Roosevelt, because of the leadership
she showed, particularly in a time when it was very difficult for strong women to assert themselves. And actually, we should all be proud of the path she laid for so many wonderfully strong women who are leading today.
MOD: Thank you. General Clark.
CLARK: Well, I was going to say Eleanor Roosevelt. But I'll tell you this – I've worked a lot with the Congress as a senior officer, and I'm very impressed with senators like Diane Feinstein. She's smart, she's compassionate, she does her homework, she's a real leader, she's highly respected, and she in every way sets a standard as one of the outstanding senators in American history in my view. And she's a real role model for any woman in America and someone I admire tremendously.
Dean: Sounds like a great running mate.
MOD: Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Well, General Clark, I'm glad you mentioned Diane Feinstein in such glowing terms, because she has endorsed me to be President of the United States.
CLARK: She did, John, because I wasn't in the race. She endorsed you before I got in the race.
KERRY: She still endorses me. She's out working hard for me.
Abigail Adams is one of the most extraordinary women in the history of our nation. And if you read those brilliant letters between Abigail Adams and John Adams, you look at the way she kept that family together, what she did the years when he was abroad, their distance, the support she gave him, the advice she gave him. Those are some of the most brilliant letters, and that was one of the most beautiful relationships in the history of our country. Every American should think about Abigail Adams.
MOD: Thank you. Ambassador Braun.
BRAUN: I'm going to pick two. Dr. Dorothy Hite(?), who is still alive, who is just a wonderful role model, and has had an impact on the liberation of women, as well as the ending of discrimination against African Americans over almost the entire century. And she is just a tremendous contributor, she has been a council to presidents, she has worked to build families, she has worked in the community. My other one is Sojourner Truth, who had the courage to lead people to freedom.
MOD: Thank you. Congressman Kucinich.
KUCINICH: Dorothy Day. Dorothy Day was a founder of what's known as the Catholic Worker Movement and she dedicated her life to working with the poor, to working with people who were socially disorganized, to helping women who were basically alone and on their own. She focused on issues of housing, healthcare, and education. She took the doctorate of social and economic justice, and made it real. She walked the talk, which is something that I think is a great example for all of us who are in public life.
MOD: Our next question comes from Robin Young, and the round begins with Senator Edwards and ends up with
YOUNG: And I was going to ask you all about smoking dope, because a lot of parents woke up this morning and were trying to explain to their kids why it might not be a good idea. And the kids were saying, "But mom, a potential U.S. President said they smoked dope." But in the interest of time— I'm looking at the clock – I'm instead going to ask this question. Would you each expand stem cell research?
EDWARDS: The answer is yes, absolutely. We should not use ideological guidelines to determine the research, the important groundbreaking research, that can be done, that can affect the lives of not only families here in America, but families all over the world, so the answer is very simple. Yes.
CLARK: Yes. I believe in stem cell research. _____(inaudible) in terms of dealing with some very serious diseases. It is being worked on in many other countries. It should be worked on here. We should pursue American science, and keep our science at the forefront of world efforts in the biotechnology area.
MOD: Thank you. Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Yes, absolutely. But I think this underscores one of the reasons why it's so important for us to defeat George Bush, because this has been the single most anti-science administration in modern history. They've defeated EPA reports by replacing scientific language with American Petroleum Institute paid studies. They've ignored the science of global warming. They've turned their backs on the science of oceans, and of our land, and of pollution, and toxics, and chemicals. And they do the bidding of special interests all across this country. We need a President who's going to stand up to those special interests.
MOD: Ambassador Braun.
BRAUN: I couldn't agree with Senator Kerry more. Science in the service of the reduction of human suffering out to be everybody's goal. And the expansion of stem cell research holds great promise to reduce human suffering, whether it's in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and any number of diseases. That this administration has so politicized this as really an abortion issue, I mean let's just be candid, that's what they're really talking about. And they're trying to frighten people that somehow or other, babies will be used for research purposes, and it's just not true. It's a lie. They ought to be held up to account for telling that lie to the American people, and we ought to be honest and say this is research that needs to happen, and it does not cause harm.
MOD: Congressman Kucinich.
KUCINICH: I've met with families of children with diabetes who are urgently in need of new possibilities, which stem cell research provides. And I think in particular the areas where they're harvesting bone marrow, and making it possible to create stem cells is something that can provide some benefits. I agree with Ambassador Braun. We don't want to see it become an abortion issue. And I also think we need to do everything we can to make sure those who are involved in this kind of scientific research, whether it's stem cells, or cloning, or other things, that there are standards by which – standards that we must set to provide some ethical reasons for the research.
MOD: Governor Dean.
DEAN: I think we ought to have therapeutic cloning, but not embryonic cloning. I think we ought to allow nuclear transfers. And I think we ought to regulate carefully what we do. But the fact is – I'll give you a little story that will warm you heart a little bit. My brother has a diabetic son. He is an independent, and he's Republican, because he's a
businessperson. He will never vote Republican for the rest of his life, because of what George Bush did.
MOD: I will start the next round with a question that begins with General Clark, and we'll go all the way around, and end up with Senator Edwards. And the question is: Describe what role the first lady, first man, or first friend would play in your administration.
CLARK: Gert will be my sense of balance, my connection. She senses things, hears things, works issues. She has an enormous sense of justice, tremendous intuition for working issues. She's sharpened it through 34 years of army service and leadership with the army wives program, helping families, helping children across the nation and across the continent. She'll be a tremendous first lady, and she'll be a tremendous asset to the United States of America.
MOD: Thank you, General Clark. Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Well, obviously my wife will be my personal partner, the person who shares all of the hopes and aspirations that bring me to this race. But more importantly, those of you who have gotten to know her know she is a stunningly independent, thoughtful, creative, and committed human being. She came from a dictatorship. She didn't see her father vote until he was 71-years-old. Like many people who are converts to anything, she has zeal and a passion for the democracy of our country. She has helped start early childhood education programs, schools, she's been a vice chair for the environmental defense fund, she's been on the board of Brookings(?) and others. She will pick what she thinks is her cause, and the best way to contribute to our nation's values and future. And I will respect that.
MOD: Thank you. Ambassador Braun.
BRAUN: This is an impossible question. There has never been a first man, or a first gentleman. There has never been a woman president in this country. And I served as Ambassador in a country where political parties had nominated a woman, had elected a woman, as Prime Minister. New Zealand had, for both parties, women serve. And so, all I can say in response, is that you'll get me, but you'll get no one for free. You'll get me and my record of service and my commitment. I tell people what I believe in, I do what I say I'm going to do, and I hold myself accountable to voters for my service.
Mod: Congressman Kucinich
Kucinich: Thank you. As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady. Maybe Fox would like to sponsor a national contest or something. But in any event, I would definitely want someone who would be not just by my side, but be a working partner because we are in a day and age where partnerships are imperative for making anything happen in the world and I would certainly want a dynamic, outspoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world, for universal single-payer health care and for a full-employment economy. If you're out there, call me!
Kerry: The first presidential personal advertisement.
Mod: Fox is here and I can see the reality TV show now – "Date the President." Let's go to Gov. Dean now, shall we?
Dean: I can't top that one. You have to admit, we are a lot more interesting than the Republicans aren't we.
Many of you who read Ellen Goodman's column know that my wife is going to practice medicine. She has her own career, she's very good at it. She's also good at telling me when I didn't do so well in the debates, which she says very frankly. But she has a career that she's great at and I would like to be the first president to have the first working wife in the White House who has her own career and is not on my career's toe.
Mod: Thank you. And Sen. Edwards, please.
Edwards: Well, first of all my wife Elizabeth of 26 years is seated right here in the front row. And I am proud to have her with me. She has been with me; we have been together every step of the way. There's not a decision I've ever made – not a single important decision in my life – that the two of us didn't make together. She is an extraordinary woman, she is an extraordinary mother, she is my conscience. If I ever fail to stand up 110% for women's rights, I would never go home.
Mod: Thank you sir. It is 8:15, exactly the time we are supposed to start with the candidates' two-minute closing statements. Again, the order in which they speak was determined earlier, when the candidates drew names out of a hat, and we will go in this order, starting with General Clark and going down to Sen. John Kerry. [timing instructions]
Clark: Well, I am very happy to be here, I think it's a great forum. I really appreciate the questions that were asked, both by the panelists and the audience who gave the cards to you, Laura [moderator], because I think they explore some of the most pressing issues in America today. They are issues that lie very near and dear to my heart as I served in the US Armed Forces.
Now, I always ask audiences, how many are Veterans out there? But it seems that given that there are mostly women here, I think if I asked all the Veterans to stand up, they would be embarrassed and lonely. But for those of you who haven't served and aren't associated by the US Armed Forces, you know we transitioned from a draft to a volunteer force. You may have an impression of the Armed Forces that we give orders, but it's really about families. Most of the Armed Forces is married.
You cannot keep people in the Armed Forces if you don't tend to their family issues. And so, you are in a position as a commander in a unit, from the time you are a lieutenant all the way until you are a four-star general…you are worried about the quality of the civilian education for the children, the health care, you're worried about quality of life time that soldiers can be with their families and away from their units. It's a full-service institution. We have mental health professionals, we have counselors, we have chaplains who help. We deal with the full-range of issues.
So I grew up in an institutional where I am very closely connected to – personally, on an emotional basis – to many of the issues that we've presented and discussed up here in policy terms. For me, they are human issues, they are leadership issues and I can put names and faces in my memory on these issues.
So I'm very pleased to have had the chance to discuss them and they'll be very important to me. I think America needs to restore a sense of security, not only in dealing with the threats from abroad, but in dealing with the challenges to families at home. That means economic security with a higher minimum wage, with health care, with assurance for education, and with full attention to all the quality of life and gender issues that you brought up. I look forward to being able to work on that agenda. That's why I'm running and asking for your support. Thank you.
Edwards: There may be a lot of issues in this campaign, in this election, but at the end of the day the election is about something much bigger than that. It really is about what kind of America we are and what kind of America we want to be.
Everybody on this stage will fight for a woman's right to choose and a woman's right to privacy. But there is a bigger fight, the basic fight for equality and a fight for justice. That fight includes protecting choice, the last thing we need is a government telling women what they should do with their own bodies. It also includes equal access to health services. Men should not be able to get Viagra and have it covered by insurance when women can't get birth control and have it paid for by insurance.
And another issue that has not been talked about tonight is the entire issue of domestic violence and equality in the home. I want you to know that I have introduced in the last month three pieces of legislation to fight against domestic violence. It is so pervasive, it is such an issue having to do with the basic dignity with which women are treated.
And also for the rights of parents to have leave when they have a job. I propose a $2500 –dollar for dollar—tax credit, so that parents – one parent—can stay home when they have a child. Family leave is great. But parents can't afford to stay home in today's world, when they are working two jobs and they can't pay the bills. We should have after-school for kids, we talked about it briefly, and I told you earlier my wife and I have been personally committed to this issue because it is so important.
At the end of the day, I don't believe in George Bush's America. I believe in an America where the daughter of a truck driver can grow up to be a physicist. I believe in an America where the daughter of a schoolteacher can be the CEO of the largest company in America. And I still believe in an America where the son of a mill worker can beat the son of a president for the White House. That's the America I will fight for as President of the United States.
Mod: Thank you Sen. Edwards. Gov. Dean, two-minute closing statement please.
Let me thank you for doing this. As you know, I am a former board member for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and I appreciate very much the opportunity to be here.
One of the advantages of being governor is that I get to say what we've done. In my state, we don't have parental notification, because parental notification is bad for families. In my state, we don't believe that "partial birth abortion" is a medical term. And we leave those decisions to individuals and their physicians, as it should be. This is none of Tom DeLay or George Bush's business. In my state, we believe that children should be taken care of and we invest in them. And we've dropped our child-abuse rate dramatically and increased the number of kids going to college because of that.
In my state, we've put together domestic violence programs which protect women from ever being found by the people who are stalking them, which support them through the most difficult times, and which shelter them when it's needed and we raise money for it, we fund it.
This is an extraordinary campaign. This is about the nature of America. My campaign is about empowering people. We have raised a lot of money. The way we raised it is important. 200,000 people giving us $75 on average, one-quarter of all our contributions come from people under 30 years old. This campaign is about giving you back the power to run this country, taking it away from special interest, taking it away from a President whose drug policy is written by drug companies and whose energy policies are written by the oil companies. You have that power. Please use it wisely in this election. We need to beat this president. I think the future of the free world depends on George Bush leaving office on January 20, 2005.
Mod: Thank you. Congressmen Kucinich.
Kucinich: Thank you very much. One of the most powerful questions that was raised was whether 18-year-old women should register for the draft. This country is in a war right now, so the context of that question becomes urgent. Register from the draft to go to war. I think it's important that we challenge the thinking that took us into war before we even get to questions about whether we send our sons and daughters. Because our sons and daughter are there right now on a mission that they did not have to be sent on.
I want to say that as president of the US, I will take a whole new transformative vision of the presidency…to take America in the direction of connecting with the world. My vision of the world is a world which is interdependent, interconnected. A world which has the potential for peace, where war is not inevitable.
Above the House of Representatives there is a sculpture of a woman whose arm is outstretched. She is protecting a child who is sitting blissfully beside a pile of books. The title of this sculpture is "Peace Protecting Genius." Not with nuclear arms, not with weaponry, but with the arms of nurturing is the child genius protected. There is room, as Carol Moseley Braun said, for feminine principles and they should be expressed by men as well as women. The principles of nurturing, the principles of working for peace. That's why I propose the department of peace, where we can work to make non-violence an organizing principle in our society…to deal with domestic violence that John Edwards supports, to deal with child abuse, spousal abuse, to deal with gangs and violence in the schools and all those things that separate us from our humanity. And work with the nations of the world in working to make war itself archaic. My presidency will be about creating a new world. And that's what the poet Tennyson said, he said, "Come my friends. It is not too late to seek a newer world."
Mod: Thank you Congressman Kucinich. Closing statement now from Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
Braun: Thank you very much. You know my grandfather fought for this country in World War I in France. And he came back to a country where he couldn't vote or sit in the front of the bus. But he fought and made that sacrifice because he believed in the promise of America. He believed in a country in which every generation would make things just a little better for the generation to follow. He believed that by his sacrifice, his children and grandchildren would have the blessings of liberty, would have the opportunity, that were denied him in his time.
Well, I am able to stand here as proof positive, of the progress that our country has made in moving in the direction of an inclusionary society that taps the talent of every individual, every member, and allows for all those contributions to benefit the whole of America. I believe that this election is about tapping the talent of America and giving voice to the voices that have been marginalized and have been on the sidelines. There is no reason why women have not been able to be heard and participate at the highest level of leadership in our country. There is no reason that we must continue to be represented as surrogates or indirectly by people that have not had a set of experiences that might heal our country and bring us together.
All my career has been built upon my ability to work with others, to build coalitions, to bring people together, to build bridges, and to break down barriers. And I do this in the name of my eight-year-old niece who said to me, "Auntie Carol, all the presidents are men!" She was shocked. We ought to be shocked too.
The fact is to let girls dream and to let the American people understand that we can resolve these issues, if we come together, if we tap all the talent, and bring those talents to bear in putting our country in the right direction. In the direction of peace, in the direction of prosperity that touches every American so that we don't have pay inequity and pension inequity. So that we don't have the embedded wealth and the entrenched poverty and a shrinking middle class.
I want to congratulate Planned Parenthood for calling us together and allowing us to have this forum because I think this organization and the other women's organizations have been pushing in the direction of moving our society as a whole toward a broader vision of civil society that brings in everybody's contributions. When Margaret Sanger fought for Planned Parenthood—started this organization, fought for the right of women to control their own destiny, she was essentially fighting for a vision of the world in which women would not be limited by their physical condition, but would be given a chance to contribute to the whole society. That's the nature of my fight. I have the capacity you need to qualify to run this country in a new direction. Thank you.
Moderator: Senator Kerry, closing statement please.
Kerry: Thank you for the great privilege of being here tonight. We wake up every morning in this country and we see that George Bush is taking our nation in a radically wrong direction. That he's giving in to almost every special interest and powerful right-wing lobby there is. He's nominated a judge, named Leon Holmes. And Leon Holmes said that people get pregnant from rape about as often as snow falls in Miami. Well, snow falls in Miami once every one hundred years, but 30,000 women in America get pregnant from rape and incest.
This president is turning back the clock. He has launched an assault on the rights of women and on the rights on working people in our nation. You're going to hear each candidate stand up here and say we need to do this, we need to do that—we have to health care. Harry Truman talked about health care—"Why don't these things happen in America?"
I'll tell you why. Because there are special interests, powerful economic interests that fight them every step of the way and ideological interests that fight them. And what we need in a president is not just someone who's going to give you the program of the year or the words, but someone who's life has been committed defining the fight for those values. I have fought for those values from the civil rights movement of the 1960's, of the environmental movement, I marched for equal rights, I was there in the fights.
When I was in the District Attorney's Office a young woman came in and I tried her rape case. And I saw the pain and what happened to her in the court system. So I started the first rape counseling effort and a victim witness assistance plan. We need a president who is fully prepared to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to lead our nation to a better place. And that means not only here in the domestic choices of our nation, but we can't be strong abroad if we're not strong at home, and we can't be strong at home if we're not strong abroad.
I will stand up to this president. I will take him on and our security because he is making our nation less safe—overextending our troops, losing us influence in the world. We need a president who understands how to implement a foreign policy that wins us friends and allies on this planet. I will do that and I will fight for the rights of all Americans.
Moderator: And that concludes our evening and I first off very much want to thank all the presidential candidates. We know all the demands on your time and we very much appreciate you spending the evening with us. So first a big thanks to you!
I'd also like to thank our two panelists, Ellen Goodman and Robin Young. Thank you so much for all the work you've put
Thank you also to Planned Parenthood and its NH-based co-hosts. Again the views expressed are those of the candidates and not those of the sponsoring organizations. And the sponsorship of this forum is not intended as an endorsement of any candidate.
I also want to thank everyone in the audience for both coming in tonight to Manchester, NH, and tuning in on C-SPAN.
Thank you very much, good night.
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