Democratic National Committee, Arizona Democratic Party, and CNN Sponsored Presidential Debate
Phoenix, AZ, October 9, 2003
Democratic presidential debate.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and thank you for joining us. We are here in Arizona with all nine of the Democrats who want to be president of the United States.
We're here because just in a few months the people of Arizona and voters across this nation will be going to the polls to choose the one among these nine that they want to be the nominee of the Democratic Party, the person who will face George W. Bush in the polls next November.
So we want tonight to introduce you to these gentlemen and lady again. We want to tell you as much as we can about them. We want to let them speak for themselves. And we want to learn how they differ from one another, because we think that's how you, the voters, are best going to be able to make up your minds.
So let's introduce them.
Beginning on the left, from the state of—and please hold your applause until the end—from the state of Illinois, former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
From Arkansas, retired General Wesley Clark.
From New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
From North Carolina, Senator John Edwards.
From Missouri, Congressman Dick Gephardt.
From Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry.
From Vermont, former Governor Howard Dean.
From Ohio, Representative Dennis Kucinich.
And from the state of Connecticut, Senator Joe Lieberman.
You may applaud.
The format tonight, very simple. In the second half of this debate, we are going to be taking questions from a group of Arizona voters who are here with us tonight at this theater.
But in the first part, I'm going to be joined by two of my colleagues from CNN, our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
And my colleague, Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent.
Jeff and Candy.
Again, very simple, what we will do, is Jeff, Candy and I will take turns asking questions of the candidates. They'll answer. They'll have about a minute to answer, then we'll have another three minutes or so to discuss their answers among all the candidates.
So, let's get started. The first question goes to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
Ms. Ambassador, the people of the state of Arizona opened their newspapers this morning to learn that yet another young Arizonan has died in the war in Iraq. He was 20-year-old Spencer Carroll (ph). He was an Army specialist. Now you've been very clear, you opposed the idea of going to war in Iraq in the first place.
All of you on this stage have been very critical of President Bush in his conduct of the aftermath of the war.
But my question is, what about going forward? We know that you and others want the allies involved. We're not sure if they're going to come in at all. We know that you want the Iraqis themselves to be more involved. We're not sure if they're ready.
My question to you is, what would you do if you were president? Would you send in more troops? And if you did, for how long?
CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the first instance, we don't as Americans cut and run, and we've blown the place up, blown up Iraq. We have a responsibility to build it back and leave it at least in as good shape as we found it.
To me, that means that we have to burden share with our allies, to bring NATO in to take the place as opposed to putting in additional U.S. troops to engage and work with the United Nations and work with our allies.
I know they've so far been cool, but then that's after this administration thumbed their nose at our allies and really resisted their involvement.
I think we have to work well with others and begin to bring our troops home with honor, with the honor of having not left Iraq in worse shape than we found it so that we can pursue a real war on terrorism.
WOODRUFF: So you would send more troops to Iraq?
MOSELEY BRAUN: No, I would not send more troops. We're already at a troop complement that should be sufficient.
WOODRUFF: But the ones who were there are exhausted, many of them need to be rotated out. So you would bring...
MOSELEY BRAUN: The rotating out is different than sending more. I don't believe that the troop complement—we're at 140,000 roughly. I wouldn't see sending in more troops than we have there already, but certainly to provide relief to those soldiers and provide them every support they need in the field so that our men and women are not sitting ducks and so that they are not just out there without the kind of support they need to do the job that they're there to do.
WOODRUFF: And how long should the U.S. remain in Iraq?
MOSELEY BRAUN: I don't know that you can put a time line on this. It's a matter of getting us out with honor as gracefully and as graciously and as sensibly as we can manage.
We shouldn't have been there in the first place. This administration failed the American people, misled the American people by sending our troops there to begin with. But now that we're there, we've got to come out with some honor.
WOODRUFF: All right.
WOODRUFF: General Clark, you're very familiar with the way the military works. Is that the right solution?
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she's given us a lot of great ideas.
Let me tell you the problem with what we did there. We went into it without a strategy for success.
WOODRUFF: With all due respect, General, we've heard about the criticism of President Bush. What I am trying to determine here is what is the differences among the nine of you.
CLARK: Well, what I say we should do in Iraq is we should have a strategy for success. The administration doesn't have one. They need to lay it out. They need to lay it out block-by-block. They need to turn the economic and political piece over to the United Nations. They can do it best. They need to keep control—we need to keep control of the military piece and support our armed forces. We need to bring our allies in around us and we need to work for that success strategy.
Then we need to do one more thing, Judy. We got to change the dynamic in the region. Right now what we've got is we've got an atmosphere of war in that whole region, so that Syria and Iran have a vested interest in making sure we don't succeed in Iraq.
We need to change that.
WOODRUFF: Well, but, General—and I'll ask some of the others of you to pick up on this—you make it sound very simple. We'll go to the U.N., they'll bring their—there will be other countries that will bring it. We're finding out that's been very, very difficult to do.
So what's the answer, Congressman Gephardt?
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president is failing in his responsibility to get us the help that we need. It is four months since he landed on the aircraft carrier in his flight suit and said the war was over. We've almost lost 800 soldiers to injury since then. We've almost lost 100 soldiers who have been killed. And it's incomprehensible that he's not been able to go to the U.N. and get the help we need.
WOODRUFF: But I'm...
GEPHARDT: Give them the civil authority. You remember on your report card you had your English grade and your history grade, and then it says, “plays well with others”? He flunked that part of his grade school.
WOODRUFF: But my question is...
But my question is going forward, if you were president starting a few days from now, you would be picking up a situation as it exists, what would you do differently?
GEPHARDT: Judy, you've got to get the help of our friends. He keeps saying we've got 30 countries helping us. Yes, Togo sent one soldier.
That isn't what we need. We need France, Germany, Russia. There's only three countries in the world that can give us both the financial and the military help that we need.
He needs to go to those countries. He needs to go to the U.N. He needs to build the consensus. He needs to collaborate. He needs to communicate.
He doesn't do any of those things. It's an abysmal failure of a foreign policy both there and across the world.
WOODRUFF: All right.
Jeff Greenfield has a question for Senator Edwards.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Senator, I have a feeling we're going to get back to Iraq, but I've got a more specific question about your campaign theme.
More than anybody else, you stress the modesty of your roots. Your dad was a mill worker. Your mom worked in the Post Office. You are the first in your family to go to college.
The two most revered members of your party, John Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, weren't exactly born to hard scrabble lives. They were sons of wealth and privilege, and they were regarded a lot more favorably in your party than, say, Richard Nixon, who was born under modest circumstances.
The question is: Why should any voter care any bit—why should it give you any more points with that voter because of who you are any more than a voter should resent you now because you're a multimillionaire?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only relevance of your background and the way you grew up is the credibility it gives to your vision and your ideas for what need to be done with the country.
For example, when I lay out of college-for-everyone plan that allows any young person in America who's qualified to be in college and willing to work for it, to go to college, that's personal to me. I was the first person in my family to go to college.
When I fight for allowing people to buy a home, make a down payment, be able to save, be able to invest, that's personal to me. I grew up in that kind of family.
When I fight to make sure that the middle class in America, not just the wealthy, gets a chance to do what they're capable of doing, that's personal to me.
You're right about one thing. The biography in the abstract is not important. But what is important is when you lay out your ideas, your vision for the country, and you have lived it, every day of your life, from the time you grew up, through today, then the American people know that, and it gives you credibility on those ideas and that vision. That's why it's important.
GREENFIELD: So, if Senator—if I may...
But if Senator Kerry or Governor Dean, both born in more comfortable circumstances, lay out their vision for health care and education, is there any reason why we should be more suspicious of them because they didn't share your background?
EDWARDS: No, no. First of all, you've identified two great presidents who come from similar backgrounds. We grew up a very different way, Senator Kerry and Governor Dean and myself.
What I would say to the American people, if you are looking somebody to stand on a stage with George Bush in 2004, which I intend to do, and make our case to the very group of Americans who he has to get in order to be reelected, the working middle class of this country, that we have a more powerful case to make if in fact our advocate, our voice, is somebody who has grown up with it, lived with it and fought for those very people their entire life.
That doesn't mean that Governor Dean and Senator Kerry aren't completely sincere in their ideas. I think the world of both of them. And I think that their heart is in the right place, they want to do the right thing. They have terrific ideas for the future of this country.
But it is a significant difference, and it is a difference between me and at least some of these candidates.
WOODRUFF: Well, let's hear from Senator Dean—Senator Kerry and Governor Dean on this very quickly.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I was just going to say, I guess you could say that not just their heart, but their wallet's in the right place, too.
Can I say that when I was serving in Vietnam on a small boat, the one thing I learned was nobody asked you where you came from. Nobody worried about your background. You fought together, you lived together and you bled together.
And I came back here to a country where I saw a whole bunch of people who'd served in Vietnam discriminated against, a lot of them from Arizona, a lot of them from New Mexico, Southern California, because Latinos and African-Americans I saw were drafted and on the front lines in far greater numbers than my friends from Yale or other people.
What I learned there is an indelible lesson: that what matters in life is what you fight for, the principles and values that you carry into the struggle.
And I will tell you that throughout my life, I believe I have stood up for democratic values, I have fought hard to hold government accountable, and I think I stand here with a broader base of experience, both in domestic affairs and in foreign affairs, than any other person.
WOODRUFF: Governor Dean?
I know you want to applaud for all of them, but the more you applaud, the less time we're going to have for answers.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As long as you deduct that from Senator Kerry's time, not mine, I'm happy.
You started off saying you wanted to find out what the differences were between us.
DEAN: The last poll I saw showed that there are five of us up here that are going to beat George Bush. So the question is not whether we're going to beat George Bush, but what kind of a president do you want.
Here are the differences between me and the other folks, from Washington.
First, our campaign is changing the political system in this country. Last time, last quarter we raised more money than any other candidate by three times, 200,000 donors, average gift $72.
Secondly, I have a record. Everybody is going to talk about health insurance. Every kid under 18 in my state has health insurance. A third of all the seniors have prescription benefits. Working poor people have health insurance.
And the third area is the war. General Clark, a year ago today, advised Katrina Sweat (ph) to support the resolution. Senator Kerry, Senator Lieberman, Representative Gephardt, Senator Edwards, all gave the president a blank check to go to war in Iraq, putting people today in the position of having to decide whether we're going to spend $87 billion on health care or spend it in Iraq.
If you want real change in this country, then I'd like your support.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to have a rebuttal now from General Clark.
CLARK: Well, I'm certainly going to rebut it.
I think my position on Iraq has been very, very clear from the outset. It was an imminent—it was not an imminent threat. I looked at Saddam Hussein. I was one of the guys in charge of striking Saddam Hussein in Operation Northern Watch. I saw all of the intelligence.
When I heard that the administration was moving in there I figured, is there anything new? There wasn't.
It was never an imminent threat. It was a problem. I fully supported taking the problem to the United Nations and dealing with it through the United Nations. I would never have voted for war. The war was an unnecessary war, it was an elective war, and it's been a huge, strategic mistake for this country.
WOODRUFF: All right, I know a lot of you want to get in on this, but we want to give everybody a chance to have a question.
Candy has a question now for Congressman Kucinich.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Kucinich, I'm going to give you a chance to sort of expand on this just a little.
When President Clinton was in office, you were critical of the bombing in Kosovo. You have been critical of the bombing and the invasion in Afghanistan. You opposed the war in Iraq.
If you were commander-in-chief, what criteria would you use to justify the use of force? Is anything worth fighting for? And what is that?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, as a matter of fact, it's a foundational principle of our country that we have an obligation to provide for the common defense. Unfortunately, in the case of Iraq, our involvement in Iraq was based on lies. This administration tried to tell the American people that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, with al Qaeda's role in 9/11, with the anthrax attack, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq had the intention and the ability to attack this nation. All of those things are not true. So I think that the cause of defending this country must first and foremost be true.
I want to comment as the only person on this stage who actually voted against the war in Iraq.
KUCINICH: I want to say that Governor Dean's answer was incomplete before, because he told CNBC two weeks ago that we have no choice about funding the $87 billion. And this morning in the New York Times, he wouldn't take a position on the $87 billion, and the governor says that he's still for keeping 70,000 troops in Iraq.
Now, he's either right or wrong. If we're wrong to be there, as I believe we are, we should get our troops out. I have a plan to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out, and that's one of the things I want to talk about tonight.
WOODRUFF: All right, Senator Lieberman has been trying to get in here.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Judy.
Not always easy with this crowd. Thank you very much.
This is a very important discussion, because each of the nine of us want to be the commander in chief of the United States military and protect the security of this country. That requires a clarity of judgment and the courage to stick by the judgment you've made.
Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun—they were clear and consistent against the war. I was for it clearly and consistently, but I respect them for that clarity.
I must say that I've been very disappointed since Wes Clark came into this race about the various positions he has taken on the war against Saddam Hussein.
Howard Dean is right, last fall, a few days before the voting in Congress, he said he would have recommended it and would have supported the resolution. After the war, he wrote a piece in the Times of London praising President Bush and Tony Blair for their resolve. When he became a candidate he said he probably would have voted for the resolution.
There was an uproar. Then he said: I never would have voted for the resolution.
The American people have lost confidence in George Bush because he hasn't leveled with them. We need a candidate who will meet the test of reaching a conclusion and having the courage to stick with it. And I intend to be that candidate and that kind of president.
WOODRUFF: All right, General Clark, looks like two of them are after you.
CLARK: Well, Judy, I would like to rebut this. I am not going to attack a fellow Democrat, because I think everybody on this stage shares the same goal.
I think it's a little—I think it's really embarrassing that a group of candidates up here are working on changing the leadership in this country and can't get their own story straight.
Let me tell you what my story is. I always supported taking the problem of Saddam Hussein to the United Nations and bringing international resolve to bear. I would never have voted for war. The Congress made a mistake in giving George Bush an open-ended resolution that enabled him to go to war without coming back to the Congress.
WOODRUFF: But you acknowledge you made a...
CLARK: And that's the simple answer to it.
WOODRUFF: You acknowledge...
CLARK: At every stage as we walked down through this resolution, since I wasn't in Congress and I was a CNN military commentator, I took the situation as it was and necked it down to look for the least worst choice.
I did praise George Bush and Tony Blair for sticking with the offensive in Iraq once it had begun. But I also noted in every op-ed and every comment I ever made that there was not enough forces there, there was not a plan for dealing with it afterwards.
And I've said all along, it was not an imminent threat.
WOODRUFF: But you acknowledge...
CLARK: I think that's a very clear answer, Judy.
WOODRUFF: But you acknowledge there were some changes in your statements about Iraq...
WOODRUFF: ... after you announced as a candidate.
CLARK: I had a discussion with a newspaper reporter that—when I said what I was trying to say, I took an answer. The answer is very clear. The answer is, I would have voted for a resolution that took the problem to the United Nations. I would not have voted for a resolution that would have taken us to war. It's that simple.
WOODRUFF: All right. A number of you are trying to get in and because of the time constraints that we all agreed on, you all and CNN, we're going to have move on.
The next question is for Governor Dean.
Governor, eight years ago—and this has been raised several times in the campaign, I'm going to ask you again about a subject that you've been asked about—you advocated cutbacks in Medicare and in raising the Social Security retirement age in order to balance the budget.
Since you've become a candidate for president, you have changed your position on this, even though the budget deficit has ballooned enormously. It's now approaching $500 billion, well over what it was then.
You have a reputation as a straight shooter. So what do you say to those who say Howard Dean has misrepresented his views of eight years ago when he says he didn't change? If you're a straight shooter, how do you explain it?
DEAN: First of all, I've never said I didn't change. I'm a strong supporter of Medicare. I'm a strong supporter of Social Security.
I think Medicare is a badly run program, and I've said so repeatedly.
We are not going to take away Medicare or Social Security. That was part of the social contract passed with Lyndon Johnson and FDR.
What we are going to do, however, is change those programs so they can do better.
The people that have criticized me on this stage have never delivered health insurance. What I have done is, one-third of all of my seniors have prescription benefits. No one else has delivered prescription benefits to seniors.
Our children have health insurance. And that's not true in any other—all of our children—it's not true in any other state.
So I am a strong supporter of Medicare. I'm a strong supporter of Social Security. I was willing to work with President Clinton and others in order to preserve Social Security, as some other senators such as Bob Kerrey, were. And those programs will never go away as long as I'm president.
WOODRUFF: Reverend Sharpton?
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say on three things I've been trying to get in, do this...
... on three things that I want to be clear on.
One, I think that in order for us to get our allies, or the rest of the world, to help us in Iraq, we need to go to the United Nations and be honest. The president went to the U.N. and said, “Help us on my terms.”
If I were president, I would go in and say, “We were wrong.” Tony Blair and George Bush had a meeting, acted as though it was a world summit. Two guys in a phone booth acted like the whole world had met.
And they made a wrong move. I think if we were not inflexible, we could get more support and withdraw.
WOODRUFF: But right now there's not a country...
SHARPTON: Are you going to take that out of my time?
WOODRUFF: No, I'm not.
SHARPTON: Because you wouldn't let me talk.
WOODRUFF: Go ahead.
SHARPTON: Secondly, when you brought up about Senator Edwards, and we are running against each other, but I disagree with he and Dean and Senator Kerry.
I think it is important he tell that story, from a different vantage point. The reason is, I think it inspires young people to know that they can start somewhere in life with disadvantages and become what he's become.
And I think that that kind of intangible inspiration it good. It has nothing to do with votes. It has something to do with hope. And as someone that came out of the projects that needs to hear somebody like him say, “I rose from being a mill workers's kid to being a successful lawyer and a presidential candidate,” it may mean that I will to choose a different route in life, and he ought not be criticized for that. I think he ought to be saluted.
I think, lastly, the whole notion of our showing our differences is good. But let us not forget that our differences should be toward the aim of winning against Bush.
We are 48 hours away from watching an actor that couldn't win an Oscar winning to be the governor of California.
We need to deal with how we beat George Bush in 2004.
WOODRUFF: All right. I think ...
Ambassador Braun, very quickly, because we're almost out of time.
MOSELEY BRAUN: Very quickly, if you really want to change the political system and the political culture, my approach is that I am the clearest alternative to George Bush. You guys have—the men have ruined it.
Our country is in a been a mess. It's time to give a woman a hand, a chance...
... to help provide for the harmony and the security of the whole community, get our economic house in order, to bring the American family together and to stop the pandering to fear that has turned this country into a hostage of the right wing.
WOODRUFF: And you're saying you're the only one up here who can do that?
MOSELEY BRAUN: I think I am the only one that can do that. I'm the one who's had a record of doing those kinds of things, building bridges, bringing people together over time.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
Next question for General Clark from Candy Crowley.
CROWLEY: General Clark, let me try and go at this one more time.
You said about five months into the Bush administration, this Bush administration, at a Republican Lincoln Day dinner, you praised the president and his cabinet at a time when the tax cuts were almost passed by the U.S. Congress.
In the midst of the Iraq war, in the London Times it's been refereed to, you wrote, “Liberation is at hand.” You said that liberation justifies painful sacrifice, erases doubt and reinforces bold action.
Now you're talking about the president recklessly taking us into the war in Iraq and his reckless tax cut. So if you could square that circle for us.
CLARK: Well, I'll be happy to.
You didn't read the rest of the quote on that London Times piece because I went on in that, as I remember it, to point out what was the problem now about taking us forward.
Look, I want this country to be successful. And I don't believe we should pay any more taxes than we have to in this country. But this administration didn't have a good plan. It doesn't have a good record. And things have changed radically since 2001.
I worked with Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld. But I'm very, very disappointed with how they and this administration have led this country. And so are the American people.
I'm travelling all around this country. I'm getting tremendous response, response from Democrats, independents, people who've never been engaged in politics and Republicans who are looking to us, to me, for a new vision and new leadership to take this country forward.
And that's why I'm up here and that's what I'll provide.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Well, I disagree with General Clark that this is an attack when Joe Lieberman raises an issue.
People are trying to decide who can lead the United States of America. And the positions we take are critical to their capacity to make that decision.
The fact is that last year General Clark did say he would vote for the resolution that was in the Congress. In addition to that, at the time in May when he said that the right people were in charge, referring to Bush and to Cheney and Rumsfeld, at that time it was just a few days before Jim Jeffords switched and became an independent because of what they were doing to this country.
They had already started to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. They had already passed a tax cut that was reckless. They had already unfunded children across this country and neglected them.
And at that moment, the general was prepared to say they are the right people. At that moment, those of us who were fighting for democratic principles, and have been for 35 years or more, were fighting against what they were doing to this country, and we had no lack of clarity about what compassionate conservative meant to this nation.
WOODRUFF: What about that?
CLARK: Well now, Judy, let's just be very clear on this.
I did not vote for George W. Bush. I voted for Al Gore.
WOODRUFF: But you praised...
CLARK: But when I did go into a Republican fund-raiser, because I was nonpartisan at that point, then I did acknowledge that I knew his national security team. And like every other American, I wanted the national security team to be successful.
Yes, I had seen disturbing signs, and I gave a speech that called on greater international involvement at the time. And the things I spoke about in that fund-raiser were things that the administration didn't exactly support.
But I could still have hope in early 2001 that this administration would learn its lessons, as most administrations do.
What I didn't understand, I think what Americans didn't understand—Americans believed that they had selected a compassionate conservative. Instead we had a guy who has deepened the deficits.
He's taken us recklessly into war. And he's been a radical, not a compassionate conservative. That's why the American people want change and that's why I'm running.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: I think that this exchange will not be productive unless, as the next president, somebody says that it's time to come up with a plan to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out. And I have such a plan, and the elements are as follows.
First, to go the U.N. with a resolution in which the United States acknowledges that the U.N. should handle the oil without any privatization of Iraqi oil interests; second, that the U.N. should handle all the contracts, no more Halliburton sweetheart deals; third, that the U.N. should handle a cause of new governance in Iraq and bring the Iraqi to new governance.
And then at that point when we have that resolution, that's when we can move to get our troops out. We get the U.N. troops in and the U.S. troops out.
We have to focus on bringing our troops home.
And I am the only one standing on this stage who not only voted against the war, but will vote against the $87 billion which will keep our troops there.
And I am saying that you have to have a plan and where's the plan to get out? There has to be an exit strategy. I'm presenting that here this evening.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator Lieberman.
LIEBERMAN: Very quickly, first thing I want to say, Wes Clark, welcome to the Democratic presidential campaign.
Look, none of us are above questioning. That's what this is all about. As John said, we're trying to let the American people see what we're about so they can decide which one of us can replace George W. Bush as president.
I will say here that I will support any one of these eight others that get nominated by my party to run against George Bush.
WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, a question for Reverend Sharpton.
GREENFIELD: Reverend Sharpton, you referred to the necessity of your party winning, so let's focus on that for a minute.
Ten years after Bill Clinton won the White House by appealing to the forgotten middle class—he ended welfare as an entitlement, he endorsed and expanded the death penalty, he took on the labor unions -- 10 years later the middle class is giving the Democratic Party some serious problems.
According to one Democratic pollster, by huge majorities the average voter feels the Democratic Party is too liberal, doesn't share their values and most especially is beholden to special interests.
As a candidate for the presidential nomination, what would you do to bring that forgotten middle class back to the party?
SHARPTON: All I think you have to do is explain to the middle class what has happened under George Bush and those that have made their life less fruitful than it was.
When you look at the job loss, when you look at the weakening of the economy, when you look at the fact that their children have gone to war under a premise that did not exist, I think that we have to get our message to the middle class.
When you look at the fact that there was a vote about a deficit in California and we tell the American people, particularly the middle class, we have a record historic federal deficit, we've got to bring the message to the middle class. And we've got to use everything from the Internet to the interstate highways to get that message out.
What they're beating us at is that message and how they get the message in the trenches and grassroots. The facts don't speak for what we are talking about here.
Middle class people were able to buy more homes under Clinton. Middle class people were able to afford more college education for their children.
If you lay the facts out, there's no way, in my judgment, middle class people would keep those feelings that you just said that poll says.
WOODRUFF: Representative Gephardt, are you all in absolute agreement on this, the premise of...
GEPHARDT: Well, let me just say this: We got a great story for the American people and the middle class and all the people of the country. We did this.
I led the fight for the Clinton economic program in 1993. It created 22 million new jobs.
We didn't get a Republican vote in the House or the Senate. We passed it by one vote in both houses.
And it's clear, we get this. We know how to do this. They do not.
If you want to live like a Republican, you've got to vote for the Democrats, and we've proven it over and over again.
It's true. It's absolutely true.
My plan is a bold, comprehensive plan based on a lot of the things we did: health care for everybody in this country; an education plan that says that if young kids want to be teachers, we'll help pay their college loans just like we do for ROTC; an energy plan to make us independent of Middle Eastern oil; a universal pension plan where the credits follow you from job to job; tax credits to keep manufacturers in the United States, accelerating highway spending until we get something going in this country; and finally, a trade policy that will hold on to good jobs and get better wages paid in other countries.
WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards, if that's the formula, why not the rest of you drop out of the race and, you know, turn it over to Congressman Gephardt?
EDWARDS: Well, what we need, what we need if we want to reach out to the middle class, the people who are going to decide this election in 2004, is first we need a messenger that they understand and has a direct gut-level connection with them, number one.
Number two, we need to talk about a message that they clearly understand.
Every one of us are against George Bush's tax cuts for millionaires. We should be.
But there's something more radical than that going on here. This president is in the business of shifting the tax burden in America from wealth and the wealthy, to work and the middle class, and it's wrong for two reasons.
First, what he's trying to do is get rid of the capital gains tax, the dividends tax, and the taxation of large estates. It's wrong for two reasons.
First, it's completely inconsistent with middle-class values.
This is the message the American people need to hear.
I want this president to explain to the American people why multimillionaires, sitting by the swimming pool, getting a statement each month to see how much money he's making, is paying a lower tax rate than a school teacher, a firefighter, a secretary.
The second reason that this is wrong is because he is putting the burden on the very engine of our economy, which is working people and the middle class.
Our economy grows when working people and the middle class grows.
It's happened historically. This president believes if you put more money in the pockets of people at the top, somehow we're all going to do better. He's wrong. We're going to prove he's wrong in 2004. And the middle class needs to hear this message.
WOODRUFF: But you wouldn't roll back the tax cuts for the middle class?
EDWARDS: No. No, I would not. I think, in fact...
EDWARDS: ... what we want to do is empower and strengthen the middle class and get rid of the tax cuts for the rich.
MOSELEY BRAUN: I want to respond to the direct question about the polling.
You know, you can't fool all the people all the time. And this administration has mastered the art of fooling people. They've misled the American people on just about every count.
Their environmental policy is called “clean skies and healthy forests,” when it means they want to cut down trees and put more junk in the air. “Leave no child behind” means an unfunded mandate for local governments.
I have proposed a health care plan that will give universal coverage. I have proposed getting this economic engine going for all Americans.
All of these candidates have proposed alternatives. And I just want to say that I think the Democratic way, the Democratic voters will respond to a real alternative to George Bush.
WOODRUFF: All right. Jeff Greenfield, a question for Congressman Gephardt.
GREENFIELD: Congressman, I'd like to keep going on this track because it seems to me that you could almost hear voters out there, some of saying, “You guys just don't get it. You recite a litany of economic proposals, but it's on values that the middle class appears to have left the Democratic Party.”
All right, 9/11 may be the reason you lost the Senate and the House, but it doesn't explain why for the first time in more than 50 years, there are more Republican state legislators than Democrats or why only 32 percent of American voters say they're Democrats.
That's the lowest level since before the New Deal.
So my question is, if we can cut to the chase, beyond the five- point plans, would you concede or acknowledge or not that there's something about what the Democrats have been saying or doing that has turned off voters who you think should be voting for your party?
GEPHARDT: Jeff, I don't see it as half-empty, I see it as half- full. I think we're doing really good. Now...
GREENFIELD: Well, the Senate and House are less than half...
GEPHARDT: In the last four elections for the House, we picked up seats. We won the Senate back not long ago. We reelected President Clinton in 1996. We picked up governors in the last election, even though we lost a handful of seats in the Congress.
But let me tell you what I think is going on here. I think the Democratic Party has proven, through real results during the Clinton administration, that we do have the right values, we do reflect the values of the American people. We do understand that we're all tied together, that we are interdependent, that we have to help one another so we can all succeed.
That's our economic program. It's based on that moral value that you only can succeed in this country if you bring everybody up together. That's what we did and we've proven it.
GREENFIELD: Governor Dean said not long ago: The reason we, the Democrats, are out of power is that we didn't stand up for what we believe in. Is he right?
GEPHARDT: Well, I don't know that I agree with that.
We were standing up for what we believe in. We did a good job in the Clinton administration. We got the budget straightened out through growth and we got the defense of this country made better.
And incidentally, you know this Army in Iraq was built by the Clinton administration, not by the Bush administration, and they've done a pretty good job. I'm pretty proud of what they've done.
So I don't buy the idea that we didn't stand for the right things.
Now, we've had our disagreement, Howard and I, over the question of Medicare. At our darkest hour, when were fighting against the Republicans who had just taken over the Congress, he was in agreement—and I'm not criticizing him for it, that was his belief. He was in agreement with the Republican stand to have a deep, devastating cut in Medicare.
Now, this party is the party of Medicare and Social Security, and we're known for that, and we need to continue to fight for those programs.
The Republicans have wanted to get rid of them forever. They'll never do that on my watch. We will protect Social Security and Medicare to the end, because it's the proudest achievement of this government.
WOODRUFF: All right, I want to let Governor Dean jump in here and then Senator Lieberman.
DEAN: Let me first say that the folks that are running against me have had the greatest time—first they said I was George McGovern and I couldn't win, and now they're saying I'm Newt Gingrich and I couldn't win.
Let me tell you what the answer to the question is about why the Democrats aren't winning.
It is because we don't stand up for what we believe in.
Why do you think I am where I am, having come from no place at the end of January? It's because I've gone out and given 50 percent of Americans who have given up on voting in this country a reason to vote again.
We can't just change presidents here. We're trying to change America, and that's what I want to do.
We have to have the values of the Democratic Party, but in Washington the culture is say whatever it takes to get elected. And the minute you're willing to say whatever it takes to get elected, you lose, because the American people are not nearly as dumb as the people in Washington think we are.
This campaign is about changing America. And until we're willing to stand up and say what we think, regardless of the consequences, we never are going to have a chance against George Bush.
And I intend to have a chance against George Bush. And I intend to have the half-a-million people who are supporting us and the 2 million who are going to be supporting us by the end of election season to get to the polls, because this time the person with the most votes is going to win.
WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman, do you agree?
Senator Lieberman, do you agree with Governor Dean that Democrats have not been standing up for what they should?
LIEBERMAN: Oh, obviously not. I've certainly been standing up for what I believe is right for the country in this campaign and in the 30 years of my public life regardless of whether it was politically easy.
And I want to say to Howard, I hope he didn't—wasn't referring to the 2000 election, because Al Gore and I certainly stood up for what we believed.
And I don't think there is anybody in this room who would disagree that if Al and I had been able to take office, America would be a lot better off today.
WOODRUFF: Is that what you're referring to, Governor Dean?
WOODRUFF: No, all right.
LIEBERMAN: I do want to respond.
Integrity is on the ballot next November. And what Carol said is absolutely right: George Bush has fooled the American people. He promised he'd grow and protect the middle class. The fact is, he squeezed and shrunk it. I've never seen so much anxiety among them.
We will not get them back unless we can convince them that we are a party that will be strong on defense and will reflect their best values. And what does that mean? A sense of right and wrong, neighbors that take care of one another, a willingness to stand up and take on some interests like Hollywood and say that the entertainment industry is putting too much violence and inappropriate sexual matter in front of our children and affecting their lives and ours.
I have said from the beginning that I believe strongly that I am the candidate who can beat George Bush because I can take him on where he's supposed to be strong, but he's not, on defense and values, and then beat him where we know he is weak, on his failed economic policies and his social agenda that is so right-wing it has left the rest of America, including the middle class, behind.
WOODRUFF: All right, the red light is on. We're going to move on.
Senator Lieberman, the next question goes to you.
WOODRUFF: And it is from me.
You mentioned Hollywood. We've heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, is going to be the next governor of the state of California. It's pretty clear there was a wave of voter unhappiness, even anger, in California, that pushed him out.
Now we have analysts saying that anger may not just be in California; it may be reflected in voters across the country at incumbents, at Washington politicians.
Two of the candidates who picked up the most steam so far in this campaign are not of Washington—with all due respect—Governor Dean, General Clark, two of them.
You have been in Washington for 15 years almost. Is Washington a liability? What do you make of this whole voter discontent thing?
LIEBERMAN: Well, first let me say that the lesson from the election in California I hope is that we're all not going to try to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, like this.
The lesson from California is that people want change. Gray Davis was on the ballot in California. George Bush is going to be on the ballot in America next November. The way to bring about change is not to go to a rookie.
It's time for somebody with experience, but somebody who has the courage, as I have throughout my career, to say what I believe and to do what I say, because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of the United States.
We've got to rebuild the trust in the White House that George Bush has compromised by breaking his promises, by indulging in the politics of personal destruction, and by deceiving the American people.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Gephardt, you've been in Washington almost twice as long as Senator Lieberman.
GEPHARDT: Yes, he's a rookie compared to me.
WOODRUFF: So what do you make of what appears to be a wave of voter unhappiness with politicians in office?
GEPHARDT: People are unhappy with George Bush and his lack of leadership for this country. That's clear.
The economy is in a mess. People are losing their jobs. He's lost 3.3 million jobs in the last two and a half years, more jobs than the last 11 presidents put together.
WOODRUFF: So you don't think there's a problem for any Democrat?
GEPHARDT: Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something, I was never prouder of this party than on the day in 1993 when House members went down and plunked down their green cards to vote for an economic plan that was a tough economic plan.
It was not understood at the time. People thought it was full of political pain, and it was.
We lost the Congress over that vote. They ran ads on all my candidates saying they had voted to raise taxes. Guess what we had on the wealthiest Americans? You bet we had.
But it was the plan, it was the platform on which the American people created the best economy in 50 years. It was the right thing to do for the future of the country. Members gave up their political career to do what was right.
That's what the Democratic Party is about, and that's why I'm proud to be a Democrat.
WOODRUFF: Congressman, we know you're all Democrats. The question is: Are Democrats in any—go ahead, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: To answer your question, I think that we have to go at those that have felt excluded and abandoned by the fight. And I think that we've got to register younger people. We've got to go at people that have felt that the party has not stood on a critical issue.
I think we can't compete for the values of people that may be, in my judgment, wrongly looking at America. I think our modular victory is in younger voters. That's why I've done a lot of young voter registrations.
That's why I've done—I was at two schools today. We've got to expand the electric. We can't say that Americans have rejected—most Americans haven't voted. You're talking, Judy, like George Bush won, he didn't win.
WOODRUFF: No, I'm saying...
SHARPTON: He did not win.
WOODRUFF: My question is...
That's not my—my question was: Is Washington a liability? Senator, is it a liability?
KERRY: It depends what vision you're offering to the country.
I agree with Jeff's premise. I think there has been a problem in the last election certainly. And part of it was not of the making of the party. It was the cleverness of the Republican administration and Karl Rove in exploiting national security.
They brought the Iraq issue in September for a purpose. Andrew Card said you don't introduce a new product in August. And they introduced their product, and they wiped other choices off the stage.
But that's one of the reasons why it's so important to have a nominee of our party who will have the ability to stand toe to toe with them.
They used to think their strong suit was national security. They can't find Osama bin Laden. They can't find Saddam Hussein. They can't even find the leaker in the White House.
WOODRUFF: Is there anyone among you...
KERRY: I believe that if we—Judy, in answer to your question, and Jeff also: We have to offer Americans real choices. We have to connect to every American about their health care. We are. We have to connect with children and their parents about how we're going to really fix our schools.
We are; they're not. We have to connect with people about how we're going to protect the environment. But it was we Democrats—I led the fight—to stop the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. I led the fight to stop Newt Gingrich decimating...
WOODRUFF: All right.
KERRY: ... the Clean Air and Clean Water Act, and unfortunately, we haven't taken those issues out to the country enough.
When we take our values out in this race, we're going to win, because I believe we're offering real choices to the American people...
WOODRUFF: All right.
KERRY: ... that make a difference to the quality of their lives.
WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, question for Senator Kerry.
CROWLEY: Senator Kerry, within the last 48 hours, the foreign minister of Iran has said that his country will continue to enrich uranium despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has told them to cease and desist by the 31st.
Should you become president, if you get solid evidence that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weaponry, and you cannot get anything in the U.N. like what you would like, are you prepared to go after a factory in Iran on your own?
KERRY: I would do whatever is necessary to protect the national security of the United States of America, but, Candy, I don't accept the premise of your question completely.
And it really comes back to the original question about Iraq also.
I spoke with the secretary general in the last 24 hours, and I know that we could be doing better in terms of pulling other countries to our side now with respect to Iraq.
If we did that with respect to Iraq, if we had a different policy with respect to North Korea so that we froze in place the current status quo, i.e. their plutonium, their enrichment and our threat so that we can take that off the table and begin to renegotiate, we would begin to change the dynamics of how countries are perceiving the United States.
But as long as this administration leaves a preemptive doctrine on the table, as long as our administration is proceeding down the road to develop nuclear bunker-busting weapons, and as long as we remain a country that will conduct a preemptive war, we're inviting people to do the very thing that we don't want them to do.
We need a president now to prevent us from the very choice that you just said could occur, and that will only happen if we go to the United Nations now and get rid of the sense of American occupation in Iraq. Take the target off American troops.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Kucinich, you are in complete agreement—you're in complete agreement?
KUCINICH: Oh, no, I'm not in agreement with a number of the things that have been said.
WOODRUFF: No, I mean on this point.
KUCINICH: I would like to say that it would have been good if Senator Kerry and Congressman Gephardt, both have been articulate in criticizing the president, had actually voted against the resolution that took us to war.
It'll be a year anniversary on October 10th that the bill came to the House.
Now, we had a chance to tell the president no. We had a chance to cancel unilateralism and preemption by saying no. And while it's very well and good to stand here and say we should have done that, I submit that the reason, going back to Jeff Greenfield's question, the reason why people don't trust the Democrats is because our Democratic leadership stood with the president in the Rose Garden and now stands on this stage and attacks him for the war.
I'm saying that war was wrong from the beginning. We should get out of Iraq now, because we're standing there on a lie, we should bring our troops home, that's the bottom line.
Mr. Dean has said that he believes—he says what he believes. I want to ask him, do you believe in spending $87 billion to keep our troops in Iraq? Because I don't. Do you?
DEAN: I get to answer the question?
DEAN: I believe if the president is serious about supporting our troops in Iraq that he has to say where he's going to get the money from, and that means he's got to get rid of $87 billion worth of the tax cuts that went to Ken Lay and his friends at Enron.
KUCINICH: Would you fund keep the troops in Iraq?
KUCINICH: You would?
DEAN: If the president was willing to pay for it.
KUCINICH: I would say bring our troops home, Governor.
DEAN: You can't do that. And I'll tell you why.
KUCINICH: We have to bring our troops home. They're targets right now.
DEAN: Can I tell why I disagree?
KUCINICH: Yes, finish.
DEAN: First of all, let me tell you what I agree with you about. And in all due respect to John and Joe and Wes and John Edwards and Dick Gephardt, maybe you thought the war was a good idea and maybe you thought it wasn't a bad idea. It wasn't a good idea.
The problem is that we empowered the president to run roughshod over us in the last election because nobody stood up to him on the October vote. If you all had voted no, we could have gone out and made our case to the American people. But instead you didn't vote no.
KUCINICH: You said no, and that's not true. I led the effort. Do you want to correct that statement?
DEAN: No, no, I didn't mention you. I didn't mention you.
Now if I can explain what my position on Iraq is, it's this. Now that we're there...
WOODRUFF: Could you make it brief so we could let...
DEAN: I'll try to make it as brief as I can.
Now that we're there, we can't pull out responsibly. Because if we do, there are more al Qaeda, I believe, in Iraq today than there were before the president went in. If they establish a foothold in Iraq, or if a fundamentalist Shiite regime comes in, allied with Iran, that is a real security danger to the United States, when one did not exist before when Saddam Hussein was running the place.
WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards, you voted with the president.
WOODRUFF: So what do you say to Governor Dean about this?
EDWARDS: I say Saddam Hussein being gone is a good thing, good for the security of the American people, good for the security of that region.
But I disagree so strongly with what he just said. I have stood up to this president over and over and over, including back in 2001 when some on this stage had hope for President Bush. I did not have hope for President Bush.
And I want to go back to something that was talked about a few minutes ago, which is this whole issue of Washington and people's concern.
Let's forget about politicians for a minute.
What most people in this country are worried about is they look to Washington, and what they believe is true, it is being run by corporate lobbyists, by Washington insiders, powerful interests. They know that. They see what's happening right now, Judy, with the situation with the $87 billion in Iraq that has been discussed.
Joe Allbaugh, the former campaign manager for George Bush, one of his best friends, has set up a lobbying firm to get contracts in Iraq.
What people want, people like my own family, the family that I grew up in, they want a president of the United States that will stand up for them and stand up against these powerful lobbyists and interests in Washington, D.C. That's what they're looking for.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, General Clark, because he was referring to you. And then we're...
CLARK: Judy, I think what people want is they want straight talk and they want leadership.
I think the question that Candy raised about Iran is a very serious question.
And just to pick up on what John Kerry said, this administration's preemptive doctrine is causing North Korea and Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons development.
Now, there are some of us who aren't in Washington right now. But I'd like to ask all those who are—let's see some leadership in the United States Congress. Let's see you take apart that doctrine of preemption now. I don't think we can wait until November of 2004 to change the administration on this threat. We're marching into another military campaign in the Middle East. We need to stop it.
WOODRUFF: We know there are some of you who want to get in. We're going to get to that after the break.
After the break, we are going to hear questions from this audience at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. We'll be back in two minutes.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to the second half of our debate with the nine Democratic candidates for president.
We are in Phoenix, Arizona. This part of the debate, we're going to be taking questions from a group of voters. They are Democrats and—they are all undecided. They are Democrats and independents here in Arizona.
We were talking about Iraq before the break. And now I want to first ask this gentleman to stand up.
You are Lieutenant Lucas Costonous, is that right?
QUESTION: Yes, ma'am.
WOODRUFF: And you served in Iraq, in Baghdad. Is that right? And in Tikrit.
WOODRUFF: You've come back fairly recently.
You've been listening to these Democratic candidates. What question do you have for them?
QUESTION: Well, my question is when one of you guys get elected, for the military families, what are your programs to help them out? I'm looking at—are there going to be base closures? Are there going to be pay increases, that sort of thing? That's about it.
WOODRUFF: Who wants to...
CLARK: Well, I'll answer that, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. General Clark and then right back to Senator Lieberman.
CLARK: I think there's a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue, because it's simply true, the Republicans do like weapon systems and Democrats like people.
And so, I can tell you, and I would speak for anybody up here, when we take this government back in 2005, we're going to look after pay.
We're going to look after education for children. We're going to make sure military health care works. We're going to take care of our veterans. And we're going to make sure that the military family is giving the respect and the pay increases that it needs to have a good quality of life.
WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: First, thank you for what you did in Iraq. God bless you and thank God you came home safely.
And as president, I am going to do everything I can to make sure every American soldier there comes home as quickly as possible to rejoin their families in peace.
Secondly, the fact is that George Bush may have said in 2000 election that help was on the way. He said it to the American military. But what has he done? This is another broken Bush promise.
Because he spent so much of the surplus and more that Bill Clinton and Al Gore left over on tax cuts for wealthy people that don't need it, he has not had enough money to invest in better compensation for our military, better housing, better health care. I will do that.
And I'll promise you one more thing. When a general who is the chief of the Army, as Eric Shinseki did before the Iraq war, said, “Mr. President, Secretary Rumsfeld, we need more American troops to go to Iraq, not so much to win the war as to keep the Americans who are there after the war safe,” I will not say no.
I will not disrespect and demean a great career general like Eric Shinseki. I give you my promise on that.
WOODRUFF: Reverend Sharpton, very quickly.
SHARPTON: I agree with the increased compensation. I agree with the health care. I support a national single-payer plan. But I also think we have to take care of veterans.
I think that the most disingenuous thing I saw was as this president waved the flag, he cut the budget for veterans, which dishonored people that had given their lives to this country, while he sent people like you to war.
We respect all military personnel, including those that fought wars in the past. And if I were president, I would not treat veterans like they were yesterday's news. They hold the honor of our country.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry? Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Thank you also. I want to thank you for your service.
But let me just say to everybody here: We have 135,000 veterans waiting six months to see a doctor for the first time just to get their prescription drugs. We have 400,000 veterans in this country who have been denied access in a whole category to the VA. We've had cuts in the active-duty military personnel being able to have their kids get adequate funding for schools.
We have overextended the military. This president has made our military weaker by overextending the Guard and Reserves.
The Reserves are losing their health care when they come back, they may lose their job. There's a disparity in pay between them, and I think it is clear that every single one of us up here would believe that we're tired of hearing Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney and others throw patriotism at us.
We're taking back the flag for the United States of America, and we're going to make it clear the real definition of patriotism is keeping faith with those who wore the uniform of their country. And we are going to do that.
WOODRUFF: All right, thank you.
I want to turn to Karen Dickinson. Karen, you are, you and I spoke a few minutes ago. Where are you? Right here. Please. Stand up, and do we have a microphone?
You are, I'm told, a stroke survivor ...
WOODRUFF: ... and you have concerns about health care, specifically about prescription drugs.
QUESTION: Yes. Forgive me for having to read this.
I am a stroke survivor, I am disabled and on a fixed income. For seven months I went without prescription medication because we cannot afford supplemental insurance to my Medicare.
I chose food over medicine. How can you assure me and the many other voters—there's millions like me—that you empathize with my hardship and as president you will make certain this won't happen to any other American? Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Who has—Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Thank you.
Karen, how long have you been without any kind of coverage for your prescription drugs?
QUESTION: It's been over a year.
EDWARDS: Over a year. And how much...
QUESTION: We moved from Massachusetts...
EDWARDS: And how much...
It's not because you don't like Massachusetts, I'm sure. And how much...
KERRY: Wait until the Red Sox win the World Series.
EDWARDS: How much do your prescription drugs cost?
QUESTION: I went on a Pfizer program, and that's why I can do it, I can afford it now. And they're $51 that I pay. Before that it was 400 and some dollars a month.
EDWARDS: Which is just crippling, crippling for you, isn't it?
QUESTION: I get $800 -- and I don't care who knows it—I get $830 a month from my Social Security because I had to take it at such a young age.
EDWARDS: And you and your family are in the same situation that millions of families are...
EDWARDS: ... around this country. Here's what I think we need to do. First, we need a real comprehensive prescription drug benefit for you and family, under Medicare, not the George Bush plan that's going the Congress right now. That's the last thing we need to do.
And second, we have to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for you and for all of those Americans who are struggling to pay the cost, which means having a president to do what I've done my whole life, which is have the backbone to stand up to these big drug companies, with their advertising, with their price gouging, not allowing drugs to come back in here out of Canada, stopping their abuse of the system to keep a monopoly and keep generics out of the market.
WOODRUFF: All right.
EDWARDS: We need a president of the United States that will stand up for you and people like your family. I will be that president.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to move on to another question. Ned Norris is vice chairman of the Tohona O'odham Nation here in the state of Arizona.
You have a question.
QUESTION: Yes, I do.
I think it's important to continue to realize the Native Americans have inhabited this continent since immemorial. The United States Constitution guarantees tribal sovereignty, guarantees self governance, guarantees tribe's ability to become economically self sufficient.
With the impact or the coming on of homeland security, many decisions are being made in Washington, D.C. that are negatively impacting tribal communities nationwide.
I think it's important also to understand that tribes are concerned about the security of the United States and security of us as a total people.
But I think that we need to—my question is, how are you going to ensure that the rights of tribal nations nationwide, the sovereignty that we enjoy, the protection that we have under the United States Constitution, are going to be ensured?
WOODRUFF: Reverend Sharpton, real quick.
SHARPTON: I think first of all, we must immediately rescind the Patriot Act and the anti-terrorist act and any act...
... that has infringed upon the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.
In that spirit, we must protect the sovereignty of Native Americans. We must respect it. And we must have a nation that says that we owe to those that were here, that were established, that must survive—we talk about quit begging, quit looking for handouts. Who personifies that more than the Native American that only wants their sovereignty so they can take care of their own children, raise their own families, and have sovereignty over the economy of their own tribes.
Stop welfare, George Bush. Leave Native Americans alone.
WOODRUFF: Are you all in complete agreement on this issue, no discrepancy?
Let's turn to Paulette Pohlmann.
Paulette, you and I spoke—there you are.
You are a businesswoman. I think you and your husband recently opened...
WOODRUFF: All right. My mistake.
QUESTION: That's all right.
I have a real concern in campaigns that the way that they're handled and they're orchestrated these days really doesn't give me an opportunity to see your heart. It takes courage and intelligence, obviously, to be president, but I think the mark of a great leader is one who can engage the wisdom that comes from the heart in the difficult decisions.
So, given that, I have a question that I'm hoping might give me some insight to you that way, and it's this: There is an alarming, a really horrible degree of hate that is being expressed in our world, particularly toward the United States at this time.
And I'm wondering if you could comment on why you think there is so much hate for the United States right now and how you would use your position as president to uplift the world to a place that would take us out of that darkness.
WOODRUFF: And I'm going to ask whoever answers this—we know you're going to use this as an opportunity to be critical of the president. We understand you all are critical of the president. But let's try to look for some daylight between your positions.
KUCINICH: America is a country from the heart. And we need to reconnect with our real strength, which is to reach out and embrace the world. And that is with a world view that sees the world as interdependent and interconnected. Because through the heart of America, we can touch the heart of the world.
Now I have a proposal that's supported by 50 members of Congress to create a Cabinet-level department of peace which seeks to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society; to tap that capacity we have to evolve; to be better than we are; to look at those issues of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse; to look at the issues of violence in our communities, racial violence, violence against gays; to believe that we have the capacity through education, working with community groups, to become much better than we are as a nation; to evolve to a point where we can work with the world community to pursue that dream in a world where we can be the ones who work to make war itself archaic.
And I think that that new world is just beyond our grasp, but it needs our reaching forward to bring it in. And so, once again, an America that comes from the heart, that believes in its destiny to create peace, that's what my administration will be all about.
WOODRUFF: Ambassador Braun and a department of peace, is that what we need? He also advocates a 15 percent cut in the defense budget.
MOSELEY BRAUN: I was going to go an entirely different direction. I was going to say I'm able to sit here today as a candidate for president of the United States because of the generation that went immediately before, that opened doors for blacks and for women, that saw this country as one that would rise to the promise of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution.
America can be as good as the promise of all of that if we remember that we have a responsibility to give the next generation no less freedom, no less liberty, no less opportunity, no less optimism and hope than we inherited from the generation that made it possible for us to be here today.
And so, from my perspective, the whole challenge for all of us, for everybody in public life, is to make certain that this country stays the greatest nation in the world. But to do that, we have to live up to the goodness that is inherent in the American people and in the charter that brings us together as Americans.
WOODRUFF: Very quick comment from Representative Gephardt, then we're going to move on.
GEPHARDT: In every speech that I give in this campaign, I talk about my deep feeling that we are all tied together.
I'm on the stage tonight because of student loans, a church scholarship. I grew up poor. I got a great education because I grew up in America.
We are connected with everybody in the world. But we got to say that to people in the world and mean it from our heart.
I have a son who's alive—he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He's alive because of government research gave the doctors the answers that saved his life. He's a gift of God.
We are so lucky to be in this country. And we need to take the American dream to the rest of the world. They want our dream. They are desperate for our dream.
And we have to take it to the people of this world because we're tied together.
Martin Luther King said, “I can't be what I ought to be until you can be what you ought to be,” and that's what I really believe.
WOODRUFF: There's someone in our audience who has experienced the American dream. Would you stand? She's Ernestina Escobar.
And I know that you will be speaking in Spanish, but you ask your question, please, for any one of the candidates, and then we have a translator who is going to speak.
QUESTION (through translator): As a Latin woman, one of my concerns is what's going to happen with the Spanish economy, and that's my worry right now. Because most of the businesses, Spanish businesses, are having a very slow economy right now, and that's causing a lot of problems.
WOODRUFF: Governor Dean?
DEAN: That gives me actually an opportunity to answer two questions. One was the prescription question as well.
We have got to stop in this country trying to stimulate the economy by giving help to enormous corporations, which then move their jobs to other countries. The way to help this country's economy is to invest in small businesses, allow them to have health insurance and help them pay for health insurance, and get them capital.
Banks will lend small businesses capital as soon as they don't need it, and we need to get capital in when businesses want to grow. Small businesses create more jobs than big businesses do, and they do not move their jobs to other countries.
In my state, everybody has health insurance under 18. You would have prescription benefits if you moved to Vermont, because a third of all our people, especially at your income level, are eligible for prescription benefits without help from the federal government.
What I want is a country that will start valuing ordinary human beings again, whether they're Latino, African-American, Asian American, Native American. No matter who they are, we are all in this together.
It was the dream of Martin Luther King when I was 21 years old at the end of the civil rights movement that if one of us was left behind, then this country was not as good as it could be or as it should be.
And what my campaign is about, something else that Martin Luther King said, which is that, “our lives begin to end when we stop speaking up for the things that matter.” That's how we are going to change America.
We're going to invest in small businesses, not just in the Latino community, but in every community. We're going to invest in people who need help. We're the only industrialized world—country in the world that doesn't have a universal health care system that includes every single person. We can do that and we can do all these things if we're all in this together.
WOODRUFF: Governor Dean, before you sit down, I've just been handed a document. I think it came out of the press room that Senator Kerry's staff has been distributing some comments about what was said. Among other things they are saying that you, Governor Dean, tried to kick Vermont seniors off their prescription drug plan. That's relevant to what you were just saying here, so do you want to respond to that?
DEAN: Does that go along with the fact that I'm just like Newt Gingrich, too, and I tried to undo Medicare.
That's silly, of course. What I did try to do was get a cigarette tax past the Republican House. They wouldn't pass them. I told them if they didn't pass a cigarette tax to pay for our health care program, then they wouldn't be able to fund seniors' prescriptions.
They passed the cigarette tax, as I knew they would.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry, what about that?
KERRY: Well, it's not silly. It's what he did. I mean, it's sad. But he in fact, in order to balance his budget, terminated—called for the full termination of what was called the V-Script program, and also turned to seniors and made prescription drugs more expensive for them in order to balance the budget.
Now, that's a fact. I didn't raise this, and I didn't know they were saying that, and it's sort of separate from where we were.
What I want to come back to, there are two ways for you to have lower prescription drug costs. One is you could hire Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper...
... or you can elect me president of the United States.
I want you to do the latter, and here's why: The prescription drug companies have not been held accountable. And what they're doing is they're playing games with the patents. They'll take a little jar, they'll change the color, there will be the same thing in it, they extend the patent laws.
So they don't put generics into the marketplace.
The pharmacy benefit managers are charging additional money for rebates, kickbacks, all kinds of schemes, almost 16 billions of extra costs.
What we need is a president who is determined to have a Medicare prescription drug benefit; make bulk purchasing available to the states, so Governor Napolitano and others can purchase in bulk but lower costs out to their citizens; and hold the companies accountable on the patent laws so we can put generics in the marketplace.
WOODRUFF: All right. Senator...
KERRY: If we do that, we can lower the costs for all Americans.
WOODRUFF: We quickly want to get in another question, but Senator Lieberman, you've been dying to say something, so, really quick.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
I want to speak about the Hispanic community and their contributions to the economy.
The best thing that we can do that George Bush hasn't done is close some of the corporate loopholes that give billions of dollars to big corporations, and instead give tax cuts and loan guarantees to small businesses owned by hundreds of thousands of Hispanics and others around America to create opportunity and growth.
But, secondly, on the Hispanic contribution to our economy, this goes to immigration reform. And the fact is today that hundreds of thousands—I'd say millions of Hispanic Americans are working, contributing to our economy, but they're forced by a broken immigration system to live in the shadows.
And they are subject to exploitation by people for that reason.
George Bush promised immigration reform—another broken promise.
He promised to work out an agreement with President Vincente Fox. He didn't. Governor Napolitano went to Mexico City, at least met with President Fox. He's coming here next month.
I promise you immigration reform, earned right to legalization for undocumented immigrants, temporary worker permits and an end to the limits, the inhumane limits, on family reunification.
That's my promise.
WOODRUFF: We have another question. Pat Cantelme? Is that how you pronounce your last name? Would you stand up? You're a retired firefighter?
WOODRUFF: You have how many children?
QUESTION: I have four children.
WOODRUFF: Four. The youngest is ten years old.
QUESTION: That's correct.
WOODRUFF: What is your question?
QUESTION: It seems each that the weapons of mass destruction was a manufactured threat, kind of George Bush's Gulf of Tonkin resolution, when by their own admission North Korea is a very real threat. It's a threat that I think all of us have to be concerned about, but nobody seems to be grasping that or doing anything about it. It's like it's very real so we move it off the table.
I would ask what would you do with regarding North Korea, first, and then perhaps Iran?
WOODRUFF: Some of you brought—North Korea and Iran actually did come up just—earlier, but some of you didn't comment on it earlier maybe want to jump in here. How about...
MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, very...
WOODRUFF: ... Ambassador Braun?
MOSELEY BRAUN: ... quickly—oh, not fall on your face at the debate, that's a start.
In the first instance, that's where working well with others comes in. Unless we engage the support and the discipline that the international community can bring to bear on these rogue states, we will forever find ourselves reacting out of fear, reacting out of misinformation, reacting in the way that this crowd has—and this crowd meaning the Bush administration—without sufficient grounds for doing so and putting the American people more at risk.
You're a firefighter. Firefighters and people who are the first responders ought to get all the support in the world to make us safe at home while we go out and deal with our international relations in ways to make us safe in terms of the threat from abroad. But instead what we've got is an administration that bullys the rest of the world and misleads the American people.
What I would do specifically, I would work with the international community to see to it that our weapons inspections so that the diplomacy works, that the interaction works, that we use the support that South Korea could give us in bringing—helping to bring the North into line.
The same thing with Iran. We would not give them the excuses to go off on these tears to—they can't afford to invest in these nuclear weapons either. Their people are starving. So we should begin to address those issues that bring us together as a global community instead of those things that keep us apart and afraid of each other.
WOODRUFF: We did discuss this earlier and I want to get on to a next question because there is a woman here who has been waiting, I know she spoke to me earlier about how much she wanted to ask a question. Her name is Joy Clayton.
You and your husband opened a restaurant.
QUESTION: Yes, we did, absolutely.
WOODRUFF: And what is your question for the candidates?
QUESTION: Well, you know, as a middle class American citizen, there is a tendency to really feel helpless. There'ss helplessness around you. Corporations closing. Social Security possibly going away. Benefits going away. And an alternative is to go into business for yourself.
I didn't know how helpless I could feel until I went into business for myself...
... because in doing such I found that there were so many taxes associated with going into business. There taxes upon taxes. And there's a privilege tax that you're levied just for the privilege of doing business.
I want to understand from someone up here—and I heard you touch upon it when you spoke with the young Hispanic lady—what would you do to try to help those of us who are trying to be in small business accomplish it without so much of the pain?
WOODRUFF: Congressman Gephardt, your plan would be to roll back not only the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy but also on the middle class. That would, in effect, be a tax increase, wouldn't it be, for Ms. Clayton? So what do you say to her?
GEPHARDT: You have asked the right question.
We need to do something bold to stimulate this economy and solve what I believe is our major problem.
We got 45 million people in this country that do not have health insurance. Small business like yours is having to pay a lot of tax, and my plan would help you and your employees and the employees of every corporation in the country.
It basically gives you a refundable tax credit equal to 60 percent of the cost of whatever plan your employee and you choose with your employee.
It would have to go through to your employee. If you're paying 80 or 90 percent of their health care premium now, you'd have to hold it there to get the 60 percent tax credit.
Now you've got to get rid of the Bush tax cuts to do this.
But let me tell something folks, the Bush tax cuts are a miserable failure. They have not worked. They haven't built...
WOODRUFF: But it's going to mean a tax increase for someone because...
GEPHARDT: No, it's not.
WOODRUFF: ... if you roll...
GEPHARDT: The average—it's going to help her small business dramatically. She's going to get 60 percent of her health care costs for employees picked up by the federal government. That's a major help. And it puts more money into the average family than the Bush tax cuts.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry, you don't agree?
KERRY: I'm not sure that that is even applicable here. Do you even have health care for your employees?
KERRY: I didn't think so. So that doesn't even apply what he said to you.
You're talking about the burden of taxation itself, as a whole, on a small business.
I owned a small business once. And I've been chairman of the Small Business Committee, and we have worked hard to provide access to credit, additional working capital to you.
I have a plan where you could actually borrow from your own revenues so that you would lower your tax burden, and you'd simply have to pay it back at a later time to give you working capital so you can grow.
This SBA under President Bush has cut funding, cut lending, and it's one of the worst providers to small businesses in the country in years.
So what we need to do is relieve your burden. And I have to tell you, both Governor Dean and Mr. Gephardt have said they want to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut. If you get rid of the whole Bush tax cut, you're getting rid of the Democratic part of the cut that we put in, the 10 percent bracket. You're going to pay more tax if you do what they want.
You get rid of the child credit, and anybody earning $40,000 is going to pay an additional $2,000.
WOODRUFF: All right, Senator.
KERRY: So your burden will go up under their plan. Under my plan, it will go down.
WOODRUFF: All right, we have four minutes left. Two of you have not had a question directed to you. I know you want to jump in on this, but in order to give Senator Kerry a direct question, which is what you all—your campaigns wanted—and Senator Lieberman, we are going to go to a different question.
Mr. Vance, are you—Bryan Vance, you want to stand up very quickly and tell us what your—we've now got less than four minutes.
QUESTION: My question was how do the unions work into your plans for restimulating the American economy?
WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: What was the question, how do the unions—yes, look, the labor unions have been one of the great contributors to the American middle class.
And it takes a strong middle class to have a strong America.
George Bush has led the most anti-union administration in the modern history of this country. He removed worker safety proposals. He tried to kill overtime pay for people. He has not provided an equal opportunity for people to organize. I'm going to reform the labor laws.
When I get into the Oval Office, I am going to put in a regulation immediately that will put back worker safety proposals and allow employees of the Homeland Security Department to get back the rights...
WOODRUFF: All right...
LIEBERMAN: ... that George Bush took away from them to join unions as if unions were somehow inconsistent with American security. Labor unions...
LIEBERMAN: ... built the middle class. They can help make it stronger. And when they do, America will be stronger. Thanks for the question.
WOODRUFF: We have two minutes left. We are going to have to take very quick answers. We're going to take very quick comments from General Clark and then Senator Edwards. Very quick.
CLARK: I think unions are key in the new economy, and I'll tell you why, because unions not only help workers capture the wages that they deserve, but they also support training and mobility and make sure that someone is there as a voice for ordinary Americans.
What we've got to do is prepare our work force in this economy to be able to move from job-to-job, from skill-to-skill.
The unions are going to have a bigger role in this economy in the future than they have ever had in the past. That's why I strongly support the union movement and I believe we need more support for unions and more union members and not less in this economy.
WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: First, this is personal for me. My mother is a retired member of the Letter Carriers. My younger and only brother is a member of IBEW Local 553. They have health care because of organized labor.
This president is at war with organized labor. We need to empower working people, which means when people who run big businesses violate the law, they need to be held responsible. They need to be held accountable.
We need to make sure that we have first contract arbitration so that once you organize, they can't just keep putting you off and putting you off and putting you off.
And finally, we ought to ban the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers, and we ought to make it the law of the land tomorrow.
We should be empowering working people in this country.
WOODRUFF: All right, we barely have a minute and we want to get a question in for Senator Kerry. Vanessa Jenney, a registered nurse, you want to stand up with a question for the senator, please.
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
Thank you for coming here. You know, if elected president, what would you do—I heard Senator Lieberman discuss this—but what would your solution be to immigration? We have thousands dying in our deserts. What would you do to help the immigrants?
KERRY: Well, no human being should be forced, in order to find work and to find safety and a future, to die in anybody's desert. And this president has broken his promises with respect to immigration and immigration reform. His great friend President Fox barely talks to him anymore.
We need a president who is committed to creating a guest worker program, an earned legalization program, and takes away any incentive for anybody to have to go into the desert in order to cross over to find work.
We also need to make it fair in America again and restore the health care benefits that go to those who are legal immigrants. And I believe we ought to have accelerated citizenship for those 37,000 legal immigrants who are serving in the armed forces of the United States today, immediately.
WOODRUFF: Five seconds. We have five seconds, literally.
KUCINICH: All immigrants ought to have the right to be able to gain amnesty, legalization, be protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, just as all workers in this country ought to be protected that way.
WOODRUFF: All right. That wraps up our questions from the audience. We're going to take a short break. We'll be back in a moment with final thoughts.
WOODRUFF: All right, we want to thank the Arizona Democratic Party; the National Democratic Committee; its chairman, Terry McAuliffe; the governor of the state of Arizona, Janet Napolitano; and the staff, all the people who made this event possible at this beautiful Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.
Be sure and join us in a month, November 4th, when CNN and the Democratic candidates will come together again for a Rock the Vote event in Boston.
Until then, thank you for being with us.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks. And good night.
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