TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

RICHARDSON: No. I have a plan. Here's my plan: My plan is that, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them. Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets.

My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, a reconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oil revenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by the United Nations, a donor conference.

But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all of our troops are out.

We have different positions here. I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important.

RICHARDSON: And it's critically important that we do this with an orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- no residual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannot begin.

YEPSEN: You're right. We do want to have a debate.

Senator Biden, what's your reaction to that?

BIDEN: My reaction is that it's time to start to level with the American people. This administration hasn't been doing it for seven years. We should.

The fact of the matter is, there's much more at stake in our security in the region depending on how we leave Iraq.

If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there'll be regional war. The regional war will engulf us for a generation. It'll bring in the Shia, it'll bring in the Saudis, it'll bring in the Iranians, it'll bring in the Turks.

I laid out a plan a year ago with Leslie Gelb. It said that what we should do is separate the parties, give them breathing room in order to establish some stability.

I notice most of my colleagues are coming around to that plan these days. But the bottom line is it's going to one full year, if you argued tomorrow to get every single troop out.

And when you begin to take the troops out, what are you going to do with the 4,000 or 5,000 civilians that are left inside the Green Zone?

YEPSEN: Governor, quickly?

RICHARDSON: Well, Anthony Cordesman from ABC News, a distinguished military expert -- many generals agree with me that we can complete this withdrawal within six to eight months.

Let me give you an example. Today in the Iraq war, through Kuwait over a three-month period, we have moved 250,000 of our troops. We would move them through roads in Kuwait. We would move them in roads through Turkey. We can do this negotiating with the Turks.

YEPSEN: Senator Clinton, help a Democrat out. You've got the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying one thing, and I've got a former U.N. ambassador saying something else. Who's right?

CLINTON: Well, let me tell you what I would do, because I think that we need to do three things. We need to begin moving our troops out, and we have to do it carefully and responsibly. Joe is absolutely right.

Moving troops out cannot happen without careful planning, which is why I've been pushing the Pentagon to make sure they're actually planning because they've been resistant to doing so.

Secondly, we need much stronger pressure on the Iraqi government than this administration has been willing to bring.

CLINTON: And I would certainly condition any aid of any kind on their actually making the political decisions that they have been reluctant and unwilling to do so far. There is no...


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