TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

CLINTON: There is no military solution. Everybody agrees with that. And the political solutions seem to be out of the grasp of the Iraqis, because they're still jockeying for power.

And then of course, we would have, as Bill suggested, an intensive regional and international diplomatic effort.

But I think that, you know, this is going to be very dangerous and very difficult. A lot of people don't like to hear that.

But, if you look at how we would have to take our troops out, plus the equipment, which we would not want to leave, plus what we do with the people in the Green Zone, plus what we do with the Iraqis who sided with us -- thousands of them -- plus, what we do with the more than 100,000 American contractors who are there -- this is a massive, complicated undertaking.

CLINTON: And we do have to do it as carefully and responsibly as possible, and I think my plan takes all of that into account.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So does that mean that Governor Richardson just is wrong when he says that all troops, all troops, except for protection of the embassy, can be out by the end of the year?

CLINTON: Well, I think that based on the conversations I've had with military planners and outside experts, Joe is right, that this is going to take a while. People say you can move maybe a brigade to two brigades a month.

It is so important that we not oversell this. We've got to move them as quickly as possible, but you also have to move out the equipment. There has been no indication that the Turks are willing to let us move out. They wouldn't let us move in.

That means we go back down through the south. And if you remember, when we were supposedly on the road to liberation, we were attacked by Shiites back in March and April of 2003. So this...

GRAVEL: George, could I respond?

CLINTON: ... is not going to be easy or safe.

CLINTON: And we've got to be very careful about how we do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get everybody in on this question. First let me just find out if anybody agrees with Governor Richardson on this question.

Senator Gravel, do you agree with Governor Richardson?

GRAVEL: No, I disagree with him. And I disagree with Joe Biden. And I disagree with Hillary.

(LAUGHTER)

Well, stop and think here. Why do we think that we can rule that country?

This is American imperialism you're hearing up here. And that hasn't worked and it will never work.

Who are we to tell the Iraqis -- we're trying to make them the fall guy, not our stupid mistakes. Oh, it's the Iraqis won't stand up.

I'll tell you what. Pull everybody out and turn to the Iranians, who helped us defeat the Taliban initially. It was the Iranians. So if we don't bring the Iranians to help us, or the Syrians, or Saudi Arabia, of course it's going to be a disaster.

They have more at stake in that area of the world than we do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you would pull out. Senator Edwards...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAVEL: ... would do is pull back and use diplomacy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you.

Senator Edwards, can all the troops be out, except for protection of the embassy, by December?

EDWARDS: I couldn't hear the...

STEPHANOPOULOS: By December. By Governor Richardson's plan.

EDWARDS: I think it would be hard to do by December. I think we can responsibly and in a very orderly way bring our troops out over the next nine or 10 months.

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