TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

KUCINICH: Were you tricked?

CLINTON: I would never have diverted our attention to Iraq, and I never would have pursued this war. I think that has been a terrible mistake for our country.

KUCINICH: Were you tricked, Senator Clinton?

RICHARDSON: You know, I think the question was about past regrets and mistakes. I'm making, at this rate, about one mistake a week.

(LAUGHTER)

And, you know, I make a lot of misstatements. I'm not the scripted candidate. But I think when the chips are down, when the time comes to get hostages out from Saddam Hussein or persuade the North Koreans to reduce their nuclear arsenal, or bring back the remains of American servicemen, I perform.

But the reality is, what the American people want is a president who says, "I will follow the Constitution of the United States; I will not go to war unless the Congress authorizes me to go to war."

RICHARDSON: And we're going to get rid of those blemishes that America has, like Guantanamo, like eavesdropping on our citizens, like policies of torture, like returning habeas corpus.

I think if we simply say that we are in an America of checks and balances, where the judiciary and the executive and the legislative branches have an equal role, that we're honoring the principles of freedom, where America stands.

Then that's what that enormous confidence that people will have in our country will come back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, where didn't you tell the whole truth?

DODD: Well, I'll tell you one issue that I wish I had done more on, recently. And, I think, maybe one of the worst votes cast in the Congress, maybe in the last 20 years, was last fall, on the Military Commissions Act, in which we allowed the abandonment of habeas corpus, returning to torture, and abandoning the Geneva Convention.

I thought about filibustering that bill, and I didn't do it. I regret that deeply. I can't think of a worse vote we cast, to walk away from the Constitution of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'm committed, on January 20, to bring that...

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, thank you. Let me turn, now, to an issue that hasn't been discussed enough in these debates so far. It's the issue of education. And, for that, let me bring David Yepsen back.

YEPSEN: Senator Dodd, should more effective -- I'm going to ask you about so-called performance-based pay. Should more effective teachers be paid less than effective ones?

DODD: I wouldn't use that approach. What I've suggested here -- this is a huge issue here. We've got to reexamine our whole education process, from beginning to the top here, and I'm a believer that we need to have fundamental reform of No Child Left Behind, and start measuring growth, not abandoning schools that aren't doing well, and providing far less rigid criteria when it comes to highly qualified teachers.

Where I would like to go here is see that we apply additional resources to teachers who will go into the tougher schools in rural or urban America, where they need better teachers coming in, and provide some additional incentives for them, including pay and including the criteria that they have to meet to do so.

But I'm not in favor necessarily of giving more preference for a teacher that's performing somewhat better. Measuring that I think is the wrong direction we're going in.

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