TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

BIDEN: George, there's a lot of things in my life that led me to be engaged in politics. I worked in the African-American community, east side of my city, as the only white employee for a long while when I was a kid. And I got involved in the civil rights movement.

I thought the question was, what made me run for president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Decisive moment in your life that put you on the broader path.

BIDEN: Well, the decisive moment in me life that put me on the broader path was the civil rights movement. When I really -- I found out and realized that it does make a difference if you're engaged. You actually can change people's lives. You can actually change the state of the nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Richardson?

RICHARDSON: The decisive moment in my life was when my wife, Barbara, decided and agreed to marry me, because it was the best decision I ever made and, hopefully, she ever made. We've had 35 years of marriage. It has given me strength and has been an anchor in my life.

A decisive moment for me to return to public life was 9/11. When it happened, I wanted to get back in public life.

And I just want to make one -- I resent that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I've got to move on. We're going to run out of time. Sorry.

GRAVEL: The decisive moment in my life came with the insightfulness of realizing that human governance is extremely complex and that representative government is broken.

And so, there's only two venues for change: One is the government, where the problem lies, or the people.

GRAVEL: And so the people must be equipped as lawmakers, the central power of government, in order to make decisions on all the policy issues that affect their lives, working in partnership with elected government.

It's a win-win. The people make the policy decisions, and we then would make the day-to-day operation of government work better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: When I was a young boy, I came downstairs one morning. It was still dark outside. My father, who worked in mills all his life, was sitting at the kitchen table. The television was on. He was watching public television. And he'd never been able to go to college. And he was trying to learn from public television so he could get a better job in the mill.

And I worked in the mill, myself, part-time, when I was younger. And I made the decision then, whatever I did with my life -- didn't know that I'd be running for president -- but whatever I did with my life, those are the people that I would fight for, as long as I was breathing (ph).


DODD: Well, there were two moments. One was the decision to join the Peace Corps, getting excited about John Kennedy inviting a generation of us to be a part of things larger than ourselves.

DODD: And the second was, about a week before my father died, when he was asked the question, "Had he known how his life would end, would he do it all over again?," I'll never forget him saying he'd do it in a minute, because you can never do as much for the public good as you can through a public life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Last week, Senator Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, when I was growing up I didn't think I would run for president, but I could not be standing here without the women's movement, without generations of women who broke down barriers, the civil rights movement that gave women and people of color the feeling that they were really part of the American dream.

So I owe the opportunity that I have here today to many people; some of whom are known to history and many who aren't.

But more personally, I owe it to my mother, who never got a chance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but who gave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the last word.

Thank you all very much.



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