TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

RICHARDSON: You know, I think that Senator Obama does represent change. Senator Clinton has experience. Change and experience: With me, you get both.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

And you know, my point -- and, here, we're going to need change to become energy independent. We're going to need experience to deal with foreign leaders, as I have.

RICHARDSON: You know, it's interesting. You talk about the dispute between the two senators over dictators that -- should we; should we not meet?

I've met them already, most of them. All my life I've been a diplomat, trying to bring people together. This campaign is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Senator Obama ready?

GRAVEL: Senator Obama represents change and he's an enormously fresh voice in the political process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your answer?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Well, you know, to prepare for this debate, I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair, and...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

But, George, I don't actually see that much difference or people criticizing me on the substance of my positions. I think that there's been some political maneuvering taking place over the last couple of weeks.

I do think that there's a substantive difference between myself and Senator Clinton when it comes to meeting with our adversaries. I think that strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries. We shouldn't be afraid to do so.

We've tried the other way. It didn't work.

I think that, if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and we've exhausted all other options, we should take him out before he plans to kill another 3,000 Americans. I think that's common sense.

So there's one other thing that I believe.

OBAMA: And that is that we should describe for the American people both in presidential debates, as well as president, what our foreign policy is and what we're going to do. We shouldn't have strategic ambiguity with the American people when it comes to describing how we're going to deal with the most serious national security issues that we face.

And it is my belief that we need a fundamental change if we're going to dig ourselves out of the hole that George Bush has placed us in. And that's going to require the kind of aggressive diplomacy -- preparation, yes, but aggressive diplomacy, the personal diplomacy of the next president -- to transform how the world sees us. That us ultimately going to make us safer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton, one of the areas that -- one of the things that Senator Obama just talked about is that he thinks that some of your differences aren't as great as people have said.

Your campaign criticized Senator Obama after he made a comment ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Al Qaida, yet, here's what you said last year when asked about Bush administration reports that they might use tactical nuclear weapons in Iran. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: No option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. And this administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven't seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that's a terrible mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Senator Obama rules out using them against Al Qaida. You rule out using them against Iran. What's the principal difference there?

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