TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

EDWARDS: I think his view adds something to this debate, and I think he ought to be able to express it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is he right or wrong?

EDWARDS: On which issue?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The one I just asked, was there a difference between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama on this issue.

EDWARDS: I personally think, and I would as president, not talk about hypotheticals in nuclear weapons. I think that's not a healthy thing to do. I think what it does for the president of the United States is it effectively limits your options. And I do not want to limit my options, and I don't want to talk about hypothetical use of nuclear weapons.

I would add to that that I think what the president of the United States should actually do, beyond stopping bunker-buster nuclear weapons, which this administration's moving forward with, is what America should do and what I would do as president, is to actually lead an international effort over time to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet. That's the way to make the planet more secure.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Gravel, then Governor Richardson.

GRAVEL: That's very good but, under the last 25 years, this nation has continued to expand its nuclear capability.

GRAVEL: I would say that, essentially, they're all wrong on this. They're, sort of, leading up -- the administration is cooking the books, the intelligence on Iran.

And we're playing into this. And I'm very concerned. I would hope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under no circumstances do you invade Iran.

Stop and think. What have we -- what have they done to us?

They're giving us intelligence, saying that they're destroying our troops. Well, what about our trying to destabilize their government, which we've been doing for the last 25 years?

We destroyed their democracy. And now we're looking at them as an excuse to expand the war, which is the plan the neocons had back in 1997. And so, when Democrats buy into the problem of Iran, they just help Vice President Cheney, who should be committed, with his recent statements...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

RICHARDSON: You know, when a president talks about foreign policy, a president has to be clear.

RICHARDSON: And this talk about hypotheticals, I think, is what's gotten us in trouble. Here's what I would do on nuclear weapons: I wouldn't, as an American president, use nuclear weapons first. However, you can never take the military option off the table.

The key is that in our foreign policy today, this administration has used the military option preemption. It should be diplomacy first, negotiation, build international support for our goals, find ways that America can get allies in our fight against terrorism, against nuclear proliferation.

We should have a treaty on fissionable material, loose nuclear weapons -- that's even more dangerous today than nuclear weapons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn now to the second question I raised, the topic question about Senator Clinton. And outgoing White House counsel Karl Rove opined on that this week. He was on Rush Limbaugh. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE: There is no front-runner who has entered the primary season with negatives as high as she has in the history of modern polling. She's going into the general election with, depending on what poll you're looking at, in the high forties on the negative side and just below that on the positive side.

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