TRANSCRIPT: ABC News/Facebook/WMUR Democratic Debate

TERRY MCCARTHY, ABC BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: It has been a tough 12 months in Iraq, with more U.S. troops killed than in any previous year of the war. But overall, the addition of an extra 30,000 troops has helped to reduce violence substantially. Civilian killings are down 65 percent in the last six months. U.S. deaths are down from 126 in May to 23 in December.

MCCARTHY: General Petraeus has repeatedly said the solution in Iraq must be political, not military. So far, political progress has been frustratingly slow.

But a year ago, many Americans, and the Iraqis, too, thought the country was a lost cause. Today, with improved security, life is returning to the streets of Baghdad.

Nobody yet says the war is over. But Iraqis are finally able to hope that things might be getting better.



GIBSON: So, I want to ask all of you: Are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked?

And Senator Clinton, let me start with you, because when General Petraeus was in Washington in September, you said it would take a willful suspension of disbelief to think that the surge could do any good.

CLINTON: And that's right. Because, remember, the purpose behind the surge was to create the space and time for political reconciliation, for the Iraqi government to do what only it can do and trying to deal with the myriad of unresolved problems that confront it.

CLINTON: And as your report said, you know, we have the greatest military in the world. We send in more of our troops, they will be able to dampen down the violence.

But there has not been a willingness on the part of the Iraqi government to do what the surge was intended to do, to push them to begin to make the tough decisions. And in the absence of that political action, 23 Americans dying in December is totally unacceptable.

You know, there is no more cause for us to be there if the Iraqis are just not going to do what they need to do to take care of their own country.

CLINTON: So it's time to bring our troops home and to bring them home as quickly and responsibly as possible.

And unfortunately, I don't see any reason why they should remain beyond, you know, today.

I think George Bush doesn't intend to bring them home. But certainly I have said when I'm president I will. Within 60 days, I'll start that withdrawal.

RICHARDSON: The policy's a massive failure.

Here are the measurements that we should look at. Thirty-nine hundred Americans have lost their lives.

RICHARDSON: There are 60,000 Americans today that are wounded, mainly mentally wounded.

Tell that to the family that only 23 died in December.

Look, here are the barometers that we need to look at.

First, there is no military solution. There's a political solution.

Secondly, has there been progress in any political compromises or reconciliation between the Sunni, the Shia and the Kurds? Zero.

Has there been progress in sharing oil revenues? Zero.

Has there been any regional elections? Zero.

Is the Maliki government intensifying its efforts to train the Iraqi security forces more than they have? No.

Is there any end to Iran's efforts to bring terrorist activities to Iraq? No.

Iran, Syria -- no one has participated in a regional solution.



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