National Public Radio presidential debate

INSKEEP: Let's hear from people you've just mentioned. Senator Edwards, do you remember saying that?

MR. EDWARDS: Well, first of all, Senator Clinton and I just have an honest disagreement about this, but a very strong disagreement. I think it's very clear that Bush and Cheney have been rattling the saber about Iran for a very long time, and I said very clearly when this vote took place on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that it was important for us to stand up to them.

INSKEEP: But your remarks in Israel that Senator — that Senator —

MR. EDWARDS: Well, everyone — everyone at the table would acknowledge that Iran represents a serious issue for the Middle East and for us —

REP. KUCINICH: No, I do not acknowledge —

INSKEEP: Congressman Kucinich does not, but —

MR. EDWARDS: Let me finish, if I can.

REP. KUCINICH: Let me characterize my own remarks.

MR. EDWARDS: If I can just finish, Dennis, for just a second.

But I do want it to be clear that, especially on an issue as big as Iran, it's very important for voters in Iowa — caucus-goers in Iowa and New Hampshire voters — to understand the differences. And I do believe very strongly that it was important for us to stand up because what Bush and Cheney did after the vote in the Senate is they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

SIEGEL: Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Senator Clinton's mention of the Chicago Tribune article back in 2004, I think, is a little bit misleading. Because what I was specifically asked about was if Iran was developing nuclear weapons, how could we respond? And in those situations, what I said is we should keep options on the table. But what I've been consistent about was that this saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq, a war I opposed, and that we needed to oppose George Bush again. We can't keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, knowing the ways in which they manipulate intelligence.

SIEGEL: Senator Obama, we're going to have to take a break here, and we'll continue with our debate. We'll continue discussing Iran in just one minute.

You're listening to special coverage from Iowa Public Radio and NPR News.

(Announcements)

INSKEEP: Welcome back to the NPR News debate. We're with the Democrats in Des Moines, along with Michele Norris. I'm Steve Inskeep.

SIEGEL: And I'm Robert Siegel. We're discussing Iran, the lessons learned from the war in Iraq.

A moment ago when Congressman Kucinich objected to or interrupted the statement from Senator Edwards that everybody agrees Iran is a threat, you say, Congressman Kucinich, I misinterpreted your earlier remarks that Iran is not a threat.

REP. KUCINICH: All I did was raise my hand. I wanted a chance to respond.

SIEGEL: Yes.

REP. KUCINICH: Thank you.

The point that Senator Clinton made was a valid point with respect to the comments of Senator Obama and also the comments of Senator Edwards at the Herzliya conference. See, when people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric. And what I'm saying is that I'm the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mindset that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.

SIEGEL: Okay. Cleared up.

REP. KUCINICH: I'm the only one who can make that claim.

SIEGEL: Clarified.

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