National Public Radio presidential debate

MR. EDWARDS: Well, first of all, diplomacy. Declaring a military group sponsored by the state of Iran a terrorist organization, that's supposed to be diplomacy? And I would add, this has to be considered in the context that — Senator Clinton has spoken about me, let me just respond — this has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we're in a global war on terror, then she voted to declare the military group in Iran a terrorist organization. How — what possible conclusion can you reach other than that we are at war? And —

SIEGEL: Senator Clinton may reply, and then we'll hear from Senator Gravel.

MR. EDWARDS: — I have very — a very different view about what you need to do to stand up to Bush.

SIEGEL: We'll have a response from Senator Clinton and then Mike Gravel. Yes.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, I understand politics and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far. In fact, having designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, we've actually seen some changes in their behavior. There is absolutely no basis for a rush to war, which I oppose and have opposed for two years.

But there is also a recognition that the Iranians were supplying weapons that killed Americans. They were supplying technical assistance from the Qods Force, which is their special operations element. So I think we've actually seen the positive effects of having labeled them a terrorist organization, because it did change their behavior.

SIEGEL: Mike Gravel, then Joe Biden.

MR. GRAVEL: There is no evidence. There is no evidence, and they've produced none. Our military has no evidence and they've not produced any.

But let's — I want to touch something that they're all giving license to, that there's something wrong with Iran supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. These are two elected organizations, and — and why can't they give support to those organizations? Israel doesn't want it, so why do they buy hook, line and sinker that they can't give aid to Hamas and Hezbollah? We give unlimited aid to Israel. These people are fighting for their rights.

SIEGEL: You believe —

MR. GRAVEL: Is there something wrong with that?

SIEGEL: We'll come back to your points in a moment.

Senator Biden, you wanted to talk about the al-Qods Brigade.

SEN. BIDEN: No, I wanted to talk about this issue.

As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, I'm the only one at this table for the last four years who've been laying out concrete alternatives to the Bush administration's policy. The vote — what everybody misunderstands, in my humble opinion, is the vote to declare the Qods Force and the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization was not a view that could be established without question, number one.

Number two, it is self-defeating. The moment that declaration was made, oil prices jumped over $18 a barrel. The moment that declaration was made, every one of our friends, from Iraq to Pakistan, felt they had to distance themselves from us because it appears to be a war on Islam.

My — with all due respect to my colleagues, with the exception of Senator Dodd, they're not connecting the dots here. This matters, and there's no evidence — none, zero –

SIEGEL: Thank you.

SEN. BIDEN: — that this declaration caused any change in action on the part of the Iranian government.

SIEGEL: Senator Barack Obama.

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