National Public Radio presidential debate

SEN. OBAMA: There was another problem with the resolution that we haven't spoken about, and that was that it suggested that we should structure in some way our forces in Iraq with the goal of blunting Iranian influence in Iraq.

Now, this is a problem on a whole bunch of fronts, but number one, the reason that Iran has been strengthened was because of this misguided war in Iraq. We installed — helped to elect a government in Iraq that we knew had connections with Iran. And so the notion somehow that they're not going to have influence and that we may be using yet another justification for a continuing mission in Iraq I think is an extreme problem and one of the reasons why this was a bad idea.

SIEGEL: Senator Edwards.

MR. EDWARDS: I just want to be clear to the listeners that we have a real division here. I mean, among the Democratic candidates, there's only one that voted for this resolution. And this is exactly what Bush and Cheney wanted.

Second, there is a clear path for America on Iran. They've got a president, Ahmadinejad, who's unpopular in his own country.

We have the capacity to work with our European allies and the European banking system to put a proposal of sticks and carrots on the table that actually will help influence their behavior. The Iranian people in many ways do not support this guy, and they're looking for a path. We need to help provide that path by making a serious proposal, with our friends in Europe, of sticks and carrots to help them with their economy.

SIEGEL: Senator Clinton and then another question.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, it's important to recognize that Ahmadinejad does not control the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They are directly controlled from the clerical leadership and the supreme leader. And in fact because we have not engaged in diplomacy, we are quite unsure about what exactly goes on inside of Iran, which is one of the reasons why I've advocated diplomatic efforts for two years.

If we were to engage in such diplomatic efforts, because of the enmeshment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the economic activity of Iran, I believe these economic sanctions, as part of diplomacy, would be an advantage going into those diplomatic efforts.

I have the greatest respect for my friend and colleague Joe Biden. He and I just respectfully disagree about this.

But I think that the important issue is that this is something that we have strong feelings about, but none of us is advocating a rush to war. I have been against that. I was the first of anyone at this table to go to the floor of the Senate, speak against the possibility that Bush could take us to war in Iran, back in February. And I think that we have two different ways of approaching this. Our goals are the same: diplomatic engagement with Iran.

SIEGEL: Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, thrives on anti-Americanism. One of our listeners, Ray Conrad (ph) from Keosauqua, Iowa, who incidentally has made campaign contributions to Senator Edwards and also to Senator Biden, sent us a question about that, and he put it this way: "Clearly, many Muslims hate the U.S. enough to want to do us grievous harm. Would you speculate on the reasons for their hatred of us?"

Senator Biden, why?

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