Aug. 19, 2007 -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this special edition of "This Week." We're back here at Drake University in Iowa for the firstDemocratic presidential debate in Iowa. It's been sanctioned by theDemocratic National Committee. All of our guests here have beeninvited by the Iowa Democratic Party, and all eight Democraticcandidates are here.
The podium order was determined by lot, but here's where theystand in Iowa, according to our latest ABC News poll.
At 27 percent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. New York SenatorHillary Clinton is at 26 percent, as is former North Carolina SenatorJohn Edwards, also at 26 percent. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardsonis at 11 percent. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware is at 2 percent,along with Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, also at 2 percent.Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is at 1 percent. And former AlaskaSenator Mike Gravel, no support registered.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not so bad, Senator Gravel. Maybe it'll go upafter today.
I'm joined here in the questioning by David Yepsen of the DesMoines Register, and we want to cover a lot of ground today. We wantto cover the economy, health care, education, and of course the war.
But let's start with the two questions that have really beendominating this race so far. I think Democrats across the country arestruggling with these questions. It comes up in the dialogue betweenyour campaigns.
And the first one is: Is Barack Obama ready to be president,experienced enough to be president?
And can Senator Clinton, Hillary Clinton, in part because of yourexperience, bring the country together and bring about the kind ofchange that all of you say the country needs?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden, you stepped into this last week.You told Newsweek magazine that Senator Obama is "not yet ready" to bepresident.
Senator Clinton, is he right?
CLINTON: Well, George, I was going to say good morning...
... and, as soon as I wake up, I'll answer your question.
You know, I'm running on my own qualifications and experience.It's really up to the voters to make these decisions.
And I'm excited because I have a campaign that is growing insupport, because we do need to make big changes. And I've set biggoals for my presidency. I want to have universal health care andmove toward energy independence and do what we need to do in educationand reform our government, and, of course, end the war in Iraq.
So I think we have a great group of candidates. You don't haveto be against anybody. This is a great problem to have. You canchoose who you're for.
And I hope people will choose to be for me based on myexperience, my qualifications and my plan for the future as to what Iwill do as president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Clinton, you did tell the Quad CityTimes that Senator Obama's views on meeting with foreign dictators arenaive and irresponsible. Doesn't that imply that he's not ready forthe office?
CLINTON: Well, George, we had a specific disagreement, because Ido not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip ofa personal meeting with any leader, unless you know what you're goingto get out of that.
It takes a lot of planning to move an agenda forward,particularly with our adversaries. I think the next president willface some of the most difficult international dangerous threats andchallenges that any president has faced in a very long time.
CLINTON: We're going to have to mend fences with our allies.We're going to have to deal with global warming. We're going to haveto get back on the track of trying to prevent nuclear proliferation --and so much else.
So I think that, when you've got that big an agenda facing you,you should not telegraph to our adversaries that you're willing tomeet with them without preconditions during the first year in office.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, you've called Senator Obama'sviews confusing and confused, dangerous and irresponsible. Do youthink he's ready to be president?
DODD: Well, again, I'd certainly underscore the point thatSenator Clinton has made here. The point I'd make on that, when Idisagreed with my colleague from Illinois, was about the issue ofwhether or not a speech, a prepared speech, which suggested here ahypothetical situation and a hypothetical solution here -- that raisedserious issues within Pakistan.
As I pointed out before, the only person that separates us from ajihadist government in Pakistan with nuclear weapons is PresidentMusharraf. And, therefore, I thought it was irresponsible to engagein that kind of a suggestion here. That's dangerous. Words meansomething in campaigns.
And so I think it's an important distinction to make here. We'reasking Democrats across the country to choose amongst us here who isbest able to lead.
The experience, the background, the demonstrated success indealing with both domestic and foreign policy issues are criticalquestions. You're not going to have time in January of '09 to getready for this job.
You've got to be ready immediately for it and bringing back theexperience over the years to deal with these issues, as I have, bothon the Foreign Relations Committee, dealing with every major foreignpolicy debate -- sitting there working with children and family issuesover the last quarter of the century -- I think demonstrated abackground and an experience and ability with proven success to dealwith the issues...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden, it seems like your colleagueshere don't want to reach the judgment that you've made. Why isn'tSenator Obama ready?
BIDEN: Look, I think he's a wonderful guy, to start off, numberone. It was about Pakistan we were talking about. The fact of thematter is, Pakistan is the most dangerous, potentially the mostdangerous country in the world. A significant minority of jihadistswith nuclear weapons. We have -- and I disagree with all three of myfriends -- we have a Pakistan -- we have no Pakistan policy; we have aMusharraf policy. That's a bad policy. The policy should be basedupon a long-term relationship with Pakistan and stability.
We should be encouraging free elections. There is anoverwhelming majority of moderates in that country. They should havetheir day. Otherwise, they're going to go underground.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator Biden, you did go beyond talkingabout Pakistan. You were asked: Is he ready? You said, "I think hecan be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency isnot something that lends itself to on-the-job training."
BIDEN: I think I stand by the statement.
RICHARDSON: You know, I think that Senator Obama does representchange. Senator Clinton has experience. Change and experience: Withme, you get both.
And you know, my point -- and, here, we're going to need changeto become energy independent. We're going to need experience to dealwith foreign leaders, as I have.
RICHARDSON: You know, it's interesting. You talk about thedispute between the two senators over dictators that -- should we;should we not meet?
I've met them already, most of them. All my life I've been adiplomat, trying to bring people together. This campaign is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Senator Obama ready?
GRAVEL: Senator Obama represents change and he's an enormouslyfresh voice in the political process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your answer?
OBAMA: Well, you know, to prepare for this debate, I rode in thebumper cars at the state fair, and...
But, George, I don't actually see that much difference or peoplecriticizing me on the substance of my positions. I think that there'sbeen some political maneuvering taking place over the last couple ofweeks.
I do think that there's a substantive difference between myselfand Senator Clinton when it comes to meeting with our adversaries. Ithink that strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk withour adversaries. We shouldn't be afraid to do so.
We've tried the other way. It didn't work.
I think that, if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and we'veexhausted all other options, we should take him out before he plans tokill another 3,000 Americans. I think that's common sense.
So there's one other thing that I believe.
OBAMA: And that is that we should describe for the Americanpeople both in presidential debates, as well as president, what ourforeign policy is and what we're going to do. We shouldn't havestrategic ambiguity with the American people when it comes todescribing how we're going to deal with the most serious nationalsecurity issues that we face.
And it is my belief that we need a fundamental change if we'regoing to dig ourselves out of the hole that George Bush has placed usin. And that's going to require the kind of aggressive diplomacy --preparation, yes, but aggressive diplomacy, the personal diplomacy ofthe next president -- to transform how the world sees us. That usultimately going to make us safer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton, one of the areas that -- one ofthe things that Senator Obama just talked about is that he thinks thatsome of your differences aren't as great as people have said.
Your campaign criticized Senator Obama after he made a commentruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Al Qaida, yet, here'swhat you said last year when asked about Bush administration reportsthat they might use tactical nuclear weapons in Iran. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: No option should be off the table, but I wouldcertainly take nuclear weapons off the table. And this administrationhas been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way wehaven't seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that's aterrible mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Senator Obama rules out using them against AlQaida. You rule out using them against Iran. What's the principaldifference there?
CLINTON: Well, George, you've got to put it into context. I wasasked specifically about what was, very clearly, an effort by theBush-Cheney administration to drum up support for military actionagainst Iran.
CLINTON: Combine that with their continuing effort to try to getwhat are called bunker-buster bombs, nuclear bombs that couldpenetrate into the earth to go after deeply buried nuclear sites.
And I thought it was very important. This was not ahypothetical, this was a brushback against this administration whichhas been reckless and provocative -- to America's damage, in myopinion.
So I think there's a big difference, and I think it's adifference that really goes to the heart of whether we should be usinghypotheticals. I mean, one thing that I agree with is we shouldn'tuse hypotheticals. You know, words do matter.
And this campaign, just like every other things that happens inthe United States, is looked at and followed with very great interest.And, you know, Pakistan is on a knife's edge. It is easily,unfortunately, a target for the jihadists. And, therefore, you've gotto be very careful about what it is you say with respect to Pakistan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you accept that distinction?
OBAMA: There was no difference. It is not hypothetical that AlQaida has established base camps in the hills between Afghanistan andPakistan. That was acknowledged in the national intelligenceestimates. And every foreign policy understands that.
No military expert would advise that we use nuclear weapons todeal with them, but we do have to deal with that problem.
And so, this is part of what I think Americans get frustratedabout in politics, where we have gamesmanship and we manufactureissues and controversies instead of talking about the serious problemthat we have, a problem that this administration has made worse andthat our invasion of Iraq has made worse, but a problem that the nextpresident is going to have to deal with. And the American peopledeserve to hear what we're going to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Edwards, is there a difference or not?
EDWARDS: How about a little hope and optimism? Where did it go?You know, I listened to this debate, and this is what I hear.
EDWARDS: First of all, I think we have a clear path for Americaand for our friends on Iran, which Senator Clinton just spoke about.And that path is to work with our friends in Europe to put up a choicebetween carrots and sticks on the table for the Iranian people.Because there is a division between the Iranian people and theirradical leader, Ahmadinejad. There's no question about that. We cantake advantage of that. We should take advantage of that, drive awedge between the two.
In the case of Pakistan, the truth of the matter is: Musharrafis not a wonderful leader, but he provides some stability in Pakistan.And there is a great risk, if he's overthrown, about a radicalgovernment taking over.
They have a nuclear weapon. They're in constant tension withIndia, which also has a nuclear weapon, over Kashmir. I mean, it's adangerous, volatile situation.
But the last thing I want to say about this is it's not shockingthat -- first of all, I think Senator Obama is entitled to express hisview. And it's not shocking that people who have been in Washington along time criticize him when he comes along and expresses his view.
EDWARDS: I think his view adds something to this debate, and Ithink 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 differencebetween Senator Clinton and Senator Obama on this issue.
EDWARDS: I personally think, and I would as president, not talkabout hypotheticals in nuclear weapons. I think that's not a healthything to do. I think what it does for the president of the UnitedStates is it effectively limits your options. And I do not want tolimit my options, and I don't want to talk about hypothetical use ofnuclear weapons.
I would add to that that I think what the president of the UnitedStates should actually do, beyond stopping bunker-buster nuclearweapons, which this administration's moving forward with, is whatAmerica should do and what I would do as president, is to actuallylead an international effort over time to eliminate nuclear weaponsfrom the planet. That's the way to make the planet more secure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Gravel, then Governor Richardson.
GRAVEL: That's very good but, under the last 25 years, thisnation has continued to expand its nuclear capability.
GRAVEL: I would say that, essentially, they're all wrong onthis. They're, sort of, leading up -- the administration is cookingthe books, the intelligence on Iran.
And we're playing into this. And I'm very concerned. I wouldhope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under nocircumstances 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 destroyingour troops. Well, what about our trying to destabilize theirgovernment, which we've been doing for the last 25 years?
We destroyed their democracy. And now we're looking at them asan excuse to expand the war, which is the plan the neocons had back in1997. And so, when Democrats buy into the problem of Iran, they justhelp Vice President Cheney, who should be committed, with his recentstatements...
RICHARDSON: You know, when a president talks about foreignpolicy, a president has to be clear.
RICHARDSON: And this talk about hypotheticals, I think, iswhat's gotten us in trouble. Here's what I would do on nuclearweapons: I wouldn't, as an American president, use nuclear weaponsfirst. However, you can never take the military option off the table.
The key is that in our foreign policy today, this administrationhas used the military option preemption. It should be diplomacyfirst, negotiation, build international support for our goals, findways that America can get allies in our fight against terrorism,against nuclear proliferation.
We should have a treaty on fissionable material, loose nuclearweapons -- 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 Housecounsel 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 primaryseason with negatives as high as she has in the history of modernpolling. She's going into the general election with, depending onwhat poll you're looking at, in the high forties on the negative sideand just below that on the positive side.
And there's nobody who's ever won the presidency who started outin that kind of position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Senator Obama, I know you're loathe toagree with Karl Rove on just about anything.
OBAMA: I am.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the Associated Press this week wrote anarticle. They talked to 40 Democratic activists and officeholdersacross the country. It led to the series of headlines across thecountry: "Democrats worry Clinton may weigh down lesser candidates";"Democrats worry Clinton may hurt the rest of the ticket."
Are they right to be worried?
OBAMA: You know, I think Senator Clinton and all the candidatesup here are capable. And whoever wins the general election I believe-- whoever wins the primary I believe is going to win the generalelection.
But I think there's something bigger at stake here. We all agreethat the last six years have been disastrous for America, both at homeand abroad. But the fact is that the big challenges we face, whetherit's health care or a bold energy strategy or schools that aren'tproducing young people that can compete on the global stage, those areproblems that pre-date the Bush administration.
OBAMA: They're not just Republican problems. They're Democraticproblems and American problems. And, you know, I think a winningstrategy is not crafted by a political calculus that divides thecountry into red states and blue states.
So what I've been trying to express in my campaign is that if youbelieve that part of the problem is the failed politics of Washingtonand the conventional thinking in Washington, if you're tired of thebackbiting and the score keeping and the special-interest-drivenpolitics of Washington, if you want somebody who can bring the countrytogether around a common purpose and rally us around a common destiny,then I'm your guy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But when you say that, are you saying thatSenator Clinton is part of the failed politics of Washington, or not?
OBAMA: What I'm suggesting is that we're going to need somebodywho can break out of the political patterns that we've been in overthe last 20 years. And part of that is the notion that half thecountry's on one side; the other half's on the other.
OBAMA: You maybe have a few people in Iowa or a few people inOhio and Florida who we're all battling over, and afterwards, we can'tgovern.
And what I'm interested in is not only winning the election, butalso providing relief to people who don't have health care, makingsure that we're tackling climate change in a serious way. And I thinkthat's going to require building a new majority, getting new peopleinvolved in the process, and I wouldn't be running if I didn't believethat I was the person best equipped to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So the answer is yes?
OBAMA: The answer is: I would not be running if I did notbelieve that I was the best person to do this.
EDWARDS: Well, let me just say -- I have a slightly differentview. Here's what I believe. I think we were out of power in theCongress for 13 years. In November of 2006, the Democrats took overthe Congress again. I think there was a reason for that. Because theDemocrats in November of 2006 stood for change.
America wants change in the most serious way. And if we becomethe party of status quo in 2008, that's a loser.
EDWARDS: If we...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that is the fundamental question, though.
EDWARDS: ... maintain -- but let me finish. If we maintain themomentum of change, yes, we will win again in 2008. I think that'sthe question. And the real question for Democratic caucus-goers andvoters across this country is, "Who's most likely to bring aboutchange?"
Here's what I believe: I don't believe you can change thiscountry without taking on very entrenched interests in Washington,including lobbyists, that stand between us and the change Americaneeds. And I don't believe you can do it by sitting at a table,negotiating with them and trying to bring them together.
These people will never give away their power voluntarily. Wehave to take their power away from them. This is what I've been doingmy whole life, and that is why I believe I am the candidate who canbring change to this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're seeing that Senator Clinton is not?
EDWARDS: Listen, Senator Clinton, both as first lady and as aUnited States senator, has done a terrific job. She's been inWashington a long time. I've asked -- Senator, I have never takenmoney from Washington lobbyists.
EDWARDS: Senator Obama is not taking it in this campaign. Iapplaud him for that. And I've said: Why don't we all make anabsolutely clear statement that we are the Democratic Party; we're theparty of the people; we are not the party of Washington insiders?
And we can say it clearly and unequivocally, by saying we willnever take another dime from a Washington lobbyist.
I've asked the other candidates to join me in that.
And at least, until now, Senator Clinton's not done it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton, will you do it?
CLINTON: Well, I don't think Karl Rove's going to endorse me.That becomes more and more obvious. But I find it interesting he's soobsessed with me. And I think the reason is because...
... we know how to win. I mean, you know, I have been fightingagainst these people for longer than anybody else up here. I've takenthem on and we've beaten them.
And I'm very excited about my campaign. I had 18 wonderful yearsin Arkansas. I'll be there tomorrow, where the governor will beendorsing me.
I've had wonderful experiences in upstate New York, where many ofthe people who voted for me had never voted for a Democrat before.
And you know, the idea that you're going to escape the Republicanattack machine and not have high negatives by the time they're throughwith you, I think, is just missing what's been going on in Americanpolitics for the last 20 years.
CLINTON: And the reason -- the reason why we're going to win isbecause we have a better vision for America, we know how to bringabout change, and I know how to beat them.
So, yes, they're going to be driving up negatives and making allthese comments. Doesn't matter to me a bit.
What's important is what's happening in the lives of the Americanpeople. And the kind of change I'm interested in is how we help moreAmericans get to the American dream.
And that means universal health care. That means new jobs forthe middle class with rising incomes. It means what I have foughtfor, for more than 35 years.
And I am proud of my campaign, and it's getting better everysingle day.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton...
CLINTON: So I'm looking forward to going up against whoever theRepublicans nominate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this point, though, that SenatorEdwards raises? He says the fact that you're taking money fromlobbyists symbolizes that you're part of the status quo, part of thefailed politics of Washington.
CLINTON: Well, George, I believe we have to change Washington.I've stood up against the special interests, I've taken them on. Itook them on, on health care. I took them on and voted against a lotof their special interest legislation, like class action reform, whichis just really another way of lining the pockets of big business.
CLINTON: I've taken them on on so many different fronts.
But there is this artificial distinction that people are tryingto make. Don't take money from lobbyists, but take money from thepeople who employ and hire lobbyists and give them their marchingorders. Those are the people that are really going to be pushingback.
I think we can do a much better job if we say we have got to movetoward public financing, get the money out of American politics,because it's the people who employ the lobbyists who are behind allthe money in American politics.
I think what we need to do is go after a better agenda of reform.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back to you, Senator. She says the distinctionis artificial.
EDWARDS: The distinction is not artificial. But first of all,Senator Clinton did a terrific job in the 1990s trying to do somethingabout health care in this country. She deserves credit for that.
But here's what I believe: The reason we don't have universalhealth care in America today is because of the insurance industry, thedrug companies and their lobbyists.
EDWARDS: It's that simple.
And, George, we need -- and there's a fundamental question here:Whether you believe, whether voters believe the way we're going tohave universal health care is to deal with those people, to make adeal with them. I don't. I don't think it'll work.
I don't think we should be taking their money. I think we oughtto make it absolutely clear that we're not going to take money frominsurance company lobbyists or drug company lobbyists, these bigcorporate lobbies, that actually killed -- killed -- the health careeffort that was done in the 1990s.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, I want to ask you...
EDWARDS: Let me finish. Let me finish.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask...
EDWARDS: The question is -- the question is: What will bringchange? What will bring change?
My belief is you have to take these people on and beat them tobring change. You can't sit at a table and negotiate with them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, will you accept the challenge fromSenator Edwards?
DODD: Well, look, first of all, I find this sort of situationalethics here. I mean, over the years, the fine people taking moneyfrom one group or the other were sort of competing with each other asto which group is a good or bad group here.
The fact of the matter is: I've been supporting, for years andyears, public financing of federal offices.
DODD: That's what needed in this country.
We're never going to solve this problem, unless we move in thatdirection.
And, certainly, it's not only the money you take, but what areyou doing? How are you casting your votes? Where were you onbankruptcy? Where were you on dealing with the estate tax reform?
Those critical questions that affect people in this country arevery important considerations. But public financing is where we needto be.
And let me point out as well, George, here, if I may as wellhere, it's about getting this job done. We don't elect a king or aqueen or a dictator in November, we elect a president. The marginsare thin. No one political party is going to write all of this. Ittakes leadership that knows how to bring people together.
It's what I've done for 26 years. When I wrote the Family andMedical Leave Act -- three presidents, two vetoes to go through inseven years. But I brought Republicans to the table around aDemocratic principle.
The idea we're going to go down there, any one of us is electedpresident, and write all the rules and decide what it's going to be isnot the case. It's not how it happens.
We need leadership that's been tested and proven to bring successbetween the political parties to get the job done for America.
DODD: That's the kind of leadership that's needed in 2008.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kucinich, is this debate overlobbyists real or artificial?
KUCINICH: Actually, George, this debate is insufficient, becauseyou're really not including all the candidates here...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just called on you.
KUCINICH: ... and polarize -- you're trying to polarize peopleout of the race. Now, let me talk about an issue that concerns thepeople of Iowa, and that is health care. The Iowa AF of L-CIO, twodays ago endorsed H.R. 676, a not-for-profit health care system, abill that I'm the coauthor of.
And Senator Edwards said that, you know, we're talking aboutchallenging the insurance companies. Well, actually, every otherhealth care plan represented by everyone else here on stage keeps theprivate insurers in charge.
Matter of fact, according to an article in the Nation, Humana,which participates in a hedge fund called Fortress, is in a positionto just clean up with the privatization of Medicare.
I'm the only one up here who challenges this system of premiums,co-pays and deductibles.
KUCINICH: So let's give the American people a real choice, not aconditioned choice, based on polls, but a choice that's based on theirpractical aspirations for health care for their families, for a not-for-profit system.
We have to break the hold, which the insurance companies and thepharmaceutical companies have on health care.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to another issue we're hearingabout a lot from the voters from Iowa in the poll. More voters wrotein questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue.
They all wanted to know what your plans were to get out of Iraq,and to get out safely from Iraq.
Senator Biden, you've put up an ad, just this morning, here inIowa, on that subject. Here's part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We were leaving Baghdad and it was pitch black. As Iclimbed into the C-130, strapped into the middle of that cargo bay wasa flag-draped coffin. It turned that cargo bay into a cathedral. Andall I could think of was the parents waiting at the other end.
We must end this war in a way that doesn't require us to sendtheir grandchild back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn the questioning, now, to DavidYepsen.
YEPSEN: Governor Richardson, is that ad right, that SenatorBiden is the only candidate with a plan?
RICHARDSON: No. I have a plan. Here's my plan: My plan isthat, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them.Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets.
My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, areconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oilrevenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by theUnited Nations, a donor conference.
But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all ofour troops are out.
We have different positions here. I believe that if you leaveany residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying tobring can happen. And it's important.
RICHARDSON: And it's critically important that we do this withan orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- noresidual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannotbegin.
YEPSEN: You're right. We do want to have a debate.
Senator Biden, what's your reaction to that?
BIDEN: My reaction is that it's time to start to level with theAmerican people. This administration hasn't been doing it for sevenyears. We should.
The fact of the matter is, there's much more at stake in oursecurity in the region depending on how we leave Iraq.
If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there'll be regionalwar. The regional war will engulf us for a generation. It'll bringin the Shia, it'll bring in the Saudis, it'll bring in the Iranians,it'll bring in the Turks.
I laid out a plan a year ago with Leslie Gelb. It said thatwhat we should do is separate the parties, give them breathing room inorder to establish some stability.
I notice most of my colleagues are coming around to that planthese days. But the bottom line is it's going to one full year, ifyou argued tomorrow to get every single troop out.
And when you begin to take the troops out, what are you going todo with the 4,000 or 5,000 civilians that are left inside the GreenZone?
YEPSEN: Governor, quickly?
RICHARDSON: Well, Anthony Cordesman from ABC News, adistinguished military expert -- many generals agree with me that wecan complete this withdrawal within six to eight months.
Let me give you an example. Today in the Iraq war, throughKuwait over a three-month period, we have moved 250,000 of our troops.We would move them through roads in Kuwait. We would move them inroads through Turkey. We can do this negotiating with the Turks.
YEPSEN: Senator Clinton, help a Democrat out. You've got thechairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying one thing, and I'vegot a former U.N. ambassador saying something else. Who's right?
CLINTON: Well, let me tell you what I would do, because I thinkthat we need to do three things. We need to begin moving our troopsout, and we have to do it carefully and responsibly. Joe isabsolutely right.
Moving troops out cannot happen without careful planning, whichis why I've been pushing the Pentagon to make sure they're actuallyplanning because they've been resistant to doing so.
Secondly, we need much stronger pressure on the Iraqi governmentthan this administration has been willing to bring.
CLINTON: And I would certainly condition any aid of any kind ontheir actually making the political decisions that they have beenreluctant and unwilling to do so far. There is no...
CLINTON: There is no military solution. Everybody agrees withthat. And the political solutions seem to be out of the grasp of theIraqis, because they're still jockeying for power.
And then of course, we would have, as Bill suggested, anintensive regional and international diplomatic effort.
But I think that, you know, this is going to be very dangerousand very difficult. A lot of people don't like to hear that.
But, if you look at how we would have to take our troops out,plus the equipment, which we would not want to leave, plus what we dowith the people in the Green Zone, plus what we do with the Iraqis whosided with us -- thousands of them -- plus, what we do with the morethan 100,000 American contractors who are there -- this is a massive,complicated undertaking.
CLINTON: And we do have to do it as carefully and responsibly aspossible, and I think my plan takes all of that into account.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does that mean that Governor Richardson justis wrong when he says that all troops, all troops, except forprotection of the embassy, can be out by the end of the year?
CLINTON: Well, I think that based on the conversations I've hadwith military planners and outside experts, Joe is right, that this isgoing to take a while. People say you can move maybe a brigade to twobrigades a month.
It is so important that we not oversell this. We've got to movethem as quickly as possible, but you also have to move out theequipment. There has been no indication that the Turks are willing tolet us move out. They wouldn't let us move in.
That means we go back down through the south. And if youremember, when we were supposedly on the road to liberation, we wereattacked by Shiites back in March and April of 2003. So this...
GRAVEL: George, could I respond?
CLINTON: ... is not going to be easy or safe.
CLINTON: And we've got to be very careful about how we do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get everybody in on this question.First let me just find out if anybody agrees with Governor Richardsonon this question.
Senator Gravel, do you agree with Governor Richardson?
GRAVEL: No, I disagree with him. And I disagree with Joe Biden.And I disagree with Hillary.
Well, stop and think here. Why do we think that we can rule thatcountry?
This is American imperialism you're hearing up here. And thathasn't worked and it will never work.
Who are we to tell the Iraqis -- we're trying to make them thefall guy, not our stupid mistakes. Oh, it's the Iraqis won't standup.
I'll tell you what. Pull everybody out and turn to the Iranians,who helped us defeat the Taliban initially. It was the Iranians. Soif we don't bring the Iranians to help us, or the Syrians, or SaudiArabia, of course it's going to be a disaster.
They have more at stake in that area of the world than we do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you would pull out. Senator Edwards...
GRAVEL: ... would do is pull back and use diplomacy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you.
Senator Edwards, can all the troops be out, except for protectionof the embassy, by December?
EDWARDS: I couldn't hear the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: By December. By Governor Richardson's plan.
EDWARDS: I think it would be hard to do by December. I think wecan responsibly and in a very orderly way bring our troops out overthe next nine or 10 months.
But one thing I want to say, as I'm listening -- I know you'retrying to create a fight up here, I understand that, but any...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to find out what you all think.
EDWARDS: ... any -- any Democratic president will end this war.That's what we know.
... the differences between us, whether it's Senator Clinton orSenator Dodd or Governor Richardson or Senator Biden, all of whom Ihave enormous respect for, the differences between all of us are verysmall compared to the differences between us and the Republicancandidates, who the best I can tell are George Bush on steroids.
They're going to keep this war going as long as it can possiblygo. That's exactly what's going to happen.
RICHARDSON: With all due respect, I'd like to ask SenatorClinton, Senator Biden, you're saying you're going to leave residualtroops behind. I don't know, is it 25,000, 50,000, 75,000?
RICHARDSON: You're also saying, I think, Senator Clinton, thatall combat troops should come out. Now, for the non-combat troops,how are they going to protect themselves?
My point is that by taking them all out, all our troops are nolonger targets. And then Al Qaida and the insurgents, both that seeAmerican troops as their prey, will now turn on each other.
And so, what we are now to do is force this negotiation, thisreconciliation process, which I believe Joe Biden's plan haspotential, a possible partition. Or division of oil revenues. Anall-Muslim peacekeeping force. Get Turkey, get Jordan, get Egypt.Talk to Iran and Syria. Bring them in.
What is needed here is stability, and I think that all of thesecountries can be invested in a plan for stability. Nobody wants acivil war or a sectarian conflict -- and by the way, it's alreadyhappening. And what we need is stability.
RICHARDSON: But you can't have stability without any Americantroop there. That's my point. So I'd like my question answered.What is the purpose of the residual force?
BIDEN: I'll answer that, if I may.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I also want Senator Clinton and SenatorObama on that question. You go first.
BIDEN: Look, the fundamental disagreement I have with mycolleagues up here is that they seem to cling to the fundamentalstrategic mistake that everyone on both sides plays to, and that isthat there is any possibility in the lifetime of anyone here of havingthe Iraqis get together, have a unity government in Baghdad that pullsthe country together.
That will not happen, George. It will not happen in the lifetimeof anyone here.
Secondly, the point is that you have to separate the parties togive them breathing room. You have to get them out of each other'sface, just like we did in the Balkans, the same exact thing.
Third piece I'd make to you is that there's much more at stakehere. This war must end, but there's much more at stake as to how itends.
BIDEN: If it ends with this country splintering, we will have,for a generation, our grandchildren, engaged in a regional war thatwill be consequential far beyond -- far beyond Iraq.
America's security interests are at stake. You will see Turkeymove in and take on the Kurds. You will see the Iranians move in andpick sides among the Shias. You will see Saudi Arabia and Syriacontinue to fund the most radical extreme elements of the jihadis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden, I think everyone agrees, everyoneis afraid of the things you just outlined right there.
But this is a fundamental difference with respect, SenatorEdwards.
Governor Richardson says that every troop except for protectionof the embassy can be out by December, and if they're not, then theconflict is going to continue.
BIDEN: They cannot be out by December...
BIDEN: Look, we've had 20,000 Western troops in a place wherethere's more sectarian violence -- from Vlad the Impaler to Milosevic-- than in 5,000 years of history in Iraq.
BIDEN: And what did we do? We separated the parties. There'snot one single troop has been killed, not one, in the last 10 years.There is peace. There is a circumstance where the genocide is ended.They're becoming part of Europe.
Every troop must be out over time if there is not a politicalagreement.
RICHARDSON: Joe, answer my question.
BIDEN: But if there is a political -- yes.
RICHARDSON: Why do you leave residual troops behind? Maybe ifit's six months or eight months...
BIDEN: I leave residual troops behind because you're going tohave a minimum of 4,000 civilians there. The military will tell myfriend here it takes...
BIDEN: ... it takes -- no, no, I'm not saying that. I'm notsaying that. You need combat troops, and you need them to protect...
BIDEN: ... the 5,000 troops that are there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, where do you come down on thisquestion? How many troops are going to have to stay for how long?
OBAMA: I think Joe is right on the issue of how long this isgoing to take. This is not going to be a simple operation. I thinkSenator Clinton laid out some of the challenges that were out there.I agree with John Edwards that all of us on this stage I think wouldbegin to bring this war to an end.
I think we also can all agree that it's going to be messy, thatthere are no good options.
OBAMA: There are only bad options and worse options, and we'regoing to have to exercise judgment in terms of how we execute this.But the thing I wish had happened was that all the people on thisstage had asked these questions before they authorized us getting in.
And I make that point...
... because earlier on we were talking about the issue ofexperience. Nobody had more experience than Donald Rumsfeld and DickCheney and many of the people on this stage that authorized this war.
And it indicates how we get into trouble when we engage in thesort of conventional thinking that has become the habit in Washington.Now, that judgment is going to have to be exercised moving forward,and I actually think that Joe's point about partition might be theright one.
The only area I disagree with -- with Joe on that -- is that itis important for the Iraqis to arrive at the conclusion that partitionmakes sense, as opposed to it being imposed by the United Statesgovernment.
OBAMA: Because I think if that happens, if the perception isthat we are carving up the country as opposed to the parties arrivingat a decision, then that could antagonize some of the factions andactually make the problem worse.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, you've invoked the idea ofconventional thinking a few times here, yet when I listen to whatyou're saying about what you would do in Iraq, now it sounds verysimilar to what Senator Clinton would do.
Is there any difference between you and Senator Clinton on whatyou would do right now?
OBAMA: My sense is that what all of us need to do over the next16, 18 months is focus on putting pressure on Republicans to stopgiving George Bush a blank check, because if we have to wait for 16,18 months, that's going to make the situation that much worse.
If we have not began a withdrawal by the time I'm sworn intooffice, then the next task is to call together the Joint Chief ofStaff and to give them the mission, which is to begin an orderly,phased withdrawal, so that we can begin the diplomacy that Joe andBill and others are talking about.
But look, as I said, there are no good options at this point.
OBAMA: This is the equivalent of George Bush drove the bus intothe ditch, and there are only so many ways you can pull that bus outof the ditch. That doesn't mean you don't fire the driver, and itdoesn't mean that you don't evaluate how we avoid getting in thesesame problems in the future.
KUCINICH: We can talk about George Bush driving a bus into aditch, but let's not forget there was a Democratic Senate in chargethat OK'ed the war. And those senators who are up on this stagehelped to authorize that war and they have to take responsibility forthat.
Likewise, they have to take responsibility for funding the war.You say you're opposed to it, but you keep funding it.
I think the American people have to look at that and ask, What'sgoing on?
Now, I've had a plan on the table for four years to get out ofIraq, and Democrats in Congress have to stand up to the pledge theymade in 2006 to take us out of that war. They have to tell thepresident now, "Bring the troops home. We're not going to give youany more money for that war."
KUCINICH: The American people have a right to expect that we'regoing to take a new direction. But, frankly, you cannot expect a newdirection with the same kind of thinking that took us into war in thefirst place.
We cannot leave more troops there. We cannot privatize Iraq'soil. We cannot partition that country and expect there's going to bepeace.
We need a president who understands that, one who's been rightfrom the start, and one who has shown the judgment, the wisdom, andthe maturity to take the right stand at the time that it counted most,when the American people needed someone to stand up. And I'm the onewho did that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on now. We've got a question --we've got an e-mail question from Seth Ford of South Jordan, Utah.
And he said, "My question is to understand each candidates' viewof a personal God. Do they believe that, through the power of prayer,disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapsecould have been prevented or lessened?"
I'd like each of you to answer it. Let me start with you,Senator Clinton.
CLINTON: You know, it's hard to hear you up here, George. Iapologize.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll keep it up, and I'll just repeat it again.
My question is to understand each candidate's view of a personalGod. Do they believe that, through the power of prayer, disasterslike Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapse could've beenprevented or lessened?
CLINTON: Well, I don't pretend to understand the wisdom and thepower of God. I do believe in prayer. And I have relied on prayerconsistently throughout my life. You know, I like to say that, if Ihad not been a praying person before I got to the White House, afterhaving been there for just a few days I would've become one.
So I am very dependent on my faith, and prayer is a big part ofthat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd?
DODD: I agree with what Hillary has just said here. I would notwant to try and second-guess the lord's intentions here and to assumethat part of his great plan includes some of these actions we see, fora variety of different reasons, here.
DODD: And the power of prayer I think is important to all of us.I hope it is, recognizing that we don't do anything without Hisapproval.
EDWARDS: I have prayed most of my life; pray daily now. He'senormously important to me.
But the answer to the question is: No, I don't -- I prayedbefore my 16-year-old son died; I prayed before Elizabeth wasdiagnosed with cancer. I think there are some things that are beyondour control.
And I think it is enormously important to look to God -- and, inmy case, Christ -- for guidance and for wisdom. But I don't think youcan prevent bad things from happening through prayer.
GRAVEL: What I believe in is love. And love implements courage.And courage permits us all to apply the virtues that are important inlife.
And so you can pray -- I was always persuaded or struck by thefact that many people who pray are the ones who want to go to war, whowant to kill fellow human beings. That disturbs me.
I think what we need is more love between one human being andanother human being.
GRAVEL: And then we'll find the courage to dispel many of theproblems we have in governance. The answer to governance is not uphere on the dais. The answer is with the American people and thepeople of Iowa. That's where the answer is.
And I have a proposal, and it's the only one that talks ofchange. The change is to empower the American people with a nationalinitiative.
And my colleagues, with all due respect, don't even understandthe principle of the people having the power.
RICHARDSON: I pray. I'm a Roman Catholic. My sense of socialjustice, I believe, comes from being a Roman Catholic.
But, in my judgment, prayer is personal. And how I pray and howany American prays, for what reason, is their own decision. And itshould be respected.
And so, in my view, I think it's important that we have faith,that we have values, but if I'm president, I'm not going to wear myreligion on my sleeve and impose it on anybody.
BIDEN: George, my mom has an expression. She says that, "Godsends no cross you're unable to bear."
BIDEN: The time to pray is to pray whether or not you're told,as John was and I was, that my wife and daughter are dead, to have thecourage to be able to bear the cross.
The time to pray is to pray not only before, but pray that youhave the courage, pray that God can give you the strength to deal withwhat everyone is faced with in their life, serious crosses, seriouscrosses to bear.
The answer to the gentleman's question is, no, all the prayer inthe world will not stop a hurricane. But prayer will give you thecourage to be able to respond to the devastation that's caused in yourlife and with others to deal with the devastation.
OBAMA: I believe in the power of prayer. And part of what Ibelieve in is that, through prayer, not only can we strengthenourselves in adversity, but that we can also find the empathy and thecompassion and the will to deal with the problems that we do control.
OBAMA: Most of the issues that we're debating here today areones that we have the power to change.
We don't have the power to prevent illness in all cases, but wedo have the power to make sure that every child gets a regular checkupand isn't going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses likeasthma.
We may not have the power to prevent a hurricane, but we do havethe power to make sure that the levees are properly reinforced andwe've got a sound emergency plan.
And so, part of what I pray for is the strength and the wisdom tobe able to act on those things that I can control. And that's what Ithink has been lacking sometimes in our government.
OBAMA: We've got to express those values through our government,not just through our religious institutions.
KUCINICH: George, I've been standing here for the last 45minutes praying to God you were going to call on me. And my...
And I come from a spiritual insight which says that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have a direct pipeline, Congressman.
KUCINICH: I come from a spiritual insight which says that wehave to have faith but also have good works.
KUCINICH: So when we think of the scriptures, Isaiah makingjustice the measuring line; Matthew 25, "whatever you do for the leastof our brethren"; where the biblical injunction, "make peace with yourbrother" -- all of these things relate to my philosophy.
Now, the founders meant to have separation of church and state,but they never meant America to be separate from spiritual values. Aspresident, I'll bring strong spiritual values into the White House,and I'll bring values that value peace, social and economic justice,values that remember where I came from.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you, Congressman.
Let's turn to another question from here in Iowa. It's on thesubject of agriculture, close to a lot of Iowans' hearts. And itcomes from Mr. Blaine Baincon (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: I'm Blaine Baincon (ph), a farmer from Massena, Iowa.I was wondering how you plan to help small farms as the largecompanies take over more farms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd?
DODD: Well, George, listen, one of the areas we've got to haveis a Justice Department that starts dealing with some of the antitrustissues in our country. It just doesn't cover agriculture, but also avariety of other things, including media concentration here.
The ability today of just concentrating power, allowing so muchto be accumulated, is making it very difficult for the kind ofindependents and smaller interests, including small business and smallfarmers, to be able to grow and to have the kind of economic successthey'd like to have.
DODD: Rural America needs additional attention, as well, here.I'm a great believer that we need to extend the broadband access toour rural communities.
Opportunity shouldn't require that you leave rural America tocome to opportunity, but opportunity ought to be able to come to ruralAmerica, by taking advantage of the technologies we have today, sothat people can stay on these farms and stay in rural parts of ourcountry, including Iowa.
YEPSEN: Senator Edwards, you have criticized U.S. tradeagreements. How do you fashion trade agreements to protect Americanworkers, without in turn creating trade wars that hurt Americanfarmers, Iowa farmers and what they're trying to sell abroad?
EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I'd say is I think we've had afailed trade policy in America.
The question seems to have been, on past trade agreements likeNAFTA: Is this trade agreement good for the profits of bigmultinational corporations?
And the answer to those questions on the trade agreements we'veentered into has been yes.
EDWARDS: It's been very good for multinational corporations. Ithas not been good for American workers. And in an Edwardsadministration, the first question I will ask in every single tradeagreement we're considering is: Is this good for middle-class workingfamilies in America? That would be the threshold question.
And, second, we will have real labor and environmental standardsin the text of the agreement, which I will enforce. We will haveprotections against currency manipulation, which the Chinese areengaged in right now.
And then finally -- finally -- we will end these loopholes thatactually create tax incentives for companies to leave America and takejobs somewhere else.
That needs to be brought to an end.
YEPSEN: Senator Clinton, how do you come down on that questionof how do you protect American jobs in America without setting up asituation where other countries discriminate against the things we'retrying to export, particularly agricultural exports?
CLINTON: Well, I agree with everything John said, with theadditional point that your question really raised, and that is that wedo export a lot of agricultural goods, many of that through tradeagreements.
And I think we've got to do three things. Number one, we have tohave more focus on family farms, like the gentleman who asked thequestion. We have 34,000 family farms, largely, in New York. I'vetried to become a real advocate for them because they get lost in theshuffle.
So I've created ways of working with them. I've issued a reportabout how much difficulty they have getting their products across theborder into Canada.
So we've got to do more to make sure trade agreements are notonly good for the exporting of agricultural products from great, bigagribusiness, but also for small farmers.
CLINTON: Secondly, we've got to do more, as Chris said, to buildup the agricultural and rural areas of our country. And thirdly, youknow, trade needs to become a win-win.
People ask me, am I a free trader or a fair trader? I want to bea smart, pro-American trader. And that means we look for ways tomaximize the impact of what we're trying to export and quit beingtaken advantage of by other countries.
YEPSEN: Senator Obama, how do you balance -- how do you protectjobs without hurting farmers?
OBAMA: Well, I think that many of the recommendations that havebeen made are the right ones. There's one other thing, though, thatwe've got to talk about. And that is that our Congress subsidizesthese big megafarms and hurts family farmers oftentimes in theprocess.
And we've got to, I think, cap those subsidies so that we don'thave continued concentration of agriculture in the hands of a fewlarge agribusiness interests. But, on the trade issue generally,we're not going to suddenly cordon off America from the world.
OBAMA: Globalization is here, and I don't think Americans areafraid to compete. And we have the goods and the services and theskills and the innovation to compete anywhere in the world.
But what we've got to make absolutely certain of is that, in thatcompetition, we are hard bargainers.
You know, I'm always struck by the Bush administration toutingthat this is the MBA president and they're such great businessmen, andthey get taken to the cleaners in a lot of these trade agreements.
And we've got to have somebody who's negotiating on behalf ofworkers and family farmers right here in Iowa, as opposed to someplaceelse.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Richardson, we have 20 seconds leftuntil a commercial.
Do you agree with Senator Obama's position that we should cap thesubsidies to farms?
RICHARDSON: I want to find a way to make sure that the bigagribusiness interests don't hurt the small farmer, the family farmer.
What we also need to do is to promote conservation. We need topromote, besides subsidy reform, renewable fuels and technology.
Our farm policy, if we have renewable fuel...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're going to get cut off by a commercial.
RICHARDSON: ... enormous exports, trade, jobs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have no idea what's been going on behind mein the last 30 seconds, but welcome back to "This Week." We'recontinuing this Democratic debate here in Iowa.
And I want to go to a question that came in over e-mail. It wasfrom Robert Malzarek (ph) of Montgomery, Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: This question is for all the candidates.
Unlike many others, I think that candidates may tell the truth,just not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For example, whenadvocating a position or action, candidates downplay or simply ignorethe likely negative side effects.
Can you name a major issue where you didn't tell the whole truthand describe what you left out?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Gravel?
GRAVEL: Yes, I can tell one issue that they're not living up to.My colleagues have all said that they want public financing...
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about you, though, Senator?
GRAVEL: Well, no, I'm part of it, and I'm telling the truth.
They can do this right now. There's nothing -- and I asked for apledge from all of them to immediately obey the law we have on thebooks to use public financing.
They can store their money, their millions, for the generalelection. But right now, in the primaries, why can't they say whatthey promised and they said they're for? Otherwise, it means there'sa little hypocrisy abroad here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden, what's your answer to thatquestion?
BIDEN: In my public life, there hasn't been a time I haven'tsaid what I thought.
I'm sure there's times in my whole life I haven't said everythingI've thought, and many times that I've said too much of what I didthink.
But my problem isn't saying what I think. My problem is sayingtoo much about what I think.
I honestly can't think of an issue in the United States Congresswhere I haven't straightforwardly said why I was voting, why I wasvoting that way, and I said it straight up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kucinich, you?
KUCINICH: My entire life I've been saying things that otherpeople were afraid to say, and I've been consistently proven right.So this is what I do.
And in the White House, I'll let the American people know exactlywhat's going on, our path to peace, to not-for-profit health care, toeducation for all. That's the kind president that the American peoplewant, straight from the shoulder.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I think there are a number of issues where there aregoing to be some choices we've got to make and some sacrificesinvolved. I'll give you one specific example, and that's on energy.All of us on this stage have talked about global warming and how it isa moral imperative for us to do something about this, to ensure thatwe're passing on a livable planet to our children and ourgrandchildren.
There will be some costs involved. It's not -- we can't do it onthe cheap. There are some things that we can do to conserve energy,but all of those steps are going to require a little bit of hardshipand a little bit of pinching, and that's something that we don't haveenough of a discussion about.
I've tried to. I went to Detroit, and in front of a bunch ofauto makers, I said we've got to raise fuel efficiency standards oncars. And the silence was deafening in the room.
But those are the kinds of choices, I think, that the nextpresident is going to have to advance and have an honest conversationwith the American people about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Wasn't the question whether there's ever been anythingthat we didn't say?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what I'm asking you, the question --right.
EDWARDS: That's what I thought it was.
I think, in my case, that would be true about my vote on the warin Iraq.
EDWARDS: I was wrong to vote for this war. But, beyond that, Ihad huge internal conflict at the time about giving George Bush thisauthority.
And I did talk about -- as all these other candidates have justsaid, I did talk about the things that persuaded me to cast the vote.But what I didn't express was the huge conflict I had, because I didnot trust George Bush.
It turns out I was right not to have trusted him, and I cast thewrong vote. But that's the one time, and probably the single biggesttime that I can think of.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I, too, regret giving George Bush the authoritythat he misused and abused. It was a very difficult decision, and Itried to weigh it as carefully as possible, talking to a lot ofdifferent people and being assured, both publicly and privately, byPresident Bush and the people close to him that they would use theauthority to go in and get inspectors and try to find out if therewere weapons of mass destruction and pursue diplomacy.
So, you know, looking back on it, I wouldn't have voted that wayagain, certainly, because obviously President Bush had no intention ofdoing what he said he was going to do. And obviously for me that is agreat regret.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But did you tell the whole truth when discussingit?
CLINTON: Well, as I saw it, yes, you know, similar to John. Youknow, when the president of the United States says, as he saidpublicly, and then as people around him said privately over and overagain, "We're going to use this authority to get inspectors back in,"We're going to go to the United Nations," you know, at some point,you do have to make that evaluation.
And I thought that, based on what he had said and what we weretalking about at the time in the Congress, that that would be anappropriate approach.
KUCINICH: Were you tricked?
CLINTON: I would never have diverted our attention to Iraq, andI never would have pursued this war. I think that has been a terriblemistake for our country.
KUCINICH: Were you tricked, Senator Clinton?
RICHARDSON: You know, I think the question was about pastregrets and mistakes. I'm making, at this rate, about one mistake aweek.
And, you know, I make a lot of misstatements. I'm not thescripted candidate. But I think when the chips are down, when thetime comes to get hostages out from Saddam Hussein or persuade theNorth Koreans to reduce their nuclear arsenal, or bring back theremains of American servicemen, I perform.
But the reality is, what the American people want is a presidentwho says, "I will follow the Constitution of the United States; I willnot go to war unless the Congress authorizes me to go to war."
RICHARDSON: And we're going to get rid of those blemishes thatAmerica has, like Guantanamo, like eavesdropping on our citizens, likepolicies of torture, like returning habeas corpus.
I think if we simply say that we are in an America of checks andbalances, where the judiciary and the executive and the legislativebranches have an equal role, that we're honoring the principles offreedom, where America stands.
Then that's what that enormous confidence that people will havein our country will come back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, where didn't you tell the wholetruth?
DODD: Well, I'll tell you one issue that I wish I had done moreon, recently. And, I think, maybe one of the worst votes cast in theCongress, maybe in the last 20 years, was last fall, on the MilitaryCommissions Act, in which we allowed the abandonment of habeas corpus,returning to torture, and abandoning the Geneva Convention.
I thought about filibustering that bill, and I didn't do it. Iregret that deeply. I can't think of a worse vote we cast, to walkaway from the Constitution of the United States.
And I'm committed, on January 20, to bring that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, thank you. Let me turn, now, toan issue that hasn't been discussed enough in these debates so far.It's the issue of education. And, for that, let me bring David Yepsenback.
YEPSEN: Senator Dodd, should more effective -- I'm going to askyou about so-called performance-based pay. Should more effectiveteachers be paid less than effective ones?
DODD: I wouldn't use that approach. What I've suggested here --this is a huge issue here. We've got to reexamine our whole educationprocess, from beginning to the top here, and I'm a believer that weneed to have fundamental reform of No Child Left Behind, and startmeasuring growth, not abandoning schools that aren't doing well, andproviding far less rigid criteria when it comes to highly qualifiedteachers.
Where I would like to go here is see that we apply additionalresources to teachers who will go into the tougher schools in rural orurban America, where they need better teachers coming in, and providesome additional incentives for them, including pay and including thecriteria that they have to meet to do so.
But I'm not in favor necessarily of giving more preference for ateacher that's performing somewhat better. Measuring that I think isthe wrong direction we're going in.
DODD: Taking snapshots of schools and teachers and students isnot measuring how we're doing here. We need a far better approach onNo Child Left Behind. I'm offering those ideas. The idea ofdiscriminating one group of teachers against another in that regard, Ithink is a huge mistake and I'd oppose it.
YEPSEN: Senator Obama, performance-based pay. How would you dothat without alienating the teacher's unions?
OBAMA: Well, I've had a lot of discussions with teachers allthroughout Iowa. And they feel betrayed and frustrated by No ChildLeft Behind. And Chris is right: We shouldn't reauthorize it withoutchanging it fundamentally.
We left the money behind for No Child Left Behind, and so thereare school districts all across the state and all across the countrythat are having a difficult time implementing No Child Left Behind.And teachers are extraordinarily frustrated about how theirperformance is assessed.
And not just their own performance, but the school's performancegenerally. So they're teaching to the tests all the time. What Ihave said is that we should be able to get buy-in from teachers interms of how to measure progress.
OBAMA: Every teacher I think wants to succeed. And if we givethem a pathway to professional development, where we're creatingmaster teachers, they are helping with apprenticeships for young newteachers, they are doing more work, they are involved in a variety ofother activities, that are really adding value to the schools, then weshould be able to give them more money for it.
But we should only do it if the teachers themselves have somebuy-in in terms of how they're measured. They can't be judged simplyon standardized tests that don't take into account whether childrenare prepared before they get to school or not, which is also one ofthe reasons why we've got to put more money into early childhoodeducation.
YEPSEN: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I have long supported incentive pay for schoolwide performance. You know, what we're trying to do is to change theculture within schools and to provide the resources, the training andthe support that teachers need to do the job they do want to do.
And particularly focusing on kids who come from disadvantagedbackgrounds, I think you have to start with preschool, even beforepre-kindergarten.
CLINTON: I've advocated universal pre-kindergarten. I think youhave to start even earlier to try to help the family be the bestschool and teaching opportunity for their own children.
You have to reform No Child Left Behind. We're going to try todo that and begin to make it much more in line with the reality ofteaching.
But I think that we've got to have a real conversation with ourteachers, our students and our parents, because basically you can walkin a classroom today and it looks very much like the classroom Iwalked into, you know, 50 years ago.
And we have changed as a nation. We don't live and work the sameway. But we act as though our schools are somehow off limits totrying to bring technology and other changes to them.
YEPSEN: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: Well, you asked the question, are we for merit payfor teachers? No, I'm not for it. But what we need to do is pay ourteachers better. They are disrespected.
RICHARDSON: I have proposed a minimum wage for our teachers,$40,000 per year.
I also have a one-point plan, like I do on Iraq, on No Child LeftBehind: Scrap it. It's a mess; it's a disaster.
What I would also do is have -- you know, we are 29th in theworld in math and science. We need to have 100,000 new math andscience teachers. We have to be number one again.
I would have preschool for every child. I would have full-daykindergarten. I'd revise our high school curriculums -- science,math, languages, civics, and an arts-in-the-schools programs to unlockour kids...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to...
RICHARDSON: ... when they -- science and math...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to health care now. It soundslike -- and let me just sum this up -- no one on the stage is formerit pay for teachers, specifically.
(UNKNOWN): I am.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are? OK, thank you.
(UNKNOWN): Well, and, George, I...
GRAVEL: Can I expand upon that since I've said I'm for meritpay?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go for it.
GRAVEL: Don't leave me hanging.
GRAVEL: No, stop and think: They're all talking business asusual, politics as usual.
This country, we're so proud. We think we're number one.
GRAVEL: He just gave you a statistic of how bad we are.
I'll give you another one: We're 46th in literacy in the world-- in the world. Thirty percent of our children do not graduate fromhigh school. What does that mean for the future of this country?
And all we get are the same old nostrums, that we needcompetition in education. Stop and think: Here, Iran -- not Iran --Spain, Norway, Finland -- these countries, they're not the superpowerof the world, but they pay for their children, from childhood to Ph.D.levels.
Why can't Americans put education as the top priority? And youcan't do it when you want to expand, as he wants to expand, 100,000more troops. Who are we going to nuke, who are we going to fightnext?
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Senator Gravel.
OBAMA: I want to be clear, George. I actually think that we canimplement a performance-based system that teachers buy in to. But Idon't think it can be imposed on teachers. I think it has to be onethat is developed with teachers so that they have a sense -- Bill isexactly right.
Teachers, across the board, have to be paid more. My sister's ateacher, and I know how hard they work and what they go through.
But we've got to give them a pathway so that they can make moremoney, as they are developing more experience, as they are puttingmore into the classroom.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kucinich, Senator Biden, both onthis quickly.
KUCINICH: Let me be the one who tells you how we're going to dothis. I've sponsored a universal pre-kindergarten bill that will bepaid for by a 15 percent cut in that bloated, wasteful Pentagonbudget, which will yield $75 billion a year that we will put rightinto education.
We will create a universal pre-kindergarten program with aqualitative emphasis for education -- not quantitative so we make ourchildren good little test-takers, but qualitative so our childrenlearn real skills, learning skills, language, arts, and help themgrow.
Learning theorists know this. Child psychologists understandthis. Piaget talked all about this. Let's give our children thechance to grow, but let's put the money there. And I know where toget it...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden...
KUCINICH: ... and I'm ready to take that action. Thank you.
BIDEN: Tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, my wife will walk into aclassroom and teach for the 30th year in a row.
BIDEN: And the one thing any teacher can tell you is that thelast person you want to base your performance on, judge yourperformance, is the administrator of the school. That's the firstthing everybody figures out if you teach.
There needs to be performance-based pay. The way to do it isstart at the front end. Pay those people who perform in undergraduateschool. Give them the alternative to be able to go. They'd get thesame pay as an engineer gets to go in and work in a math student -- asa math teacher, as a science teacher, et cetera.
So you start performance-based pay by, in fact, paying the best-performing students who want to teach and give them a chance. Everyother major country in the world is starting their kids at the samesalary they start -- these students, the same salary they start theirengineers. We should be able to do that.
My father used to say, "Don't tell me what you value; show meyour budget." If you, in fact, value education, then it should beequally as important as engineering or anything else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're running toward the end of the 90 minutes.I have a couple of quick questions, and then a final question.
This is -- this is basically a yes-no question. We've seem allthis turmoil in the markets over the last couple of weeks, caused bythe credit crunch and the crisis in the mortgage markets.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw, on Friday, the Federal Reserve loweredthe discount rate for banks. Should they lower rates for everyoneelse, yes or no?
CLINTON: I'm glad they did what they did. But it can't be justleft to a bail-out for the banks. We've got to figure out how we'regoing to figure out people facing foreclosures.
And I think a number of us have recommendations on that, that donot lend themselves to an easy yes or no.
DODD: Yes, I think it will happen in September. But we alsoneed more liquidity. And they ought to be allowing Fannie and FreddieMac to put more liquidity in the market.
It has seized up. You can't get a mortgage in America today.
EDWARDS: I agree with that. But we also need a home rescue fundfor all the millions of Americans who are worried about losing theirhomes.
GRAVEL: All I would say is that there's no answer to thatquestion. Just follow the money of the people on this dais and you'llsee a response.
RICHARDSON: This is the Katrina of the mortgage-lendingindustry.
RICHARDSON: The answer to your question is yes, there has to bemore liquidity, more funds in the market. What we need is moretransparency between those that are making this business happen.
And what we also need to do is to not appoint officials that arein the industry to regulate that specific industry. The mortgageindustry, they've become -- a lot of them -- a bunch of loan sharks.
BIDEN: The answer is yes. But we need, as the governor says,more transparency, particularly with regard to hedge funds and privateequity funds. They are the ones that are causing this thing to gounder. And there's no transparency, no accountability. We don't knowhow deep this problem is.
Chris will take care of it in the Banking Committee, and I meanthat sincerely.
But we don't know how deep this problem is. But I think it'smuch deeper. It's almost as deep in terms of dollars, not liability,as the savings and loan crisis.
OBAMA: We do need more liquidity, but we're going to have to notonly help home owners who are going to be losing their homes as aconsequence of this; we're going to have to go forward and make surethat we've got the kinds of tough regulation when it comes tofinancial instruments to make sure that people who have saved and aretrying to get their own home for the first time are not hoodwinked outof it.
OBAMA: And, unfortunately, the reason that we haven't hadtougher regulation in part goes back to the issue of lobbying. Thisis where special interests have been driving the agenda. We have nothad the kinds of consumer protections that are in place.
And that's why, when we have this debate about lobbying, we haveto remind ourselves it has very real consequences for the people ofIowa and the people around the country.
KUCINICH: The answer is no. The Fed is actually looking atbailing out the creditors. And what we're looking at is acontinuation of the problem and a postponement of the day ofreckoning.
We need to have a government take strong action where we'll loanmoney to those who are in trouble. But we need to do that in exchangefor having the power, the money-lending power that the banks haveright now, come back to the government; government spends money intocirculation; and then government can maintain control over theeconomy.
KUCINICH: Unless we take this action, we're looking at asituation of the collapse of our economy, and we're looking at asituation where these hedge funds will try to get a bail-out whilemillions of Americans lose their homes. Save the American homeowners.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final round, final question, about 30 secondseach, please.
You know, presidential biographers are always looking at theturning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went onthe path to the presidency, the decisive moment.
Congressman Kucinich, what's the decisive moment in your life?
KUCINICH: I would say the decisive moment in my life was when myfamily was living in a car in the inner city and I thought about allthe dreams that I could have as a child. And I decided, at an earlyage, that I was going to be someone.
And I've had a lot of help along the way to get to this stage,but I can tell you, as president, the American people will havesomeone who remembers where he came from and has the compassion in hisheart to lift up everyone to make sure everyone has a chance.
OBAMA: A decisive moment in my life was the transition from highschool to college, because I had gone through a difficult time, notknowing my father, and was, at times, an angry young man.
OBAMA: And partly because of the values my mother had instilledin me, those were reawakened in college.
And it made me serious about, not just what I could do formyself, but what I could do for other people. It's what led me tobecome a community organizer. It's what led me to go into publicservice. And ultimately, it's what led me to this stage.
BIDEN: George, there's a lot of things in my life that led me tobe engaged in politics. I worked in the African-American community,east side of my city, as the only white employee for a long while whenI was a kid. And I got involved in the civil rights movement.
I thought the question was, what made me run for president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Decisive moment in your life that put you on thebroader path.
BIDEN: Well, the decisive moment in me life that put me on thebroader path was the civil rights movement. When I really -- I foundout and realized that it does make a difference if you're engaged.You actually can change people's lives. You can actually change thestate of the nation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: The decisive moment in my life was when my wife,Barbara, decided and agreed to marry me, because it was the bestdecision I ever made and, hopefully, she ever made. We've had 35years of marriage. It has given me strength and has been an anchor inmy life.
A decisive moment for me to return to public life was 9/11. Whenit happened, I wanted to get back in public life.
And I just want to make one -- I resent that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I've got to move on. We're going to run out oftime. Sorry.
GRAVEL: The decisive moment in my life came with theinsightfulness of realizing that human governance is extremely complexand that representative government is broken.
And so, there's only two venues for change: One is thegovernment, where the problem lies, or the people.
GRAVEL: And so the people must be equipped as lawmakers, thecentral power of government, in order to make decisions on all thepolicy issues that affect their lives, working in partnership withelected government.
It's a win-win. The people make the policy decisions, and wethen would make the day-to-day operation of government work better.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: When I was a young boy, I came downstairs one morning.It was still dark outside. My father, who worked in mills all hislife, was sitting at the kitchen table. The television was on. Hewas watching public television. And he'd never been able to go tocollege. And he was trying to learn from public television so hecould get a better job in the mill.
And I worked in the mill, myself, part-time, when I was younger.And I made the decision then, whatever I did with my life -- didn'tknow that I'd be running for president -- but whatever I did with mylife, those are the people that I would fight for, as long as I wasbreathing (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd?
DODD: Well, there were two moments. One was the decision tojoin the Peace Corps, getting excited about John Kennedy inviting ageneration of us to be a part of things larger than ourselves.
DODD: And the second was, about a week before my father died,when he was asked the question, "Had he known how his life would end,would he do it all over again?," I'll never forget him saying he'd doit in a minute, because you can never do as much for the public goodas you can through a public life.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Last week, Senator Clinton.
CLINTON: Well, when I was growing up I didn't think I would runfor president, but I could not be standing here without the women'smovement, without generations of women who broke down barriers, thecivil rights movement that gave women and people of color the feelingthat they were really part of the American dream.
So I owe the opportunity that I have here today to many people;some of whom are known to history and many who aren't.
But more personally, I owe it to my mother, who never got achance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but whogave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the last word.
Thank you all very much.