Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) picked the venue of the Imus in the Morning show to announce his 2008 run for president.
click below for the somewhat zany but informative interview.
SEN. CHRIS DODD ANNOUNCES HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT ON "IMUS IN THE MORNING"
SECAUCUS, N.J. – January 11, 2007 – In an interview that aired earlier today on "Imus in the Morning," Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Sen. Dodd told Don Imus, "I'm going to file today, formally, papers of candidacy."
WFAN's syndicated "Imus in the Morning" show broadcasts weekdays from 5:30 to 10:00 a.m. (ET), and simulcasts on MSNBC from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. (ET). Tom Bowman is the executive producer for MSNBC. Following is a transcript of the interview.
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DON IMUS, HOST: Please welcome now, the senior senator from the great state of Connecticut, Senator Chris Dodd, good morning, Senator Dodd.
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Imus. Good morning.
IMUS: How are you, sir?
DODD: I'm doing very well, thanks for having me on.
IMUS: It's a pleasure for us to have you on.
DODD: Well I appreciate it. It's been about 14 years we have been doing this.
IMUS: Now, yesterday I was at the dentist and my phone rang and it was you.
DODD: Yes, I, -- had I had any idea you were at the be dentist, believe me, that's the last call I would make.
IMUS: Then I was up all night because my tooth blew up. Then I called everybody and said I'm not coming to work today.
DODD: Uh, oh.
IMUS: And then I remembered that you were on and Russert and I thought well, I got to go to work. So here I am. What are you going to do now?
DODD: Well, listen, I'm going to file today, formally, papers of candidacy, I'm going to skip this exploratory phase that a lot of people go through and become a full fledged candidate for the presidency.
It's a big step, I have thought about it over the last six months since I first started to explore it. And let me tell you why. Because obviously the first question is why are you doing this, so I'm going to state the obvious to anyone who is listening this morning -- there is a heightened sense of urgency obviously about the condition of country.
We listened last night to all the talk and we'll talk about it today and tomorrow and probably the days ahead on this Iraq situation. But it isn't just Iraq. There are problems here at home that are huge obviously in terms of working people. their jobs, their futures, their worried about their kids. I don't want to dwell on that, let's just say, suffice to say I think that everyone feels this, regardless of what income level you are in, there is a sense that things are not going as well as we should both at home and abroad.
I think people do believe we can get this back on track again. I'm an optimist. I believe that it's going to take hard work but you can do it. You can get us moving in the right direction. I think people are crying out for leadership, they want people to come up with bold solutions on health-care, energy policy, environmental questions, education.
They want to be told what the truth is, they want to be involved in the decisions. They want to know they can be a participant in getting things right. And you have got to be able to bring people together.
Now, I have been here 25 years, in the United States Senate. Normally that would exclude you from even considering higher office, but I think people this time around believe experience matters. That I know how to do this. Every major foreign policy and domestic issue over the past quarter of a century, I have been deeply involved in it.
I'll now be chairing the Banking Committee. I'll be the number two Democrat on the Health and Education Committees and dealing with issues involving foreign policy. This morning I was sitting next to my good friend Joe Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee where I've been for 25 years as well. I served in the Peace Corps. Chris Matthews who you're going to have on is a former Peace Corps volunteer.
In fact, I go back to a time where I actually worked with Tim Russert and Chris Matthews when they worked up here on Capitol Hill . So I know how to do this. I know what has to be done. And I'm going to get out and make my case and be a part of this debate.
And I realize I'm a dark horse in all of this. I'm not as well known as some of the other candidates who will be running, but a year from now, we'll still be talking about the first caucuses and primaries. And 12 months is more than a lifetime in politics. So I decided I wanted to get out of the bleachers and on to the arena floor and make my case and let the American people decide whether or not I deserve to be their nominee and their president.
IMUS: Even people who aren't Democrats and who wouldn't ordinarily support you, I would think -- my experience in just talking to people, think you are qualified to be the president.
I mean, there are some people who run who are not qualified. But I think there will be almost a consensus that you are. However, you mentioned dark horse, and how do you get by Hillary Clinton and if Barack Obama runs and ...
DODD: Well listen, Imus, first of all, they are wonderful people and I mean that. I'm not just saying it. I know them both well and you mentioned you had Joe on other way, Biden. There are a number of other candidates out there. Bill Richardson who you had on and Tom Vilsack and John Kerry may get involved in the race as well again.
IMUS: John Edwards.
DODD: John Kerry, and these good people. So, I'm not going to get engaged in the business of tearing people apart. You have to make judgments about what your experience is, what you bring to the table, what's unique about this.
Everyone of them has strengths and in my view, I think the strengths I bring are the experience, the background, the ability to bring people together on major pieces of legislation. Having offered the Family and Medical Leave act, worked with Republicans over and over again over the years. I have that reputation here. And I think it's deserved based on the accomplishments we've been able to achieve.
And 12 months is a long time and don't think anyone in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, any other state, necessarily wants to be told in January of 07 who the nominee is going to be in January or February or March of 2008.
And so I believe I have got a chance. I have been to those states already and they tell me the door is open. But I don't disagree with you. We're coming from a less well known position. I sort of bring the luxury of being a fresh face to an awful lot of people in this country and having the experience and background I think to take on the job -- not that anyone is fully prepared for this job, by the way.
IMUS: Let's not get crazy with the fresh face thing Senator.
DODD: (INAUDIBLE) an awful lot of people.
IMUS: OK. Talking with Senator Chris Dodd who's announced this morning that he is going to file papers to run for the presidency and forgo the exploratory committee that most of these folks do. But, you must have already done some of the exploratory committee?
DODD: Well, I did at the beginning of last June when you and I talked about six or seven or eight months ago and I said I was going to get out and see how this, how it would go. I have been to these states, but I know the difference between people being courteous and when I think they think you have got something to say.
And again, I want to emphasize to you, it's a long time between now and then, what I will almost absolutely guarantee, having been through the process, having been the general chairman of the DNC back years ago, is that anyone who predicts today with any certainty what's going to happen a year from now is almost guaranteed to be wrong in my experience.
Now, this could be the exception, but I think trying to tell people exactly what's going to happen, I think is a huge mistake and I hope it will give people a chance to be heard on this. And those of us who are not as well known I think have something to say and we would like to make my case.
IMUS: I would to Charles last night, I was talking with him -- about you and I said what happens if Senator Dodd is ahead in these polls. And this comes (INAUDIBLE). I'll keep this brief, but it comes back to me.
I said what do I do then because I still got to get by the fact that he screwed Joe. You know, I'm still sore about that. So how do I get by that?
DODD: I'm sure you can. Joe and I are getting by it so I'm sure you can too.
IMUS: I've urged Joe not to get by it. I've urged Joe to get even with you.
DODD: No, no, listen, Joe and I talk -- we talked yesterday. In fact, I talked to all the other candidates, I reached them, the people who are thinking of running or who have already declared and let them know what I was going to do.
I know that's sort of old-fashioned, but I believe in courtesies and calling people so they don't get blindsided by news. And when I talked to Joe, listen, I remember 2000, I worked with him, I nominated him to be vice president, I was his honorary chairman to be president of the United States when he was running himself in 2004 and we have got a good, strong relationship.
Obviously last summer and fall was a very awkward time for both of us to put it mildly. But we're working on that, we're bringing it back. I was honored to walk him down the aisle if you will in the Senate the other day when he was sworn in again for a new term in the Senate and that relationship is strong and will survive what happened last summer and fall.
IMUS: Well, I can't believe it. I mean, how did you have the nerve -- maybe you would be a good president because if you've got the guts to do that, after what you did to him to walk him down the aisle. You are unbelievable, Senator Dodd.
DODD: Let's move on.
IMUS: OK, well we will. You know, what is your reaction to the speech last night? Let's talk there.
DODD: Well, this is the obviously the issue of the day. And my sense is this. First of all, the two things the president said I agree with. First of all he should have said them a long time ago. This policy has not been working and that was clear almost from the get go on this, so when we started out not putting the adequate level of troops on the ground, he admits that last evening and secondly it's up to the Iraqis.
Many of us have been saying that for the last three years that ultimately the Iraqis have to decide what they want for the future. We can provide the resources to help and we have done a tremendous amount of loss of lives and treasure. You and I have talked about this on countless occasions over the past several years.
And I've always said over and over again, it ultimately is up to them. We can open the door for them, we can create opportunity, but if they don't take advantage of it, we can't provide that for them.
The president is in a sense that's what he is saying last evening. The problem is here that this doesn't show any real change at all. It's just basically taking the same policy which he has declared a failure and extending it by adding some 20, 25,000 troops on the ground.
I listen to the speech and I listened to other comment afterwards. I listened to a couple of retired senior military people on public television and they were saying I thought very clearly, look, putting 20,000, 17,000 people I think is actually the number in Baghdad in a city of four to six million people and expect them to bring stability to that, even if they thought that would work, is probably unrealistic.
And then bringing up the issue of somehow we're going to engage Iran and Syria, what we ought be doing is trying to find ways in which you engage particularly the Syrians, but also various other elements in Iran to be part of a solution here.
As General Odom pointed out, who is the enemy here? It was unclear to me listening to the president last night. You've got Shiites and Sunnis fighting each other. You've got the Kurds sitting there waiting to see if they're going to be attacked by anybody. You've got Baathists and insurgents coming in who are also fighting with each other. Who are we actually -- and then they are talking about al-Qaeda as if they were the dominant force in Iraq and everyone knows while they are there, they are a problem, but they are not the only problem there.
So who are you really going to be attacking, who are you going to be securing certain areas for and how long can you do it? So I'm very troubled by all of this. I think this is the wrong thing to be doing. I think the surge or whatever you call it, is a mistake. It takes us in exactly the wrong direction.
If you want the Iraqis to take responsibility for the future of their country, then they need to know we are no longer going to be there in the numbers and levels we have been. It's now their responsibility. They have got more than 350, 400,000 people in uniform who have been trained. Not as well as maybe we would like them to be, but still capable of doing the job.
The political and religious leaders know what they have got to do and by saying that we are going to add troops instead of bringing them, start to be bringing them down and do things like border security training, protecting infrastructure issues, I think we only delay the Iraqis taking responsibility.
IMUS: It's delusional I thought of the president to say to the Iraqis that if you don't step and do this and do what you're supposed to do and, be willing to die and defend your -- die for and defend your own country, you are going to lose the support of American people. When ...
DODD: It already happened.
IMUS: The "New York Times" and everything else has observed, they have already lost the support of the American people and the American people don't support him or this policy. So I mean, he can't possibly believe that, can he?
DODD: I don't know how. And basically here he said he thanks the Baker-Hamilton Commission for what they are doing, but yet there's nothing in the speech last night that reflects what the Baker-Hamilton commission was recommending and the 79 recommendations they made.
And the principle was, the first and foremost was, there is not a military solution here. This is a Rubik's Cube in a sense. You have so many different elements engaged in conflict with each other, that the United States is incapable in my view (INAUDIBLE) of sorting that out militarily.
Politically, you have got to work at this thing. Someone ought to be sent tomorrow, not the secretary of state, someone of high visibility that basically lives in the region for the next year, at the very least.
I was in Syria back about four weeks ago and spent almost four hours with President Asad (ph). Now, I don't want to have dinner with this guy, he's a huge problem for us in many, many ways, but I asked him the following question. What do you want in Iraq? That's your border, what do you want? He said, I'll tell you what he said -- he said, I want a pluralistic Arab state that's secular. I don't want a Shia, Iranian fundamentalist state on my border.
Now, I called the department of state afterwards and said look this is what he said to me, your people were in the room when he said it, it seems to me that's worth exploring. He seems to want the same thing we want. They have opened up ambassadorships between Baghdad and Damascus. They are exchanging ministers, over our objections I might add for the first time in 24 years, why not explore that?
Why not see if you can't get him to become part of the solution here and instead of threatening tonight him possible military action. That's the wrong step to be making.
IMUS: I mean, Chris Matthews made the observation that that jumped out at him, and it did a number of other people.
DODD: Me, too. Did me as well.
IMUS: What was that? I mean, it was suddenly we were in this horrible mess, and now it sounds like he's going to call in airstrikes on these supply lines coming out of Iran into Iraq. I mean, it's crazy.
DODD: As I say, you need someone there full time to engage this. This is the most serious foreign policy issue -- I agree with the president on this -- the implications on this working against us are profound. And he's right about that. There's no question about that, and I want to see us succeed.
And let me just say again, it needs to be said over and over again -- and Imus, again, I must have had dinner with about 30 or 40 junior officers there when I as in Baghdad. We met with senior military people. To a person -- Imus, to a person -- that I talked with anyway, they thought this surge idea was a bad idea. They believe -- one young West Point grad pulled me aside and said look, senator, look, where we're sitting right now, senator. We're have having a good meal right here in the Green Zone. The faucets work, the toilets flush, the sewage system works here. A block away, none of this works. What do you think those people are thinking looking at us right here? What we ought to be doing is guaranteeing the infrastructure, so the grid works, the sewage system, the water system works; give people some sense of home.
We can do border security, we can train people, but don't ask me to send privates and corporals on a Humvee into the patrolling area, where the only thing they are going to be shot at or blown up. That's their mission, he said, and that's not making any sense to anyone here.
IMUS: Is any Democrat, you included, willing to not vote to authorize him to do this.
DODD: Well, believe this, and Senator Kennedy has made, I thought, a very intelligent proposal. And I don't know how all of my colleagues feel, but I'm for that. I think clearly here the Congress has got to engage itself.
We don't have the excuse once again to not demand that the president send up an authorization for this. We can debate it. If you're for it, vote for it. If you think it's the right thing to do, do it. But I'd like the opportunity to vote on this, up or down. It's a new facts situation. We were asked to authorize, or at least in a nonbinding resolution, to get rid of Saddam Hussein and deal with weapons of mass destruction four years ago.
Now we're being asked to do something very different here, and I think I have the obligation and the right to insist upon that debate, and then vote up or down as to whether or not I think an additional 20,000 to 25,000 troops are warranted. I don't think it is, and I want to be able to vote on that, not in a nonbinding resolution, not in some rhetorical flourish here, but actually an opportunity to say yes or no. And I would say no.
IMUS: Senator Kennedy said, also in that, that by the time y'all could do that, troops would already be there.
DODD: Well, that's why there ought to be a sense of urgency about this.
I mean, this is what it gets back to, we were talking about earlier, Don, in the sense of this presidential operation, running for president, there is a sense of urgency about this. People want leadership. When they voted last November, they voted for change, and they said, we want something different out of this Congress, we want you to take us in a different direction and we want you to lead. And I think it's our responsibility here now to answer that call.
If we pass this opportunity and don't take on this issue, the major issue of the day, then it seems to me we're going to disappoint people then.
So I respect those who have a different point of view, who think this is the right thing to do, or believe we ought to go that way, and you ought to have the opportunity to make that point and debate it. But we ought to engage in that conversation immediately, in my view.
IMUS: It will be good to have -- it is good to have people like you and like Joe Biden in this debate, both running, because you know, we don't need somebody who doesn't know where they stand or glib trial lawyers with idiotic Madison Avenue phrases they have come up with, who think they appeal to people. So at least with you in the debate -- I'm not patronizing you. Biden too, by the way.
DODD: That's good, very good.
IMUS: at least the debate will be at a level that will make some sense and will force people to -- I'll tell you what I saw last night was very impressive is Barack Obama. I'm not one of those Hollywood phonies jumping on the Barack Obama bandwagon. I'm going to vote for McCain at this point, but...
DODD: Now wait a minute, now wait a minute. You know, I come on the program, I blow everybody else off, I announce here. I mean, at least keep the door open for me a little bit here. I mean, Charles...
IMUS: No, you are...
IMUS: You are going to have to...
DODD: I'm your pal, 14 years.
IMUS: Yes, I know you are.
DODD: You don't just walk away from me like that.
IMUS: I'm not walking away; I'm just saying that...
DODD: Leave the door open a little bit.
IMUS: No, no, you've got to open it.
DODD: I did, I just did.
DODD: I think this is all did about -- you are in the dentist chair, I don't care how bad your teeth feel this morning, look -- you know, get on the bandwagon here, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in the dentist chair and you just got drilled.
DODD: I'm worried about Lyle (ph). I'm worried about Grace and Christina (ph), my two kids and their future, and you're already closing the door on me.
IMUS: I'm not closing the door, senator. I'm just trying to...
DODD: All right, Charles, you heard that. The door is open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did. I did.
DODD: The door is open, that's all I wanted to hear.
IMUS: I'm just not doing to you what you did to Joe.
DODD: You've got to get -- listen, they called you this morning, they said, oh, he's announcing on this -- let me read to you -- "irreverent and shaggy-haired oaf (ph)." What does that say about you and me, huh?
IMUS: I don't know.
DODD: Two guys with young children, we're called shaggy-haired oafs (ph).
IMUS: Anyway, congratulations, senator.
DODD: Thank you, Imus. And thanks, Charles and Bernie. Thanks everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
IMUS: Senator Chris Dodd announcing this morning that he is filing papers to run for presidency. He's foregoing this exploratory group, and he'll be good to have in the debate. He's a smart guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet.
IMUS: Whether you agree with him or not, at least there's a guy who could be president. I mean, so could Biden.
So, but boy, Obama, boy, yes, that was very impressive last night, don't you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he is a wonderful...
IMUS: I'm not jumping on the Barack Obama bandwagon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nor am I, or is anybody. As you said, facts are facts, the guy is impressive.
IMUS: But he;s not standing there memorizing a bunch of talking points.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is Senator Dodd impressive. So is Joe Biden.
Oh, he's very impressive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with experience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Bernie, exactly.