This is the full transcript....
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN A DEBATE
SPONSORED BY CNN, GOOGLE, YOUTUBE AND THE DNC
JULY 23, 2007
SPEAKERS: SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.
FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.
SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., D-DEL.
REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, D-OHIO
FORMER SEN. MIKE GRAVEL, D-ALASKA
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.
ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR
COOPER: Our first question tonight is Zach Kempf in Provo, Utah.
QUESTION: What's up? I'm running out of tape; I have to hurry.
So my question is: We have a bunch of leaders who can't seem to
do their job. And we pick people based on the issues they that they
represent, but then they get in power and they don't do anything about
You're going to spend this whole night talking about your views
on issues, but the issues don't matter if when you get in power
nothing's going to get done.
We have a Congress and a president with, like, a 30 percent
approval rating, so clearly we don't think they're doing a good job.
What's going to make you any more effectual, beyond all the platitudes
and the stuff we're used to hearing? I mean, be honest with us. How
are you going to be any different?
COOPER: Senator Dodd, you've been in Congress more than 30
years. Can you honestly say you're any different?
DODD: Well, I think so.
First of all, thank you for inviting us here in The Citadel.
It's great to be here at this wonderful college, university.
Certainly, I think it's a very important question one ought to be
asking because, while hope and confidence and optimism are clearly
very important, I think experience matters a great deal -- the
experience people bring to their candidacy, the ideas, the bold ideas
that they've championed over the years, whether or not they were
successful in advancing those ideas and able to bring people together.
DODD: I'm very proud of the fact that, over my 26 years in the
Senate, I've authored landmark legislation, the Family and Medical
Leave Act, child care legislation, reform of financial institutions.
In every case, those are new ideas, bold ideas, that I campaigned
on and then were able to achieve in the United States Senate by
bringing Republicans as well as Democrats together around those
That's what's missing, more than anything else, I think, right
now, is the ability to bring people together to get the job done.
COOPER: But if someone really wants a change, are you the guy to
give it to them?
DODD: Well, I think they ought to look back. Speeches are easy
to make and rhetoric is easy to expose here. But I think the idea of
looking back and saying, "What have you done?" --if you want to get a
good idea of where someone is going to lead or how they're going to
lead, I think it's very appropriate to say, "What have you done? Show
me. Demonstrate to me the ability to get these things done that
you've championed in the past."
COOPER: Senator Obama, your supporters say you are different.
Your critics say you're inexperienced. You're a first-term senator.
OBAMA: Well, I think the questioner hit the nail on the head.
As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for
change in Washington. And we are not going to fix health care, we're
not going to fix energy, we are not going to do anything about our
education system unless we change how business is done in Washington.
Now, part of that is bringing people together, as Chris said.
But part of it is also overcoming special interests and lobbyists who
are writing legislation that's critical to the American people.
And one of the things I bring is a perspective as a community
organizer, as a state legislator, as well as a U.S. senator, that
says: Washington has to change.
COOPER: A lot of people say -- Congressman Kucinich, your
supporters certainly say you are different. Even your critics would
certainly say you are different. Here's a direct question for you.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Davis Fleetwood. I'm from Groton,
Massachusetts. My question is for Dennis Kucinich.
After watching the first several debates, which seemed more like
conversations than actually debates, we're all clear out here that you
Democrats are united. We get it.
But we have a very important decision to make coming up very
soon, and Americans desperate for a change need to know: Congressman
Kucinich, how would America be better off with you as president than
we would be if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama became
COOPER: What do you have that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama
do not have?
KUCINICH: Well, first of all, a clear record as having not only
opposed the war from the very beginning -- the only one of the stage
that actually voted against the war, and also the only one on the
stage who voted against funding the war 100 percent of the time.
You know, we're here at The Citadel. I want the people of The
Citadel to know that I mourn the passing of those people who gave
their lives, but I also would not hesitate to call upon you to defend
this country, but I'll never send you in pursuit of a political agenda
or a lie.
Just like my father before me, who served in the Marines, and my
brother who served in the Marines in Vietnam, and my nephew who served
in Iraq, I believed in duty and honor and I think it's important to
have those commitments to this country.
KUCINICH: And so I say we achieve strength through peace.
That's the new doctrine that I'm going to promote throughout this
campaign; that we'll use the science of human relations and diplomacy;
that we pursue an approach which says that you can use international
agreements and treaties; and that you can work to settle your
differences without committing the young men and women to war, unless
it's absolutely necessary.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, you were involved in that question. I
want to give you a chance to respond, 30 seconds.
CLINTON: Well, I think the Democrats are united, as Davis said,
and we are united for change. We cannot take another four or eight
years of Republican leadership that has been so disastrous for our
The issue is: Which of us is ready to lead on day one? I have
35 years of being an instrument and agent of change, before I was ever
a public official. And during the time that I've been privileged to
serve as first lady and now as senator, I've worked to bring people
together, to find common ground where we can, and then to stand our
ground where we can't.
COOPER: Senator Obama, you were involved in that question as
OBAMA: Look, I don't think this is just a Republican problem. I
think this is a problem that spans the parties. And we don't just
need a change in political parties in Washington. We've got to have a
change in attitudes of those who are representing the people, America.
And part of the reason I don't take PAC money, I don't take federal
lobbyists' money is because we've got to get the national interests up
front as opposed to the special interests.
And that is something that I've got a track record doing, and I
think that is what the American people are looking for in this
election -- people of both parties as well as independents.
COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Clinton.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Rob Porter, and I'm from Irvine,
QUESTION: I have a question for Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton, how would you define the word "liberal?"
And would you use this word to describe yourself?
CLINTON: You know, it is a word that originally meant that you
were for freedom, that you were for the freedom to achieve, that you
were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the
Unfortunately, in the last 30, 40 years, it has been turned up on
its head and it's been made to seem as though it is a word that
describes big government, totally contrary to what its meaning was in
the 19th and early 20th century.
I prefer the word "progressive," which has a real American
meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the
CLINTON: I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who
believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that
we are better as a society when we're working together and when we
find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life
get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves
and their family.
So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I
think that's the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring
back to American politics.
COOPER: So you wouldn't use the word "liberal," you'd say
Senator Gravel, are you a liberal?
GRAVEL: I wouldn't use either word (OFF-MIKE) Zach asked about
change. You're not going to see any change when these people get
We were asked about -- that we're united.
GRAVEL: We're not united. I'm not united on many of their
views. And I want to take on Barack Obama for a minute, who said he
doesn't take money from lobbyists. Well, he has 134 bundlers. Now,
what does he think that is?
And, besides that, he has received money from a Robert Wolf, the
head of the USB (sic) bank in the United States, who raised $195,000
-- from this bank -- wait a second -- who has lobbyists in
COOPER: Your time is up.
GRAVEL: ... and it's a foreign-owned bank.
COOPER: Senator Obama, I'm going to have to let you respond.
Well, the fact is I don't take PAC money and I don't take
And the bundlers -- the reason you know who is raising money for
me, Mike, is because I have pushed through a law this past session to
And that's the kind of leadership that I've shown in the Senate.
That's the kind of leadership that I showed when I was a state
legislator. And that's the kind of leadership that I'll show as
president of the United States.
GRAVEL: Wait a minute...
COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Biden.
QUESTION: Hello. This question is for all of the candidates.
Partisanship played a major role in why nothing can be done in
Washington today. All of you say you will be able to work with
Republicans. Well, here's a test. If you had to pick any Republican
member of Congress or Republican governor to be your running mate, who
would it be?
BIDEN: At the risk of hurting his reputation -- and it will hurt
him -- but I would pick Chuck Hagel, and I'd consider asking Dick
Lugar to be secretary of state.
And I do have -- I do have a record of significant
accomplishment. The crime bill, which became known as the Clinton
crime bill, was written by Joe Biden, the Biden crime bill. That
required me to cross over, get everyone together, not -- no one's
civil liberties were in any way jeopardized.
We put 100,000 cops on the street. Violent crime came down.
BIDEN: The Violence against Women Act, what we did in Bosnia,
and so on. So I have a track record of being able to cross over and
get things done.
And by the way, if you want to end all this money, support my
effort to pass public financing of all elections.
COOPER: All right. Stay on the topic.
Senator Edwards? Any Republicans?
EDWARDS: Actually, I think Chuck Hagel is a good choice. But I
-- if you listen to these questions, they all have exactly the same
thing, which is how do we bring about big change?
And I think that's a fundamental threshold question. And the
question is: Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring
about big change? I don't.
I think the people who are powerful in Washington -- big
insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies -- they are
not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power.
The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we
take it away from them.
And I have been standing up to these people my entire life. I
have been fighting them my entire life in court rooms -- and beating
EDWARDS: If you want real change, you need somebody who's taking
these people on and beating them...
EDWARDS: ... over and over and over.
COOPER: The other thing you're going to see tonight are
candidate videos. We've asked each campaign to put together a 30-
second YouTube-style video. The first one is from Senator Chris Dodd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Senator, I have to ask, what's with the white hair?
DODD: I don't know why you bring that up. Bill Richardson,
Hillary, Joe Biden and I, we're all about the same age. I don't think
the white hair is an issue.
QUESTION: Well, how did you get the white hair?
DODD: Hard work, I suppose. For example, it took me seven years
to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, and I helped to end wars in
Central America and bring peace to Northern Ireland. I'm ready to be
QUESTION: Well, how many white hairs do you have?
DODD: Hundreds, thousands, I presume.
DODD: I'm Chris Dodd, and we approved this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There you go. Nothing wrong with white hair.
DODD: A young person with white hair, too?
COOPER: Yes, sadly, my age is catching up to my hair.
Almost 50 percent of South Carolina's Democrats are African-
Americans. It's among the highest percentage of the nation. So we're
giving a lot of questions from YouTube viewers on race tonight.
This first one is for Senator Edwards. Let's listen.
QUESTION: Hello, America. Hello, presidential candidates. This
is Will from Boston, Massachusetts. And I hope, you know, they put
this question on. It's a question in the back of everybody's head.
You know, in some people, it's further back than others, collecting
But is African-Americans ever going to get reparations for
I know you all are going to run around this question, dipping and
dodging, so let's see how far you all can get.
COOPER: Senator Edwards, no dipping and dodging. Should
African-Americans get reparations?
EDWARDS: I'm not for reparations. I can answer that questions.
But I think there are other things we can do to create some equality
that doesn't exist in this country today.
Today there was a report that, right here in Charleston, African
Americans are paying more than their white counterparts for mortgages
than any other place in America, any other place in the United States
EDWARDS: And here's an example. What is the conceivable
explanation for this, that black people are paying more for their
And, by the way, it's not just low-income African Americans; it's
high-income African-Americans. There's absolutely no explanation for
this. It goes to the basic question that I raised just a few minutes
To have a president that's going to -- is going to fight for
equality, fight for real change, big change, bold change, we're going
to have to somebody -- we can't trade our insiders for their insiders.
That doesn't work.
What we need is somebody who will take these people on, these big
banks, these mortgage companies, big insurance companies, big drug
companies. That's the only way we're going to bring about change.
And I will do that as president.
COOPER: Senator Obama, your position on reparations?
OBAMA: I think the reparations we need right here in South
Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools. I did a...
I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina, in an area
called the corridor of shame. They've got buildings that students are
trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And
we've got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they're
teaching and high dropout rates.
We've got to understand that there are corridors of shame all
across the country. And if we make the investments and understand
that those are our children, that's the kind of reparations that are
really going to make a difference in America right now.
COOPER: Is anyone on the stage for reparations for slavery for
KUCINICH: I am.
The Bible says we shall be and must be repairers of the breach.
And a breach has occurred.
KUCINICH: We have to acknowledge that. It's a breach that has
resulted in inequality in opportunities for education, for health
care, for housing, for employment. And so, we must be mindful of
But it's also a breach that has affected a lot of poor whites as
We need to have a country which recognizes that there is an
inequality of opportunity and a president who's ready to challenge the
interest groups -- be they insurance companies or mortgage companies
or defense contractors who are taking the money away from the people
who need it.
KUCINICH: Yes, I am for repairing the breach. Yes, I am for
COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Dodd.
QUESTION: Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent,
predominantly white city? What roles do you believe race and class
played in the storm's aftermath? And if you acknowledge that race and
class affected the response efforts, what can you do to ensure that
this won't happen in the future? And what can you do to ensure this
nation's most needy people, in times of crisis and always, something
will be done to help them too?
DODD: Well, it's a great question, Morgan, to raise here. It,
obviously, points to one of the most dark and shameful moments in
recent past history in our country -- the fact that a major American
city went through a natural disaster, and we found almost (ph) little
to do. The American president had almost no response whatsoever to
the people of that city, New Orleans.
In fact, today still, the problem persists where people who had
to move out of their city, move elsewhere, and little or no efforts to
make sure they can get back in their homes. They have literally
thousands of people whose homes were destroyed, their economic
I believe that had this occurred in a place with majorly a white
population, we would have seen a much more rapid response and a
consistent response to that issue.
As an American president, we can never, ever allow again a major
city, a major population center in our country go through what New
Orleans, what the Gulf states did as a result of the kind of neglect
from an American president.
As president, I would commit to do everything possible we bring
to bear the talents, the resources.
DODD: In fact, it should have been done ahead of time, to have a
FEMA operation that was prepared to respond to these predictable
disasters. So it's a mark of shame on our country. It ought to be
reversed. It will in the Dodd administration.
COOPER: Governor Richardson, the Democrats talk a lot about the
failure of the president with Hurricane Katrina. The governor of that
state was a Democrat; the mayor of that city is a Democrat as well.
RICHARDSON: Well, there was politics. All of a sudden, other
states that had the similar devastation got better treatment, like
This is what I would do. The response of our government to
Katrina, before, during and after, was inexcusable. We have got to
eliminate in the future any red tape that helps families -- that helps
Secondly, we have to let those that live there to come back
first, instead of big moneyed interests. We have to stop the
predatory lending of insurance companies, housing and many others that
are ripping off the people.
And then, finally, we have to make sure that a president cares --
and doesn't just pose for photo ops, but makes a difference and a
commitment to rebuild that city and that region.
RICHARDSON: Our next question comes from Jordan Williams.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Jordan Williams, and I am a student
at K.U., from Coffeyville, Kansas.
QUESTION: This question is meant for Senator Obama and Senator
Whenever I read an editorial about one of you, the author never
fails to mention the issue of race or gender, respectively. Either
one is not authentically black enough, or the other is not
How will you address these critics and their charges if one or
both of you should end up on the Democratic ticket in '08?
COOPER: Senator Obama, how do you address those who say you're
not authentically black enough?
COOPER: Not my question; Jordan's question.
OBAMA: You know, when I'm catching a cab in Manhattan -- in the
past, I think I've given my credentials.
But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race
permeates our society. It is still a critical problem.
OBAMA: But I do believe in the core decency of the American
people, and I think they want to get beyond some of our racial
Unfortunately, we've had a White House that hasn't invested in
the kinds of steps that have to be done to overcome the legacy of
slavery and Jim Crow in this country.
And as president of the United States, my commitment on issues
like education, my commitment on issues like health care is to close
the disparities and the gaps, because that's what's really going to
solve the race problem in this country.
If people feel like they've got a fair shake, if children feel as
if the fact that they have a different surname or they've got a
different skin color is not going to impede their dreams, then I am
absolutely confident that we're going to be able to move forward on
the challenges that we face as a country.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, you have a minute as well since this
question is to you.
CLINTON: Well, I couldn't run as anything other than a woman.
I am proud to be running as a woman.
CLINTON: And I'm excited that I may...
... you know, may be able, finally, to break that hardest of all
But, obviously, I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running
because I think I'm the most qualified and experienced person to hit
the ground running in January 2009.
And I trust the American people to make a decision that is not
about me or my gender, or about Barack or his race or about Bill and
his ethnicity, but about what is best for you and your family.
We have big challenges...
... and big needs in our country. And I think we're going to
need experienced and strong leadership in order to start handling all
of the problems that we have here at home and around the world.
And when I'm inaugurated, I think it's going to send a great
message to a lot of little girls and boys around the world.
COOPER: Senator Edwards...
Senator Edwards, earlier this week, your wife said that you would
be a better advocate for women than Senator Clinton.
COOPER: Was she right?
EDWARDS: Well, let me say first that on the question that was
just asked to Senator Obama...
COOPER: We prefer you stay on the question...
EDWARDS: I'm going to stay on your question. I promise I'll
answer that question. But the first thing I want to say -- and I want
to speak for everybody, I believe, on this stage -- anybody who's
considering not voting for Senator Obama because he's black or for
Senator Clinton because she's a woman, I don't want their vote. I
don't want them voting for me.
I think what Elizabeth was saying was -- to answer your question,
what Elizabeth was saying was there are very important issues facing
women in this country. More women are affected by the minimum wage
than men are affected by the minimum wage. I have been the most
aggressive -- in fact, I would challenge every Democrat on this stage
today to commit to raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the
Second, there are more women in poverty than men in poverty.
EDWARDS: And I have made this a central cause in my life and a
central cause in my campaign. More women have difficulty getting the
health care that they need than men do. And I was the first person to
come out with a comprehensive, truly universal health care plan.
COOPER: So do you think you're a better advocate for women than
EDWARDS: Those are issues -- listen, Senator Clinton has a long
history of speaking out on behalf of women. She deserves to be
commended for that. But I believe that on the issues that directly
affect women's lives, I have the strongest, boldest ideas and can
bring about the change that needs to be brought.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, is he a better advocate for women?
CLINTON: Anderson, I have a great deal of admiration for
Elizabeth Edwards. And I appreciate greatly John's comments. You
know, I have spent my entire life advocating for women. I went to
Beijing in 1995 and said that women's rights are human rights, and
I've done everything I can to make that principle come true.
And, specifically on issues, I got to vote to raise the minimum
CLINTON: I put in legislation which said that Congress should
not get a salary increase until they did raise the minimum wage, and I
am putting that back in, because I agree that by the time we got it
raised after 10 years, it was already out of date.
And as to women in poverty and women with health care needs, I
have been on the forefront of both advocating and creating change in
my public service, in my time in Arkansas, the White House, and now in
But I think it is terrific. We're up here arguing about who's
going to be better for women, because isn't that a nice change for
everybody to hear.
COOPER: Our next question is on a topic that got a lot of
response from YouTube viewers. Let's watch.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Mary.
QUESTION: And my name is Jen.
QUESTION: And we're from Brooklyn, New York.
If you were elected president of the United States, would you
allow us to be married to each other?
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Mary and Jen, the answer to your question is yes. And
let me tell you why.
KUCINICH: Because if our Constitution really means what it says,
that all are created equal, if it really means what it says, that
there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our
brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or
transgendered should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone
else, and that includes the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony.
Yes, I support you. And welcome to a better and a new America
under a President Kucinich administration.
COOPER: Senator Dodd, you supported the Defense of Marriage Act.
What's your position?
DODD: I've made the case, Anderson, that -- my wife and I have
two young daughters, age 5 and 2.
DODD: I'd simply ask the audience to ask themselves the question
that Jackie and I have asked: How would I want my two daughters
treated if they grew up and had a different sexual orientation than
Good jobs, equal opportunity, to be able to retire, to visit each
other, to be with each other, as other people do.
So I feel very strongly, if you ask yourself the question, "How
would you like your children treated if they had a different sexual
orientation than their parents?," the answer is yes. They ought to
have that ability in civil unions.
I don't go so far as to call for marriage. I believe marriage is
between a man and a woman.
But my state of Connecticut, the state of New Hampshire, have
endorsed civil unions. I strongly support that. But I don't go so
far as marriage.
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: Well, I would say to the two young women, I would
level with you -- I would do what is achievable.
What I think is achievable is full civil unions with full
marriage rights. I would also press for you a hate crimes act in the
Congress. I would eliminate "don't ask/don't tell" in the military.
If we're going to have in our military men and women that die for
this country, we shouldn't give them a lecture on their sexual
RICHARDSON: I would push for domestic partnership laws,
nondiscrimination in insurance and housing.
I would also send a very strong message that, in my
administration, I will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of
race, gender, or sexual orientation.
COOPER: This next question is for Senator Edwards.
QUESTION: I'm Reverend Reggie Longcrier. I'm the pastor of
Exodus Mission and Outreach Church in Hickory, North Carolina.
Senator Edwards said his opposition to gay marriage is influenced
by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong
and unconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation,
and denying women the right to vote.
So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay
American their full and equal rights?
EDWARDS: I think Reverend Longcrier asks a very important
question, which is whether fundamentally -- whether it's right for any
of our faith beliefs to be imposed on the American people when we're
president of the United States. I do not believe that's right.
I feel enormous personal conflict about this issue. I want to
end discrimination. I want to do some of the things that I just heard
Bill Richardson talking about -- standing up for equal rights,
substantive rights, civil unions, the thing that Chris Dodd just
talked about. But I think that's something everybody on this stage
will commit themselves to as president of the United States.
But I personally have been on a journey on this issue. I feel
enormous conflict about it. As I think a lot of people know,
Elizabeth spoke -- my wife Elizabeth spoke out a few weeks ago, and
she actually supports gay marriage. I do not. But this is a very,
very difficult issue for me. And I recognize and have enormous
respect for people who have a different view of it.
COOPER: I should also point out that the reverend is actually in
the audience tonight. Where is he? Right over here.
Reverend, do you feel he answered your question?
QUESTION: This question was just a catalyst that promoted some
other things that wrapped around that particular question, especially
when it comes to fair housing practices. Also...
COOPER: Do you think he answered the question, though?
QUESTION: Not like I would like to have heard it...
COOPER: What did you not hear?
QUESTION: I didn't quite get -- some people were moving around,
and I didn't quite get all of his answer. I just heard...
COOPER: All right, there's 30 seconds more. Why is it OK to
quite religious beliefs when talking about why you don't support
something? That's essentially what's his question.
EDWARDS: It's not. I mean, I've been asked a personal question
which is, I think, what Reverend Longcrier is raising, and that
personal question is, do I believe and do I personally support gay
EDWARDS: The honest answer to that is I don't. But I think it
is absolutely wrong, as president of the United States, for me to have
used that faith basis as a basis for denying anybody their rights, and
I will not do that when I'm president of the United States.
COOPER: Senator Obama, the laws banning interracial marriage in
the United States were ruled unconstitutional in 1967. What is the
difference between a ban on interracial marriage and a ban on gay
OBAMA: Well, I think that it is important to pick up on
something that was said earlier by both Dennis and by Bill, and that
is that we've got to make sure that everybody is equal under the law.
And the civil unions that I proposed would be equivalent in terms of
making sure that all the rights that are conferred by the state are
equal for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples.
Now, with respect to marriage, it's my belief that it's up to the
individual denominations to make a decision as to whether they want to
recognize marriage or not. But in terms of, you know, the rights of
people to transfer property, to have hospital visitation, all those
critical civil rights that are conferred by our government, those
should be equal.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break, but before we go
we're going to show another candidate video. This one is from the
Clinton campaign. And then when we come back from the break, we'll
see one from the -- from Senator Edwards' campaign.
(MUSIC PLAYED FROM CLINTON CAMPAIGN VIDEO)
(MUSIC PLAYED FROM EDWARDS CAMPAIGN VIDEO)
COOPER: That was just one of the candidates' videos. If you're
just joining us, that's one of the candidate videos you're going to be
seeing throughout the evening as we go to commercial breaks.
COOPER: Let's turn international now. We've got a lot of
international questions. Let's listen.
QUESTION: I'm Gabriel.
QUESTION: And I'm Connie, from a refugee camp near Darfur.
QUESTION: Before you answer this question, imagine yourself the
parent of one of these children.
What action do you commit to that will get these children back
home to a safe Darfur and not letting it be yet another empty promise?
COOPER: Governor Richardson, what are you going to do? Would
you commit American troops?
RICHARDSON: I was at that refugee camp. And there was a
refugee, a woman who came up to me. She'd been raped, her husband had
been killed and she said, "When is America going to start helping?"
This is what I would do: It's diplomacy. It's getting U.N.
peacekeeping troops and not African Union troops. It's getting China
to pressure Sudan. It's getting the European Union to be part of
economic sanctions in Sudan. It's called leadership.
A no-fly zone, I believe, would be an option. But we have to be
concerned about humanitarian workers being hurt by planes, being shot.
RICHARDSON: The answer here is caring about Africa. The answer
here is not just thinking of our strategic interests as a country, as
oil and Europe and the Middle East. It should be Africa, Asia and
Latin America, doing something about poverty, about AIDS, about
refugees, about those that have been left behind. That's how we
restore American leadership in this country.
COOPER: You say U.N. troops. Does that mean American troops?
RICHARDSON: United Nations peacekeeping troops, and that would
primarily be Muslim troops. We need a permanent U.N. peacekeeping
force, stationed somewhere.
If we get U.N. peacekeeping troops authorized for Darfur, there's
some already there, it'll take six months for them to get there.
Genocide is continuing there; 200,000 have died; close to 2 million
refugees in that region.
America needs to respond with diplomacy, with diplomatic
COOPER: Senator Biden, in the past, you've talked about NATO
troops. What about American troops?
BIDEN: Absolutely, positively. Look, I'm so tired of this.
Let's get right to it. I heard the same arguments after I came back
from meeting with Milosevic: We can't act; we can't send troops
Where we can, America must. Why Darfur? Because we can.
We should now. Those kids will be dead by the time the diplomacy
I'm not joking. I've been to that camp. I walked through that
You know what happened when I landed?
When I landed and the dust settled, a young African aid worker
came up to me and he looked at me and he said, "Thank you. Thank you,
America, for coming."
You don't understand -- they don't understand. They think we can
BIDEN: And guess what? We can. Twenty-five hundred American
troops -- if we do not get the 21,000 U.N. troops in there -- can stop
the genocide now. I have called for a no-fly zone. Everybody agreed,
but you need troops on the ground.
GRAVEL: The problem goes a little bit deeper than that. It's
because we haven't owned up to our responsibilities to a sense of
global governance. And so now, you've got a situation with the United
States of America, as Joe says, wants to go in, but the African
nations don't want us there.
What's the message? They're afraid of us. They're flat afraid
of us. And if you'll permit me, since I haven't got as much time as
COOPER: Actually, no, you've got to answer just directly the
question, 30 seconds.
GRAVEL: Thank you very much, Anderson.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, would you agree with Senator Biden?
American troops should got to Darfur?
CLINTON: I agree completely that what we need to do is start
acting instead of talking.
CLINTON: That means accelerating the United Nations peacekeeping
forces along with the African Union. It means moving more quickly on
divestment and sanctions on the Sudanese government, including trying
to use the diplomacy to get China involved.
And, finally, it does mean a no-fly zone. We can do it in a way
that doesn't endanger humanitarian relief.
COOPER: How about American troops on the ground?
CLINTON: I think NATO has to be there with the no-fly zone, and
I think that only the United States can provide the logistical support
and the air lift to make a no-fly zone and the actual delivery of
humanitarian aid work.
COOPER: Just in the spirit of trying to get the answer, does
that mean no American ground troops?
CLINTON: American ground troops I don't think belong in Darfur
at this time. I think we need to focus on the United Nations
peacekeeping troops and the African Union troops.
We've got to figure out what we're doing in Iraq, where our
troops are stretched thin, and Afghanistan, where we're losing the
fight to Al Qaida and bin Laden.
COOPER: OK, want to talk about Iraq tonight. Before we do, I
just want to put a picture up on the screen.
COOPER: That's United States Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant Shane
Childers. He was a 2001 graduate of this college, The Citadel. March
21st, 2003, it was just after sunrise when Lieutenant Childers and his
platoon were on a mission to capture an oil pumping station from Iraqi
soldiers before the Iraqi soldiers could destroy it.
During the operation, a stray bullet hit him just below his body
armor. Lieutenant Childers became the first U.S. service man to die
inside Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In all, 12 Citadel graduates died in either Afghanistan or Iraq
since September 11th, 2001, and over 1,100 have served in those two
countries. Tonight we acknowledge their sacrifices and the sacrifices
of all our service men and women now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
COOPER: Our first question on Iraq tonight comes from Barry
Mitchell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
QUESTION: Mitch from Philadelphia.
My question for all the candidates: How do we pull out now? And
the follow-up, are we watching the same blankin' war? I certainly
wasn't a big fan of the invasion/liberation. It sickens me to hear
about soldiers wounded and getting killed daily, not to mention
innocent Iraqis, but how do we pull out now? The government's shaky;
Don't you think if we pulled out now that would open it up for
Iran and Syria, God knows who -- Russia -- how do we pull out now?
And isn't it our responsibility to get these people up on their feet?
I mean, do you leave a newborn baby to take care of himself? How do
we pull out now?
COOPER: Senator Obama, how do we pull out now?
OBAMA: Look, I opposed this war from the start. Because I
anticipated that we would be creating the kind of sectarian violence
that we've seen and that it would distract us from the war on terror.
OBAMA: I'm going to get to the question, Anderson.
At this point, I think we can be as careful getting out as we
were careless getting in. But we have to send a clear message to the
Iraqi government as well as to the surrounding neighbors that there is
no military solution to the problems that we face in Iraq.
We just heard a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, excuse the fact
that the Iraqi legislature went on vacation for three weeks because
it's hot in Baghdad. Well, let me tell you: It is hot for American
troops who are over there with 100 pounds worth of gear.
And that kind of irresponsibility is not helpful.
So we have to begin a phased withdrawal; have our combat troops
out by March 31st of next year; and initiate the kind of diplomatic
surge that is necessary in these surrounding regions to make sure that
everybody is carrying their weight.
OBAMA: And that is what I will do on day one, as president of
the United States, if we have not done it in the intervening months.
COOPER: Senator Biden, how do we pull out now? That was the
BIDEN: Anderson, you've been there. You know we can't just pull
out now. Let's get something straight. It's time to start to tell
the truth. The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would
take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq,
That's number one.
Number two, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on
that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I'm
the only one that's offered a political solution.
And it literally means separate the parties; give them
jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a
federal system. No central government will work.
And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing
everybody's quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It
said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the
combat troops out by March of '08.
BIDEN: There's not one person in here that can say we're going
to eliminate all troops...
COOPER: OK, time.
BIDEN: ... unless you're going to eliminate every physical
person who's an American in Iraq.
BIDEN: Tell the truth for a change.
COOPER: Another question on Iraq.
QUESTION: Thank you for taking my question. The 2006 election
gave the Democrats in office a mandate to end the U.S. occupation of
Iraq. Since that time, 800 of our military servicemembers have died
As the mother of an American soldier deploying to Iraq for a
second time, I would like to know if the perception is true that the
Democrats are putting politics before conscience.
How many more soldiers must die while these political games
continue in our government?
Is the reason why we are still in Iraq and seemingly will be for
some time due to the Democrats' fear that blame for the loss of the
war will be placed on them by the Republican spin machine?
COOPER: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I want to thank her and her son for their service
and their sacrifice. When we send a soldier or Marine to combat in
Iraq, we really are sending a family.
CLINTON: And since the election of 2006, the Democrats have
tried repeatedly to win Republican support with a simple proposition
that we need to set a timeline to begin bringing our troops home now.
I happen to agree that there is no military solution, and the
Iraqis refuse to pursue the political solutions. In fact, I asked the
Pentagon a simple question: Have you prepared for withdrawing our
troops? In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic;
that I shouldn't be asking questions.
Well, one of the problems is that there are a lot of questions
that we're asking but we're not getting answers from the Bush
CLINTON: And it's time for the Republicans to join us in
standing up to the president to bring our troops home.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, the Democrats have been in power
for seven months. Nothing has changed in Iraq.
KUCINICH: If you're not going to answer the question, I'm going
to answer the mother that troop -- question.
The answer to your question, ma'am, is: Yes, it is politics.
The Democrats have failed the American people. When we took over in
January, the American people didn't expect us to give them a
Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act quickly to end
And here's how we can do it. It doesn't take legislation.
That's a phony excuse to say that you don't have the votes. We
appropriated $97 billion a month ago. We should tell President Bush,
no more funds for the war, use that money to bring the troops home,
use it to bring the troops home.
And, Anderson, right, now if people want to send that message to
COOPER: OK. Senator...
KUCINICH: ... they can text "Peace," 73223.
COOPER: Senator Dodd -- we're going to see your campaign
Senator Dodd, you're in the Congress. What about it? You've
been in power seven months now. Nothing's changed in Iraq.
DODD: First of all, there are differences here. The first
responsibility of the commander in chief is to keep our nation safe
and secure. It has been said from the very beginning: There is no
military solution to this civil war in Iraq.
I think it's incumbent upon the Congress.
DODD: There is a sense of disappointment. We should set that
time certain. I don't normally advocate that here, but I know of no
other way we're going to convince the political and religious leaders
in Iraq to take seriously their responsibility to decide to form a
nation-state or not.
I think by saying with clarity here that we are withdrawing and
redeploying our forces out of there, robustly pursuing diplomacy,
which we have not done at all here. This administration treats
statecraft and diplomacy as if it were a gift to your opponents here.
We need to have a program here that allows us to become much more
engaged in the region.
The answer on Darfur isn't just what we do...
COOPER: No, no, no, no, let's not go to Darfur...
DODD: Well, no, because Iraq is related to Darfur, Anderson,
here. It's because we're bogged down there at $10 billion a month,
we've lost our moral leadership in the world. No one listens to us
when it comes to foreign policy. That has to change in this country.
That's the difference here.
COOPER: The question, though, is: Are the Democrats playing
RICHARDSON: There's a big difference on Iraq between me and the
senators, and here's where it is.
The lives of our young troops are more important than George
RICHARDSON: This is what I stand for: I believe we should bring
all the troops home by the end of this year, in six months, with no
residual forces -- no residual forces.
This is critically important. A hundred American troops are
dying every month. And this war is a quagmire. It's endless.
RICHARDSON: And the time has come to bring the troops home. No
RICHARDSON: Get it done.
COOPER: The next question is for Senator Gravel.
QUESTION: My name is Don. I'm from West Virginia.
My question is for Mike Gravel. In one of the previous debates
you said something along the lines of the entire deaths of Vietnam
died in vain.
How do you expect to win in a country where probably a pretty
large chunk of the people voting disagree with that statement and
might very well be offended by it?
I'd like to know if you plan to defend that statement, or if
you're just going to flip-flop.
GRAVEL: John, why would you think I would flip-flop? I've never
flip-flopped before, and I like the question. I don't get very many
of them, but I'll just tell you...
Thank you. Thank you. Has it been fair thus far? I'll tell
you, John, it's a set up question. Our soldiers died in Vietnam in
vain. You can now, John, go to Hanoi and get a Baskin-Robbins ice
cream cone. That's what you can do. And now we have most favored
What did all these people die for? What are they dying for right
now in Iraq every single day? Let me tell you: There's only one
thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; it's more soldiers dying in
COOPER: Senator Obama, are the soldiers dying in Iraq in vain?
OBAMA: Our soldiers have done everything that's been asked of
them. They deposed Saddam Hussein.
OBAMA: They have carried out extraordinarily difficult missions
with great courage and great bravery.
But, you know, one thing I have to say about Senator Clinton's
comments a couple of moments ago. I think it's terrific that she's
asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response
was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask
how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in.
And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We
failed to do it. And I do think that that is something that both
Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.
When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops
into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on
sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American
people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice.
COOPER: To the question of, did the troops -- are the troops
dying in vain, though: Yes or no?
OBAMA: I never think that troops, like those who are coming out
of The Citadel, who do their mission for their country, are dying in
vain. But what I do think is that the civilian leadership and the
commander in chief has a responsibility to make sure that they have
the plans that are going to allow our troops to succeed in their
COOPER: Senator Edwards, are the troops -- did the troops in
Vietnam die in vain?
EDWARDS: I don't think any of our troops die in vain when they
go and do the duty that's been given to them by the commander in
chief. No, I don't think they died in vain.
But I think the question is -- the question is: What is going to
be done to stop this war?
The other people have raised the question earlier. And in fact,
Senator Obama spoke just a minute ago about the White House agreeing
that the parliament, the Iraqi parliament could take a month-long
vacation because it was too hot, while our men and women are putting
their lives on the line every day.
Here's my question. While the Iraqi parliament is on vacation,
is George Bush going to be on vacation in Crawford, Texas?
What we need to do is turn up the heat on George Bush and hold
him responsible and make this president change course.
It is the only way he will change course. He will never change
course unless he's made to do it.
COOPER: Got another question -- this one's relatively short --
from a Tony Fuller. Let's listen.
QUESTION: My name is Tony Fuller from Wilson, Ohio, and I was
wondering if the candidates feel women should register for the draft
when they turn 18. Why or why not?
COOPER: Should women register for selective service when they
turn 18 like men do currently?
DODD: Well, yes, I think they should, in a sense. I'm opposed
to a draft, but I think if you're going to have registration, it ought
to be across lines so you don't just ask one gender to do the -- have
the responsibility. So in my view that would be the fair thing to do.
I happen to believe, by the way, Anderson, and taking the
question here a bit further, and it's a good question that Tony has
raised, I'm an advocate of universal nation service, not by mandating
it, but one of the things I'm missing in our country is the shared
I served in the National Guard, I served in the reserves, I
served in the Peace Corps in Latin America back in the '60s here. I
want to see every American given the opportunity to serve their
country in some way.
DODD: I think we need to do more of that in the United States
today. Elections ought to be more than just about a series of issues,
but the shared experiences of service.
It's so important that every American have that opportunity.
It's something I strongly advocate and would advocate as president.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, do you think women should register for
CLINTON: I do. I don't support a draft. I think our all-
volunteer military has performed superbly. But we've had women die in
Iraq. We've had combat deaths of women in Iraq and Afghanistan. And
I do think that women should register. I doubt very much that we'll
ever have to go back to a draft. But I think it is fair to call upon
every young American.
And I agree completely with Chris. We've got to look for more
ways for universal national service. I've introduced legislation for
a public service academy that would be patterned on great institutions
like The Citadel and our military academies. Because we've got to get
young people back into public service.
And the other night we had a provision in our bill that we passed
to have people who go into public service have their student loans
deferred and even forgiven.
CLINTON: We need to do more to support public service.
COOPER: Senator Obama, should women register for Selective
OBAMA: You know, a while back we had a celebration in the
Capitol for the Tuskegee Airmen, and it was extraordinarily powerful
because it reminded us, there was a time when African-Americans
weren't allowed to serve in combat.
And yet, when they did, not only did they perform brilliantly,
but what also happened is they helped to change America, and they
helped to underscore that we're equal.
And I think that if women are registered for service -- not
necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I
think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've
got obligations to this great country as well as boys do.
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Anyone who has any question about whether women can
serve this country honorably in the military should meet Sally Bardon
(ph), who's sitting with my wife Elizabeth down there. She flew
fighter jets, F-16s, into the first 15 minutes of the war in Iraq.
Flew over Baghdad.
She put her life at risk, at the very beginning of the war.
Anybody who has any questions about whether women can serve
courageously and honorably, need to meet women like Sally Bardon (ph).
COOPER: Senator Gravel?
GRAVEL: Well, of course I want to take credit and admit that I'm
the guy that filibustered for five months, all by myself, in the
Senate to end the draft in the United States of America.
GRAVEL: And I'm very proud of that because George Bush does not
have the boots on the ground to invade Iran.
COOPER: Thank you. Do you think -- should women register?
GRAVEL: Of course women should be going -- go into the draft if
we're going to have a draft. They should register also. What's the
COOPER: OK. Thank you for your answer.
QUESTION: Hello, my name is John McAlpin (ph). I'm a proud
serving member of the United States military. I'm serving overseas.
This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton. The Arab states,
Muslim nations, believe it's women as being second-class citizens. If
you're president of the United States, how do you feel that you would
even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks,
negotiations, or any other diplomatic relations? I feel that is a
CLINTON: Thank you, John, and thank you for your service to our
You know, when I was first lady, I was privileged to represent
our country in 82 countries. I have met with many officials in Arabic
and Muslim countries. I have met with kings and presidents and prime
ministers and sheiks and tribal leaders.
And certainly, in the last years during my time in the Senate, I
have had many high-level meetings with presidents and prime ministers
in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and many other countries.
CLINTON: I believe that there isn't much doubt in anyone's mind
that I can be taken seriously.
I believe that other countries have had women presidents and
women prime ministers. There are several serving now -- in Germany,
in Chile, in Liberia and elsewhere -- and I have noticed that their
compatriots on the world stage certainly take them seriously.
I think that it is...
CLINTON: It would be quite appropriate to have a woman president
deal with the Arab and Muslim countries on behalf of the United States
COOPER: Let's go to another YouTube video.
QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that
resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be
willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first
year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the
leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to
bridge the gap that divides our countries?
COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen is in the crowd
CLINTON: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that
somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has
been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly
spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil
empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not
trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country,
but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to
them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I
would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward
is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because
they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
OBAMA: They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point.
But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying
force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to
carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.
COOPER: I just want to check in with Stephen if he believes he
got an answer to his question.
QUESTION: I seem to have a microphone in my hand. Well, I'd be
interested in knowing what Hillary has to say to that question.
COOPER: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of
these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous
diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting
at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.
I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to
make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to
get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this
And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.
CLINTON: And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys
to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going
to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and,
you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know
better what the way forward would be.
COOPER: Senator Edwards, would you meet with Hugo Chavez, Fidel
Castro, Kim Jong Il?
EDWARDS: Yes, and I think actually Senator Clinton's right
though. Before that meeting takes place, we need to do the work, the
diplomacy, to make sure that that meeting's not going to be used for
propaganda purposes, will not be used to just beat down the United
States of America in the world community.
But I think this is just a piece of a bigger question, which is,
what do we actually do? What should the president of the United
States do to restore America's moral leadership in the world. It's
not enough just to lead with bad leaders. In addition to that, the
world needs to hear from the president of the United States about who
we are, what it is we represent.
EDWARDS: That, in fact, we believe in equality, we believe in
diversity, that they are at the heart and soul of what the United
States of America is.
COOPER: We've got another question on the subject.
QUESTION: Dear Presidential Candidates, see those three flags
over my shoulder? They covered the coffins of my grandfather, my
father, and my oldest son.
QUESTION: Someday, mine will join them.
I do not want to see my youngest sons join them.
I have two questions. By what date after January 21st, 2009,
will all U.S. troops be out of Iraq? And how many family members do
you have serving in uniform?
COOPER: Senator Dodd.
DODD: I have advocated, again, that we have our troops out by
April of next year. I believe that the timeframe is appropriate to do
that. I would urge simultaneously that we do the things we've talked
about here, and that is pursue the diplomatic efforts in the region to
at least provide Iraq the opportunity to get on its feet. But I
believe our military ought to be out before that.
If I'm president in January, I'd be advocating a responsible
withdrawal that's safe for our troops who are there, to provide the
resources for them to do it.
DODD: As I mentioned earlier, I served with the National Guard
and Reserves. My brother served in the military as well. So, in my
family, there have been at least two that I'm aware of. I have first
cousins of mine that were submarine commanders. My uncle was a
commander in World War II in the Navy. So there have been a number of
people in my family.
COOPER: So you're saying that by January 21st, 2009, all U.S.
troops would be out...
DODD: Well, no, I've argued that it actually happen before then.
I've been pushing...
DODD: There were 11 of us back when the supplemental bill came
up a few weeks ago that voted to cut off that funding here. There's
no other way I know to bring this to a head than through that
mechanism. So come January, I hope that would be completed.
But, if not, then I'd advocate a time frame that would be done
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: Well, I'm trying to provoke a debate here, because
there's a difference between the senators and me on when we get our
I've been very clear: Six month, but no residual forces.
RICHARDSON: Senator Clinton has a plan that I understand is
maybe 50,000 residual forces. Our troops have become targets. The
COOPER: Is that even possible? Six months...
RICHARDSON: The diplomatic work cannot begin to heal Iraq, to
protect our interests, without troops out. Our troops have become
targets. You are going to say six months, because it might provoke a
civil war. There is a civil war. There is sectarian conflict.
The time has come, and I get challenged. I have no troops left.
One hundred are dying a month.
COOPER: Senator Biden?
BIDEN: Number one, there is not a single military man in this
audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six
months if the order goes today.
Let's start telling the truth. Number one, you take all the
troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000
civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot
at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them
die, number one.
BIDEN: So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a
minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So
while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may
Number three, the idea that we all voted -- except for me -- for
that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was
an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those
roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send
immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the
likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted
How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles
over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?
COOPER: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: You know, I put forth a comprehensive three-point plan
to get our troops out of Iraq, and it does start with moving them out
as soon as possible.
But Joe is right. You know, I have done extensive work on this.
And the best estimate is that we can probably move a brigade a month,
if we really accelerate it, maybe a brigade and a half or two a month.
That is a lot of months.
My point is: They're not even planning for that in the Pentagon.
You know, Mr. Berry, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. And I
hope to goodness your youngest son doesn't face anything like that.
But until we get this president and the Pentagon to begin to at
least tell us they are planning to withdraw, we are not going to be
able to turn this around.
And so, with all due respect to some of my friends here -- yes,
we want to begin moving the troops out, but we want to do so safely,
and orderly and carefully.
CLINTON: We don't want more loss of American life and Iraqi life
as we attempt to withdraw, and it is time for us to admit that it's
going to be complicated, so let's start it now.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: The underlying assumption here is that we're going to
be in Iraq until the next president takes office, and I reject that
totally. People can send a message to Congress right now -- and this
is in a convention of this appearance -- they can text peace, and text
73223, text peace. Send a message to Congress right now, you want
I introduced a plan four years ago, Anderson, that was a full
plan to remove our troops. I'm the only one on this stage -- excuse
me -- who not only voted against this war, but voted against funding
It is not credible to say you oppose the war from the start when
you voted to fund it 100 percent of the time, 70 percent, 5 percent of
the time. Let's get real about this war. Let's get those troops home
and let's take a stand and do it now. Send a message to Congress now.
COOPER: All right.
KUCINICH: We cannot wait until the next president takes office.
COOPER: We've got to take a short break. As we go to break,
we're going to show another campaign commercial, this one from Senator
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAVEL: George Bush's oil war was a mistake. We need to stop
killing Americans and Iraqis. Been around since the beginning of
time. It's not a war. It should be a police action based on global
intelligence. It's the most serious problem facing humanity today.
A universal voucher system will provide equal treatment and
choice of providers.
The Congress has to stop raiding the surplus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN/YouTube debate. That was
obviously a YouTube-style video from Governor Richardson's campaign.
This next question is on the topic of education.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Sheena Currell. I'm from (inaudible),
My question is: Who was your favorite teacher and why?
COOPER: A little bit hard to hear. The question was: Who was
your favorite teacher and why?
GRAVEL: A brother by the name of Edgar Burke (ph), who's since
deceased, became a priest later, he recognized me as a very failing
student because I was dyslexic and couldn't read very well. And so he
gave me some attention and taught me to speak, and that's what little
chance I get to use it today.
COOPER: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I had a teacher in fifth grade named Mrs. Hefty (ph).
And I was just coming from overseas, coming back to the United States,
felt a little bit out of place. And she had actually lived in Kenya
and worked there and taught there and was able to give me some sense
that even though I had experiences outside this country, those were
actually valuable and important.
And that's the power of a good teacher, is making every single
child feel special.
OBAMA: And we need more teachers like that in front of every
COOPER: Senator Biden?
BIDEN: The principal of my high school, his name was Justin E.
Dinney (ph). He was a priest, and he taught me that the single most
serious sin humanity could commit was abuse of power, and the second
most serious sin was standing by and watching it be abused.
He was the brightest guy I have ever known.
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Ms. Burns, who was the high school English teacher who
made me believe that somebody can come from a little town in North
Carolina where their daddy worked in the mill and do just about
anything if they really believe in themselves.
COOPER: All right. With the next question, you are going to
have to pay attention both to the words, the music and to what is
written on the screen.
COOPER: Governor Richardson, you have had to implement No Child
Left Behind in your state. Would you scrap it? Revise it?
RICHARDSON: I would scrap it. It doesn't work.
It is the law. It is not just an unfunded mandate, but the one-
size-fits-all doesn't work.
It doesn't emphasize teacher training. It doesn't emphasize the
It doesn't -- English learning kids don't get help.
The worst thing it does is it takes districts and schools that
are not doing well, takes their funds away, penalizes them. If a
school is not doing well, we help that school.
The last thing we need to do, relating to teachers, is the key to
a good education in this country is a strong teacher. I would have a
minimum wage for all our teachers, $40,000 per year.
And I would emphasize science and math.
RICHARDSON: And I would also bring, to make sure our kids that
are not scoring well in science and math, 29th in the world, to unlock
those minds in science and math, I would have a major federal program
of art in the schools...
... music, dancing, sculpture, and the arts.
COOPER: Senator Biden, everyone on this stage who was in
Congress in 2001 voted for No Child Left Behind. Would you scrap it
or revise it?
BIDEN: It was a mistake. I remember talking with Paul Wellstone
at the time. And quite frankly, the reason I voted for it, against my
better instinct, is I have great faith in Ted Kennedy, who is so
devoted to education.
But I would scrap it -- or I guess, theoretically, you could do a
major overhaul. But I think I'd start from the beginning.
You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need
to start kids earlier. It's all basic.
BIDEN: My wife's been teaching for 30 years. She has her
doctorate in education. She comes back and points out how it's just
The bottom line here is that I would fundamentally change the way
in which we approach this.
COOPER: Our next question comes from South Carolina.
QUESTION: Hey, I'm Mike Green from Lexington, South Carolina.
And I was wanting to ask all the nominees whether they would send
their kids to public school or private school.
COOPER: The question is public school or private school. We
know, Senator Clinton, you sent your daughter to private school.
Senator Edwards, Obama and Biden also send your kids to private
Is that correct?
CLINTON: No, it's not correct.
EDWARDS: I've had four children, and all of them have gone to
public school. I've got two kids...
... who are actually here with me in Charleston tonight, two
kids, Emma Claire and Jack, just finished the third grade in public
school in North Carolina, and Jack just finished the first grade in
public school in North Carolina.
COOPER: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: And Chelsea went to public schools, kindergarten
through eighth grade, until we moved to Washington. And then I was
advised, and it was, unfortunately, good advice, that if she were to
go to a public school, the press would never leave her alone, because
it's a public school. So I had to make a very difficult decision.
COOPER: Senator Obama?
CLINTON: But we were very pleased she was in public schools in
COOPER: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: My kids have gone to the University of Chicago Lab
School, a private school, because I taught there, and it was five
minutes from our house. So it was the best option for our kids.
But the fact is that there are some terrific public schools in
Chicago that they could be going to. The problem is, is that we don't
have good schools, public schools, for all kids.
A U.S. senator can get his kid into a terrific public school.
That's not the question. The question is whether or not ordinary
parents, who can't work the system, are able to get their kids into a
decent school, and that's what I need to fight for and will fight for
as president of the United States.
COOPER: I want to ask this question of everyone.
BIDEN: My kids did go to private schools, because right after I
got elected, my wife and daughter were killed. I had two sons who
survived. My sister was the head of the history department. She was
helping me raise my children at Wilmington Friends School.
BIDEN: When it came time to go to high school when they had come
through their difficulties -- I'm a practicing Catholic -- it was very
important to me they go to a Catholic school, and they went to a
My kids would not have gone to that school were it not for the
fact that my wife and daughter were killed and my two children were
under the care of my sister who drove them to school every morning.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: My daughter, Jackie, went to the Columbus public
schools and got a great education. And I want to make sure that that
commitment that sent her to public school is a commitment that will
cause all American children to be able to go to great public schools.
COOPER: Senator Gravel?
GRAVEL: My children went to public school and private school,
and I'm recommend that we need a little bit of competition in our
system of education. Right now, we have 30 percent of our children do
not graduate from high school. That is abominable, and that is the
problem of both parties.
COOPER: Senator Dodd?
DODD: My daughter goes to the public school as a pre-school --
kindergarten. But I want to come back to the No Child Left Behind.
DODD: Because I think remedying this -- and I understand the
applause here -- accountability is very important. This is one
country -- we've got to have the best prepared generation of Americans
that we've ever produced in our educational system. No other issue,
in my view, is as important as this one here.
And getting the No Child Left Behind law right is where we ought
to focus our attention here so that we have resources coming back to
our states. You measure growth in a child. You invest in failing
schools. But I would not scrap it entirely. Accountability is very
important in this country. We ought not to abandon that idea.
COOPER: Let's try to stay on the topic.
The next question comes from Pennsylvania.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Anne, and I work at a Planned
Parenthood in Pennsylvania.
My question is, we here at Planned Parenthood support
comprehensive sex education and I'd like to know if any of you as
candidates have talked to your children about sex and used medically
accurate and age-appropriate information?
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Well, Elizabeth and I have had sort of an unusual
experience for parents, because Elizabeth likes to say that was made a
member of AARP when she was pregnant with Jack, our last child.
EDWARDS: We have had four children. Our two youngest children
are now nine and seven. So we have been through the whole experience,
including kids who have grown up.
Yes, the answer is we have taught our younger children when they
were young how to look for the signs of wrong touching, any kind of
what would be sexual abuse, inappropriate touchng. And we have taught
our children as they got older, all -- I think, using medically
appropriate terms -- all that they needed to know to be properly
COOPER: Senator Obama, Mitt Romney has accused you this week of
saying that 5-year-old children should be getting sex education. Was
OBAMA: Ironically, this was actually a proposal that he himself
said he supported when he was running for governor of Massachusetts.
OBAMA: Apparently, he forgot.
And it makes the exact point that John made.
I've got a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old daughter. And I
want them to know if somebody is doing something wrong to them,
encroaching on their privacy, that they should come talk to me or my
And we've had that conversation, but not every parent is going to
have that conversation with their child, and I think it's important
that every child does, to make sure that they're not subject to the
COOPER: All right.
Now, time for something completely different.
QUESTION: Hey, there, my name's Jackie Broyles.
QUESTION: And I'm Dunlap.
QUESTION: We're from Red State Update.
QUESTION: Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
QUESTION: This here question's for all you candidates.
QUESTION: Mainstream media seems awfully interested in old Al
Gore these days.
QUESTION: Is he losing weight? What's it say in his book? Is
he still worried about all the ice?
QUESTION: They interpret all these as signs that he may or may
not run. They really want to know if Al Gore's going to run again.
QUESTION: Yes. Well, what we want to know is does that hurt
COOPER: Anybody have their feelings hurt?
No, you're all right about that?
(UNKNOWN): I think the people of Tennessee just had their
COOPER: They can take it up with Jackie.
We're not going to talk about Al Gore tonight, but we are going
to talk about something that he talks a lot about. That's what our
next question's about.
QUESTION: Hello, Democratic candidates. I've been growing
concerned that global warming, the single most important issue to the
snowmen of this country, is being neglected.
As president, what will you do to ensure that my son will live a
full and happy life?
COOPER: It's a funny video. It's a serious question.
KUCINICH: Well, we have to understand the connection between
global warring and global warming. Because when we start talking
about wars for oil, we're essentially keeping the same approach to
So I'm saying we need to move away from reliance on oil and coal
and toward reliance on wind and solar.
KUCINICH: Anderson, that's the basis of my WGA, Works Green
Administration, where we take an entirely new approach to organize the
entire country around sustainability, around conservation. We don't
have to have our snowmen melting, and the planet shouldn't be melting
COOPER: Are the people on this stage, are your fellow
candidates, are they green enough?
KUCINICH: No. And I think that the reason is that if you
support, for example, in Iraq, if you say that Iraq should privatize
its oil for the U.S. oil companies, then what you're doing is you're
continuing a commitment to use more oil. If you believe that all
options should be put on the table with respect to Iran, that's about
So we need to move away from reliance on oil...
KUCINICH: ... and that's really connected to our defense policy,
and I'm the one who gets the connection.
COOPER: All right.
Similar topic. Let's listen.
QUESTION: Hi, I'm Stephanie. We're in the Bay area, in my
bathroom, because this is one of the places where I use compact
fluorescent light bulbs. I use these to decrease my personal energy
use, and I hear politicians talking about alternative energy to delay
-- to decrease our energy impact as a whole.
So my question for you is, how is the United States going to
decrease its energy consumption in the first place? In other words,
how will your policies influence Americans, rather than just using
special light bulbs, to do this?
COOPER: Senator Gravel, how do you get Americans to conserve?
GRAVEL: Very simple, change our tax structure. Have a fair tax
where people are taxed on what they spend rather than what they earn.
And our tax system is totally corrupt right now.
And so if we now have a retail sales tax, you'll take this nation
of ours from a consuming nation to a savings nation.
GRAVEL: And that's the most significant thing we can do to alter
COOPER: Senator Dodd?
DODD: Anderson, there are a number of things. The 50-mile-per-
gallon standard is something I've advocated by 2017, that I would push
hard for. Entire fleet of federal automobiles would be hybrids or
electric automobiles, so we reduce even further out consumption.
But I believe I'm the only candidate here, along with Al Gore,
who's called for that, is a corporate carbon tax. You've got to tax
polluters. You've got to separate the price differential so that we
can move away from fossil fuels that do so much damage to our
environment, to our economy, to our future, to jobs in this country.
Until you deal with the issue of price, until you impose a
corporate carbon tax, we will never get away from fossil fuels. It's
the only way this can be achieved. You have to advocate that if
you're serious about global warming.
COOPER: The question was about personal sacrifice. I just want
to ask a question to...
DODD: I drive a hybrid, we have a hybrid, and we use efficient
light bulbs in our homes...
COOPER: So let me just ask a question to everyone on this stage.
And I know we said we wouldn't do a lot of show of hands. This is
probably the only one we'll do tonight.
COOPER: How many people here a private jet or a chartered jet to
get here tonight?
You're not sure?
COOPER: Yesterday, OK.
COOPER: Senator Gravel, what was that? You took the train?
GRAVEL: I took the train...
GRAVEL: And maybe one of these will give me a ride someday.
CLINTON: Anderson, you know, we haven't really seriously
addressed this incredibly important issue of global warming and energy
COOPER: We've got another question on it's way now.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Shawn and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
There is a scientific consensus for man-caused climate change, and
I've heard each of you talk in previous debates about alternative
energy sources like solar or wind, but I have not heard any of you
speak your opinion on nuclear power. I believe that nuclear power is
safer, cleaner, and provides a quicker avenue to energy independence
than other alternatives.
QUESTION: I am curious what each of you believe.
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Wind, solar, cellulose-based biofuels are the way we
need to go. I do not favor nuclear power. We haven't built a nuclear
power plant in decades in this country. There is a reason for that.
The reason is it is extremely costly. It takes an enormous amount of
time to get one planned, developed and built. And we still don't have
a safe way to dispose of the nuclear waste. It is a huge problem for
America over the long term.
I also don't believe we should liquefy coal. The last thing we
need is another carbon-based fuel in America. We need to find fuels
that are in fact renewable, clean, and will allow us to address
directly the question that has been raised, which is the issue of
global warming, which I believe is a crisis.
COOPER: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as
part of the energy mix. There are no silver bullets to this issue.
We have to develop solar. I have proposed drastically increasing fuel
efficiency standards on cars, an aggressive cap on the amount of
greenhouse gases that can be emitted.
OBAMA: But we're going to have to try a series of different
The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of -- we've been
talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic
administrations for decades.
And the reason it doesn't change -- you can take a look at how
Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups
once. He met with renewable energy folks once. And then he met with
oil and gas companies 40 times. And that's how they put together our
energy policy. We've got to put the national interests ahead of
special interests, and that's what I'll do as president of the United
COOPER: Senator Clinton, what is Senator Edwards -- why is he
wrong on nuclear power?
CLINTON: First of all, I have proposed a strategic energy fund
that I would fund by taking away the tax break for the oil companies,
which have gotten much greater under Bush and Cheney.
And we could spend about $50 billion doing what America does
best. It's time we start acting like Americans again.
CLINTON: We can solve these problems if we focus on innovation
So, yes, all these alternative forms of energy are important. So
is fuel efficiency for cars and so is energy efficiency for buildings.
I'm agnostic about nuclear power. John is right, that until we
figure out what we're going to do with the waste and the cost, it's
very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that's where
American technology comes in. Let's figure out what we're going to do
about the waste and the cost if we think nuclear should be a part of
But this issue of energy and global warming has the promise of
creating millions of new jobs in America.
CLINTON: So it can be a win-win, if we do it right.
COOPER: I want to go another YouTube video, another question.
QUESTION: Hi, everyone. My name's Melissa and I'm from San Luis
My question is for everyone: In recent years, there's been so
much controversy regarding dangling chads, then no paper trail in
I know it costs money to amend things like that, but if I can go
to any state and get the same triple grande, non-fat, no foam vanilla
latte from Starbucks, why I can't I go to any state and vote the same
QUESTION: Don't you think that standardizing our voting
practices will increase legitimacy, and possibly even voter turnout in
our elections? What are you going to do to fix that? If you want,
give me a call and I will make a standardized form for you.
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: I, as president, I would push the whole country to
verified paper trails. There are close to 10 states that do this.
My state a year ago, my state was one of those states, along with
Florida and Ohio, that, because of the touch-tones, there was
uncertainty about the election.
We have close to 50 percent of those Americans eligible to vote
voting. That is inexcusable, compared to many other nations. We need
to have same-day registration. We need to have an effort to get the
Republican Party to stop suppressing minority voters. We need to find
ways also to depoliticize the Justice Department that tried to find
those voters that were legitimately voting.
RICHARDSON: And lastly, a verifiable paper trail with optical
scanners is going to improve turnout, democracy, and it's going to get
a lot of young voters in the polls.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We're going to go to
break with a YouTube-style video from Senator Biden's campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Imagine you're trapped deep in a hole with a group of
President Bush says the only way out of Iraq is to dig us deeper
and deeper. But what if one leader stood up for us and said no, we
can get out now, without leaving chaos behind?
Joe Biden is the only one with the experience and the plan to end
this war responsibly so our children don't have to go back.
BIDEN: I'm Joe Biden and I approved this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUCINICH: You can vote now to end the war in Iraq. Text Peace,
73223. Text peace now to send a message to the White House and to the
Democratic Congress that now's the time to end the war. Text Peace,
73223. Make your vote count and your voice be heard. Text Peace,
73223, to move this country away from war as an instrument of policy,
and to achieve strength through peace. Text Peace.
This is Dennis Kucinich, and I authorized this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back. We still have a lot of YouTube videos we
want to try to get to. This next one is about a pocketbook issue.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Hi. I'm Cecilla Smith.
QUESTION: And I'm Asanti Wilkins.
QUESTION: And we're from Pennsylvania, and my question is to all
the candidates, and it's regarding the national minimum wage.
Congress seems to never have a problem when it comes time to give
themselves a raise. But when it came time to increase the minimum
wage, they had a problem.
My question to the candidates: If you're elected to serve, would
you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid
the national minimum wage?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, it's pretty simple, yes or no. Minimum wage, by the
way, goes up tomorrow to $6.55. In 2009, it will be $7.25.
Senator Gravel, would you work for the minimum wage?
GRAVEL: Oh, yes, I would, but I would say that we don't need a
minimum wage; we need a living wage. We don't have that in this
country because of what they passed.
COOPER: Senator Dodd, would you work for the minimum wage?
DODD: I have two young daughters who I'm trying to educate them.
I don't think I could live on the minimum wage, but I'm a strong
advocate to seeing to it that we increase it at least to $9 or $10 to
give people a chance out there to be able to provide for their
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
DODD: That's leadership in the country.
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
OBAMA: Well, we can afford to work for the minimum wage because
most folks on this stage have a lot of money. It's the folks...
... on that screen who deserve -- you're doing all right, Chris,
compared to, I promise you, the folks who are on that screen.
DODD: Not that well, I'll tell you, Barack.
OBAMA: I mean, we don't have -- we don't have Mitt Romney money,
But we could afford to do it for a few years. Most folks can't.
And that's why we've got to fight and advocate for...
COOPER: Governor -- Governor Richardson, yes?
RICHARDSON: Yes, I would.
BIDEN: I don't have Barack Obama money either.
My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That's what happens you get
elected at 29. I couldn't afford to stay in the Congress for the
minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I'd do it.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Anderson, I live in the same house I purchased in 1971
for $22,500. I think we need to increase the minimum wage and so all
my neighbors can get an increase in their wages.
COOPER: So would you work for it?
KUCINICH: I would.
KUCINICH: But I wouldn't want to...
COOPER: By the way, you'd all get overtime, too. So don't worry
Let's watch another video here, another question.
QUESTION: This is Nancy McDonald from Wilmington, Delaware.
QUESTION: We all know that Social Security is running out of
money, but people who earn over $97,500 stop paying into Social
Security. What is up with that?
COOPER: Senator Dodd, what about that? The Congressional
Research Service says that if all earnings were subject to payroll
tax, the Social Securit trust fund would remain solvent for the next
DODD: I don't disagree with that. I think frankly this is an
issue that comes to a head, as we all know, by the year 2040.
Obviously, I think it would be important to start to address the
issue. Certainly, we have no ideas, and I would be totally opposed to
the privatization of Social Security. That is a very bad idea and I
am glad we rejected it.
But one of the ideas is to raise that level above $97,000.
COOPER: Do you support that?
DODD: I would support that. That is one of the solutions that
would make a lot of sense to me to make the trust fund whole.
COOPER: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I think that it is an important option on the table, but
the key, in addition to making sure that we don't privatize, because
Social Security is that floor beneath none of us can sink.
OBAMA: And we've got to make sure that we preserve Social
Security is to do the same thing that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill
were able to do back in 1983, which is come up with a bipartisan
solution that puts Social Security on a firm footing for a long time.
COOPER: Another question on Social Security.
QUESTION: What's the dirtiest little secret in Washington? The
U.S. is going broke. With the retirement of the baby boomers, things
are only going to get worse. Fed Chairman Bernanke has said Medicare,
Medicaid and Social Security need to be radically changed to avoid
this crisis, yet everything is business as usual in D.C.
There are two solutions, both of which are politically unpopular:
Raise taxes or cut benefits. Which would you choose, and how would
you convince the public to support you?
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: The best solution to those two issues is a
bipartisan effort to fix it.
RICHARDSON: Medicare -- 33 percent of it is diabetes. Let's
have major prevention programs, and also ways that we can ensure that
we find a cure.
Social Security -- stop raiding the Social Security trust fund.
Stop talking about privatization.
And then thirdly, let's look at a universal pension, 401(k)
universal pension, that would assure portability for those that want
to keep their pensions as they move into other professions.
But what we need is a bipartisan effort. Put this issue aside.
If I'm president, I would take this issue and I would say,
Republicans, Democrats, within a year, let's find a solution. No
politics. This is the safety net of this country.
COOPER: Here's a question on taxes.
QUESTION: This here is a two-part question.
(SINGING): Pay taxes on my clothes and food, pay taxes on my
place, pay taxes on my moisturizer, I pay taxes on my weights. I pay
taxes on my land. Every year, y'all make me pay. I pay tax on this
guitar so I can sing for you today.
My taxes put some kids in college I can't afford to send myself.
Now, tell me, if you were elected president, what would you do to
Also, I got a parking ticket last week. Could one of y'all
COOPER: Senator Biden, this guy's overtaxed.
BIDEN: First of all, change the tax structure. We are giving
people tax breaks who don't need it. The top 1 percent got an $85
billion a year tax break. It is not needed.
My dad used to have an expression -- don't tell me what you
value; show me your budget.
And the budget we have here is we all dance around it. We need
more revenue to be able to pay for the things the governor and
everybody else talks about.
And there's only one way to do it. You either raise taxes or
take tax cuts away from people who don't need them. I'd take them
away from people who don't need them.
COOPER: I'm sorry. There's another tax question right here.
QUESTION: My name is Marcus Benson from Minneapolis. And I'd
like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to
rise like usually they do when a Democrats gets into office?
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, are the taxes going to rise?
KUCINICH: The answer is no; that we're going to stop the tax
increases that President Bush gave to people in the top brackets.
We're going to end war as an instrument of policy, with the defense
policy of strength through peace.
So we're not going to be borrowing money from China to fight wars
in Baghdad. We're going to lower our trade deficit by ending NAFTA
and the WTO and going back to trade based on worker's rights.
We're going to have a change in our economy so that people will
be able to get something for the taxes they pay but they're not going
to have to pay more.
COOPER: One of the most popular topics that we got questions on
was health care. We, frankly, were overwhelmed with videos on health
care, so we put several of them together.
I want to show you some personal stories.
QUESTION: Mark and Joel Strauss, Davenport, Iowa. Not every
parent has the luxury of two loving sons to care for them during
QUESTION: My question for the candidates is, people like us --
the baby boomer generation -- is going to see a boom of Alzheimer's
over the upcoming decades.
What are you prepared to do to fight this disease now?
QUESTION: Hi. These are my grandmothers. Both of them suffered
from diabetes and ultimately died of massive heart attacks.
This is my mother. She suffers from diabetes and she's also had
a heart attack.
The statistics for women with heart disease are staggering. What
I'd like to know is, how do each of you plan on addressing chronic
disease and preventative health in your health care plans? I would
like my mother to be around to see her grandchildren.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Kim. I'm 36 years old and hope to be
a future breast cancer survivor from Long Island. My chances for
survivor aren't as good as they might be, however, because like
millions of Americans, I've gone for years without health insurance
that would have allowed me to take preventative medicine.
QUESTION: What would you as president do to make low-cost or
free preventive medicine available for everybody in this country?
COOPER: Senator Obama, 45 million uninsured Americans. Senator
Edwards says your plan doesn't really provide universal coverage.
OBAMA: Absolutely it does. John and I have a disagreement.
John thinks that the only way we get universal coverage is to mandate
coverage. I think that the problem is not that people are tryng to
avoid getting health care coverage.
It is folks like that who are desperately in desire of it, but
they can can't afford it.
OBAMA: And I know from personal experience. My mother, when she
was between jobs, contracted cancer, and she spent the last few months
of her life trying to figure out whether or not she was going to be
able to pay for the treatments.
It is an outrage. How is that the wealthiest nation on Earth
cannot afford to provide coverage to all people? And that's why I put
forward a plan.
But let's understand this. Everybody here is going to have a
plan. John's got a plan. I've got a plan. Hopefully, everybody here
will provide a plan for universal coverage.
But we've had plan before, under a Democratic president in the
'90s and a Democratic Congress. We couldn't get it done because the
drug insurance -- drug and insurance companies are spending $1 billion
over the last decade on lobbying.
And that's why we've got to have a president who is willing to
fight to make sure that they don't have veto power. They can have a
seat at the table, but they can't buy every single chair when it comes
to crafting the sort of universal health care that's going to help the
folks that you saw in that video.
COOPER: Senator Edwards...
COOPER: Senator Edwards, does Senator Obama provide universal
EDWARDS: No, because the only way to provide universal coverage
is to mandate that everyone be covered.
But I want to say, you know, I came out with a universal plan
several months ago. A couple of months later, Senator Obama came out
with a plan. He's made a very serious proposal, and I'm not casting
aspersions on his plan. I think it's a very serious proposal. It
just doesn't cover everybody. The only way to cover everybody is to
And the stories we have just heard, from diabetes, to
Alzheimer's, to cancer -- there are millions of people in this country
who are suffering so badly. And just this past week -- in fact, you
were with me on the third day -- I went on a three-day poverty tour in
The last day, I was with a man in western Virginia, in the
Appalachian mountains -- 51 years old, three years younger than me.
EDWARDS: He'd been born with a severe cleft palate, and he was
proud of the fact that someone had finally volunteered to correct it.
He had not been able to talk -- I want to finish this. He had not
been able to talk until it was fixed.
Here was the problem. It was fixed when he was 50 years old.
For five decades, James Lowe (ph) lived in the richest nation on the
planet not able to talk because he couldn't afford the procedure that
would've allowed him to talk. When are we going to stand up and do
something about this?
We have talked about it too long. We have got to stand up to the
insurance companies and the drug companies that Barack just spoke
about. It is the only way we're ever going to bring about real
change. We should be outraged by these stories.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, this goes back to the first question
that we got. How is it going to be any different under your
CLINTON: Well, first, I want to thank Mark and Joel and Charity
and Kim and Mike. You know, it's not easy coming in front of the
entire world and talking about your Alzheimer's, or your diabetes or
your breast cancer, or your disability.
CLINTON: But the fact that this is happening in a country as
rich as ours is just a national disgrace.
And, yes, I did try in '93 and '94, and I like to say I have the
scars to show for it, but I learned a lot about what we have to do.
And having a plan, yes, that's part of it. But more important, we
have to have a sense of national commitment that universal health care
is an American value.
We have to quit being told the special interests, like the
insurance companies and the drug companies, that, somehow, we can't do
what most other developed countries do, which is cover everybody and
provide decency and respect to every single person in this country
with health care.
COOPER: All right. I've got another question on health care.
QUESTION: Hi, this is Lucia Ballie (ph) for a group of friends
on the east side of L.A. And our question is: Does your health care
plan cover undocumented workers?
QUESTION: Thank you.
COOPER: Senator Dodd?
DODD: First of all, I hope all of us get a chance to comment on
this issue. This is a huge issue that deserves the attention and
every candidate here ought to have the chance to talk about health
DODD: First of all, the woman with the Alzheimer's issue -- stem
cell research. Under a Dodd administration, stem cell research will
be conducted so they can deal with diabetes.
Regarding the family that's talking about diabetes, 49 percent of
our school districts have exclusive contracts with soft drink
companies and junk food companies because we're not funding enough in
our education system.
That's an obesity problem as well.
COOPER: Would your plan cover undocumented workers?
DODD: It would. People who live in this country -- children
certainly would be covered. And I'm in support of the immigration
policy here that requires them to contribute so that...
COOPER: So that's a yes?
DODD: If they're paying part of that thing, then they also get
covered. Because, frankly, I don't want them contributing disease
problems and health issues to the rest of the...
COOPER: Let's try to answer the question.
COOPER: Would your plan, Governor Richardson, cover undocumented
RICHARDSON: Yes, it would. It should cover everybody.
In this country, no matter who you are, whether you're a ditch-
digger, you're a teacher, you're a CEO, you're a waiter, you're a
maid, every American deserves the right to the best possible quality
That would be part of my plan. But also, it is prevention. It's
starting early with kids. It's having -- get rid of junk food in
schools, as I did in New Mexico...
... a healthy breakfast for every child, mandatory phys ed,
research into Alzheimer's, into cancer, into stem cell.
COOPER: OK. Another question from a YouTube viewer.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Chris Nolan and I'm a Democratic
precinct committeeman from Mundelein, Illinois. And my question is
for Hillary Clinton.
With Bush, Clinton, and Bush again serving as the last three
presidents, how would electing you, a Clinton, constitute the type of
change in Washington so many people in the heartland are yearning for,
and what your campaign has been talking about?
I was also wondering if any of the other candidates had a problem
with the same two families being in charge of the executive branch of
government for 28 consecutive years, if Hillary Clinton were to
potentially be elected and then re-elected.
QUESTION: Good luck. And, whoever becomes the nominee, I'm
pulling for you.
QUESTION: Go Democrats!
COOPER: The question is for Senator Clinton.
CLINTON: Well, I think it is a problem that Bush was elected in
CLINTON: I actually thought somebody else was elected in that
CLINTON: Obviously, I am running on my own merits, but I am very
proud of my husband's record as president of the United States.
CLINTON: You know what is great about this is look at this stage
and look at the diversity you have here in the Democratic Party. Any
one of us would be a better president than our current president or
the future Republican nominee.
CLINTON: So I'm looking forward to making my case to the people
of this country...
CLINTON: ... and I hope they will judge me on my merits.
COOPER: Thirty seconds, Senator Gravel. Do you have a problem
GRAVEL: Well, yes, I do, a serious problem. The Democratic
Party used to stand for the ordinary working man. But the Clintons
and the DLC sold out the Democratic Party to Wall Street.
Look at where all the money is being raised right now, for
Hillary, Obama and Edwards. It's the hedge funds, it's Wall Street
bankers, it's the people who brought you what you have today.
Please wake up. Just look at the New York Times of the 17th of
July that analyzes where the money's coming from.
COOPER: Time's up.
GRAVEL: It comes from the bankers on Wall Street and of course
hedge funds, which is code for bankers on Wall Street. And they're
lock, stock and barrel in their pocket.
COOPER: Since you went to Senator Obama, we'll let you respond,
if you want.
OBAMA: Look, I think every single question we've heard you see
cynicism about the capacity to change this country. And the question
for the American people, who desperately
want change, is: Who's got a track record of bringing about change?
Who can unify the country, so that we're not just talking about
Democrats and Republicans, but we're talking about Americans? And who
can overcome the special interests in Washington so that we have a
president of the United States who is fighting on behalf of ordinary
COOPER: In our remaining...
OBAMA: And that, I think, is going to be the kind of president
that is going to be elected -- is going to be nominated by the
Democrats, and I believe that I'm best qualified to fill that role.
COOPER: In our remaining few minutes, the questions turn to two
subjects -- God and guns. First question.
QUESTION: Hi, I'm Zenne Abraham in Oakland, California. The
cathedral behind me is the perfect backdrop for this question. This
quarter reads "United States of America." And when I turn it over,
you find that it reads "liberty, in God we trust." What do those
words mean to you? Thank you.
COOPER: Senator Biden.
BIDEN: Religion informs my values.
BIDEN: My reason dictates outcomes. My religion taught me about
abuse of power. That's why I moved to write the Violence Against
Women Act. That's why I take the position I take on Darfur. It came
about as a consequence of the reasoning that we're able to do it.
You know, look, I don't think they're inconsistent. I don't find
anything inconsistent about my deep, religious beliefs and my ability
to use reason. I think the coin's got it just right. I think I have
it in perspective.
COOPER: Here's a question from the other side of the coin.
QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Stephen Marsh of Thousand
Oaks, California, proud citizen of the United States of America that
does not believe in God. However, the former President Bush said this
statement was an oxymoron.
Now, I am worried about the amount of time given to evangelical
concerns while secular voters are more or less getting a snubbed --
the faith and politics forum.
So my question is this: Am I wrong in fearing a Democratic
administration that may be lip service to the extremely religious as
much as the current one? And if so, why? Thank you for your time.
COOPER: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: As president of the United States, we will embrace and
lift up all Americans, whatever their faith beliefs or whether they
have no faith beliefs, as Stephen just spoke about. That's what
Now, my faith is enormously important to me personally. It's
gotten me through some hard times, as I'm sure that's true of a lot of
the candidates who are on this stage.
But it is crucial that the American people know that as president
it will not be my job -- and I believe it would be wrong -- for me to
impose my personal faith beliefs on the American people or to decide
any kind of decision, policy decision, that will affect America on the
basis of my personal faith beliefs.
COOPER: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I
do. And I don't think that people of any faith background should be
prohibited from debating in the public square.
OBAMA: But I am a strong believer in the separation of church
and state, and I think that we've got to translate...
By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the
church, because that maintains our religious independence and that's
why we have such a thriving religious life.
But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public
life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all
people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is
how our democracy's functioning, will continue to function. That's
what the founding fathers intended.
COOPER: Another question regarding guns.
QUESTION: Good evening, America. My name is Jered Townsend from
To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as
myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe.
This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell
me your views.
COOPER: Governor Richardson, you have one of the highest NRA
RICHARDSON: The issue here, I believe, is instant background
RICHARDSON: Nobody who has a criminal background or is mentally
ill should be able to get a weapon. That is the key, and that
includes gun sales. That includes gun sales at gun shows.
The key is going to be also attacking poverty, bringing people
together, dealing with those kids in the ghettos that are heavy users
of gun violence and they are victims of gun violence, to make sure
that this country attacks the core problems of poverty, having child
care, bringing parents together.
COOPER: Senator Biden, are you going to be able to keep his baby
BIDEN: I'll tell you what, if that is his baby, he needs help.
I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don't
know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being
serious. Look, just like me, we go around talking about people who
own guns. I am the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban,
that became law, and then we got defeated and then Dianne Feinstein
went to town on it and did a great job.
BIDEN: Look, we should be working with law enforcement, right
now, to make sure that we protect people against people who don't --
are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun because they're
either mentally imbalanced and/or because they have a criminal record,
COOPER: We got one more question. Before...
BIDEN: ... I hope he doesn't come looking for me.
Before we do -- we've got one more question. Before we get to
that, we're going to play our last YouTube-style campaign video from
the Obama campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We want an end to this war. And we want diplomacy and
peace. Not only can we save the environment; we can create jobs and
opportunity. We're tired of fear. We're tired of division. We want
something new. We want to turn the page.
The world as it is is not the world as it has to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And this last...
COOPER: This last question from a YouTube viewer will be asked
to each of you.
QUESTION: My name is Jason Koop, and I am from Colorado Springs,
Colorado. And my question is for all of the candidates, and it is
intended to lighten up the mood a little bit.
I would like for each of you to look at the candidate to your
left and tell the audience one thing you like and one thing you
dislike about that particular candidate. And remember, be honest.
COOPER: Senator Gravel?
GRAVEL: I turn to my left and I like Chris Dodd. I knew his
dad, I served with his dad.
I do have a difference of opinion with respect to where the
money's coming from.
GRAVEL: I've advocated, people, follow the money if you want to
find out what's going to happen after any one of these individuals are
elected. Follow the money, because it's politics as usual is what
COOPER: Senator Dodd?
DODD: I like John Edwards. I love his wife Elizabeth and his
family, and I think we've had enough of negative in politics. I have
nothing negative to say about the gentleman.
COOPER: You're not going to answer the question. All right.
EDWARDS: I admire what Senator Clinton has done for America,
what her husband did for America.
I'm not sure about that coat.
COOPER: Senator Clinton?
CLINTON: Yes, John, it's a good thing we're ending soon.
You know, I think that Chris Dodd has it absolutely right. I
mean, I admire and like very much Barack, as I do with all of the
candidates here. And I think that what you've seen tonight is how
ready the Democrats are to lead.
CLINTON: We are ready to lead the change that America so
COOPER: All right. I'll take that as you're not going to
OBAMA: I actually like Hillary's jacket. I don't know what's
wrong with it. And I like the fact that Bill Richardson has devoted
his life to public service, because that, I think, is the highest of
I don't like the fact that he either likes the Yankees or the Red
Sox, but doesn't apparently like the White Sox. And we're having a
tough time this year.
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: You know, let me just say, I love all of the
RICHARDSON: In fact, I think they would all do great in the
White House as my vice president.
Let me say something about Joe Biden.
Joe Biden -- you know, the only negative thing about Joe. We
disagree on Iraq very strongly, on Darfur. But this man has devoted
his whole life to public service. He's been a distinguished chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He's had great
contributions in civil rights, in issues relating to gun control, in
Supreme Court nominees. He will make an excellent secretary of state
COOPER: Senator Biden?
BIDEN: I don't like a damn thing about him. I -- no, I'm only
kidding. Only kidding.
Dennis and I have been friends for 25 years. I think this is a
Dennis, the thing I like best about you is your wife.
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, talk about Senator Gravel.
KUCINICH: Wait a minute. He talked about my wife.
KUCINICH: You notice what CNN did. They didn't put anybody to
the left of me. Think about it.
COOPER: I'm not sure it would be possible to find anybody.
KUCINICH: And you know what? And you know -- and I'm glad I get
a chance to debate you to my left, because there's no one more
mainstream on the war and on health care and on trade than I am,
Now, about Senator Gravel: Didn't he show great courage during
the Vietnam War, when he exposed what was going on with the Pentagon
Papers. Really courageous American. I'm proud that he's up here.
Thank you, Senator Gravel.
COOPER: All right. We'll leave it at that.
I want to thank all the candidates tonight. CNN and YouTube
would also like to thank all our partners, the South Carolina
Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, for sponsoring
tonight's big debate.
We want to thank our host, The Citadel.
September 17th is the Republican debate. I want to encourage
everyone to submit their questions via YouTube. You can start doing
that right away. All you've got to do is go to YouTube.com, click on
Thanks very much, everyone.