Hillary Clinton and Dems At AARP Debate – Obama Still AWOL

Reminder:  Bill Clinton on The Daily Show at 11:00 p.m. ET.


We speculated on why Barack Obama will really not be at tonight’s AARP Debate. Hillary Clinton and the other Dems with offices in Iowa will attend the debate.

The AARP Debate starts in a few minutes. Obama is still AWOL.


From the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa.  Moderated by Judy Woodruff.

Judy: Opening remarks.  Few rules, closing statements.  Introduction of candidates.


Judy:  All your opponents (to Bill Richardson) voted for expanded health care bill, how would you vote or change it? 

Richardson: Deal with components of health care such as prevention of diabetes and cancer.  Take Iraq money for health care at home.

Judy: to Clinton, would you add to the program. 

Hillary: I voted against the medicare bill because I thought we could do better.  No donut holes – no coverage when benefits expire.  We can get better coverage by negotiating to get costs down.  We need to lower costs and expand benefits.

Judy: to Biden, Would it be better to see how states do health care?

Biden: Not much difference between all our plans, the difference will be in who will take on insurance industry.  They spent a hundred million to destroy the Clinton plan. We can do a great deal by getting rid of the tax cuts for the wealthy.

Edwards: This is a national problem.  The drug companies and lobbyists have prevented health care.  We need a president who will stand up to them.

Judy: In your health care plan you envision $100 million in savings.  What about a lockbox for that money?

Clinton: My plan opens up the congressional health care plan and shares responsibility.  The drug and insurance companies will have to change how they do business.  The savings (about $77 billion) should go to tax credits for indivduals and small business who can’t afford coverage. 

Judy: Why haven’t these savings been done before? 

Clinton: this is a system that makes a lot of money for a lot of people.  Until we have a broad consensus we can’t get the political consensus.  Bush today is angry because we tried to raise taxes on tabacco. 

Judy: Comments Senator Dodd?

Dodd: Health care costs have gone up 87% during Bush.  We need to bring people together.  It’s what I did in the Family Leave Act. 

Judy: Dodd, What would you do for caregivers like family members who do not get paid?

Dodd: We need tax credits for these caregivers.  Also paid leave for care givers.  Work with states to provide support to these caregivers.  Include respite care.

Biden: The states have a foster care system where people get paid.  We should do the same for caregivers.


Richardson: Caregivers are usually moms.  We need to provide tax credits.  I have a program to give care at home electronically.

Clinton: This is a issue that affects all of us.  I passed a lifetime respite act.  $300 billion would be needed to replace these caregivers.  We need to do this.

Judy: JE, Your plan calls for getting rid of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy but that will not be enough to pay for your plans.  Will you raise taxes?

Edwards: I was first with my plan.  Glad others are joining in.  I have a specific tax proposal too.  We need to raise capital gains tax.  Treat work with dignity.

Richardson: I disagree with Senator Edwards.  We pay 2.3 trillion in healthcare in this country.  We need to shift the 1/3 of administrative costs to actual healthcare.  Give choice.  Step 1, end waste, 2, prevention, 3 electronic filing – we don’t need a new tax.

Edwards: My plan does all those things.  We need to tell the truth.  Tell the truth on how much it will cost. 

Judy: are other’s lying?

Edwards: No, but Iowa always gets promises.

Judy: You have criticized Clinton on lobbyists.  Was her health care plan influenced by lobbyists?

Edwards: Her plan is good.  It’s like mine.  She has a plan 7 years later.  I do think we have differences.  I don’t believe you can have lobbyists and compromise.  That does not work.  the system is broken.

Clinton: Been there, done that.  15 years ago I was fighting for health care.  I got health care for children and veterans.  I think what was a lonely struggle is now a unifed effort by Democrats.  Republicans don’t want health care.  A political coalition was not possible 15 years ago.  My experience makes me a lot better prepared this time. 

Judy: Would the health care system be better without insurance companies?

Dodd: Better oversight is an answer.  I’ve had some opposition from insurance companies.  I’m for universal healthcare.  I can pull people together.  Not enough to talk about failed plans.  We need leadership to get this done.  I have 26 years experience.

Richardson: I’m the only one here who is a governor.  We made up for medicade shortfall.  We will ensure everyone.  States can’t do it alone. 


Judy: Are you all tip-toeing.  Should we have a government plan?

Biden: We need to change campaign finance.  Richardson is a great governor but we are talking about 300 million Americans.  I love Hillary but what has changed that Hillary will be able to get 15 Republicans, Edwards can’t get the votes either.  Who has the record to get red state senators, 15 republicans to vote for health care.

Richardson: We need someone who can manage healthcare.  I’m a governor.  Why Joe are you denigrating experience?

Judy: single payer, yes or no?


Judy: Alan Greenspan writes that medicare faces financial crisis and that for seniors it will have to be self financed?

Clinton: I disagree.  In the Clinton White House we had surpluses.  That gave us the tools to ensure that Social Security and medicare would be stable.  Fiscal responsibility and the way it works, value oriented, must be adopted.  We want doctors not insurance companies to determine patient care. 

Edwards: The drug company lobbyists got what they wanted in the medicare bill.  What we senators wanted did not matter.  The lobbyists wrote the bill.  Give the power back to the American people. 

Dodd: Social Security and medicare have to be defended, they have bought senior poverty rates down.  Just negotiating for prescriptions would have saved over $300 billion.  They want to destroy these 2 programs.  Greenspan is wrong.

Biden: Greenspan wants to protect the stakeholders. 

Richardson: We need universal health care.  But by 2025 there are financial risks and we need a bipartisan solution. 


Judy: Social Security, what will you do to save it?

Clinton: Republicans want to destroy Social Security.  When we left the White House Social Security was solvent until 2055.  Because of the fiscal irresponsiblity now it is 2041.  Let’s quit taking money from Social Security to fund the war in Iraq and other things.  [Cheers]

Biden: Hillary is right.  This is not a tough problem.  This is true for every aspect of all our financial problems.  Bush has created a horrible deficit. 

Judy: What about raising the retirement age?

Dodd: No.  A mistake.  Let’s reinforce this.  Bush has accumulated more debt than all previous presidents combined.  This a red herring.  Republicans want to destroy Social Security.

Richardson: I disagree with Joe Biden.  I take privatization off the table.  Balance the budget, invest in education, universal pension with portability.

Edwards: Biden mentioned it, but you only pay taxes on $90,000 of income, let’s raise it. 

Judy: Does everyone agree?

Clinton: Before we do anything else, let’s clean up the fiscal mess first. 

Judy: Democrats are critical of Bush on Social Security, but if you take everything off the table aren’t you being as irresponsible as Bush?

Dodd: We need to encourage investment by individuals in their own financial security.  Social Security has to be even for all in all economic circumstances.  This will destroy Social Security too. 

Biden: I was there in 1979 when we fixed it.  We raised retirement age slowly.  We fixed the system in a bipartisan way.

Judy: For the same reasons, would any of you support ending early retirement age.

Richardson: I am for a balanced budget amendment, with war or emergency exemption. 


Richardson: We must restory fiscal responsibility.

Judy: what about the disappearance of private guaranteed pension plans?

Biden: We need to guarantee pension plans.  CEOs are wiping out pensions but getting money.  We need to change the bankruptcy code to stop this.

Clinton:  The decline of pensions has undermined peoples lives.  Halliburton shed the pension responsibilities while giving Cheney $20 million.  We need to change the tax and bankruptcy code to stop this.  Automatic IRA etc. 

Edwards: Strenghten the rights of unions to organize.  CEO pensions have to be treated the same as other workers – by law. 

Richardson: With bankruptcy laws the workers don’t get their benefits.  We need to change the law and provide portability.

Judy: Iowa has 9th biggest foreclosure rate in country.  What is government going to do?

Dodd: Greed is responsible.  Brokers luring people into teaser rates which people could not pay.  Probably 3 million people will be faced with foreclosure.  The brokers and bankers have to be made to fix this.  The FED also did nothing.  No regulation was provided.  This requires leadership in the country.  We need to push back on this issue.

Edwards: I have proposed a national predatory lending law.  Cap on loans of 36% on these loans.  A home rescue fund. 

Judy: The FED cut interest rates by 1/2 this week.  Is this good/enough?

Biden: This is severe because these hedge funds are not regulated and they bought up these mortgages.  We need regulation.  There was no way to know.


Richardson: I passed a law in New Mexico with many of these things passed.  We need to keep liquidity in the markets.  Regulation.  People in the industry are supervising this.  I am blaming the president.  Mortgage lenders became loan sharks. 

Judy: How is FED chair Ben Bernake doing?

Edwards: He is trying.  Liquidity. 

Clinton: This is a looming crisis and we cannot rely soley on monetary policy.  We are not going to get Bush to lead nor probably legislation.  Bush is not showing the needed urgency. 

Dodd: I think Bernake is doing well.  He lowered the discount rate.  Hillary is right this is just the monetary side.  We needed regulation.  I give him good grades at this point.

Biden: We have to find a way to have these people keep their homes, for their and the economy’s sake.

Judy: Global warming – the most effective way is a stiff carbon tax on polluters. 

Clinton: Global warming impacts us in ways such as home insurance for homes near the sea shore.  We can put together a package that will work.

Dodd: I support a corporate carbon tax.  We need those funds to make alternative fuels competitive with fossil fuels.

Judy: Alternative Minimum Tax – 50 million people soon.  Will you repeal?

Edwards: No repeal.  We must change it.  Broad tax reform.  This is part of a bigger problem. 

Clinton: It is very expensive.  We need to remove the impact from people it was not meant to effect.  Middle income must be removed.  We need broad economic and tax system reform [cheers]

Judy: Missing Obama proposed a big tax cut.  With big deficits, crumbling bridges and roads are new tax cuts appropriate?

Richardson: I’ve cut taxes, but you have to pay for them.  We have to be creative with the tax code.  I was energy secretary.  Cap and Trade is better than a carbon tax.  [back and forth with Dodd]  You reduce 30% by 2020.  A tax just taxes without results.

Edwards: We need tax cuts, I have proposed some.  We have a negative savings rate.  We need to make sure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share. 

Judy: Dodd has proposed paid leave for home care workers.  Is this a burden for companies?

Biden: Chris is right.  We introduced a tax cut 10 years ago.  We need to get our house in order.  Delaware is going underwater because other countries (Chinese) are building polluting factories rapidly.

Richardson: In the pay scale women are discriminated and we need to help them

Clinton: Equal pay for equal work, we need to repeal the Supreme Court decision. 


Judy: Iraq.  Will your partition proposal work?

Biden: Many agree with me.  Just like the Bosnian accords.  It’s simple.  You can’t govern Iraq from the center.  Give local control in a federation.

Judy: Does anyone disagree with Biden?

Dodd: the Iraqis need to make that decision.

Richardson: It is one of the solutions after a political solution.  After we get our troops out. 

Judy: Finally.  Most experts think we need to leave residual forces in Iraq.  One year after you are inaugurated what will be the size of American forces?

Biden: If no political solution – zero forces.  With a political settlement, we will see.  In Bosnia there is now no political killings.

Edwards: We are going to have an embassy that needs protecting.  No combat troops. 

Richardson: I disagree with Edwards.  Our kids are dying.  We must get all our troops out.  No reconciliation until we are out.  We need to end this war now.

Clinton: None of us knows what we are going to inherit.  I will on the first day ask out people to find out what is going on.  We need to find out.  Then we will have a plan and troop withdrawal.  We don’t know what we are going to inherit from Bush and Cheney.

Dodd: We should not be talking about troop withdrawals in the future.  Let’s do it now.

Closing statements:

Edwards: Economic insecurity, gap on haves/have not, stop the war.  We need an honest president, who we can trust.  Restore trust.

Dodd: We care about our families.  We need leadership that will care about our families.  And get results.  Produce results.  We are exhausted with debate. 

Biden: Many bodies being brought home.  Bush is handing the war over to the next president.  the next president has no margin of error. 

Clinton: I want to set big goals for America again.  Restore America’s leadership.  Stop the war.  But we have many problems.  Rebuild the economy.  We are going to face the most difficult days ahead. 

Richardson: Sensible priorities.  When FDR died the train traveled the country with his coffin.  A man crying said “FDR knew me” – that’s the kind of president I want to be. 


It’s over. 


36 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton and Dems At AARP Debate – Obama Still AWOL

  1. hey, no gravel, no kuchinich. these guys have no offices nor workers in the state but they just want to get in the debates. silly.

  2. I’m on too.. It’s wonderful having the candidates who are putting their hearts and souls into getting something accomplished for Health Care coverage and extended care for the elderly.

    Ch 2 wgbh Boston…here

    Mrs. S.

  3. OETA here. I’m soooo excited. My spouse left the room bc I’m so giddy watching this.

    Biden is doing well. Johnny is still a tool. Richardson’s best performance so far. love Biden warning him he won’t be SoS if he keeps being mouthy. Hillary is classic calm, cool and collected. Loved her zapping Bush on the deficit. She’s not making promises, tells the truth about climbing out of this fiscal hole. I’m also glad Biden shot down single payer. It reinforces Hillary’s plan.

  4. No, MJ. He was slamming Greenspan for working with a false premise bc he’s protecting the stakeholders (i.e. pro-rich folks, corporations). He was agreeing with Hillary, but Hillary couldn’t slam her friend, Alan. She slammed Bush instead.

  5. Love Hillary’s dig right now about equal pay for equal work. Sounds like she wants to resurrect the ERA (which I highly doubt she would try0 or she’s talking about changing the civil rights division at DoJ RE: enforcement and packing SCOTUS.

  6. Biden’s closing about the next president being smarter than their SoS sounded like a de facto endorsement for Hillary. 🙂

  7. sepulvedaj3 on mydd just wrote an excellent diary recounting his/her ‘conversation with Hillary’ last night.

    Everybody who has an account on myDD should recommend his/her diary.

  8. Much more substantive debate tonight. Amazing what getting rid of the windbags accomplishes. These candidates had a chance to actually put their proposals with a bit more time tonight.

    We’ve always enjoyed Gravel and Kucinich’s antics on the debate stage. At the least it provided a nice break. But what a very big difference in tone and substance without them. BO also takes up more windbag time than we ever realized. Let’s home BO BOycotts more debates.

  9. Wooduff hardly called on Hillary at all.. I was disappointed Hillary didn’t get more face time. Undoubtedly, this debate was Richardson’s redemption. It made a huge difference having three less candidates in the mix. The format was ok..Woodruff covered quite a bit of ground in the 90 min. By and large everyone’s information was well received.

    terrondt.. you’re not too far from my location. I know the Springfield area well.

    Mrs. S.

  10. “What she’s saying is she’s willing to sell special access to the government. Just send a check” This is what Elizabeth Edwards said about Hillary. What a jerk!

  11. Usually we would blast someone like elizabeth edwards for her remarks. But that is what she wants. She needs attention. That campaign is over and she and her husband are jumping up and down trying to get attention.

    Our filter for responding to attacks is: does it help Hillary get elected? In this case going after ee is a waste of our energy – so we leave her to her screams.

    When the 3rd quarter finance reports come in there will be additional proof of the end of the Edwards adventure.

  12. admin, you’re right. But I am disappointed to see how low she will sink. I think secretly she wanted to be president. Honestly, she would have been a better candidate than her husband.

  13. MJ, you are right on all counts.

    Soon she and handsome Johnny will be able to enjoy their beautiful mansion, and put on performances in the 3 stages the mansion has.

  14. Admin, you’re not serious about the stages are you? That would be so funny. rich lawyer with a mansion where he can host concerts “fighting” for the poor. Bwahahahaha. He’s such a liar.

    i also agree about not going after EE, but Bidion or whatever his name is was on Hardball yesterday going after Hillary saying she was selling access and Tweety Matthews was clearly pissed Sheila Jackson Lee didn’t show at the last minute to defend the Clinton camp. Chris has been gushing over Hillary and I would hate to see him annoyed at the no-show. I wonder what was up to make SJL cancel 30 mins before show time?

  15. Thanks for the reminder Paula. And yes, OkieAtty, 3 stages, squash courts, tennis courts, swimming pool.

    It was Trippi on the Matthews show.

  16. Hi,

    Admin is right. We just need to ignore EE and her pretty husband. It’s rumored that they will only raise abount $5 million for the current quarter which is pathetic to say the least. I don’t believe Edwards has the ‘audacity of hopeless’ to mortgage his mansion fo fill the hole. At least, Kerry had Henz Ketchup for the rest of his life while he went for broke.

  17. A reminder,

    Looks like Clinton will be all over the talk show map this coming weekend. She’s going on ‘Meet The Press’, ‘Foxnews Interview’, ‘CNN late edition’…

  18. Bill Clinton: I have a preference in this election.

    also, “I may slit my throat” when asked if he could adjust to Hillary, not he, being president.

    He is just great in this venue.

    “I like them” the other candidates.

    lots of laughs. Bill is being very generous and his usual wonderful self.

  19. “My basic job will be to do what is best for her.”

    He is talking about money now and what it takes to raise money for elections especially for Congress. Grueling schedules due to need to raise money. Bill is talking about what the physical strain and why sleep deprivation has to do with the snippy attitudes in Washington.

    Now they are talking about the new book “Giving”.

    Short but sweet interview. Bill was a hit, again.

  20. NYT:

    Still, some members of the audience seemed miffed by Mr. Obama’s absence. Tom Gizicki, a scientist from nearby Bettendorf, said: “It’s going to turn a lot of people off. Voters want to know what he’s all about, and when I hear him speak, he says the same thing over and over again. We want to know more than that.”

  21. Have you all seen Obama’s new ad? It features him as a baby with his mother. Honestly, when did narcacism become a winning quality in a presidential campaign? The ad is down right bizarre because it’s an attack about Hillary and her divisiveness(again), but it’s made to look very sweet.

  22. Thanks for that quote Kostner. It was included in the new post.

    MJ, the new ad is at least better than that mess of an ad they recorded previously. We mean the ad that looked like Axelrod recorded with his cell phone in a hotel room. The ad was so bad we guess it was pulled immediately and replaced with the baby picture ad.

    What’s next, Obama with a kitten called Hope?

  23. I agree about EE…she’s better left alone. Eventualy, people will just see her as desperate and pathetic trying to gain traction for her husbands failed campaign.

    Are there videos of the ads Obama’s running in Iowa? Can you post them?

    Thanks for all the info guys…

    Mrs. S.

  24. Well I just finished watching the debate online, and although there were no clear winner, I will say that Joe Biden stood out more! He had some great moments and got people laughing. You can go online here: iptv.org/video/detail.cfm/634 and watch it like I did if you didn’t see it. And at about 30 minutes in, there begins a few minute of fun, and again he is nice towards our girl, and he acknowledge this.
    I thought Hillary was a bid anonymous, maybe because Judy didn’t call on her so much, or at least that’s what it looked like. But she did do well when called on. But what annoyed me to no end was how cocky Edwards was, again trying to appear like the experienced one on health care. You know on many issues that could fly, but him trying this on HEALTH CARE!!! Just shows you why his campaign is in the gutter. Everyone knows this is Hillarys area! And she had a nice comeback I thought, her: “Been there done that” line was good, although delivered with some arrogance, I thought it was appropriate. He had it coming. Also his display of ignorance when saying to Judy he had been watching her trying to get a word in, and he felt sorry for her. WHAT!!???!!! He was the one going on and on and on, and even at one point telling Judy to let him finish, and he added ‘please’ rather late! I assume because she’s a woman, he never says please to the manly moderators when he says let me finish, which he does a lot. Trying to be polite, but it came off insincere.
    But what I loved the most about this debate was how nice it was to finally have some discussions between the candidates, and have time for it, because they were ‘only’ five. With Gravel and Dennis constantly going after the other candidates, this night showed how important it is for the candidates to stick together. This I believe is what opened up the chance, which was taken, to loosen up a bit and laugh. I LOVED Biden going after Richardson on his “I’m the Governor”, with saying: please, new mexico has 3 million people, try managing 300 million, basically saying it doesn’t count for that much.
    Bill seemed offended slightly, but I was happy, he has been going on and on with this, he finally got hit back a little. Not bashed, but a nice bump. Another note(sorry going on long), Hillary showed some great restraint when Edwards ‘claimed’ it was nice to see Hillary come out with a HC proposal 7 months after him, I would have thrown up if I had to stand there listening to his crap, hens why I liked her Been there done that line! With a split screen you have to contain yourself all the time, she’s good at that.
    And finally, how great wasn’t it that Obama wasn’t there?!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like you said admin, he took up a lot of air.

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