Debate time is here. “The Democratic candidates will debate at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The debate will be televised by CNN. It will be hosted by CNN and the Nevada Democratic Party.
Watch the debate live on CNN. On the Internet you can watch the debate at the link HERE.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has reached the One Million Dollar goal in the fundraising drive announced a few days ago.
Candidates walking on stage.
Gloria Borger and John King setting up the debate by trying to tell Hillary what to do. Campbell Brown pipes in with same drivel.
Wolf explains the rules. One minute responses. Several minutes more on discussion. Stay on topic.
Campbell Brown: You said you were not at your best – opponents say you avoid taking sides?
Hillary: Asbestos pant suit. The American people know where I stand for 35 years. I have specific policies. This is a big election. Important we have a candidate who is tested and ready to lead from day one.
Wolf: You criticized Hillary, explain?
Obama: She is a capable candidate. What Americans want is straight answers to tough questions – drivers licenses – 2 weeks to get an answer, Social Security – how to keep it for people. People feel Washington is not listening.
Hillary: Obama talks a lot about taking strong stands. But on children’s insurance he did not step up. My plan covers everyone. I am proud to fight this battle. The people who we are against, the Republicans are not going to give up voluntarily.
Obama: Let’s talk healthcare. I do provide healthcare. Hillary thinks the answers is to mandate health care. People can’t afford health care. That’s what Americans deserve.
Hillary: Level with the American people. Obama’s health care plan does not cover everyone. He does not mandate the type of coverage I do. Every American will be able to afford my plan.
Obama: Hillary states she wants to mandate health care coverage but she is not enforcing the mandate. Americans can’t afford it.
Wolf: You spoke about the politics of parsing.
Edwards: No one here is perfect. We need a president that will restore trust. Senator Clinton says she will end the war but also keep combat missions in Iraq. She voted with Bush. On Social Security she won’t do anything on caps. She says she will bring change. The system is broken.
Clinton: I don’t mind taking hits on my record, but the mud throwing is right out of the Republican playbook. I have been active for 35 years. When Edwards ran in 2004 he was against healthcare. We need a positive agenda for America.
Wolf: Is this exchange good for America?
Biden: Americans care about their kids, mortgages, schools, Iraq. I am not criticizing the 3 who always get the chance to talk at these things. Who on day one can end the war, deal with Pakistan, Russia. I have 35 years of experience.
Roberts: Senator Clinton you have taken hits, but Edwards has hit you most. Edwards, you have changed your positions on Yucca mountain and others. What’s the problem?
Edwards: Changing position is OK but Hillary changes her positions too quickly, for example the Peru trade deal. The question is will America be fine not us. 35 million Americans last year went hungry. There is a fundamental choice this year – Who will fight the rigged system? When will our Party show backbone?
Wolf: Dodd, you said Edwards is angry and not the same person I once knew?
Dodd: We have to unite the Party and bring in Independents. We need to reach out. There is a shrillness to the debate. When a campaign is about turning up the heat and who’s angrier we lose the American people.
Richardson: I’m Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico. It seems that John wants to start a class war, Barack wants to start a generational war, Hillary does not want to stop the Iraq war. I say “Give Peace A Chance”. Are we resolving the real problems. Let’s stop the mud slinging on character and trust. Let’s be positive.
Wolf: Are you ready to commit to support the Democratic nominee?
Edwards: Is that a planted questions? Yes
All: Yes; Biden jokes; Kucinich – only if they are against the war.
Brown: You supported benefits for illegal aliens. What do you say to Americans?
Obama: Bush has done nothing to stop the problem. Americans see their economic position being weakened. We need a comprehensive solution to the problem. Border security. Take on Employers. Let’s shed light on the problem.
Wolf: On the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, you support this?
Obama: The problem here is not drivers licenses. Let’s focus on solving the problem.
Wolf: Everyone, do you support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants? without comprehensive reform?
Obama: We are being distracted by this problem…. [gobbleygook follows]
Dodd: Clarity. We have to discourage illegal immigration.
Obama: Yes. But.
Kucinich: I object to the term “illegal”. They are undocumented. Get rid of NAFTA.
Richardson: Yes, and I did it. The congress failed to pass immigration reform. It’s a matter of public safety.
Roberts: Dodd, quality education. What is wrong with incentive pay for teachers who excel?
Dodd: Merit pay has some value. But better pay for teachers in “good” schools is unfair. This is the most important issue. We need the best educated population. We must fundamentally reform No Child Left Behind. I started Head-Start. We need one single debate on eduation.
Wolf: Kucinich, any issue you disagree with teacher’s unions?
Kuchinich: My father was a trucker. If we had trade agreements with education standards it would help all the unions.
Kuchinich: I am for working people.
Richardson: The key to a good education is a good teacher. We disrespect teachers. Better pay. Full day kindergarten. Science and math academies. A college education policies to deal with huge loans. In exchange for tuitition, one year of service.
Wolf: Senator Clinton, merit pay?
Hillary: I support school based merit pay. We need good teachers in under served areas.
Wolf: What about a bad teacher in a good team?
Hillary: Weed them out. Our education system has served our country well. We have to reimagine it. We need collegial collaboration.
Biden: An excellent teacher betters herself. Merit pay – who makes the decision? I want teaching excellence. Demand more of teachers – but you have to pay them. Bill is right – pay them more.
Brown: Pakistan. You say the U.S. should maintain current levels of support for Pakistan?
Biden: I do not think we should maintain current levels of support. I told this to Mussharef. I warned him. I will do it on the Senate floor. I will use this leverage. Move from Mussharef to a Pakistan policy. Move from military aid to education and helping ordinary people.
Wolf: You suggested cutting off aid, Richardson. Even Bhutto is worried about this proposal. Are you worried that Mussharef is bad but it could get worse?
Richardson: Our policy is wrong. Democracy and human rights should be a condition. We give 10 Billion, 6 billion for the military. Change this. Put conditions on democracy, fighting terrorism and Mussharef must resign from the military. Moderate forces can win if we support democracy.
Wolf: Human rights are more important than American national security?
Richardson: Yes. Our values of freedom. Our strength as a nation is our democracy.
Edwards: Control extremists in Pakistan, nuclear weapons under control. A long term effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Wolf: Are human rights more important than American national security?
Obama: The terms are not contradictory. Repression creates anti-American sentiment.
Dodd: Bush lecturing Turkey and Iraq is ironic. Obviously national security is more important. That is the oath of office. If there were totally free elections in some of these countries the extremists would win.
Clinton: The first obligation is to preserve and protect. But there are other options. After 9/11 Bush had a chance to chart a different course. We have to figure out how to navigate these courses. I spoke with Mussharef and asked if he would accept a presidential envoy, Bush failed to do this.
Roberts: Richardson, the troop increase in Iraq, casualities are down. Is the troop increase bringing security to Iraq?
Richardson: The surge is not working. 3 of 18 benchmarks only have been fulfilled. Our troops are dying. 60,000 Americans wounded. Bring all the troops home. Get a political compromise.
Kucinich: The surge is not working. I have a plan to bring the troops home now. Democrats in congress have failed. On Pakistan, our Iraq war has destabilzed the region.
Obama: American troops are doing good work in Iraq. We need to get our troops out because the policy is wrong. People are on 2, 3 tours of duty. Families are hurting. The lower rates are only because they were so high earlier. I will bring it to a halt.
Brown: Kucinich, holiday season, Do you believe those who opened up trade with China bear responsiblity?
Kucinich: Yes. People who voted for Iraq war are responsibility. People who voted for Yucca mountain bear responsibility. John Edwards voted for China trade but attacked Hillary in the last debate.
Edwards: My response is American trade policy has been a complete and total disaster. Powerful interests, corporate interests, have taken over this government. In 1993 when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress we passed NAFTA but not health care. We can’t replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats.
Wolf: Was your China vote a mistake?
Edwards: The mistake was the president did not hold them responsible.
Wolf: Was Ross Perot right on NAFTA?
Hillary: I just remember a bunch of charts. We need trade relations that are smart. Parents have to worry about toys and pet food. We need a third party investigative arm to protect Americans.
Wolf: Was NAFTA a mistake?
Hillary: Yes, in the sense it did not deliver on its promise. We need enforceable provisions on labor rights.
Dodd: Both Hillary and Obama are for the Peru agreements.
Wolf: Was NAFTA a mistake?
Obama: Peru is a small country that needs help and the agreement is good and I support it. The U.S. should impose the same tough rules as Japan does. In China we should have reviewed the treaty every year.
Biden: It’s not the agreement, it’s the man. The law is there but Bush won’t follow it. We have power under this agreement. Shut it down.
Roberts: Obama, price of oil, you support nuclear energy, you are opposed to Yucca mountain as a nuclear waste dump. If not in your back yard, whose?
Obama: Not fair to send it to Nevada. Keep in mind that nuclear power is not our best option but should be in the mix. Cap greenhouse gases.
Wolf: Nuclear waste where?
Obama: I reject the notion we can’t meet our energy challenges. Let’s not be pessimistic.
Richardson: I was in charge of the nuclear labs. I opposed Yucca mountain as a site. There is a scientific solution. Turn Yucca mountain into a project. We should not give nuclear producers subsidies. We need an energy revolution from fossil fuels to renewable fuels. We need to sacrifice.
Campbell: Clinton, some have suggested that you, your campaign, and your husband are exploiting your gender?
Hillary: I am not playing the gender card I am playing the winning card. I am being attacked not because I am a woman but because I am a woman. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I like the kitchen. But we are all good candidates. A latino, an African-American.
Campbell: What did you mean at Wellsely?
Hillary: There have been impediments. This is history making. I am not running because I am a woman but because I am the best candidate.
Wolf: I’ll give a chance to the boys. Is Sen. Clinton playing the gender card.
Edwards: The voters need to know we have choices. There are differences between us. I spoke about corporate Democrats – Senator Clinton takes money from lobbyists. (boos).
Audience questions, with Campbell Brown:
Woman and her son who has served 3 tours of duty in Iraq (applauded by audience).
Brown, your mother fears you will be sent on another tour to Iran. The son says “Bring the troops home.”
Mother: You have significant political power, how do we stop these wars?
Biden: We had a vote on Iran. Some voted for it. This convinces Muslims we are fighting the Muslim world. I told Bush if he takes the country to war with Iran he should be impeached.
Wolf: Clinton, you voted for that resolution.
Hillary: There is a concern that is justified with this president. I spoke out in February that there is no legal authority to go to war with Iran. I believe Bush wants to let this situation fester. Let’s ratchet down the tensions. Get the neighbors in the region to help. Having been in Iraq you know that the Iran Revolutionary Guard has assisted in killing American troops in Iraq. Have a diplomatic approach – sticks and carrots.
Edwards: We need to stop Bush and the neocons. The vote on the Revolutionary Guards helped Bush. We’ve seen this movie. Democrats need to stop this president.
Obama: This vote also said that we should call the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group but that it ties it to Iraq. I agree we should have diplomacy. Hillary and I have a disagreement with meeting personally.
Wolf: You were not at the vote?
Obama: True. It was a mistake.
Another Mother: You want us all out of Iraq, but my son makes only $30,000. Happy Birthday Bill Richardson? Suzanne Malveaux: Private contractors, should they be pulled out?
Richardson: Pull out the private contractors and all the troops. Keep the all volunteer force. More troops. Increase pay. Hero’s health card to get health care anywhere. Parity for mental health issues.
Man with Arabic name concerned with Racial profiling and Patriot Act question?
Edwards: The Patriot Act has been abused. Stop the racial profiling, the illegal spying, no more secret prisons, no renditions, no torture.
Wolf: You voted against the Patriot act Congressman Kucinich. Do those who voted for the Patriot Act bear responsibility?
Kucinich: I read it that is why I voted against it. People who voted for the war, patriot act, yucca mountain now change their mind. The first question was not answered either – it’s called impeachment. Now. Impeach them now.
Biden: Facts are a funny thing. Nothing in the Patriot Act allows racial profiling. I voted to not fund Guantanamo. What is the plan now is the question.
“Latino” from the Chamber of Commerce: Do you link terrorism and immigration with the southern border?
Richardson: I am the only one who dealt with this issue. I declared a border emergency, the first one. But let’s stop demonizing immigrants. I am against the fence. Secure the border, detection equipment. Mexico is our friend. Tell Mexico to give jobs to Mexicans. A legalization plan, not amnesty, learn English, pay taxes.
Wolf: You voted for the fence.
Dodd: I was in the Peace Corp in the Dominican Republic. There should not be a correlation between immigration and terrorism.
Suzanne Malveaux, with woman: Baby boomers will soon be retiring, big deficits, what do you plan to do to insure that Social Security will be secure in light of current budget conditions?
Obama: 78 million baby boomers will retire. Stop Bush raiding the SS trust fund. Adjust the cap. Medicare is a tougher problem. We need a universal health care fund.
Wolf: You’ve been criticized by Obama and Edwards on this?
Hillary: I am for getting back to fiscal responsibility. Bush inherited a balanced budget. Bush has squandered that. What I want to do is move back to fiscal responsibility. I will not fix Social Security on the backs of the poor and middle class.
Obama: You’ve said this is a trillion dollar tax increase. This is the kind of thing I expect from Mitt Romney or Cheney. [audience boos]
Hillary: That is a tax increase. It is absolutely the case that the middle class will suffer. I represent firefighters, they would be affected. In 1983 when we had a real crisis we created a commission and solved the problem.
Supreme Court question: (CNN came in late preferring to show commercials)
Dodd: I’ll be careful.
Biden: I presided on hearings on Supreme Court justices. I want to get someone other than law professors. I will appoint a woman. I will not appoint someone who does not support the privacy clause and abortion rights.
Wolf: Abortion rights in order to be nominated to the Supreme Court?
Richardson: I will appoint someone who supports privacy rights.
Kucinich: It is a question of a woman’s right to choose. I will stand for prenatal care, sex education and other education.
Hillary: They have to share my view on privacy. Privacy is embedded in the constitution and that is the link. Senator Biden deserves praise on this issue. The president has to understand how the constitution works. Bush does not.
Obama: It’s not just a particular issue. The court has to protect people who do not have a lot of clout. We need people with life experience.
Edwards: Privacy and Roe v. Wade. It is crucial to have federal judges with backbone.
Student: The Middle East seems to be getting worse. What message will you offer the whole country to unite us. Malveaux: you attacked Clinton on this?
Obama: I did not say that, I would convene Republicans into the process. I will say “America’s back”. Shut down Guantanamo. Talk to our enemies and our friends.
Wolf: Some have suggested you are too polarizing?
Hillary: I am running to be the president of the entire country. I heard the same thing when I ran for Senate. I’ve worked across Party lines. You have to find common ground. There will be differences. We can listen to one another. That is the kind of president I will be. I will work with people who are not in public life. Let’s enlist all Americans.
Biden: Start by ending the war. I already have the respect of my Republican collegues. Most Republicans think this war stinks as well. They are sticking with George Bush out of loyalty. Republicans agree with us.
Richardson: We’ve talked about Iraq and Iran, North Korea. The cornerstone of my presidency will be to be the world’s conscience. On the Middle East, have a peace envoy, unlike Bush. Protect Israel and a Palestinian state. Talk to Syria and Iran. It’s called leadership and diplomacy. Enormous damage by Bush.
Student: for Clinton, do you prefer diamonds or pearls?