Hillary Clinton will debate the other Democratic candidates today on NPR. The NPR Debate at 2:00 (EST) can be heard on local NPR radio stations and on the internet HERE.
Tuesday’s debate will give all of the Democrats a chance to sway those Iowa voters during an in-depth discussion. NPR hosts Steve Inskeep, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel will moderate the debate, which will follow the same format introduced by NPR in 2004. There is no studio audience nor video cameras. Candidates will be able to engage one another in three areas of discussion, and field questions sent in by NPR listeners.
A new AP survey finds that health care and Iraq are dominant concerns among Democrats in Iowa and the other early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina. After losing her narrow lead to Obama in Iowa polls, Clinton has been criticizing the Illinois senator’s health care plan, which she says would leave millions of Americans uncovered.
Clinton still holds a lead in national polls, so rivals see Iowa as the best opportunity to slow her momentum. Obama could get a boost later in the week when he campaigns alongside celebrity endorser Oprah Winfrey. He’s also outspending Clinton on Iowa TV ads.
The topics are restricted. Iran and lessons of Iraq; relations with China and how they affect us at home; immigrationNo health care. Bill Richardson won’t be on. Gravel is on.
NPR: On Iran Bush says nothing has changed with new intelligence estimate.
Hillary: I’m relieved the NIE has reached their conclusion, not happy with Bush. Bush should engage in serious diplomacy.
Gravel: Iran was never a problem. The intelligence community has drop-kicked the president.
Obama: Iran continues to be a threat. They still fund HAMAS and Hezbollah. Bush does not let facts get in the way of ideology. They need to move on diplomacy.
Dodd: These are 16 agencies so it is very compelling.
Biden: Pressure did not bring this about. This happened in 2003. Bush has undermined us. Oil is up to $93 a barrell. This is like watching a rerun of Iraq. Who is going to trust us?
Edwards: Bush was just talking about world war 3 along with the neo-cons. The U.S. Senate has a responsibility to stop him. This is similar to what we saw in Iraq.
Kucinich: Five years ago I warned against war in Iraq. In the past few years I have been saying Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Some of my colleagues here to vote with him.
NPR: Clinton, you voted to call the Iran Revolutionary Guard terrorists, is this still true?
Hillary: There were other purposes for the resolution. Since that resolution we have seen our commanders in Iraq say Iran is stopping.
NPR: Is Iran a proliferator?
Hillary: There was a broadly based belief of that. Edwards said so in Israel, Obama has said so in an interview.
Edwards: We have a disagreement.
NPR: Did you say in Israel that Iran was a proliferator?
Edwards: Bush and Cheney said that.
Obama: Senator Clinton is being disengenous. I was asked was “if” Iran was a proliferator what I would do.
Kucinich: The points Clinton made is a valid point. Edwards and Obama did make those statements. I was the only one who repeatedly challenged the notion.
Dodd: The vote in September was important (Kyl-Lieberman). A non-binding resolution.
Clinton: I voted for it along with strong opponents of the Iraq war. We would not have voted for it if it led to an attack on Iran. The designation of IRG as a terrorist organization helps diplomacy.
TAPE of Lieberman: If there are no sanctions we need to attack bases in Iran.
Edwards: That’s supposed to be diplomacy. Clinton says she agrees with Bush there is a War On Terror.
Clinton: I understand making outlandish charges. This goes too far. After the resolution we have seen changes. The Iranians were supplying weapons to Iraq. We have seen evidence of them pulling back.
Gravel: There is no evidence, there is no problem with supporting HAMAS and Hezbollah.
Biden: I’m the only one laying out concrete proposals. The vote declaring them as terrorist organizations was not without dispute. After that vote oil prices went up. They are not connecting the dots. There is no evidence that this has changed things.
Obama: There is also the suggestion that this should mean changes to our forces in Iraq. We elected a government in Iraq that we knew had relations with Iran.
Edwards: There is a real difference. Only one Democrat here voted for the resolution. We need sticks and carrots.
Clinton: Ahmadinijad does not control the IRG. We need to engage in diplomacy. Economic sanctions would help the diplomacy on this. Biden and I disagree on this. But none of us is advocating a rush to war. I spoke back in February against war with Iran.
NPR: A contributor to Biden and Edwards, has a question about why we are disliked so much in the Muslim world.
Biden: It’s not about a rush to war its about no war. Many conclude this is a war on Islam.
NPR: When policy makers do things like support for Israel, how do you answer the question that we are not being even handed.
Edwards: We know a lot about what is going on in Iran. We have a responsibility to humanity and education.
Obama: Listen to the Republican debates. Giuliani says they are coming here to kill you, you get the impression Muslims are not our friends. I was called naive and irresponsible by saying we need to talk with Iran.
Dodd: This is longstanding. We need arabic speakers. That has bred a lack of understanding. Where has this administration been on engagement?
Kucinich: We need to reach out to the Muslim world. This also hurts Israel because their security is threatened.
NPR: When future historians write about you what will be your doctrine?
Hillary: A doctrine that shows the U.S. is not afraid of cooperating.
Edwards: Long term, visionary.
Biden: Clarity, prevention not preemption.
Obama: Not doctrinaire. A common security.
China, as economic power and what it means, strategic challenges.
NPR: Given China’s size, who has more leverage, China or the US?
Edwards: America has been obsessed with terrorism and China. We’ve done nothing on China. America has leverage on China. But we need to engage. Lead filled toys and deficits – America must engage.
Obama: We must get our fiscal house in order. We are funding a war we can’t afford. In Africa the presence of China is only exceeded by the absence of America. We also need to be tougher negotiators.
NPR: who has leverage?
Obama: It’s us now but what about 50 years from now, we need to look at the trends.
Kucinich: I was the only one here to vote against China trade. We are borrowing money from China to pay for Iraq.
Hillary: We have more leverage but we are not using it. We have bad fiscal policies. We need a strategic plan for relations with China. We need a coherent approach to China or China will get more leverage.
NPR: listener: Put on a tarriff.
NPR: would you restrict trade? tarriffs?
Biden: We are building them up too much. 800 million people in poverty. We refuse to enforce the laws that exist. Under WTO we can do this. We don’t need a tarriff war. Enforce the law.
Dodd: This is not a competition. We are not playing by the same rules. They manipulate their currency and use slave labor. We have the authority to suspend importation.
NPR: what would you do to level the playing field?
Obama: We have laws on the books now. Things have shifted. Stop the toys from coming in. Japan blocks bad China products. We have a set of tools that we are not using. US companies in China are the ones sending this stuff in.
Edwards: Big corporate America is driving the policy.
NPR: what would you do to stand up to the manufacturers.
Edwards: Enforce the law. Corporate America drives what is going on in Washington. The president should say “buy local”.
NPR: Will you buy toys made in China?
Dodd: My toys will come from Iowa.
Obama: The problem is we are not using the power we have. Wall Street is setting the policy. We have to have a president that gives a voice to American workers.
Gravel: China only has 10% of the spending on defense we do. Our interests always come first. We need to think of humanity. What about our manipulations.
NPR: On the tradeoffs, do we go from $300 TVs to $600 TVs?
Kucinich: Buy America. Edwards voted for China trade.
Obama: I believe China will modify its behavior. Americans are willing to pay more.
NPR listener: concerned about toxic ingredients
NPR: Very few Chinese recalls. Can we overreact?
Clinton: I sympathize. We have turned our backs on the information available. We need tougher standards. They should be applied strongly to imports. This administration has defanged the agencies.
NPR: Dodd, any vote you would reconsider?
Dodd: I wish the Senate would reconsider some of the legislation I recommended.
[apologies – computer threw out the last section.]
NPR: China is given a free pass on human rights. What should we try and how do we verify changes in human rights.
Biden: We could do this at the United Nations. We have capitulation, not competition. We need to call them on the carpet. This is the one way to get China to reform.
Clinton: I agree with Joe. 12 years ago the Chinese did not want me to speak but I did. We need to call them out on their misbehavior. We have no smart enforcement nor engagement – the worst of both worlds.
NPR: Did you advise your husband on foreign policy?
Clinton: Yes. I spoke with all the departments. I was deeply involved. I want the best possible advice including my husband.
Dodd: We welcomed the Dalai Lama and that sent a signal. China is raising huge resources. We need to work with them. The Dalai Lama is a leader and should be recognized.
Edwards: We have enormous leverage with the Chinese. These things have been happening before Bush. For a decade and a half we have been catering to business interests.
NPR: Didn’t you say we don’t have leverage?
Edwards: No, we do have leverage.
NPR: Edwards, you imply the US can reemerge as a textile power again?
Edwards: My father worked in a mill. That mill is gone. The reason is America catering to corporate profits. There are other things we need to do. We need an education work force.
NPR: Obama, you said if China is manipulating their currency we need to take them to the mat. What do you mean?
Obama: They are manipulating their currency. I would rather not do this with legislation. I am interested Gravel to see Chinese clothed and educated, we do this through raising labor standards.
Biden: We would do this with France, England? We would be tough. To deal with the currency we should do what we did in the Plaza Accords. I would call for a similar conference.
NPR: Clinton you said China reacts if pressed. Would you have more confrontation less cooperation?
Clinton: No. Example: a company in NY was threatened with tarriffs if they did not team up with a Chinese company. I helped them and the Chinese backed off.
NPR: Should Americans turn in “illegal immigrants”?
Obama: We do not deputize American citizens. The federal government should do its job.
NPR: So Americans should not turn in illegal immigrants?
Obama: We do not deputize American citizens. Hold business accountable. We can’t imprison priests who help them.
NPR: What should Americans do?
Dodd: People need to be held accountable. We need to control our borders.
Kucinich: Rely on the Constitution. Rely on law enforcement. These are economic refugees from NAFTA.
NPR tape: listener who does not require Social Security numbers.
Clinton: I agree with what has been said. It is the failure of the federal government that puts citizens into difficult situations. The government must fulfill it obligations.
NPR: But don’t Americans turn in criminals?
Clinton: It’s a very clever question but not on target. We depend on these people to take care of our families and communities. We need a change in our immigration laws.
Biden: I agree with Hillary. There are 8 million children. There is a difference in providing a service and employment to make your business grow. When my wife died, I went through that. Most of the illegals I interviewed were Irish. Most of the illegals, 60% are not Spanish speaking.
NRP: According to Pew, aren’t the majority Mexicans, Latin Americans?
Dodd: Both of your might be right.
Biden: Employers should give an opportunity to Americans who want to do those jobs.
NPR: If immigrants are being paid less, how can they not be driving down wages, as you have said?
Edwards: There are studies. My birth town is now about 50% hispanic. I’ve been told about the abuses illegal immigrants suffer.
NPR: How are they not driving down wages?
Edwards: The loss of good middle class jobs. What do we do to strengthen the middle class.
NPR: On Saturday, you noted these workers are punished but that you as president would give them rights, what do you mean?
Edwards: Comprehensive immigration reform.
NPR: but until then what additional rights?
Edwards: We can’t continue to have ….
NPR: one more time…
Edwards: Use the regulatory agencies to make sure they are being paid overtime.
Obama: This requires leadership. They probably are sometimes driving down wages. Hold employers accountable. Make a pathway to legalization.
NPR: Would you give them rights to work in 2009?
Obama: No, the principles of comprehensive immigration reform. Give them a path to legalization.
Kucinich: NAFTA helped drive wages down. A Kucinich administration would give full constitutional rights to everyone in this country. Impeachment.
Gravel: There is a reason why this problem has not been resolved. These people fill these jobs.
NPR: are you contradicting your self when you say punish employers but not punish immigrants?
Clinton: No. Part of the problem is a faltering economy.
NPR: The easy thing is to crack down, even if it harms people.
Clinton: I will crack down. But we do need comprehensive immigration reform. Deportation and rounding up is not viable. It would take a convoy of buses.
Obama: I will initiate the process immediately but it will take time.
Dodd: This was a failure of leadership by this administration. There are many people trying to come here through legal means. The conservatives want to use this as a wedge issue.
NPR: Edwards, H1B visas, different opinions – would you expand H1B visas or not?
Edwards: Educate American workers so we don’t need to import workers.
NPR: have you made a decision on this issue?
Edwards: the underlying issue is are we making it easier to go to college, to get the right education.
Biden: We have it about right now. But we are not enforcing the laws. Sometimes humanitarian needs trump an existing law relating to immigration.
NPR: listener concern on spanish option on phone calls, would you stop this?
Clinton: There are many languages spoken in this country but English is the unifying language.
Kucinich: I defeated an English only proposal in Ohio.
NPR: Will American culture change?
All: Yes. It always has been that way.
Dodd: It’s a great source of strength for our country.
Obama: Children of Spanish speakers learn English.
NPR: listener question: What is the toughest question you still have to decide on?
Clinton: There are a lot of things. We have so much repair work to do around the world, from Iran to China.
NPR: one specific thing.
Obama: Climate change, the science seems to indicate it is accelerating.
Dodd: Education. The importance of priority of this issue.
Biden: How you rationalize competition and trade policies.
Edwards: Who to consider for Vice President.
NPR: a serious point.
Edwards: how to stop corporate power.
Kucinich: Should the President and Vice President be held liable.
NPR: Clinton, name one?
Clinton: you try to anticipate issues. Like the economy, how do we stimulate our way from a possible downturn.