BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Good evening, and welcome to Koonz Auditorium here at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The seven remaining Democratic presidential candidates are gathered here for their final debate before next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Let's meet the candidates: former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, retired General Wesley Clark of Arkansas, the Reverend Al Sharpton of New York, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
Welcome to you all.
The candidates' positions on this stage, by the way, were determined by a random drawing. The candidates, during this debate, will have one minute each for each answer. Any rebuttal or follow-up will be 30 seconds.
The candidates will have lights that will help them keep track of their time. And if an answer should go over, the candidates, and indeed all of us, will hear this sound.
We do ask the audience to hold applause during the course of the questions and answers.
Now let's introduce my colleagues: Tom Griffith, the principal news anchor of WMUR TV Channel 9 here in Manchester; John DiStaso, political reporter of The Union Leader here in Manchester; and from ABC News, anchor and senior editor of "World News Tonight" Peter Jennings, who has the first questions. Peter?
PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: Thank you, Brit.
I hope we don't confuse you, gentlemen. Brit's going to moderate the first hour; I'm going to moderate the second. And by luck of the draw, I get the first flight of questions to Senator Lieberman, to Governor Dean and to John Kerry.
Governor Dean, I'll come to you in just a second, but I'm going to start, if I may, with Senator Kerry.
Senator, Democrats everywhere tell us that they want to nominate a man who will not be beaten by President Bush using the Republican weapon of taxes. You know that President Bush will be relentless on this subject. You know that it is the Republicans' argument of choice. It works for Republicans.
In your career, you voted to raise billions of dollars in taxes. You've advocated spending billions more in this particular campaign. So I would like you at the outset to put yourself in a moment, on a stage like this, if you're the nominee sometime during the fall. And if you are the nominee, what will you say exactly, precisely, if at that time President Bush says, "Senator Kerry is going to raise your taxes and I am not"?
SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a fight I look forward to, because if George W. Bush wants to stand there beside me and defend raising taxes for people who earn more than $200,000 a year, which are the only people who might be argued will have a tax increase by rolling back the Bush tax cut that they rushed through, instead of giving all of America health care and education so we truly leave no child behind, that's a fight we deserve to have in this country. That's a fight we will win.
I am going to protect the middle class. And in the course of my career, Peter, I have voted for countless numbers of tax cuts.
When I arrived in the United States Senate, the highest marginal rate was 72 percent. We took it down to 28 percent under Ronald Reagan. It then went back up somewhat. I voted for cutting the capital gains tax, I voted for tax incentives for businesses.
But this president has created an economy that feeds the special interests and the powerful and the corporate power, and he is not helped the average worker in America to advance their cause. I will.
JENNINGS: Thank you, sir.
Governor Dean, I'm going to ask you the same question. It happened, of course, to Governor Dukakis, to Walter Mondale and to Al Gore. And you are supporting more tax increases than Senator Kerry.
But I do also, in fairness, want to give you a choice here, if you'd like to use some of the time to talk about — or maybe all the time, your choice — to talk about what some people think was your overly enthusiastic speech to you supporters the other night, which many people actually think has hurt your candidacy...
HOWARD DEAN, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Peter, you may notice that my voice is a little hoarse. It's not because I was whooping and hollering at my third- place finish in Iowa; it's because I have cold.
We did have a little fun in Iowa. I thought I owed it to the 3,500 kids that came out and worked for us.
And, sure, I would have liked to have been a little bit — done a little better. But I congratulate John Kerry and John Edwards on great campaigns. I think they ran a great campaign.
Let me just take a second to talk about this tax stuff.
I'm going to take a different position than everybody. I think we ought to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut, and here's why: There was no middle-class tax cut.
Sixty percent of us got $304. Has your property tax gone up more than $304 because the president cut cops on the beat, refused to fund special education, refused to fund No Child Left Behind? How about your college tuition? Has that gone up more that $304 because the president cut 84,000 kids off Pell Grants in order to pay for the tax cuts for people like Ken Lay?
Your health care, has that gone up because the president cut 500,000 kids off health care?
There was no middle-class tax cut in this country. Somebody has to stand up and say, we cannot have everything. We can't have tax cuts, pay for health care, pay for No Child Left Behind and pay for an adequate defense.
I believe we ought to have balanced budgets. I've done it 12 times. That is the real issue in this campaign. The future health of this country depends on a balanced budget. And we've got to start telling the truth and stop making promises.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Governor.
Senator Lieberman, you've warned for years that this image of being the party of tax increases has hurt the party badly and helps Democrats lose elections. But you voted for increasing taxes yourself. And while you've argued for cutting some in this particular campaign, you've also advocated increasing others. Audition on taxes, if you wish.
But I'll also give you a choice, as I did Governor Dean, perhaps you'd also like to comment on the gentleman from Massachusetts. Would Senator Kerry's answer on taxes be effective if he is challenged by President Bush in debate this fall?
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (D-CT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here is the way I'd like to start this, Peter. I saw a wonderful article recently that said that in a private conversation, President Bush said to someone that the Democrat he thought would give him the toughest fight for reelection was Joe Lieberman. Incidentally, this is an opinion on which I agree with President Bush.
And I think the reason is that the Republicans can't run their normal playbook on me that they try to run on Democratic candidates. They can't say I flip-flop because I don't. They can't say I'm weak on defense because I'm not. They can't say I'm weak on values because I'm not. They can't say I'm a big taxer and a big spender.
In this campaign, I am the only candidate up here on the stage that has come out for genuine tax reform, not only to protect the middle-class tax cuts that middle-class families did get in the last three years, that many of us fought for, but to apply, to carry out, to pass a tax cut for 98 percent of the income tax payers and to pay for it by raising taxes on the 2 percent.
That may make some of the higher-income people unhappy, but it's the right thing to do for the middle class and for our economy.
HUME: Tom, you're next.
TOM GRIFFITH, WMUR: I have two candidates, Congressman Kucinich and General Clark.
I'd like to start with you, General Clark, if I could.
Everybody in the campaign is talking about credentials, what they've done, as an indicator of what they'll do. And you make the case of the value of your military experience. But your Democratic Party credentials in this race do matter to many within the party.
The nominee, as Peter mentioned, will come under harsh criticism from the Bush administration on everything from where they stood yesterday about the war, today about the war, tomorrow about the war; yesterday about taxes, today about taxes and tomorrow about taxes.
So can you be an effective leader, with regard to the platform of this party?
GEN. WESELEY CLARK, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Tom, I voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. When I got out of the military, I looked at both parties. I'm pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-environment, pro- labor. I was either going to be the loneliest Republican in America or I was going to be a happy Democrat.
And there are people who are worried about Democratic Party credentials. I've got to tell them that. But I'm a Democrat of conviction. My wife and I spent our entire time in the uniform taking care of people.
And that's what the Democratic Party does. And that's what I want to do as president.
And I'm in this party now, and I'll bring a lot of other people into this party, too. And that's what we need to do to win in November.
GRIFFITH: So, do you look — as a quick follow-up — do you look, then, at your lack of experience within the party itself as an asset?
CLARK: Well, I've got a lot of experience in leadership. I've never run for elective office before, and in the military, most of us were never members of a political party. But I think what matters in this party is the clarity of your ideas, the strength of your convictions and your ability to communicate.
The Democratic Party is a party of ideas. It's a party as broad as a Montana sky. We welcome everybody into this party, and we care about people. That's why I'm a Democrat. That's why I want to be president: to help people.
GRIFFITH: Thank you.
Congressman Kucinich, you are the candidate on the stage that has a time certain by which you want to withdraw troops from Iraq. You've said essentially that within 90 days, you'll remove American troops, seek a U.N. force to replace them.
What if there's no cooperation from the U.N.? Do you pack your bags and leave Iraq at this point?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Actually, the plan that is predicated on the United Nations being presented with an entirely different direction. And that different direction would be that the United States would disavow any interest in the oil.
Ask the U.N. to handle the oil assets of Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people, until the Iraqi people are self-governing. Ask the U.N. to handle the contracts until the Iraqi people are self-governing.
The United States should renounce any interest in privatization of the Iraq economy. And we should ask the U.N. to help construct a cause of governance in Iraq with a new constitution and elections.
That approach, plus to fund a U.N. peacekeeping mission; in addition to that, to provide repairs for what we destroyed in Iraq, plus reparations for the families of innocent civilian noncombatants — all that constitutes a plan which would enable the United States to go to the U.N. and say, "Look, agree with this plan, send in U.N. peacekeepers," and 90 days later, we'll have our troops home.
I do stand here saying that I believe sincerely that we should bring in U.N. peacekeepers and bring our troops home. And I have the plan to do that.
GRIFFITH: Thank you.
HUME: John, you're next.
JOHN DISTASO, UNION LEADER: My questions are for Senator Edwards and Reverend Sharpton.
Senator Edwards, after voting to authorize the president to go to war in Iraq in 2002, you voted last fall against an $87 billion expenditure to support the troops there and aid the anti-terrorism effort.
These votes may appear to some to be inconsistent, and a reaction even perhaps to the political winds of the movement. Why aren't they inconsistent? How are they consistent?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, (D-NC) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because I said from the very beginning, before the first resolution was ever voted on in the Congress, that in order for this effort to be successful it was absolutely critical that when we reached this stage that it be international, that it not be an American operation, that it not be an American occupation. And so long as it was that, we'd see the problems we've seen right now.
Everyone on this stage has been critical of the way George Bush has conducted this phase of the operation. But at the point where we had to stand up and say yes or no, we had to stand up and vote and support that vote, I thought it would be a mistake for me to say to the president, "What you're doing is right, I support it, go forward, here's your blank check, come back next year and ask for more money."
He needed to change course. We needed to have the United Nations in charge of the civilian authority. We needed NATO present to help provide security there, at least along the Saudi Arabian and the Iranian border so we could concentrate on the Sunni triangle.
And actually, I have to say there are two of us on this stage, Senator Kerry and myself, who both voted against it. And I know that both of us felt we needed to say loud and clear to President Bush that what he was doing was wrong and we thought he needed to change course.
DISTASO: So was it a protest vote, or was it a vote of substance?
And had it failed, what do you believe the scene would be like in Iraq today?
EDWARDS: It was not a protest vote. I voted exactly the way I thought I should have voted.
And not only that, had I been the deciding vote, I would have voted exactly the same way. Because what would have happened, had that occurred, is the president would have immediately come back to the Congress with a plan, changing course, so that he could get the approval he needed.
And I thought it was critically important for us to say to this president, "What you're doing is wrong. You have to change course."
It's all well and good to criticize him. That's just words. We came to the point where we had to stand up and take responsibility. I took responsibility.
HUME: Just to follow up quickly there, how do you know the president would have come back? And how do you know that whatever he asked for would've passed had you voted no when your vote was decisive?
EDWARDS: Because I know — Brit, because I know that the president, nor us, would have ever left the troops over there without the support that they needed. None of us would have allowed that to happen.
But it was critical that we say to the — if we had said yes to this vote — if I can just finish this — if we had said yes to this, it would have been tantamount to saying, "Here's your blank check, go forward. Come back next year, we'll give you another blank check. You can continue this policy. And all of us will stand on stages and criticize you, but when it comes time for when we have to put our rear end on the line and take responsibility, we won't take that responsibility."
I took responsibility. I think it was the right thing to do.
DISTASO: Reverend Sharpton, your Iraq policy calls for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. And as a human rights advocate, is there anywhere in the world today where you would send troops, or use military force, to combat government-sponsored killing, genocide or oppression? In effect, what is the Sharpton doctrine of foreign policy?
REV. AL SHARPTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Sharpton doctrine of foreign policy would be to support emerging democratic nations, and those nations that are underdeveloped, with real trade and aid.
There are billions of people around the world that need clean water systems, clean sanitation systems. We don't need to only talk about a military presence. We need to talk about a humanitarian presence, a development presence. And I think that that would aid our country in developing the intelligence that would protect Americans.
What I've said is that we need to come out of Iraq and submit to the United Nations and go forward in trying to project to the world that we're their friends rather than their cop. And I think that that would be the policy.
As I've traveled all over the world, from the Caribbean to Africa to Europe to the Middle East, people need our trade and aid. They know we're a superpower. The question is: Can we be a super-help in the time of need? If we prove to be, we would have those people as our allies as we go after bin Laden rather than try to go to Mars before we settle the problem on Earth.
HUME: That concludes round one.
Tom, you start round two.
GRIFFITH: Senator Kerry, in a speech at Drake University, you said, in your first 100 days you would move to increase our armed forces by as much as 40,000 troops. You said there was a dire need for two full divisions.
I'm the parent of two teenage sons. We're patriots. People are wondering right now about voluntary versus draft. And as president, how do you hope to lure and attract quality people into the military? And as a follow-up, where do you stand on the issue of the draft?
KERRY: We don't need a draft now and I wouldn't be in favor of it under the current circumstances.
But, look, the first place you start to attract people into the military is to have a president who can prove to America that that president will be responsible about how that president deploys the military.
All across this country there are families right now, all of us have talked to them, who are suffering greatly because the Guards and Reserves have been called up. They are overextended.
The troops of the United States of America are overextended. Their deployments are too long. The families are hurting at home because they lose money from the private sector when they're called up and they get paid less in the military and nobody makes it up to them.
The fact is that if we're going to maintain this level of commitment on a global basis, and for the moment we have to because of what's happened, we need an additional two divisions. One's a combat division and one is a support division. Now, that's the responsible thing to do.
I've also said responsibly, that's temporary, because I intend to be a president who goes back to the United Nations, rejoins the community of nations, brings other boots on the ground to help us in the world and reduces the overall need for deployment of American forces in the globe.
And I mean North Korea, Germany and the rest of the world, where we can begin to set up a new architecture of participation of other countries.
GRIFFITH: Thank you.
Senator Lieberman, I hope you'll allow me to take liberty with my overly stuffed e-mail box.
LIEBERMAN: Go right ahead.
LIEBERMAN: You have that right under the Constitution.
GRIFFITH: This one came to me and has repeated to come to me from rockthevote.com.
We hear about health care coverage issues involving older voters, particularly prescription drugs, but young people also have serious challenges getting adequate health coverage.
How would your plan improve health insurance coverage for this new generation?
LIEBERMAN: Yes, a very important question. Let me say that there is a scandalous fact — really, a morally scandalous fact — which is that 43 million Americans don't have health insurance, 2 million more than when George Bush became president.
I must say, as I go around New Hampshire, I've learned a lot. People tell me that their number-one concern — middle-class families who have health insurance, how are they going to pay for it? And this goes for young, middle-aged and older.
I'm proposing to create a national health insurance pool from which — like the one that members of Congress get our insurance from. And we would say this: If you don't have insurance now, you'll be able to get it, probably free, if you're among the low-income working poor. If you're a child, you will be covered by insurance at birth. If you are fired from your work or lose your job, you will not lose your health insurance.
MediKids is part of my program. Every child born in America will become a member of MediKids, and it will cover them from birth through 25. Why 25? Because young adults have a hard time affording health insurance, and a lot of them think they're not going to get sick, but they do, and we need to cover them.
GRIFFITH: Congressman Kucinich, let me get very local with you for a minute, if I can. We here in New Hampshire, of course, some of our school districts are having trouble meeting the testing standards of No Child Left Behind, which apparently you did vote for, you were in favor of, I believe. Is that correct?
Our education commissioner recently said that we can't really settle on what is a very narrow and strict determination of the student's progress. What would you do, at this point, with No Child Left Behind? Would you throw it out? And if you would, what would you replace it with?
KUCINICH: The answer to your question is, yes, I would.
And what I would replace it with is a new educational structure where the focus would be on helping to bring forth the creativity of our children, in stressing arts and language, music; to invite the participation of educational philosophers and psychologists and administrators and teachers and parents and children; to take a new focus on our education, to stop this incessant direction of trying to make our nation of test-takers, of putting the pressure on teachers to teach to the test, and then school districts depending on the results of those tests for their funding.
No Child Left Behind has not worked out the way that anyone thought it would. And what has happened is, it's become an unfunded mandate. It has become a misdirection of the way education ought to be in America.
I would have a universal pre-kindergarten program where children can go to school beginning at age 3, a fully funded elementary and secondary education act, and free college tuition for all America's young people.
HUME: John, you're next.
DISTASO: Governor Dean, last December you were quoted as saying that you would not have hesitated to attack Iraq this year, quote, "had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be part of a multilateral force."
Given President Bush's reference to "no permission slips" the other night in the State of the Union, do you now regret using that word?
DEAN: I would not have used the word "permission," nor is that what I meant. You know, my words are not always precise, but my meaning is very, very clear.
Iraq was not an imminent threat to the United States. I disagreed with Senator Lieberman, Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry.
We had successfully contained Iraq for 12 years with no-fly zones. They had virtually no air force to speak of. It turned out they did not have the weapons of mass destruction that people thought they did, myself included. It turned out that much of what the president told us was not so.
I believe that Saddam Hussein's removal from power is good. But I also believe that the way to have done it was to do it through the United Nations, which is why I opposed the president's war in Iraq from the beginning.
Which just brings me to one other point.
You know, I'm not a perfect person. I think a lot of people have had a lot of fun at my expense over the Iowa hooting and hollering, and that's justified. But one thing I can tell you is that I'm not kidding about what I say.
The things that I do are things I believe in. I think it's important that the president of the United States be willing to stand up for what's right and not stand up for what's popular.
I did it with No Child Left Behind. That was a mistake a year ago, not just now that everybody's suffering with it. I did it in Iraq. And I did it when I stood up for civil unions for gay and lesbian people my home state when it wasn't popular. And I'm willing to do it again as president.
DISTASO: General Clark, earlier this month you said that if elected, there will be no more 9/11s in the United States. Then you scaled back, saying no one can guarantee anything in life. Some might say that leaves a little bit of an air of inconsistency in your positions. What exactly at this point are you guaranteeing along those lines?
CLARK: What I'm saying is I believe President Bush must be held accountable.
Before 9/11, he did not do everything he could have done to keep this country safe. After 9/11, he took us to a war we didn't have to fight and Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida is still going strong. We were at terrorist condition orange.
As president of the United States, my top priority will be to keep America safe. We're going to go after the terrorist networks. We're going to go after Osama bin Laden. We are not going to live in fear in this country. And we'll use all the resources of the United States — international law, diplomacy, allies, economics and military force, if necessary — to keep this country safe.
DISTASO: General, a top priority — sure, that's everyone's top priority. That's a far cry, some might say, from a guarantee. So...
CLARK: I never used the word "guarantee." I never said that, John.
DISTASO: What did you say?
CLARK: What I said was that the president had been saying that the attack at 9/11 could not have been prevented, and that further attacks were inevitable.
I consider the statement that the attack at 9/11 could not have been prevented as an excuse to cover the fact that this administration didn't do everything they could have done.
And I consider their statement that further attacks on the United States are inevitable as an excuse to cover for the fact that they are today not doing everything they could do to keep America safe. And that's wrong, that's why I'm running and that's what I'll fix.
HUME: Peter, you're next.
JENNINGS: I'd like to continue in this vein a little, if I may.
Senator Edwards, many people, I think, believe that the greatest security threat to the United States in the 21st century is the possible confrontation between the West and Islam.
Now, I know and take for granted, having heard you before, that you respect Islam. But could you take a minute to tell us what you know about the practice of Islam that would reassure Muslims throughout the world who will be listening to you that President Edwards understands their religion and how you might use that knowledge to avoid a confrontation, which, as Tom alluded earlier, might indeed end up sending sons and daughters from New Hampshire to war.
EDWARDS: Well, I have been in these parts of the world. I have been in Pakistan, met with President Musharraf, been in Afghanistan, met with then interim chairman — interim head of the government Karzai. I have met with other Islamic leaders around the world, discussed with them the problems that their country and their people face.
I would never claim to be an expert on Islam. I am not. But I do believe that Islam, as in a lot of other faiths that we as a nation embrace and lift up, that I have shown respect for faiths that are different than mine my entire life. I think I do understand the tragedy of the day-to-day lives of people who live in Arab countries, who live lives of hopelessness and despair.
I think that contributes to the animosity that they feel toward the United States.
And part of our ongoing vision — my ongoing vision for America includes getting at the root causes of that animosity toward the United States, which means being able to communicate, not just with the leadership, for example, in Saudi Arabia, but being able to communicate directly with the people...
JENNINGS: Do you think, Senator...
EDWARDS: ... to express...
JENNINGS: Do you think that we suffer and will suffer at the policy level because we do not know enough about the practice of Islam?
EDWARDS: I think we have a responsibility when we deal with the leadership of these countries. Our relationships, Peter, have been at the leadership level. And we see the results of that. We have ongoing relationship with the Saudi royals, with President Musharraf, with Chairman Karzai. We have relationships with the leaders of these Islamic countries.
The problem is, we have no relationship with the people. And not only do we have no relationship with the people, it's absolutely clear that they feel great animosity toward the United States. We need to, first, be able to communicate directly with the people.
Second, find opportunities. For example, President Musharraf said to me when I met with him: They desperately needed a public school system as an alternative to the religious schools, where their kids are taught to hate Americans.
We need to take advantage of the opportunities available to us and our allies, to reach out, not just to the leaders of these countries for our own purposes, but also to develop a relationship for the people themselves so that they understand what Americans care about and that we actually care about the peace and prosperity of the entire world.
JENNINGS: Reverend Sharpton, I'd like to ask you a question about domestic policy, if you don't mind.
If during your term as president, if you become the nominee, and you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job? You can name someone in particular, if you have someone in mind.
And maybe just take a minute or so to give us a little bit about your views on monetary policy.
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, let me say this. I wanted to say to Governor Dean, don't be hard on yourself about hooting and hollering. If I had spent the money you did and got 18 percent, I'd still be in Iowa hooting and hollering.
SHARPTON: So, don't worry about it, Howard.
DEAN: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: I think, first of all, we must have a person at the Monetary Fund that is concerned about growth of all, not setting standards that would, in my judgment, protect some and not elevate those that cannot, in my view, expand and come to the levels of development and the levels of where we need to be.
I think part of my problem with how we're operating at this point is that the IMF and the policies that are emanating there do not lead to the expansion that is necessary for our country and our global village to rise to levels that underdeveloped countries and those businesses in this country can have the development policies necessary.
JENNINGS: Forgive me, Reverend Sharpton, but the question was actually about the Federal Reserve Board.
SHARPTON: I thought you said IMF, I'm sorry.
JENNINGS: No, I'm sorry, sir. And what you'd be looking for in a chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
SHARPTON: Oh, in the Federal Reserve Board, I would be looking for someone that would set standards in this country, in terms of our banking, our — in how government regulates the Federal Reserve as we see it under Greenspan, that we would not be protecting the big businesses; we would not be protecting banking interests in a way that would not, in my judgment, lead toward mass employment, mass development and mass production.
I think that — would I replace Greenspan, probably. Do I have a name? No.
HUME: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton. Thanks very much.
We've got to take a brief break here, but we will be back with more questions for the seven Democratic candidates. Stay tuned.
HUME: And welcome back to St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where the seven Democratic candidates are debating for the last time before the New Hampshire primary.
We're on our third round of questions, and we begin with John DiStaso.
DISTASO: Senator Kerry, if you were in the Oval Office, how would you feel and how would you view a returning war veteran who tossed his medals away?
KERRY: It would depend on why he did it.
DISTASO: In protest.
KERRY: If I were Richard — well, given what we now know about Richard Nixon and what he did think about it, he was deeply disturbed by the veterans' movement that was a movement of conscience.
And I could not be more proud of the fact that when I came back from that war, having learned what I learned, that I led thousands of veterans to Washington, we camped on the Mall underneath the Congress, underneath Richard Nixon's visibility. He tried to take us to the Supreme Court of the United States. He did. He tried to kick us off. And we stood our ground and said to him, "Mr. President, you sent us 8,000 miles away to fight, die and sleep in the jungles of Vietnam. We've earned the right to sleep on this Mall and talk to our senators and congressmen."
I can pledge this to the American people: I will never conduct a war or start a war because we want to; the United States of America should only go to war because we have to. And if you live by that guidance, you'll never have veterans throwing away their medals or standing up in protest.
And while we're at it, this president is breaking faith with veterans all across the country. They've cut the VA budget by $1.8 billion. There are 40,000 veterans waiting months to see a doctor for the first time. Whole categories have been eliminated from application to the VA.
And I'm not going to listen to Tom DeLay or the president or anybody else lecture the Democratic Party about patriotism when the first act of patriotism is keeping faith with people who wore the uniform of our country.
DISTASO: Senator Lieberman, back to what Senator Edwards said earlier about the blank check and the $87 billion. You voted for it. Is this a blank check? At what point will you say no in the future?
LIEBERMAN: John, it is not a blank check. And I'll say with the withdrawal from this race of our good friend, the great American, Dick Gephardt, I am the only person on this stage who has unwaveringly supported the removal of Saddam Hussein and our troops who are there carrying out that mission, which, yes, has made us a lot safer than we would be with Saddam in power instead of in prison.
I want to tell you a story, John. In Nashua, a few weeks ago, I met a gentleman in a hotel, came over to me, I think he worked there, big burly guy with a crewcut. And he said, "Senator Lieberman, I'm going to vote for you for president, and I want you to know why. I have a son. He is a Marine. He is going to be deployed to Iraq in a month. I trust my son's life with you as commander in chief."
Well, that stopped me in my tracks. I was honored by it. Told me the awesome responsibility that I have as commander in chief. I am ready for that responsibility.
But I think he understood that I would never send America's sons and daughters into war unless it was the last resort. And once there, as I did in this case, I would support them 100 percent until they came home safely and in peace.
DISTASO: Senator, at some point I would presume there will be another request for another appropriation.
LIEBERMAN: Well, we'll examine the request to make sure that it is necessary. We'll certainly try to cut out any gifts to Halliburton again under the money. Right?
But when it comes — when it comes to supporting our troops in battle, I will never say no. Period. They are our best and brightest. They are our heroes. Generations have fought to protect the freedom that we all are enjoying and exercising in this campaign for the presidency. We owe them our lives and our liberties, and they deserve our unwavering support. That's the kind of commander in chief I will be.
DISTASO: Congressman Kucinich, at what point in your administration will there be a closure on the deficit, given what appears to be an extraordinary spending program that you have in mind?
KUCINICH: Well, first of all, we have to acknowledge that this administration has created the deficit with tax cuts to the rich; with a war that was unnecessary, that will soon be $200 billion and could run over a half a trillion dollars; with an expanded Pentagon budget. They're driving a deficit, and they're driving a trade deficit.
Let me tell you one thing I intend to do. I intend to create a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system. By the way, we're already paying for that; we're just not getting it.
I intend to create a universal pre-kindergarten program, not for profit, that would be run by the public schools, that would be funded by a 15 percent reduction in the Pentagon.
I intend to create universal college education, funded by putting the tax cuts, that Bush has given, back to college students so they could go to college tuition-free.
We need to take the trajectory of the deficit down slowly, but the one thing I won't do is cut domestic programs.
DISTASO: Do you have a target date?
KUCINICH: The target date is going to be judged by how much of a rut the president gets us into. I mean, the fact of the matter is, that we have to get out of Iraq, and we have to stop this massive Pentagon expansion. And the president, at the State of the Union address, just said he wants to lock in the tax cut.
He's going in the wrong way. And I dare say, that what the strategy of his administration is, is just to wipe out government's purpose for any social and economic justice at all. And I'm going to take the country in an opposite direction than he's taking it.
HUME: Peter, you're next.
JENNINGS: I get General Clark and Senator Edwards this time.
General Clark, a lot of people say they don't you well, so this is really a simple question about knowing a man by his friends. The other day you had a rally here, and one of the men who stood up to endorse you is the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You said you were delighted with him.
At one point, Mr. Moore said, in front of you, that President Bush — he's saying he'd like to see you, the general, and President Bush, who he called a "deserter."
Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts. And I was curious to know why you didn't contradict him, and whether or not you think it would've been a better example of ethical behavior to have done so.
CLARK: Well, I think Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he feels about this.
I don't know whether this is supported by the facts or not. I've never looked at it. I've seen this charge bandied about a lot.
But to me it wasn't material. This election is going to be about the future, Peter. And what we have to do is pull this country together. And I am delighted to have the support of a man like Michael Moore, of a great American leader like Senator George McGovern, and of people from Texas like Charlie Stenholm and former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton.
We've got support from across the breadth of the Democratic Party, because I believe this party is united in wanting to change the leadership in Washington. We're going to run an election campaign that's about the future. We're going to hold the president accountable for what he did in office and failed to do, and we're going to compare who's got the best vision for America.
JENNINGS: Let me ask you something you mentioned, then, because since this question and answer in which you and Mr. Moore was involved in, you've had a chance to look at the facts.
Do you still feel comfortable with the fact that someone should be standing up in your presence and calling the president of the United States a deserter?
CLARK: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts, Peter. You know, that's Michael Moore's opinion. He's entitled to say that. I've seen — he's not the only person who's said that. I've not followed up on those facts. And frankly, it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this campaign.
JENNINGS: OK, thank you, sir.
Senator Edwards, President Bush, as you know, is worried. He said it again in the State of the Union address the other night that the Defense of Marriage Act is not strong enough, as he says, to protect the institution of marriage.
You were not in the Senate in 1996 when it passed overwhelmingly.
Senator Kerry was one of only 14 senators who voted against it. I'd like to know from you whether or not you think he was right or wrong, and why?
EDWARDS: I think he was right. I think he was right because what happened with the Defense of Marriage Act is it took away the power of states, like Vermont, to be able to do what they chose to do about civil unions, about these kinds of marriage issues.
These are issues that should be left — Massachusetts, for example, has just made a decision, the supreme court at least has made a decision, that embraces the notion of gay marriage.
I think these are decisions that the states should have the power to make. And the Defense of Marriage Act, as I understand it — you're right, I wasn't there when it was passed — but as I understand it, it would have taken away that power. And I think that's wrong. That power should not be taken away from the states.
JENNINGS: Do you believe that other states, for example, should be obliged to honor and recognize the civil union which Governor Dean signed? Should other states be obliged to recognize what happens in another state?
EDWARDS: I think it's a decision that should be made on a state- by- state basis. I think each state should be able to make its own decision about what they embrace.
Now, if I can take just a minute — since you've asked me a lot of process questions, can I talk about what I believe...
JENNINGS: Let's talk to our moderator.
EDWARDS: ... for just a moment, if you don't mind?
Here's what I believe: I believe it is the responsibility of the president of the United States to move this country forward on this important issue.
And there is so much work to be done to treat gays and lesbians and gay and lesbian couples with the respect that they're entitled to. They deserve, in my judgment, partnership benefits. They deserve to be treater fairly when it comes to adoption and immigration.
We should examine — whoever the president of the United States is; I believe it will be me — should examine with our military leadership the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that resulted in a number of linguists who we desperately needed being dismissed from the military.
EDWARDS: There are clearly steps that should be taken by the president, in some cases in conjunction with the Congress...
HUME: I just want to follow up with on the Defense of Marriage Act, which of course is the law of the land.
HUME: Does not the Defense of Marriage Act specifically say that the court rulings in one state, which might, for example, recognize a gay marriage, may not be imposed on anther state? In other words, doesn't the Defense of Marriage go to the very position which you yourself take?
EDWARDS: No, the Defense of Marriage — first of all, I wasn't in the Congress, I don't claim to be an expert on this. But as I understand the Defense of Marriage Act, it would take away the power of some states to choose whether they would recognize or not recognize gay marriages. That's my understanding of it.
HUME: John, you're next.
Tom, I'm sorry. Forgive me, you're next.
GRIFFITH: It's an opportune time to — I've got Governor Dean and Reverend Sharpton.
And, Governor Dean, I'm going to let you step in on this discussion here, if you'd like to.
But my real question for you is, and maybe you can hit this first: We took a recent survey indicated, of everything out there, New Hampshire voters most cite health care as the most important factor that they're looking at when they look at the seven of you and decide who they are going to vote for.
I'll give you an opportunity to talk just a minute about what your plan is and how it's different from everyone else's. Or if you'd like to step in on this Defense of Marriage Act first, you're...
DEAN: It's a complicated, complicated issue. We chose not to do gay marriage. We chose to do civil unions. I think that position, actually, is very similar to Dick Cheney's, who thinks every state ought to be able to do what they want.
Let me talk about health care.
The advantage I have in health care, besides being a doctor, is that I've actually done what a lot of the folks are talking about. We have health insurance for everybody under 18, 99 percent; everybody under 150 percent of poverty. All our working poor people have health insurance.
A third of our seniors and disabled people have prescription benefits. We didn't wait until George Bush got his bill passed, which gave $200 billion of our money to the drug companies and the insurance companies.
Now, what I want to do for this country is just expand what we did in Vermont. We can do that and balance budgets at the same time, but we can't do that and balance budgets at the same and promise everybody a middle- class tax cut and fund special education.
We can't play the game President Bush is. In the State of the Union, the president promised another $1 trillion tax cut. Where does he think he's going to get the money on top of the $500 billion deficit?
We can do these things, but we can't do them without repealing every dime of the Bush tax cuts. Then we can put in health insurance. Then we can fund special education. Then we can fund No Child Left Behind.
GRIFFITH: Thank you.
Reverend Sharpton, two weeks ago in Iowa, in the Black-Brown Debate, you questioned Governor Dean's lack of a black Cabinet member as governor of Vermont. Here in New Hampshire, we do not have a large amount of minorities either.
What would you do to — beyond affirmative action, what would you do to get more minorities in leadership positions within government?
SHARPTON: Well, let me say something about the Defense of Marriage Act. I am unilaterally opposed to any civil or human right being left to states' rights. That is a dangerous precedent.
I think the federal government has the obligation to protect all citizens on a federal level.
And if we start going back to states' rights, we're going back to pre- Civil War days, and I think that that, in its nature, is wrong.
In terms of my concern about minorities being placed in high positions, it must be a goal of inclusiveness. And I think the reason I questioned Governor Dean is he said that that's what he wanted to represent. I think that we must strive toward making sure — government must make sure it is inclusive of everyone and it reflects a nation that is inclusive of everyone, even when there are small populations.
Because diversity is good for everyone, and people need to know that they can work at all levels of government and the private sector and not be limited because of race, because of sex or because of orientation.
That ought to be a goal. You ought to seek it. You ought not act like it's going to just happen automatically or naturally.
HUME: Got a new round coming.
Peter, you start.
Actually, I think John starts, right?
HUME: This is round four. Peter, you're up.
JENNINGS: Either way. I apologize.
I then come, I think, to Governor Dean and to Senator Kerry and to Senator Lieberman again.
At the beginning, I asked some of you how you would defend yourselves against a Republican attack on taxes. The Democrats are the party of higher taxes.
They're also going to come at you in a big way on so-called "social values," not on economic values, but on social values. The president made these issues, as you well know, a big part of his State of the Union address the other night.
Governor Dean, let me ask you this: Republicans already characterize you as not sharing mainstream values. And some Democrats are, I'm sure you know, worried about this.
Show Democrats tonight how you would push back.
DEAN: Well, let's talk first about money.
The president of the United States can't balance a budget. We've not had one Republican president in 34 years balance the budget. You can't trust right-wing Republicans with your money. You ought to hire somebody who has balanced a budget. I'm much more conservative with money than George Bush is.
Secondly, let's look at issues like guns. Now, that gets me in trouble among my own party. But I come from a very rural state. I probably don't have as a pro-gun control position as some other folks in the Democratic Party.
I believe we ought to have the assault weapons ban renewed. I believe we ought to have background checks, both for purchasing guns and also at gun shows. But after that, I think states ought to make their own laws, because what you need in New York City or what you may want in California is not the same thing that you may want in Montana.
Finally, I'd challenge this president on values any day. When a president of the United States uses the word "quota," which is a race- coded word designed to appeal to people's fears they're going to lose their job to a member of a minority community, that president has played the race card, and that president deserves a one-way bus ticket back to Crawford, Texas.
JENNINGS: Thank you, sir.
Senator Kerry, you're also from New England, from the state where the president believes that activist judges are threatening the basic sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.
The Republicans will certainly remind people or make them know that you were lieutenant governor to Michael Dukakis. The Republican National Committee chairman, I believe, will make a speech tomorrow in which he will say that you are more liberal than Teddy Kennedy.
Show Democrats how you push back.
KERRY: I look forward to that fight, and I particularly want to have that debate with this president.
I am a veteran. I fought in a war. I've been a prosecutor. I've sent people to jail for the rest of their life. I have, as a lieutenant governor, helped to fight to create a national plan on acid rain to protect our rivers and lakes and streams for the future.
As a senator, I've stood up for years and fought for fairness. I've also voted for welfare reform. I am a gun owner and a hunter since I was a young man. I think that my education reform — the other significant efforts to try to make the workplace fair in America are as vital to people in the South and the Southwest and the West and the Midwest of this country as anywhere else.
I look forward to standing up and holding George Bush accountable for pushing seniors off of Medicare into HMOs, for prohibiting Medicare from even negotiating a bulk purchase price, from turning an energy bill into a bonanza for his friends in the oil industry to the tune of $50 billion.
The workplace of America, Peter, has never been as unfair for the average American as it is today. And there are more ways to describe that than I have in 60 seconds. But over the course of the next months, Americans will come to understand there's a way to make America fundamentally fair and live up to our promise to all of our citizens.
JENNINGS: Thank you, sir.
Senator Lieberman, as you've heard, the question was about social values, and you have expressed your concern in the past that your party is, in fact, too liberal to win the votes at the center in a general election. So I ask you for some assistance here.
Do you think that these two men have given answers on social values which will — or which would successfully inoculate the party against such charges?
LIEBERMAN: Peter, I've spent too much time the last several weeks here in New Hampshire saying the choice is up to the voters. I'm going to let the voters cast that judgment on Howard Dean and John Kerry.
I will say for myself what I have said from the beginning: that for most Americans, including myself and I would guess all of us here on the stage, life is about trying to do the right thing. And often, for most Americans, our faith, our religions, the values that we get, the sense of right and wrong that we get from our faith are what helps us decide what to do in public life and in private life.
So long as Democrats are hesitant to talk the language of values and show respect for people of faith, we close ourselves off from a great majority of the American people.
So I'm pleased that we in this campaign have started to talk about values. Let's not let George Bush and the Republicans claim they have some kind of monopoly on values or faith-based values. They don't.
When they desecrate the environment, as this administration has, that is desecrating the Earth that God has created. When they give away our national treasury to people who don't need it in tax cuts because they're so wealthy, they don't have the money to help our children who are poor, our elderly with drug benefits. Those are bad values and we ought to speak to that.
JENNINGS: I want to try just one more time, Senator, forgive me. You've have said the party is hesitant. Do you believe that Governor Dean and Senator Kerry have been hesitant, or would be hesitant, to take on George Bush successfully on the question of social values?
LIEBERMAN: Peter, let me put it this way: This is a time to be affirmative. I'd say, "Nice try." But this is a time...
LIEBERMAN: This is a time — we're making our closing arguments to the people of New Hampshire who will have the say next Tuesday.
I'm going to talk about myself. I'm going to stand up and fight for values. I said earlier one of the reasons the Republicans don't want to run against me is because they can't say I'm soft on values. They can't say I don't respect people of faith. They can't say I don't want to support faith-based organizations when they help make this a better, more decent country.
JENNINGS: Thank you, sir.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
HUME: Tom, you're next.
GRIFFITH: General Clark, Patriot Act, come under an awful lot of criticism, as you well know. Many say it erodes our personal liberties, while, of course, it's clear that we all want a secure country. How would your administration revisit the Patriot Act and strike a balance between national security and personal liberties?
CLARK: Well, I'm very concerned about the Patriot Act. It was passed in haste. It's very long. It's got dozens and dozens and dozens of changes.
What we would do is suspend all the portions of the Patriot Act that have to do with search and seizure: sneak-and-peek searches; library records; and so on.
If they want to do a wiretap, they can do it the old-fashioned way, go to a judge with probable cause.
And then, bring the whole act back into the Congress. Lay it out. Ask former Attorney General John Ashcroft to come and testify on his use and abuse of the Patriot Act.
Just lay it out. What provisions were used, for what, for what good? Why couldn't it have been done another way?
And then we're going to put together the right kind of authorities for law enforcement to keep us safe.
But, Tom, we cannot win the war on terror by giving up the very freedoms we're fighting to protect.
GRIFFITH: Congressman Kucinich, I have a question from Sheryl Zettner (ph). She's in New Hampshire. This is what she says.
She says, "Why did you cut a deal to send voters to the Edwards camp if you didn't meet the 15 percent threshold in Iowa?" She's angry. She says, "Edwards supported the war and the Patriot Act."
GRIFFITH: Before you continue...
GRIFFITH: ... is your party divided over the war?
KUCINICH: Of course it is. Of course it is. I mean, I took the position of organizing 126 Democrats who voted against the Iraq war resolution, and I happen to think it was the right position.
Today we're faced with over 500 casualties, a cost of over $200 billion. And it could rise — the casualties could go into thousands and the cost could go over half a trillion — if we stay there for years, as a number of people on this stage intend to see happen.
Well, let me tell you something. There is a difference of opinion in our party, and I stand strong and proud in saying that it's time that we get the U.N. peacekeepers in and bring our troops home. And I've offered a plan to do that, I mentioned earlier.
Now, with respect to what happened in Iowa, let me state this: that if I was looking for someone to pair up with under the Iowa caucus system based on who I agreed with, I wouldn't have had anyone to agree with...
... because the fact of the matter is, I've had a really great difference of opinion, having been the only one on this stage who voted against the war and the Patriot Act.
But John Edwards and I are friends. And one thing we agreed on in Iowa is that we both wanted more delegates. That's what we agreed on.
GRIFFITH: I have no follow-up, to be honest. Thank you.
HUME: John, you're next.
DISTASO: Senator Edwards, checking the Internet, the pro-gun ownership group, such as the North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association, don't have glowy words about you. That might be a popular position here in a Democratic primary, but you also want to carry the South if you were to get into a general election.
So, could you specify for us, please, exactly what additional federal gun control measures you will propose as president?
EDWARDS: What I believe is that — and by the way, I would point out to you at the outset of this question: Remember, I didn't get to the Senate by accident. I actually defeated an incumbent Republican senator who was part of the Jesse Helm's political machine in North Carolina, the result of which is I'm now the senior senator from North Carolina instead of Jesse Helms, which is a very good thing for this country. And that didn't happen by accident.
I grew up in the rural South. I know deep inside what people care about. From the time I was growing up, everyone around me hunted, everyone had guns. I respect and believe in people's Second Amendment rights.
That does not, however, mean that somebody needs an AK-47 to hunt. It does not mean that somebody who's been convicted of a violent crime should be able to walk out of prison, walk across the street and buy a gun. It does not mean that we shouldn't take every step that we can take to keep guns safe and keep guns out of the hands of kids.
So, my belief is, first, I defend people's Second Amendment rights, but I don't think it's without limit.
I think there are limits on those rights, and particularly when the concerns and rights and interests of the American people are at stake.
DISTASO: Well, I'd ask you to keep going and tell us what federal gun control measures you would propose, in addition to what's on the...
EDWARDS: You mean in addition to what we have?
DISTASO: Yes, if any.
EDWARDS: I think we should extend the Brady Bill. I think the Brady Bill is, around now, set to expire. I think it should be extended.
I think that we need to close forever the gun-show loophole so that we don't have problems that I just described, of people who've been convicted of violent crimes walking out of prison, being able to walk across the street and buy a gun.
I think it does make sense to have trigger locks for the purpose of keeping guns safe so that we don't have 6-year-old children accidentally killing other 6-year-old children.
So I think there are reasonable things we can do. But I start from the place that we have to begin — we have to protect people's Second Amendment rights. I have lived with this my entire life. And as I said earlier, I believe I understand what people are concerned about.
DISTASO: Reverend Sharpton, we haven't seen too much of you here in New Hampshire. The state only has about 9,000 African-Americans in a population of 1.2 million.
I know you've said your constituencies go far beyond African- Americans. Why, then, haven't you campaigned more in New Hampshire, a state where Reverend Jackson did very well in the 1980s?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, let me say something, I want to address a question Peter asked.
I don't agree that we need to start backing away, become more Republican to beat the Republicans. I think the problem is we need to start going forward and stop letting them establish the premise of the debate. That's what's wrong with the party.
Second of all...
... I'm very happy to hear my friend and brother, Congressman Kucinich, helps people that won delegates.
I won delegates in South Carolina, Missouri and Delaware.
And I want you to give me the same courtesy you gave John in Iowa.
In terms of campaigning here, everyone campaigned based on their strategy and ability. I've come here several times. Reverend Jackson did do well here in the '80s, but he never made double digits here. So let's not overestimate what he did. Never got, I think, over 8 percent.
I think, though, that I wanted to come. I came. I will continue to come even afterward, because I think it's important you campaign everywhere. I wish everyone had campaigned in Washington D.C., where I did...
... because I think it's important we be inclusive of everyone even if we feel we're not going to get the kind of vote we would want.
HUME: Reverend Sharpton, thanks very much.
We've got to take another brief break here. And when we come back, Peter Jennings will assume the role of moderator. I'll join the questioners.
I might note that extended portions of this program, this debate, will be seen later tonight on the ABC News program "Nightline."
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
JENNINGS: Welcome back to the last debate before the New Hampshire primary.
Gentlemen, the timekeeper has asked me to suggest that you listen even more attentively to the bell than you have on occasion, although I think we generally agree you have been pretty good.
GRIFFITH: Senator Kerry, I want to begin with you, something very local to the New England region, the use of MTBE in gasoline here in the Northeast, as you know.
It's been very controversial because of its link to water pollution. Here in New Hampshire, our governor, Jeanne Shaheen, petitioned the EPA to let us out of that requirement some years ago, and still no answer from the feds on it.
If decisions aren't made soon, they're going to have to add ethanol, I guess, which is a very costly thing that could create gas price increases and generally hurt our New England economy.
What do you propose in the balancing act between the environment and the economy, as it pertains to MTBE?
KERRY: It needs to be banned, taken out. And the companies that have put it in need to be held responsible for it.
I visited with Lisa and Randy Denuccio. They live in Salem. They live right beside a lake in Salem. Their kids no longer use the water there to make lemonade. Their kids no longer shower using that water. They're scared of it. It's polluted with MTBE, as are one- sixth of the lakes of New Hampshire.
Now, Tom DeLay and his friends in Congress have been busy protecting those companies from their responsibility, trying to give them liability immunity for what they've done.
This is the worst environmental administration that I've ever seen in all my time in public life. They're going backward on clean air, backward on clean water, backward on forest policy.
And we deserve a president of the United States who is going to stand up to those powerful interests, as I have. I led the fight to stop Gingrich from destroying the Clean Air and Clean Water Act. I led the fight to stop them drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
And as president, I will balance between jobs and the economy, but I'm not going to give people a phony choice that says, "It's either the jobs or the economy." Cleaning up the environment is jobs. And we're going to create 500,000 of them for Americans in the first years.
GRIFFITH: OK, thank you.
Senator Lieberman, on the issue of — we're right now looking to go out to Canadian drug sources in order to lower our state costs. You've (ph) announced plans to import prescription drugs, to look at it closely, in order to save the state money.
Is this something — on this topic, would you encourage state governors to do this? Or would you seek some other methodology to try to keep drug prices down? Should we be going to Canada for...
LIEBERMAN: Yes, unfortunately, we should.
And I view this is as a kind of Boston Tea Party of the 21st century. I never attack the drug companies for what they produce. The pharmaceuticals that they produce keep us alive and well.
But the pricing is unfair. And it is particularly unfair that Canada slaps price controls on, other developed rich nations in Europe do the same, and Uncle Sam and our citizens have to pay the full cost of research, marketing, administration of the drug companies.
There's only way that this is going to begin to turn around, and it is if we begin to allow the legal importation of drugs from Canada. That's the way we can speak with our money to the drug companies to treat us more fairly.
LIEBERMAN: I'd say one other thing. In the so-called drug benefit bill, Medicare, which I voted against, there was actually a restrictive clause put in by the special interests to stop this from happening; and even more outrageous, a prohibition on Medicare negotiating the lowest possible prices with drug companies for prescription drugs for the elderly.
JENNINGS: In the meantime, Senator...
LIEBERMAN: Now, give me a break, how can you justify that?
JENNINGS: In the meantime, Senator — forgive me for interrupting — in the meantime, the government moved today against another Canadian drug company. Are you not encouraging, as sympathetic as one is to seniors, are you not encouraging governors and communities to break the law?
LIEBERMAN: I think we have to make it legal. That's what I'm saying.
I would — and I voted for this in the Senate. I would allow the safe importation of drugs, which means to have some basic standards to make sure — but when you're bringing in a prescription drug with a brand name that effectively is the same drug as people are paying so much money for here in the United States, that's going to send a message to the drug companies: Treat American consumers fairly.
GRIFFITH: I'm back over to Congressman Kucinich.
And I hope that you'll allow me to dig deep again into my e-mail bag for your next question.
KUCINICH: It's great to communicate with the mass public. That's what this election's about.
GRIFFITH: Roger Stevenson of Stratham wrote me with great concern that there hasn't been enough discussion on the environment.
What is the most important environmental issue facing the nation?
And you only have one minute.
KUCINICH: Thank you.
As president of the United States I would lead this country on a new energy initiative. In the same way that President John F. Kennedy decided to bring the academic and spiritual resource of this country to have the United States reach the moon someday, I intend to have a very infinitely interesting journey to planet Earth.
And that journey will be about sustainable and renewable energy.
By the year 2010, I'll call upon Americans to assist in creating a program, not only of conservation, but of moving to renewable energy, away from oil, nuclear and coal, and towards wind and solar and geothermal, green hydrogen and biomass.
We're talking about saving our planet here. We have to understand even here in New Hampshire how trees are affected and the, you know, maple syrup is affected as a product here. We have to recognize that the economy of this region has been hurt by environmental policies which dirty the air and the water. I'm going to change that.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Congressman.
John DiStaso, you have Governor Dean and General Clark.
Governor, I know this is a very happy debate, as Senator Lieberman said, but there are some things that have been said. Last week, for instance, you said the three senators' decision to support the 2002 Iraq resolution, quote, "calls into question their judgment and ability to sort out complicated issues regarding the most crucial decision any president has to make," in a conference call with New Hampshire reporters.
That's a harsh indictment. And I'm wondering today do you still feel that way.
DEAN: I do. We were presented with a series of facts. I came to a different conclusion than the senators did on those facts. My conclusion was that there was no Al Qaida in Iraq, as the president intimated. My conclusion was that Iraq was not about to acquire nuclear weapons, as the president intimated, and as the British intelligence reports reported the opposite of. My conclusion was that we'd successfully contained Saddam Hussein.
People have questioned my foreign policy experience, and the retort that I make is, that with patience and judgment, I was able to sort out, in fact, the idea that the president was not being candid with the American people when he asked that the resolution be improved.
I would not have supported that resolution. I said so in Keene on September 20, 2002. So we do have a difference of opinion.
We have a difference of opinion on No Child Left Behind. I would not have supported that, and said so early on. There are differences between us.
I've said — just to get back to Joe's more cheerful appraisal — I have said that whoever wins up here, I will vigorously support, and I absolutely intend to do so. But that does not mean there are not substantive differences between the candidates here.
DISTASO: Don't you think that disagreeing and calling into question one's judgment and ability to sort out complicated issues are a little bit different scale?
DEAN: Someone earlier made a remark about losing 500 soldiers and 2,200 wounded. Those soldiers were sent there by the vote of Senator Lieberman and Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards. That is a fact. And I think that's a very serious matter. And it is a matter upon which we differ.
DISTASO: I saw Senator Lieberman's hand up.
LIEBERMAN: Might I have the opportunity to rebut?
JENNINGS: Very briefly, Senator.
LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, very briefly, we made the right decision.
I didn't need George Bush to convince me that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States of America. John McCain and I wrote the law that made it national policy to change the regime in Baghdad.
This man was a homicidal maniac, killed hundreds of thousands of people, did have weapons of mass destruction in the '90s, used them against the Kurdish Iraqis and the Iranians, admitted to the United Nations he had enough chemical and biological to kill millions of people, supported terrorism, tried to assassinate former President Bush.
I repeat: We are safer with Saddam Hussein in prison than in power.
DISTASO: General Clark, you've already discussed your concerns about the Patriot Act and support for civil liberties and privacy rights. But as a lobbyist for Axiom Corp, you helped secure a federal contract for the system known as CAPPS II, a passenger-screening program which has been criticized by the ACLU for violating people's rights to privacy.
How does CAPPS II, which I know many air-traveler advocacy groups are concerned about, not do that, not step over the line? Or does it, now that it's about to be in place?
CLARK: Well, I don't know about CAPPS II because I have not seen the program, and I don't think many of the people who are worried about it have.
Here's what I believe. I believe that we need to use all of the tools and tradecraft at our disposal to help keep this country safe. And we need to do so in a way that doesn't violate people's privacy.
And when I was consulting with Axiom — and I was on the board of the company, and I did take them around and introduce them to various members of the United States government, the Defense Department and so forth, because their technology will improve our security.
But I was insistence that we do so with a firm grip on the privacy issues. Had I still been on that board when all this was going through, I would have insisted that ACLU and others be brought in to pre-approve CAPPS II. Whether that was done or not, I have no idea.
But there's nothing intrinsic in the system that we're using that can't be made fully compatible with all of the privacy concerns.
JENNINGS: Thank you, sir.
HUME: Senator Edwards, the Iowa results suggests that a great many people have taken a look at you and seen a new face and amiable personality, a couple of adorable kids, and viewed you with considerable approval.
I wonder, though, if some people don't also look at you and say, "Well, he's served part of one term in the U.S. Senate; he's not going to come back for another if he doesn't get the presidency," and wondered if, while you may be very promising and attractive in their ideas, it may be a little early for the White House for you?
EDWARDS: Well, actually, Brit, I think 32 percent of Iowans decided it was not too early...
... that they wanted me to be their president.
And I think the reason for that is people are hungry for change. They're hungry for change in America. They're hungry for change in Washington, D.C. And the truth is, the truth is, that I'm somebody who's been in Washington long enough to see what's wrong with it and how it needs to be changed.
You asked a few minutes to Joe Lieberman — or Joe was asked a few minutes ago about the prescription drug bill and what should be done. Here's a perfect example of what goes on in Washington every day: The lobbyists and these powerful lobbies for the drug company, they're taking the democracy away from the American people. Their lobbyists, who make huge campaign contributions, they're lobbying the Congress every day. There's a revolving door between the government and lobbyists.
We need to do a whole group of things to restore the power in this democracy to the American people so that these insiders are not continuing to run this government.
And what I would do is ban their contributions. I would shine a bright light on their activities so we, in fact, know what they're doing.
And third, I would make them tell us everything they're doing: Who they're lobbying for; who they're lobbying; the money they're spending; who they're trying to influence.
Those are the things that we need to do to bring real change to this country.
JENNINGS: Is there anything intrinsically wrong, sir, with being a lobbyist?
EDWARDS: I can't hear you.
JENNINGS: Is there anything intrinsically wrong with being a lobbyist?
EDWARDS: No. There's something wrong with the impact that Washington lobbyists are having on our system of government.
EDWARDS: Because — since you asked me, may I say one other word about that?
Because if you watch what happens there every single day, they are influencing legislation. The power of the American people to have their representatives decide only in the interests of the American people has been taken away. And it happens over and over and over.
Which is why I have laid out a very clear set of proposals: banning contributions from Washington lobbyists. I've never taken any money from Washington lobbyists, but no one should be able to take money from them...
JENNINGS: Thank you, Senator.
EDWARDS: ... and, second, making sure we know what they're doing.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Senator.
HUME: Reverend Sharpton, there are signs now that the Earth may be crumbling under the feet of the regime in Iran. There is real dissent in that country. There is a protest now against the fact that a number of candidates have been told they cannot run for election there.
As president, how would you deal with the situation in Iran?
SHARPTON: I think that one of the problems that we see in Iran, in terms of the movement toward open elections, toward a clear repression there, is something that we must be concerned about.
But I do not, in any way, shape or form, support a military intervention. I would try as best I could as president to use the power of diplomacy, the power of our trade and business with Iran, and our ability to communicate with all sides. And I would support the U.N. to try to bring about some kind of stabilized order there and some kind of dialogue.
I think that we have an obligation to try to support democracy anywhere we can in the world. But I think that we've got to do it by supporting the United Nations and not undercutting it by going around it or by going in a way that would undermine the ability to bring these matters into some order.
And I think that was the reason the United Nations was put forward in the first place. I think the fact that we don't pay our dues, the fact that we ourselves go around the U.N. when we want undermines the ability of the U.N. to be used in situations like Iraq.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
John DiStaso, you start the next round.
DISTASO: Yes, for Senator Kerry.
Senator, wealthy Americans aren't all millionaires. Some of them are small-business people who have worked hard and been successful and making perhaps $200,000. And there are some that I know that are concerned that if they receive a tax hike that they are going to have to — the effect is going to be on their business, scale back, layoffs, perhaps even close down.
What are you going to do for them who are maybe employing a fair number of other people?
KERRY: Well, as a senator for years I have fought for small businesses. I've actually been chairman of the Small Business Committee. And I think one of the reasons, to go back to Peter's question, that the Republicans are going to begin advertising tomorrow to try to attack me and sort of label me is because they know my record. They know I present the strongest challenge to George W. Bush.
I'm the only other candidate, besides Governor Dean, who is outside of the caps. If I win the nomination, I'll have the ability to raise an extraordinary amount of money and answer them back.
Today I was endorsed by Fritz Hollings in South Carolina. I have the endorsement of General Steve Cheney, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, in South Carolina, the former statewide candidate for attorney general, the minority leader of the House, the minority leader of the Senate, Senator Max Cleland in Georgia, because I'm talking common sense to Americans.
And common sense is that you need to help small business across this country.
They just cut today the manufacturing extension program for New Hampshire that has helped $35 million of additional money come to small businesses in this state. The Republicans cut it today.
I'm in favor of tax reductions for small business, and I have a health care plan that will reduce the burden for all Americans, business and those who get their health care in the workplace today.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Senator.
KERRY: That's why they're frightened. And that's why I'm going to win.
DISTASO: Senator Lieberman, I'm going to ask you a parochial question, one that hasn't come up here yet. It may not be the one that you would enjoy.
Going back to 1996 and '99, you and former Senator Slade Gorton proposed a bill to have regional primaries, revolving regional primaries throughout the state, which could've prompted an end to the New Hampshire primary.
How much of a mistake was that, now that you've literally lived here?
Or, given the fact — I don't want to bring up horse races here, your standing in the polls — is that now a pretty good idea after all?
LIEBERMAN: I've gotten older and wiser, John.
You know, this New Hampshire primary looks pretty good to me now. It's why I chose to start here. My wife and family and I have taken an apartment in Manchester. We've spent a lot of time talking to people here. I think they've come to understand that I have a record of 30 years that they can rely on to know who I am.
And what's more important, I know who I am. I've stood up to special interests. I've put the people first. I'm independent-minded, as the people of New Hampshire are. That's why I'm confident about what's going to happen next Tuesday.
The Democratic National Committee did something very good with the presidential selection process. They protected the so-called window for Iowa and New Hampshire historically, but then opened up this process to seven other states, from South Carolina to New Mexico, Arizona, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Delaware and Missouri.
Did I get them all?
And that's going to let a lot of people around America have a say early about who the Democratic nominee will be.
JENNINGS: Senator, we're geographically sensitive.
JENNINGS: Can I ask all of you to put up your hand who would also agree next time to start in Iowa?
DEAN: We would agree to start in Iowa?
JENNINGS: To start in Iowa.
DISTASO: I would like to follow up by asking Senator Lieberman — I can't ask everyone at once — to pledge now to use your power as president, as the nominee or as senator, to actively oppose any efforts in the future — and they're going to come — to boot New Hampshire out of its first-in- the-nation place.
LIEBERMAN: John, let me...
DISTASO: Anybody that could take that opportunity to do that...
LIEBERMAN: Let me say two things. One, because I'll be the incumbent president, I look forward to going to Iowa to the caucuses four years from now.
Secondly, I will pledge to the death to protect...
... the New Hampshire primary, so help me God.
JENNINGS: Let it never be said that any of you pander.
JENNINGS: Mr. Hume?
HUME: General Clark, Governor Dean has said that you're a good guy but he thinks you're a Republican. Now, we're told you did vote for several Republican presidents — President Nixon, President Reagan — said good things about the first President Bush and even about this President Bush.
You said, in an article published in The Times of London back in April as the war ended, quote, "Liberation is at hand. Liberation, the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions."
As to the president, you wrote, quote, "President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt."
Given those statements, given your votes, I think it is not unreasonable to ask you when you first noticed that you were a Democrat.
CLARK: Well, actually, actually, Brit, actually, I did vote for Al Gore in 2000 and for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
But when I was in the military, I was not a member of any party. I was an independent, and that's the way it is done in the state of Arkansas.
And when I got out, I looked at both parties. And I'm a fair- minded person. And when the president of the United States does two things that I agree with — one of them attacking the Taliban in Iraq, and the other is not quitting in the use of military force in the middle of a dust storm — then I'm going to say so.
And when I'm president, I hope that Republicans will praise me when I do things right. But...
HUME: Well, that's...
CLARK: Can I just finish my statement?
CLARK: I'm running for president because I don't like the direction George Bush is taking the country in. I am a Democrat, and I want to turn this country around and set it going in the right direction.
I want to put a strong basis of values back into this Democratic Party and take George Bush head-on. Because family values is our issue in the Democratic Party; it is not the Republicans' issue.
HUME: Could not a reader be justified in concluding, from this piece that you wrote for the Times of London in April, that you did indeed support this war and was pleased by its outcome and, as you said the first time when asked the question, probably would have voted to support it?
CLARK: No, that's not true. In fact, if you look at the whole article, what you'll see is that the article lays out a whole series of tasks that have to be done later on.
And it's written in a foreign publication. I'm not going to take U.S. policy and my differences with the administration directly into a foreign publication.
But I made it clear in the article — and I think you've got it there. If you read it on down, you'll see that I say this doesn't mean — they've got to focus now on the peacekeeping, the occupation, the provision of order.
There's a whole series of tasks that I laid out for them to do that, in fact, they were incapable of doing.
I did not support this war. I would not have voted for the resolution. But once American soldiers are on the battlefield, then I want them to be successful and I want them to come home safely.
JENNINGS: Thank you, General.
HUME: Senator Edwards, the Democratic national chairman, Terry McAuliffe, said yesterday, I believe, that the president, by bringing up his possible support of a constitutional amendment on marriage, was preparing to introduce bigotry into the Constitution.
Do you agree with that?
EDWARDS: I'm completely opposed to the constitutional amendment. I think it's wrong and unnecessary.
I wonder if I could just step back for a minute. There's been an enormous amount of discussion in the first hour, hour-and-a-half of this debate, about us, about ourselves. You know, if we could just take a minute and talk about what's actually happening in the country.
For example, there's been no discussion about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every single day. Millions of Americans who work full-time for minimum wage and live in poverty.
We have, in a country of our wealth — if you'll let me finish — in a country of our wealth and prosperity, we have children going to bed hungry. We have children who don't have the clothes to keep them warm.
And I understand that maybe on some poll, that may not be a big issue, but the truth is, it's important. This is what — we should talk about it and do something about it, because it's wrong.
And we need — we, the Democratic presidential candidates, we have a responsibility, I believe, a moral responsibility, to do something about 35 million Americans living in poverty.
And the only thing I'm suggesting, we need to spend some time, more time in this debate talking about the issues. Instead of talking about ourselves, why don't we talk about them? Why don't we talk about the voters and the things that affect their lives? That's what we ought to be doing.
HUME: Well, Senator, I don't think anyone would dispute that...
... that abortion remains a potent issue in our national life, and the chairman...
EDWARDS: Thirty five million Americans living in poverty is also an important issue.
HUME: I wouldn't dispute that for a moment. But the chairman of your party has accused the president of the United States of bigotry, and I would just like to know if you agree that bigotry is in play here?
EDWARDS: It's not the word I'd use, but I think the president is dead wrong, dead wrong on this issue.
HUME: Thank you, sir.
JENNINGS: Senator, I inadvertently robbed John DiStaso of a question to Congressman Kucinich.
I hereby restore it.
DISTASO: OK, thank you.
Congressman, I understand the principle behind your call for the United States to withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO. But under this bilateral trade situation, how do you force progressive trade conditions?
JENNINGS: Do you have a feeling he's ready for you?
DISTASO: Yes. I did have that feeling all along.
Well, what would it be, sanctions, withholding exports of some countries? And what about the consumers here who you've admitted will face much higher prices?
KUCINICH: This graph is about the loss of New Hampshire jobs because of NAFTA and the WTO. Twenty-two thousand jobs can be directly traced to NAFTA and the WTO, jobs that were good paying jobs in this state that were lost. This other graph is about the loss of 3 million American manufacturing jobs because of NAFTA and the WTO.
As president of the United States, I intend to have a trade structure which supports manufacturing in this country — steel, automotive, aerospace, textiles, shipping. I intend to have a manufacturing policy which stops the hemorrhaging not only of manufacturing jobs, but high-tech jobs as well.
As president of the United States, my first act in office, understanding how NAFTA and the WTO have severely hurt the state's economy, my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to bilateral trade conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and environmental quality principles.
JENNINGS: Congressman, I apologize that we didn't see the graphs a whole lot better than we did on radio.
KUCINICH: Well, excuse me, Peter, on radio I was showing it to Howard Dean, and I'm glad that Howard had a chance to see it.
JENNINGS: Are they at your Web sites, here?
JENNINGS: Are they at your Web site?
KUCINICH: This information comes from the National Association of Manufacturers.
KUCINICH: I'm sure it's on their Web site.
JENNINGS: Good, thanks. Thank you very much.
KUCINICH: And this information comes from a briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute. It was given to me by a group of New Hampshire - - by the people of New Hampshire, who are working under the fair trade for New Hampshire. And I'm supporting their efforts.
And frankly, I wish that every candidate on this stage would join me in saying that you would agree to cancel NAFTA and the WTO, in light of what it's cost New Hampshire.
JENNINGS: Tom Griffith?
Anybody want to take him up on that?
GRIFFITH: Governor Howard Dean, I have a cousin in the audience who is from New Jersey, and a long-time loyal Democrat. And she called me a few times and said, "Who do you like? What are they saying?" And all along the time, I said to her — I'd give her my input. When I mentioned anything about the three New Englanders that are on the stage, she would say, "We don't need any more Northeasterners on the ticket."
Now, with that question, lay out some of the red states and blue states, and what red states you would pick up as the nominee that we didn't — that the Democrats did not pick up in the year 2000?
JENNINGS: Does anybody need a description of red and blue states anymore?
Red states were Republican in the last election. Blue states were Democrat, OK.
DEAN: We've got to talk about jobs in order to do that. You know what a red state that's very vulnerable and eligible for us is? South Carolina. They've lost enormous numbers of steel jobs and textile jobs, exactly the kind of thing that Dennis was talking about, because of WTO and NAFTA.
Now, I'm not going to get rid of WTO and NAFTA. We've globalized multinational rights for corporations. We have not globalized labor and environmental rights, and we need to do that if trade's ever going to work fairly.
So we're going to have opportunities in places like Arizona, Montana, Colorado, Ohio, West Virginia and even in the South.
And you know why? Because they're going to do what you just did to John Edwards. You're going to keep asking him about gay marriage, and John Edwards is absolutely right. This isn't about gay marriage; this is about jobs. This isn't about race; this is about education because everybody needs a good education no matter what color you are.
This is not about the things that divide us. If we're going to ever win another election again in some of these states, we have to talk about education, health care and jobs. We cannot fight the Republicans on their ground; we're going to fight them on our grounds.
GRIFFITH: For Reverend Sharpton...
GRIFFITH: ... you speak about being against the death penalty. Do you agree? You disagree with the death penalty in the capital murder of a police officer?
SHARPTON: I disagree with the use of the death penalty because it has been proven too many times to have been discriminatory in the way it has been applied. It has not been proven to be a deterrent against crime.
And I do not think because it has been proven wrong that we have the right to take lives if we can't give lives, and we can't give them.
Let me say this quickly, because I want to add to two of the answers of two my colleagues here.
SHARPTON: One, I agree with John Edwards about increasing help for businesses. I've called for a two-year deferment of small businesses so we can get more businesses on.
But I think that one of the things we have not talked a lot about tonight, too, is education. I think that we cannot let the Republicans talk about values only in terms of personal morality without dealing with broad social immorality.
So they say, if you have a nice, well-knit family, and the well- knit family stays together, you have good values, while they take day care from the kids, employment from the father and the rights from the mother.
No, good values helps not only keep a family, but feed a family, employ a family, give education to a family.
We can't let them interpret the debate that way. We could have won South Carolina last time if we talked more about that. We had more people that didn't vote than we lost the election by, in South Carolina.
JENNINGS: Brit Hume.
HUME: Governor Dean, I don't mean to take you back to the moment of excitement the other night in Des Moines, but I did want to ask you a question based on...
DEAN: My voice is just barely recovering now. Please don't.
HUME: I can tell.
But I do want to ask you a question about something you were quoted as saying about that issue today, which was that you said that wear your emotions on your — that you lead with your heart, not with your head. Is that a quality people want in a president?
DEAN: Well, if you look at my record as governor, we balanced budgets. Every child in my state has health care. We do early intervention in kids, following up 91 percent of all our kids and supporting the kids that are in trouble, supporting their families so they have a better chance of going to college than they do of going to prison.
Now, what I can offer the American people is somebody who believes in social justice tempered by being a fiscal conservative, tempered by wanting budgets to be manageable.
The greatest injustice you can do in this country is to have an unbalanced budget for a long period of time.
I think the president's unbalancing of this budget is deliberate. Half-a-trillion dollar deficit as far as the eye can see means more cuts in programs for kids, more cuts in education, more cuts in college.
So, yes, I lead with my heart. I say what I believe.
I think it's time that somebody in this party stood up for what we believe in and wasn't so careful about what they were saying. If we're willing to say anything we have to say to get elected, then we're going to lose. We have to say what we believe, whether it's popular or not.
HUME: But what you do mean by not with your head. Isn't there a temperament issue that people may be alarmed about that?
DEAN: Well, I'm sure there's a lot of people who are alarmed because they've been alarmed by all kinds of folks who've criticized some of the things I've said.
But I truly believe that we absolutely have to stand up for bedrock Democratic principles. Al Sharpton talked about it a couple of minutes ago. We're not going to beat George Bush by trying to be like him.
What we're really trying to do here is not just change presidents. What we're really trying to do here is steer the country back to a time when we were all in it together. This president has divided us.
What I say, what we say in my campaign, when we say we want our country back, we want our country back for all of us. And you have to get out there and lead with your heart and lay it all out for the American people, because that doesn't happen very often in Washington, D.C.
HUME: Thank you, Governor.
Senator Kerry, Governor Dean has said of you, and I believe also of Senator Edwards, that you cast votes that you knew were wrong on the war for political reasons. How do you answer that charge?
KERRY: Well, I stood up to the people of Massachusetts and the country. Those are the people I answer to. And I answered by saying that there was a right way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and there was a wrong way.
The right way was what the president promised, to go to the United Nations, to respect the building of an international coalition in truth, to exhaust the remedies of inspections and literally to only go to war as a last result.
Now, I've fought all my life for peace. I fought against the war in Vietnam when I came home. I fought against Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America. I fought with John McCain to make peace in Vietnam. I fought to hold the Khmer Rouge accountable in Cambodia. And on and on.
If anybody in New Hampshire believes that John Kerry would have in fact gone to war the way George Bush did, they shouldn't vote for me. But if they know that I would have stood up and exhausted the remedies and done what was necessary to hold them accountable but lived up to the values and principles of our country, then I'm the person to be president who actually can make America more secure without breaching relationships across this planet.
HUME: But Senator, you have said of that vote on the resolution that authorized the president at his discretion to use military force against Saddam Hussein that it was a vote to threaten the use of force.
KERRY: Well, Brit...
HUME: Let me just finish the question.
HUME: And you now are saying it was a vote to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. In fact it was, was it not, a vote to permit the president to use force at his discretion.
KERRY: As a last resort was the promise of a president. And I wrote in the New York Times at that time, I said the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to. It should only go to war because it has to. And that means building legitimacy and consent of the America people, Brit.
Look, I know there is a test as a commander in chief as to when you send young Americans off to war, because I know what happens when you lose that consent.
And you got to be able to look in the eyes of a family and say you exhausted every possibility and you only sent their son or daughter to die because you had no other choice.
I believe George Bush failed that test in Iraq. I said so at the time, and that's what I believe happened.
JENNINGS: Thank you very much.
KERRY: There is the right way to do it and wrong way to do it. He chose the wrong way. And he's run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country.
HUME: Senator Lieberman, you voted the same way. You have also objected to the way the president has handled things. And yet you went ahead and voted for the $87 billion, which Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards did not.
How do you answer what they have to say here?
LIEBERMAN: What was the question at the end?
HUME: The question is, you took different votes here.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, no, I know. At the end, what was your...
HUME: Well, how do you respond to what they're saying about the...
LIEBERMAN: Oh, right, right. Brit, you're absolutely right. I have criticized the president for overstating some of the arguments about why we went to war. I've said I was shocked that the administration wasn't better prepared to take advantage of the military victory.
But I repeat again: This was a just war.
Look, when I voted for the resolution in the fall of 2002, I had no illusions. I knew it would be an unpopular vote in parts of the Democratic Party and my race for the presidency.
But I did it because I put my hand on a Bible and took an oath to protect the security of the United States. And I believed that Saddam Hussein was a clear and present danger and threat to the security of the United States, the people of Iraq and the stability of the world.
I've said before that, at times, in its policy, the Bush administration has given a bad name to a just war.
But a just war it was. And again, we are safer as a people with Saddam Hussein in prison, not in power.
Now we have an extraordinary opportunity in the war against terrorism to build an Iraq, a democratizing, modernizing country in the middle of the Arab and Islamic worlds, which will send a message to the majority in the Islamic world that there is a better way than the hatred and death that Al Qaida presents to them.
It is, if you'll forgive me, the American — the democratic way. That's what we have an opportunity to do now.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Senators.
JENNINGS: I think you all know we have about — we have only about 15 minutes left, so we're going to take another break, and we'll be right back.
LIEBERMAN: I told you it wasn't popular in all sections of the Democratic Party.
But you got to do what you think is right for your country.
JENNINGS: Welcome back to the last 10 minutes, approximately, of the last debate before the primary.
Brit, you wanted to make one point.
HUME: I believe I said that Governor Dean had said that Senators Kerry and Lieberman cast — Kerry, excuse me, and Edwards cast those votes knowing that they were wrong. The governor has assured me he did not say that. I stand corrected.
GRIFFITH: For General Clark, General Clark, the 30-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade today, as you know.
One in three Granite Staters call themselves Catholic, and you converted to Catholicism during the Vietnam War. You apparently now attend a Presbyterian Church, and I believe you were raised a Baptist.
Can you qualify your pro-choice — however, in one interview I read, you still consider yourself a Catholic. Now, can you clarify your pro- choice position on abortion and describe how you reconcile that with Catholic doctrine?
CLARK: I reconcile it with my own beliefs. And I do believe in the right of conscience. And I support a woman's right to choose protected by law.
I fought for human rights in Bosnia. I fought for human rights in Kosovo. And I will fight for human rights in the United States of America.
And no one is going to take away a woman's right to choose when I'm president of the United States. It's that simple.
GRIFFITH: Can you clarify how you reconcile that with Catholic doctrine?
CLARK: I understand what the Catholic doctrine is. But I have freedom of conscience. And I believe what I believe. I believe that the right to choose is a right that should be protected by law.
I believe the decision about issues like this are the issues that have to be worked between a woman and her family, her god, her doctor. And as much as I respect the opinion of the Catholic Church, in this case, I don't support it. It's that simple.
JENNINGS: General, I don't want to take up too much time, but the press has been trying very hard today to ask you to explain whether or not you believe a woman has the right to choose until the end, basically even in the eighth and ninth month. What is your clear and simple answer to that?
CLARK: I believe in the established law, Roe v. Wade and Casey.
JENNINGS: And would you like quickly to tell the audience what that provides for...
CLARK: What it says is essentially that a woman has a right to choose, pre-viability and after viability, which is determined by a doctor, then that a woman's right to choose can be constrained by the states, but that the health of the mother must be protected. And she has the right to consult with her doctor on that.
DISTASO: Congressman Kucinich, unfunded special needs mandates here in New Hampshire are brutal on our local school districts. Tell us what you would have in mind in the education sphere for unfunded special education?
KUCINICH: Well, we have to keep in mind that the education cuts that have occurred because of the Bush administration in New Hampshire include $800,000 cut for Pell Grants, $1.1 million for educating children in rural schools, $400,000 for teacher quality training grants, $233,000 for safe and drug-free school grants.
The federal government has all kinds of mandates, but the problem is, is in funding them.
KUCINICH: And as many people have learned across this country, with respect to the No Child Left Behind Act, that we spoke of earlier, the administration in the last budget provided for — they provided $21 billion dollars when there were $32 billion in needs. And what they're doing is putting pressures on school districts all over the country.
When you create a program, you should fully fund it. And what I will do as president is to make education one of the top national priorities by a fully funded pre-kindergarten program for all children ages 3, 4 and 5, by a fully funded Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and by a fully funded program for tuition free at all public colleges and universities.
JENNINGS: John DiStaso.
DISTASO: Senator Edwards, I'd just like to get a better picture of your view on fighting Al Qaida. What are you going to send to Afghanistan, in terms of sending troops to Afghanistan, what are you going to do that the current administration is not doing in terms of trying to track down and shut down Al Qaida?
EDWARDS: Well, it's bigger than Al Qaida, John. It's also the whole issue of terrorism and how we fight terrorism.
There are two questions. One is: What should we do abroad, outside our borders?
DISTASO: That's what I'm asking.
EDWARDS: Can I include in my answer also what we should be doing here at home?
Abroad, the most critical element that's missing from this administration, if you — I'm on the Senate Intelligence Committee — if you look at the map of where these terrorist organizations are, where they operate, the most critical thing that's missing from this administration is a working relationship with many of the countries in which these groups operate.
Without the cooperation of those countries — this is a place where working with our allies is not abstract. It has a direct impact on our ability to protect the American people.
There are also lots of things that should be done here at home that aren't being done. Better job of protecting our ports, a critical issue here in the state of New Hampshire. Better job of protecting our nuclear facilities and our chemical plants.
EDWARDS: If you ask most people in New Hampshire, "What would you do differently today than you would have done on September 11th if a terrorist attack occurs," they have no idea.
Well, the reason is, we don't have a comprehensive warning system in place. We don't have a comprehensive response system in place.
There are a whole group of things that we need to do, both at home and abroad, to try to keep the American people safe and to effectively fight this war on terror.
JENNINGS: Thank you, Senator.
DISTASO: Reverend Sharpton, would you add anything to that? How are you — what, in addition to those measures, are you going to do to try to prevent future 9/11s?
SHARPTON: I think what we must do is build better alliances around the world. I think that, as I have traveled around the Middle East and Africa in particular, the Sudan, Kenya and other places, we have not had the kind of relationships in the world community that would lead to having the intelligence that would protect the American people.
I don't care how much military strength we have, if we don't have the information, if we don't have people that are inclined to be supportive of our security, we will still be at risk.
And I think that what I would concentrate on — I agree that we need to have better security at nuclear plants, that we need to have better security at ports. We also need to rebuild ports and create jobs, because the ports are almost in disrepair.
But I think we also must concentrate on our intelligence and our ability to make allies around parts of the world that could help us more than anyone because they have access to the information that is being used by terrorists groups.
JENNINGS: We are pushing the envelope in terms of time.
Brit, I think we've got time for one more question. You started this off. Why don't you finish it?
HUME: Well, let me ask a question to Senator Kerry.
Senator, there was a recent survey, recent poll, found that 95 percent of Americans said they were either very or rather happy.
A news story today said that a key measure of future economic activity — that being the index of leading economic indicators — rose in December to its highest level ever. This following a quarter in which the economy grew at a very rapid 8 percent.
Are you concerned at all, sir, that this bleak portrait that those running for president, including yourself, paint of the country may not resemble the country people, by the millions, are experiencing?
KERRY: Well, first of all, Bret, I'm not painting a bleak portrait. I'm painting the portrait of the challenge to Americans. And there's no question in my mind that when challenged, Americans rise to the challenge.
But the president is talking about a very different world from the world that every single one of us as candidates have seen across this country.
While profits went up 46 percent for companies, wages for workers went up three pennies. This is a Wall Street Republican recovery, it's not an American worker recovery.
And we deserve a president who understands what's really happening to people all across the country. The outsourcing of jobs: One-fifth of the manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire have been lost. Countless numbers of people can't get insurance.
The president has no plan, not only to give them insurance, but to lower the cost of insurance for $163 million Americans who get them.
I have that plan. I will put America back to work.
I hope we have a great economy next year because there's plenty to talk about: about the environment, about children, about education, higher education, about our role in the world.
This country is being led in a radically wrong direction by this president. And as we mount this campaign, Americans will join up and vote for change.
JENNINGS: Senator Kerry, maybe in that one last phrase, you've spoken for all of your fellow candidates in this last debate before the primary next week.
We thank you all very much indeed.
We'd like to extend also a very, very heartfelt vote of thanks to the people of St. Anselm, the college here, who've been so kind to all of us. I'm sure you concur with that.
Thank you very much for joining us. On behalf of my colleagues, good night.