WOODRUFF: Welcome back to the second half of our debate with the nine Democratic candidates for president.
We are in Phoenix, Arizona. This part of the debate, we're going to be taking questions from a group of voters. They are Democrats andthey are all undecided. They are Democrats and independents here in Arizona.
We were talking about Iraq before the break. And now I want to first ask this gentleman to stand up.
You are Lieutenant Lucas Costonous, is that right?
QUESTION: Yes, ma'am.
WOODRUFF: And you served in Iraq, in Baghdad. Is that right? And in Tikrit.
WOODRUFF: You've come back fairly recently.
You've been listening to these Democratic candidates. What question do you have for them?
QUESTION: Well, my question is when one of you guys get elected, for the military families, what are your programs to help them out? I'm looking atare there going to be base closures? Are there going to be pay increases, that sort of thing? That's about it.
WOODRUFF: Who wants to...
CLARK: Well, I'll answer that, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. General Clark and then right back to Senator Lieberman.
CLARK: I think there's a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue, because it's simply true, the Republicans do like weapon systems and Democrats like people.
And so, I can tell you, and I would speak for anybody up here, when we take this government back in 2005, we're going to look after pay.
We're going to look after education for children. We're going to make sure military health care works. We're going to take care of our veterans. And we're going to make sure that the military family is giving the respect and the pay increases that it needs to have a good quality of life.
WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: First, thank you for what you did in Iraq. God bless you and thank God you came home safely.
And as president, I am going to do everything I can to make sure every American soldier there comes home as quickly as possible to rejoin their families in peace.
Secondly, the fact is that George Bush may have said in 2000 election that help was on the way. He said it to the American military. But what has he done? This is another broken Bush promise.
Because he spent so much of the surplus and more that Bill Clinton and Al Gore left over on tax cuts for wealthy people that don't need it, he has not had enough money to invest in better compensation for our military, better housing, better health care. I will do that.
And I'll promise you one more thing. When a general who is the chief of the Army, as Eric Shinseki did before the Iraq war, said, "Mr. President, Secretary Rumsfeld, we need more American troops to go to Iraq, not so much to win the war as to keep the Americans who are there after the war safe," I will not say no.
I will not disrespect and demean a great career general like Eric Shinseki. I give you my promise on that.
WOODRUFF: Reverend Sharpton, very quickly.
SHARPTON: I agree with the increased compensation. I agree with the health care. I support a national single-payer plan. But I also think we have to take care of veterans.
I think that the most disingenuous thing I saw was as this president waved the flag, he cut the budget for veterans, which dishonored people that had given their lives to this country, while he sent people like you to war.
We respect all military personnel, including those that fought wars in the past. And if I were president, I would not treat veterans like they were yesterday's news. They hold the honor of our country.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry? Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Thank you also. I want to thank you for your service.
But let me just say to everybody here: We have 135,000 veterans waiting six months to see a doctor for the first time just to get their prescription drugs. We have 400,000 veterans in this country who have been denied access in a whole category to the VA. We've had cuts in the active-duty military personnel being able to have their kids get adequate funding for schools.
We have overextended the military. This president has made our military weaker by overextending the Guard and Reserves.
The Reserves are losing their health care when they come back, they may lose their job. There's a disparity in pay between them, and I think it is clear that every single one of us up here would believe that we're tired of hearing Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney and others throw patriotism at us.
We're taking back the flag for the United States of America, and we're going to make it clear the real definition of patriotism is keeping faith with those who wore the uniform of their country. And we are going to do that.
WOODRUFF: All right, thank you.
I want to turn to Karen Dickinson. Karen, you are, you and I spoke a few minutes ago. Where are you? Right here. Please. Stand up, and do we have a microphone?
You are, I'm told, a stroke survivor ...
WOODRUFF: ... and you have concerns about health care, specifically about prescription drugs.
QUESTION: Yes. Forgive me for having to read this.
I am a stroke survivor, I am disabled and on a fixed income. For seven months I went without prescription medication because we cannot afford supplemental insurance to my Medicare.
I chose food over medicine. How can you assure me and the many other votersthere's millions like methat you empathize with my hardship and as president you will make certain this won't happen to any other American? Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Who hasSenator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Thank you.
Karen, how long have you been without any kind of coverage for your prescription drugs?
QUESTION: It's been over a year.
EDWARDS: Over a year. And how much...
QUESTION: We moved from Massachusetts...
EDWARDS: And how much...
It's not because you don't like Massachusetts, I'm sure. And how much...
KERRY: Wait until the Red Sox win the World Series.
EDWARDS: How much do your prescription drugs cost?
QUESTION: I went on a Pfizer program, and that's why I can do it, I can afford it now. And they're $51 that I pay. Before that it was 400 and some dollars a month.
EDWARDS: Which is just crippling, crippling for you, isn't it?
QUESTION: I get $800 -- and I don't care who knows itI get $830 a month from my Social Security because I had to take it at such a young age.
EDWARDS: And you and your family are in the same situation that millions of families are...
EDWARDS: ... around this country. Here's what I think we need to do. First, we need a real comprehensive prescription drug benefit for you and family, under Medicare, not the George Bush plan that's going the Congress right now. That's the last thing we need to do.
And second, we have to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for you and for all of those Americans who are struggling to pay the cost, which means having a president to do what I've done my whole life, which is have the backbone to stand up to these big drug companies, with their advertising, with their price gouging, not allowing drugs to come back in here out of Canada, stopping their abuse of the system to keep a monopoly and keep generics out of the market.
WOODRUFF: All right.
EDWARDS: We need a president of the United States that will stand up for you and people like your family. I will be that president.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to move on to another question. Ned Norris is vice chairman of the Tohona O'odham Nation here in the state of Arizona.
You have a question.
QUESTION: Yes, I do.
I think it's important to continue to realize the Native Americans have inhabited this continent since immemorial. The United States Constitution guarantees tribal sovereignty, guarantees self governance, guarantees tribe's ability to become economically self sufficient.
With the impact or the coming on of homeland security, many decisions are being made in Washington, D.C. that are negatively impacting tribal communities nationwide.
I think it's important also to understand that tribes are concerned about the security of the United States and security of us as a total people.
But I think that we need tomy question is, how are you going to ensure that the rights of tribal nations nationwide, the sovereignty that we enjoy, the protection that we have under the United States Constitution, are going to be ensured?
WOODRUFF: Reverend Sharpton, real quick.
SHARPTON: I think first of all, we must immediately rescind the Patriot Act and the anti-terrorist act and any act...
... that has infringed upon the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.
In that spirit, we must protect the sovereignty of Native Americans. We must respect it. And we must have a nation that says that we owe to those that were here, that were established, that must survivewe talk about quit begging, quit looking for handouts. Who personifies that more than the Native American that only wants their sovereignty so they can take care of their own children, raise their own families, and have sovereignty over the economy of their own tribes.
Stop welfare, George Bush. Leave Native Americans alone.
WOODRUFF: Are you all in complete agreement on this issue, no discrepancy?
Let's turn to Paulette Pohlmann.
Paulette, you and I spokethere you are.
You are a businesswoman. I think you and your husband recently opened...
WOODRUFF: All right. My mistake.
QUESTION: That's all right.
I have a real concern in campaigns that the way that they're handled and they're orchestrated these days really doesn't give me an opportunity to see your heart. It takes courage and intelligence, obviously, to be president, but I think the mark of a great leader is one who can engage the wisdom that comes from the heart in the difficult decisions.
So, given that, I have a question that I'm hoping might give me some insight to you that way, and it's this: There is an alarming, a really horrible degree of hate that is being expressed in our world, particularly toward the United States at this time.
And I'm wondering if you could comment on why you think there is so much hate for the United States right now and how you would use your position as president to uplift the world to a place that would take us out of that darkness.
WOODRUFF: And I'm going to ask whoever answers thiswe know you're going to use this as an opportunity to be critical of the president. We understand you all are critical of the president. But let's try to look for some daylight between your positions.
KUCINICH: America is a country from the heart. And we need to reconnect with our real strength, which is to reach out and embrace the world. And that is with a world view that sees the world as interdependent and interconnected. Because through the heart of America, we can touch the heart of the world.
Now I have a proposal that's supported by 50 members of Congress to create a Cabinet-level department of peace which seeks to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society; to tap that capacity we have to evolve; to be better than we are; to look at those issues of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse; to look at the issues of violence in our communities, racial violence, violence against gays; to believe that we have the capacity through education, working with community groups, to become much better than we are as a nation; to evolve to a point where we can work with the world community to pursue that dream in a world where we can be the ones who work to make war itself archaic.
And I think that that new world is just beyond our grasp, but it needs our reaching forward to bring it in. And so, once again, an America that comes from the heart, that believes in its destiny to create peace, that's what my administration will be all about.
WOODRUFF: Ambassador Braun and a department of peace, is that what we need? He also advocates a 15 percent cut in the defense budget.
MOSELEY BRAUN: I was going to go an entirely different direction. I was going to say I'm able to sit here today as a candidate for president of the United States because of the generation that went immediately before, that opened doors for blacks and for women, that saw this country as one that would rise to the promise of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution.
America can be as good as the promise of all of that if we remember that we have a responsibility to give the next generation no less freedom, no less liberty, no less opportunity, no less optimism and hope than we inherited from the generation that made it possible for us to be here today.
And so, from my perspective, the whole challenge for all of us, for everybody in public life, is to make certain that this country stays the greatest nation in the world. But to do that, we have to live up to the goodness that is inherent in the American people and in the charter that brings us together as Americans.
WOODRUFF: Very quick comment from Representative Gephardt, then we're going to move on.
GEPHARDT: In every speech that I give in this campaign, I talk about my deep feeling that we are all tied together.
I'm on the stage tonight because of student loans, a church scholarship. I grew up poor. I got a great education because I grew up in America.
We are connected with everybody in the world. But we got to say that to people in the world and mean it from our heart.
I have a son who's alivehe was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He's alive because of government research gave the doctors the answers that saved his life. He's a gift of God.
We are so lucky to be in this country. And we need to take the American dream to the rest of the world. They want our dream. They are desperate for our dream.
And we have to take it to the people of this world because we're tied together.
Martin Luther King said, "I can't be what I ought to be until you can be what you ought to be," and that's what I really believe.
WOODRUFF: There's someone in our audience who has experienced the American dream. Would you stand? She's Ernestina Escobar.
And I know that you will be speaking in Spanish, but you ask your question, please, for any one of the candidates, and then we have a translator who is going to speak.
QUESTION (through translator): As a Latin woman, one of my concerns is what's going to happen with the Spanish economy, and that's my worry right now. Because most of the businesses, Spanish businesses, are having a very slow economy right now, and that's causing a lot of problems.
WOODRUFF: Governor Dean?
DEAN: That gives me actually an opportunity to answer two questions. One was the prescription question as well.
We have got to stop in this country trying to stimulate the economy by giving help to enormous corporations, which then move their jobs to other countries. The way to help this country's economy is to invest in small businesses, allow them to have health insurance and help them pay for health insurance, and get them capital.
Banks will lend small businesses capital as soon as they don't need it, and we need to get capital in when businesses want to grow. Small businesses create more jobs than big businesses do, and they do not move their jobs to other countries.
In my state, everybody has health insurance under 18. You would have prescription benefits if you moved to Vermont, because a third of all our people, especially at your income level, are eligible for prescription benefits without help from the federal government.
What I want is a country that will start valuing ordinary human beings again, whether they're Latino, African-American, Asian American, Native American. No matter who they are, we are all in this together.
It was the dream of Martin Luther King when I was 21 years old at the end of the civil rights movement that if one of us was left behind, then this country was not as good as it could be or as it should be.
And what my campaign is about, something else that Martin Luther King said, which is that, "our lives begin to end when we stop speaking up for the things that matter." That's how we are going to change America.
We're going to invest in small businesses, not just in the Latino community, but in every community. We're going to invest in people who need help. We're the only industrialized worldcountry in the world that doesn't have a universal health care system that includes every single person. We can do that and we can do all these things if we're all in this together.
WOODRUFF: Governor Dean, before you sit down, I've just been handed a document. I think it came out of the press room that Senator Kerry's staff has been distributing some comments about what was said. Among other things they are saying that you, Governor Dean, tried to kick Vermont seniors off their prescription drug plan. That's relevant to what you were just saying here, so do you want to respond to that?
DEAN: Does that go along with the fact that I'm just like Newt Gingrich, too, and I tried to undo Medicare.
That's silly, of course. What I did try to do was get a cigarette tax past the Republican House. They wouldn't pass them. I told them if they didn't pass a cigarette tax to pay for our health care program, then they wouldn't be able to fund seniors' prescriptions.
They passed the cigarette tax, as I knew they would.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry, what about that?
KERRY: Well, it's not silly. It's what he did. I mean, it's sad. But he in fact, in order to balance his budget, terminatedcalled for the full termination of what was called the V-Script program, and also turned to seniors and made prescription drugs more expensive for them in order to balance the budget.
Now, that's a fact. I didn't raise this, and I didn't know they were saying that, and it's sort of separate from where we were.
What I want to come back to, there are two ways for you to have lower prescription drug costs. One is you could hire Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper...
... or you can elect me president of the United States.
I want you to do the latter, and here's why: The prescription drug companies have not been held accountable. And what they're doing is they're playing games with the patents. They'll take a little jar, they'll change the color, there will be the same thing in it, they extend the patent laws.
So they don't put generics into the marketplace.
The pharmacy benefit managers are charging additional money for rebates, kickbacks, all kinds of schemes, almost 16 billions of extra costs.
What we need is a president who is determined to have a Medicare prescription drug benefit; make bulk purchasing available to the states, so Governor Napolitano and others can purchase in bulk but lower costs out to their citizens; and hold the companies accountable on the patent laws so we can put generics in the marketplace.
WOODRUFF: All right. Senator...
KERRY: If we do that, we can lower the costs for all Americans.
WOODRUFF: We quickly want to get in another question, but Senator Lieberman, you've been dying to say something, so, really quick.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
I want to speak about the Hispanic community and their contributions to the economy.
The best thing that we can do that George Bush hasn't done is close some of the corporate loopholes that give billions of dollars to big corporations, and instead give tax cuts and loan guarantees to small businesses owned by hundreds of thousands of Hispanics and others around America to create opportunity and growth.
But, secondly, on the Hispanic contribution to our economy, this goes to immigration reform. And the fact is today that hundreds of thousandsI'd say millions of Hispanic Americans are working, contributing to our economy, but they're forced by a broken immigration system to live in the shadows.
And they are subject to exploitation by people for that reason.
George Bush promised immigration reformanother broken promise.
He promised to work out an agreement with President Vincente Fox. He didn't. Governor Napolitano went to Mexico City, at least met with President Fox. He's coming here next month.
I promise you immigration reform, earned right to legalization for undocumented immigrants, temporary worker permits and an end to the limits, the inhumane limits, on family reunification.
That's my promise.
WOODRUFF: We have another question. Pat Cantelme? Is that how you pronounce your last name? Would you stand up? You're a retired firefighter?
WOODRUFF: You have how many children?
QUESTION: I have four children.
WOODRUFF: Four. The youngest is ten years old.
QUESTION: That's correct.
WOODRUFF: What is your question?
QUESTION: It seems each that the weapons of mass destruction was a manufactured threat, kind of George Bush's Gulf of Tonkin resolution, when by their own admission North Korea is a very real threat. It's a threat that I think all of us have to be concerned about, but nobody seems to be grasping that or doing anything about it. It's like it's very real so we move it off the table.
I would ask what would you do with regarding North Korea, first, and then perhaps Iran?
WOODRUFF: Some of you broughtNorth Korea and Iran actually did come up justearlier, but some of you didn't comment on it earlier maybe want to jump in here. How about...
MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, very...
WOODRUFF: ... Ambassador Braun?
MOSELEY BRAUN: ... quicklyoh, not fall on your face at the debate, that's a start.
In the first instance, that's where working well with others comes in. Unless we engage the support and the discipline that the international community can bring to bear on these rogue states, we will forever find ourselves reacting out of fear, reacting out of misinformation, reacting in the way that this crowd hasand this crowd meaning the Bush administrationwithout sufficient grounds for doing so and putting the American people more at risk.
You're a firefighter. Firefighters and people who are the first responders ought to get all the support in the world to make us safe at home while we go out and deal with our international relations in ways to make us safe in terms of the threat from abroad. But instead what we've got is an administration that bullys the rest of the world and misleads the American people.
What I would do specifically, I would work with the international community to see to it that our weapons inspections so that the diplomacy works, that the interaction works, that we use the support that South Korea could give us in bringinghelping to bring the North into line.
The same thing with Iran. We would not give them the excuses to go off on these tears tothey can't afford to invest in these nuclear weapons either. Their people are starving. So we should begin to address those issues that bring us together as a global community instead of those things that keep us apart and afraid of each other.
WOODRUFF: We did discuss this earlier and I want to get on to a next question because there is a woman here who has been waiting, I know she spoke to me earlier about how much she wanted to ask a question. Her name is Joy Clayton.
You and your husband opened a restaurant.
QUESTION: Yes, we did, absolutely.
WOODRUFF: And what is your question for the candidates?
QUESTION: Well, you know, as a middle class American citizen, there is a tendency to really feel helpless. There'ss helplessness around you. Corporations closing. Social Security possibly going away. Benefits going away. And an alternative is to go into business for yourself.
I didn't know how helpless I could feel until I went into business for myself...
... because in doing such I found that there were so many taxes associated with going into business. There taxes upon taxes. And there's a privilege tax that you're levied just for the privilege of doing business.
I want to understand from someone up hereand I heard you touch upon it when you spoke with the young Hispanic ladywhat would you do to try to help those of us who are trying to be in small business accomplish it without so much of the pain?
WOODRUFF: Congressman Gephardt, your plan would be to roll back not only the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy but also on the middle class. That would, in effect, be a tax increase, wouldn't it be, for Ms. Clayton? So what do you say to her?
GEPHARDT: You have asked the right question.
We need to do something bold to stimulate this economy and solve what I believe is our major problem.
We got 45 million people in this country that do not have health insurance. Small business like yours is having to pay a lot of tax, and my plan would help you and your employees and the employees of every corporation in the country.
It basically gives you a refundable tax credit equal to 60 percent of the cost of whatever plan your employee and you choose with your employee.
It would have to go through to your employee. If you're paying 80 or 90 percent of their health care premium now, you'd have to hold it there to get the 60 percent tax credit.
Now you've got to get rid of the Bush tax cuts to do this.
But let me tell something folks, the Bush tax cuts are a miserable failure. They have not worked. They haven't built...
WOODRUFF: But it's going to mean a tax increase for someone because...
GEPHARDT: No, it's not.
WOODRUFF: ... if you roll...
GEPHARDT: The averageit's going to help her small business dramatically. She's going to get 60 percent of her health care costs for employees picked up by the federal government. That's a major help. And it puts more money into the average family than the Bush tax cuts.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry, you don't agree?
KERRY: I'm not sure that that is even applicable here. Do you even have health care for your employees?
KERRY: I didn't think so. So that doesn't even apply what he said to you.
You're talking about the burden of taxation itself, as a whole, on a small business.
I owned a small business once. And I've been chairman of the Small Business Committee, and we have worked hard to provide access to credit, additional working capital to you.
I have a plan where you could actually borrow from your own revenues so that you would lower your tax burden, and you'd simply have to pay it back at a later time to give you working capital so you can grow.
This SBA under President Bush has cut funding, cut lending, and it's one of the worst providers to small businesses in the country in years.
So what we need to do is relieve your burden. And I have to tell you, both Governor Dean and Mr. Gephardt have said they want to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut. If you get rid of the whole Bush tax cut, you're getting rid of the Democratic part of the cut that we put in, the 10 percent bracket. You're going to pay more tax if you do what they want.
You get rid of the child credit, and anybody earning $40,000 is going to pay an additional $2,000.
WOODRUFF: All right, Senator.
KERRY: So your burden will go up under their plan. Under my plan, it will go down.
WOODRUFF: All right, we have four minutes left. Two of you have not had a question directed to you. I know you want to jump in on this, but in order to give Senator Kerry a direct question, which is what you allyour campaigns wantedand Senator Lieberman, we are going to go to a different question.
Mr. Vance, are youBryan Vance, you want to stand up very quickly and tell us what yourwe've now got less than four minutes.
QUESTION: My question was how do the unions work into your plans for restimulating the American economy?
WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: What was the question, how do the unionsyes, look, the labor unions have been one of the great contributors to the American middle class.
And it takes a strong middle class to have a strong America.
George Bush has led the most anti-union administration in the modern history of this country. He removed worker safety proposals. He tried to kill overtime pay for people. He has not provided an equal opportunity for people to organize. I'm going to reform the labor laws.
When I get into the Oval Office, I am going to put in a regulation immediately that will put back worker safety proposals and allow employees of the Homeland Security Department to get back the rights...
WOODRUFF: All right...
LIEBERMAN: ... that George Bush took away from them to join unions as if unions were somehow inconsistent with American security. Labor unions...
LIEBERMAN: ... built the middle class. They can help make it stronger. And when they do, America will be stronger. Thanks for the question.
WOODRUFF: We have two minutes left. We are going to have to take very quick answers. We're going to take very quick comments from General Clark and then Senator Edwards. Very quick.
CLARK: I think unions are key in the new economy, and I'll tell you why, because unions not only help workers capture the wages that they deserve, but they also support training and mobility and make sure that someone is there as a voice for ordinary Americans.
What we've got to do is prepare our work force in this economy to be able to move from job-to-job, from skill-to-skill.
The unions are going to have a bigger role in this economy in the future than they have ever had in the past. That's why I strongly support the union movement and I believe we need more support for unions and more union members and not less in this economy.
WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: First, this is personal for me. My mother is a retired member of the Letter Carriers. My younger and only brother is a member of IBEW Local 553. They have health care because of organized labor.
This president is at war with organized labor. We need to empower working people, which means when people who run big businesses violate the law, they need to be held responsible. They need to be held accountable.
We need to make sure that we have first contract arbitration so that once you organize, they can't just keep putting you off and putting you off and putting you off.
And finally, we ought to ban the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers, and we ought to make it the law of the land tomorrow.
We should be empowering working people in this country.
WOODRUFF: All right, we barely have a minute and we want to get a question in for Senator Kerry. Vanessa Jenney, a registered nurse, you want to stand up with a question for the senator, please.
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
Thank you for coming here. You know, if elected president, what would you doI heard Senator Lieberman discuss thisbut what would your solution be to immigration? We have thousands dying in our deserts. What would you do to help the immigrants?
KERRY: Well, no human being should be forced, in order to find work and to find safety and a future, to die in anybody's desert. And this president has broken his promises with respect to immigration and immigration reform. His great friend President Fox barely talks to him anymore.
We need a president who is committed to creating a guest worker program, an earned legalization program, and takes away any incentive for anybody to have to go into the desert in order to cross over to find work.
We also need to make it fair in America again and restore the health care benefits that go to those who are legal immigrants. And I believe we ought to have accelerated citizenship for those 37,000 legal immigrants who are serving in the armed forces of the United States today, immediately.
WOODRUFF: Five seconds. We have five seconds, literally.
KUCINICH: All immigrants ought to have the right to be able to gain amnesty, legalization, be protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, just as all workers in this country ought to be protected that way.
WOODRUFF: All right. That wraps up our questions from the audience. We're going to take a short break. We'll be back in a moment with final thoughts.
WOODRUFF: All right, we want to thank the Arizona Democratic Party; the National Democratic Committee; its chairman, Terry McAuliffe; the governor of the state of Arizona, Janet Napolitano; and the staff, all the people who made this event possible at this beautiful Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.
Be sure and join us in a month, November 4th, when CNN and the Democratic candidates will come together again for a Rock the Vote event in Boston.
Until then, thank you for being with us.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks. And good night.
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