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On the Issues Interview

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On the eve of their first nationally televised debate, Democratic presidential candidates answer questions about the economy, health care, foreign policy, Social Security and the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina…

1. South Carolinians are hurting. Lifetime savings have been wiped out by greed, and millions of jobs have been lost. We have seen the weakest level of economic growth in 50 years. We must first say no to the new Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and instead deliver middle class tax relief that would put money back into the economy to create jobs, help the states with their budget mess and restore fiscal responsibility.

2. Soon, I will lay out my plan to make quality health care affordable and accessible for every American. No plan can truly address this crisis unless it is both available and affordable. Our challenge is to make sure that the United States will stop being the only industrialized country on the face of the planet that does not make affordable health care a reality.

3. Americans deserve better than a false choice between force without diplomacy and diplomacy without force. We can make America stronger and safer by having a military second to none and international leadership to match. Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy knew that America's safety depended on leadership with our allies to rally the forces of freedom and to make the world safe for democracy and liberty. We need to restore that Democratic tradition of tough-minded leadership.

4. The retirement of the baby boom generation is coming down the tracks like a freight train, and the Bush Administration still insists on tax cuts that take from Social Security to give it to the richest corporations. That's wrong. We must safeguard Social Security for the next generation. 44 million retired workers depend on Social Security. Social Security needs to be there for them and for those who will need it in the future.

5. I agree with the goals and aspirations of the boycott. When I was in the Navy, we fought under one flag, the stars and stripes. We were Americans united. The Confederate flag runs counter to those values. You don't have to confuse the warrior with the war, but you must recognize the cause was wrong and even today the flag remains a divisive symbol and its appropriate place is in a history museum.

www.TheState.com

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