Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate Sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Democratic National Committee - Part 1

Location: Albuquerque, NM

BILL RICHARDSON: Welcome to New Mexico.

It is fitting that the first ever bilingual presidential debate is happening in New Mexico. Our multicultural population truly represents the future of our nation and the Democratic Party. It is my hope that the rest of the country finds out tonight what we already know in New Mexico and in the West: that Hispanic voters care deeply about issues such as jobs and economic growth, health care, technology and national security, in addition to traditional concerns like immigration and civil rights.

(Speaking in Spanish)

There is nothing more important on any issue than education. And in New Mexico, we're investing in our classrooms, not administration. We cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. We pay for our tax cuts. We're only one of two states with a budget surplus. We're tied for first in the country for job growth. We're an example of what's possible with a right agenda and the right leadership—Democratic leadership.

And we can do the same in Washington. I challenge Hispanics across the country to mobilize and energize our communities for next year's election.

I want to thank the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and their great leader, Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, for helping to organize this event. I also want to thank the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, for his outreach to the Hispanic community.

And on behalf of the citizens of New Mexico, a state we're all very proud of, welcome to the land of enchantment. Thank you.

RAY SUAREZ: Let me take a moment to explain some of our ground rules. There will be no opening or closing statements tonight. The candidates have been asked to keep their answers at or under a minute. At a minute, a warning light will go off. We will not interrupt an answer unless it goes more than one minute and 30 seconds.

However, we will be keeping close tabs on how much time each candidate has actually used so that if a candidate has a long answer in an early section of the debate, he or she will get less time to respond in the next segment. In this way, we can keep a close eye on the time and adjust for fairness throughout the debate, not just at the end.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: (Speaking in Spanish)

Now, let's meet the candidates. The order of the podiums was chosen through a random drawing. We'll begin from my left to the right.

Florida Senator Bob Graham.
Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt.
Former ambassador and former Illinois senator, Carol Moseley Braun. The only woman in the group, I might add.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
North Carolina Senator John Edwards.
Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.
And the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.

RAY SUAREZ: And I'll begin tonight's questioning with Governor Dean. The United States is now trying to get help from the United Nations in the form of a resolution to internationalize the mission in Iraq. How much decision-making power can the United States share, while at the same time urging other countries to share the cost and share the risk of being there?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, as you know, I believed from the beginning that we should not go into Iraq without the United Nations as our partner. And in this situation, fortunately the president is finally beginning to see the light. We cannot do this by ourselves, we cannot have an American occupation and reconstruction. We have to have a reconstruction of Iraq with the United Nations, with NATO, and preferably with Muslim troops, particularly Arabic-speaking troops from our allies such as Egypt and Morocco.

We cannot have American troops serving under United Nations command. We have never done that before. But we can have American troops serving under American command, and it's very clear to me that in order to get the United Nations and NATO into Iraq, this president is going to have to go back to the very people he humiliated, our allies, on the way into Iraq, and hope that they will now agree with us that we were wrong to go—excuse me—that they will now agree with us that we need their help there. We were wrong to go in without the United Nations, now we need their help, and that's not a surprise.

RAY SUAREZ: Congressman Gephardt, you were one of the early supporters of the Iraq intervention and voted to authorize the use of power there. Touch on those same points. How much authority, how much decision-making power can the United States cede in order to get the cooperation of its allies for the mission from here on out?

RICHARD GEPHARDT: I told President Bush a year and a half ago that if he wanted to deal with Iraq and weapons, he needed to go to the U.N., he needed to get their help, he needed to get NATO's help. He was not able to do it. He should have done it after we went in. I even told him at an early stage, "You're not going to need them going in, you're going to need them coming out." I said, "This is going to be complicated, difficult and long." He needs to be there now.

Let me tell you something, we have a president who has broken up the alliances that Democratic and Republican presidents have put together over 70 years. We need our friends. We need friends from all over the world in Iraq now. We can't afford a billion dollars a week. We can't be losing all the people that are lost over there. It would be a big difference in Iraq if we had an international force there and not just American and British troops. He is not doing his job.

When I am president, I will go back to the U.N., I will go to NATO, I will repair these alliances and we will again lead a world alliance against terrorism and the other problems that we face.

RAY SUAREZ: Congressman Kucinich, some of those allies that the two earlier speakers have referred to have already said that the current resolution that's circulating doesn't go far enough. Can we keep American civil administration and American military administration as it currently exists and expect the rest of the world to come to the aid of the United States?

DENNIS KUCINICH: I believe that it is time to bring the troops home, it is time to bring the U.N. in and get the U.S. out.
(Speaking in Spanish)

And what we need to do in order to accomplish that is to get the United Nations together in an agreement that provides for the following: first, that the U.N. will handle the collection and distribution of all oil revenues for the people of Iraq without privatization.

Second that the U.N. will handle all contracts. No more Halliburton sweetheart deals. And third...

And third, that the United Nations will proceed to work with the people of Iraq to construct a government that the people of Iraq can call their own. Under those conditions, the United States can move away from Bush's blunder, which Iraq will be known as because there was no reason to go into Iraq—at war with Iraq in the first place. And everyone who took the responsibility on this stage has to answer to the American people for voting for that war. I led the effort against it.

RAY SUAREZ: Maria Elena?

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Senator Kerry, who voted for and was a very strong supporter of going to war with Iraq: Now what does going back to the U.N., after we basically told the U.N.—or the U.S. basically told the United Nations that it was irrelevant, what does that do to our standing in the world?

JOHN KERRY: It will raise our standing in the world to behave as we ought to, according to the highest values and traditions of our country, which is to work with other nations.

What we know now is that being flown to an aircraft carrier and pronouncing the words, "mission accomplished," does not end a war. And the swagger of a president who says, "Bring them on," does not bring our troops peace or safety. And I intend—I will return...

I believe we need a president who understands how to get it right in the beginning. This is the third opportunity of the president to try to get it right. The first was when we originally gave the authority of force, when he told us and Colin Powell told us they would go to the U.N. and build a coalition. The president didn't do it. He failed in his diplomacy, he rushed to war against our warnings, and he has now inherited the wind, so to speak.

Secondly, he had another opportunity. When that statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, that was the moment for a president of courage and leadership to say to the world: Now we've done what we had to do, but we want the world to come to the effort and join us.

This is the third opportunity, and it is critical that this president gives life to the notion that the United States of America never goes to war because we want to. We should only go to war because we have to. And we must hold the United Nations up for what it is. If you didn't have it, you'd have to invent it. And this president needs to understand that.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Let's go on to Senator Lieberman. Senator Lieberman, you said in the past that there is not an inch of difference between President Bush and yourself in the war against Iraq. But you have asked recently for more troops and more resources for Iraq—a very different point of view from the president's. Are you still that close to the president, an

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: That statement was made, Maria Elena, as we were about to go to war. And what I said I believe expressed the best traditions and values of the United States, which is when American men and women in uniform go into battle, there's not an inch of space between any of us on that question.

Look, long before George Bush became president, I reached a conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States of America and to the world, and particularly to his own people who he was brutally suppressing. I believe that the war against Saddam was right, and that the world is safer with him gone. I said last fall and then again in February, a month before the war, "Mr. President, here's what you have to do to get ready to secure post-Saddam Iraq."

No planning was done by this administration. I believe it's because this is an administration divided within itself, and the president as commander in chief has not brought it together.

As president, I would have listened to the American military when they said we need more troops to secure Iraq. I would have gotten off of pride and hurt feelings and gone to the NATO and the United Nations and asked them to join us in securing and rebuilding this country.

I would have brought the Iraqis into control of the country. Let me say this to the question asked earlier: I didn't support the war against Saddam Hussein so we could control Iraq. Quite the contrary. I supported it so we could get rid of Saddam and let the Iraqis control Iraq. So I would negotiate whatever resolution at the United Nations will draw our allies with us into keeping the peace, rebuilding the country and holding hope that the American soldiers can soon return to their families in peace.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: (Speaking in Spanish)

Before going on, I'd like to mention that Reverend Al Sharpton of New York had planned to join us tonight. But because of travel delays due to weather in the East Coast, he could not be here.


RAY SUAREZ: Let me continue with Senator Graham. Today, the president of France and the chancellor of Germany both expressed doubt about the resolution that's currently circulating in its current form at the U.N., the U.S. hoping to get international help in the Iraq mission.

How can the United States invite allies aboard and at the same time, share some of the duties if it will not share the authority.

BOB GRAHAM: It cannot, Ray. That is one of the fundamental problems with this administration. It will not recognize that there are consequences to your action.

I voted against the resolution to go to war in Iraq for a somewhat different reason than Governor Dean. I voted against it because I thought it was the wrong war against the wrong enemy, which represented the lesser threat to the people of the United States.

I have been chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for the last two years. I came to the firm conclusion that the greatest threat to the people of the United States of America, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the other international terrorists who have demonstrated the will and the capability to kill Americans. That was a matter of judgment as to which was the greater threat.

Today, the question is one of how do we extricate ourselves from Iraq, and I believe the first step in that extrication is going to be to rebuild relations with our key allies. It's not just Iraq. It's the Kyoto treaty. It's the ABM agreement. It is agreement after agreement, which were critical to the maintenance of the victory in the Cold War and now to environmental sanity that this president has rejected. No wonder we have so much trouble getting support when we need it.

RAY SUAREZ: Ambassador Moseley Braun, several of the earlier speakers mentioned that our traditions don't involve American troops ever serving under shared or foreign command.

Given the situation currently, and given the United States' effort to internationalize the load, carrying the load in Iraq, is it time to revisit that standard?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Let me slightly answer your question a different way. Let me mention a name that probably nobody has heard in a long time. And that's Osama bin Laden—"bin missing."

We haven't been looking for him because we got off on the wrong track. And we got on the wrong track in large part because
the Constitution's guidance in this regard—Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution—calls on the Congress to declare war.
That didn't happen in this case. And the resolution allowed this president to go off hell-bent for leather on this what I've called a misadventure that has really—now is beginning to come back. The chickens are beginning to come home to roost.

The fact of the matter is, however, that we don't cut and run. Americans don't cut and run. We have to support our troops in the field. I think supporting them not only means giving the command on the ground what they need but even supplies. I spoke to the mother of a young man who's serving abroad, serving in Iraq now, and she was complaining about the fact that they don't even have the things they need in the field. So we are in a position now in which we have—this administration has frittered away the goodwill, failed to go after Al Qaeda and bin Laden, thumbed their nose at old Europe and the international community, left our troops in the field without the resources they need and put us in a situation in which they have no answer for the American people how we can get out with honor.

It seems to me that that is the challenge. And so I welcome the international community. I am grateful that they are considering some burden sharing here. I hope that it will allow us, within the tradition of U.S. command and control over our own forces, allow us to extricate ourselves with honor but continue a viable war on terrorism that gets bin Laden and his pals and all the people who would do harm to the American people.

RAY SUAREZ: To round out this first section, Senator Edwards, how would you view this effort to internationalize the war? What can we expect from our allies? And how do we share the burden?

JOHN EDWARDS: Well, unfortunately what we see happening on the ground in Iraq right now is part of a long-term pattern by this president. And it's not just his alienation of our allies in Europe. He's doing exactly the same thing to our friends in Latin America, in Mexico, his relationship with President Fox being a perfect example.

I actually believe that Saddam Hussein being gone is a very good thing, good for the Iraqi people, good for the security of that region of the world and good for the security and safety of the American people. But I said a year ago that it was crucial—almost a year ago—that it was crucial that in this effort we bring our friends and allies in and that we have a clear plan for what would happen now.

We have young men and women in a shooting gallery right now. And the primary reason for that is because this president had no plan. And now he stubbornly continues to fight an effort to bring others in, to relinquish some responsibility, some control in order to bring our friends and allies into this effort.

This started a long time ago. It didn't begin on September the 11th and it didn't begin in Iraq. It began with his unilateral disengagement from Kyoto, unilateral disengagement from the biological weapons convention, a whole series of nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

When I am president of the United States, I will lead in a way that shows that America is strong, but at the same time that we will solve the world's problems with the rest of the world in a multilateral, coalition-building way that brings the power and force of the entire planet to the effort to solve the world's problems, because that is the most effective way to create respect for America. And at the end of the day, the American people are safer and more secure in a world where America is looked up to and respected.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: (Speaking in Spanish)

No matter what your point of view was on the war, whether you voted for it or you were against it, the truth is—the fact is that now we are committed there in Iraq. And nearly every day we hear of one or two soldiers dying, one or two soldiers being hurt. So now what do you say to the parents of these soldiers that are there in Iraq? What is the next step for the U.S.? What do we do with the troops? Do we bring back the troops? Do we send more troops? Or do we keep the current levels that are there? Mr. Lieberman, you have already said that you would commit more troops. Congressman Gephardt, what would you do?

RICHARD GEPHARDT: We cannot cut and run. We've got to see that this situation is left in a better place. We have to form an international coalition to get it done. This president is a miserable failure. He is a miserable failure.

I, some days, just can't believe—it's incomprehensible to me, it is incomprehensible that we would wind up in this situation without a plan and without international cooperation to get this done. As others have said, we have worked with other nations in the world on the environmental problems that we face, on trade problems that we face, on economic problems, on terrorism, on drug trafficking. We've been the leader, we've been the one that has put the coalitions together. This president doesn't get it. He's a unilateralist. He thinks he knows all the answers. He doesn't respect others. Look, you got to respect other leaders. They didn't agree with us. You got to work with them, talk to them, put together the coalitions that we need.
That's what I would do. That's what he should be doing.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: But you said we can't pull out now. So do we send more troops, or do we keep the ones that we have there?

RICHARD GEPHARDT: No, we get help, we get the help that we should have gotten from the beginning. We go to the Turks, we go to the Indians, we go to the Chinese, we go to the Russians, the French, the Germans and we work out a resolution consistent with all the traditions of the American military. We're not going to turn our troops over to U.N. command. We've done this in Bosnia, we've done it in Afghanistan, we can do this. But this president has to lead, and he is not leading. He's a miserable failure on this issue, and he must be replaced in the election.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Senator Lieberman, you would send more troops?


MARIA ELENA SALINAS: You would send more troops, Senator Lieberman?

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I would send more troops, because the troops that are there need that protection. And we need some of the specialized services that will help the Iraqis gain control of their country, and mean it sooner American troops could come home. Obviously, Americans have to control an international force. But a year ago I called for an international force. You know what I would say to the parents of Americans who are serving there? Your sons and daughters are serving in a heroic and historic cause. They have thrown over Saddam Hussein, liberated a people and protected America and the rest of the world from a dangerous dictator. They are now involved in a critical battle in the war on terrorism, because terrorists have come in there to strike at us and strike at the instruments of civilization—the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations headquarters and the Shi'a mosque and killing Ayatollah Hakim.

These are enemies of civilization, and if we don't get together and defeat them now, shame on us. This administration let down our troops—let me make that clear—in not having a plan to secure the country, in not having international help, in not bringing in the Iraqis quickly enough, and in doing so, they exposed American soldiers to more danger than they should have been exposed to. As president, I will never do that. I promise you that.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Dean?

(Speaking in Spanish)

We are spending more than $4 billion a month in Iraq. Do we send more troops?

HOWARD DEAN: Look, I think the most important aspect and the most important quality for any chief executive when they're executing foreign policy is judgment.

I supported the first war in Iraq because one of our allies was invaded, and I thought we had a responsibility to defend them.
I supported the war in Afghanistan; 3,000 of our people were murdered. They would have murdered more if they could have. I thought we had a right to defend the United States of America. But in the case of Iraq, the president told us that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were about to make a deal or were making a deal. The truth is, there are more likely to be people from Al Qaeda bombing Iraqis and Americans today than there were before Saddam Hussein was kicked out.

Secondly, the president told us that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. That wasn't true. The vice president told us that the Iraqis were about to get atomic weapons. That turned out not to be true. The secretary of defense told us he knew exactly where the weapons of mass destruction were, right around Tikrit and Baghdad. That turned out to be false as well.

As commander in chief of the United States military, I will never hesitate to send troops anywhere in the world to defend the United States of America. But as commander in chief of the United States military I will never send our sons and daughters and our brothers and sisters to a foreign country in harm's way without telling the truth to the American people about why they're going there. And that judgment needs to be made first, not afterwards.

We need more troops. They're going to be foreign troops, as they should have been in the first place, not American troops. Ours need to come home.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Thank you, Governor.


RAY SUAREZ: Senator Edwards, the administration is expected to ask the Congress, and the figures vary, somewhere between $60 and $80 billion to continue the mission in Iraq. Will you support that spending?

JOHN EDWARDS: I think the president and the administration need to say to the Congress and to the American people what this war is going to cost over the long term; how long they think we're going to be there. How long—you asked earlier of some of the other candidates, what they would say to the mothers and fathers of men and women who are there now and those who have died.

Just a week ago, I spoke to the wife of a young soldier from North Carolina who had died who had young children. And what I would say to them is they have served courageously. They have done an extraordinary job for their country.

But the reason we are in this situation we are in now is because this president has not led. He has not addressed the problem of bringing in others. He has not brought our allies, our friends. He has not gone to the United Nations in the way that he should have. And the very least, it seems to me, that the American people are entitled to is to find out how long he believes we'll be there and what he believes it's going to cost. Because one of the great benefits of bringing in our friends and allies is to relieve some of the burden from the American people.

And this, by the way, is the same administration that while they won't tell us what Iraq is costing and they won't tell us how much they think it's going to cost say we can't afford a real prescription drug benefit. We can't afford health care for our people. We can't afford college for our kids. Well, the president needs to tell us the truth about the cost.

RAY SUAREZ: Senator Graham, you'll be one of the people asked to vote as well. Will you support that increased expenditure, because it looks like it's going to cost a lot of money one way or the other for the United States to finish and leave in Iraq.

BOB GRAHAM: The answer is yes. I believe that we have courageous men and women on the ground who are putting their lives at risk at the rate of one per day, 10 per day being wounded and maimed in Iraq during this time of occupation. We have an obligation to support those troops.

The president has an obligation to speak candidly to the American people, to answer the questions that have not been answered such as: What will be—with international cooperation—our long-term commitment in Iraq? What will we do about restarting the war against Osama bin Laden, which he effectively abandoned 12 months ago?

What will we do about those countries that pretend to be our friends, who in fact have been our enemies in the war on terrorism? What is our exit strategy? How will we leave Iraq? And finally, who is going to pay this $60 billion to $80 billion? Are we, this generation of Americans, going to pay our bills? Are we going to ask our children and grandchildren to
pay for this by adding to an already staggering national debt?

RAY SUAREZ: Senator Kerry, you'll also be asked about that expenditure. Will you vote to approve it?

JOHN KERRY: I think there are several levels of failure of leadership here. The first is that the president has failed
altogether to share with the American people the truth—the truth about the cost, the truth about the reasons and the way in which he is going to protect the troops and the interests of the United States of America.

You ask the question, what do you say to the parents? That's something I've thought about a lot, because I remember the lesson of Vietnam is that you need to be able to look a parent in the eye, if you send their kids to war, and be able to say to them, "We tried to do everything possible not to lose your son and daughter. We did everything available to us."

I think there's a failure of leadership because this president did not in fact pass that test in the way he rushed to the war.
And I and others warned him not to rush to war, to take the time to build the coalition to do what's necessary. Why?
Because not only do you gain more support for your country, but that's the way that you best protect the troops in the field.

The next level of failure of leadership is in actually not doing what's necessary now to protect the troops. I disagree with Joe Lieberman on this. We should not send more American troops. That would be the worst thing. We do not want to have more Americanization. We do not want a greater sense of American occupation. We need to minimize that. And the way to do that is do everything possible, including sharing the power, to bring other countries in to take the burden.

And the final failure of leadership is the failure of this president to understand the world today: the problems of North Korea before they're a crisis, where you need to negotiate; Africa and AIDS before it's a crisis, not a matter of a political stop; the issue of proliferation. This president wants to build a new generation of nuclear weapons. I don't want another generation of usable nuclear weapons. And we have to need the president to say no.

RAY SUAREZ: Maria Elena?

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Let's talk about the economy.

(Speaking in Spanish)

So the economy is growing slightly. The number of jobs is continuing to decline. And unemployment has risen faster for Hispanics than any other sector of the country. Right now, it stands at 8.2 percent. What would you do as president of the United States to remedy the situation? Let's begin with Congressman Kucinich.

DENNIS KUCINICH: The following steps need to be taken in order to begin to help the American economy recover. First of all, when you consider that we've lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs since July of 2000, it's shocking but the United States does not have a manufacturing policy, an economic policy which states that the maintenance of steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping is vital to our national economy and our national security. We will have a policy when I'm president.

Secondly, we have to do everything we can to secure our manufacturing base, and that means giving a critical examination to those trade agreements that have caused a loss of hundreds of thousands, in some cases millions of jobs, in this economy. As president of the United States, my first act in office, therefore, will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and to return to bilateral trade, conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

On Labor Day, I announced a new initiative, a new initiative which will enable the United States to rebuild its cities in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt rebuilt America during the Depression, called a new WPA-type program, rebuild our cities, our streets, our water systems, our sewer systems, new energy systems. It's time to rebuild America. We have the resources to do it, we have to have the will to do it.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Thank you, Congressman. We'll get to NAFTA again a little later.

(Speaking in Spanish)

Senator Graham, you have said that you would create new jobs by using federal funds to rebuild infrastructure, to build bridges and highways that are much needed in the country. How do you create jobs in that way across the board in all sectors?

BOB GRAHAM: First, let me say I have done it. For eight years I was governor of one of the largest and most complicated and diverse states in the nation. While I was governor, 1.4 million new jobs were created. Those jobs had the effect for the first time in my state's history, raising the average per capita income above the national average. For three years, Florida was designated as the state that had the best climate for economic expansion and growth. So when I say what we should do, I am not speculating. I am bringing the experience of actually creating good jobs for our people.

What we should do? One, we should repeal all of the portions of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which went primarily to the upper incomes.

Number two, we should use a portion of that money to give a tax break to middle-income Americans by reducing the tax on the payrolls. That's a place where money actually will be spent, used and energize the economy. Third, we should have an interstate-like program to rebuild America. We got a wake-up call a couple of weeks ago when our electric system went down. The same thing could have happened with the bridges falling into the Mississippi River, with schools tumbling in on children.

If we can spend the money to rebuild the electric system, the bridges and highways and schools of Iraq and Afghanistan, we can do it in the United States of America.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Thank you, Senator. Ambassador Moseley Braun, he's saying to repeal the tax cuts in 2002, 2003. Do we ask people to give the money back?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: No. No, you'll never get it back. The point is—The point is, we are witnessing for the first time in recent history embedded wealth, entrenched poverty and a shrinking middle class in America. And the only way we can turn that around is to end the trickle-down economics that have given the wealthiest Americans more money than they can even reasonably use and give people opportunity to support themselves and their families. If you invest in the masses of the people, you can create jobs and create the kind of stimulus for the economy that will give prosperity to everybody.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: Well, how do you create those jobs?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: You do it—well, when I was in the Senate, I proposed rebuilding our nation's crumbling schools. That's one way. A second way is to begin to rebuild traditional infrastructure—roads and bridges and the like.
Another way, which I find very exciting, is to invest in environmental technologies—technology transfer, creating incentives for people—for entrepreneurs to create whole new industries and environmental technologies that, frankly, will not only preserve our air and our water and our soil here, and deal with energy shortfalls and difficulties, but also give us product to sell to the rest of the world.

I want to finish up with one other point. I am also very concerned about the pay gap—what I call the sticky floor—on which many women, who are sole providers often for their families, are stuck.

Women—right now, you've heard 76 cents on the dollar. That's for Anglo women. African-American women, it's about 67 cents on the dollar. And Hispanic women, it's about 56 cents on the dollar. You can't use 56 cents to buy a dollar loaf of bread. You have to be able to support your families. And getting rid of this pay equity—of the pay inequities and leveling the playing field between men and women in terms of the amount of money that they earn, that they can—with which they can support their families is a real priority and will be a priority in my administration.

RAY SUAREZ: Governor Dean, people doing all kinds of work have lost jobs in the last couple of years. But people working in the manufacturing sector have done worst of all, losing between 2 and 3 million jobs. Now, Congressman Kucinich talked about preserving certain industrial capacities as a matter of national security. But given the way goods move around the world, can we really say to a laid-off American steel worker, textile worker or auto worker, with any assurance that they ever are going to get their jobs back?

HOWARD DEAN: We can say that we can have jobs again in America, manufacturing jobs in America. I agree with most of what was said here about the economy. The one piece I would add to it, however, is that we need to stop corporate welfare and start doing something for small businesses in this country.

Small businesses create more jobs than large businesses do and they don't move their jobs offshore because they're rooted in their community. If you want to invest in America, we ought to invest in America and stay in America with those jobs.

And I agree with the infrastructure and the... We also ought to invest in renewable energy because, Lord knows, we ought to stop sending our foreign oil money to the Middle East where it's used to fund terrorism.

Now, I do not agree with Dennis that we ought to get rid of NAFTA and the WTO. But we do need to understand what makes the European Union work. You can't get into the European Union unless you have exactly the same labor and environmental and human rights standards that you do in all those countries. We ought not to be in the business of having free and open borders with countries that don't have the same environmental, labor and human rights standards. And if you do that, we're going to be able to create manufacturing jobs in America again and they'll stay in America.

RAY SUAREZ: Senator Edwards, North Carolina has seen the loss of many of the jobs that we've been talking about. What's the role of the president in all of this?

JOHN EDWARDS: Well, you know, the president goes around the country speaking Spanish. The only Spanish he speaks when it comes to jobs is, "Hasta la vista."

Here's what I would do as president. First, I would stop these corporate—these tax loopholes that give American businesses a reason to go overseas. Instead, we ought to give tax breaks to companies that'll keep jobs right here in America.

I would also make sure in our trade agreements for some of the same reasons that Dennis just talked about, that we had real environmental protections, real labor protections, prohibitions against child labor and forced labor, so that we give our workers a better chance to compete.

But it's not enough to just protect the jobs that we have. We have to create jobs, and particularly in those communities where the job loss has been greatest. So what I would do is identify those places in America that have been hit the hardest, particularly by trade, and create a national venture capital fund for businesses that will locate there, give tax incentives to existing business and industry that will come there. The two other things we need to do, though, to get this economy going again is something this president is incapable of doing, which is cracking down on corporate cheating so that business actually works for employees.

And finally, finally, we need to stop President Bush's war on work. We need to stop these tax cuts for multi-millionaires who invest, and instead give tax cuts to working people to help them buy a house, to help them educate their kids, to help them get health care, to help them save.

That's the kind of tax cut that's going to actually help middle class working families.

RAY SUAREZ: Thank you, Senator Edwards. Maria Elena?

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top