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Democratic National Committee, Arizona Democratic Party, and CNN Sponsored Presidential Debate – Part 2

Location: Phoenix, AZ

WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Well, I disagree with General Clark that this is an attack when Joe Lieberman raises an issue.

People are trying to decide who can lead the United States of America. And the positions we take are critical to their capacity to make that decision.

The fact is that last year General Clark did say he would vote for the resolution that was in the Congress. In addition to that, at the time in May when he said that the right people were in charge, referring to Bush and to Cheney and Rumsfeld, at that time it was just a few days before Jim Jeffords switched and became an independent because of what they were doing to this country.

They had already started to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. They had already passed a tax cut that was reckless. They had already unfunded children across this country and neglected them.

And at that moment, the general was prepared to say they are the right people. At that moment, those of us who were fighting for democratic principles, and have been for 35 years or more, were fighting against what they were doing to this country, and we had no lack of clarity about what compassionate conservative meant to this nation.

WOODRUFF: What about that?

CLARK: Well now, Judy, let's just be very clear on this.

I did not vote for George W. Bush. I voted for Al Gore.

WOODRUFF: But you praised...

CLARK: But when I did go into a Republican fund-raiser, because I was nonpartisan at that point, then I did acknowledge that I knew his national security team. And like every other American, I wanted the national security team to be successful.

Yes, I had seen disturbing signs, and I gave a speech that called on greater international involvement at the time. And the things I spoke about in that fund-raiser were things that the administration didn't exactly support.

But I could still have hope in early 2001 that this administration would learn its lessons, as most administrations do.

What I didn't understand, I think what Americans didn't understand—Americans believed that they had selected a compassionate conservative. Instead we had a guy who has deepened the deficits.

He's taken us recklessly into war. And he's been a radical, not a compassionate conservative. That's why the American people want change and that's why I'm running.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: I think that this exchange will not be productive unless, as the next president, somebody says that it's time to come up with a plan to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out. And I have such a plan, and the elements are as follows.

First, to go the U.N. with a resolution in which the United States acknowledges that the U.N. should handle the oil without any privatization of Iraqi oil interests; second, that the U.N. should handle all the contracts, no more Halliburton sweetheart deals; third, that the U.N. should handle a cause of new governance in Iraq and bring the Iraqi to new governance.

And then at that point when we have that resolution, that's when we can move to get our troops out. We get the U.N. troops in and the U.S. troops out.

We have to focus on bringing our troops home.

And I am the only one standing on this stage who not only voted against the war, but will vote against the $87 billion which will keep our troops there.

And I am saying that you have to have a plan and where's the plan to get out? There has to be an exit strategy. I'm presenting that here this evening.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Very quickly, first thing I want to say, Wes Clark, welcome to the Democratic presidential campaign.


Look, none of us are above questioning. That's what this is all about. As John said, we're trying to let the American people see what we're about so they can decide which one of us can replace George W. Bush as president.

I will say here that I will support any one of these eight others that get nominated by my party to run against George Bush.


WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, a question for Reverend Sharpton.

GREENFIELD: Reverend Sharpton, you referred to the necessity of your party winning, so let's focus on that for a minute.

Ten years after Bill Clinton won the White House by appealing to the forgotten middle class—he ended welfare as an entitlement, he endorsed and expanded the death penalty, he took on the labor unions -- 10 years later the middle class is giving the Democratic Party some serious problems.

According to one Democratic pollster, by huge majorities the average voter feels the Democratic Party is too liberal, doesn't share their values and most especially is beholden to special interests.

As a candidate for the presidential nomination, what would you do to bring that forgotten middle class back to the party?

SHARPTON: All I think you have to do is explain to the middle class what has happened under George Bush and those that have made their life less fruitful than it was.

When you look at the job loss, when you look at the weakening of the economy, when you look at the fact that their children have gone to war under a premise that did not exist, I think that we have to get our message to the middle class.

When you look at the fact that there was a vote about a deficit in California and we tell the American people, particularly the middle class, we have a record historic federal deficit, we've got to bring the message to the middle class. And we've got to use everything from the Internet to the interstate highways to get that message out.

What they're beating us at is that message and how they get the message in the trenches and grassroots. The facts don't speak for what we are talking about here.

Middle class people were able to buy more homes under Clinton. Middle class people were able to afford more college education for their children.

If you lay the facts out, there's no way, in my judgment, middle class people would keep those feelings that you just said that poll says.

WOODRUFF: Representative Gephardt, are you all in absolute agreement on this, the premise of...

GEPHARDT: Well, let me just say this: We got a great story for the American people and the middle class and all the people of the country. We did this.

I led the fight for the Clinton economic program in 1993. It created 22 million new jobs.

We didn't get a Republican vote in the House or the Senate. We passed it by one vote in both houses.

And it's clear, we get this. We know how to do this. They do not.

If you want to live like a Republican, you've got to vote for the Democrats, and we've proven it over and over again.


It's true. It's absolutely true.

My plan is a bold, comprehensive plan based on a lot of the things we did: health care for everybody in this country; an education plan that says that if young kids want to be teachers, we'll help pay their college loans just like we do for ROTC; an energy plan to make us independent of Middle Eastern oil; a universal pension plan where the credits follow you from job to job; tax credits to keep manufacturers in the United States, accelerating highway spending until we get something going in this country; and finally, a trade policy that will hold on to good jobs and get better wages paid in other countries.


WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards, if that's the formula, why not the rest of you drop out of the race and, you know, turn it over to Congressman Gephardt?

EDWARDS: Well, what we need, what we need if we want to reach out to the middle class, the people who are going to decide this election in 2004, is first we need a messenger that they understand and has a direct gut-level connection with them, number one.

Number two, we need to talk about a message that they clearly understand.

Every one of us are against George Bush's tax cuts for millionaires. We should be.

But there's something more radical than that going on here. This president is in the business of shifting the tax burden in America from wealth and the wealthy, to work and the middle class, and it's wrong for two reasons.

First, what he's trying to do is get rid of the capital gains tax, the dividends tax, and the taxation of large estates. It's wrong for two reasons.

First, it's completely inconsistent with middle-class values.

This is the message the American people need to hear.

I want this president to explain to the American people why multimillionaires, sitting by the swimming pool, getting a statement each month to see how much money he's making, is paying a lower tax rate than a school teacher, a firefighter, a secretary.

The second reason that this is wrong is because he is putting the burden on the very engine of our economy, which is working people and the middle class.

Our economy grows when working people and the middle class grows.

It's happened historically. This president believes if you put more money in the pockets of people at the top, somehow we're all going to do better. He's wrong. We're going to prove he's wrong in 2004. And the middle class needs to hear this message.

WOODRUFF: But you wouldn't roll back the tax cuts for the middle class?

EDWARDS: No. No, I would not. I think, in fact...


EDWARDS: ... what we want to do is empower and strengthen the middle class and get rid of the tax cuts for the rich.

MOSELEY BRAUN: I want to respond to the direct question about the polling.

You know, you can't fool all the people all the time. And this administration has mastered the art of fooling people. They've misled the American people on just about every count.

Their environmental policy is called "clean skies and healthy forests," when it means they want to cut down trees and put more junk in the air. "Leave no child behind" means an unfunded mandate for local governments.

I have proposed a health care plan that will give universal coverage. I have proposed getting this economic engine going for all Americans.

All of these candidates have proposed alternatives. And I just want to say that I think the Democratic way, the Democratic voters will respond to a real alternative to George Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeff Greenfield, a question for Congressman Gephardt.

GREENFIELD: Congressman, I'd like to keep going on this track because it seems to me that you could almost hear voters out there, some of saying, "You guys just don't get it. You recite a litany of economic proposals, but it's on values that the middle class appears to have left the Democratic Party."

All right, 9/11 may be the reason you lost the Senate and the House, but it doesn't explain why for the first time in more than 50 years, there are more Republican state legislators than Democrats or why only 32 percent of American voters say they're Democrats.

That's the lowest level since before the New Deal.

So my question is, if we can cut to the chase, beyond the five- point plans, would you concede or acknowledge or not that there's something about what the Democrats have been saying or doing that has turned off voters who you think should be voting for your party?

GEPHARDT: Jeff, I don't see it as half-empty, I see it as half- full. I think we're doing really good. Now...

GREENFIELD: Well, the Senate and House are less than half...

GEPHARDT: In the last four elections for the House, we picked up seats. We won the Senate back not long ago. We reelected President Clinton in 1996. We picked up governors in the last election, even though we lost a handful of seats in the Congress.

But let me tell you what I think is going on here. I think the Democratic Party has proven, through real results during the Clinton administration, that we do have the right values, we do reflect the values of the American people. We do understand that we're all tied together, that we are interdependent, that we have to help one another so we can all succeed.

That's our economic program. It's based on that moral value that you only can succeed in this country if you bring everybody up together. That's what we did and we've proven it.


GREENFIELD: Governor Dean said not long ago: The reason we, the Democrats, are out of power is that we didn't stand up for what we believe in. Is he right?

GEPHARDT: Well, I don't know that I agree with that.

We were standing up for what we believe in. We did a good job in the Clinton administration. We got the budget straightened out through growth and we got the defense of this country made better.

And incidentally, you know this Army in Iraq was built by the Clinton administration, not by the Bush administration, and they've done a pretty good job. I'm pretty proud of what they've done.

So I don't buy the idea that we didn't stand for the right things.

Now, we've had our disagreement, Howard and I, over the question of Medicare. At our darkest hour, when were fighting against the Republicans who had just taken over the Congress, he was in agreement—and I'm not criticizing him for it, that was his belief. He was in agreement with the Republican stand to have a deep, devastating cut in Medicare.

Now, this party is the party of Medicare and Social Security, and we're known for that, and we need to continue to fight for those programs.

The Republicans have wanted to get rid of them forever. They'll never do that on my watch. We will protect Social Security and Medicare to the end, because it's the proudest achievement of this government.

WOODRUFF: All right, I want to let Governor Dean jump in here and then Senator Lieberman.

DEAN: Let me first say that the folks that are running against me have had the greatest time—first they said I was George McGovern and I couldn't win, and now they're saying I'm Newt Gingrich and I couldn't win.


Let me tell you what the answer to the question is about why the Democrats aren't winning.

It is because we don't stand up for what we believe in.

Why do you think I am where I am, having come from no place at the end of January? It's because I've gone out and given 50 percent of Americans who have given up on voting in this country a reason to vote again.

We can't just change presidents here. We're trying to change America, and that's what I want to do.

We have to have the values of the Democratic Party, but in Washington the culture is say whatever it takes to get elected. And the minute you're willing to say whatever it takes to get elected, you lose, because the American people are not nearly as dumb as the people in Washington think we are.

This campaign is about changing America. And until we're willing to stand up and say what we think, regardless of the consequences, we never are going to have a chance against George Bush.

And I intend to have a chance against George Bush. And I intend to have the half-a-million people who are supporting us and the 2 million who are going to be supporting us by the end of election season to get to the polls, because this time the person with the most votes is going to win.

WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman, do you agree?


Senator Lieberman, do you agree with Governor Dean that Democrats have not been standing up for what they should?

LIEBERMAN: Oh, obviously not. I've certainly been standing up for what I believe is right for the country in this campaign and in the 30 years of my public life regardless of whether it was politically easy.

And I want to say to Howard, I hope he didn't—wasn't referring to the 2000 election, because Al Gore and I certainly stood up for what we believed.

And I don't think there is anybody in this room who would disagree that if Al and I had been able to take office, America would be a lot better off today.


WOODRUFF: Is that what you're referring to, Governor Dean?


WOODRUFF: No, all right.

LIEBERMAN: I do want to respond.

Integrity is on the ballot next November. And what Carol said is absolutely right: George Bush has fooled the American people. He promised he'd grow and protect the middle class. The fact is, he squeezed and shrunk it. I've never seen so much anxiety among them.

We will not get them back unless we can convince them that we are a party that will be strong on defense and will reflect their best values. And what does that mean? A sense of right and wrong, neighbors that take care of one another, a willingness to stand up and take on some interests like Hollywood and say that the entertainment industry is putting too much violence and inappropriate sexual matter in front of our children and affecting their lives and ours.

I have said from the beginning that I believe strongly that I am the candidate who can beat George Bush because I can take him on where he's supposed to be strong, but he's not, on defense and values, and then beat him where we know he is weak, on his failed economic policies and his social agenda that is so right-wing it has left the rest of America, including the middle class, behind.

WOODRUFF: All right, the red light is on. We're going to move on.

Senator Lieberman, the next question goes to you.


WOODRUFF: And it is from me.

You mentioned Hollywood. We've heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, is going to be the next governor of the state of California. It's pretty clear there was a wave of voter unhappiness, even anger, in California, that pushed him out.

Now we have analysts saying that anger may not just be in California; it may be reflected in voters across the country at incumbents, at Washington politicians.

Two of the candidates who picked up the most steam so far in this campaign are not of Washington—with all due respect—Governor Dean, General Clark, two of them.

You have been in Washington for 15 years almost. Is Washington a liability? What do you make of this whole voter discontent thing?

LIEBERMAN: Well, first let me say that the lesson from the election in California I hope is that we're all not going to try to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, like this.

The lesson from California is that people want change. Gray Davis was on the ballot in California. George Bush is going to be on the ballot in America next November. The way to bring about change is not to go to a rookie.

It's time for somebody with experience, but somebody who has the courage, as I have throughout my career, to say what I believe and to do what I say, because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of the United States.

We've got to rebuild the trust in the White House that George Bush has compromised by breaking his promises, by indulging in the politics of personal destruction, and by deceiving the American people.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Gephardt, you've been in Washington almost twice as long as Senator Lieberman.

GEPHARDT: Yes, he's a rookie compared to me.

WOODRUFF: So what do you make of what appears to be a wave of voter unhappiness with politicians in office?

GEPHARDT: People are unhappy with George Bush and his lack of leadership for this country. That's clear.

The economy is in a mess. People are losing their jobs. He's lost 3.3 million jobs in the last two and a half years, more jobs than the last 11 presidents put together.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think there's a problem for any Democrat?

GEPHARDT: Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something, I was never prouder of this party than on the day in 1993 when House members went down and plunked down their green cards to vote for an economic plan that was a tough economic plan.

It was not understood at the time. People thought it was full of political pain, and it was.

We lost the Congress over that vote. They ran ads on all my candidates saying they had voted to raise taxes. Guess what we had on the wealthiest Americans? You bet we had.

But it was the plan, it was the platform on which the American people created the best economy in 50 years. It was the right thing to do for the future of the country. Members gave up their political career to do what was right.

That's what the Democratic Party is about, and that's why I'm proud to be a Democrat.


WOODRUFF: Congressman, we know you're all Democrats. The question is: Are Democrats in any—go ahead, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: To answer your question, I think that we have to go at those that have felt excluded and abandoned by the fight. And I think that we've got to register younger people. We've got to go at people that have felt that the party has not stood on a critical issue.

I think we can't compete for the values of people that may be, in my judgment, wrongly looking at America. I think our modular victory is in younger voters. That's why I've done a lot of young voter registrations.

That's why I've done—I was at two schools today. We've got to expand the electric. We can't say that Americans have rejected—most Americans haven't voted. You're talking, Judy, like George Bush won, he didn't win.

WOODRUFF: No, I'm saying...

SHARPTON: He did not win.

WOODRUFF: My question is...


That's not my—my question was: Is Washington a liability? Senator, is it a liability?

KERRY: It depends what vision you're offering to the country.

I agree with Jeff's premise. I think there has been a problem in the last election certainly. And part of it was not of the making of the party. It was the cleverness of the Republican administration and Karl Rove in exploiting national security.

They brought the Iraq issue in September for a purpose. Andrew Card said you don't introduce a new product in August. And they introduced their product, and they wiped other choices off the stage.

But that's one of the reasons why it's so important to have a nominee of our party who will have the ability to stand toe to toe with them.

They used to think their strong suit was national security. They can't find Osama bin Laden. They can't find Saddam Hussein. They can't even find the leaker in the White House.

WOODRUFF: Is there anyone among you...


KERRY: I believe that if we—Judy, in answer to your question, and Jeff also: We have to offer Americans real choices. We have to connect to every American about their health care. We are. We have to connect with children and their parents about how we're going to really fix our schools.

We are; they're not. We have to connect with people about how we're going to protect the environment. But it was we Democrats—I led the fight—to stop the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. I led the fight to stop Newt Gingrich decimating...

WOODRUFF: All right.

KERRY: ... the Clean Air and Clean Water Act, and unfortunately, we haven't taken those issues out to the country enough.

When we take our values out in this race, we're going to win, because I believe we're offering real choices to the American people...

WOODRUFF: All right.

KERRY: ... that make a difference to the quality of their lives.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, question for Senator Kerry.

CROWLEY: Senator Kerry, within the last 48 hours, the foreign minister of Iran has said that his country will continue to enrich uranium despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has told them to cease and desist by the 31st.

Should you become president, if you get solid evidence that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weaponry, and you cannot get anything in the U.N. like what you would like, are you prepared to go after a factory in Iran on your own?

KERRY: I would do whatever is necessary to protect the national security of the United States of America, but, Candy, I don't accept the premise of your question completely.

And it really comes back to the original question about Iraq also.

I spoke with the secretary general in the last 24 hours, and I know that we could be doing better in terms of pulling other countries to our side now with respect to Iraq.

If we did that with respect to Iraq, if we had a different policy with respect to North Korea so that we froze in place the current status quo, i.e. their plutonium, their enrichment and our threat so that we can take that off the table and begin to renegotiate, we would begin to change the dynamics of how countries are perceiving the United States.

But as long as this administration leaves a preemptive doctrine on the table, as long as our administration is proceeding down the road to develop nuclear bunker-busting weapons, and as long as we remain a country that will conduct a preemptive war, we're inviting people to do the very thing that we don't want them to do.

We need a president now to prevent us from the very choice that you just said could occur, and that will only happen if we go to the United Nations now and get rid of the sense of American occupation in Iraq. Take the target off American troops.


WOODRUFF: Congressman Kucinich, you are in complete agreement—you're in complete agreement?

KUCINICH: Oh, no, I'm not in agreement with a number of the things that have been said.

WOODRUFF: No, I mean on this point.

KUCINICH: I would like to say that it would have been good if Senator Kerry and Congressman Gephardt, both have been articulate in criticizing the president, had actually voted against the resolution that took us to war.

It'll be a year anniversary on October 10th that the bill came to the House.

Now, we had a chance to tell the president no. We had a chance to cancel unilateralism and preemption by saying no. And while it's very well and good to stand here and say we should have done that, I submit that the reason, going back to Jeff Greenfield's question, the reason why people don't trust the Democrats is because our Democratic leadership stood with the president in the Rose Garden and now stands on this stage and attacks him for the war.

I'm saying that war was wrong from the beginning. We should get out of Iraq now, because we're standing there on a lie, we should bring our troops home, that's the bottom line.

Mr. Dean has said that he believes—he says what he believes. I want to ask him, do you believe in spending $87 billion to keep our troops in Iraq? Because I don't. Do you?

DEAN: I get to answer the question?


DEAN: I believe if the president is serious about supporting our troops in Iraq that he has to say where he's going to get the money from, and that means he's got to get rid of $87 billion worth of the tax cuts that went to Ken Lay and his friends at Enron.

KUCINICH: Would you fund keep the troops in Iraq?

DEAN: Yes.

KUCINICH: You would?

DEAN: If the president was willing to pay for it.

KUCINICH: I would say bring our troops home, Governor.

DEAN: You can't do that. And I'll tell you why.

KUCINICH: We have to bring our troops home. They're targets right now.

DEAN: Can I tell why I disagree?

KUCINICH: Yes, finish.

DEAN: First of all, let me tell you what I agree with you about. And in all due respect to John and Joe and Wes and John Edwards and Dick Gephardt, maybe you thought the war was a good idea and maybe you thought it wasn't a bad idea. It wasn't a good idea.

The problem is that we empowered the president to run roughshod over us in the last election because nobody stood up to him on the October vote. If you all had voted no, we could have gone out and made our case to the American people. But instead you didn't vote no.

KUCINICH: You said no, and that's not true. I led the effort. Do you want to correct that statement?

DEAN: No, no, I didn't mention you. I didn't mention you.

Now if I can explain what my position on Iraq is, it's this. Now that we're there...

WOODRUFF: Could you make it brief so we could let...

DEAN: I'll try to make it as brief as I can.

Now that we're there, we can't pull out responsibly. Because if we do, there are more al Qaeda, I believe, in Iraq today than there were before the president went in. If they establish a foothold in Iraq, or if a fundamentalist Shiite regime comes in, allied with Iran, that is a real security danger to the United States, when one did not exist before when Saddam Hussein was running the place.

WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards, you voted with the president.


WOODRUFF: So what do you say to Governor Dean about this?

EDWARDS: I say Saddam Hussein being gone is a good thing, good for the security of the American people, good for the security of that region.

But I disagree so strongly with what he just said. I have stood up to this president over and over and over, including back in 2001 when some on this stage had hope for President Bush. I did not have hope for President Bush.

And I want to go back to something that was talked about a few minutes ago, which is this whole issue of Washington and people's concern.

Let's forget about politicians for a minute.

What most people in this country are worried about is they look to Washington, and what they believe is true, it is being run by corporate lobbyists, by Washington insiders, powerful interests. They know that. They see what's happening right now, Judy, with the situation with the $87 billion in Iraq that has been discussed.

Joe Allbaugh, the former campaign manager for George Bush, one of his best friends, has set up a lobbying firm to get contracts in Iraq.

What people want, people like my own family, the family that I grew up in, they want a president of the United States that will stand up for them and stand up against these powerful lobbyists and interests in Washington, D.C. That's what they're looking for.


WOODRUFF: Very quickly, General Clark, because he was referring to you. And then we're...

CLARK: Judy, I think what people want is they want straight talk and they want leadership.

I think the question that Candy raised about Iran is a very serious question.

And just to pick up on what John Kerry said, this administration's preemptive doctrine is causing North Korea and Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons development.

Now, there are some of us who aren't in Washington right now. But I'd like to ask all those who are—let's see some leadership in the United States Congress. Let's see you take apart that doctrine of preemption now. I don't think we can wait until November of 2004 to change the administration on this threat. We're marching into another military campaign in the Middle East. We need to stop it.

WOODRUFF: We know there are some of you who want to get in. We're going to get to that after the break.

After the break, we are going to hear questions from this audience at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. We'll be back in two minutes.


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