Presidential Candidates Forum on Women's Issues - Part 1

By:  John Kerry
Date: Nov. 5, 2003
Location: Manchester, NH


Gloria Feldt: This is so incredibly exciting. Hello everybody! Welcome to this Presidential Candidates Forum on Women's Issues. The one and only in the United States this election, so you're at a special place! Very special!

I am Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and I am very honored to be able to see each of you here in this room, to be able to not only welcome you we're being live web cast on Planned Parenthood's website going all over the country if not the world. And for those in the C-span Audience we're delighted you're here with us. This is as I said, an historic event and I am so thrilled to be able to be doing it with some incredibly wonderful co- sponsors as well. I want to thank all of you: The New Hampshire Business and Professional Women, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the New Hampshire Women's Lobby, the New Hampshire Women's Policy Institute, the YWCA of Manchester, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

I'm so excited to be able to see all of the Presidential Candidates who are here, (you will be introduced to them momentarily,) as well as the incredibly wonderful panelists we have here tonight. It's going to be a great evening.

When Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood 87 years ago, contraception was illegal. In fact, it was illegal to hand out information about contraception in the United States. The constitution did not give women the right to vote. Nellie Taylor Ross had not yet won election as America's first female governor. And the idea of a presidential candidate's forum on women's issues —unthinkable. But after 87 years of hard work and history, that has changed. We at Planned Parenthood have worked to insure that all people have the means and information to decide freely and responsibly whether and when to have children. And countless other groups, and millions of individual women have pushed American society and it's economy forward towards greater justice and equality for women during those years. So today women have come of age in public life. But it's fair to say that the choices many of our politicians make don't reflect that. The unconstitutional legislation that was signed today that affects decisions women and their doctor's can make about women's health care, that bans necessary abortion procedures with no protections for the health of the woman, is just one example.

Clearly all though we've come a long way we still have a very, very long way to go. There is an anti-woman constituency aligned today with other constituencies with an aggressive agenda to take us backward instead of forward. To turn back the clock. And that is why we are holding this forum on women's issues.

The decisions that women make in the workplace, at home, in the voting booth, and in numbers greater than ever, the United States' House and Senate and in State Legislatures all over the country, have in the past and can in the future, reshape not only politics, but American culture as well. If and only if, we participate. We will see one vital element of that reshaping, in fact, on April 25th of 2004—if I may take this opportunity to do a small commercial and invite everyone to come and march on Washington on April 25th 2004-- Save Women's Lives, March for Freedom of Choice.

And that's one thing that we're doing to get our issues front and center. But we will see another very important element of that reshaping here, tonight. And I know that you all are as eager as I am to hear from the Democratic presidential candidates about the particular issues that women face.

Now the topic of, quote, "women's issues," is a very broad one. The truth is that what we're calling women's issues affect women, children, men, families, of every age, every race and ethnicity, every language, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, income, marital status, and religion. From reproductive freedom, to pay equity. From childcare to domestic violence. The issues that women face are crucial not just for women, but for our society at large. So, this is really about you. This is your country. This is your election. And this is your forum on women's issues. And so with that, I want to introduce to our moderator, Laura Knoy of New Hampshire Public Radio. Laura?

Laura Knoy, moderator: Hi everyone. I know I've been covering New Hampshire politics for a long time because I think I know about half the faces out there. So welcome! It's good to see all of you. And thanks also to the sponsors for inviting me tonight. I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and I am so thrilled to be here. I'd like to first introduce my fellow panelists for this evening: Ellen Goodman, syndicated columnist, in the green. I always read Ellen's columns and I want to be her when I grow up. It's true. Robin Young, Host of Public Radio's Here and Now, heard on NPR's stations and produced at WBUR at Boston. She does a fabulous job.

Now, before I introduce the six Democratic candidates who join us tonight, this is a great crowd and a rowdy crowd and that's wonderful. However, if you are supporting a particular candidate, I would ask that you try to hold back just a little bit. Because if we're overtaken by applause all night we won't get to as many questions as possible. So just try.

The campaigns drew names out of a hat earlier, and that is the order in which I will introduce them now. Retired General Wesley Clark, US Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, and US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Ladies and gentlemen, come on out please.

Thank you all very much for taking the time to come here and participate in this forum. We're all looking forward to what you have to say tonight. I want to let everyone know that the views expressed tonight are those of the candidates and not those of the supporting organizations. And that sponsorship of this forum is not intended as an endorsement of any candidate.

Now, to the format. We are using two of them tonight. In our first segment, Ellen and Robin will each ask one candidate one question and that candidate has one minute to answer. I will then ask one more candidate to respond to that same question for thirty seconds. This means different candidates will answer different questions. Not every candidate will be answering the same questions down the line. It's a little bit different. I will ask the questions, some of which were asked by the sponsoring organizations. Robin and Ellen will ask questions that they have worked on together.
[explains timer signals]

Out second segment is the more traditional debate format, where one question is asked to each candidate - we've dubbed it "the lightning round," because we want it to go fast. The questions are designed to be answered in a short amount of time - some of them only need a simple yes/no answer, and candidate responses in this segment are limited to 30 seconds.

At the end of the forum, candidates will make two-minute closing remarks and the order in which they speak, again, was determined earlier by that drawing.

So, we will begin now with two questions from Ellen Goodman.

Ellen Goodman: Thank you. The dress code tonight is quite different than last night. My question is for Senator Kerry: Just a few hours ago the president signed the first law criminalizing a specific abortion procedure, the so-called "partial birth" abortion. This law makes no exception for the health of a woman. You voted against the ban but a recent Gallup poll suggests that 68% of the American people favor the ban. So my question is, how are you going to explain this to voters who disagree with you?

Kerry: Let me just say first of all, thank you for the privilege of being here tonight. Secondly, I want to tell everybody a Nebraska judge, I'm happy to say, put a stay, an injunction against the law. And thirdly, look that's what leadership is about. This president has exploited this issue. There's no such thing as a quote "partial birth." It is a late term abortion.
They've done a very effective job of giving people a sense of fear about it and it's part of their assault on the rights of women in America. It is the first step in their effort - there's nothing partial, may I say, about their effort to undue Roe v. Wade. And I am the only candidate here who has said declaratively, I will support no person to the Supreme Court of the United States whose philosophy is to undue Roe v. Wade. They call it a litmus test; I call it protecting Constitutional rights in America. And we need a president who stands up and does that.

Moderator: And the response goes to General Clark.

Clark: Well, I would not have supported such legislation and the way I would explain it is I simply believe this is a matter between a woman and her doctor and her family and we've got to stand up strongly for the right of privacy in this country and for the rights of women and we've got to avoid the sort of litmus test labeling that the Republican party has done. They can't define the issues; we should be defining those issues. This is an issue that's been settled constitutionally. There is a whole body of law about this. We should not surrender the initiative to the Republican Party on this.

Goodman: Senator Edwards, in the last election, there was a 10-point gender gap. A majority of women voted for the
Democratic candidate, a majority of men voted for the Republicans. Governor Dean said he wanted to be the candidate for the guy with the Confederate flag on his pick-up truck, and you criticized him. So my question is, what is your strategy for attracting men, the so-called "Nascar dads" to the Democratic Party?

Edwards: Well, first of all, I will point out, as I'm sure he will, that Governor Dean apologized today, which I think was a very good thing. He should be applauded for doing that. I think it was the right thing for him to do. I've said that to him privately tonight when we arrived here.

First, what we need to do to reach out to which you described as Nascar dads, is focus on the very issues that affect their day-to-day lives. Which means, making sure that their kids are educated the way they should, that they have a decent job with decent benefits, that they have health care - affordable health care - for themselves and for their families, but also not to treat them with disrespect. To be sensitive to the things that are important to them in their day-to-day lives. To talk about issues in a way that recognizes what they care about, the culture they come from, what they believe in. So at the end of the day, I think the most important thing to do to reach out to these very voters that we are talking about, is to stand up for principles, stand up for Democratic values, but to have a candidate that they connect with in an intuitive, gut-level. I think that's the way to reach these voters.

Mod: And the response goes to Governor Dean for thirty seconds.

Dean: First of all, let me thank Senator Edwards for his gracious remarks. I'll repeat something that I said last night, there are 102,000 kids with no health insurance in the state of South Carolina, and most of those kids are white. South Carolina legislature cut $70 million out of their school system. Most people who are in the public school system in South Carolina are white. We need to reach out and connect with people based on their economics. You've got people in the south and in the north voting for George Bush who make less than the tax cut he gave to people who make a million dollars a year. Those are our voters and we've got to connect with them.

Mod: The next questions come from Robin Young. Two questions from Robin Young.

Young: Gov. Dean, I'm going to stay with you and you've just mentioned tax cuts. You've dismissed President Bush's tax cuts and pledged to repeal them, but according to some estimates a family with an income of only $25,000 and one child had savings of over $1,000 over two years. That's a lot of groceries. And also the Republicans are sure to be crowing that the recent surge in the economy is due in part to the tax cuts. Is this a dangerous platform for you and how would you explain to those families who feel that they benefited from those tax cuts, that you in fact feel they didn't.

Dean: Because there was no middle class tax cut. The truth is there are few people who fit into that category. According to the Center for Budget Priorities, 60% of the people in this country got a $304 tax cut. Tell me what your college tuition has done in the last year or two. Tell me in New Hampshire, what your property taxes have done because of the unfunded mandate. We need to get rid of every dime of the Bush tax cut and put that money into fully funding special education, getting rid of "No Child Left Behind" and starting to bring down property taxes. Most people in this state would rather have their property taxes cut than a $304 tax cut.

Mod: The response goes to Congressman Kucinich. You have 30 seconds.

Kucinich: Well, I believe that the Bush tax cut that went to the top brackets should be eliminated. The other tax cuts, the childcare tax credit and the so-called marriage penalty, which I don't believe should be eliminated. However, the total tax cuts yield about $1.5 trillion. That's about $155 billion per year. I would want to see the bulk of that money that would go to the people in the top brackets to be put into a fund to provide free college education in every public college and university in this country. We can do that; we have the money to do it. It's a question of our priorities.

Mod: Next question to Senator Moseley Braun. I thought one of you might mention the jobs that were expected in the recovery. Ambassador Moseley Braun, some small business owners are saying they can't afford to hire back workers because they can't afford to pay health benefits. You said you would switch the burden from the employers to the government, suggesting a single payer system. How can the debt-ridden government with an ongoing war, even with repealed tax cuts, possibly pay for universal health insurance?

Moseley Braun: Thank you for the question and I wanted to say from the outset that I am happy that you are having this forum. To say in response specifically to your question about health care, that a single-payer system that is both universal - that it to say, covers everybody- and comprehensive - that starts with prevention and wellness and goes through long-term care, will not cost the American tax-payers one dime more than we are currently paying on our expensive, dysfunctional, and inadequate health-care delivery system. Indeed, it will lift the burden on employers and employees for that matter. First, by decoupling health care from employment, working people who pay more in payroll taxes than they do often in income taxes, will get an immediate boost in their paycheck. Our export sector will be in a better competitive position. Every car that's made in Detroit has a $600-700 addition just from health care that their competitors abroad don't have to carry. It will finally help small business create jobs and I think single payer is the only way to go to fix this long-standing problem.


MOD: Thank you. Senator Kerry, response from you, please.

KERRY: Well let me just say, I could not disagree with Governor Dean more about the impact of the tax cut. In fact, if you roll back the high end of the Bush tax cut, which is what I did, and follow the lessons of President Clinton where we protect the middle class, put more purchasing money in the hands of consumers, we'll be able to kick the economy without punishing people, we could still pay for healthcare. I do it. My healthcare plan would get the 99% coverage of all
Americans within three years, all children covered immediately, everybody with access to the same health plan that Senators and Congressmen have… but I don't want to do it at the expense of the middle class, and there are 64 million American who just get the benefit of the 10% credit. Everybody gets the 10% credit - would get the benefit of the childcare credit. You don't want to do away with that. You got to make it easier for people to raise their families.

MOD: Thank you. I will now ask one question from a forum co-sponsor. This one is from the New Hampshire Business and Professional Women. This question goes to Dennis Kucinich. Although the wage gap for working women can be partly explained by differences in education or time in the workforce, part of it is also the result of gender discrimination. As president, would you sign the Fair Pay Act, and what other initiatives would you support to close the earnings gap between men and women.

KUCINICH: Well, first of all we have to recognize that such an earnings gap exists and I would sign that legislation. I think we have to recognize that the federal government first should be looking at all federal employees wherever there is any kind of inequity, the president can sign an executive order that would bring the pay up so that women would be in fact paid equally. We also have to make sure that business women, in particular, are given the opportunity in contracts. In my office, we reach out to small businesses and give them the opportunity to learn how to go after contracts. But I can tell you that it is so important that women are given the opportunity to have access to the money that's in the government. So I would say that we have to further expand our vision and look at the pension issue, because there are many women who are denied equal pension rights. We have to have legislation that addresses that, and make sure that women have fair access to promotions. So whether it's pay, pensions, promotions, business - these are all things that I would focus on and make sure that women would have the opportunity to experience equal pay.

MOD: Senator Edwards, North Carolina.

EDWARDS: The answer is yes. You know, this is a basic issue of equality. We have big parts of America where women are being 75, 80 cents on the dollar for doing the same kind of work that men are doing. Is this really the America that you and I believe in? This is George Bush's America, but it is not ours. This is so core to our values, whether it's civil rights, whether it's equal rights, whether it's protecting our freedoms and liberties, we need a president of the United States who will stand up and fight for the equal rights of women, and make sure that they're paid exactly the same way that men are paid for doing the same work, and treated with the respect and dignity that women are entitled to.

MOD: Now back to Ellen Goodman for two questions.

Goodman: General Clark, it's not exactly a news bulletin that Americans are stretched out between work and family. The United States is almost the only country in the world that doesn't offer a single day of paid family and medical leave even after the birth of a child. Are you in favor of paid leave, and what specifically would you do as President to help workers care for families without risking their jobs?

CLARK: Well, I am in favor of family leave. I've seen it in the United States Army. Paid family leave, absolutely. I've seen this in the United States Army. We're very careful about our soldiers when they're spouses are going to have children we don't deploy them. We help them stay home and help, and we encourage them to help afterwards. Now we don't always go through a formal family leave, but we understand that if you want people to be their best on the job, you have to pay attention to their personal family needs, because that's what people rank highly. The kind of society I would want to be in is a society that would respect peoples' obligations outside the workplace, as well as holding people accountable for their performances on the job. So I would support legislation, the enforcement of rules, and most importantly job owning from the bully pulpit. I think we need to put quality of life into the American family and work place. We did it in the military. It works. It's important. We need it for this country.

MOD: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun.

25 minutes

MOD: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun.

25 minutesModerator: And the response goes to Ambassador Braun. Thirty seconds.Braun: Thank you very much. I was proud to be a part of the passage of the first Family Medical Leave Act and I've seen first hand the difference that it makes. It helps families to adjust to changes in the family—whether it's the birth of a child or the illness of a family member—and it is a very positive and constructive thing. I will promote policies and promote efforts to move in that direction—in the direction of paid family leave—but I would be careful that we not put additional burdens on business. That would kill job creation as opposed to helping to create employment opportunities. Because the best family value is still a good job.Moderator: You all are doing a very nice job staying within the time by the way. I just wanted to say I really appreciate that. Question: Senator Kerry, five years ago the congress passed the welfare reform bill that said in essence, a poor mother's place is in the work force and since then more women have gotten off of welfare than have gotten out of poverty.
And now the bill's up for reauthorization and now the administrations answer to this is to add another ten hours of required work for welfare mothers and I would like to know what's your answer for poor mothers? Kerry: The answer to poor mothers is not to take them away from their families without adequate capacity to be able to have child care, number one.
Number two, you need to have more breadth to what qualifies as education and training so that they have the opportunity to be able to get the jobs in the future. In addition to that, we have to stop, in this country, asking people to go to work the way we do today and barely allow them for a full week's work and not be able to work outside of poverty. We have stop talking about just raising the minimum wage, and having a living wage in the United States of America so people have the opportunity to be able to get ahead. And it is punitive and contradictory to all family values to be suggesting that you got to go to work but you don't have a place for your kid to be able to get childcare. You got to go to work but you don't have the ability to be able to live out the family values. And it's wrong. This administration is assaulting the rights of women across the board—Title 9, Family Medical Leave, Violence Against Women's Act, and Ashcroft spends more money to cover a statue in the Justice Department than he does to prevent discrimination in the work place. Moderator: The response to the welfare reform question goes to Senator Edwards.Edwards: Well, actually John said most of it. He's exactly right. This is a basic issue of values. This president says he wants to debate with us about values, we ought to give George Bush a debate about values. His values are not our values. They are not the values of the American people. Do the American people believe that a single working mom should not get transportation to her job? Do they believe that a single working mom should not get the training and education that John Kerry just talked about? They believe that a single, working, mom shouldn't have a decent place where she can allow for her child to be while she's at work? Those may be George Bush's values, but they are not our values and they are not the values of the American people.Moderator: Now two questions from Robin Young.

Robin Young: I'll stay with childcare, and this is to Gov. Dean. Head Start right now only covers about 60% of eligible children and daycare is increasingly a problem for middle class working parents as well. But in Denver a 2% rise in the city sale tax to pay for day care was twice voted down. In Seattle the Latte (sp?) Tax was voted down as well.—that was for daycare. As president would you commit to cover all the children who need Head Start and would you also consider doing a universal daycare when it seems as if taxpayers don't want to pay for it.Daycare.... 29.05 minutesDean: Let me tell you what we did in my state. In my state we subsidized every mother, every family who makes up to $40,000 a year helping them get childcare. And we give a 20 % bonus to the childcare center if they are certified with the National Association for the education of young children. We have something very close to universal childcare in my state. Its not—We had to weave the system together because you have Head Start, you have early Essential Education and then you have all the "Zero to Three" programs. We dropped our child abuse rate by 43% for kids under six. Child's sexual abuse down by 70% for kids under six. If you want to invest in schools and even have kids succeed in Head Start you have to start when that child is between zero and three years old. That's what we've done in my state that's what we'll do in America.

Moderator: Thank you. The response goes to General Clark. General Clark, 30 seconds.

Gen. Clark: I worked very hard in the United States Army to make sure that Head Start was available for each one of our children in Europe. I believe in early childhood education, it's absolutely essential. And as president, I will work to get Head Start for every child in America. But more than that, we're going to put an emphasis on early childhood education, starting with private foundations and public and private initiatives to make sure that we're preparing children or what we call "learning readiness" at the earliest possible age. There are a number of foundations doing this. I'm strongly in favor of it and we'll move toward something like a learning readiness in a universal daycare.

Moderator: Thank you General Clark.

Young: Same question to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. You've been critical of President Bush's "No child Left Behind" education reform, which is based on a testing requirement and a rating of schools based on barometers such as "reported violent incidents." But what's your plan? How else, if not through testing and rating, and parent's choice, would students and teachers be held accountable?Braun: Well accountability is important in education and in education reform, but at the outset I think the national government has a responsibility to pay for such reforms as it mandates and pushes down on states and local governments. "No Child Left Behind" is the single biggest unfunded mandate that will give rise to the single biggest property tax increase— in as much as the property tax pays for education in most places in this country—and so what I would suggest is that the national government, instead of just having a stick on local districts, to have a carrot and provide some additional financial support above and beyond the 7% that's presently given, to help provide support for local governments and communities, and parents and teachers to work to improve the quality of education and make education work at the local level. That's where the decision making in education, I believe, is best reposed. National money, national financial support - as with my legislation to rebuild crumbling schools. "No Child Left Behind" is being called "No Child Left Untested" in some quarters and "No Behind Left in Others." We can do better and we can provide the kind of national supports that recognizes our national interests in having an educated work force, a work force that is capable of competing in this global economy.

Moderator: The response to that question goes to Senator Kerry.

Sen. Kerry:Well I'm going to fully fund the special needs education, I'm going to fully fund Title 1, and disadvantaged communities and Head Start. But I propose a major program for zero to eight, which is the only comprehensive way to begin to guarantee that our children are prepared to learn for the rest of their life. We passed some: I introduced the first bill to do that in 1996, we actually got about 20 million dollars in 2000. The Bush administration has cut that. We have to commit to early childhood education and we have to change " No Child Left Behind." Change the certification process for teachers, change the adequate yearly standard progress and we deserve a president who begins by respecting teachers themselves and their experience. And I intend to do that. Moderator: (Question from the NH Women's Policy Institute)Recent news stories include the possible stoning death of a woman in Nigeria and Jordan's legislature, refusing to take action against so called honor killings of women accused of infidelity, this question goes to Congressman Kucinich: As President what steps would you take to curb these abuses and integrate women's rights into US foreign policy?
Congressman Kucinich: Well there are some obvious ways to do it and that is with respect to our trade policy. And I've said very clearly that the United States trade policies are failing because it doesn't include workers rights and workers rights are women's issues. The right to organize, the right to collective arguing, the right to strike. It doesn't include human rights.
It doesn't include prohibitions against child labor, slave labor. It doesn't include prohibitions of the sort you just talked about. It doesn't include protections for the environment. So as president, what I would do is to change it all and to use the clause that's available—in both NAFTA and the WTO and to repeal NAFTA and the WTO and to move forward with a new bilateral trade policy that's conditioned on workers rights, human rights and environmental quality principals. We know that big corporations stand behind all of these policies and my independence, my willingness to challenge the status quo will create new policies which will enable the protection of human rights and the rights of women all over this globe. Mod: The response goes to Senator Dean. Senator Dean?

Dean: I agree that we have to incorporate human rights and labor rights and environmental rights into our trade agreements. I do want to take issue with something that Senator Kerry said however and all the folks from Washington. The folks from Washington voted for No Child Left Behind. That was a mistake. It is bad policy and we do not need the federal government running our school systems. In NH and in VT we can run our school systems very well ourselves. I'm against it because it's an unfunded mandate, but its bad educational policy. And that's just one thing on my long list the Democrats should have said no to in 2001. Mod: Well I hope we get back to the previous question because I don't think it was really answered but this is for Senator Edwards: In the last few elections the pivotal swing voters were called "soccer moms" and after 9/11 those "soccer moms" were redefined as "security moms," more worried about terrorism at home, more anxious for a strong leader and they want to feel safe. How will you convince those who think that you're still untested to think that you can make them safe? Sen. Ed: Well first of all, I'm not untested. Not having spent your entire life in politics or in Washington DC doesn't mean you haven't spent your life in tough fights. In fact a lot of people here and across NH believe that real life experience is just as important as time spent south of the beltway in Washington. To answer your question, I would tell them exactly what I would do as President of the United States—something this president is not doing. Much better job of protecting our ports and protecting our borders, a much better job of protecting our most vulnerable targets: nuclear plants, chemical plants. Integrating communities both in getting the warning out if a terrorist attack occurs and in having a comprehensive response system in place. Being more aggressive about fighting domestic terrorism, fighting terror cells that are in this country all over America right now. And I might add, simultaneously setting up an independent watchdog of civil rights and civil liberties so people like John Ashcroft can't take away our rights, our freedom and our liberties in this fight on terrorism.Mod: The response to that question goes to Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. Ambassador? You have thirty seconds.

Braun: Well simply to say that I think that defining women as having concerns that are more flexible than that of the general population makes a mistake. Women are concerned about the same issues that every other American is concerned about.
And I think there we have to start with engaging our international allies, " working well with others," bringing some, frankly, feminist values to the way that we interact to the world community. It is very important that we begin to integrate all of the people of our society—You asked a question about international women's agenda in the international arena. I would say we have to put a woman's agenda in the national arena. The fact of the matter is that we have a responsibility to pass the equal rights amendment, to get women engaged, to get women involved in an equal bases across in making decisions about the direction our country will take in this next century.37:53Mod: General Clark you've spoken favorably of the military as a role model for working families programs, but today we also have an unprecedented number of Americans in the military overseas and if one of them gets pregnant, she can't have an abortion in a military hospital even if she pays for it with her own money. What do you think of this? And would you change this?Clark: I think its wrong and I would change it. Now I have another 53 seconds... I think it's very important that we treat every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine with respect.
That they have a sense of privacy, that they have as much control over their own lives as we can possibly give them and still be consistent with the demands of the service. I'm totally against an ideologically driven program that prevents women in the service from taking advantage of the permission of law to deal with personal and private medical issues. That's simply wrong and I don't support ideological agendas, so I'm against it. I'm in favor of treating people with dignity and respect and taking the full advantage of every single person's potential, skills, qualities, motivation and inspiration in the armed forces. And it's a good standard for America.Mod: The response to that question goes to Congressman Kucinich. Congressman?

Kucinich: I supported the Sanchez amendment, which sought to provide women who work on military bases the right to have an abortion. I want to say that the issue of abortion overall is something that has bitterly divided this country. And I'm glad that the judge today made the decision to in effect block the law that President Bush signed. As someone who has not always been identified with the pro-choice movement, I think that I have the capacity, not only because I support a woman's right to choose, but also because I think I can help heal this nation. In bringing together the nation and help reconciling the differences that do exist. The nation needs healing on this issue.Mod: Governor Dean, what exactly are you saying? --Dennis Kucinich seemed to imply you would have sanctions against countries that the UN is friendly with—would you, say, institute sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women? Dean: I think Saudi Arabia ought to be sanctioned for a lot more than that. How about the funding of the teaching of small children to hate America in the entire Islamic World? That's a good reason to have sanctions against Saudi Arabia, without even getting into women's rights. I believe that it is very proper for America to stand for human rights everywhere. And I agree with Dennis, I think that the WTO—he wants to get rid of the WTO now, I don't want to do that—but I do want to change it so that they will include human rights, labor standards and environmental standards. And I do believe it is proper to file a complaint, some human rights complaints, about behavior towards women that is unacceptable. And I don't care what religion you are, or what country you are, it is unacceptable to use stoning as a punishment for adultery—particularly when you have to have witnesses and the guy gets off because his testimony counts four times as much as the woman's. We're not going to put up with that in this world.Mod: And the response goes to Senator Kerry.

Senator Kerry: Well, before you shoot from the hip and go off sanctioning Saudi Arabia, while there is a great deal for us to engage with in Saudi Arabia, it would be a good idea, since they have 46% of the world's oil and we import 60% of it, to know what the alternative for our economy is going to be. We need to engage with Saudi Arabia, but we better go about the business of making sure that no young American ever has to go abroad and defend our dependency on fossil fuel oil. And that means creating energy independence in America, creating alternatives and renewables. I'm for getting tough with Saudi Arabia and I laid out an agenda for how we'd do that, but you've got to do it smart and just coming out with sanctions, I don't think is the right way to do it.

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