January 29, 2004 Thursday
HEADLINE: DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE
SPONSORED BY: THE YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF SOUTH CAROLINA; AND FURMAN UNIVERSITY
MODERATOR: TOM BROKAW, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" ANCHOR
CANDIDATES: SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA); FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN; RETIRED GENERAL WESLEY CLARK; SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC); SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT); REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH); REVEREND AL SHARPTON
LOCATION: PEACE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
(Extended applause and cheering.)
MR. BROKAW: Good evening. Good evening. Love that Southern hospitality! Good evening to all of you in the Peace Center for Performing Arts here in Greenville, South Carolina, and to our national television audience as well.
This is a very important occasion, obviously. This is the first of the Southern primaries in this long election year, one of seven states that will hold primaries or caucuses next Tuesday. And we want to give a special thanks to the Young Democrats of South Carolina and Furman University, who are the sponsors. (Applause.)
Our seven candidates on stage are in positions that were by by draw. They will have one minute to respond to my questions, 30 seconds for rebuttal, but we're not going to have any lights or buzzers. We will be keeping track backstage to make sure that everyone gets an equal distribution of time.
So let me now introduce to you the real stars of the evening, these candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Former General Wesley Clark. (Cheers, applause.) Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. (Cheers, applause.) Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. (Cheers, applause.) Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. (Cheers, applause.) Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. (Cheers, applause.) The Reverend Al Sharpton of New York. (Cheers, applause.) And Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. (Cheers, applause.)
Gentleman, I don't want to dwell on this, but there's no question about the fact that the configuration of this race has changed as a result of what happened both in Iowa and New Hampshire: big victories for Senator John Kerry. The voters there told us that electability was a big issue. So we're going to take just a few moments at the beginning to talk about how the race has changed.
We're going to start with you, Senator Kerry, because you made three speeches in New Hampshire in which, to a lot of people in the South, it appeared that you were kissing off this region, until your friend Senator Fritz Hollings got to you, and then you began to sing more warmly about the South. (Laughter.)
On the other hand, I ran into a man last night, a Republican, who's not happy with George Bush. But when I raised your name, he said, "Mm. Big liberal from Massachusetts." How can you come south, given what you said about the Democrats making a mistake in spending too much time worrying about the South, and expect to do well here?
SEN. KERRY: I never said that. I never said the Democrats made a mistake. I never said that at all. I was asked a question about the mathematics of election, and I answered a question about the mathematics with respect to Al Gore's election.
But I've always said I will compete in the South. I've always said I think I can win in the South. I started my campaign in South Carolina. I've been here many times. (Applause.) And I don't believe that Senator Fritz Hollings or Congressman Jim Clyburn have endorsed me because I don't believe that we can win the South. I think we can.
In fact, I think the person who has to worry about coming down in the South and campaigning is President George Bush -- (light applause) -- who's had 36 months of sustained loss of manufacturing jobs, who has ignored health care, who's turned his back on the schools in the South, and who has fundamentally the worst administration in modern history with respect to the environment. And his foreign policy has been reckless and arrogant and led America to break our relationships around the globe.
People in the South care about their jobs. They care about health care. They care about safety. They care about cops in the street. They care about their children. And I'm going to talk mainstream American values, and I intend to win in the South and campaign all across it.
MR. BROKAW: Thank you, John Kerry.
Senator Edwards, you've got a lot at stake here. Is this a do- or-die race for you?
SEN. EDWARDS: This is a place where I believe I can and should win. (Light applause.)
MR. BROKAW: But if you don't win, do you go forward from here?
SEN. EDWARDS: I believe I'm going to win, and I believe I'm going to go forward.
And I-if I can just add to something that Senator Kerry just said, you know, I think it's an enormous mistake, first historically, for us to ignore the South. What has happened is that the Republicans take the South for granted, and too many times the Democrats ignore the South. We can't do that, because historically we've never elected a Democrat president without winning at least five Southern states. There's a huge bloc of electoral votes in the South. So it's wrong electorally to do it.
More importantly, it's wrong because we, as Democrats, are about expanding the party, bringing people into the party.
I mean, we don't-we reach out to everybody, everybody of different race, different gender, different background. And that also goes for those people who live in different regions of the country. So it's enormously important for us to be successful electorally and to have a president that people in the South and all across the country believe represents them, represents their values, for us to continue that expansion and reach out and embrace the South.
MR. BROKAW: Governor Dean, you've made a big change in your campaign this week. You fired the man who brought you to this dance.
DR. DEAN: No, I --
MR. BROKAW: You brought in somebody from Washington, D.C., who was in the Clinton White House, promised he wouldn't go to work as a lobbyist, then immediately went to work as a lobbyist. He's a quintessential Washington insider; admired by a lot of people in the party, but doesn't that change the whole DNA of the Howard Dean campaign?
DR. DEAN: Well, first of all, I didn't fire anybody this week. We did bring in Roy Neel, and I think he's going to do a great job, former President Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Al Gore's chief of staff.
MR. BROKAW: Now a telecommunications lobbyist.
MR. DEAN: Who never lobbied, and kept faith with his ethics pledge, I might add.
You know, it's interesting here, a lot of talk about my campaign. Everybody on this stage, or a lot of people on this stage have now embraced my message. They all talk about change. They all talk about bringing people into the party. The truth is, I stood up for that message when nobody else would. I stood up against the president's war in Iraq when nobody else would, except for Dennis. (Applause.) I stood up against No Child Left Behind-I stood up against No Child Left Behind when nobody else would.
So the question is, when you go to elect a president, and you want somebody who's going to stand up for you, how do you know anybody else is going to stand up for you if they wouldn't do it when it really counted and when it wasn't popular? (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: I want to get out of the horse-race business and into the substance of this campaign in just a moment, but let me ask you, General Clark and Senator Lieberman and Congressman Kucinich and Reverend Sharpton: The party chairman, Terry McAuliffe, says if one of you guys doesn't win one of these primaries in the next week-let's make it the next two weeks, in which there are a lot of primaries-you ought to think about getting out of the race. If any of you don't come in first in any of these many primaries coming up in the next two weeks, will you get out of the race?
MR. CLARK: Well, I think we are going to win some of these states. We're very strong across this country. We're running a national campaign. But Tom, I want to make very clear that I'm not a career politician, I'm not a Washington insider, I am an outsider. And I'm running this race as someone who's spent his life in leadership and public service in this country. Not someone who's part of the problem; I'll be the solution to the problem.
If the American people like what's going on in Washington, then they should vote for people who have been there and been part of the Washington scene, No Child Left Behind and all the rest. I haven't been. I've had the courage to stand up for what I believe. I'm standing up now. And we will win in these states. We're carrying on in this election because we are going to change America.
MR. BROKAW: And Congressman-Senator Lieberman, if you don't win one of these races, will you get out of the race?
Now I know you're going to take that as an opportunity to make the same kind of little speech that the general just did.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Right.
MR. BROKAW: But it's a legitimate question for the people of this country and especially for the people of your party.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: It is. One thing you're finding in our answers, Tom: candidates who run for president are very optimistic people. (Laughter.)
And so I intend to win some. And I'm real glad to be facing February 3rd. I always said that the primary in South Carolina and the six other states would be the first big test of my presidential candidacy. I'm the one experienced moderate in this field, and in states like this, it is only moderate Democrats who win elections. So I look forward to Tuesday, carrying my message.
Big endorsement today from the Arizona Republic. And it had a message for the voters here: to be bold, don't just be an echo of New Hampshire. I congratulate John Kerry on his victory there. But this is an opportunity for folks here to send a separate message of their own to the rest of the nation about nominating a Democrat like myself-moderate, strong on defense, strong on civil rights, fiscally responsible, strong on values, who actually can do what we all want to do, right? Defeat George W. Bush and give America a fresh start. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: I'm going to ask the audience one more time to just-I know that it's a partisan group, but so that we can move right along-Congressman Kucinich, you spent a bunch of money in Iowa and in New Hampshire and came up with 1 percent of the vote.
If you don't win one of these next several primaries, will you stay in the race nonetheless?
REP. KUCINICH: Well, Tom, keep in mind, you know, there's so much talent on this stage that I believe this race is going to go all the way to the convention. And what that means-no one's going to get 50 percent of the delegates going into the convention. And I expect to be able to pick up delegates state by state, and I'll arrive at the convention right in the mix for the nomination, and I look forward to it.
MR. BROKAW: And Reverend Sharpton?
REV. SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think this is beyond politics. This is about the direction of the party.
I fully expect to win primaries in the coming weeks, but I'm going to win because I'm speaking to issues and interests of people that have been ignored. It's almost contradictory to say, "If you don't win, get out." Did you come in to win, or did you come in to stand up for something and make that win?
And I think that that's what's wrong. We have become too cheap. We act like we're at a racetrack, betting on horses, rather than dealing with the fact that 75,000 people lost their jobs in South Carolina.
And there are people that I can bring into the process that won't come in if someone like me is not in the process. They ought to want all of us to stay in and bring our constituency to the table, rather than try to eliminate.
I've been inspired in this campaign hearing John Edwards talk about he's the son of a mill worker. Well, I'm the son of a man who couldn't be a mill worker, because of the color of his skin, but his son can be the president of the United States.
MR. BROKAW: Reverend Al, thank you very much.
All right, we're going to move out of the horse race business now, and we're going to get into the substance. Governor Dean, you've said, appropriately enough, that you really did bring Iraq into the campaign in a very dramatic fashion. All this week, we've been hearing from David Kay, who was the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, saying that the intelligence was almost all wrong. He's now called for an independent commission to investigate what in fact went wrong. And at a hearing before the Armed Service Committee the other day, Senator Edward Kennedy said there was a deliberate manipulation of the intelligence. You said that the "books were cooked." Cooking the books means that there was a fraud of some kind in an attempt to achieve something that wasn't in fact true. David Kay has said that wasn't the case. He thinks the president was just simply abused by the intelligence agencies.
DR. DEAN: Well, I don't think anybody knows for sure, and that's why I support the idea of an independent commission. What we do know is this: The president was not candid with the American people when we went to war. It's why I did not support going to war, even though I did support the first Gulf War and I did support the Afghanistan war. I simply didn't believe what the president was saying.
What we now find out is that the vice president, Dick Cheney, went to the CIA on at least one occasion and maybe more, sat with middle-level CIA operatives and berated them because he didn't like their intelligence reports. It seems to me that the vice president of the United States therefore influenced the very reports that the president then used to decide to go to war and to ask Congress for permission to go to war.
That is precisely-that kind of thing is what I suspected. That kind of thing is why I've stood up so strongly against the war. I'm very, very proud of our military. They've done an outstanding job. I think our military ought to be used when we need to use our military.
The president himself and the secretary of State have recently admitted that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, there was no connection and no evidence of connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In that case, why are we in Iraq? And why are so many people from South Carolina there right now when they should be home concentrating on homeland security, and when they should be going after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda?
MR. BROKAW: But in fairness, David Kay also told me the other day that he thinks now, looking back, that the two years before we went to war was the most dangerous period in Iraq in a long, long time because it was spinning out of control. Saddam Hussein was not in charge. There were people coming in and going out of the country, including well-known terrorists.
You saw the defense-you saw the National Intelligence Estimate, Senator Edwards, as a member of the Intelligence Committee. Did you believe it when you saw it? And was that the basis for your vote, which you enthusiastically talked about when you made the vote to authorize war against Iraq?
SEN. EDWARDS: Well, it wasn't just the National Intelligence Estimate; it was a whole-actually, it was two or three years of sitting in briefings and receiving information from the Intelligence Committee, not only about the weapons issue, which is what Howard just talked about, but also about the atrocities that Saddam was committing against his own people-gassing Kurdish children in northern Iraq. That was the basis for it.
And I have to say I think it is not for the administration to get to the bottom of this, it's actually not for the Congress to get to the bottom of this. We, the American people, we need to get to the bottom of this with an independent commission that looks at it, that will have credibility and that the American people will trust, about why there is this discrepancy about what we were told and what's actually been found there.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Kerry, Governor Dean has made a very serious charge against the vice president, saying that he went to the CIA. We know that he did that. But do you believe that he berated middle- level people at the intelligence agency to, in effect, shape the intelligence that he wanted?
SEN. KERRY: There is a very legitimate question, Tom, about what the vice president of the United States was doing at the CIA. There is an enormous question about the exaggeration by this administration. But the most important point, and I think this is the larger issue of how you choose somebody to run and to be president of the United States: the president gave guarantees not just to the Congress and to the American people, but to the world, about how he would conduct himself as president.
He said he would build a legitimate global coalition. He said he would respect the United Nations inspection process and work through it. And he said to the American people, he would go to war only as a last resort. I will tell you, and I think General Clark will share this, that those who have been to war know that the words "last resort" are important.
He did not exhaust the remedies of the inspections. He did not go to war as a last resort. And I think he fails the test as the commander and chief. And I intend to hold him accountable in this election, because the American people's pockets are being picked to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, and our troops are at greater risk than they needed to be, and we deserve leadership that knows how to take a nation to war if you have to.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Lieberman, do you think that Libya would have given up its weapons of mass destruction if the United States had not invaded Iraq?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's a very important question. I seriously doubt whether Libya would have given up its weapons of mass destruction if we had not overthrown Saddam Hussein. I seriously doubt if the Iranians would have allowed international inspectors to come in and look at their nuclear weapons sites if we had not done that. We live in a dangerous world.
I've been a senior member of the Armed Services Committee of the Senate. I've worked to keep our military strong and to know that in a dangerous world sometimes you have to use it, that power, against dangerous people.
The statements that this administration made before the war, the questions we now have about the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, the failure of the Bush administration to be prepared for what to do after we overthrew Saddam, have all unfortunately given a bad name to a just war. But the fact is Saddam Hussein himself was a weapon of mass destruction. He mass murdered hundreds of thousands of people, did support terrorists, did hate the United States-did attempt to assassinate former President Bush. So I will never be-I will never waver in my conclusion that the world and America are safer with Saddam Hussein in prison and not in power. And thanks to the American military for bringing that result about.
MR. BROKAW: General Clark, your friend Congressman Kucinich would pull the United States troops out of Iraq right away and go to the U.N. and say, You go in and say, You go in and take over the peacekeeping there. Would you tell him about what happened when we had U.N. peacekeepers in Bosnia?
REP. KUCINICH: Tom, you're mischaracterized my position.
MR. BROKAW: Well, tell me what you would do.
REP. KUCINICH: My position is that we'd go to the United Nations with a whole new direction, where the United States gives up control of the oil, control of the contracts, control of ambitions to privatize Iraq; gives up to the United Nations all that on an interim basis, to be handled on behalf of the Iraqi people until the Iraqi people are self-governing. Furthermore, we would ask that the U.N. handle the elections and the construction of a constitution for the Iraqi people. When the U.N. agrees with that, at that point, we ask U.N. peacekeepers to come in and rotate our troops out. We help to fund it, we would help pay to rebuild Iraq, and we would give reparations to those innocent civilian noncombatants who lost their lives-to their families. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: I short-cut several of the steps that you would make, but nonetheless, you would turn over the security eventually to U.N. peacekeepers.
REP. KUCINICH: On an interim basis, until the Iraqi people can be self-governing.
MR. CLARK: Well, Tom, I'll tell you what I think we should do with Iraq right now. We're going to have to form an international organization to take the burden off the United States. The president is playing politics with national security when he says we'll be out by the 30th of June. That's just an arbitrary date related to the presidential election. It's not related to what's going on on the ground. We need an international organization. We need to be able to bring every nation in that wants to help. We need to pull Bremer out. We need to put the U.S. forces there underneath NATO.
But I want to go back to the question you raised a minute ago about Iraq, because I heard from the Pentagon two weeks after 9/11 that the administration was determined to go into Iraq, whether or not there was any connection with 9/11; that they were going to use it as a pretext for invading Iraq. And that was common knowledge in Washington. There should never have been a congressional authorization for the president to have a blank check to take this country to war, because everybody knew that's what he intended to do, and they knew what the timetable was. It was a politically motivated timetable to go on the 30th of March, just like this 30th of June date. We've got to change this government. We've got a government who is playing politics with national security, and we need to hold him accountable, and that's what I want to do. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton.
REV. SHARPTON: I think that we cannot go quickly past the president giving the wrong premise to the American public to get support. Had he said we're going to war because Saddam Hussein is a bad guy, the public would not have rallied around that. We were told in the wake of 9/11 we were in imminent danger with weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow him to change this now and say we were just after Hussein because he was a bad guy. Everybody knows Hussein was a bad guy. And there are other bad guys who we didn't go after and we didn't lie about.
I preached a funeral of a young man, Darius Jennings, who died shot down in a helicopter in Iraq. I preached right here in Orangeburg, South Carolina. His mother was told he went to war to protect us from weapons of mass destruction. She was not told he went to war because we have a bad guy over there-because there's any number of bad guys. We should find a way to get rid of bad guys, but lying to the American people is not the way you run a country, and George Bush ought to be remembered for that. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: I will say we are going to continue this discussion talking about the United States-the West for that matter, and its relationship with the nation of Islam, the war on terror, and especially here in South Carolina what happened to all the jobs and how they can be replaced. All that and more from Greenville, South Carolina, when we return in a moment. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: We're back on stage at the Peace Center for Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina, with the seven presidential candidates contesting for the Democratic presidential nomination. South Carolina's primary is next Tuesday.
Senator Kerry, let me ask you a question. Robert Kagan, who writes about these issues a great deal from the Carnegie Institute for Peace, has written recently that Europeans believe that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat of terrorism and the Bush administration believes that the Europeans simply don't get it. Who's right?
SEN. KERRY: I think it's somewhere in between. I think there has been an exaggeration, and there's been a refocusing that it's --
MR. BROKAW: Where has the exaggeration been in the threat on terrorism?
SEN. KERRY: Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, number one; aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, number two. I mean, I-nuclear weapons, number three. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration. The linkage to al Qaeda, number four. That said, they are really misleading all of America, Tom, in a profound way. The war on terror is less-it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time, and we will need the best trained and the most well equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today.
But it's primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world, the very thing this administration is worst at. I will renew our alliances. I will rejoin the community of nations. I will build the kind of cooperative effort that we need in order to be able to win and, most importantly, the war on terror is also an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally, in a way that we haven't embraced because otherwise we're inviting the clash of civilizations, and I think this administration's arrogant and ideological policy is taking America down a more dangerous path. I will make America safer than they are.
MR. BROKAW: General Clark, you've been quite outspoken in blaming the Bush administration for the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
GEN. CLARK: No, no, Tom, no. I didn't blame the Bush administration for the attacks. We know who did the attacks. It was Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. But what I have said is that the president did not do all he could have done to have prevented that attack.
MR. BROKAW: That's the premise of my question. The fact of the matter is that, I think that you know better than anyone, is that we were under attack by Osama bin Laden well before George Bush took office, the original attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the U.S.S. COLE in the Arabian Sea, the attack on the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which happened during the Clinton administration. Was there an inadequate response to terrorism during President Clinton's term?
GEN. CLARK: Well, I have not been on the inside of the Clinton administration in terms of how they responded to terror. I will tell you --
MR. BROKAW: You don't have to be on the inside, you know what happened.
GEN. CLARK: I will tell you, Tom, here's what we did. We always recognized that there was a threat of terrorism, and we began in 1996 with Khobar Towers to really work on the defensive, the anti-terrorism measures. And as a commander in Europe, we really strengthened our security, and that was my focus, the security of the military forces over there. In '98, when Osama bin Laden issued a Fatwa against the United States there should have been at that point measures to go get Osama bin Laden. I am told that there were such measures that were attempted to be undertaken. Why they didn't work, or what they are, and so forth, I don't know. But I will say this, that when the Bush administration came to office, the Bush administration was told the greatest threat to America is Osama bin Laden, and yet almost nine months later, when the United States was struck, there was still no plan as to what to do with Osama bin Laden, but we had worked really hard with Vladmir Putin to do something about National Missile Defense, and get out of the ABM Treaty, and a lot of other things had been done. This administration did not have its priorities right. And the president, not the intelligence community, and not the previous administration, President George W. Bush, must be held accountable for that. That's the job of the president of the United States, to focus attention, to set the priorities, to take the actions to keep America safe. He didn't do all that he could have done, and in that case he was wrong.
MR. BROKAW: I just like telling a general that he has to stop. But you have to stop right there.
Congressman Kucinich, you were serving in the House of Representatives during the Clinton administration. You weren't raising your hand and say, hey, wait a minute, we're being attacked in our embassy, our ships are being attacked, Kobar Towers is attacked in Saudi Arabia, what are we doing about that? You've often been an early alert system for a lot of urgent issues in this country, but it simply wasn't on the agenda, was it, in the Congress as well during the previous administration?
REP. KUCINICH: I wouldn't say it wasn't on the agenda. I would say that the Clinton administration handled its approach in a way that I think tried to create international cooperation. Tom, where I think the problem is today is that the administration's approach, their doctrine is wrong. It's the doctrine of preemption led us into Iraq. The doctrine of unilateralism essentially led us into Iraq. The doctrine of first strike puts us at risk of expanding wars. So this administration started off with the wrong doctrine and, you know what, it was ideologically driven, because we know that the Project for the New American Century was talking years before about an attack on Iraq, and their ideological adherents came into the administration. Let's face it, where we are today, we have 130,000 troops in Iraq. It was wrong to go in. It's wrong to stay in. They're standing there based on lies that were told to the American people. Lies should never be the basis of international policy. We need to reengage with the world community, and work with the world community through the U.N. Tom, that's the only way we're going to be safe as a nation.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Lieberman, the president said the other night in the State of the Union address, I don't need a permission slip from the United Nations to defend the national security interests of this country. Isn't that a legitimate position for a president of the United States?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: It is a legitimate position in the final analysis. But let me just tell you a brief story. I met a man in a hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire, he turned out to be a security guard. And he came over to me and said, I'm going to support you in the primary, and I want you to know why. I have a son who is a Marine. He's going to be deployed to Iraq. And I trust my son's life to you as Commander-in-Chief. Well, I'm stopped by that, honored by his confidence, and aware of the awesome responsibility that comes with this job. But he went on to make clear what he meant, and he was right. I know that as Commander-in-Chief, you will not commit America's sons and daughters to war unless there is no other alternative. But, two, you will make every effort when you do so to have international help. Three, if you still feel it is in the security interest of the United States, of course, as Commander-in- Chief you will reserve the right to act alone to protect the security and freedom of the American people. And, four, and I agree with him, once I commit America's sons and daughters to war, I will not hesitate to support them. I will give them the equipment, the money, the moral and political support they need as our troops in Iraq need now, to complete their mission and come home safely and in victory.
MR. BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton, there is a great war going on in the world between the West and the Nation of Islam, and the United States at the moment is losing the war for the hearts and minds. Everyone agrees on that, whatever their political position happens to be.
Specifically, what should the United States be doing in terms of programs? And how much money should it commit to find common ground between this country and the democratic ideals that we all embrace, and the nation of Islam?
REV. SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I assume, when you say "the nation of Islam," you're talking about Islamic nations, because there is a Nation of Islam in the United States that has nothing to do with what you're talking about. (Laughter, applause.) So I'm just asking clarity.
MR. BROKAW: I'm talking about Islamic nations.
REV. SHARPTON: You're talking about Islamic-first of all, I think --
MR. BROKAW: Wait a minute. I'm talking about the Islamic movement around the world, because it really does transcend nations, in many ways.
REV. SHARPTON: Well, in many ways, I think that we can't allow the distortion, because Mr. Bush and some of his crowd have said they represent a Christian view against the Islamic. And I don't think Christ could join most of their churches. So I mean, I don't agree with the distinction. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Did the president-did President Bush-did President-you said that President Bush said --
REV. SHARPTON: I think that they call themselves supporters of the Bush administration --
MR. BROKAW: Not the president himself.
REV. SHARPTON: Not the president himself --
MR. BROKAW: We're now one for one here.
REV. SHARPTON: -- but many of their supporters talk about how they represent Christianity. I don't think they represent Christianity any more than some of these murderers and mass murderers represent Islam. So let's not blame the religion. Let's blame those that use religion to do some ruthless, deadly, wicked acts. (Applause, cheers.)
Now, having said that-having said that, I think we should build relationships with those nations around the world, and I have visited them. And how do you build relationships? Work with them on things of self interest. Many of them need clean water supplies, clean sanitation, trade. They would become our partners if we engaged in partnership. But I don't think that the way we do that is attacking people's religion, trying to act like our religion is better.
And as far as Mr. Bush saying that he doesn't need a permission slip from the U.N., he doesn't think he needs votes for the American people to be president. (Applause; cheers.)0
MR. BROKAW: Senator Edwards, do you think that we get enough help from our so-called "Arab allies" in this fight that is going on between those members of the Islamic movement who believe that we're unworthy and heathens in this country and what the Bush administration is trying to do to close that schism that exists in too many areas?
SEN. EDWARDS: Well, I think the answer's no. We don't get enough help in a lot of areas. For example, the Saudi royals who-we're so dependent on Saudi Arabia for our oil, and we have not moved this country in the direction we need to go toward energy independence, which is desperately needed. Cleaner alternative sources of energy, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Because we're so dependent on them for oil, in fact we don't get the cooperation we need from them. And there's a complete disconnect between the leadership not only of Saudi Arabia but a number of these Islamic countries and their people and there attitudes toward America.
Can I just go back to a question you asked just a moment ago?
You asked, I believe Senator Kerry, earlier whether there was an exaggeration of the threat of the war on terrorism. It's just hard for me to see how you can say there's an exaggeration, when thousands of people lost their lives on September the 11th.
I think the problem here is the administration's not doing the things, number one, that need to be done to keep this country safe both here and abroad. And number two, the president actually has to be able to do two things at once. This president thinks his presidency is only about the war on terrorism, only about national security. Those things are critical for a commander in chief, but as we're going to talk about, I'm sure, going forward, there's a lot the president's not doing-about jobs lost, about a health care crisis in this country. The president of the United States has to actually be able to walk and chew chewing gum at the same time. Has to be able to do two things at the same time. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. BROKAW: And before we end this segment, Governor Dean, let me ask you: There is an attempt now on the part of Republicans as well as Democrats to modify the Patriot Act. There's something called SAFE that a lot of Republicans have signed on to. Today the attorney general warned that it would prohibit, or at least restrict, his ability to wiretap terror subjects. And he says, "If it's passed, this president will veto it."
DR. DEAN: I think in some ways, unfortunately, the terrorists have already won. We have an act that allows American citizens to be held without knowing what they're charged with and without seeing a lawyer. To my knowledge, that hasn't happened since 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts. We can't do that, Tom. We can't-I mean, I think none of us mind being searched and having our shaving kits rummaged through in the airlines and all that, but if we start giving up our fundamental liberties as Americans because terrorists attacked us, then we have a big problem.
I honestly don't believe that John Ashcroft and George Bush and the members of the Federalist Society view the Constitution the way mainstream American attorneys or the way most American citizens do. We have a right to protection of our liberties. A lot of people died for that in the Revolutionary War, and I am not going to let the right wing of the Republican Party take those liberties away from us. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: When we come back in just a moment, we're going to talk about THE issue here in the state of South Carolina: the loss of jobs in the last three years and what happens to the future of this economy. All that and more when we come back from Greenville here on MSNBC in a moment. (Applause.)