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Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum


Location: Philadelphia, PA

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Biden, do you agree with Senator Webb it was de facto a declaration of war?

SEN. BIDEN: I think it can be used as a fact -- a declaration.

But look, we have a -- we have a problem in the Senate -- and I'm not just directing this at Hillary; all -- there were 75 other people who voted with her, we're in a minority -- that there are consequences for what we do. And it's not even about going to war.

Let's look at what happened from the moment that vote took place. Oil prices went up to $90 a barrel. Who benefits from that? All this talk of war, all this talk of declaring people to be terrorists, drove up the price of oil.

Secondly, we have emboldened Bush at a minimum. His talk of World War III, totally irresponsible talk. We've emboldened him, Tim, to be able to move if he chooses to move. They're terrorists. The fact that they're terrorists on one side of the border or the other, we've just declared them terrorists. That gives him the color of right to move against them.

Thirdly, this has incredible consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nobody talks about this. Do 75 of our colleagues not understand? We have now driven underground every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. This literally -- literally -- puts Karzai, as well as Musharraf, in jeopardy.

The notion here is it plays into this whole urban legend that America is on a crusade against Islam. This was bad -- if nothing else happens, not another single thing, this was bad policy.

The president had the ability to do everything that that amendment, that resolution called for without us talking to it. And all it has done is hurt us, even if not another single action is taken. Actions have consequences. Big nations can't bluff.


MR. RUSSERT: Senator Biden, would you pledge to the American people that Iran would not build a nuclear bomb on your watch?

SEN. BIDEN: I would pledge to keep us safe. If you told me, Tim -- and this is not -- this is complicated stuff. We talk about this in isolation. The fact of the matter is the Iranians may get 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium; the Pakistanis have hundreds, thousands of kilograms of highly enriched uranium.

If by attacking Iran to stop them from getting 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, the government in Pakistan falls, who has missiles already deployed, with nuclear weapons on them, that can already reach Israel, already reach India, then that's a bad bargain.

Presidents make wise decisions informed not by a vacuum in which they operate, by the situation they find themselves in the world. I will do all in my power to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but I will never take my eye off the ball.


MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Biden, you said recently, "While Mrs. Clinton was meeting socially with the prime minister of a country, I was sitting down and negotiating with them. I know my experience is considerably deeper and more relevant." Do you stand by that quote? And is your inference that she is less qualified than you to be president?

SEN. BIDEN: I'm not running against Hillary Clinton. I'm running to lead the free world. I'm running to lead this country.

And the irony is Rudy -- Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency -- (laughter, scattered applause) -- is here talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani. I mean, think about it. Rudy Giuliani. There's -- there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. I mean, there's nothing else. (Laughter.)

There's nothing else. (Applause.) And I mean it sincerely. He is genuinely not qualified to be president.

Here's a man who brags about how he made the city safe. It was the Biden crime bill, that became the Clinton crime bill, that allowed him to do that. They wipe it out; he's remained silent. The 9/11 commission comes along and says the way to keep your city safe is to do the following things. He's been silent. He's been -- done nothing.

And now he's talking about he's going to go in and he will demonstrate to Iran he's going to in fact lay down the law. This man is truly not qualified to be president. I'm looking forward to running against Rudy Giuliani. (Laughter.)

And with regard to my experience, hey, Bill, 1979 I was -- I led a delegation of 19 senators negotiating the START agreement with Brezhnev. I was deeply involved in Bosnia, as the first lady and now Senator Clinton will tell you. I've been negotiating while you were still in Congress, man.

And so the point is -- and I introduced the first public financing bill. If you all had been around long enough, you may -- no, maybe have been around too long, they forget all the wonderful things I've done here.

But anyway -- (laughter) -- all kidding aside -- (laughter) -- I'm running not against Hillary Clinton or anybody on this stage. I'm running to be the leader of this country, to put it back on track and to regain control in the world which is lost.


MR. WILLIAMS: We're going to try to enforce this time limit.

Senator Biden.

SEN. BIDEN: A big piece of that cost is risk. People are betting on things getting worse. That old joke -- you know, when you're in a hole, you should stop digging. Why do we continue to cause the price of oil to rise by continuing to rattle a saber with Iran? Why do we continue to cause the price of oil to rise by a foreign policy that is (absolutely moribund ?) of any center? And what we have to do immediately to take care of those people in Iowa and New Hampshire, provide for emergency fuel assistance.


MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.

Senator Biden.

SEN. BIDEN: Yes, I proposed it in 1987. We should go to school longer. We either have to assume that our kids are natively brighter than every other child in the world or that somehow we have to go to school longer.

Secondly, we should have a minimum of 16 years of education.

Thirdly, we should be focusing on the socially economic disadvantaged, mostly minorities in inner cities. That's something we've ignored. We've paid no attention to it. We pretend they're the same circumstances every other kid in America. They start off with a half; half of the education gap exists before they set foot in the first classroom. That should be the focus.

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