Des Moines Register Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

Des Moines, IA, January 4, 2004

January 4, 2004 Sunday

HEADLINE: Democratic Presidential Candidate's Debate

BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Candy Crowley, Jeff Greenfield, William Schneider

The first big political test of 2004, the Iowa caucuses are just two weeks from tomorrow. Seven of the nine Democratic candidates are at this debate, sponsored by the "Des Moines Register" newspaper.

ANNOUNCER: They have trekked thousands of miles across the state. Their views are as diverse as their party, but they are unified in their call to take back the White House.

Today the candidates will confront the issues that are important to Iowa and to the nation.

From the studios of Iowa Public Television, this is the "Des Moines Register" Democratic presidential candidate's debate.

PAUL ANGER, EDITOR, DES MOINES REGISTER: Hello, I'm Paul Anger, editor of The Des Moines Register. We're here in the Maytag Auditorium at Iowa Public Television in Johnston, Iowa, right next to Des Moines.

Outside, temperatures are falling, snow is falling, and the wind is up, but we believe things in here should heat up nicely in the next two hours.

Let's count down some numbers in this campaign. Ten months until America elects a president. Seven months until Democrats nominate a candidate to oppose George W. Bush. And only 15 days until Iowa Democrats gather to decide who they will support.

Time is growing shorter in this election process, so let's get on with our debate.

Joining us are seven Democrats running for president. From left to right on our stage, they are: Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts; former Ambassador and Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois; Senator John Edwards of North Carolina; Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri; and former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont.

All the questions I ask in this debate are quoted or paraphrased from those submitted to The Des Moines Register by Iowans. Each candidate will have 60 seconds to answer and 30 seconds of rebuttal time at my discretion.

Also asking their own questions will be two panelists, David Yepsen, the political columnist of the Des Moines Register and Michele Norris of the National Public Radio news program "All Things Considered."

The candidates have drawn for everything from positioning on stage to the order they will answer questions and give closing statements. And the winner of the first question is Senator Edwards.

Senator, since the last debate some dramatic developments. Saddam Hussein captured in Iraq and international flights canceled because of continuing terrorist fears. How do you reconcile Saddam's capture with continued fear of terrorism? And is the Iraq war worth it?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the truth is that Saddam's capture and the trial of Saddam Hussein, which the entire world will be able to see when it takes place, is going to reveal the atrocities that he's been engaged in and some of the incredible conduct that's occurred in Iraq during the time of his reign.

The reality of protecting the American people is, there's a still great deal of work to be done. I mean, the president claims that he's keeping people safe in this country.

Everybody across America knows that we have nuclear and chemical plants that are not adequately protected; that we have containers coming into our ports every single day, thousands of them, and we look at about 3 percent to 4 percent of them. We're extraordinarily vulnerable through our ports.

In most communities -- and I've now been in all 99 counties here in Iowa, and I've asked this question over and over and over: What would you do differently than you would have on September 11th if a terrorist attack were to occur in your state or your community? Most people have no idea, which means we don't have a comprehensive warning system in place, we don't have a comprehensive response system.

The other thing we're -- we know is that we know that terrorist cells exist all over this country -- Islamic Jihad -- they're everywhere -- Hamas. We need to do a much more effective job of putting humans inside those terrorist cells so that we can stop them before they do us harm.

ANGER: Ambassador Braun, here's one assessment of the war: It's a big success. We've removed a genocidal gangster, and we're installing a progressive government that will not be a threat to peace.

Do you agree with that view?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, removing the genocidal gangster was always -- that's happened, that's over, he's captured.

But I've always maintained it had nothing to do with -- or little to do with keeping the American people safe.

We should have continued to search for bin Laden. We should have continued to break up al Qaeda. We should have continued to work on breaking up the terrorist cells, some of which, operating out of northern Iraq right now, continue to threaten us.

I think that, you know, the fact is, fear is power. And what we've seen, I think, is a lack of focus on dealing with the fears of the American people, dealing with the real threats that we face, dealing with our domestic security in ways that will give us the ability to work with others around the world, with international organizations, to give us the law enforcement capacity to go after these criminals wherever they may be.

We've lost focus on that while going off on what I've called a misadventure in Iraq.

Well, it's over now, and we will have to bear it out until we get civil society replaced. But I think the primary focus has to be making the American people safe, putting in place those safeguards on all the different parts of our infrastructure, so the people who won't have to see "terror alert" on the bottom of their TV screens every day.

ANGER: Thank you.

And if I could remind the candidates, when you see the yellow light, you're running out of time. When you see the red light, you are out of time. We have a lot of ground to cover today, and I'll try to referee that.

Senator Kerry, looking ahead now, under what conditions would you support, future conditions, a pre-emptive military strike against another nation without wide international approval?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only when the United States of America is so threatened that it is required for the survival of our country or for the accomplishment of some extraordinary humanitarian goal.

Look, this administration, Paul, misled the American people, abused the power that they were given, and has run an ineffective war on terror.

Saddam Hussein was way down the list, with respect to the targets, even on the Pentagon's own list of targets. And what they did was supplant Iraq for the real war on terror, which is Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and terror across the world.

And it requires presidential leadership that does more than simply flex our military muscles.

We need a foreign policy that's proactive, that reaches out to other countries, that's involved in changing the dynamics of the economy, of health care, of the delivery of services, that builds a relationship for America.

The war on terror is less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement operation. And we deserve presidential leadership that knows that and knows how to make America safer, and I will do that.

ANGER: To Congressman Kucinich, how do you insure national security if you succeed in your plan to cut the defense budget by 10 percent?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, actually, I called for the defense budget to be cut by 15 percent. Keep in mind that I'm the ranking Democrat on an investigative subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Department of Defense and national security. I know the kind of waste that goes on there.

There's waste when you talk about building weapons in outer space; waste when you talk about building new nuclear weapons; waste when you talk about building a missile shield that even those who have studied it know that there's been fraud involved in the development of it.

So what we need to do to begin with is we need to get out of Iraq. This Iowa caucus is going to be a referendum on getting out of Iraq.

There is $155 billion that have been spent there in nine months already. And I stand alone among every candidate on this stage in calling for the United States to get out of Iraq. I've had a plan on my Web site at for the last two and a half months that shows how to do it.

So we must this evening, or this afternoon, talk about what are we going to do to get out of Iraq? What's the exit strategy? I have one that will bring our troops home in 90 days. It'll save a lot of money, too, and a lot of lives.

ANGER: Thank you.

Senator Lieberman, talk about another hot spot, if you will, the Middle East. What's the correct road map now for Israel and the Palestinians?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First, let me say that the capture of -- overthrow and then capture of Saddam Hussein has made America safer and made the world safer. It has not ended all of our problems or all the threats to our security, but a president has to deal with more than one threat at a time.

The Middle East is directly related, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly related. We have to stay the course in Iraq now and continue to build a stable, modernizing, democratizing country there.

If we do that, we will not only have won a victory in the war on terrorism because we will have shown the Arab world what happens as a result of American intervention, that you live better, freer lives, but we will have sent the message to all the other terrorists and tin horn dictators there, like Gadhafi and even like the Iranians, who are beginning to cooperate, that we mean business.

Between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there is only one good solution, it is a two-state solution. As president, I would devote time, commit my secretary of state to it, appoint a special ambassador to be there to work with both sides to move along the path to peace.

The doors are open now, in part because of our victory in Iraq.

ANGER: Thank you. We'll come back to that, if you need to later.

Governor Dean, talk about an observation by some Iowans that you give the perception, at times, that you're more angry with President Bush than you are with the enemies of America.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The interesting thing about my campaign is it's really based on hope, not anger. People have a right to be angry with President Bush for all the things he's done to Iowa farmers, helping corporatize American agriculture. He is a president who appears sometimes to care more about the special interests that his political policies help rather than ordinary Americans.

But our campaign's really based on hope. Our campaign empowers ordinary people, many of whom have not been in politics for years, to get involved. The Constitution of this country says that power belongs to the American people, and that is really what we intend to prove next November 2004, as we bring enormous numbers of new Americans back into this process.

One-quarter of all the people who gave us money between June and September were under 30 years old. The only way we can beat George Bush is to have a campaign based on addition, not subtraction.

We want to add new people to the Democratic Party so that we can beat George Bush. It's the only way we can beat him.

ANGER: Finally, Congressman Gephardt, you helped facilitate what turned out to be a congressional OK for the president to launch the war on Iraq. Would you do that again?

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will always do what I think is right to keep the people of this country safe. And I became convinced that taking that action was the best thing to keep the people of this country safe.

And I didn't listen to George Bush. I went out to the CIA. I sat down with George Tenet, alone. And I said, "George, I have to vote on this, you don't. I need to stand behind my vote. I want to know if we're worried about weapons, or the components of weapons, or the ability to quickly make components that can wind up in the hands of terrorists." He said emphatically yes.

And it was on the basis of that and talking to other people that had been in the Clinton administration in the security apparatus that this was a great worry.

Now, the president has not followed the right advice. He's not done the right things. He has not gotten the help of NATO. He's not gotten the help of the U.N. It's inexplicable to me that he has not done the things that I told him and many people told him from the beginning he should have done.

ANGER: Thank you.

GEPHARDT: I will do that.

ANGER: We're going to turn now to our panelists, as we will do throughout the debate, for their follow-up.

First, David Yepsen of The Des Moines Register.

DAVID YEPSEN, DES MOINES REGISTER: Governor Dean, you said after Saddam Hussein was captured, that the country could have captured him six months ago. Were you saying that our soldiers weren't working hard enough?

DEAN: Of course not. I think our...

YEPSEN: Well, what did you mean by that statement?

DEAN: Our military has done an absolutely terrific job in Afghanistan, which is a war I supported, and in Iraq, where I did not support the policy but I always support the troops.

I believe that, had Saddam been captured earlier, we might have been able to spend more time looking for Osama bin Laden, which is the real problem.

Note Senator Lieberman said that we were safer now that Saddam has been caught; I beg to differ. Since Saddam Hussein has been caught -- who's a dreadful person. I'm delighted to see him behind bars, and I hope he gets what he deserves.

But the fact is, since Saddam Hussein has been caught, we've lost 23 additional troops; we now have, for the first time, American fighter jets escorting commercial airliners through American airspace.

What we should have done is spent some of the $160 billion that we have in Iraq and all the effort when we went to go after Saddam, who was never an imminent threat to the United States, what we should have done is followed up and tried to get Osama bin Laden and spent that money and all those lives trying to protect America from terrorism, which is the true enemy of the United States.

ANGER: What about something that Senator Lieberman also said, and that was that, if we had followed your ideas toward Saddam Hussein, he'd still be in power?

DEAN: I actually don't believe that, because I think, given the time that's elapsed, we could have done the proper thing, which George Bush's father did, and put together a coalition to go after somebody who was a regional threat but not a threat to the United States.

Our resources belong in fighting al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has got us in a position where we're now worried because we're at level orange. We need a concentrated attack on al Qaeda and on Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein has been a distraction.

LIEBERMAN: Can I respond to the criticism?

ANGER: We're going to go to Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. I want to respond to Howard Dean's criticism of my statement that we're safer with Saddam Hussein gone. You know what? We had good faith differences on the war against Saddam. But I don't know how anybody could say that we're not safer with a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, an enemy of the United States, a supporter of terrorism, a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own people in prison instead of in power.

And to change the subject as Howard does and to say that we haven't obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren't safer after the Second World War after we defeated Nazism and Hitler because Stalin and the communists were still in power.

We have many threats to our security, there is no question. We are a lot stronger...

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

LIEBERMAN: ... with Saddam Hussein in prison.

ANGER: Thank you.

We're going to go now to Michele Norris of National Public Radio.


Senator Edwards, a major foreign policy challenge for any administration is the Middle East peace process. Are you willing to negotiate directly with Hamas, and would Yasser Arafat have a seat at that table?

EDWARDS: No. First of all, I know from having served for years on the Senate Intelligence Committee that there are clear, overwhelming evidence of Arafat's connection to terrorism.

I think what we ought to be doing, and I agree with something that was said earlier, I think a two-state solution is ultimately the answer. But the question is whether we're going to stay engaged, whether American leadership will stay engaged over a long period of time to solve very deep-seated, deep-rooted problems, which means having somebody there -- either the secretary of state or an envoy from the secretary of state -- on a regular basis.

It means, second, finding ways to create some level of trust. For example, going to the leadership of the Palestinians and saying, "Arrest these two or three leaders of Hamas who, we both know, are involved in terrorism," and saying to the Israelis, "In exchange, we expect you to allow freer passage in the West Bank."

And to find ways to empower those within the Palestinian Authority who actually want peace and want to reform.

The single most important ingredient, though, that's been missing with this president is any kind of sustained engagement and leadership.

NORRIS: But if the Palestinian leaders come back and say, "We're not willing to arrest these two or three people, but this is what we are willing to do," how much would an Edwards administration negotiate with Hamas?

EDWARDS: Well, the most critical thing is for us to be there, to be engaged. That's what's been missing from this administration. Joe Lieberman said something about this just a few minutes ago.

But what the president does is he flies in, he has a photo-op, he leaves. We've had inconsistent policy, inconsistent presence. What we need to be doing is we need to be on the ground constantly, involved in dealing with both sides in this very, very difficult problem.

And we can't be naive about it. I mean, we have to find ways to reduce the level of violence, to create some level of trust so that we can, in fact, move toward peace.

ANGER: Thank you.

Let's bring the debate back to our shores for a while. Layoffs have clouded the holiday season for many Americans, including those living in Iowa, where the number of unemployed has grown 88 percent in the last three years.


ANNOUNCER: In the November Des Moines Register Iowa poll, 40 percent of Iowans said the most important issue for the next president to address is the economy. On this point, Iowans agree with the rest of the nation, where an estimated 2.3 million jobs have been lost since 2000.

While the Iowa landscape is dominated by more silos than smokestacks, manufacturing is the largest sector of the Iowa economy. The nation's trade deficit, which has been at record levels this year, has also hit Iowa, which has seen a 4.3 percent drop in jobs related to wholesale trade.

Nearly three-quarters of Iowa caucus-goers would repeal at least some of the tax cuts signed by President Bush.

The farm economy is looking brighter this year, but the trend in Iowa and the nation has been toward low commodity prices and a high reliance on government subsidies.

The next president's policies on renewable energy, biotech crops and international trade could make a difference.


ANGER: Ambassador Braun, you've been a senator from Illinois, which is fairly rural, once you get outside of Chicago. What would you do to improve the economy of rural America?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, there are a number of things. Unlike George Bush I, who said no new taxes, this Bush seems to think the answer is no new jobs.

We need to create jobs in America again, and the way that we do it is to focus in on the fundamentals.

In the first place, while the short-term numbers look good -- the stock market has gone up and the like -- at the same time, our fundamentals are really in trouble: huge current account deficits, huge budget deficits, such as we've never seen before. We have a trade deficit with China alone of $100 billion.

We are going to have to take steps to reverse those trends that are sinking our economy and sinking our ability to create jobs.

What would I do? In the first instance, I'd have health-care reform. Seeing to it that every American has health care is not only a way to solve a social problem, but also a way to take the costs of health care off of the back of our productive sector, our manufacturers, our small businesses, so that we can create jobs here at home.

Two, environmental protection. Creating whole new industries with technology transfer, giving people a chance to...

ANGER: Thank you.

MOSELEY BRAUN: I've run out of the time, but that's the direction in which I'd head.

ANGER: Thank you, Madam Ambassador.


ANGER: Senator Kerry, there are many senior citizens in distress in rural America, as well as in our cities. What have you done to protect and improve Social Security, and what more should be done?

KERRY: Well, we did protect Social Security in the United States Senate, and Social Security is safe and sound well into the next two decades or more. With very minor changes, with a strong economy, the next generation will have Social Security.

I will never privatize Social Security. I will never try to extend the retirement age for Social Security. And I will not cut any benefits for Social Security.

The most important thing we need to do to make Social Security strong in this country for the future is strengthen our economy itself and provide better jobs for our citizens, so they, in fact, can pay the checks in that pay current retirees.

That requires a better trade policy, where we have labor and environment standards that are enforced. It requires that we have a manufacturing credit in America to begin to create manufacturing.

It requires for rural communities that we begin to empower them the way Governor Vilsack's trying to do here in the state. We need to do what rural electrification did in the 1930s with the Internet and bring it to communities.

We need to fully fund the Conservation Farm Program in Iowa.

There are so many things as a whole...

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

KERRY: ... that could make a difference to the economy, and I will do those.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

Candidates, each of you has said you would reverse the Bush tax cuts for the so-called rich.

Congressman Kucinich, how much money do people have to make before you consider them rich, considering the vast differences in cost of living across the country?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, when you consider that a steelworker who's making $40,000 a year has virtually the same tax burden as someone who's making $400,000 a year, you see that there are inequities.

I mean, this administration has used the tax code to accelerate wealth to the top. Most of the tax breaks have gone to people in the top bracket.

And what does that mean? That means that we have a diminishing capacity to take care of needs here at home.

Look what's happened with this budget the administration has just submitted. They're cutting funds for job programs, for veterans, for health care, for education, for all the real social needs.

So the wealth continues to be redistributed upward. We need a tax code that's fair. But we need to cancel the Bush tax cuts that go to people in the top bracket.

And we also have to recognize the destructive quality which this war in Iraq has on our budget. I mean, everyone up here must recognize this and address it. As long as we stay in Iraq, we're going to continue to have a serious drain on our nation's ability to meet our domestic agenda.

ANGER: Go to Senator Lieberman. Roger Lansky, Senator, of New Hampton, Iowa, wants to know whether you would change what he calls the, quote, "subsidy mentality" of the farm program to a market-based program.

LIEBERMAN: The 2000 -- first, let me say that agriculture is just a critical part of American economic life and American history and American life.

Secondly, the 2002 farm bill, which Senator Harkin was a lead sponsor of, and I supported, improved the previous program of Freedom of Farm with a series of countercyclical subsidies that I think are appropriate.

So right now I would say, no. I'd say it's very hypocritical as I watch some countries, particularly in Europe, criticize us for our farm subsidies when, in fact, they have larger subsidies than we do.

I want to make another point here. Several of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination have taken very protectionist positions. That would hurt Iowa agriculture and agriculture generally. I was very impressed to see that one-third of the cash receipts of Iowa agriculture are based on exports. And I want to protect -- I want to avoid the kind of trade war that will hurt those exports and hurt jobs in farm country.

ANGER: To Governor Dean.

LIEBERMAN: So yes to subsidies as they are now, and yes to trade.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

Picking up on that, to Governor Dean, several Register readers want to know about your trade policies. America's farmers need open markets for their crops around the world, but other American workers want a level playing field for wages, working conditions and the environment. How would you balance those interests?

DEAN: There's no reason we can't do both. Actually, I agree with a lot of some of the things that have been said about NAFTA and the WTO. I believe that NAFTA and the WTO only got -- only globalized the rights of multinational corporations, but they did not globalize the rights of workers. They are not going to globalize human rights, environmental rights, the right to organize. That needs to happen.

And if it doesn't happen, NAFTA and the WTO simply aren't going to work. Right now, we're exporting jobs, and that's not a good thing.

We need to have a level playing field. We need to have the same kinds of environmental protections, labor protections, human rights protections and worker protections if we're going to have open borders. That will not disadvantage exports.

The way to support American farmers is to change the American farm bill so that big corporations don't get the majority of the money that goes out of the farm bill.

We can support small family farms, and we should. But the money ought to go to the farmers, not the big corporations.

ANGER: Congressman Gephardt, you're a staunch supporter of traditional American unions. But you haven't been able to stop the loss, in Congress, of America's manufacturing and industry jobs to other countries.

Why would you do any better as president?

GEPHARDT: Well, I think I've made some real progress. I got a treaty with Jordan through the Clinton administration that really paid attention to labor and environmental rights. The Gephardt amendment is in law in the country, and it got markets open, like in Japan, where we've had to face unfair trade practices.

And the steel tariffs, which have helped save a steel industry in this country came in part from my advocacy.

Now, everybody up here, except Dennis, voted for NAFTA and voted for the China agreement. They did the wrong thing. I don't think we can win this race against George Bush with a trade policy that's exactly like George Bush's. I'm the only one who has led on this issue for over 20 years.

And let me tell you what I think we need to do. We need to get a trade policy that brings up conditions in these other countries so that we work toward a global marketplace that works for everybody. You can't do that if you give in to bad trade deals, like most of these candidates did.

ANGER: Senator Edwards, Senator, considering...

EDWARDS: Can I respond first to what was just said?

ANGER: OK. All right.

EDWARDS: Because it was very skillfully done; he lumped everybody together. Congressman Gephardt...

ANGER: Are you going to speak for everybody, or are you...


EDWARDS: I'm going to speak for me. That's who I am going to speak for.

First of all, I didn't vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA. NAFTA passed before I got to the Congress, to the United States Senate.

And I might add, you could pick out any one vote of anybody on this stage -- you, for example, voted for fast-track authority for Bush I that led to the passage of NAFTA.

So the point is -- and I don't believe you're not for American workers; I do. I absolutely believe that. But I think you could take any one vote from any candidate and distort it. And we ought to tell the truth about this.

I do not have the same record as some of these other candidates. I mean, I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, against the Singapore trade agreement, against final passage of fast track for this president.

And the reason is because I've seen what's happened in my state of North Carolina, with the loss of manufacturing jobs. I have been hearing in all these places I've visited here in Iowa how devastating it is.

But I think it is really important, as we go forward in this debate -- and we have a long time left -- that we be completely accurate and straightforward and honest with Iowa's caucus-goers about where we stand.

This has happened before. Congressman Gephardt has sent out mailings attacking and identifying all of us and putting us in the same category.

Iowa caucus-goers know there are differences between us. And I, for one, intend to make sure that they know between now and the caucus what those differences are.

ANGER: Before we get back to -- and we do want you to answer something else, too, Senator.


ANGER: Congressman, a short rebuttal to that?

GEPHARDT: Well, John, you weren't in Congress when NAFTA came up, so you couldn't vote. But you voted for the China...

EDWARDS: But you just said I voted for it.

GEPHARDT: I understand.


EDWARDS: You understand?



Does that mean you're wrong? You'll take it back now?

GEPHARDT: I'm quite willing to say that you weren't there and you didn't vote for it.

But you voted for the China agreement, and it's had a bad impact here in Iowa, and it's had a bad impact in your state of North Carolina.

One of the biggest textile-makers has closed all of their plants across the country; 60,000 jobs lost.

And it happened -- and we had this debate during the China agreement. I tried to get it fixed so that it had real protections, so that China would get their labor and environmental requirements...

ANGER: Congressmen, we have hit the mother lode here so far.


I see many hands being raised. Since we have a lot of ground -- and you were the first, Congressman. We have a lot of ground to cover, if you can keep your remarks on this to 30 seconds.

EDWARDS: And, remember, you had a question for me.

ANGER: And I still remember the question for you.


So, Congressman Kucinich, I think was first here.

KUCINICH: Well, I think that every working person in America is going to be interested in the answers that have been given here about NAFTA and the WTO, because not a one of these candidates has been willing to take the position that I've taken in saying that my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO. We've lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs in this country. The president has that authority.

I heard Governor Dean talking about NAFTA there a moment ago as if he's a spectator and not a participant. The president has the power to cancel NAFTA and the WTO. Will you, Governor Dean?


ANGER: OK, we're going -- we're going to go to Senator Lieberman and work our way back.

Thirty seconds.

LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Paul.

Look, the point on trade is, I think we've got to reject the extremism of George Bush and the extremism of Democrats who would put back walls of protectionism. And what's the extremism of George Bush? He just sits back and lets foreign countries break the rules of trade, rip off patents, copyrights, take American jobs, play with the currency.

That's wrong. As president, I'm going to fight tough against that.

But we can't create jobs by building up walls of protectionism. I looked at the stats in Iowa. One-fifth of the manufacturing jobs in this state. By the number I saw, more than 100,000 are dependent on trade.

The top two and three markets for goods from Iowa, both agricultural-grown goods and manufactured -- Canada and Mexico, the countries we're in NAFTA with. You break NAFTA, you're going to cut out tens of thousands of jobs here in Iowa.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

Who else? Who else wants in on this? Senator Kerry? I guess everybody will.

KERRY: Well, it's interesting, because Dick Gephardt actually has said several times, quote, "I'm for free trade." And then he stands up and he suggests that all of us are culpable because we didn't vote for one or voted for another.

Look, for five years, I and others have been fighting to have labor and environment standards in trade agreements. I worked with President Clinton also to make sure we had it in the Jordan agreement. We also had it in the Vietnam side agreement.

The reason that you didn't need it in Chile is because they have high standards and they enforce them.

The important thing is, I would not support the Free Trade of the Americas Act, I would not support the Central American Free Trade Act until they have stronger standards in them. If they sent them to my desk...

ANGER: We need to keep moving.

KERRY: ... I'd veto them.

ANGER: Madam Ambassador?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Isn't the issue really one of balance? We can't afford to go the route of just protectionism that will jump-start a depression in this country nor can we afford to just give away the store, as has happened under this administration's leadership with our trade agreements.

You have to have environmental and labor standards and human rights standards in order to level the playing field for American companies so that we aren't hemorrhaging jobs as a result of our engagements with the rest of the world.

But to stand and tell the American people that protectionism will somehow or another keep jobs in this country is just not true.

ANGER: Thank you. Thank you, Madam.

Governor Dean?

DEAN: First of all, I doubt anybody on this stage is against trade. And I also doubt anybody on this stage is talking about protectionism.

I too, Dick, did not vote for NAFTA or the WTO, because I have never served in Congress.


But I did support the WTO -- China's entry into the WTO in 1999 because I believed it was an issue for national security. I believe in constructive engagement.

That doesn't mean these agreements don't need to be changed. We have stood up for multinational corporations in these agreements, but we have not stood up for workers' rights, environmental rights and human rights.

ANGER: Thank you.

DEAN: And until we do, trade doesn't work.

ANGER: Thank you. We're going to...

GEPHARDT: Can I respond to this? He mentioned my name, and I'd like to...


ANGER: Everybody is going to mention somebody's name.


Fifteen seconds.

GEPHARDT: This is an important point.

Look, Howard, you were for NAFTA. You came to the signing ceremony. You were for the China agreement.

This is really what we're talking about here. It's one thing to talk the talk, it's another thing to walk the walk.

ANGER: And with that, we're going to go...

GEPHARDT: We've got to get labor and environment in these treaties. And we've got to do it when the treaties are before the Congress. That's when it counts.

ANGER: Folks, I don't want to interrupt news being made, but we do need to keep moving, or we'll never be able to cover all our ground. But I thank you for those exchanges.

Senator Edwards, back to you. Considering the growing federal deficit, what is the earliest that Americans can expect a balanced budget under your administration, and how would you do it?

EDWARDS: That's a question -- if somebody gives you a straight answer to that question, you can't trust it...


... because here is the reality. The reality is, everybody on this stage is talking about spending money. They're talking about spending money on education. They're talking, in varying degrees, about spending money on health care. In my case, I'm talking about helping middle-class families be able to buy a house, be able to invest, be able to save. All that costs money.

There is a tension between spending money and reducing the federal deficit. We should be straight with people about that.

So every time you're talking about investing in things that will move America forward, get the economy going again, keep the economy going, you're also increasing the federal deficit. There are judgment calls that have to be made. So I've made those calls.

Here is what I believe I can do. I can pay for everything that I have proposed by stopping Bush's tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year; doing something I don't think anyone else up here does, raise the capital gains rate for those who make over $300,000 a year; close four corporate loopholes. Pays for everything that I want to do, plus reduces the federal deficit.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

EDWARDS: Does not eliminate the federal deficit over the next three to four years.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

Any follow-up from our panel?

YEPSEN: They're doing pretty good without me.


NORRIS: I have a follow-up for Governor Dean.

A hallmark of your campaign has been the pledge to repeal the Bush tax cuts across the board. Does this include tax cuts that are intended to provide some measure of relief for the middle class, the child tax credit or the lifting of the marriage penalty?

And specifically, what kind of tax relief are you proposing for middle class and working-class families?

DEAN: Well, we've got to look at the big picture. If you make over $1 million, you've got a $112,000 tax cut. Sixty percent of us got a $304 tax cut.

And the question I have for Americans is, did your college tuition go up more than $304 because the president cut Pell Grants in order to finance his tax cuts for his millionaire friends? How about your property taxes, did they go up more than $304 because the president wouldn't fund special ed, wouldn't fund No Child Left Behind, wouldn't fund COPS and -- how about your health care payments? Did they go up more than $304 because the president cut thousands of people all over America off health care because he wouldn't fund the states' share that they needed to continue to insure people, and that was shifted to insurance and the health care premiums?

Middle-class people did not see a tax cut. There was no middle- class tax cut. There was a Bush tax increase with tuitions, with property taxes, with health care premiums, and most middle-class people in this country are worse off because of President Bush's so- called tax cut than they are better off.

NORRIS: And tax reliefs that you might propose?

DEAN: Pardon?

NORRIS: And what kind of tax relief are you proposing for middle- and working-class families?

DEAN: We -- ultimately, we will have a program for tax fairness. But right now, I agree with John Edwards. You cannot balance the budget and tell people you're going to keep all these tax cuts. I am going to balance the budget, and I'm going to do it in the sixth or seventh year of my administration. We're also going to have health care...



ANGER: Do you have anything else?


ANGER: We are going to move on...


... or we are never going to finish.


We're going to turn -- we are going to turn now to health care, and we're going to do a segment on health care. And if there's something to clean up, you have closing statements coming, I promise you, unless we get too far behind.

But thank you.

And turning now to health care, more than 43 million Americans lack health insurance, including about 8 percent of Iowans.


NARRATOR: The health care issues associated to the grain of America's baby boom generation are already paramount in Iowa. The state leads the nation in the percentage of population over 75, but brings up the rear in the percentage of federal health care dollars for the elderly.

Spending for prescription drugs in Iowa topped $267 million last year, up 18 percent from the year before. According to the Iowa poll, nearly six out of 10 Iowa caucus-goers want to see a major change in the health care system, including the way health insurance is paid for and the way medical care is delivered.


QUESTION: Senator Kerry, what do you consider the main culprit behind the skyrocketing cost of health care, and how would you address it?

KERRY: I address it in my plan, and I am the only presidential candidate who has offered a plan that actually reduces health care costs for the 163 million Americans in the workplace who get their health care through work, and I do it by creating a federal fund.

I roll back the tax cut for the wealthy Americans, not the one for the middle-class Americans that Howard's not aware they got.

And I roll back a tax fund that will then pay for all the catastrophic cases in our country. That means there is a cap of $50,000 on any health-care premium that anybody's paying. The result will be premiums drop for every single person by $1,000 or more.

I will lower costs of prescription drugs by allowing bulk purchasing of Medicare. It's a disgrace what happened in Washington the last months. This is one of the biggest giveaways to the drug companies in history.

And we're going to allow importation of drugs. We're going to have accountability on the pharmacy benefit managers. I'll have an attorney general who cracks down on patent abuse.

ANGER: Thank you.

KERRY: And finally, if I can just say, we're going to allow every single American to buy into the same health-care plan that senators and congressmen give themselves.

ANGER: Congressman Kucinich, Tim Eric of Corydon, Iowa, Congressman, wants to know how you would ensure the long-term solvency of Medicare. Would you raise taxes or decrease payments to individuals?

KUCINICH: Well, actually, I intend to have Medicare for all. And that's how we're going to have a universal health-care system.

You know, right now we are already paying for a universal standard of care, but we're not getting it. This country spends about $1.4 trillion a year, 14 percent of our gross domestic product, for health care.

But where do hundreds of billions of dollars of that money go to? Corporate profits, advertising, marketing, lobbying, the cost of paperwork, 15 to 30 percent, the cost of executive salary, sometimes they're making tens of millions of dollars.

I want to take all that money and put it into a not-for-profit system where everyone would be covered, where all medically necessary procedures would be covered, including dental care, vision care, mental health care, long-term care, which is really important in Iowa, and a prescription drug benefit.

But we have to break the hold that the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have on our health care system.

You know, hundreds of years ago, they used to treat patients by bleeding them with leeches. Well, you know, the insurance companies do that very well today.


ANGER: Senator Lieberman, many health-care workers are paid so little that they cannot afford insurance for their own families. How can you address this problem without adding to the already-steep cost of health care?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I'll tell you one way we could do it -- and I want to respond to Howard Dean's outrageous statement on middle-class tax cuts -- that is to protect the middle-class tax cuts that he wants to repeal and that a lot of us Democrats fought for in Congress over the last three years.

I don't know which is worse, that he wants to repeal the tax cuts, or that he won't admit that they ever existed.

You ask the average middle-class person -- here in Iowa, average family of four saved $1,800 a year under those tax cuts.

They need that money to help pay for their insurance.

My program of health insurance would make it affordable and accessible to more than 30 million of those that don't have it today, including health-care workers, particularly those who are not unionized, who cannot afford it.

That's what strong leadership is about. I'm the only candidate up here who goes beyond the existing tax cuts and would give 98 percent of the taxpayers a new income tax cut.

That's Bill Clinton Democratic policies. That's the way we got our economy going in the '90s. And that's the way, with my leadership, we'll get it going in 2005.

ANGER: We'll go to Governor Dean.

And, Governor Dean, the next question is for you anyway, but Butch Kroger of Toledo, Iowa, wants to know why his tax dollars should go to pay for the health care of, quote, "people who make poor decisions, such as smoking, overeating, and drug use."

Should there be any limits on the care the government provides?

DEAN: I think there already are limits on the care which government provides. In my health-care plan, individuals are obligated to pay a portion of that. It's not free.

Let me just bring up one thing. All these folks are talking about they're going to do health care and they're going to balance the budget. I'm the only one that's actually ever balanced a budget here. I'm a governor. I had to submit balanced budgets and make very, very tough choices when I submit those balanced; jawbone the legislature into getting them to pass a balanced budget. We did 11 of them in a row. And we provided health insurance for nearly every child under 18 in my state.

We're talking about health care. We've delivered health care. A third of my seniors and disabled people have a prescription benefit. We still haven't seen anything like that from Congress.

So the advantage of being a governor in a race like this is, when folks are saying, "Well, we're never going to be able to balance the budget," we can balance the budget, I did balance the budget. And we also provided health care while we were doing it. And that's the kind of president I'm going to be, as well.

ANGER: Congressman Gephardt, what about all that? Can the current employer-based system of health insurance survive, long term?

GEPHARDT: Well, first, let me say where I disagree with Howard and then where I agree with Howard.

First of all, yes, some of us have balanced budgets. I led the fight for the Clinton economic program in 1993 that brought about the first federal balanced budget. It wasn't just Vermont, it was the federal budget. It came into balance and even produced a surplus.

And I'm proud of what I did, and many on this stage helped do that, as well. And we're proud of what we did. It was a good piece of work.

But let me talk about health care. I agree with Howard on this: I think we've got to offer a real choice if we're going to beat George Bush. I am ready to say to the people of the country, "If you like the Bush tax cuts, vote for Bush. But if you want health care that can never be taken away from you, vote for me."

And my plan does it. It helps everybody. It doesn't just help some; it helps everybody in the country. And we're never going to solve the economic problems of this country until we solve the health- care problem.

Finally, I give more money to the average family than the Bush tax cuts, $3,000 as opposed to $600 a year.

ANGER: Senator Edwards, despite recent increases in federal Medicare spending, Iowa remains among the last in the nation in reimbursement for care to the elderly. Would you be willing to reduce funding for higher-population states in order to address this inequity?

EDWARDS: I'd be willing to do, as I have been in the Senate, everything that needs to be done to deal with this unfairness and this inequality. So the answer is yes to your question.

Let me go, though, to what everyone's been talking about over the last few minutes...


EDWARDS: ... if I could -- you're going to get to talk.


Now, wait a minute, this is my time I'm losing.

First of all, if I can get the truth-o-meter out here again for just a minute.

John Kerry, you are not the only one who has a plan to bring down the cost of health care. I have a very clear plan about how to do that.

The answer to your question to Howard Dean is, he has no proposal to reduce the tax burden on middle-class families, which they desperately need help with.

And the reason all of this matters in context is health care is a crisis in this country. There's no doubt about that. The loss of jobs, which we talked about earlier is a crisis. The shifting of the tax burden from wealth to middle-class working families is a problem.

But all of it's part of a bigger issue which is, what's happening to most families, middle-class families in this country? They've gone from being able to save money and being financially secure 20 years ago to now having all kinds of financial problems. They're spending every dime they make. They're going into debt. As your newspaper pointed out very recently, we've got record bankruptcies here in the state of Iowa.

ANGER: Thank you.

EDWARDS: My point is simply, if I could just say this last thing, my point is simply, all of these things, health care, jobs, the cost of college tuition, they're part of the struggle of the middle...

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

EDWARDS: ... class, which we have to address.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

And we're going to go to Senator Kerry.

KERRY: Thank you.

Let's keep the truth meter measuring. What I said was I'm the only presidential candidate who has a plan that directly addresses lowering the costs of 163 million Americans who get their health care in the workplace, and that is true. And it lowers their costs by $1,000 per person minimum.

Time magazine said it was one of the first big new ideas of the whole campaign. And what it does is provide a guarantee that workers will be able to get the savings, employers will have less cost, companies will be more competitive.

I also bring all children into the system. I provide the ability for people 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare. We'll get to 97 percent of all Americans covered by three years.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

KERRY: And then we'll cover the rest.

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

And now to Ambassador Braun. Ambassador Braun, you can talk about anything you want in the next minute, but we do have a question for you.


MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you very much.

ANGER: Local governments could save millions by importing prescription drugs from Canada, but the Food and Drug Administration says that's not safe. How would you solve that dilemma?

MOSELEY BRAUN: We need a single-payer system that is not tied to employment, that covers every American for every health issue from wellness and prevention to prescription drugs to long-term care. We can do this within the confines of the money that we're currently spending.

Right now at almost 15 percent of GDP we spend more as Americans for health care than in any industrialized nation in the world. We are no sicker than the Japanese, the Germans, the French, the English, the New Zealanders. But the fact is, we pay more because the attempts to reconcile our public and private systems haven't worked.

If we go to a single-payer system modeled much on what the federal employees right now have, the FEHBP, we can have that kind of coverage without price controls, people can choose their providers and we can bring the costs down in line with what other countries are paying, close to 8 and 9 percent. Nobody is in double digits but us.

And so, I believe that to protect the quality of care that we have and restore the doctor or the physician, provider-patient relationship, to deal with the low wages that health care workers are currently receiving, we need to get this system resolved. Recognize...

ANGER: Thank you.

MOSELEY: ... that it's been broken for a long time. The only way to fix it is through a single-payer system.

ANGER: Thank you, Ambassador.

We're going to go now for any follow-ups.

David Yepsen?

YEPSEN: Congressman Kucinich, a lot of people in Iowa work for the health insurance industry. If we do your plan, if Congress enacted your plan, wouldn't those people all be put out of a job?

KUCINICH: No. As a matter of fact, what would happen is that the people in Iowa who have that expertise would be able to help process the paperwork for all Americans who would be covered.

YEPSEN: So they'd get a job in the federal system, you believe?

KUCINICH: Absolutely. I mean, where else -- where better to find the expertise than here in Des Moines.

And I would also say that, you know, what I'm speaking to -- listen to these figures: the head of Universal Health Systems made $20 million; WellPoint Health Networks, $19 million; Apria Healthcare, $16 million; Anthem, $15.8 million.

I mean, what's going on in America? All these health care executives are milking the system. You have people who can't get the health care they need, and these executives are walking away with the bank.

And that's why we have to go for -- to a not-for-profit system where everyone is covered, where people don't have to worry if they're working or not, where they don't have to worry about if they're rich or poor -- all people are covered.

It's time to take health care as a number-one domestic priority. And as president of the United States, I'll lead this country to create a system where we have universal single-payer health care for all.

NORRIS: Thank you, Congressman.

To Congressman Gephardt, a slightly different health question -- drug use in America. While the war on drugs often brings to mind the effort to bring the drug trade and cocaine abuse and the cocaine trade under control, particularly in urban settings, here in Iowa and in other cities across the country the biggest drug challenge is actually crystal methamphetamine.

Does current drug policy adequately address this, and how would you propose dealing with this home-grown problem, crystal meth?

GEPHARDT: Well, it's a problem not only in Iowa; it's a big problem in my state of Missouri and in a lot of other states. And it's a big problem in rural communities.

So we need to have a better policy to deal with it.

But I'll tell you what, I believe in trying to find the drug dealers, and trying to bring them in, and trying to go after the drugs that are coming in the United States. But in this case we're talking about a homemade drug here in communities all across the Midwest and in other parts of the country.

I think the ultimate answer to the drug problem lies in some other things that we are not doing well enough in this country. We've got to get people good jobs. Part of the reason people get involved in drugs is they lose hope. And my plans for building jobs I think are the best, the boldest plans out there.

We need better education of our young people. We need more mental health benefits in health insurance policies so that people will not turn to drugs when they can't get the right mental help that they need from their insurance policies. These are the things we need to do to solve the problem.

YEPSEN: Senator Kerry, since your last debate the nation has gone through the mad cow scare -- something that has real economic repercussions here in rural America. What would you do to improve the nation's food safety and food inspection system?

KERRY: I would combine -- it's a great question, Dave, and I appreciate it, because we really have a serious issue in America about what people are eating, the kinds of foods people eat. The obesity problem is growing among our children.

Frankly, the lack of knowledge among a lot of American families about what people are eating, the soda pop in our schools -- we have an enormous nutrition problem beyond just the quality of testing that's represented in the mad cow problem.

Mad cow is pretty straightforward. Everybody I've met in Iowa scratches their heads and says, "Why is it that a carcass, a downed cow, that has been tested gets processed and goes into the system?" Now we're going to change that. It shouldn't, it never should have. If you're going to test, you want the results of the test before it goes in. But we also need to create a tracking system.

But the most important thing that we need to do is begin to join the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration, and begin to get them talking about what Americans are exposed to.

And Dennis is correct. The corporatization of our agriculture, the pressures that fight backward against common-sense moves is really what this fight is about, taking on special interests and restoring power to people so that...

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

KERRY: ... common sense is put in place about food, about tracking, about chemicals...

ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

KERRY: ... and all of those things.

ANGER: Let's look at schools.

And just as an aside, you've been doing a lot of these debates. We know that you can keep your answers to about a minute.


We're going to look at schools now. The budget difficulties faced by schools and by states around the nation are taking a toll. That includes Iowa, where school districts are laying off teachers and eliminating programs because of a recent state funding cut.


NARRATOR: Adding the burden, educators say, is the cost of implementing new federal standards known as the No Child Left Behind Act, which Congress did not fully fund.

Iowa educators and parents also are concerned about the future of federal funding and oversight for education of at-risk preschoolers. The Head Start program, which serves over 1 million children nationwide and about 8,800 in Iowa, has faced criticism and budget cuts.

State universities around the country, including Iowa, also are facing the prospect of increasing tuition in response to a lack of state aid. This year, tuition for state residents rose by more than 20 percent at Iowa universities after several years of hefty increases, at a time when federal aid for college students has declined.


ANGER: Congressman Kucinich, Beth Walling of Polk City, Iowa, points out that Iowa leads the country in the percentage of working parents with children under 5; yet most child-care providers earn low wages, and many teachers in the federal Head Start program are not certified.

What would you do to improve early child-care education for all students?

KUCINICH: I've introduced legislation to create a universal pre- kindergarten program. And that legislation would make it possible for every young person, ages 3, 4 and 5, to have access to full child care, five days a week. And that would create the conditions which would enable children to receive reading skills, educational skills in nutrition.

Also, we have to keep in mind that this program would cost about $60 billion. I would fund that with a 15 percent cut in the Pentagon, cutting out the wasteful spending that I spoke about.

Now furthermore, we have to understand our responsibility to fully fund education at all levels. And I want to go back to something I said at the beginning of this debate. The Bush budget is now cutting funds across the board, and education is going to get cut again.

As long as we're spending $155 billion in Iraq in the last nine months, as long as the Pentagon budget keeps expanding beyond $400 billion, all of our domestic needs are going to be wiped out. And that's why I insist that we have to get out of Iraq. We have to bring the U.N. in and get the U.S. out. I have the only plan that...

ANGER: Thank you.

KUCINICH: ... will enable us to rescue our domestic priorities.

ANGER: Thank you.

Candidates, many of you have criticized the new federal accountability standards for schools -- the No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Lieberman, what alternatives would you propose to penalizing schools whose students fail to meet national standards?

LIEBERMAN: Let me say first that in this area George Bush has broken a series of promises. The first was to end unfunded mandates. He hasn't done that with special education. In fact, he added a new unfunded mandate when he refused to fund the No Child Left Behind Act. Result? Local property taxpayers are either paying more money in property taxes or our children are not getting the education that they should.

Let me say a word on behalf of the No Child Left Behind Act, because I know it's easy in a political context to attack it. It didn't start with George Bush. It started with Teddy Kennedy and George Miller and Evan Bayh and me.

And it was all about having the federal government do a better job at helping lower-income kids, who are so often overlooked in our schools today, get a better education. That's why we set the standards.

Bush didn't give the money to help meet the standards. I will fully fund No Child Left Behind, and I'll listen to the teachers and the principals about changing some of the requirements.

But anybody who says they're going to pull back and repeal No Child Left Behind is turning their back on the students, and particularly the low-income students of America. I won't do that.

ANGER: To Governor Dean.

Governor, Iowa has a strong tradition of local control in its schools, which are rated among the best in the nation. But even in Iowa, schools struggle with the lack of funding. What is the proper role of the federal government in education?

DEAN: The proper role of the federal government in education is not to pass bills like No Child Left Behind. I have two big policy differences with almost everybody up here. I opposed the Iraq war; with the exception of Dennis and Carol, everybody else supported it.

I opposed No Child Left Behind; I don't know how Carol would have voted, but I -- everybody else supported it.

The reason I oppose No Child Left Behind -- Joe Lieberman's right. There are some good things in this bill. One is something called disaggregation of scores, which helps low-income kids. But this is an unbelievable, intrusive mandate.

I talked to a woman who's a teacher the other day -- she was told by the federal government she wasn't a highly qualified teacher after she had taught math and physics and gotten the best scores for her students for 23 years.

This is a bill that ought never to have been passed. And what has happened -- this is why I am running for president. What has happened to so many Democrats in Congress is that they've been co- opted by the agenda of George Bush, who came into office with 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore. And what we need is a Democrat who's going to stand up to George Bush.

ANGER: Congressman Gephardt, should the government help parents pay for private education if their public schools are failing according to the government standards?

GEPHARDT: Well, let me just respond to something Howard just said. He kind of runs against all of us in Washington and says that we haven't done anything. I guess I've got a question for him. Is he saying that Tom Harkin has never done anything good, or Ted Kennedy, or Bill Clinton?

I'm proud of what we've done to fight back against the Bush administration. They tried to put more arsenic in the water. We stopped them from doing it.

They tried to privatize Social Security. We have stopped them from doing it.

They tried to get vouchers for public schools. And so far we've been able to stop them from doing it.

And they didn't want to give more unemployment benefits to workers. And we stopped him from doing that, and we got that done.

So, yes, we're going to try to do what's right for public education. I voted for the bill because I thought it was the only way to get money into public education under a Bush presidency.

And there's only one way to fix Leave No Child Behind, that's to leave George Bush behind. And that's what we're going to do in November of 2004.

ANGER: Thank you, Congressman.

To Senator Edwards, this question comes from Bob Batai (ph) of Ames, Iowa. As a retired university professor, he's alarmed by the increasing cost of public education. What steps would you take to make our public universities more affordable?

EDWARDS: Well, the starting place is we, as a nation, should be providing more help to states with their budgets, so that they, in fact, don't have to raise tuitions the way that we've seen over the last couple of years.

But the second thing is we ought to be helping these hundreds of thousands of kids who want to go to college and are qualified to be there but aren't going because they can't pay for it.

Now, I have proposed a very specific idea, which I call "college for everyone." This says to every young person in America, if you're qualified to be in college and you're willing to work for it, at least 10 hours a week the first year you're in school, you can go tuition- free to a state university or community college.

And I was the first person in my family to go to college. I worked my way through college. It didn't hurt me a bit. I know that getting young people in college and getting them engaged matters.

I want to say one last thing with my time remaining.

The truth of the matter is, America needs to be changed. But that change doesn't mean just getting rid George Bush. We have to get rid of him to change America.

But there's a fundamental question for Iowa caucus-goers, because if you believe people who've been in politics for 20 years or who've been in Washington for decades are going to change this country, you've got plenty of choices.

I present a different alternative...

ANGER: Senator, we're out of time.

Ambassador Braun, what would you do to cut down on violence in schools?

MOSELEY BRAUN: OK, can I answer three more questions, because I had won points of personal privilege along the way when my name was used, and I didn't get a chance to answer those.

ANGER: You have a minute of personal privilege.

MOSELEY BRAUN: Thank you very much.

First, to Dennis and the war. I opposed the war also, Dennis. But Americans can't -- we can't just cut and run. We blew the place up; we have a responsibility to at least fix it back.

And the United Nations...


... can't come in until we do more there.

So while, you know, the fact of getting U.N. in and U.S. out, it sounds wonderful. At the same time, we still have a responsibility there, that we cannot just drop the ball.

To John, we don't have to have deficits as a matter of course. They're not a fact of life.

EDWARDS: Oh, I agree with that.

MOSELEY BRAUN: And any administration that comes in without an objective of saying, "We're going to get rid of these budget deficits," as Bill Clinton did -- he got rid of the deficits. This president, George Bush, has gone from surplus to deficit almost overnight. And we've got to hold him to account for it.

And frankly, that bill, Dennis, for all the money we're spending on that, we ought to lay it at George Bush's feet, because it's his bill. It's a bill that he's put on the American people without due cause.

And finally, Howard, to you, I've supported unfunded mandates as my first legislative action in the United States Senate. I agree with you. We have no right to make decisions that either send the bill to our children, our grandchildren on the one hand, or to states and local governments on the other.

ANGER: We'll go back to Congressman Kucinich.


KUCINICH: I think it's important...


That doesn't come out of my time, right?


I think it's important for Iowa caucus-goers to follow carefully the implications of a debate which says we should stay in Iraq for a couple years.

Look, it was wrong to go, and it's wrong to stay in.

Right now, if we stay there, we're going to be spending hundreds of -- probably over a half trillion dollars. We've already lost over 470 of our dedicated men and women.

I have a plan that's been on my Web site now for three months, to bring the U.N. in and get the U.S. out. It involves the U.S. giving up ambitions to control the oil, the contracts, privatization or the government of Iraq by remote control. We can get out of Iraq.

All these other candidates should be taking a position. I'm glad that Carol will acknowledge that she wants to stay there. I want to see what the other candidates will do, including Governor Dean. It's time to get out of Iraq.

ANGER: We'll go to Senator Kerry now.

In Iowa and other states, Senator, local property-taxpayers are primarily responsible for the upkeep of school buildings. This can result in inequities in the quality of those buildings.

Should there be a federal program called No School Buildings Left Behind?


KERRY: Absolutely, positively. And I have not only voted for that in the past, but I have a major proposal to provide for school construction.

But let me just comment about overall education. Iowa caucus- goers are the most serious people I've met in the political process. They are thinking about this. It's easy to bash Washington; it's easy to bash somebody who voted for something you don't like. But there's nothing in the No Child Left Behind Act that requires it to be implemented the way this administration is doing it.

My colleague Ted Kennedy is the greatest champion of education in America. He didn't put this in place, to have it implemented this way.

Every parent in America wants their kid to have a highly qualified teacher. Every parent in America wants their kid tested and have accountability. Every parent in America wants their school to be accountable.

And what's happened is, this administration is doing to the school system of America what it did to school systems of Houston and in Texas. They're faking it. And they're punitive to teachers. They're disrespectful to teachers.

What we need is a full funding of special-needs education. We need to change the No Child Left Behind standard, so no teacher who is certified, like Howard mentioned, with 15 years of service, is not recognized for it.

We need to change, so no school is forced into failure...

ANGER: We're out of time. We're out of time, Senator.

KERRY: ... and we can do that.

ANGER: We're going to go to Michele Norris.

NORRIS: Thank you.

Democrats have been charged with a certain degree of hypocrisy over the years for pledging strong support for public education and then turning around and sending their own children to private schools. In the last administration, both the president and the vice president had their children in private schools.

This is for Senator Edwards. If you moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, will you send your two children to public schools?

And if you could give us your view, if you could, of the symbolism or the potential opportunities that this represents to cast a vote of confidence in America's schools, by having a First Family that fully participates in public education in America?

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes is the answer to your question.

I myself am a product of public schools. I would have no chance of being where I am today without a great public school education. My children, my two older children who have now finished school both went through public schools. They got a great education in the public school system.

And there is so much work that needs to be done. So far the conversation has been about No Child Left Behind, what's wrong with No Child Left Behind. We as Democrats need to offer a bigger vision for what should happen with public education in America because in most of America, including Washington, D.C., there are still two public school systems. There is one for those who live in affluent areas and there is one for those who live in other places.

What are we going to do about that as Democrats? Forget No Child Left Behind. No question that it is doing damage. But the question is, what will we do? What's our bigger, broader vision for America?

Here's what I want to do. First, lead a national initiative as president to improve teacher pay across the board.

Second, give bonus pay to teachers that are willing to teach in schools in less affluent areas.

Third, give scholarships and financial aid to young people who will commit to teach in those same schools. And strengthen and expand early childhood programs, which is a place where we can have a real impact.

YEPSEN: Congressman Gephardt, you have -- you enjoy a lot of support from the labor movement in this campaign and yet many people say that teachers' unions are part of the problem in public education. What's your view of that question?

GEPHARDT: Well, first, David, I think we've got to change the whole atmosphere in the country. When I'm president, I'm not going to every time I talk about education disparage public education. This president and the Republican Party, every time they talk about education, talks about that it's failing, that the schools are all bad, the teachers are all selfish, they won't bend and bring in new ways of doing things.

We need to say that public education is largely good. It's good here in Iowa. It's good in my district in St. Louis and in Missouri.

And so, we need to start from that. But then as was said, we need a larger vision of what we can do to improve the schools that aren't getting it done. And we can do that -- more pre-school, more after-school, smaller classroom size, help with the buildings.

And I've got a new idea I call teacher corps. I'd say to young students, "If you'll train to be a teacher, teach wherever we need you for five years, I'd have the federal government pay your college loans."

ANGER: Governor...

GEPHARDT: I got educated in the public schools in St. Louis City, and I got a great education, and I'm grateful for it.

ANGER: Governor Dean, twice now Congressman Kucinich has brought up your position on Iraq. Why don't you take a moment here and respond to his criticism of your position?

DEAN: My position is it's not responsible to pull our troops out. I was against going in, but now -- what happened was the president let us believe that al Qaeda was in Iraq. It turned out there was no evidence for that. But there is pretty good evidence that they are there now.

If we pull out our troops precipitously and al Qaeda gets the kind of foothold in Iraq that it did in Afghanistan, we have a major national security problem on our hands.

So my idea is to have elections to form a governing council in Iraq so we have somebody writing a constitution there that has some respect of the Iraqi people, and then to begin to replace our troops, as George Bush's father did, with foreign troops, preferably from Muslim and Arabic-speaking nations so we can bring our Guard and Reserve home as soon as possible and one of the two divisions home.

But I do not agree with Dennis that we ought to just pull our troops out. I don't actually think that's what he is saying, he wants the U.N. to go in. I do, too, but it's going to be a gradual process, and it is not responsible to simply withdraw our troops from Iraq because the president has created a national security danger in Iraq when none existed before.

NORRIS: If I could, just another question on America's young people. And this will be for Senator Lieberman.


NORRIS: By a ratio of 10:1, the U.S. spends more on government- sponsored aid for older Americans than it does for children. You've been in Congress a long time. Why does the nation spend 10 times as much on people of your generation than on your grandchildren? And older people vote; children don't. Is this just raw political influence?

LIEBERMAN: Right. First, I want to make clear that I'm young.


NORRIS: It's all a state of mind.

LIEBERMAN: Sorry. Will you certify to that? Right.

Look, you know, Hubert Humphrey once said in a magnificent speech that you judge a society by the way it treats people at the dawn of life and at the twilight of life -- children and seniors.

So the answer to this is not to cut back on aid for seniors. The answer to this, in the current context, is to cut back on the Bush tax cuts for the high income and for corporations, which can garner $1 trillion over the next 10 years, and invest that money in our children, among other things -- our veterans, our homeland security, our health care, but fully fund education.

Yes, let's have federal funds to leverage the universal pre- kindergarten child care program. Let's help working people having such a tough time affording child care. We can balance this.

Being president is all about priorities. This president has had the wrong priorities. He wants to comfort those who are comforted, and as a result, we haven't done enough for those who are genuinely in need who are our future -- our children.

YEPSEN: Ambassador Braun, one quick follow-up question to you: How do you propose narrowing the achievement gap in America between minority students and non-minority students?

MOSELEY BRAUN: I think the most important thing the national government can do is to help communities relieve the burden on the local property tax by sending more money from the national level.

We are now funding education nationally at only 6 percent. All of the costs fall on the local property tax and on local taxes.

What that means is that poor communities struggle to maintain the capacity to educate children. And in fact, when I was in the Senate, I had a study done that showed that the poorest communities make the greatest tax effort to support their schools.

And so if we can provide poor communities with the support they need to lower class size, to give teachers the kind of support they need so that they're not left alone to deal with all kinds of social issues and problems without having the funding adequate to do the job, if we make that contribution and let locals control content curriculum, I believe we will provide the service that will help deal with achievement scores.

When I was in the Senate also, the approach that we took was the question that was put to John Kerry, which was to build school buildings. Let us help fund infrastructure, so these children are not in classrooms with broken windows and leaky roofs. Let us do this, and then devote local dollars to content, curriculum and support for teachers.

ANGER: Thank you.

And, candidates, we will now move to the next round, which will be you asking a question of any other candidate, which you've been doing anyway.


Your question is limited, please, to 30 seconds. Please start with the name of the candidate you are addressing. That candidate's answer will be one minute, and there will be rebuttal back as needed.

Governor Dean, you're first.

DEAN: Sure, this is to all the candidates. I have repeatedly said, because we've got to beat George Bush, that I will vigorously support the nominee of the Democratic Party. And I will vigorously encourage all my supporters to do the same. I will campaign for the Democratic nominee of this party, should it not be me.

And I'd like to find out who on this stage agrees that they will pledge to vigorously support the Democratic nominee.



Now, I'll cede the balance of my time to Carol, because you really got short-changed in the first round.


ANGER: Well, you're a consensus builder, Governor Dean.

DEAN: Thank you.


I told you I could bring those inside-the-Beltway and those outside-the-Beltway Democrats together.

ANGER: Next is Ambassador Braun.

MOSELEY BRAUN: I have a question for Senator Edwards.

Senator, companies such as Smithfield enjoy monopoly positions by owning both production and packing operations. Iowans have told me that they are against such vertical integration because it hurts or kills family farms. Yet, you did not support Senator Harkin's amendment to prohibit such practices.

What would you say to an Iowa farmer who opposes the mega hog farms?

EDWARDS: Well, first, the vote that was in the United States Senate was a vote that would have put hundreds of North Carolina farmers out of business.

As president of the United States, I will sign a packer ban. Not only that, I'll go further than I believe any one on this stage is willing to go as president, which is to actually impose a moratorium on the building and expansions of these corporate hog lots.

I have also introduced legislation in the Senate to put the toughest clean air and clean water regulations that could possibly be there in order to stop the very things that you're talking about.

And I have pledged, as president of the United States, to provide the most vigorous enforcement of our anti-trust laws, to stop the very vertical integration that you're talking about, that are putting family farmers here in Iowa out of business on behalf of these big corporate farming operations.

We've got to stop it. I've stood up for little people all my life, and I will stand up for family farmers as president.


ANGER: Madam Ambassador, any rebuttal to that?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, no. Just the record.


ANGER: OK. We go, then, to...


We go, then, to Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Paul. My question, not surprisingly, is to Howard Dean.

One of the most troubling decisions that Howard has made in this campaign -- made before -- is to close and seal his records, or most of them, when he was governor of Vermont.

And this troubles me because the people of Vermont have a right to know. The people of America, who are judging your candidacy for president now, have a right to know what you did as governor to determine whether you're suitable and capable of being president of the United States.

I have in my hand the memorandum of understanding between you and the secretary of state, which makes very clear that all it takes to open up your records, Mr. Governor...

ANGER: Get your question out, please.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I will -- is one stroke of a pen.

Howard Dean, every day you tell people across America they have the power, and you're right.

You have the power, with one stroke of the pen, to open up your records to public view. You have the power; I'm prepared to give you the pen. Why don't you sign this agreement and open your gubernatorial records to full public view?


DEAN: I am told that Governor Bob Ray, who was one of the most distinguished governors of this state, had his records sealed for his entire lifetime.

Joe, the reason that -- first of all, more than half of my records are open. And I know that because you all have been poring through them for many months to bring up all kinds of details.


But governors seal records for particular amounts of time -- in my case, some of the records -- to protect people's privacy, to protect the privacy that was given to advisers.

For example, there are apparently in these -- among these records is a group of letters from people who wrote me during the civil unions crisis, or the civil unions bill-passing, which was a crisis in Vermont because it was the most contentious bill that we had for many, many years.

What we have done is we have stepped aside. We have turned everything over to the attorney general of the state of Vermont. And the attorney general of the state of Vermont will go to court, and a judge will look over every document in our records. And they are free to release whatever they'd like, and that's fine with me.

ANGER: Back to Senator Lieberman.


LIEBERMAN: That is an unsatisfactory and disappointing answer. Why should you have to force a judge to force you to do what you know is right?

Your records ought to be public. Look, there are always exceptions for private matters and for security matters. The Boston Herald reports today that, notwithstanding the fact that you kept your records closed, you have revealed some security matters and, in fact, some personal medical histories.

My question is, as we go into this campaign, how can you and we take on George Bush and Dick Cheney, who have run the most secretive administration in our history, if you refuse to open up the records of your time as governor?

I want to say this: As president, records will be open to the public view. My records when I was in a comparable state position as attorney general are open to public view.

We Democrats are better than Bush and Cheney. And your position on your records has undercut the high ground that we should be on.

ANGER: A quick comment from the governor.

DEAN: I think if somebody is gay and they write me that, and they don't care to have that information disclosed to the public, that's their right.


LIEBERMAN: That's not the answer you're...


Excuse me. You are ducking the question. Of course you've got a right to hold back private disclosures like that.

DEAN: Joe, a judge should decide that, because if we decide it, nobody is going to believe us, and they're going to say there's more stuff in the record. Why can't a judge look at every single piece of paper and make that decision?

LIEBERMAN: You are ducking the question. You should not force a judge to force you to do what you know is right, and which will assure public confidence.


I'm sorry...

ANGER: We'll ask you to take it outside if you need to.


LIEBERMAN: I'm ready.


ANGER: To Congressman Kucinich, your question please.

KUCINICH: A question to Dr. Dean.

You're aware you and I have a difference of opinion on the health care issue, where I favor universal single-payer, and you favor keeping the health care system within the context of the present system, but you want to make sure more people are insured.

When you told the New York Times that if someone wants fundamental change in the system, they're not your man, or you're not their man, did you mean by that to suggest that you aren't prepared to challenge the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies, which are holding health care in this country captive?

DEAN: Dennis, if somebody's issue out there -- and their biggest issue and most important issue is that they want a single-payer health care plan, they ought to vote for you or Carol.

KUCINICH: Thank you. I...

DEAN: Get some applause from your friends...

KUCINICH: I'll accept that.

DEAN: The reason that I have taken the position that I have, I have tried twice to have huge health care reforms in Vermont. We didn't get it. We did get health insurance for all children. We did get prescription benefits for a third of our seniors and disabled people. We do have health insurance for everybody under 150 percent of poverty, whether they're eligible for Medicaid or not.

But we didn't get it. And I do not want another reform effort where we fail, for whatever reason, and leave 43 million people uninsured.

I wrote my health care plan so that it would pass Congress, and we could get everybody insured.

KUCINICH: Is there a follow-up?


KUCINICH: The question is, you know, you're hoping to be the president of the United States. Now, wouldn't you anticipate that you could have the kind of power, even as a nominee of the party, to rally the American people in the cause of health care?

I mean, why won't you say that you will do that? Why won't you at least try? Then you could have a fall-back position, if necessary. Why won't you at least try to do that?

DEAN: Jimmy Carter tried to reform the health care system. Bill Clinton tried to reform the health care system. Every time, we couldn't get that stuff through Congress. And I was involved in the second one and very, very peripherally in the first one.

This is the third time. This time we're going to do it.

I'm not interested in reforming the system first. I want everybody in the system first. I'm tired of people being uncovered. I'm tired of people paying almost as much for their health care payments every month as they do for their home mortgage.

I want everybody in the system. Then we can have a big fight about how to reform the system. But let's get everybody in it first.

ANGER: We go now to Congressman Gephardt for your question.

GEPHARDT: Howard, first, thanks for getting everybody to coalesce behind my candidacy after I win the nomination.


GEPHARDT: My question has to do with 1995 and the fight we had in the budget over Medicare funding. The Republicans tried to cut Medicare by $270 billion. And Bill Clinton and the Democrats fought them off. They even shut the government down.

At that time, you were head of the governors' association, and you agreed with their proposal. How do you explain that position?

DEAN: Well, I didn't agree with their proposal.

What I believe in is that we need to save Medicare; we need to make it work.

I'm the person up here who started to run on health insurance for everybody. We have health insurance for an awful lot of people in Vermont, virtually every child.

To think that I, as a physician and a governor, am going to try to get rid of Medicare is silly. What we need to do is make Medicare work.

Iowa is 50th in terms of Medicare reimbursement. Vermont's 49th. We need more reimbursement. We need to make Medicare work. I'm not going to change any benefit structure in Medicare. And Medicare is a critical part of the universal health care plan that I want to have for every Iowan and for every American.

GEPHARDT: Well, I believe you were for that proposal. You gave a speech the night before we voted in the House. And you said you were for the Roth proposal, which was the proposal in the Senate. It was exactly like the proposal the House Republicans had that would cut it by $270 billion.

Let me make one other point on this.

ANGER: Please, quickly.

GEPHARDT: A state like Iowa is already undercompensated for Medicare.

I have a bill with Leonard Boswell, who is here today, to try to correct that problem. If the $270 billion cut had gone through, it would have put -- it would have devastated Iowa seniors because of what it would have meant. It would have cost them $1,000 more a year as a result of that cut.

ANGER: Last words from Governor Dean.

DEAN: I don't have much to rebut. I want health insurance for every single American. I have a record of achieving that. And I'd like your support so we can do that for the federal -- at the federal level, as we did in Vermont.

ANGER: Over to Senator Edwards.

EDWARDS: Thank you. This is for Congressman Gephardt.

As I have traveled around Iowa, there is no doubt that Iowa caucus-goers, as everyone on this stage, wants us to get rid of George Bush. But I think they see the problem as much bigger than that. They want to see Washington change. They want to see America change.

You've been there a long time. There are, to me, obvious changes that need to be put in place to give the power and democracy back to the people.

So I have proposed banning lobbyist contributions, shining bright light on lobbyist activity so we know what they're doing, stopping the revolving door between lobbyists and the government and back and forth.

I'd just like for you to tell us what you intend to do to change the culture that exists in Washington today, besides beating George Bush, which we are all for?

GEPHARDT: Absolutely. John, I have worked my entire career in politics to lessen the power of special interests in this country. I passed -- and I think anybody in the House would tell you, I got campaign reform passed in the House.

I called John McCain. I asked him to come to my office, and I sat on the phone with him and we called Republican and Democratic members to get them to vote for campaign reform. We got it done. He produced about 15 Republicans. We produced about 205 Democrats. That's kind of a good way of knowing who is really for campaign reform and who is not. And I will continue to do that as president.

We need much more campaign reform. The lobbyist things you're talking about, absolutely. And we need campaign reform that will really lessen the interest of these special interests.

Let me tell you, that prescription drug bill that passed was written by the drug companies. And if this is the way it's going to work, you don't need a Congress, just let the special interests write the bills.

ANGER: Back to Senator Edwards...


EDWARDS: Written by the drug companies for the drug companies, as a matter of fact.

GEPHARDT: Absolutely.

EDWARDS: Let me just have one follow-up, because I want to make sure -- so you would agree with my proposal to ban contributions from lobbyists? Were you saying yes to that? You're for that?



Second, would you agree to go further than the campaign finance that has already passed and really get money out of politics by having public financing of political campaigns plus free air time?

GEPHARDT: Absolutely.

John, let me tell you, it was hard to get done what we got done. We...

ANGER: Now that we have that settled...


EDWARDS: But we have more to do. If we want to do...

ANGER: Now that we...

EDWARDS: If we want to take away the power...

GEPHARDT: I'm with you.

EDWARDS: ... of these people, then we need...


ANGER: Gentlemen, now that we have that settled, we're going to go to Senator Kerry.


KERRY: Howard, Joe raised the question about things you say versus things that you do, and things you sometimes say and then change.

For instance, you said that if George Bush released his records, you would release your records. Then when you found out George Bush had released his records, you changed.

Another example of that: When you were asked by the Concord Monitor about Osama bin Laden, you said we couldn't prejudge his guilt for September 11th. What in the world were you thinking?

DEAN: I'll tell you exactly what I was thinking, Senator. I understand that Osama bin Laden has essentially claimed responsibility for these unbelievable terrorist acts. And as an American, I want to see Osama bin Laden get what he deserves, which is the death penalty.

But I was asked that question as a candidate for president of the United States, and a candidate for president of the United States is obligated to stand for the rule of law.

I was asked yesterday by Newsweek what would I do if I was the president and the troops had Osama in their sights -- we would shoot to kill. But the fact is, if we captured him alive, we have to stand for the rule of law.

I have no doubt that if we capture Osama bin Laden, he will end up with the death penalty. But as president of the United States, I'm obligated to stand for the rule of law.


KERRY: Well, actually, Governor, what you've just said is even different from the release that your office put out clarifying the comment you made to the Concord Monitor. And this is the pattern: You've said on one occasion that we shouldn't go to war without the permission of the U.N. You've said that we have to prepare for the day when America isn't the strongest military. You've said that -- you yourself have said you sometimes shoot from the hip. You've said that the president of the United States had prior warning about September 11th, you got it off the Internet, you passed it on to national television.

I think these changes, even the difference of what you've just said now which is different from your own clarification, raises a serious question about your ability to be able to stand up to George Bush and make Americans feel safe and secure.

ANGER: One last comment.

DEAN: Two quick comments.

First of all, in general, there's been a lot of talk about this from the Washington politicians. And a gaff in Washington is when you tell the truth and the Washington establishment thinks you shouldn't have.

Secondly, Senator, you better go back and look at the quote, because you are doing exactly what so many of you all have done over the past year with my record. You better go look what I said about Saudi Arabians tipping off the president -- I said I didn't believe it and I said it right on that show.

KERRY: Can I just come back to say...

ANGER: OK, we're going to...

KERRY: Could I say...

ANGER: We're going to have to move on, Senator.

KERRY: The question...

ANGER: Senator, we're going to have to move on.

We have a round of questions now to be asked by our panelists. And as an indication of the time remaining, candidates, you're going to have 30 seconds to answer. We will not have time for rebuttals, so play nice.


Michele Norris and David Yepsen will alternate, and David is first.

YEPSEN: Senator Lieberman, you've not campaigned in Iowa. A year ago at this time, the polls showed you were at the top of the pack of candidates; now you're in single digits. Why should Democrats think you are competent to run a good general election campaign?

LIEBERMAN: The decision not to campaign in Iowa had everything to do with the fact that the calendar has changed this year and there are going to be nine primaries and/or caucuses in the first two weeks.

I have loved my time in Iowa. I am grateful for the -- to the people who supported me in 2000 and again so many who came to my side this year. I left my office open here. I have Kevin McCarthy still working with me. Why? I intend to come back as the Democratic nominee. And as Governor Vilsack was kind enough to say, if I come back as the nominee, Iowa will be Lieberman country because I'm a Bill Clinton Democrat: center out, strong on jobs, socially progressive and strong on security.

ANGER: Thank you.

LIEBERMAN: That's the way we're going to defeat George Bush.

NORRIS: Governor Dean, you said this week that you plan to begin including more references to God and Jesus in your campaign swings to the South.

Some of your critics and columnists immediately seized upon this and said it smacked of political opportunism, which goes to something I hear from Democratic voters time and time again this year, a frustration that the Democratic Party seems to have a difficult time talking about religion and matters of faith.

DEAN: You know, I have grown up in the Northeast my entire life. And in the Northeast, we do not talk openly about religion. I've spent a lot of time in the South. I have a lot of friends from the South. In the South, people do integrate religion openly, easily into their lives, both black Southerners and white Southerners.

I understand that if I'm going to campaign for the presidency of the United States, I have to be comfortable in the milieu that other Americans are comfortable, not just for my own region, for everywhere else.

I think any columnist who questions my belief is over the line. But I do believe that it is important for the president of the United States to be comfortable everywhere, and I plan to learn how to do that.

YEPSEN: Congressman Gephardt, Iowans know you well. You've been here a lot of times. But yet I hear a lot of Democrats say, "Dick Gephardt's had his chance. We need a fresh face." How do you respond to those people?

GEPHARDT: I say this: If you're looking for the fresh face or the flavor of the month, I'm probably not your candidate.

But if you're looking for the candidate who has the most experience with all the foreign and domestic issues this country's had to face, then I may be your candidate.

I've also taken that experience and translated it into the boldest and best, the most realistic ideas to solve the biggest problems this country faces.

NORRIS: Senator Edwards, with the U.S. military at war and America under constant threat of terror, foreign policy and experience in foreign policy seems to be very important in these times.

With less than one full Senate term under your belt, how do you convince American voters that you can go head to head with the Bush foreign policy team?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I have more foreign policy experience than Governor Dean, than President Clinton had when he came to office, than Governor-then Reagan had before he came to office, than others who have led this country.

Secondly, I've laid out -- and more importantly, I've laid out the most specific, comprehensive vision about how we address the problems we have around the world. I've been to these parts of the world. I've met with the leaders in these parts of the world. I've met with our own security operation in these parts of the world.

And if I can just close with this, there's been a lot of rhetoric used in this campaign about working with our allies. I know that I have specifically proposed, for example, a global nuclear compact where America doesn't just work with its allies, but we show some leadership working with our allies to address one of the most serious problems that we face on this planet.

YEPSEN: Ambassador Braun, you've not campaigned here in Iowa very much, nor in many other early primary states. Why should voters honor you with their votes, when you won't honor them with your presence?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, you know, when you start off being different, you have to campaign differently. And we've done the best we can within the resources that we have to get around to the states that are involved in this process.

I have done more with less money. One of our people said we squeezed the dollars until the eagles grinned.

And we've been here in Iowa -- certainly I've never missed a single occasion that's been hosted here. And I have campaigned here to the best of my financial resources.

YEPSEN: Thank you.

NORRIS: Senator Kerry, if I have my history right, no Democratic president has carried a majority of white voters since the 1960s. I believe the last to do so was Lyndon Johnson.

Senator, how do you plan to broaden the base and reach out to those voters, particularly Southern white voters who no longer even consider Democratic candidates?

And what can you point to in your political experience to suggest that you will have success in this task?

KERRY: I can point to what is happening in South Carolina right now and in other parts of the South, where people are supporting me because I represent leadership, tested experience that has the ability to make America safer in a very dangerous time.

I am a veteran. I've fought in a war. They particularly respect service to country in the South.

I also have fought as a law enforcement officer. I led the fight to put 100,000 cops on the streets of America.

I'm going to talk mainstream American common sense to our country.

And there are incredible numbers of people in the South who are losing education, losing health care, losing their jobs, because they are being drawn away by slogans, rather than real choices.

And in the end, if I'm the nominee, I could always pick a running mate from the South, and we'll do just fine.

YEPSEN: Congressman Kucinich, I talked to a lot of Democrats who say they really like what you have to say, but they don't think you're electable. What do you say to those Democrats?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, I'm electable if you vote for me.



YEPSEN: Then why...

KUCINICH: You know, frankly, you know, I've won a lot of...

YEPSEN: Then why are your poll ratings in single...

KUCINICH: Pardon? I can't hear you.

YEPSEN: Then why are your poll ratings in low single digits?

KUCINICH: Oh, well, they're just about to come up. I mean, the people watching this show will know that I'm the only Democrat here that's going to get us out of Iraq. When people hear that, they're going to say, "I want to go to the Iowa caucuses for Kucinich."

So you have a choice now. Thank you.


ANGER: For our next round, candidates, we're going to ask you all the same question.

Several Iowans point out that there is a lot of denial and finger-pointing in politics these days. We'd like each of you to take 30 seconds, own up quickly to a mistake you've made in the past, and tell us what you learned from it.


Congressman Gephardt, I'm sorry, you're first.


GEPHARDT: I voted for the Reagan tax cuts in 1981. I tried to pass an alternative that I thought was much better, much fairer. We didn't get it done. And then I had to face a vote of, "Are you for a tax cut at all or not?" I voted for it. I thought we needed a tax cut to get the economy moving.

In retrospect, that wasn't a good vote. And if I had it back, I would have voted the other way. But you learn from experience. I've got a lot of experience.

ANGER: To Senator Edwards.

EDWARDS: I voted for No Child Left Behind, because I believe in accountability, I believe in standards, I believe that every child is entitled to a quality education.

But the truth is that we put too much faith in a Bush administration administering that policy.

And I've seen what's happened on the ground. It's been devastating, not just here in Iowa, but all over this country.

And it's clear that there are changes that need to be made, changes in the standards. We need to make whatever system we have for public education work for people who are actually dealing with it every day on the ground.

ANGER: Ambassador Braun.

MOSELEY BRAUN: I went to the funeral of a friend who had been assassinated, and the right wing was able to convert that into dancing with dictators and overturned a 25-year record of fighting for human rights.

Having worked on every human rights issue from the time I got into public life, to see that one funeral visit, memorial service visit, turned into the kind of political issue that it was for me was really devastating.

What did I learn? I learned: have press conferences before you go on any kind of trip outside of Illinois.


ANGER: Thank you.

Senator Kerry.

KERRY: In the first race I ever ran, I came under withering attack. And it was the first time that some negative advertising had taken place, and even negative attacks from the newspaper.

I made the great mistake of thinking you didn't have to defend yourself. I have learned now, and I will never, ever make that mistake again.

And we saw Max Cleland suffer from the same thing. He regrets he didn't defend himself.

I will not stand for Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, President Bush or others challenging the patriotism or the ability of Democrats to question the direction of our country.

And I'll use everything in my power to stand up to them to present what I think is the real definition of patriotism in our country.

ANGER: Congressman?


KUCINICH: I was mayor of Cleveland over 25 years ago, and one of the things I'm proud of is I saved the municipal electric system.

And one of the things that I'm not so proud of is that -- and the biggest mistake I think I made was I fired the chief of police live on the 6 o'clock news...


... on Good Friday.


Now, if any of you can top that, I'll yield to you.


But let's say that, in the years since, I have learned a certain amount of diplomacy...


... and actually have reconciled with that gentleman.

ANGER: To Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Paul, your question about mistakes, I cannot resist telling a quick story about my mother in 2000, when I was on the ticket. Larry King interviewed her and said, "Mrs. Lieberman, what do you say to you son when he makes a mistake?"

And my mom said, "Mistake?"


LIEBERMAN: But I do make mistakes, believe me, many of them. I would say the one that comes quickest to mind is that early in my career in the state senate in Connecticut I was more focused on the rights of criminals than the rights of victims of crime. I think in our system of justice, we have to be focused on both, and I have been since then.

ANGER: And to Governor Dean.

DEAN: Well, as you know, I have a reputation for saying exactly what I think. And while the words may not be precise, the meaning is not hard to figure out.

But one of the mistakes I've made was in this campaign when I accused John Edwards of having said one thing to the California state convention and something else to his position. I was wrong about that. I wrote him a letter of apology, and I apologize again today.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Howard.

ANGER: Thank you.

For our next round, another quick round this time, candidates. You'll have 30 seconds to answer. There is no rebuttals in this round either. I will ask the questions.

To Governor Dean, would you propose amnesty for undocumented workers, and why or why not?

DEAN: I would propose earned legalization. I think if you've lived here for some time, you've worked hard, you paid your taxes, you have a job, you know, a good job, you've raised your family, you haven't had any criminal record, then I think you ought to be able -- you've already demonstrated that you can be a good citizen of the United States, and we ought to have an earned legalization program.

ANGER: Very good.

Congressman Gephardt, more National Guard and Reserve troops have been called up for overseas duty than at any time since the Korean war. Would you change the size of the regular military, and also how we use the Guard and Reserves?

GEPHARDT: I would not. I was in the Air National Guard in Missouri, and I know what a disruption it is to these folks that are called up. But I don't think we need to add more soldiers, and I'll tell you why.

The biggest failure of this administration in this whole period has been the president's inability to get the help that we need in Iraq and other places around the world.

We had the whole world sympathizing with us after 9/11. He had a moment to bring the whole world in to fight this international problem, and he hasn't done it. And it's why I've said many times that his foreign policy is a miserable failure.

ANGER: To Senator Edwards, would you disqualify candidates from the Supreme Court based on their positions on specific issues? And if so, which issues?

EDWARDS: No, the answer is no. I think it's a mistake to apply any specific litmus test to someone who's going to serve on the federal bench, including the Supreme Court, for life.

I do, however, believe that we have to have justices on the Supreme Court who have a clear and established history of being willing to enforce civil liberties, constitutional rights, our civil rights laws, our equal rights laws, even when there's tremendous public pressure to do otherwise.

Because I've seen myself the importance of having judges in the South -- I'm not having to learn about the South, by the way.

Howard, you could tell by the way I talk.


But we've seen in the South the critical nature of having federal judges who are willing to have the backbone and courage to desegregate our public schools.

ANGER: To Ambassador Braun. Ambassador, one of our readers wrote to us, quote, "I'm a lifelong, straight-ticket-voting Democrat, but I'm not crazy about any of you candidates."


What would you say to her?

MOSELEY BRAUN: What would I say to her? I'd say, take a look at George Bush, and let's go down the list.


The worst environmental president we've ever had. The worst president on the economy, in terms of jobs, 6 million jobs lost. They haven't been recreated. The worst on issues of bringing us together as a community.

We have found the American people are in fear now and are being manipulated by it. They use words to mean just the opposite of what it is they're doing.

I think this administration is such a failed administration that any one of us would do a much better job and put this country on the right track.

And I say to that person, if you want pay equity, if you want good jobs, if you want health care reform, then you've got a choice of any of these individuals. We'll deliver for you; George Bush won't.


ANGER: Next is Senator Kerry.

Senator, you've decided to forgo federal matching funds and loan your campaign $6 million of your own money. Given your means, how do you relate to the man or woman in the street who is struggling to make ends meet?

KERRY: Because all my life my parents taught me that it's not where you come from, it's not the money you have or what you do -- it's what you do with your life. It's what your value system is. It's what you believe and what you fight for.

Sitting in this audience is a young man from -- I'd still call him young -- from Ames, Iowa. He was a gunner in the back of my boat. He's an electrician today, a union member. But he's one of my best friends, as are all the members of my crew from Vietnam.

And I have been judged by a lifetime of fighting to open up the doors of opportunity for all Americans, for everybody, without regard to where you came from or what your bank account is.

And I will do that as president of the United States.

If that were the disqualifier, we'd have never had Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy or others be president of the United States.

ANGER: Thank you.

KERRY: It's what you believe and what you fight for that makes a difference in America.

ANGER: To Congressman Kucinich. Congressman, the meat industry is in a precarious position due to mad cow disease, particularly with our international trading partners.

Given your personal decision not to consume animal products, how can you assure livestock producers you will be an advocate for them as president?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, the farmers I've met in Iowa, you know what they've told me? They've told me they want a president who can make sure that a farmer can get parity, that he can get his price for his product, that he can get his goods to market. They're not so interested in what any of us eat as where we stand with the farmers.

And so, I told them that I'll work to break up the monopolies in agriculture. I'll make sure that the farmers have a way to count on the Food and Drug Administration as well as the USDA to have a tracking system that will help them with the challenges like mad cow.

Farmers want someone who is going to stand for them. They are less concerned about what a president eats than whether or not he is going to have policies that will enable the farmer to be able to feed his family.

ANGER: Senator Lieberman, a Register reader remarks that environmental issues often take a back seat to economic factors like jobs and development. Under what, if any, circumstances do you think it's appropriate for jobs to come first and the environment second?

LIEBERMAN: You know, I regret that we haven't talked more in this debate and other debates about environmental protection. The fact is that George W. Bush has been the worst environmental president in our history.

Environmental protection has been a passion of my public service. The fact is that it is a false choice to pose between environmental protection and economic growth. If you're smart you can have both.

In fact, when it comes to investing and the battle for energy independence, if we do it right, we'll not only have cleaner air, we'll create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

So public health is on the line; jobs can be protected. We, with the right leadership, can have both for the American people.

ANGER: Thank you.

Candidates, we're now on the home stretch. It's time for closing statements. Each of you will have 45 seconds, and the order was established by what else, a drawing.

We apologize for the short time, but we're about done here.

Congressman Gephardt, you are first.

GEPHARDT: I'd like to end with my philosophy of life, because I think it will give you a good sense of how I'll look at every issue when I'm president.

I think we're all tied together. Martin Luther King, I think, said it the best. He said, "I can't be what I ought to be until you can be what you ought to be." And that's what I really believe.

My own life is a good example. I grew up in a poor household. My dad was a truck driver. It was the best job he ever had. We didn't have a lot of money, but I got a great education in the public schools in the city of St. Louis. I had church loans, government loans, scholarships, whatever my parents could save.

I had three jobs. I got a great education. And now I'm running for president of the United States, from that background. When I'm president, on every issue, I'll be trying to figure out how every person in this country can fulfill their God-given potential.

ANGER: Thank you.

And to Ambassador Braun.

MOSELEY BRAUN: When the Constitution was written, I wasn't included. Blacks couldn't vote; women couldn't vote; poor people couldn't vote. But our country has made progress in the direction of inclusion and sharing the blessings of liberty with all Americans.

I want to bring the perspective of someone who can stand on this stage because of the struggle of people who have gone before to open the doors of America to bring all the talent that can be brought to bear in making our country -- keeping our country strong, keeping our country great.

I want to make sure that our generation leaves this the land of liberty and leaves it the land of opportunity, and that we give the next generation of Americans no less opportunity, no less hope, no less optimism about the future than we inherited from our ancestors. A generation ago, one income would support a family; now, people are struggling on two just to make ends meet.

I want to work with others in the international arena, with the Congress, to give Americans income security, health security, retirement security, education security, and protection of our environment.

ANGER: Thank you, Ambassador.

And to Congressman Kucinich.

KUCINICH: The president of the United States released a budget which shows cuts in veterans benefits, in education, in health care, in housing and a whole range of -- and job programs.

I contend that this is related directly to the drain on the federal budget that's occurring because we're in Iraq.

Fear led us into attacking Iraq. Fear led us into passing the Patriot Act. My candidacy is about the end of fear and the beginning of hope for America -- hope that we can reconnect with the world community, which will enable us to bring U.N. peacekeepers in and bring our troops home; hope that we can reestablish our civil liberties; hope that we can once again become a nation where we are respected around the world for the quality of our morality, for our willingness to work with our hands instead of our arms.

Iowa caucus-goers can change this whole debate and this whole election nationally by voting for someone who will take this country out of Iraq and reconnect with the world community.

ANGER: Thank you.

To Senator Edwards.

EDWARDS: You know, I've been in all 99 counties. And I've not just been talking; I've been listening to Iowa caucus-goers. And this is what they say to me, very direct: Are you ready for this fight?

I am here to say to every single person who goes to the Iowa caucuses, I am so ready for this fight. I have been preparing for this fight my entire life. I fought in courtrooms for 20 years for you. I come from you. I have fought on the floor of the United States Senate, passed the patients bill of rights.

The truth of the matter is, we need to not just change George Bush and his presidency; we need to change America.

And if you believe we can change America with people who spend most of their lives in politics or have been in Washington for decades, you have other choices.

I believe that you and I can change America together. I can't do it alone. But we can do it together.

And I believe in you. And don't you deserve a president of the United States who actually believes in you?

ANGER: Thank you. And to Senator Lieberman.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Paul. I am running for president of the United States because I love this country, and I hate the direction in which George Bush is taking us.

I'm running for president of the United States because I believe I'm the Democrat who can get elected, who can deny George Bush a second term and give the American people a fresh start.

We're not going to defeat the extremism of the Bush administration with extreme anger of our own.

For 30 years, I've been working in public life, rejecting the extremism of both parties, bringing people together to fight for what's right, based on our shared values and our common goals.

I want to reach out to all segments of our party and unite them. And then get the support we need for my new ideas, for strong on security, for pro-growth in the tradition of Bill Clinton, for social progress, health care reform.

Anger and negativism and division don't win elections in America. It's unity, constructive new ideas and hope that win them.

That's what my candidacy is based on. And that's why I thank you for the opportunity you've given me here today.

ANGER: Thank you.

Governor Dean?

DEAN: The front-runner in this campaign is George W. Bush and all the powerful people who have given him millions of dollars and benefited from his policies. The underdog is the American people.

The biggest lie that people like me tell people like you at election time is, "If you vote for me, I'm going to fix all your problems."

The truth is, the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine. You have the power to take back the Democratic Party and give us new leadership so we can beat these Republicans again. You have the power to take back our country so the flag of the United States is no longer the sole property of John Ashcroft and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell; it belongs to every single one of us again.

And together, we have the power to take the White House back in 2004. And that is exactly what we're going to do.

ANGER: Thank you.

And Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Paul, thank you.

The decision is now in the hands of Iowa caucus-goers. And this is the most important election of our generation.

George Bush has taken America in a radically wrong direction. And, yes, we can't beat him by being Bush-Lite, but we also can't beat him by being light on national security or light on fairness for working Americans.

We can't go back to raising taxes on the middle class. We need a president who has the temperament and the judgment to be able to convince America that we know how to make this country safe.

We need a president who can give confidence to Americans that we will take on powerful special interests. And I've been doing that all of my life.

George Bush intends to make national security the key issue of this campaign. He has to. There's nothing else for him to run on.

Well, I have one message for him: I know something about aircraft carriers for real. And if he wants to make national security the centerpiece of this campaign, three words he understands: Bring it on.

I'm ready for that debate. And we can win that debate.


ANGER: Thank you, Senator.

Thank you all.

Our debate has now ended, but the campaign goes on. In 15 days, the Iowa caucuses. In July, Democrats will convene in Boston to answer the big question: Who will oppose President Bush? In September, the Republican convention in New York will celebrate the president's nomination. And in November, we all know what all of our responsibilities are.

I want to thank David Yepsen and Michele Norris for joining us. Special thanks to the candidates: Senator Lieberman, Congressman Kucinich, Senator Kerry, Ambassador Braun, Senator Edwards, Congressman Gephardt and Governor Dean. Thank you so much for joining us.

For Iowa Public Television and The Des Moines Register, I'm Paul Anger. Thank you for joining us.

Content and programming Copyright 2004 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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