Democratic National Committee Debate

Des Moines, IA, November 24, 2003


BYLINE: Howard Fineman; Chris Matthews; Frank Luntz; Pat Buchanan

GUESTS: Ed Gillespie; Jesse Jackson; Stephen Hayes; Peggy Noonan; Jesse Jackson; Norman Schwarzkopf; Steve McMahon; Steve Murphy; Tony Potts; Joe Tacopina; David Jefferson; Joe Lieberman; Dick Gephardt; Wesley Clark; John Kerry; Sharman Stein; Raymond Mesa

NBC's Tom Brokaw will today host and moderate a debate among Democratic presidential candidates in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa hosts the first Democratic caucus in less than 60 days.

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: Good afternoon from Des Moines, Iowa, where in less than 60 days the Iowa caucuses, the first round in what could be a long and spirited fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And MSNBC and NBC News, in cooperation with the Democratic National Committee, is proud and privileged to present this debate for two hours today among Democratic candidates for their presidential nomination.

We have an unusual situation, as you're probably aware, one of the most important debates of this year or any year is now under way in Washington, D.C., that is the most significant expansion of Medicare since its inception.

As a result, we have two of the candidates who are going to be appearing from our studios in Washington, and at some point they may be called away to go vote.

Let's begin by introducing all the candidates for you now.

In Washington, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Senator Kerry, thanks for being with us.


BROKAW: Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.


BROKAW: Governor Howard Dean.

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.

Congressman Richard Gephardt.

Former General Wesley Clark.

The Reverend Al Sharpton.

From North Carolina, in Washington as well, Senator John Edwards.

Thank you all very much for being with us.

If we can just do a little piece of housekeeping here for the audience, I want to tell everyone that we're joined by not only interested citizens, but distinguished guests as well, including the governor of the state of Iowa, Tom Vilsack is here with his wife, the first lady of Iowa, and Terry McAuliffe, who is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

A reminder: These candidates will have 60 seconds to respond to a question, 30 seconds for a follow-up or for a rebuttal.

We do hope to have a very vigorous exchange here today, across a wide range of issues, including their individual character and their values as well.

I'd like to remind the audience, however, that if you would keep your applause or your boos or your hisses to yourself until the very conclusion, so that we can cover as much ground as we possibly can.

We're going to begin with the issue that's before the nation right now, and that is the expansion of Medicare to include prescription drugs.

I'm going to go to Senator Kerry, if I can, in Washington, D.C.

Senator, Hillary Clinton has already issued a press release saying that this is a Trojan horse that is designed to bring about the demise of Medicare. Do you honestly think that the AARP, that Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, for example, or Senator Dorgan of North Dakota, are determined to bring about the demise of Medicare? Because they've indicated that they support this.

KERRY: I think that will be the impact. I agree with Hillary Clinton.

I'm opposed to this, Tom, because it's representing a way of pushing seniors off of Medicare into HMOs. There's $137 billion, $139 billion worth of slush fund money that's going to go directly to the drug companies.

They've taken away the ability to import cheaper drugs from Canada. They've taken away the ability of Medicare to actually negotiate bulk purchases for states, which would lower prices.

The impact on seniors will be that they cannot choose their own doctor, they're going to pay more money if they stay on Medicare, or they'll be pushed into HMOs.

And I believe what's going to happen is you're going to find seniors as angry with this as they were with the catastrophic health insurance when we passed it in the 1980s and then had to take it back.

This represents a special interest giveaway. And the headlines you saw in the newspapers the last days said, “Drug Companies Win.” Now if the drug companies win, who's losing? It's the seniors in America.

BROKAW: Senator, thank you very much.

Let's go to Congressman Gephardt, if we can.

Congressman, you didn't exactly address what I was trying to get at, which a number of Democrats are going are going to vote for this bill. They already have in the House of Representatives.

Do you think that they're determined to bring about the demise of Medicare? And as you well know, after your long career, politics is the art of the possible. Senator Feinstein has said this is a first step; we've got to take it.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Republicans have repeatedly tried to craft some vehicle that they could get through what they've been trying to get through for 50 years.

When Social Security was founded, they wanted to privatize Social Security. George Bush is still trying to do that.

When Medicare was founded, the Republican alternative to the bill was a privatization scheme for Medicare. So this is a Trojan horse.

Now I understand people will look at this and say, “Well, something's better than nothing.” But when it really is a Trojan horse, you shouldn't go for it.

Let me say one other thing: This is a continuation of this administration and this Republican Party selling our government to special interests. That's what's happening right before our eyes. We've got to stop them from doing this. We've got to win this election. We've got to win back a Democratic Congress and stop the selling of our government to the highest bidder.

BROKAW: Governor Dean, you've long been interested in Medicare reform. Isn't it possible that once this bill passes-and there's every indication that it will-that next fall, whoever the Democratic presidential candidate will be facing George W. Bush will be able to say to America's seniors, “I delivered prescription drugs for you and I did that with the help of Democratic senators and the AARP, the largest single organization of senior citizens in this country”?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tom, the problem with that is they didn't deliver prescription drugs for anybody.

What this bill does is help the seniors that don't need it and charge them for it, and then charge the seniors that do need it, and they don't get any help. Once you spend more than about $200 a month on drugs, you get cut off of help.

This bill doesn't make any sense. It's a $400 billion charge to our grandchildren's credit card so that President Bush can be reelected. If this was such a terrific bill, why do you suppose the president put the enactment date in 2006? People aren't going to get any help at all until 2006. This is an election-year gimmick charged to the taxpayers, like so many of the other things that this president has done.

And while Dick Gephardt and I may have our disagreements on a number of matters, this is not one of them. This government has sold itself to the special interests and this is the quintessential special interest bill. Drug company profits will rise 38 percent as a result of this bill, and that comes directly out of the pockets of America's most vulnerable senior citizens.

It is wrong and a no vote was the right vote on this bill.

BROKAW: Senator Edwards, will you go to your Democratic colleagues who are inclined to vote for this bill and say, “This is a sell-out. You are betraying the country”? Or do you put it in words that are that harsh?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually, I'd put it in very harsh words, Tom. I think that this is, in fact, a continuation of this administration's auctioning of the government. It's like an auction on eBay, except the only people that get to bid are corporate lobbyists.

The energy bill was that; this bill does the same thing.

We have $12 billion going to HMOs on the theory that allows them to compete. I thought the whole reason we were sending people to HMOs was to create competition.

Then on top of that, we've done almost nothing to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, nothing to get drug company advertising under control, nothing to use the power of the government to bring cost down for everybody, nothing to allow the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada.

And the reason none of those things are being done is very simple: because the drug companies said, “No.”

This is what happens over and over and over. When the drug companies say, “no,” the Bush administration goes along with them, and we can't stand up to them in the United States Congress.

This is so important. Speaking for this candidate, I intend to stand up to the drug companies and the HMOs, which is what I've done my entire life.

BROKAW: Congressman Kucinich, you talked a lot about the difference between the haves and the have-nots in this country. This bill at least opens the door to means testing: Those people who earn more income will have to pay a higher premium. Isn't that a step in the right direction?

KUCINICH: This bill actually reduces drug coverage for poor seniors. In addition to that, it prevents drug prices from being lowered and it also frustrates any attempt at reimportation.

Now, Tom, people in my district, seniors, are actually splitting their pills to make their prescription drugs last; that's how serious an economic issue this is.

But instead of addressing it directly by trying to keep Medicare intact, what this administration's has done is they-by disallowing any kind of an element that would prevent drug prices from being lowered, they knocked out cost containment, Tom, which means that the drug companies can charge the government whatever they want. They could charge whatever they want, and that's how we're going to break Medicare.

They're going to break Medicare, turn Medicare over to the private insurance companies. And they're going to break the ability of seniors to have a real prescription drug benefit by not having any cost containment.

We still have the same problem: The drug companies are charging too darn much for prescription drugs and this does nothing about it.

BROKAW: General Clark, the difference between passing this bill and not passing it is the ability to deliver some prescription drug benefit to seniors. If you were in the United States Senate, would you be voting for it?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely not. I wouldn't vote for it because this bill is not the right bill with which to deliver drug benefits to seniors.

BROKAW: But could you get the right kind of bill in this climate?

CLARK: You can't unless you stand up...

BROKAW: In this climate?

CLARK: ... and fight for what's right.

I understand those senators who want to deliver drug benefits, but these drug benefits are marginal. Tom, I was in New Hampshire the other day, and I met a woman in a shoe store there who's paying $20,000 a year for her lung medication. She'd like to go to Canada and get it cheaper. She can't.

And under this bill, do you think an HMO is going to take her and insure her and pay that $20,000? She's going to be uninsurable. She'll be back on Medicare. This is the kind of person who really needs prescription drug benefits and won't have it under this bill.

BROKAW: Madam Ambassador, what would you have in this bill that is not there if you were back in the United States Senate, where you once served?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This bill is not only a Trojan horse. It's a turkey stuffed with goodies for the pharmaceutical and the insurance industries and a poison pill for seniors.

It will give us the end of Medicare as we know it. It does a terrible thing to low-income seniors by disallowing their ability to get subsidies where available from Medicaid.

What will I do? I'd have a single-payer system of universal health coverage that took care of this issue. Instead of continuing to split pills and split the issue, we would have comprehensive services for seniors for every American, health care for all. And there's no reason why we cannot do this and get beyond the kind of continuing stand-offs that we have over the dysfunctional system that we have now.

We're trying to match public and private systems; it doesn't work. We need to go to a single-payer system such as federal employees currently enjoy.

BROKAW: And no means testing? People in a higher income group wouldn't have to pay more? You don't think you'd ever have to get there?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Federal employees are not means tested; they can choose their provider and they get health coverage and it's from a single-payer system. I think it's the only way to go.

And particularly this bill, I think, will be the tipping point, because when seniors figure out what's happened to them, they're going to demand real reform.

BROKAW: But, Reverend Sharpton, this bill alone has $400 billion over 10 years. If you do what the ambassador is suggesting, take that number and run it out as far as you want to, it would be extraordinarily expensive.

AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, the fact that this bill is $400 billion and won't solve anything makes it a waste. When we talk about extending it to single-payer plan, we're talking about solving the problem with an investment. This $400 billion will not help those that need it the most. It certainly does not put a ceiling on the costs that pharmaceutical companies and others can give us.

To say it's a step in the right direction, where is the direction? If I'm going to leave this building with you, Tom, and say, “Let's go to a certain place,” the only way we know if we're going in the right direction is if we're headed there.

Where are we headed here? We're headed to our children having to pay for something that doesn't work. If you're going to take a step in the right direction, make sure it's where you want to go. And make sure you don't have on shoes too tight to walk in.


BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton, I can't resist the opportunity to say that if you and I left this building with a common destination, we'd have a lot of people trying to figure out what that is.


SHARPTON: That's if you have on some comfortable shoes to get there.

BROKAW: That, too.

Governor Dean, over the weekend your friend, Congressman Gephardt, had some pretty tough things to say about you, in this very area, about what happens when push comes to shove.

Let me just read back, as if you didn't know.


”Time after time, when faced with budget shortfalls, Howard Dean's first and only instinct was to cut, and the cut needed the least, among poor people. There's no place for government without compassion.”

He's calling you a cold-blooded governor and yet today you agree with him on Medicare.

DEAN: Well, Tom, Dick Gephardt's a good guy. I worked for him in 1988.

But when you're the governor, you've got to make tough decisions. Now, as it turns out, over my time as governor, we increased human service funding by 33 percent; increased education funding by 25 percent.

But we ran the state properly.

Today there was an editorial in the Des Moines Register talking about the cuts that are going to have to be made in Iowa. We didn't have to make any of those cuts, we didn't cut higher education, we didn't cut health care, and we didn't cut anybody off our health care rolls. We didn't cut K-12 education, we didn't cut money to the counties and the towns, because we ran the budget properly.

Executive experience matters when you're running budgets. Dick's a good person. I like Dick Gephardt and I worked for him in '88, as I said. But I think we need new leadership in this party. And I think we need new leadership in this country, so we don't end up doing what 46 of the 50 states have had to do, which is to cut critical programs.

The people of Vermont were better off when I left the governor's office than they were when I got there. They had-one-third of all our seniors had prescription benefits. We're still waiting for the Congress to do anything about that today.

BROKAW: Congressman Gephardt, you just heard Howard Dean respond to your charges over the weekend. He also said that he agrees with you on Medicare.

Did you go too far?

GEPHARDT: Well, I think the campaigns are about bringing out differences. Howard is a good man and he's a good friend.

BROKAW: He's “a man without compassion,” you called him.


Well, now how do those two add up there?

GEPHARDT: We have a difference on how to get budgets straightened out.

At the very same time, in the mid-'90s, I was working with Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the Democrats in Congress, leading a fight to get the budget straightened out. And we did it in a different way than Governor Dean did it in Vermont.

We cut spending that went to mining subsidies and that went to the nuclear industry.

We didn't cut the most vulnerable, as he did in Vermont. He cut Medicaid. He cut the prescription drug program. He tried to eliminate it three times in the mid-'90s that he had in the state of Vermont. He cut funding for the blind and the disabled.

Now, I have a different version of how to do this. And I think that's what we did in the middle '90s at the federal level. We got the budget in balance. We even supplied a surplus.

And we did it by raising taxes on the wealthiest. We had a holistic set of ideas to get the economy to grow. We built jobs. We raised the minimum wage. We did a variety of things to get the economy to grow.

That's the way you get rid of deficits. You don't just cut the most vulnerable in our society.

BROKAW: We want to move on to another subject, but in fairness, Governor Dean, you get 30 seconds for a rebuttal. Do you still think your friend Gephardt's a good guy?


DEAN: I think he's a good guy, but his research folks need a little help.


We did not, of course, cut Medicaid. What we did do was make sure that we could keep the people on Medicaid. Not one person-unlike almost every other state in the country, not one person lost their Medicaid when I was governor of the state.

Look, all our kids under 18-years-old, 99 percent of them have health insurance. Everybody under 150 percent of poverty, all our working poor people have health insurance. A third of our seniors have prescription benefits. Nobody in Congress has done anything like that. We did it in Vermont, and I'm incredibly proud of my record in Vermont.

GEPHARDT: I've got to have 10 seconds.

The reason Governor Dean and other governors has a program for children's health is because we passed it in the Congress. And I helped put it into the law.

Finally, some of the cuts came back-and Governor Dean is right-but because he was sued by the Legal Defense Fund in Vermont to make him put the funding back in.

DEAN: Well, now I'll take my 10 seconds.


The truth is that we put our children's health care program in before Bill Clinton came into office. So, in all due respect to Dick, nothing that they have done benefited our state or any other state, because nothing's been done on health care for a long time in the Congress of the United States.

And that is why it is time for new leadership in this country and in this party, so we can win again.

BROKAW: The people in the control room who've got the striped shirts and the whistles are saying the two of you have gotten a little more time than the others and we do have to move on.

Go ahead, Senator Kerry, you want to talk about this particular issue? Or do you just want to say...

KERRY: No, I want to talk about it, because Dick Gephardt is absolutely correct. And it's important to look at the record here.

The fact is that Governor Dean raised prescription costs for seniors in his state when he needed to balance the budget.

He called himself a “balanced budget freak”-those are his own words. And what he did was raised those costs, as well as take money out of a teachers' pension fund in order to balance it.

Now, I have a different approach. I've asked the governor several times at several debates: Will he still try to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare? He's said several times he's going to cut the rate of growth in Medicare.

And I think it's important for people-I've laid out a very specific plan. Governor Dean has no plan for actually balancing the budget or reducing the deficit.

And I'd like to know if he still intends to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare as one of the ways in which he's going to balance the budget.

BROKAW: Governor Dean, I know-and this will be the last word on this.

DEAN: I most certainly appreciate all this attention that I'm getting.

We have never taken money out of the Teacher's Pension Fund. That is grossly irresponsible. It has happened in other states, one of which I happen to have to say is Massachusetts though I don't think Senator Kerry had anything to do with that.

We have never taken money out of the Teacher's Pension Fund. And we have the best health care record of virtually any state in the country. So a lot of these accusations are the kinds of things people go through to pick up little pieces of this and little pieces of that.

Look at the big picture. We've (inaudible) great job on health insurance.

KERRY: But you still haven't answered my question.

DEAN: We've done a great job on kids.

KERRY: But you still haven't answered my question.

DEAN: And Tom Beaumont (ph) wrote in the Des Moines Register weeks ago that Medicare is off the table.

BROKAW: Congressman?

KERRY: Now the question is will you slow the rate of growth. Do you intend to slow the rate of growth in Medicare because you said you were going to do that?

DEAN: Well, what I intend to do in Medicare is to increase reimbursements for states like Iowa and Vermont, which are 50th and 49th respectively.

KERRY: Are you going to slow the rate of growth, Governor? Yes or no?

DEAN: We're going to do what we have to do to make sure that Medicare lasts...

KERRY: Are you going to slow the rate of growth, Governor?


KERRY: Because that's a cut.

DEAN: Well, I'd like to slow the rate of growth of this debate, if I could...


DEAN: ... but we're going to make sure that Medicare...

KERRY: Well, I'm sure you'd like to avoid it altogether, but...

BROKAW: OK. Let me ask you, Senator.

DEAN: Medicare is off the table. We are not going to cut Medicare in order to balance the budget. I've made that very clear. I'm going to do it one more time.

KERRY: That's not the question.

DEAN: We will not cut Medicare in order to balance the budget.

BROKAW: All right. Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: I would say that there is another issue here that isn't being addressed, although Dick Gephardt addressed it somewhat, and that is the private control of our health care system.

I mean, as long as insurance companies control the health care, the cost of health care in America is going to keep going up, and that's what Ambassador Moseley Braun was talking about.

Tom, I have a bill in H.R. 676 with John Conyers that establishes universal, single-payer Medicare for all. And you know what? Until we transfer from a for-profit system to a not-for-profit system, we're going to keep having debates like this and more and more Americans will lack the health coverage they have a right to expect.

We're paying right now for universal standard, but we're not getting it because of the insurance company profits and the high salaries paid to executives and stock options. That's where our dollar goes. It should be going into health care for people.

BROKAW: Senator Edwards in Washington, D.C., this whole issue of growing Medicare. It can't continue to grow at an exponential rate. Everybody knows that. Because the country at some point is going to have to draw the line in terms of means testing and how we're going to make Medicare available to people-a program, after all, that was designed originally as a safety net for the people who were middle income and poor seniors.

Is it possible to just continue growing Medicare at its current rate? And is it fair to say if you slow the growth rate, that's really a cut?


There are a number of things we can do, Tom. For example, we can allow more competitive bidding for supplies and equipment within the Medicare system.

We can be more efficient by having somebody supervise chronic care.

But I want to go back. I have a fundamental difference with a number of these people who've been speaking for the last 10 minutes.

The American people are hungry for us to lead.

And if you look at what's happened over the last week, the RNC and Bush are running an ad in Iowa criticizing basically anybody who disagrees with Bush about his policy in Iraq. And now, the Democrats are all at each other's throats.

People are tired of listening to politicians yell at each other. What they want from us and what we have to offer in order to win is something other than anger and something other than criticism.

We have to offer a positive, optimistic, uplifting vision for this country. The American people are hungry for it. They are looking for it. They're tired of our complaints about each other. They want to know what we are going to do for their lives. And I, for one, I intend to offer them that positive vision.

BROKAW: Reverend Al Sharpton?

SHARPTON: Hi. I'm Al Sharpton. I want to run against George Bush, not against Dean, not against Gephardt. I think that we need to deal with the fact that this president has served big business.

And what is happening in Medicare is only indicative of this administration that has delivered to the wealthiest, that has delivered to these major corporations.

And I think that while we go to the debates and we should show our differences, rather than trying to pin the donkey on each other, we ought to slap the donkey and get it ready to defeat George Bush next November by registering the voters...


... by addressing people's needs and by showing that this president is worse than anybody up here. Nobody fights with Dean more than I do. Nobody fights with Gephardt more than I do. But all of them in their worst night's sleep is better than George Bush wide awake that I know.


BROKAW: OK. We're going to end the debate about Medicare right there, and move quickly to another subject that we'll get back to after our break, as well.

But it's been in the news a lot, and a lot of people are thinking about it and worrying about it.

When the Massachusetts State Supreme Court directed the legislature to within 180 days to find a solution to the proposition of gay marriages, saying, in effect, make this happen.

The court ruled that a gay marriage would not in anyway be threatening to a traditional marriage. Do you agree with that? Do you think that Massachusetts, the legislature, should go ahead and pass law that will make gay marriages between same sex possible in the state of Massachusetts.

MOSELEY BRAUN: Yes, and I'll tell you why.

Because I believe this is a civil rights issue. My relative, my aunt, married a white man in the 1950s when their marriage was illegal in half the states of this country.

Indeed, my uncle, had he taken his wife across the wrong state line would have been guilty of a criminal violation.

It seems to me that if people want to marry a person of a different race that's no different than somebody wanting to marry someone of the same sex.

And, indeed, we should be celebrating the fact that these people are talking about forming solid relationships, families, because families, in the end, will keep the community stable and are the basis upon which our country has been built and will survive.

And so I think rather than allowing the panderers to fear and division to use this as a wedge issue in this election, I think, and I believe the American people will rise to a level of saying, “Wait a minute, it's no skin off my back in terms of the law if somebody marries the person they love and that person is of the same gender.” I think the religious issue is different, of course, than the issue before the government.

And civil unions falls short. It's not the same thing. It doesn't give the same rights. We ought to allow people of the same sex to legitimate their relationships.

BROKAW: General Clark, if a gay couple gets married in the state of Massachusetts, if that becomes possible, and they move to the state of Iowa, Iowa has a law on the books that the only marriage that this state will recognize is between a man and a woman. Is that fair? And could it be successfully challenged in the courts, in your judgment? And should it be?

CLARK: Well, I think that what you're talking about here is civil rights. And what I favor is everybody being treated equally.

What I learned in the military is that we want the right for every person to serve. And if it's your children and you love them, you want them to have the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation. So that's why I said I welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court in the state of Massachusetts.

I think we need to move forward with this issue. I think that people who want same-sex relationships should have exactly the same rights as people who are in conventional marriages. I'm talking about joint domicile, rights of survivorship, insurance coverage and all those rights. I think that's essential in America today.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, General Clark.

We're going to continue with this subject and many more to come, including the Ten Commandments. And we're going to get to Iraq, and we're going to get to the economy as well.

We've got about 90 minutes left here in Des Moines, the site of the Iowa caucuses come January. Back with more, right after this.



BROKAW: We're back in Des Moines, Iowa. Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination of their party on stage here; 90 minutes to go.

Reverend Al Sharpton, as we broke off, we were talking about this move that seems to be moving inexorably to the idea of legalizing gay marriages, if not in Massachusetts, in some state at some point.

Do you have any trouble with that idea?

SHARPTON: I think it's a human rights issue.

When I'm asked, “Do I support a gay marriage?” Do I support Greek marriages? Do I support Latino marriages? Do I support black marriages?”

Are we prepared to say that gays and lesbians are less than human? If we're not prepared to say that, then how do we say that they should not have the same human rights and human choices of anyone else?

Even if you have a disagreement with it in terms of your own personal life, you cannot limit the humanity of others unless you're prepared to say they are less than human.

And not only were people of different races one time-at one point in this country were people of different races may be illegal if they married, people of the same race, when we were slaves, couldn't marry.

I would not support any limitations on human and civil rights for anyone in the country. Whatever my view is, I think my view I have the right to personally. I do not have the right to impose that on others.

BROKAW: Senator John Edwards in Washington, D.C., what's going to be the political effect of all of this in a state like North Carolina-or across the South for that matter, at a time when the Democratic Party is trying to gain its old foothold in the South again-this issue of gay marriages?

EDWARDS: Well, I can tell you what my own personal experience has been. I have an almost perfect or perfect voting record, I believe, with the Human Rights Campaign. And when I have gone back to North Carolina to campaign in town hall meetings, and this issue has been raised, my answer has been very straightforward.

I grew up in a small town here in North Carolina. In the community where I grew up, we believe in everybody being treated the same and everyone having equality, everyone having the same kind of opportunities and everyone being treated with the same level of dignity and respect.

And I think so long, Tom, as we talk about these issues in the basic context of equality, dignity, treating same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect that we treat other Americans and providing them with the same kind of equal rights that we provide other Americans, I think this is not-should not be able to become a wedge issue for us.

BROKAW: If you become the presidential candidate of your party, would you then make it a primary human rights plank of your own platform in running for president in the primaries?

EDWARDS: I can tell you that I have, during the course of this campaign, talked about the importance of equality for all Americans, no matter what their race, no matter what their ethnicity, no matter what language they speak, no matter what their sexual orientation.

I think this has to do with a bigger issue, which is bringing America together, making sure that we're all moving in the same direction and that we embrace and lift up everybody. It's really a pretty basic thing at the end of the day.

BROKAW: General Clark, let me ask you a question about the Democratic Party's connection to the so-called faith community in America.

The “Economist” recently quoted some statistics from the last election: 63 percent of the people who said they attended church weekly voted for George W. Bush for president; 61 percent of those who said they never went to church voted for Al Gore.

Is that any kind of a commentary on the Democratic Party and its connection to the growing influence of the so-called faith community in American politics?

CLARK: Well, I know that there are concerns about the connection. And I know that the Republican Party is working as well as it can and doing as much as it can to try to strengthen this connection.

But the Republican Party does not have the monopoly on faith in this country, and there are just as many Democrats who believe in religion, they go to church, they read the Bible, they say their prayers, they believe in God as there are Republicans. And I think that you'll see that in this next election.

I think what you had in 2000 may have been unique. And I think maybe the president, President Bush, had a compelling personal story about that.

But, you know, there are a lot of people who have compelling personal stories. And I think that we as a Democratic Party have got to appeal and recognize the importance of a spiritual dimension.

And I certainly do. I do pray. I do believe in the good Lord. And he's been a very important influence in my life. And I'm not afraid to say that.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, in Washington, D.C., it is in your state of Massachusetts that they'll have to make a decision about what they're going to do about gay marriages. Will you urge the legislature to as swiftly as possible to make it legal for gay couples to be married in the state of Massachusetts?

And will you try to head off those efforts by the governor and others there to come up with a constitutional amendment or some other means of derailing any effort to do just that?

KERRY: I would urge the legislature to do precisely what the Constitution requires, and I would congratulate each of the candidates who have already spoken. I think each of them has spoken eloquently about this.

It is a matter of equal protection under the law. And the court in the decision drew a distinction between church-sanctioned marriage and what the state has to provide in terms of rights.

And what we're talking about is somebody's right to be able to visit a loved one in a hospital, somebody's right to be able to pass on property, somebody's right to live equally under the state laws as other people in the country.

I think the term “marriage” gets in the way of what is really being talked about here.

If I could just take one instant, I don't want people to think that the discussion about Medicare is silly or somehow small. It's a values issue.

We're going to have so many seniors in the baby boom generation retiring that if you do what Newt Gingrich did in 1995 and cut the rate of growth of Medicare, you're going to be cutting people's benefits significantly.

It is a major value issue of the Democratic Party; it's what we're fighting about here in Washington right now. And I think it's a critical point with respect to where our nominee comes from, and what they're committed to.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Senator. I don't think anyone on this panel, including the moderator, would ever suggest that Medicare is somehow a small or an insignificant issue in this year, or any year for that matter.

Congressman Kucinich, let me ask you about the white Southern male. Your colleague just to the left of you there, Howard Dean, talked recently about the need to reconnect with the white Southern male. A white Southern male who has been very successful in Southern politics is Governor Zell Miller of Georgia, you probably know, and here is what he had to say about his own party. He's a Democrat, after all.

He calls the nine Democratic candidates, “The naive nine, pulling the party further and further to the left, taking a 32 percent base and shrinking it by appealing to the shallow and the most active and the shrill out there.”

How would you respond to Governor Zell Miller, who has been so successful, after all, in Georgia as a governor and as a senator?

KUCINICH: I'd invite him to Cleveland, Ohio, where there are Democrats who understand the importance of a full-employment economy and why we should be committed to it, who know the needs of people for universal, single-payer health care, who understand why we need tuition-free college educations.

We need to have economic platforms that put money back into people's pockets. And the social issues that are being used here as wedge issues that tend to divide people are really not worthy of this party. We need to bring this party together on economic issues.

And frankly, Tom, as someone who grew up in inner-city neighborhoods, where sometimes my family was the only Caucasian family in the community, I could tell you there's a lot that unites people across color lines. And what unites people happens to be those basic economic issues: aspirations for housing, for health care, for jobs, for education, and all of those things.

So I would tell Zell Miller, “Come on to Cleveland,” and I'd be glad to demonstrate to him how people unite around economic issues.

BROKAW: What was your response to what Zell Miller had to say to the Democratic candidates, Governor Dean? Because you did introduce the idea of the white Southern male into this race.

DEAN: Sure.

Don Payne, who's a congressman from-a member of the Congressional Black Caucus from New Jersey, told me once that he thought Southern white males were the most under-represented people in Congress, because they vote for conservative right-wing Republicans and then here's what happens: There are 102,000 kids with no health insurance in South Carolina, most of those kids are white.

The legislature, because of George Bush's horrendous economic policies, cut $70 million out of the South Carolina public school system. Most of the kids that go to the South Carolina public school system are white.

Dennis is right. We have to make people understand that what we have in common is the economic problems of this country that face both African-American, white and Latino working people. And they're all the same issues. They need health insurance and decent health care, and they need jobs, and they're not going to get them from a Republican Congress or a Republican president.

BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton, Howard Dean did apologize for his remarks about the Confederate flag on the back of a pickup truck. But a lot of people who admire you and especially like your spirit in engagements like this are wondering whether you're ever going to apologize for your role in the Tawana Brawley case.

SHARPTON: Absolutely. If-I would apologize if I felt I was wrong.

I think if you think you're right, you pay the penalty for it and you stand there. If Governor Dean thought he was right, he should have taken whatever that was. He, after some assessment, felt he was wrong. I don't feel I was wrong. I've stood up on cases, one was the Central Park jogger case -- 13 years later people felt I was right.

But I think also, Tom, to compare a case of a young lady telling us something that we believe with a Confederate flag that represented a society's commitment to lynching, to rape, to murder and treason, I think that's a stretch even for Tom Brokaw.


BROKAW: I wasn't making-I wasn't making a judgment. What I was saying was that people, once there was a body of evidence in the Tawana Brawley case...

SHARPTON: Well, there was a body of evidence the jury didn't believe. I just cited you a body of evidence where people went to jail eight years and it was overturned.

We're not talking about a case when we're talking about the Confederacy. We're talking about people that were committed against a race of people.

I may have a disagreement on any case. Right now a lot of people think O.J. Simpson was guilty. The jury said he wasn't. Should they apologize? I mean, you're covering right now a lot of cases.

So to try and make a case something and equate that with what we talked about-when I see a pickup truck and Confederate flag, I see James Byrd dragged through Jasper, Texas. I'm not talking about a jury making a decision on a case.

You know, it's funny, a lot of people-Jessica Lynch said something didn't happen to her, and this administration believes it. I believe in a girl that said something did happen to her. I'd like to have that debate with George Bush.

BROKAW: But that was a-and we'll try to leave it at that.


SHARPTON: You're trying to come up with the next question.

BROKAW: No, no. There was-in fact, it's undeniable that there was a racial component to the Tawana Brawley case.

SHARPTON: The girl told her story. And we believed her story and represent her story, and still do. But the racial implication of the case is, again, way away from what I debated Mr. Dean about.

If, in fact, someone is trying to equate the two, I think that's even more of an insult to people that were victimized by the Confederacy. And I don't think any candidate in this race would try to act like those are two of the same, whatever their opinions may be of a case that I represented or not.

I've never represented a case that everybody believed in and everybody agreed with. And I'm willing to pay the penalty for what I believe. And I just want everybody up here to do the same thing, which is what I offered my good friend Brother Howard.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Reverend Al Sharpton.

Congressman Gephardt, I don't know whether you had a chance to read the Des Moines Register today. The editorial, the bottom of the page, that says that NAFTA still is a good deal.

The decline in the United States manufacturing, which lost a lot of jobs, were the result of automation and trade with China much more than it was a result of NAFTA. And that, in fact-that trade agreement, which was, after all, promoted and passed during a Clinton- Gore administration, has really helped the country of Mexico, which is just south of us.

GEPHARDT: Tom, this issue brings me to something that you asked General Clark, and that is how are we going to reconnect with a wide variety of Americans on values grounds, because that's really what we're talking about when we talk about religion.

And let me talk about health care and trade, because I think you can take it on your values.

What I'm trying to do is to say to the American people, all the American people-whether they're in business or labor, whether they're wealthy or poor middle class-that health care for everybody is a moral issue.

It is immoral, in my view, and I think in most Democrats' view and probably even a lot of Republicans' views, to have people out there without health insurance. We have got to solve this problem.

It's also immoral to have a race to the bottom, to have companies go to Mexico or China to get the cheapest possible labor they can get. It's exploitation of human beings.

I've been in these villages. I've seen the people. They live in worse conditions than most farm animals in Iowa. It's wrong and we've got to change it.

I will be a president who will unite people in this country around moral values to change things for the better.

BROKAW: Governor Dean, when the NAFTA debate first began, you were in favor of NAFTA as the governor of Vermont. Since you've come to Iowa, you've had more reservations about it.

Is it a matter of just fixing it or do you think that it needs to be repealed altogether? And if you do that, what then does happen to countries like Mexico?

DEAN: Many people supported NAFTA early on. I did. Tom Harkin did. We thought that it was going to bring more jobs to this country.

It turned out that wasn't the case. It turned out that what we've done in our rush to globalization, which we're not going to undo, is globalize the rights of multinational corporations, but we haven't globalized the worker protections that were put in place by the trade union movement in this country over 100 years ago.

The solution to global trade I don't believe is to get rid of the WTO and NAFTA. I think the solution to global trade is to demand as a condition of free trade that we have workers' rights, labor rights, human rights and environmental standards in every single trade agreement that we have.

That way we will bring that proper balance, which we discovered in America over 100 years ago, between labor, investment and capital investment.

We have to have treaties that include human rights and environmental rights and labor rights, and then we really will have fair trade, which we do not now have.

BROKAW: I can see that you want to get in Congressman Kucinich. Go ahead.

KUCINICH: I sure do, because something Governor Dean said belies the facts.

And the fact is, Governor-and you know this full well-that unless you cancel NAFTA and the WTO, you can never get into that discussion. The only way you can get into the discussion is to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to bilateral trade conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

Because as long as NAFTA is in place, unless you have the approval of Canada and Mexico, you can't modify it. And you know that.

So I think that it's important to tell the people of this state and this country where you stand on these trade issues.

And, Tom, frankly, unless we cancel NAFTA and the WTO, you'll never be able to address the underlying loss of manufacturing jobs, the 3 million jobs that have been lost since July of 2000. We will never be able to address the nearly $500 billion trade deficit we're looking at.

We've got to regain control of our own destiny, and that's what canceling NAFTA and the WTO would do. And that's what I intend to do as my first act in office.

BROKAW: If you canceled NAFTA and WTO, I don't think it'll address a concern that Andy Grove, who is one of the founding geniuses that Silicon Valley, has, which is that he says by the year 2010, General Clark, in India, they'll have more people working in software and software services than we will have in this country. And he sees no evidence in either party of a public policy to address that critical component of our economic future.

CLARK: Well, I'm very concerned about exactly what Andy Grove has said, and canceling NAFTA and WTO will not solve the problem.

We have to have the right policies to create jobs in America, and to have companies that are hiring in this country stay in this country and not outsource.

So here is what I'll do: When I am president, the first thing I will have is $100 billion job creation program. Then we'll go and look at the tax code. We'll take away any incentives for companies that want to outsource or leave the country. And we'll have incentives for companies to create jobs in here.

But we need to go beyond all of that. We really need a national goals program. Software was great, the technology and the information revolution was great, but there are a lot of technologies out there. We've got great scientists in this country. We need to set some national goals. We have the mechanisms to do it, put the research money in to basic and applied research and let those inventions and discoveries come out in intellectual property that we can use in this country to create employment.

Energy and environmental engineering are two very fertile areas for the growth of American jobs.

CLARK: We want to be ahead of the software revolution. Let them do the software in India; we'll do other things in this country.

We can do that. All it takes is leadership.

BROKAW: Ambassador Braun, I know that you're very concerned about economic development in the developing and in the Third World, as well. Let me introduce now a subject of great importance and it's pretty explosive here in the state of Iowa, and that's the question of American farm subsidies.

You know that the WTO talks collapsed, in part, because developing and Third World countries were very unhappy with not just the United States, but Western Europe as well, for continuing these very high rates of subsidies, which mean that we can produce a lot of food in this country and then go to the world markets and have prices that are much lower than they can have in Brazil or in Africa and other places.

And what they're saying is, “As long as you continue that policy, we'll never get out of the rut that we're in.” Are they right?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, there was a reason I was designated “the ethanol queen” when I was in the Senate, and that is that I think that we have not only capacity here, but our trade policies should reflect fair trade and playing on an even basis with our competitors.

The fact of the matter is every county subsidizes agriculture. I mean, that's just the reality of it. While have a responsibility to see to it that we don't exploit the production in other areas.

The Caribbean, for example, is suffering because they cannot keep up now that they don't have preferential access to our markets.

But the fact is that we-you know, subsidizing agriculture isn't a bad thing so long as we're not dumping our product, but we're using it to good use.

That's what ethanol represented, as far as I was concerned: an opportunity to use Illinois corn and Iowa corn to help us get a jump start on the technological revolution that we're going to have to have.

I disagree. I'm not prepared to have the software go to India or anything else. I want to put productive capacity back here in the United States. I want to make certain that we get the jump on other parts of the world, in terms of producing a product that the rest of the world wants to buy.

And our agriculture is an integral part of maintaining the strength and the health of our economy. And until we have a ratcheting down across the board of subsidies, I would not see us unilaterally disarming in that regard.

BROKAW: Senator Edwards, in Washington, D.C., the president has been told effectively, “You've got to reverse the tariffs,” he put on the importation of steel to this country. Do you think he should reverse that decision? Was it a correct decision in the first place?

EDWARDS: I supported it to begin with. I think now is the time to start easing off those tariffs.

But, Tom, I want to talk about, in a bigger context, the discussion of the last 15 minutes, because the outsourcing of jobs, the loss of manufacturing jobs from trade agreements, what we see happening to family farmers here in America is all part of a bigger picture, which is the extraordinary sea change we've had in middle- class America in the last 20 years.

Twenty years ago, middle-class families were saving 10 to 15 percent of their income, they had some financial security, they had a nest egg. Today, we have negative savings: They're in debt, their credit cards are maxed out. They're one financial disaster, one emergency-one medical emergency from going under.

If you're a child in a middle-class family this decade, it is more likely your parents will go into bankruptcy than that your parents will divorce.

We have got to strengthen and lift up these middle-class families. I have a plan to do that, to help them buy a home, to help them be able to invest, to help them to be able to save.

What we need to do is to create wealth in this country. But unlike George Bush, who only wants to create wealth for this who already have it, we need to create wealth for that vast majority of middle-class Americans who are struggling, having a hard time getting by and who, in fact, are the very engine of this economy; always have been, always will be.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, who's also in Washington, let me just continue, if I can, with these issues of great interest to the state of Iowa. Ambassador Braun raised the issue of ethanol. And that is, as you know, a lightning rod out here.

But let me read to you what Senator John McCain, your colleague in the Senate, had to say about ethanol after he looked at the energy bill that you're now debating.

He said, “Gasohol is the worst subsidy-laden energy use every imposed on the American public. By the time you get through with federal payments to corn growers and ethanol producers, you're subsidizing it at more than $3 a gallon.”

Are we at a stage now where ethanol does not need the kinds of tax breaks that it gets, and the corn producers don't need the kind of price supports that they get? I don't have to remind you that you may be in Washington, but you're talking to Iowa.

KERRY: Well, I don't need to be reminded of that, that's for sure.

Tom, the answer is no. And the reason is that we haven't done the job of building the infrastructure in the country for the delivery. We haven't done the job of bringing Americans in to really support the marketplace the way we need to.

Well, let me come back. I'm for ethanol. And I think it's a very important partial ingredient of the overall mix of alternative and renewable fuels we ought to commit to.

And as president, I'll tell you, no young American in uniform ought to ever be held hostage to America's dependency on fossil fuel oil. We need to strike out for energy and dependence, and I will do that.

But your former question about trade and about subsidies is critical. The subsidies we have today are an example of what's wrong overall in America.

The USDA has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of big agri- business. And they are killing small family farms. They're killing small family communities. And what we need to do is have a president who says no to the energy bill, no to the Medicare-drug company marriage, no to the agri-business, vertical ownership of meat packers and hog lots. We need to protect the ability of our market place to, in fact, work.

And Andy Grove is wrong. We do have a plan for science, for investment in education, for the ability to be able to grow our economy and create the jobs in the future. And that's exactly what we need to do, rather than going back to the protectionist days of the 1970s Democratic Party.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Senator Kerry.

Before we go to a break, Governor Dean?

DEAN: I just want to make a quick point about ethanol, which I think has been lost here. This is not an issue of what we are subsidizing for ethanol. If you put 10 percent ethanol in every gas tank in America, you would reduce the entire world oil output by 2 percent. That's a huge number.

Right now you can't get peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians because our oil money goes to the Saudis, who then spend it on terrorist groups and on teaching small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews. We might have a president who would be willing to stand up to the Saudis if we weren't so dependent on foreign oil.

I think ethanol is essential to America. And I think this business about subsidies, I understand the-Senator McCain's dislike of subsidies for anything. Think how much we subsidize the oil and gas business. Why can't we do that for American farmers instead of Saudi sheiks?

BROKAW: Governor Dean, thank you very much.

I thank all of you.

We're going to be back with our second hour of this debate from Des Moines. We're going to begin talking about Iraq and terrorism and the other very volatile and deadly issues before this country in just a moment.



BROKAW: We're back. And as we begin our second hour, the most critical issue before this country today, obviously, is Iraq. And I want to begin with Congressman Gephardt of Missouri.

Senator Kennedy said this fall, “The war in Iraq, as conducted by President Bush, is a fraud.” He said, “It was cooked up in the state of Texas to take care of Republican interests.”

Do you agree with Senator Kennedy on that?

GEPHARDT: I would never listen to George Bush alone for any information that I would want and I didn't on this. I went to the CIA...

BROKAW: My question is do you think it is a fraud?

GEPHARDT: No. I want to the CIA. I talked to the top people there. I talked to George Tenet. And I asked him a simple question. I said, “Are we worried that Saddam Hussein has weapons or the components of weapons or the ability to quickly make weapons of mass destruction that can wind up in the hands of terrorists?”

I believe with all my heart that our most important responsibility is to keep the American people safe. 9/11 was the ultimate wake-up call. And so, I voted the way I did on the resolution we voted on because I thought we had to do this to keep our people safe.

Having said that, I also told President Bush many times, starting in the spring of last year, that if he wanted to do this, he had to get help from the U.N., he had to get help from NATO. It's been a terrible mistake on his part, for us, for our taxpayers and for our troops.

And if it hasn't been done, when I become president, I will work with the other countries in the world. He's isolated us in the world. He has not followed the precedent over the last eight presidents. And his foreign policy is a miserable failure.

BROKAW: Madam Ambassador, let me ask you a question.

Vice President Cheney said this fall that, “Terrorists enemies hope to strike with the most lethal weapons known to man, and it would be reckless in the extreme to rule out action and to save our worries until the day that they strike.”

Does he have a point?

MOSELEY BRAUN: The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, calls on the Congress to issue declarations of war. Congress didn't do that in this case. They just passed a resolution and sent it over to the president to make a unilateral decision.

That has put us on the slippery slope toward unilateral, arbitrary preemptive war and to a situation in which the vice president and others can just make it up as they see fit to tell the American people one thing that, as it turns out, as you know, was not probably true.

I think that it is important to remind the American people that the Constitution tells us how to do these things and the way the Constitution directs is as valid today as it was 200 years ago.

It is important that we have all of the information; that the information that's given to us is credible information; that it is information that is shared with us and our allies in ways that we can make cogent decisions.

This administration didn't do that. They made up a lot of what was told to the American people. They frittered away the goodwill that we inherited around the world on September 11th. And they have left us less secure-left our domestic security in shambles because of their precipitous bullying tactics in the world arena.

I think it's tragic that we have put ourselves in a situation where the vice president, even the president in the State of the Union address, called on the American people to imagine the very worst that could happen, have been frightening the American people for the last two years instead of telling them the truth.

It's bait and switch and it's wrong.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, let me ask you a question.

You said recently about your colleague, Governor Dean: “He has no foreign policy or military or national security experiences.”

Do you think if he had had some of those experiences that he would have stood with you in the well of the Senate and voted for the resolution to go to war against Iraq?

KERRY: I can't make that judgment, but I'll tell you this: that the president took a legitimate national security concern, which was containing Saddam Hussein and how you get the inspectors back in in order to do that, and literally distorted it and abused it by misleading the American people with respect to everything that he did.

He said that he would build an international coalition; he built a fraudulent coalition. He said that he would use the inspectors and respect the United Nations process; he couldn't wait to get out of it. He said that he would go to war as a last resort; he did not go to war as a last resort.

And the fundamental concept of the presidency is that you don't send young men and women to war because you want to; you do it because you have to. And I think he abused that.

Now, I think it matters in the post-September 11th world that we have somebody with experience. I've worked for 35 years in building relationships and working abroad. I led the challenge to Marcos in the Philippines. I stood up against Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America.

I blew the whistle on Oliver North and his private aid network. I blew the whistle on Noriega and drugs and the CIA. I worked to open up Vietnam and to get POW-MIA answers.

I believe I come with the experience to challenge George Bush and to point out that he has overextended our military and has made us less safe. And that's what's important in this race.

BROKAW: Senator, but the real question was do you believe that Howard Dean is incapable of running the national security of this country? After all, if he were to take the job as president of the United States, he would have no more/no less experience than Bill Clinton did.

KERRY: But Bill Clinton himself has said that after September 11th it's a different kind of situation and he's not sure that he himself would have gotten elected under those circumstances now.

I think we have a different situation. We have to run against a wartime president in a world that is suffering from terror. We need a president who knows how to reach out and build relationships across the planet.

And I think that experience is vital. I've never suggested that he's incapable of it. I've said that the experience is a very important and critical issue in our ability to challenge George Bush in the time of war.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, thank you very much.

Governor Dean, in the last few days, what happened to you during the Vietnam era is beginning to get some attention. You got a deferment. You were classified 1Y. You took letters and an X-ray to your draft board because you had an unfused vertebrae in your back. But then you went skiing for the next year. Skied the moguls-I've skied the moguls. I know how tough they are on your back-at that time.

If you had any reservations about serving, why not just having left the letter at home and said, “Examine me; see what you think”? Why take the letter?

DEAN: I took the medical X-rays at the time.

Look, I did not serve in Vietnam. I was given a deferment by the United States Government because they did not feel they wanted me in the Army. Dick Gephardt didn't serve in Vietnam. Joe Lieberman didn't serve in Vietnam. John Edwards didn't serve in Vietnam. None of us up here except for General Clark served in Vietnam, and Senator Kerry.

I told the truth. I fulfilled my obligation. I took a physical. I failed the physical. If that makes this an issue, then so be it.

But I want to reply to something Senator Kerry said about the war. We have similar sets of advisers, many of us on this stage. Senator Kerry is talking about experience in foreign affairs. His experience led him to give the president of the United States a blank check to invade Iraq. Only Dennis Kucinich up here had the courage to vote against that resolution.

The right thing to do...


The right thing to do would have been not to give George Bush that unilateral authority, as Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, Representative Gephardt, General Clark recommended to...


DEAN: ... do.

That was the wrong thing to do. This was an abdication and a failure on the part of Congress. And Senator Kerry was part of that failure. I don't think that's the kind of experience we need in foreign affairs in the White House.

I think we need somebody who's going to make independent judgments and not cede the role of Congress in making foreign policy and declaring war.

BROKAW: Congressman Gephardt?

GEPHARDT: Howard, I think you're all over the lot on this issue.

First of all, at the time the resolutions were on the floor, you said you favored the Biden-Lugar resolution, which, in effect, was the same thing that we passed on the floor. It was very much like it.

Secondly, you said, when the $87 billion was asked about, that we had no choice but to support our troops and put the $87 billion there.

Finally, you said you wouldn't make this a campaign issue. You have every right to run any ad you want. But you're running ads now here in Iowa criticizing what I did. And I think in the main, you agreed with what I did.

If we're going to beat George Bush, we have got to take a position of leadership on these issues and stick with it. We can't be all over the lot.

I have done that. I can take George Bush on in this issue of security and keeping our people safe.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, if I could just hold you for one moment, I want to go to General Clark. We're running a little bit behind on time here.

Let me just read to you something that George Soros, the international financier, has said. He's a great patron of the Democratic Party. I think he's met with most of the candidates here probably.

He said that he thinks that George Bush is a danger to the world in the means and in the way that he's conducting his foreign policy. And it reminds him of what he was hearing out of Nazi Germany when he was a youngster.

Do you agree with his characterization of the administration's foreign policy in those terms, General?

CLARK: Well, I haven't seen everything George Soros has written, but he's a very responsible man. He's done a lot of good in the world. I've worked with his projects in Eastern Europe.

And let me tell you this about George Bush's foreign policy: It is reckless and it is irresponsible.

I think this party's making a great mistake by trying to make a litmus test on who would have or did or didn't vote for that resolution last October.

The real issue in front of us is that this president misled the American people and the Congress into war. It's wrong. If you wrote this script in a movie, it would be rejected as being outrageous. Here we are, with the United States Army half committed in Iraq, no success strategy, $150 billion.

This administration took us to war recklessly and without need to do so and it was wrong. And that is the issue in this election and that is the issue we should be taking to the American people.


BROKAW: With all due respect, General Clark, why then did you have so much trouble in the opening days of your campaign trying to decide whether you would have voted for or against the resolution in Iraq and spend the time that you did in Republican gatherings praising not just the president, but his team, as well?

CLARK: Well, I'm glad you asked, Tom.


With respect to the opening of my campaign, I want to tell you, I bobbled the question on the first day of the campaign in the back of an airplane.

BROKAW: Not just any question. It was a big question.

CLARK: But my record has been very consistent. I have got 250,000 words in print. I warned against giving George Bush a blank check in the summer and fall of 2002. I warned against the course he was taking in the Christmas period of 2002. I warned against it after Christmas. And I warned we were going to war without a real plan as to what to do next and without adequate forces.

Now we see the consequences. We have an American president who visits the families of bereaved Britons and won't visit our own families in this country. What is this coming to?


We need leadership. We're in a mess in Iraq.

I've got a plan, and I'll get us out of that mess; that's why I'm running Tom.

BROKAW: Congressman Kucinich, you have a plan as well. You'd go to the United Nations and get American troops out of there in 90 days.

A lot of people who are not happy about the war in Iraq say, “You get American troops out of there in 90 days, we just turned that place over to the Taliban and to Saddam Hussein and all the insurgents who are now running the joint in the north and the Sunni triangle.”

KUCINICH: There's a number of elements here. First of all, if it was wrong to go in, it's wrong to stay in.

And I would like to say that in addition to leading the effort in the House in challenging the Bush administration's march toward war against Iraq, I've also pointed out that Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9/11, had no connection to Al Qaida's role in 9/11, no connection to the anthrax attack. And that, in fact, the administration's never made a case to go to war.

Now, we need to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out. The way to get the U.N. in is to step away from these policies of preemption and unilateralism which got us there in the first place. We need to embrace the world community if America's going to be secure.

The only way that we can effectively combat terrorism in this world is to work with the United Nations and with the world community.

My plan, which is on my Web site at, has the ability to bring our troops home within 90 days. And I think the American people want our troops brought home.

Tom, I've got a page here from The Washington Post which I think all of America ought to be looking at, because this shows some of the casualties-this is just a fraction of the casualties-that have occurred from our beloved men and women who served.

And I'm saying that it's wrong. It's wrong for the deaths to keep piling up. We shouldn't be there. We've got to get our troops home. We need to end the occupation, get the U.N. in and get the U.S. out.


BROKAW: Congressman Kucinich, thank you very much.

Reverend Sharpton, do you think that Iraq is better off with Saddam Hussein not formally in power, although obviously he still does have power in Iraq?

SHARPTON: No. I think that Iraq certainly needed to be liberated from Saddam Hussein. But that is not what we were told was the reason we were going.

We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction and we were in imminent danger. Imminent means immediate, right now. It doesn't mean one day; it doesn't mean they're building up.

Yes, Senator Kennedy was right. That was a lie. It was a fraud.

We should have concentrated on the people that attacked us. To ask about Vice President Cheney saying, “We shouldn't wait till the day after”-we're over two years after, Vice President Cheney. Where is bin Laden? Why have we not been able to capture those that attacked us?

I preached a funeral of a young man, Darius Jennings, a soldier that was killed in Iraq. Those families that are suffering, those families that have lost the lives of their children, what are we telling them their children died for?

Bush wants to meet with them today in Colorado. What do you want to tell them? Why did they die? Because you told us something that was not true. And real patriots don't lie to American soldiers, and they don't misuse American troops' lives.


BROKAW: Senator Edwards in Washington, do you think that the new administration plan, in which they turn over authority to the Iraqi people by July 1st of next year and keep a smaller number of American troops there but still probably in the 100,000 to 120,000 range, is a step in the right direction?

EDWARDS: I think the only step in the right direction is a recognition by Bush and the White House that this policy in Iraq is a failure.

What they're failing to do, unfortunately, is to take the American face off this operation. We're still completely in charge of what's going on there.

We have no chance of success until we make several fundamental changes.

One, we ought to turn the-if I were president today, I would go to the United Nations and give authority to the United Nations to run the Iraqi civilian authority.

The second thing is to change the composition of our security force so that it's no longer just an American security force, but instead is a NATO-led operation.

And third, I would cancel all these no-bid contracts that Halliburton has that's allowed them to get billions of dollars in taxpayer money and they still-they've now taken those provisions-they've forbid this for the future, but they haven't stopped the Halliburton contracts from the past. Halliburton is still getting millions of dollars of taxpayer money under no-bid contracts.

We have to change the nature of this operation. We have to take the American face off it and we have to internationalize it. It's the only way to have any real chance of success in Iraq.

BROKAW: General Clark, let me ask you a question about a specific issue that's come up in the last couple of days or so.

The Republicans are now running an ad in Iowa in which they say the Democrats are attacking the president for attacking terrorists. And you're saying, collectively, this is politicizing this issue in a way that the president had promised that he would not.

At the same time the Republicans will respond, out of a Senate Intelligence Committee we saw a draft of the memo saying, “We can capitalize on their failure from an intelligence point of view to deal with the American people in an honest way.”

Where does the truth lie in all of this?

CLARK: Well, I think the truth is this: The president has politicized the war on terror.

This country pulled together. It expected honest, straight, direct leadership. The president said we'd get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. He pulled the greatest bait-and-switch operation in American retail history. At the very time we should have been getting Osama bin Laden, he was preparing to attack Iraq and Saddam Hussein. We don't have Osama bin Laden. That's the basic politicization: They wanted to go after Iraq.

Now, as far as that ad is concerned, Tom, I think it's an outrage. People in a democracy have a duty to hold the government accountable. And we will hold this government accountable for failing to protect us and go after Osama bin Laden the right way.

And as for me, I'm not attacking the president because he's attacking terrorists. I'm attacking him because he isn't attacking terrorists. And that's the problem with this administration.


They wanted to attack states, not terrorists. Until we get the right policies in place, we're not going to make the American people safer.

And we're not safer with half our Army and $150 billion and Americans dying every day in Iraq. That is not the centerpiece of the war on terror.

BROKAW: Congressman Gephardt, let me ask you another question. I know in your international travels, you've encountered the same thing that I have. There's another big dimension to all of this.

Wherever I go in the Middle East, especially, even moderate Arabs and people who are our allies will say, “Look, as long as the United States will stand next to Israel in the way that it does, not critical but supporting almost everything the Israeli government does however unfair or inaccurate their characterization may be, you'll never be able to win friends in the Arab world.”

And when I was in the Middle East about a year ago, the president said publicly that Ariel Sharon, the prime minister of Israel, is a man of peace. That ricocheted across that region.

Do you think, given his current policies-this is an honest question, not loaded-that Ariel Sharon remains a man of peace and that it's helpful to us in the wider war against terrorism to have that kind of uncritical relationship that we have with him?

GEPHARDT: I absolutely think that we can lead to peace in the Middle East. But it goes back to what we've been saying.

This president's foreign policy is a horrible failure, but as Bill Clinton...

BROKAW: (inaudible)

GEPHARDT: Let me just finish. Bill Clinton had them at the top of the mountain. They had settled all the main issues. There was only one remaining issue and he couldn't get it done and he left office.

And George Bush came in and said: “This is not our problem.”

Excuse me, we've been doing this for 50 years. We're the only country in the world that can lead to the right conclusion.

He did the same thing with the global warming treaty. He did the same thing with the International Criminal Court. He did the same thing with North Korea. He doesn't work well with others.



BROKAW: My question was do you think that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace?

And to add on to that, the president made the effort with the road to peace, so-called, and attempting to get new leadership out of the PLO. Do you think that that was not an honest effort on the president's part?

GEPHARDT: Tom, I think the people in Israel, the great majority want peace. They're willing to trade land for real peace. The people in Palestine, the great majority want peace and they're willing to give security for the land that they want for their state.

What's lacking in this equation is not the-you know, not the right leaders on either side, it's not having an American president who, like Bill Clinton and other American presidents, have gone out of their way to lead these other places to peace. He did it in Ireland. He tried to do it in the Middle East. Bosnia, Kosovo, we made great progress.

We need to be engaged in the world, and we need a president who will work with every country in this world to solve tough international problems.

BROKAW: Madam Ambassador, of all these candidates on the stage, who would you name as your secretary of state?


MOSELEY BRAUN: Mr. Brokaw, I think the first question is, who's going to be the next president? And I think the women have an answer for this country and the world to give us domestic security.

And that is why I am running hard to make the point that we have a vision that will put a practical spin on putting America in good stead with the rest of the world, rebuilding the international relationships that are so vital in fighting a real war on terrorism.

I'm reminded of the true story of my parent's worst argument. The toilet broke and there was water going every where. My mother sent my father to the hardware store, he came back with a new lawnmower.


That's really what's happened to us in this country. We were chasing bin Laden and they gave it up. They gave up a war on terrorism. They gave up a fight to protect the American people in behalf of a misadventure in Iraq.

And I think that it takes a different approach, that we'll work well with others, that would bring to bear all of the talent that we have available to us in this country, in order to make certain that the American people are safe, that we are secure, that we protect our country by working with the rest of the international community to get the real criminals who came after our country on September 11th.

BROKAW: Governor Dean, in all of this, do you think Saudi Arabia is our friend, or do you think it's our enemy, or do you think it's something in between?

DEAN: Let me use the first five minutes to correct an important thing that Dick Gephardt just misinformed us about.

The Biden-Lugar amendment is what should have passed in Congress, because the key and critical difference was that it required the president to come back to Congress for permission. And that is where the congressmen who supported that resolution made their mistake was not supporting Biden-Lugar instead of giving the president a blank check.

And I did not support the $87 billion. That's a matter of record.

Now, what was the question?


BROKAW: The question was about, in this wider war against terrorism and instability in the Middle East, is Saudi Arabia a friend or...

DEAN: Seventy-five years ago, the Saudis made a deal with the devil. They decided that in return for leaving the royal family unchallenged by the very fanatical Wahhabis sect, that they would essentially fund the export of radical Islam to the Islamic world.

Unfortunately, because the Saudis have an enormous amount of money, coming from us, principally, they have been very successful. Moderate Muslim nations such as Indonesia have begun to see the problems of radicalization. As long as the Saudis continue to fund the export of radical Islam around the world, they cannot be considered friends.

BROKAW: Senator Kerry, what about the French? Are they friends, are they enemies, or something in between at this point?

KERRY: The French are the French. I think there's a...


BROKAW: Very profound, Senator.


KERRY: Well, trust me. It has a meaning. And I think most people know exactly what I mean.

Look, can I just correct something Howard Dean said, because this is very important?


The Biden-Lugar amendment that Howard Dean said he supported, at the time he said he supported it, had a certification by the president and the president only had to certify he had the authority to go. It's no different from fundamentally what we voted on.

And at the same time, Howard Dean said he believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but he offered no way to try to deal with it.

The fact is that President Clinton went to Kosovo without Congress' authority. President Clinton went to Haiti without Congress' authority, because the president has that inherent authority.

So I think Howard Dean is wrong, and I think we did what was necessary and the president, unfortunately, completely broke his promises to America.

And I will reach out to the French and to other countries and rebuild our alliances around the world.

BROKAW: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: Look, we have troops over there right now. I mean, I'm waiting for someone here to say they'll join me with a plan to end the occupation.

I mean, the question is, when the next president takes office, will those troops still be here? And if they're there, we must have a plan to get out of Iraq. And I'm offering it right now.

Tom, this is critical, because right now it's not just the fact that there are troops losing their lives and innocent civilians are getting killed, it's the fact that we see hundreds of billions, soon, of U.S. tax dollars being wasted, which is destroying our domestic agenda.

So we can talk all we want about who said what in the lead up to the war, but we're there now. And what's your plan? Are you ready to end the occupation?

And I have a plan to do that, to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out. We have to turn over to the U.N. that handling, on a temporary basis, of the oil assets, of the contracts, of the cause of governance until the Iraqi people can be self-governing.

We need to get out of there and the sooner the better. End the occupation.

BROKAW: General Clark, what happened when the U.N...


... when the U.N. went in to Bosnia? And what would happen in Iraq if we got out in 90 days, given the current circumstances?

CLARK: Tom, the U.N. is not willing or able to go into Iraq right now.

We do need to take the American face off this operation and form an international organization, as we did in Bosnia, to give economic and political assistance to the Iraqis. The Iraqis have to be put back in charge. We should not wait until July.

That July 1st date has more to do with American politics than it does with what's going on, on the ground in Iraq and I think we ought to recognize that.

What's going on in Iraq is a struggle by the Iraqi people to maintain control of their own country.

We need to change a little bit what we're doing in the military over there. We need to have lots of people in our armed forces studying Arabic. We need to put people who can speak Arabic in there and communicate with the Iraqi people. We are not doing that.

And when we stand up those police stations and we leave them alone and they're attacked, we need people there who can call in the kind of U.S. support that's necessary to beat down this insurgency.

We can have a successful policy, but only if the Iraqis are in charge of their own country, and only if we have the right military plans to succeed.

BROKAW: General Clark, thank you very much.

Madam Ambassador, I know you're eager to get in here. You'll be first up, right after we go to a break. We're going to come back and talk about terrorism and these important issues.



BROKAW: Welcome back to Des Moines, Iowa, a debate among Democratic presidential candidates, and the issue is Iraq and the war on terror.

Madam Ambassador, Vice President Al Gore recently said that he believes the Patriot Act, which was passed by the United States Senate 98 to 1, should now be repealed, that it is no longer an instrument in the war on terror, that in fact it's an infringement on the civil liberties of Americans.

Do you agree with him?

MOSELEY BRAUN: I absolutely agree. Section 215 of that legislation requires librarians to report people for taking the wrong books out of the library. It is just an outrage.

Now, I'm told that that has not been enforced. But since we can't examine the Justice Department's records, we have no idea whether they are telling the truth about that either.

BROKAW: But do you know of any librarians from around the country who are saying...

MOSELEY BRAUN: No. I do not. But again, we don't really have the facts on that.

The secret detentions, what's happening in Guantanamo, it's been a nightmare.

But I want to respond. Dennis talked about a plan to bring our troops home. I want to bring them home too. But I think we have to bring them home with honor. They've done their duty by responding to the direction of their government, by serving there.

And in fact, if anything, we are not really even supporting the troops like we should. We cut off the combat pay. They don't have the equipment they need.

We need to really support our troops while they're there and try to internalize this sufficient that they can come home with honor.

We blew the place up. We have a responsibility to fix it. It's going to cost the American people a ton of money, but I think that bill ought to be delivered to George Bush and all the interests that he was representing in making those decision.


BROKAW: But if you had been in the United States Senate, would you have voted...

MOSELEY BRAUN: I would have voted against the Patriot Act. Absolutely. I think...

BROKAW: No. No. But would you have voted for the $87 billion dollars to continue operations...

MOSELEY BRAUN: Yes. I would have voted for that part required to help protect our troops and give them the support they need in the field, because many of them are even sitting ducks right now without what they need to protect themselves to fight an insurgency kind of action for which they were not prepared.

So, you know, it's a misadventure, it's a mistake. But we have to do what we have to do, until we can bring the blue helmets from the United Nations. I suggested even expanding NATO's role from Afghanistan all to Iraq. We've got to get some help with this.

BROKAW: Thank you, Madam Ambassador.

Would you have voted for the $87 billion, Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: Absolutely not. I think that we cannot continue to allow this president to put money and more and more and more unlimited money in a situation that clearly there is no exit strategy, clearly that we shouldn't have gone in in the first place.

You cannot plant one seed and grow another crop. I said it before, I'll say it again, you can't plant watermelon seeds, expect oranges.

We were wrong when we went in. We can't make it right. We need to submit to an international body. We need to bring these young people home.

As a far as the Patriot Act, not only the Patriot Act, I was at the hearings and opposed it from the beginning in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I attended those hearings. We now hear reports that the Justice Department is looking into anti-war leaders. I spoke at every major anti-war demonstration.

This administration is against dissent, which is against democracy. Any of us that question them, they will use the whole blanket of anti-terrorism to try and Red bait Americans and we need to stop them before this gets out of hand.


BROKAW: Quick follow-up: Were you surprised then when General Clark came out for a constitutional amendment against burning the American flag, which many people see as an important form of dissent?

SHARPTON: I think, again, General Clark and I may disagree on that. I think that the present president, though, is the one that has made the American flag look less than a liberating force in the world.

I think when we stand up and hold up a flag that says to parts of the world we don't care about them, we don't empathize with them, with no big contracts, come in and take over lands where private business makes money; where we're not concerned about our troops, our veterans-we cut the budget-and the people there, I think that's what desecrates the flag, and I think that this president should be held accountable for that.

BROKAW: Senator Edwards in Washington, D.C., let me ask you a question.

Do you think that President Clinton made a mistake-going back to the earlier experiences that we had had with terrorism-by pulling the American fleet out of the Arabian Sea after the USS Cole was attacked, by getting out of Somalia after “Black Hawk Down,” after not doing more, maybe even putting boots on the ground in Afghanistan, after Tanzania and Kenya, which our embassies were attacked? Did he make a mistake, and thereby encourage terrorists to be more bold in their strikes against the United States?

EDWARDS: No. As a matter of fact, I think that President Clinton was very focused on the war on terrorism, very concerned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida; focused on taking the steps necessary.

I met with Sandy Berger, who was the national security adviser, immediately after Clinton left office, and his first statement to me was, “The most serious threat we face is the war on terrorism.”

And there was a great deal of concern in the transition about the absence of any serious-an inadequate level of concern in the Bush administration about terrorism.

I want to get back, for just a minute, though, to this whole discussion about our liberties and about what we see happening in America today, because I think it is so fundamental.

First, I want to say that this idea that the FBI is increasing surveillance of anti-war protesters, which Reverend Sharpton just made a reference to, is outrageous. What kind of McCarthyism is that?

And on top of that-on top of that they have a policy that allows them to arrest an American citizen on American soil, label them an enemy combatant, put them in prison, keep them there indefinitely. They never see a lawyer, never see a judge, never get a hearing. These things violate the very heart and soul of this country.

These folks will change the fabric of America if we let them, and we have got to stand up and speak out.

BROKAW: But, Senator Edwards, as I remember, your colleague Russ Feingold was the only senator who said just that when this bill was before your chamber. And you voted for the Patriot Act as a lawyer. You knew what was in it.

EDWARDS: Well, here's the reality about the Patriot Act. There are provisions in the Patriot Act which never get any attention which do good things. Al Gore recognized those. A lot of the commentators since then have.

For example, information sharing among government agencies, being able to go after money laundering, bringing our laws up to date with the technologies that exist today.

But what we now know that it is in the hands of this attorney general the ability to go into bookstores and libraries, find out what books are being bought, what books are being checked out; the ability to do what they call sneak-and-peek searches, which means going into people's homes without notice, without adequate procedural safeguards in place.

We cannot give John Ashcroft this kind of authority, which is the reason we need to change the Patriot Act.

BROKAW: General Clark, would you have put troops on the ground in Afghanistan after the attacks on Tanzania and Kenya, our embassies there, and the USS Cole? These were very serious attacks, after all.

CLARK: Well, I wasn't in on the planning of this, so I don't know all of the details inside the Pentagon. But I will tell you this: that it's important to take strong, direct action against terrorists.

And I think the real failure occurred after the change of administrations. It took a few weeks after the Cole was attacked to really definitively pin it on Al Qaida. By that time, the Clinton administration was on the way out.

As I'm told, as John Edwards said, the Bush administration was told the greatest threat to the United States is Osama bin Laden.

And I think the American people deserve to hear exactly what happened during that period.

You know, there's a-two investigations. There's an intelligence investigation. There's a commission. But our great President Harry Truman said this. He said, “When you're president of the United States, the buck stops here.”

Now, we know who did 9/11 and we know who is directly responsible for it, and that's Osama bin Laden. But the president of the United States is responsible for U.S. security. And I think that's an issue in this election. And the question is, is he doing and did he do everything he could to protect the people of the United States?

That's what we want to be asking. And that's what we want answers to.

BROKAW: There's another threat out there, Congressman Gephardt, that's not getting as much attention in the last couple of months, and it was really on the radar screen about a year ago, and it has not gone away, and that's North Korea.

The North Koreans now are saying, through diplomats and through back channels, that they would be willing to dismantle their nuclear capability if the United States would sign a non-aggression pact, if it would compensate the North Koreans for what they've lost and what they've invested in their nuclear capability and if they could do economic programs with China and with Japan.

Would you buy that package from the North Koreans?

GEPHARDT: I think this president has gotten us backed into a very dangerous place with North Korea.

BROKAW: You don't think it began in the Clinton administration?

GEPHARDT: No, the Clinton administration was a few days away from bombing the reactors in 1994. He instead sent Bill Perry. They got an agreement, which was better than attacking the reactors.

It was holding. It wasn't perfect...

BROKAW: But they continued to build.

GEPHARDT: But you got a very unreliable regime in North Korea you got to deal with.

And understand if we attack the reactors, they got a million people under arms. They'll come at our 30,000 people and the only way we can stop them is with tactical nuclear weapons. So this is a dangerous situation.

When Bush came in office, he called the agreement that Clinton had appeasement. He then put them in the axis of evil without explaining to anybody what in the world that was. And then he called the leader in North Korea the most evil leader in the world. Now this guy's half nuts anyway.

So now you've got a very dangerous situation. And the president of the United States has backed us into this situation.

He should go and get a negotiation going and get to the bottom of this. You don't lose anything by negotiating with somebody. He doesn't have to have the shape of the table exactly as he wants it. But he needs to get back to an enforceable agreement because I am more worried tonight that the A bomb will wind up in the hands of terrorists from the North Koreans than the Iraqis. That is a failure.

BROKAW: I think that it's fair to say, historically, Congressman Kucinich, the chances of having a successful negotiation with Kim Jong Il are remote or slim at best.

If he continues to develop his nuclear capability and develop weapons as well, will the time come and what is that threshold when the United States may be forced to do what Congressman Gephardt said the Clinton administration was prepared to do: make a unilateral strike against North Korea?

KUCINICH: Well, let's take this in context, Tom. The context now is that President Bush launched an attack on Iraq which did not attack the United States. He mentioned Iraq, Iran and North Korea in the same breath as an axis of evil.

If you're sitting there in North Korea, and you see one of those countries checked off, you think you're going to be next.

So what I believe, as president, what I will do is I will go and meet with Kim. I will set forth a whole new doctrine for this United States, taking us away from unilateralism and preemption and toward cooperation.

Tom, we've lost our credibility.

BROKAW: Non-aggression?

KUCINICH: I'm saying that we must believe that peace is inevitable. When you work from a premise that war is inevitable, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And what I'm saying is that, as president, I would work with the community of nations, but go to these people who are afraid. Look what we've done to North Korea: We've made them so afraid that they think that we're going to attack them.

We have to get out of that posture. And that's why, as the next president, I'm prepared to take America in a totally different direction on foreign policy where people will not fear us.

Everyone knows we have the strength. But people need to have confidence in our word and that we're not going to go and attack them.

And finally, Tom, we need to get rid of these nuclear weapons. Our credibility is on the line. We should not be building nuclear weapons. We should be enforcing the Non-Proliferation Treaty which calls on all nations to get rid of nuclear weapons.


BROKAW: Governor Dean, is there a threshold for the North Koreans if they go beyond it, that you would be forced, as commander in chief, to order a strike?

DEAN: There's always a threshold. And no president ever rules out any options at any time.

BROKAW: Are offers non-aggression?

DEAN: Well, that's-I disagree with that.

I think the offer that the president of North Korea has on the table has real promise. It depends how the non-aggression treaty must be structured. We can sign such a treaty if it does not preclude us from coming to the defense of our allies, particularly South Korea.

I have long believed-and George Bush has pooh-poohed this and he was wrong and his own experience showed he was wrong-I have long believed that constructive engagement works.

And I'll give you an example: George Bush pooh-poohed this during the 2000 campaign with Al Gore, principally because he didn't think of it first.

Now, the truth is, a short time after President Bush came into office, a Chinese fighter plane ran into our spy plane off the international air space. Our spy plane came down, our crew came down, and all were returned within 10 days.

Why? Because the Chinese didn't want to lose several hundred billions dollars worth of trade with the United States.

Constructive engagement works. In the long run, we will have more leverage over the behavior of North Korea if they are inside the international tent than if they are outside.

So I think we ought to enter into bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans. I think this president is making a big mistake in refusing to do this. Hopefully he has not missed the opportunity to disarm them through negotiations.

BROKAW: We're getting down to one minute before you have your closing statements.

Let me ask you, Senator Kerry, in Massachusetts. Robert Kennedy Jr., has written a long article in the current edition of Rolling Stone saying this is the worst environmental president in the country's history. And he talks about the Clean Air Act and about clean water and about the national forest and so on.

If you were the president of the United States, which two of the moves that the president has made in the environmental arena in the last two years would you reverse by presidential fiat?


KERRY: You can't do it by fiat, but I can do one of them, and that is immediately re-engage in the global warming discussion and bring the less developed nations to the table.

Secondly, I would set America on the course for energy independence. We can grow our economy and do an enormous amount there.

But, Tom, let me just say something quickly if I can.

The president is approaching the war on terror in the wrong way. I wrote a book six years ago called, “The New War,” and I laid out the way in which we could, in fact, create greater cooperation with North Korea-I'm, incidentally, proud to have the support of former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and Robert Kennedy, both of them are supporting me for president.

And I think that we could do a better job of reaching out to the world with a better environmental policy and a legitimate war on terror that's not based on military action alone.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Senator Kerry.

And now we're going to get to the closing statements. We're going to begin with Senator Kerry and work our way around. You have 45 seconds.

Senator Kerry, we're going to hold you to the clock on this one.

And that goes for the rest of you as well.

If you'll begin, please.

KERRY: Well, George Bush is running ads about the war and we don't need commercials, what we need is a commander in chief. He's trying to silence debate in America, and we're not going to be silenced.

We need a president who has the ability to wage a legitimate war on terror and win us allies and friends.

We also need a president who is prepared to make America more fair, to take on the special interests and to stand up and fight for a real deal in America where we have an economy that's based on products and people, not perks and privileges.

I want America to be a land of hope again for all of our citizens. And I want us to come together and move toward and stand up and fight with confidence in our values and the willingness to defeat the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft cynicism; give back hope, give back truth, give back the soul to our country.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Senator.

Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: We have to recognize that the war in Iraq is depriving the United States of the lifeblood of our nation, of our ability to fund the domestic agenda, of our reputation around the world.

As the next president of the United States, I will lead this nation in a new direction, a direction where we get away from unilateralism and get away from preemption.

That new direction will strike a responsive chord in the world community. That's why the U.N. will follow the plan that I have, which will enable the U.N. troops to come in and the U.S. troops to come home.

I want to see our domestic agenda focused on here, so that we can have the money that we need for education, tuition-free college, for health care-universal, single-parent health care-for pre- kindergarten-universal pre-kindergarten-child care for all of our children age 3, 4 and 5.

As president of the United States, I'll help to provide peace and prosperity for this country.

BROKAW: Thank you very much, Congressman.

Governor Dean?

DEAN: Thank you.

On January 19th we have the day commemorating Martin Luther King's birthday. We also, on January 19th, have the Iowa caucuses. Both are important because Martin Luther King was the soul of empowerment in this country. And you have the power to decide who the next president of the United States will be.

If you believe all of us up here, we are all-I can assure you that I agree with Reverend Sharpton that any of us would be better than what we have now in this White House.

But the biggest lie that people like me tell people like you at election time is, “If you vote for me, I'll solve all your problems.”

The truth is that you have the power to change this party so that we can have jobs again in America and health care and stand up for what we believe in. You have the power to take back this country so the flag of the United States doesn't belong to John Ashcroft and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell any more, it belongs to all of us. And you have the power on January 19th to take back the White House, which is exactly what we're going to do.

Thank you.

BROKAW: Thank you, Governor.


Madam Ambassador?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, I want to take the men only sign off the White House door. And I want to do so...


... to expand our democracy so that we can tap all of the talent that's available to us. I want to put the American people first, not only in our international relations, but here at home, to see to it that we provide for the domestic security and the harmony of the whole community. That means an economy that works for all Americans, that creates good paying jobs that people can support a family on, so that women who work sole households make-have pay equity in the work force.

I want to make certain that our children have a quality education and a federal contribution that truly leaves no child behind. I want to make certain that we have universal health care, which we can do and give our economy a boost and the kind of stimulus that it needs to make our economy robust again.

In short, I want to be a president to make certain that this generation-talk about the greatest generation-that this generation does no less for the next generation than the last one did for us.

BROKAW: Thank you.


BROKAW: Congressman?

GEPHARDT: I think we're all tied together. Martin Luther King once said, “We're all woven into a single garment of destiny.” He said, “What affects one directly affects all the rest of us indirectly.”

He also 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.

I grew up in a poor household. I had Baptist church scholarships, government loans, whatever my parents could save-I got a great education.

I've been leader in the House for 13 years. I'm running for president of the United States. And I didn't do it on my own. I had a lot of help.

So I just want you all to know that when I'm president, every day on every issue I'm going to be trying to figure out how every person in this country fulfills their God-given potential-nobody left out, nobody left behind. We can make America a better place than it's ever been.

Thank you.

BROKAW: Thank you, Congressman.



CLARK: Well, Tom, tonight we're in Iowa. But the real debate is not here. It's going to be a year from now with George W. Bush and we can already see the outlines of this debate.

It's going to be about the war on terror, foreign policy and who can keep America safe. And we see the ads trying to strip us of our patriotism and our ability to hold our president accountable for the mistakes he's made.

Now, we know that we're not safer today and we know he's made mistakes. But we also see those ads.

And so I think the real question is before this party: Who is the person best able to answer the questions America will ask? Who can stand toe to toe with George Bush and argue foreign policy and security policy and the values that we, as Americans, believe in?

I'm the only person on the stage who's led major forces in an alliance in war. And I'm the only person here who's negotiated or helped to negotiate an agreement to end a war.

I am the candidate who can stand with George W. Bush and win this election.

BROKAW: Thank you, General.

CLARK: Thank you.


BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: As stated, the Iowa caucus will meet on Dr. King's birthday.

I don't just quote Dr. King, I started my career as a young organizer in a movement he started. I marched for that birthday to happen. Everything that movement fought for, everything Americans have believed, whether it's civil rights, whether it's equal pay for women, whether it's gender rights, is threatened by this present administration.

This is not about an election, this is about a direction for the country. We must save our country next year. We must do it by expanding the electorate. We must bring in young voters. We must not continue to act like Republicans. We must stop the disenfranchisement of this nation's capitol, Washington, D.C.

Bush believes more in the voting rights of people in Baghdad than he does in D.C.

We need to win by not imitating the opposition, but by standing up, being real Democrats. And I'm the one that can mobilize and energize that kind of movement.

BROKAW: Reverend Sharpton, thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

BROKAW: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: When people see politicians yelling at each other, as they have in Iowa this week, they know their voices are not being heard. They spend so much time talking about what they're against, they've forgotten what they're for.

We should be angry at George Bush, but we can't just be a party of anger. We stand on the edge of greatness-we do.

FDR saw it, and we got Social Security as a result. John Kennedy saw it, and we got civil rights as a result.

This is about more than ending the Bush presidency. It's about a new beginning for America.

We are the party that believes in lifting people up, not looking down on them. We're the party that believes in bringing people together, not tearing them apart. We are the party that believes that the family you're born into and the color of your skin should never control your destiny.

And we are the party that still believes that the son of a millworker can beat the son of a president for the White House.

BROKAW: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Senator John Edwards.

And thank all of you in this room and in our audience. You know, I often say on occasions like this, however much you may agree or disagree with these candidates or the candidates of the other party, it does take a lot of courage to run for president of the United States.

It is the essence of who we are, and it's how we'll be remembered by future historians, how these people conduct themselves and how we respond to all of this.

So I thank you for your attention here today, but we do hope that you'll continue to be vigilant about these issues that define our times.

This is a challenging new century that we all live in. And how we leave this century for the succeeding generations will depend on how you play your role as citizen as well and how I play my role as journalist.

Thank you all very much. Thank you.

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