This is in the large ballroom. There are Draft Gore 2008 brochure cards on every chair.
Gina Cooper just came to the podium to announce the Presidential Leadership Forum. Introducing NY Times Magazine'sMatt Bai.
Matt - Not used to so much appreciation from blogs. This forum today reflects Gina's singular vision. This is an historic event - first time netroots together in a room with the candidates from a political party for President. Also the first time blogosphere joining with traditional media, honored to be here today to represent that.
Introduces candidates as they come on the stage. Big cheering. Huge cheer for Barack Obama.
Now introducing moderators. Joan Carter, McJoan of DailyKos, Dr.Jeffrey Feldman of FrameShop. Also will be questions from audience.
Bai: Acknowledge it is Obama's birthday, crowd is singing "Happy Birthday"
Three segments, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Philosophy.
Joan - To Richardson. In previous debate you said your model Supreme COurt would be White - who was anti-abortion. Have you given any more thought to that answers, what would you like the Supreme Court to look like.
Richardson: I screwed up. I believe that the legacy of any Pres, most iprotant is Supreme Court. My court would have diversity, legal scholars, interpret the Constitution, go one step further, I would ask do you believe it is settled law in civil rights, privacy, Roe vs Wade? If they don't, they're out.
I admit that mistake. We have to recover tfrom the things this court is doing, make sure future court reflects values of the people and president.
Joan - to Dodd: Will you tell us what circumstances would be extreme enough circumstances to accept another Bush court nominee.
Dodd: Bush is trampling the Constitution. Would be a mistake to accept any more Supreme Court nominations before the next election. I believed Roberts when he said he would not make big canges. My mistake.
Joan - for Sen. Clinton - Battle scars from previous attempt at health care. What are those scars, what are you going to do differently.
H: I am proud of the effort I led in 93, 94. Disgrace that we have so many uninsured, underinsured. We up here are all in favor of universal health care. We need more than a plan, we need a strategy that health care is an American value worth fighting for, need to put together a coalition of affected groups, willing and able to withstand the incredible blowback that we will get. My highest domestinc priority.
Matt: Sen Obama, budget deficits. Wold it be a top priority for you? Even if you have to trim your proposals.
Obama: We are coming out of the most irresponsible admin. We have to stop digging the hole. #1stop spending billions on Iraq. Not renew Bush tax cuts. Institute Paygo - no new spending/tax cuts without paying for it.
We have to make investments in the American people at the same time as we dig out of this deficit. I am not going to short change children, health care. We have to make siome investments because over long term will generate tax revenue. Medicare and Medcate biggest budget issue - universal health care saves tremendous amount for fed government.
Are we making investments that pay off for our long-term growth...
Bai to Sen Edwards - once you open the floodgates and allow certain deficits how do you stop Congress from spending more and more and more.
Edwards: I think big changes are needed, not small changes. I believe this room is filled with people who are about change. Basic question has to be answered. Who will be about change? Who is candidate for change. I don't think insurance oil other cmpanies are going to voluntarily give away power. I think this is a very fundamental question - if you want change and serious change, who will be best candidate to do that. Someone who has fought these people their entire lives. We have to take their pwer from them with your help.
Big cheers, people standing.
Richards - these are fine speeches, but I have balanced budgets. Iraq money to health care. Const. Amendment to balance budget (crowd booing and hissing), get rid of corporate welfare (crowd cheers). Bai stops him - out of time.
Audience qs - For Dodd - handful of companies own all the news companies, media consolidation threatens democracy.
Dodd - Asked Justice Dept to look into Murdoch buying Dow Jones. Stand up when things get tough - stand up to Bill O'Reilly (crowd cheers) Can't tolerate this kind of behavior. Denying us free access to information. Thank the Lord for DailyKos. Sources of information consolidated and controlled by too few entities. He will do what he can to break this up.
Cointon - need more media competition, make sure architecture of internet stays open (cheers) if we need new laws I hope wel will be able to take a look at those, this admin won't afford laws already on books. Need to do more.
Q from Bai for Kucinich - is there a govt program that you feel has outlived its usefulness.
Kucinich - programs that perpetuate the nuclear power industry. There is a candidate who believes in universal single payer not for profit health care. Am people already paying for universal standard of care but not getting it. Use the money we are spending to give us all heath care by taking profit out of it.
Audience Q for Edwards - current admin has consolidated powers of exec branch. What will you do to restore balance, and faith in our system of government,
Edwards - I will close Guantanamo first day. WIll not engage in or condone torture, no secret prisons, this is not who we are. We need a transparent government., This govt belongs to you. We can start reforming Washington and Dem Party today. I don't, Obama doesn't take money from lobbyists, why don't we all swear to take no more money from Washington lobbyists. End this system.
(Crowd on feet cheering)
Matt Q for Gravel - Your campaign supports fair tax, eliminate IRS and income tax, replace with 23% sales tax. (boos and hisses)
Gravel - you have been cheering all these statements about what they're going to do, but you heard it before and will hear it again. They tell you the problem in a dramatic way so you think they know the answers. They are good people but they exist in a system that doesn't work. Don't worry about fair tax, it won't pass. Elected officials think about how does this affect my election, and the people with money.
The only answer is for you to realize that the answer is with you to acquire lawmaking powers.
Foreign policy - Joan - everyone wants us out of Iraq. Kucinich says we have the power now.
Hillary - voted against last funding. We have to keep the pressure on. 3-point plan, I will get us out. Do it in a careful responsible way. Making current Pentagon come before congress and tell us the plans they are making to move the troops out. We must engage in more intense diplomatic effort.
Kucinich -Chney should be imeached for lying. (Crowd cheers) It is a fact that we gave Bush 97 million seven weeks ago. He can use that to bring the troops home. Dems in Congress have not kept faith with people who voted to end war.
Bai - feasability of immediate withdrawal - to Dodd
Dodd - important that Dems stand up. Policy has been a failure. (Didn't answer question)
Richardson - get out, leave no residual forces. Need an all-Muslim force to keep peace.
Bai - if you take them ot how do you protect against same kind of genocide in Darfur.
Richardson -we need to deauthorize this war.
Gravel - they do have the votes, just keep having cloture votes, all times of day. They don't want to do it. Bring them all home, we are not an imperialist power.
Bai - terrorism, Sen Obama, Do you believe we bear any measure of responsibility for anti-Americanism that led to 9/11.
Obama - no excuse for 9/11. They weren't from Iraq. We absolutely have acted in a way that has inflamed anti-American sentiment. We invaded, unleashed chaos.
End out occupation and focus on the terrorists who killed 3000 Americana. We have not finished the job in Afghanistan. It makes no sense for President to talk tough and wiretap while he doesn't deal with the serious problem.
Bai - did American foreign policy contributed.
Obama - no excuse for 9/11 but we have had a pattern in the past for acting in ways, oil, etc. If we had donated schools, engage our opponents as well as our friends, we will ahve a change in the way America is perceived. If we lead with our values or ideas.
Edwards - George Bush has not made us safer. Used a bumper-sticker phrase to justify every bad thing he has done. We shouldnot accept Bush's way of framing the discussion.
Bai to Clinton - what is right construct, what is your construct more accurate than war on terror -
Hillary - There is a lot of anti-Bush feeling, not as much anti-Bush. We have made some progress in becomming safer, our first responders. But Bush policies have unleashed so much alienation and andger that we are facing more terrorists. It is a global war against terrorists, not terror. We need to use every tool at our disposal, military force last not first resort.
be as analytical about it as possible. Complicated long-term struggle where we protect and promote American values.
Kucinich - country better served if before we got into Iraq more analysis,neocon mindset of peace through strength, unilaterism... I am talking about a new doctrine, strength through peace, diplomacy,international law. Shift your thinking away fromthis neocon doctrine.
Audience - Obama, Americans worried about China. Next superpower. How do we reconcile China as a menace and trade partner.
Obama - China a competitor does not have to be an enemy unless we make it an enemy. Get our own house in order, if they are our banker and we are the borrower... we must put pressure on them human rights, trade - China is manipulating their currency. We believe in fair trade, that goes both ways, not getting it out of China. Most important thing is to engage in the world. Africa - saying Chinese presence is as great as the US absence, building hospitals, railways... We are neglecting opportunities around the world that China is taking advantage of.
Q to Dodd - Aericans travel abroad
Dodd - tragedy of ads in DC after 9/11 looking for people who speak Arabic. I was in peace corps. Nedd that. Others can get to know who we are. Triple peace corps. Missing shared experience as Americans.
Joan asks Edwards about Pakistan - Musharref - what happens if he is overthrown. Are we trading communism for terrorism. If these folks are going to be our partners in the war on terror, are we doing the same thing?
Edwards - Pakistan somewhat unstable. We do need to put pressure on Musharraf - he said to me our children are educated in Maddrassas taught to hate America - it would make all the diffrerence if they could get a public school education. America is spending so much in Iraq, why not lead an effort to make education available to children around the world, that will hep. Soft power matters. Create an undercurrent that drives people toward us instead of away fromus.
Economic leverage over Musharref. Diplomatic, ratchet up, shouldbe done. Be careful, Saudi arms deal, another perfect example of a foreign policy of convenience, they are not helping in Iraq or helping stop terrorism, and could create an arms race in Middle East.
Richardson - Was sent to region to talk to Taliban. Problem is Bush policy to Musharraf is appeasement, we are not going to push you because it will hurt you domestically. We have to push him. He is not a democract, want to stay in power, abuses human rights. American policy should stand for democracy and human rights. You go after those safe havens or we will.
Q from Pontificator - will you hire an official White House blogger?
Hands - All raise hands. Edwards says it will be Elizabeth Edwards. Gravel says it cold be a toolof the president him or her self.
Joan - for Gravel - are all elected officials in Alaska corrupt?
Gravel - no their not and it is a source of great embarrassment for the state. Politicians walk in the mud because of the way the system is structured because you have to raise money. Money is the corrupting agent of politics. Media controlled by 5 corporations telling us the ones who raised the most - the most corrupt - are the ones who should be elected.
Bai - would candidates commit to visit all 50 states?
Obama - the only way change can hapen is if you make it. Must have a 50 percent plus one strategy, eke out a victory even if the Supreme Court overturns it. If we are going to pass health care, etc. we have got to expand the voter base.
Kucinich says not much difference between two parties. Americans ready for new approach in world community.
Hillary - 50-state strategy is exactly right. We will go in to as many places as possible building on the work Howard has done, and try to have a conversation with everyone.
Richardson - Gov Dean's strategy has been increasingly important in Dems winning. Making a diff in Governors. Need verifiable paper ballots. Need same day registration. Stop the abuse of Rep party to suppress minority voters from going to polls. Need nominee who talks about bringing country together.
Edwards- everywhere in Ameiica eople believe system is rigged against them, know who has the power and know it is not them. Need to quit worrying about political strategy and be the party that stands for real change, real reform. Never take a dime from a DC lobbyist. Need grassroots movement for reform.
Hillary asked about not taking lobbyist money - she says that is certainly a position that John as taken. I don't let it influence me. (Crowd boos) I have been on the front lines of the change we need. I wish it were as simple as saying this. It is going to take a grassroots movement. That is why I am here today. Thank the blogosphere, wish you were here in 93 and 94 when we tried to get health care. Look at my record, core principles have not changed.
Dodd - Need public financing (crowd is on feet)
Hilalry - we're all for public financing
Obama - I am happy that Dodd is on board for pub financing
Dodd - I;ve been for it for 15 years
Obama - Insurance and drug companies have spent a billion dollars, they are not spending htat just because it is in the public interest. They are spending that because they have an agenda. (-I- stood up to cheer, stopped typing, missed some of what he said next)
We can take concrete steps right now, long term goal pub financing but there are things we can do right now.
Edwards - how many people in this room have a lobbyist working for you. You are NOT represented by lobbyist money.
Kucinish - Headge funds & Edwards
Edwards - I will have never take a dime from a lobbyist need to raise money from nurses ... (missed)
Audience Q - after 9/11 changed structure of our government, Dept of Homeland Security. DOn't believe we are safer. Steps have been taken,lots left to be done. Bush lost war in Iraq, perception in world that America is abully, selfish, took rights from people, spying on Americans, made a terrible example to world. Don't promote American values, undermine heart and soul of what America is supposed to be about.
Richards - yes, restructure homeland security, appoint people who know what they are doing, put FEMA under president, review 9/11 overreactions. Return habaes corpus, get rid of torutre, respect Geneva Convenstions.
Dodd - I will use executive orders to do away with all the damage that has been done to the Constitution. More dangerous than what was done with Homeland Security.
Obama- what are we going to do with Exec branch, not just Homeland Security. I will appoint an Atty Gen who doesn't just assume the Constitution is a convenience. Aggressive ethics bill, no lobbying after serving in White House. Revolving door has to stop.
Hillary - We (Edwards) have a vigorous agreement - at home we are safer because of first responders... missed part of it. Talking about signing statements, incompetence, got to clean that up. Duty of President is to be prepared to keep America safe.
Says no company that employs a lobbyist - no execs etc. can give us money. Constitutional Amendment.
Kucinish - are we safe is key issue in this election. Missile strikes in OPakistan killing civilians makes us not safer - strength through peace.
Richardson - My Vice President will be a member of the Exec Branch.
Bai - appreciate your coming here.. crowdon feet.