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Name: Ed Waldo
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I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang. And now, smeared by Fox News and Sean Hannity, as well! Plus, FEARED by Ted Nugent! AND Hated by the Freepers!

27 February 2008

Clinton Attacks On All Fronts (debate)

[Begin Transmission Voice of Blogistan]

Title borrowed from The Boston Globe headline, this AM.

from The New York Times

February 26, 2008

The Democratic Debate in Cleveland

The following is a transcript of the Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC in Cleveland, Ohio, as provided by the Federal News Service and CQ Transcriptions via The Associated Press.



MR. WILLIAMS: A lot has been said since we last gathered in this forum, certainly since -- in the few days since you two last debated. Senator Clinton, in your comments especially, the difference has been striking. And let's begin by taking a look.

SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) You know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. (Cheers, applause.)

(From videotape.) So shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That's what I expect from you. Meet me in Ohio. Let's have a debate about your tactics and your -- (cheers, applause).

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, we're here in Ohio. Senator Obama is here. This is the debate. You would agree the difference in tone over just those 48 hours was striking.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, this is a contested campaign. And as I have said many times, I have a great deal of respect for Senator Obama, but we have differences. And in the last several days, some of those differences in tactics and the choices that Senator Obama's campaign has made regarding flyers and mailers and other information that has been put out about my health care plan and my position on NAFTA have been very disturbing to me.

And therefore, I think it's important that you stand up for yourself and you point out these differences so that voters can have the information they need to make a decision.

You know, for example, it's been unfortunate that Senator Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not. You know, health care reform and achieving universal health care is a passion of mine. It is something I believe in with all my heart. And every day that I'm campaigning, and certainly here throughout Ohio, I've met so many families -- happened again this morning in Lorain -- who are just devastated because they don't get the health care they deserve to have. And unfortunately it's a debate we should have that is accurate and is based in facts about my plan and Senator Obama's plan, because my plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable. And on many occasions, independent experts have concluded exactly that.

And Senator Obama's plan does not cover everyone. It would leave, give or take, 15 million people out. So we should have a good debate that uses accurate information, not false, misleading, and discredited information, especially on something as important as whether or not we will achieve quality, affordable health care for everyone. That's my goal. That's what I'm fighting for, and I'm going to stand up for that.

MR. WILLIAMS: On the topic of accurate information, and to that end, one of the things that has happened over the past 36 hours -- a photo went out the website The Drudge Report, showing Senator Obama in the native garb of a nation he was visiting, as you have done in a host country on a trip overseas.

Matt Drudge on his website said it came from a source inside the Clinton campaign. Can you say unequivocally here tonight it did not?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, so far as I know, it did not. And I certainly know nothing about it and have made clear that that's not the kind of behavior that I condone or expect from the people working in my campaign. But we have no evidence where it came from.

So I think that it's clear what I would do if it were someone in my campaign, as I have in the past: asking people to leave my campaign if they do things that I disagree with.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, your response.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I take Senator Clinton at her word that she knew nothing about the photo. So I think that's something that we can set aside.

I do want to focus on the issue of health care because Senator Clinton has suggested that the flyer that we put out, the mailing that we put out, was inaccurate. Now, keep in mind that I have consistently said that Senator Clinton's got a good health care plan. I think I have a good health care plan. I think mine is better, but I have said that 95 percent of our health care plan is similar.

I have endured over the course of this campaign repeatedly negative mailing from Senator Clinton in Iowa, in Nevada and other places suggesting that I want to leave 15 million people out.

According to Senator Clinton, that is accurate. I dispute it, and I think it is inaccurate. On the other hand, I don't fault Senator Clinton for wanting to point out what she thinks is an advantage to her plan.

The reason she thinks that there are more people covered under her plan than mine is because of a mandate. That is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care.

And the mailing that we put out accurately indicates that the main difference between Senator Clinton's plan and mine is the fact that she would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care.

If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts, which leaves 20 percent of the uninsured out. And if that's the case, then, in fact, her claim that she covers everybody is not accurate.

Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate. She hasn't indicated what level of subsidy she would provide to assure that it was, in fact, affordable. And so it is entirely legitimate for us to point out these differences.

But I think it's very important to understand the context of this, and that is that Senator Clinton has -- her campaign, at least -- has constantly sent out negative attacks on us, e-mail, robocalls, flyers, television ads, radio calls.

And, you know, we haven't whined about it because I understand that's the nature of these campaigns, but to suggest somehow that our mailing is somehow different from the kinds of approaches that Senator Clinton has taken throughout this campaign I think is simply not accurate.

MR. WILLIAMS: And Senator Clinton, on this subject --

SEN. CLINTON: But I have to -- I have to respond to that because this is not just any issue, and certainly we've had a vigorous back and forth on both sides of our campaign. But this is an issue that goes to the heart of whether or not this country will finally do what is right, and that is to provide quality affordable health care to every single person.

Senator Obama has a mandate in his plan. It's a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children. That's about 150 million people who would be required to do that. The difference between Senator Obama and myself is that I know, from the work I've done on health care for many years, that if everyone's not in the system we will continue to let the insurance companies do what's called cherry picking -- pick those who get insurance and leave others out.

We will continue to have a hidden tax, so that when someone goes to the emergency room without insurance -- 15 million or however many -- that amount of money that will be used to take care of that person will be then spread among all the rest of us.

And most importantly, you know, the kind of attack on my health care plan, which the University of Pennsylvania and others have said is misleading -- that attack goes right to the heart of whether or not we will be able to achieve universal health care. That's a core Democratic Party value. It's something that ever since Harry Truman we have stood for.

And what I find regrettable is that in Senator Obama's mailing that he has sent out across Ohio, it is almost as though the health insurance companies and the Republicans wrote it, because in my plan there is enough money, according to the independent experts who've evaluated it, to provide the kind of subsidies so that everyone would be able to afford it. It is not the same as a single state trying to do this, because the federal government has many more resources at its disposal.

SEN. OBAMA (?): (Inaudible.)

SEN. CLINTON: So I think it's imperative that we stand as Democrats for universal health care. I've staked out a claim for that. Senator Edwards did. Others have. But Senator Obama has not.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, a quick response.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, I believe in universal health care, as does Senator Clinton. And this is -- this is, I think, the point of the debate, is that Senator Clinton repeatedly claims that I don't stand for universal health care. And, you know, for Senator Clinton to say that, I think, is simply not accurate.

Every expert has said that anybody who wants health care under my plan will be able to obtain it. President Clinton's own secretary of Labor has said that my plan does more to reduce costs and as a consequence makes sure that the people who need health care right now all across Ohio, all across Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont, all across America, will be able to obtain it. And we do more to reduce costs than any other plan that's been out there.

Now, I have no objection to Senator Clinton thinking that her approach is superior, but the fact of the matter is, is that if, as we've heard tonight, we still don't know how Senator Clinton intends to enforce a mandate, and if we don't know the level of subsidies that she's going to provide, then you can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in the state of Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care but choose to accept the fine because they still can't afford it, even with the subsidies.

And they are then worse off. They then have no health care and are paying a fine above and beyond that.

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SEN. OBAMA: That is a genuine difference between myself and Senator Clinton.

And the last point I would make is, the insurance companies actually are happy to have a mandate. The insurance companies don't mind making sure that everybody has to purchase their product. That's not something they're objecting to. The question is, are we going to make sure that it is affordable for everybody? And that's my goal when I'm president of the United States.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, as you two --

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Brian -- Brian, wait a minute. I've got -- this is too important.

You know, Senator Obama has a mandate. He would enforce the mandate by requiring parents to buy insurance for their children.

SEN. OBAMA: This is true.

SEN. CLINTON: That is the case.

If you have a mandate, it has to be enforceable. So there's no difference here.

SEN. OBAMA: No, there is a difference.

SEN. CLINTON: It's just that I know that parents who get sick have terrible consequences for their children. So you can insure the children, and then you've got the bread-winner who can't afford health insurance or doesn't have it for him or herself.

And in fact, it would be as though Franklin Roosevelt said let's make Social Security voluntary -- that's -- you know, that's -- let's let everybody get in it if they can afford it -- or if President Johnson said let's make Medicare voluntary.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, let me --

SEN. CLINTON: What we have said is that at the point of employment, at the point of contact with various government agencies, we would have people signed up. It's like when you get a 401(k), it's your employer. The employer automatically enrolls you. You would be enrolled.

And under my plan, it is affordable because, number one, we have enough money in our plan. A comparison of the plans like the ones we're proposing found that actually I would cover nearly everybody at a much lower cost than Senator Obama's plan because we would not only provide these health care tax credits, but I would limit the amount of money that anyone ever has to pay for a premium to a low percentage of your income. So it will be affordable.

Now, if you want to say that we shouldn't try to get everyone into health insurance, that's a big difference, because I believe if we don't have universal health care, we will never provide prevention.

I have the most aggressive measures to reduce costs and improve quality. And time and time again, people who have compared our two approaches have concluded that.

SEN. OBAMA: Brian, I'm sorry.

SEN. CLINTON: So let's -- let's have a debate about the facts.

SEN. OBAMA: I'm going to get filibuttered -- I'm getting filibustered a little bit here.

MR. WILLIAMS: The last answer on this topic.

SEN. OBAMA: I mean, it is just not accurate to say that Senator Clinton does more to control costs than mine. That is not the case. There are many experts who have concluded that she does not.

I do provide a mandate for children, because, number one, we have created a number of programs in which we can have greater assurance that those children will be covered at an affordable price. On the -- on the point of many adults, we don't want to put in a situation in which, on the front end, we are mandating them, we are forcing them to purchase insurance, and if the subsidies are inadequate, the burden is on them, and they will be penalized. And that is what Senator Clinton's plan does.

Now, I am -- I am happy to have a discussion with Senator Clinton about how we can both achieve the goal of universal health care. What I do not accept -- and which is what Senator Clinton has consistently done and in fact the same experts she cites basically say there's no real difference between our plans, that are -- that they are not substantial.

But it has to do with how we are going to achieve universal health care. That is an area where I believe that if we make it affordable, people will purchase it. In fact, Medicare Part B is not mandated, it is voluntary. And yet people over 65 choose to purchase it, Hillary, and the reason they choose to purchase it is because it's a good deal. And if people in Cleveland or anywhere in Ohio end up seeing a plan that is affordable for them, I promise you they are snatching it up because they are desperate to get health care. And that's what I intend to provide as president of the United States.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, I'm going to change the subject.

SEN. CLINTON: About 20 percent of -- about 20 percent of the people who are uninsured have the means to buy insurance. They're often young people --

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator --

SEN. CLINTON: -- who think they're immortal --

SEN. OBAMA: Which is why I cover them.

SEN. CLINTON: -- except when the illness or the accident strikes. And what Senator Obama has said, that then, once you get to the hospital, you'll be forced to buy insurance, I don't think that's a good idea. We ought to plan for it --

SEN. OBAMA: With respect --

SEN. CLINTON: -- and we ought to make sure we cover everyone.

That is the only way to get to universal health care coverage.

SEN. OBAMA: With respect --

SEN. CLINTON: That is what I've worked for for 15 years --

SEN. OBAMA: With respect --

SEN. CLINTON: -- and I believe that we can achieve it. But if we don't even have a plan to get there, and we start out by leaving people, you'll never ever control costs, improve quality, and cover everyone.

SEN. OBAMA: With respect to the young people, my plan specifically says that up until the age of 25 you will be able to be covered under your parents' insurance plan, so that cohort that

Senator Clinton is talking about will, in fact, have coverage.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, a 16-minute discussion on health care is certainly a start. (Laughter.) I'd like to change up --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, there's hardly anything be more important? I think it would be good to talk about health care and how we're we going get to universal health care.

MR. WILLIAMS: I -- well, here's another important topic, and that's NAFTA, especially where we're sitting here tonight. And this is a tough one depending on who you ask. The Houston Chronicle has called it a big win for Texas, but Ohio Democratic Senator Brown, your colleague in the Senate, has called it a job-killing trade agreement. Senator Clinton, you've campaigned in south Texas. You've campaigned here in Ohio. Who's right?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I -- you know, I'll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw "Saturday Night Live," you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow. (Laughter, boos.) I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues. But I'm happy to answer it.

You know, I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn't have a public position on it, because I was part of the administration, but when I started running for the Senate, I have been a critic. I've said it was flawed. I said that it worked in some parts of our country, and I've seen the results in Texas. I was in Laredo in the last couple of days. It's the largest inland port in America now. So clearly, some parts of our country have been benefited.

But what I have seen, where I represent up-state New York, I've seen the factories closed and moved. I've talked to so many people whose children have left because they don't have a good shot. I've had to negotiate to try to keep factories open, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, because the companies got tax benefits to actually move to another country.

So what I have said is that we need to have a plan to fix NAFTA. I would immediately have a trade timeout, and I would take that time to try to fix NAFTA by making it clear that we'll have core labor and environmental standards in the agreement.

We will do everything we can to make it enforceable, which it is not now. We will stop the kind of constant sniping at our protections for our workers that can come from foreign companies because they have the authority to try to sue to overturn what we do to keep our workers safe.

This is rightly a big issue in Ohio. And I have laid out my criticism, but in addition my plan, for actually fixing NAFTA. Again, I have received a lot of incoming criticism from Senator Obama. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer examined Senator Obama's attacks on me regarding NAFTA and said they were erroneous. So I would hope that, again, we can get to a debate about what the real issues are and where we stand because we do need to fix NAFTA. It is not working. It was, unfortunately, heavily disadvantaging many of our industries, particularly manufacturing. I have a record of standing up for that, of chairing the Manufacturing Caucus in the Senate, and I will take a tough position on these trade agreements.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.

Before we turn the questioning over to Tim Russert, Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that it is inaccurate for Senator Clinton to say that she's always opposed NAFTA. In her campaign for Senate, she said that NAFTA, on balance, had been good for New York and good for America. I disagree with that. I think that it did not have the labor standards and environmental standards that were required in order to not just be good for Wall Street but also be good for Main Street. And if you travel through Youngstown and you travel through communities in my home state of Illinois, you will see entire cities that have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements that were not adequately structured to make sure that U.S. workers had a fair deal.

Now, I think that Senator Clinton has shifted positions on this and believes that we should have strong environmental standards and labor standards, and I think that's a good thing. But you know, when I first moved to Chicago in the early '80s and I saw steelworkers who had been laid off of their plants -- black, white, and Hispanic -- and I worked on the streets of Chicago to try to help them find jobs, I saw then that the net costs of many of these trade agreements, if they're not properly structured, can be devastating.

And as president of the United States, I intend to make certain that every agreement that we sign has the labor standards, the environmental standards and the safety standards that are going to protect not just workers, but also consumers. We can't have toys with lead paint in them that our children are playing with. We can't have medicines that are actually making people more sick instead of better because they're produced overseas. We have to stop providing tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States of America.

And if we do those things, then I believe that we can actually get Ohio back on the path of growth and jobs and prosperity. If we don't, then we're going to continue to see the kind of deterioration that we've seen economically here in this state.

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you both about NAFTA because the record, I think, is clear. And I want to -- Senator Clinton. Senator Obama said that you did say in 2004 that on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America. You did say that. When President Clinton signed this bill -- and this was after he negotiated two new side agreements, for labor and environment -- President Clinton said it would be a force for economic growth and social progress. You said in '96 it was proving its worth as free and fair trade. You said that -- in 2000 -- it was a good idea that took political courage. So your record is pretty clear.

Based on that, and which you're now expressing your discomfort with it, in the debate that Al Gore had with Ross Perot, Al Gore said the following: "If you don't like NAFTA and what it's done, we can get out of it in six months.

The president can say to Canada and Mexico, we are out. This has not been a good agreement." Will U.S. president say we are out of NAFTA in six months?

SEN. CLINTON: I have said that I will renegotiate NAFTA, so obviously, you'd have to say to Canada and Mexico that that's exactly what we're going to do. But you know, in fairness --

MR. RUSSERT: Just because -- maybe Clinton --

SEN. CLINTON: Yes, I am serious.

MR. RUSSERT: You will get out. You will notify Mexico and Canada, NAFTA is gone in six months.

SEN. CLINTON: No, I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America.

But let's be fair here, Tim. There are lots of parts of New York that have benefitted, just like there are lots of parts of Texas that have benefitted. The problem is in places like upstate New York, places like Youngstown, Toledo, and others throughout Ohio that have not benefitted. And if you look at what I have been saying, it has been consistent.

You know, Senator Obama told the farmers of Illinois a couple of years ago that he wanted more trade agreements. I -- right now --

MR. RUSSERT: We're going to get -- we're going to get to Senator Obama, but I want to stay on your terms --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, but that -- but that is important --

MR. RUSSERT: -- because this was something that you wrote about as a real success for your husband. You said it was good on balance for New York and America in 2004, and now you're in Ohio and your words are much different, Senator. The record is very clear.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I -- I -- you don't have all the record because you can go back and look at what I've said consistently. And I haven't just said things; I have actually voted to toughen trade agreements, to try to put more teeth into our enforcement mechanisms. And I will continue to do so.

But you know, Tim, when you look at what the Cleveland Plain Dealer said when they examined the kind of criticism that Senator Obama was making of me -- it's not me saying it -- they said it was erroneous. And it was erroneous because it didn't look at the entire picture, both at what I've said and what I've done.

But let's talk about what we're going to do. It is not enough just to criticize NAFTA, which I have, and for some years now. I have put forward a very specific plan about what I would do, and it does include telling Canada and Mexico that we will opt out unless we renegotiate the core labor and environmental standards -- not side agreements, but core agreements; that we will enhance the enforcement mechanism; and that we will have a very clear view of how we're going to review NAFTA going forward to make sure it works, and we're going to take out the ability of foreign companies to sue us because of what we do to protect our workers.

I would also say that you can go back and look at from the very beginning -- I think David Gergen was on TV today remembering that I was very skeptical about it.

It has worked in some parts of America. It has not worked in Ohio. It has not worked in upstate New York. And since I've been in the Senate -- neither of us voted on this. That wasn't something either of us got to cast an independent vote on. Since I have been in the Senate, I have worked to try to ameliorate the impact of these trade agreements.

MR. RUSSERT: But let me button this up. Absent the change that you're suggesting, you are willing to opt out of NAFTA in six months?

SEN. CLINTON: I'm confident that as president, when I say we will opt out unless we renegotiate, we will be able to renegotiate.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, you did in 2004 talk to farmers and suggest that NAFTA had been helpful. The Associated Press today ran a story about NAFTA, saying that you have been consistently ambivalent towards the issue. Simple question: Will you, as president, say to Canada and Mexico, "This has not worked for us; we are out"?

SEN. OBAMA: I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about. And I think actually Senator Clinton's answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. And that is not what has been happening so far.

That is something that I have been consistent about. I have to say, Tim, with respect to my position on this, when I ran for the United States Senate, the Chicago Tribune, which was adamantly pro-NAFTA, noted that, in their endorsement of me, they were endorsing me despite my strong opposition to NAFTA.

And that conversation that I had with the Farm Bureau, I was not ambivalent at all. What I said was that NAFTA and other trade deals can be beneficial to the United States because I believe every U.S. worker is as productive as any worker around the world, and we can compete with anybody. And we can't shy away from globalization. We can't draw a moat around us. But what I did say, in that same quote, if you look at it, was that the problem is we've been negotiating just looking at corporate profits and what's good for multinationals, and we haven't been looking at what's good for communities here in Ohio, in my home state of Illinois, and across the country.

And as president, what I want to be is an advocate on behalf of workers. Look, you know, when I go to these plants, I meet people who are proud of their jobs. They are proud of the products that they've created. They have built brands and profits for their companies. And when they see jobs shipped overseas and suddenly they are left not just without a job, but without health care, without a pension, and are having to look for seven-buck-an-hour jobs at the local fast-food joint, that is devastating on them, but it's also devastating on the community. That's not the way that we're going to prosper as we move forward.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, two journalists here in Ohio wrote a piece called "Business as Usual," which is very well known, suggesting it wasn't trade or manufacturing jobs that were being lost because of it, but rather business as usual: lack of patents, lack of innovation, lack of investment, 70 percent of the Ph.D.s in biology, chemistry, engineering leaving the state.

The fact is, exports now have the highest share of our national income ever. Ohio ranks fourth in terms of exports to Canada and Mexico. Are you sure this has not been better for Ohio than you're suggesting?

SEN. OBAMA: I'm positive it hasn't been better for Ohio. But you are making a very legitimate point, which is, is that this trade (can/can't ?) be the only part of our economic agenda. But we've seen seven years in which we have a president who has been looking out for the well-heeled and people who are doing very well in the global economy, in the financial industries, in the telecommunications industries, and has not been looking out for ordinary workers.

What do we have to do? We're going to have to invest in infrastructure to make sure that we're competitive. And I've got a plan to do that. We're going to have to invest in science and technology. We've got to vastly improve our education system. We have to look at energy and the potential for creating green jobs that can not just save on our energy costs but, more importantly, can create jobs in building windmills that will produce manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, can put rural communities back on their feet by working on alternative fuels, making buildings more energy efficient.

We can hire young people who are out of work and put them to work in the trade. So there are all sorts of things that we're going to have to do to make the United States economy much more competitive, and those are plans that I have put forward in this campaign and I expect to pursue as president of the United States of America.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, on the issue of jobs, I watched you the other day with your economic blueprint in Wisconsin saying, this is my plan; hold me accountable. And I've had a chance to read it very carefully. It does say that you pledge to create 5 million new jobs over 10 years.

And I was reminded of your campaign in 2000 in Buffalo, my hometown, just three hours down Route 90, where you pledged 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York. There's been a net loss of 30,000 jobs. And when you were asked about your pledge, your commitment, you told The Buffalo News, "I might have been a little exuberant." Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?

SEN. CLINTON: No, Tim, because what happened in 2000 is that I thought Al Gore was going to be president. And when I made the pledge I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity.

And as you know, despite the difficulties of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress for six years of my first term I have worked very hard to create jobs but obviously as president I will have a lot more tools at my disposal. And the reason why we can create at least 5 million new jobs -- I mean, this is not a big leap. Twenty-two point seven million new jobs were created during the eight years of the Clinton administration under my husband. We can create at least 5 million new jobs.

I'm not just talking about it. I helped to pass legislation to begin a training program for green collar jobs. I want to see people throughout Ohio being trained to do the work that will put solar panels on roofs, install wind turbines, do geothermal, take advantage of biofuels, and I know that if we had put $5 billion into the stimulus package to really invest in the training and the tax incentives that would have created those jobs as the Democrats wanted, as I originally proposed, we would be on the way to creating those.

You know, take a country like Germany. They made a big bet on solar power. They have a smaller economy and population than ours.

They've created several hundred thousand new jobs, and these are jobs that can't be outsourced. These are jobs that have to be done in Youngstown, in Dayton, in Cincinnati. These are jobs that we can create here with the right combination of tax incentives, training, and a commitment to following through. So I do think that at least 5 million jobs are fully capable of being produced within the next 10 years.


MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, yesterday Senator Clinton gave a speech on foreign policy and I'm going to read you a quote from it. Quote, "We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We cannot let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many." Some of the comments in the speech were more pointed. The senator has compared your foreign policy expertise to that of George W. Bush at the same period. Provided you could be going into a general election against a Republican with vast foreign policy expertise and credibility on national security, how were her comments about you unfair?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Senator Clinton I think equates experience with longevity in Washington. I don't think the American people do and I don't think that if you look at the judgments that we've made over the last several years that that's the accurate measure. On the most important foreign policy decision that we face in a generation -- whether or not to go into Iraq -- I was very clear as to why we should not -- that it would fan the flames of anti-American sentiment -- that it would distract us from Afghanistan -- that it would cost us billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and would not make us more safe, and I do not believe it has made us more safe.

Al Qaeda is stronger than anytime since 2001 according to our own intelligence estimates, and we are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another 100 years, spending $12 billion a month that could be invested in the kinds of programs that both Senator Clinton and I are talking about. So on Pakistan, during the summer I suggested that not only do we have to take a new approach towards Musharraf but we have to get much more serious about hunting down terrorists that are currently in northwestern Pakistan.

And many people said at the time well, you can't target those terrorists because Musharraf is our ally and we don't want to offend him. In fact, what we had was neither stability in Pakistan nor democracy in Pakistan, and had we pursued a policy that was looking at democratic reforms in Pakistan we would be much further along now than we are. So on the critical issues that actually matter I believe that my judgment has been sound and it has been judgment that I think has been superior to Senator Clinton's as well as Senator McCain's.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, Senator Clinton, in the last debate you seemed to take a pass on the question of whether or not Senator Obama was qualified to be commander in chief. Is your contention in this latest speech that America would somehow be taking a chance on Senator Obama as commander in chief?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?

And on a number of other issues, I just believe that, you know, as Senator Obama said, yes, last summer he basically threatened to bomb Pakistan, which I don't think was a particularly wise position to take. I have long advocated a much tougher approach to Musharraf and to Pakistan, and have pushed the White House to do that.

And I disagree with his continuing to say that he would meet with some of the worst dictators in the world without preconditions and without the real, you know, understanding of what we would get from it.

So I think you've got to look at, you know, what I have done over a number of years, traveling on behalf of our country to more than 80 countries, meeting and working out a lot of different issues that are important to our national security and our foreign policy and our values, serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee for now five years. And I think that, you know, standing on that stage with Senator McCain, if he is, as appears to be, the nominee, I will have a much better case to make on a range of the issues that really America must confront going forward, and will be able to hold my own and make the case for a change in policy that will be better for our country.

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, a quick response.

SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

And so when I bring this up, it is not simply to say "I told you so," but it is to give you an insight in terms of how I would make decisions.

And the fact was, this was a big strategic blunder. It was not a matter of, well, here is the initial decision, but since then we've voted the same way. Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out. The question is, who's making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch? And the fact is that Senator Clinton often says that she is ready on day one, but in fact she was ready to give in to George Bush on day one on this critical issue. So the same person that she criticizes for having terrible judgment, and we can't afford to have another one of those, in fact she facilitated and enabled this individual to make a decision that has been strategically damaging to the United States of America.

With respect to Pakistan, I never said I would bomb Pakistan. What I said was that if we have actionable intelligence against bin Laden or other key al Qaeda officials, and we -- and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to strike against them, we should. And just several days ago, in fact, this administration did exactly that and took out the third-ranking al Qaeda official.

That is the position that we should have taken in the first place. And President Musharraf is now indicating that he would generally be more cooperative in some of these efforts, we don't know how the new legislature in Pakistan will respond, but the fact is it was the right strategy.

And so my claim is not simply based on a speech. It is based on the judgments that I've displayed during the course of my service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while I've been in the United States Senate, and as somebody who, during the course of this campaign, I think has put forward a plan that will provide a clean break against Bush and Cheney. And that is how we're going to be able to debate John McCain. Having a debate with John McCain where your positions were essentially similar until you started running for president, I think, does not put you in a strong position.

Tim Russert.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I guess that --

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about the future -- let me talk the future about Iraq, because this is important, I think, to Democratic voters particularly. You both have pledged the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. You both have said you'd keep a residual force there to protect our embassy, to seek out al Qaeda, to neutralize Iran. If the Iraqi government said, President Clinton or President Obama, you're pulling out your troops this quickly?

You're going to be gone in a year, but you're going to leave a residual force behind? No. Get out. Get out now. If you don't want to stay and protect us, we're a sovereign nation. Go home now." Will you leave?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, if the Iraqi government says that we should be there, then we cannot be there. This is a sovereign government, as George Bush continually reminds us.

Now, I think that we can be in a partnership with Iraq to ensure the stability and the safety of the region, to ensure the safety of Iraqis and to meet our national security interests.

But in order to do that, we have to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there permanently, which is why I have said that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we will initiate a phased withdrawal, we will be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. We will give ample time for them to stand up, to negotiate the kinds of agreements that will arrive at the political accommodations that are needed. We will provide them continued support. But it is important for us not to be held hostage by the Iraqi government in a policy that has not made us more safe, that's distracting us from Afghanistan, and is costing us dearly, not only and most importantly in the lost lives of our troops, but also the amount of money that we are spending that is unsustainable and will prevent us from engaging in the kinds of investments in America that will make us more competitive and more safe.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, if the Iraqis said I'm sorry, we're not happy with this arrangement; if you're not going to stay in total and defend us, get out completely; they are a sovereign nation, you would listen?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. And I believe that there is no military solution that the Americans who have been valiant in doing everything they were asked to do can really achieve in the absence of full cooperation from the Iraqi government. And --

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask -- let me ask you this, Senator. I want to ask you --

SEN. CLINTON: And they need to take responsibility for themselves. And --

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask both of you this question, then. If we -- if this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals. And I believe that what's --

MR. RUSSERT: But this is reality.

SEN. CLINTON: No -- well, it isn't reality. You're -- you're -- you're making lots of different hypothetical assessments.

I believe that it is in America's interests and in the interests of the Iraqis for us to have an orderly withdrawal. I've been saying for many months that the administration has to do more to plan, and I've been pushing them to actually do it. I've also said that I would begin to withdraw within 60 days based on a plan that I asked begun to be put together as soon as I became president.

And I think we can take out one to two brigades a month. I've also been a leader in trying to prevent President Bush from getting us committed to staying in Iraq regardless for as long as Senator McCain and others have said it might be, 50 to a hundred years.

So, when you talk about what we need to do in Iraq, we have to make judgments about what is in the best interest of America. And I believe this is in the best interest.

But I also have heard Senator Obama refer continually to Afghanistan, and he references being on the Foreign Relations Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Europe. It has jurisdiction over NATO. NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan. He's held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.

You have to look at the entire situation to try to figure out how we can stabilize Afghanistan and begin to put more in there to try to get some kind of success out of it, and you have to work with the Iraqi government so that they take responsibility for their own future.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, I want you to respond to not holding oversight for your subcommittee. But also, do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn, with sizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civil war?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.

I have been very clear in talking to the American people about what I would do with respect to Afghanistan.

I think we have to have more troops there to bolster the NATO effort. I think we have to show that we are not maintaining permanent bases in Iraq because Secretary Gates, our current Defense secretary, indicated that we are getting resistance from our allies to put more troops into Afghanistan because they continue to believe that we made a blunder in Iraq and I think even this administration acknowledges now that they are hampered now in doing what we need to do in Afghanistan in part because of what's happened in Iraq.

Now, I always reserve the right for the president -- as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not just in Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argument with respect to Pakistan.

I think we should always cooperate with our allies and sovereign nations in making sure that we are rooting out terrorist organizations, but if they are planning attacks on Americans, like what happened in 9/11, it is my job -- it will be my job as president to make sure that we are hunting them down.

MR. WILLIAMS: And Senator, I need to reserve --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, but I have -- I just have to add --

MR. WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, Senator, I've got to --

SEN. CLINTON: Now wait a minute, I have to add --

MR. WILLIAMS: I've got to get us to a break because television doesn't stop.

SEN. CLINTON: -- because the question -- the question was about invading -- invading -- Iraq.

MR. WILLIAMS: Can you hold that thought until we come back from a break? We have limited commercial interruptions tonight, and we have to get to one of them now. Despite the snowstorm swirling outside here in Cleveland, we're having a warm night in the arena. We'll return to it right after this. (Laughter, applause.)


(Cheers, applause.)

MR. WILLIAMS: We are back, and because our first segment went long and we are in a large arena -- (cheers, applause) --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off mike) -- for Hillary!

MR. WILLIAMS: -- we are just now welcoming back both of our candidates to the stage and asking our cooperation of the audience.

We're back live tonight in Cleveland, Ohio.

Senator Obama, we started tonight talking about what could be construed as a little hyperbole. Happens from time to time on the campaign trail. You have recently been called out on some yourself. I urge you to look at your monitor and we'll take a look.

SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) Now I could stand up here and say: Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified. The sky will open -- (laughter) -- the light will come down -- (laughter) -- celestial choirs will be singing -- (laughter) -- and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect!

SEN. OBAMA: Sounds good! (Laughter.)

MR. WILLIAMS: Of all the charges -- (laughter, applause) -- of all the charges and countercharges made tonight, we can confirm that is not you, Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: (Chuckles.)

MR. WILLIAMS: That was Senator Clinton. But since we played that tape, albeit in error, for this segment, how did you take that?

SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.)


MR. WILLIAMS: How did you take those remarks when you heard them?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I thought Senator Clinton showed some good humor there. I would give her points for delivery.

SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.)


SEN. OBAMA: Look, I understand the broader point that Senator Clinton's been trying to make over the last several weeks. You know, she characterizes it typically as speeches, not solutions, or talk versus action. And as I said in the last debate, I've spent 20 years devoted to working on behalf of families who are having a tough time and they're seeking out the American dream. That's how I started my career in public service, that's how I brought Democrats and Republicans together to provide health care to people who needed it, that's how I helped to reform a welfare system that wasn't working in Illinois, that's how I've provided tax breaks to people who really needed them as opposed to just the wealthy, and so I'm very proud of that track record.

And if Senator Clinton thinks that it's all talk, you know, you got to tell that to the wounded warriors at Walter Reed who had to pay for their food and pay for their phone calls before I got to the Senate. And I changed that law. Or talk to those folks who I think have recognized that special interests are dominating Washington and pushing aside the agenda of ordinary families here in Ohio.

And so when I pass an ethics reform bill that makes sure that lobbyists can't get gifts or meals or provide corporate jets to members of Congress and they have to disclose who they're getting money from and who they're bundling it for, that moves us in the direction of making sure that we have a government that is more responsive to families.

Just one point I'll make, I was in Cincinnati, met with four women at a table like this one. And these were middle-aged women who, as one woman put it, had done everything right and never expected to find themselves in the situation where they don't have health care. One of them doesn't have a job. One of them is looking after an aging parent. Two of them were looking after disabled children. One of them was dipping into their retirement accounts because she had been put on disability on the job. And you hear these stories and what you realize is nobody has been listening to them. That is not who George Bush or Dick Cheney has been advocating for over the last seven years.

And so I am not interested in talk. I am not interested in speeches. I would not be running if I wasn't absolutely convinced that I can put an economic agenda forward that is going to provide them with health care, is going to make college more affordable, and is going to get them the kinds of help that they need not to solve all their problems, but at least to be able to achieve the American dream.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, let me ask you, Senator Clinton: What did you mean by that piece of videotape we saw from the campaign?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I was having a little fun. You know, it's hard to find time to have fun on the campaign trail, but occasionally you can sneak that in.

But the larger point is that I know trying to get health insurance for every American that's affordable will not be easy. It's not going to come about just because we hope it will or we tell everybody it's the right thing to do. You know, 15 years ago I tangled with the health insurance industry and the drug companies, and I know it takes a fighter. It takes somebody who will go toe-to-toe with the special interests.

You know, I have put forth very specific ideas about how we can get back $55 billion from the special interests -- the giveaways to the oil companies, the credit card companies, the student loan companies, the health insurance companies. These have all been basically pushed on to these special interests not just because of what the White House did, but because members of Congress went along. And I want to get that money back and invest it in the American middle class -- health care, college affordability, the kinds of needs that people talk to me about throughout Ohio, because what I hear as I go from Toledo to Parma to Cleveland to, you know, Dayton is the same litany that people are working harder than ever, but they're not getting ahead. They feel like they're invisible to their government. So when it came time to vote on Dick Cheney's energy bill, I voted no, and Senator Obama voted yes. When it came time to try to cap interest rates for credit cards at 30 percent -- which I think is way too high, but it was the best we could present -- I voted yes and Senator Obama voted no.

MR. WILLIAMS: And Senator -- Senator --

SEN. CLINTON: So part of what we have to do here is recognize that the special interests are not going to give up without a fight. And I believe that I am a fighter, and I will fight for the people of Ohio and the people of America.

MR. WILLIAMS: What I was attempting to do here is to show something Senator Obama said about you, and I'm told it's ready.

MR. RUSSERT: Let's try it.

MR. WILLIAMS: Let's try it. Hang on. Watch your monitor.

Let's try it. We're going to come back to you.

SEN. OBAMA: But I'm going to have an opportunity to respond to this.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) -- herself as co-president during the Clinton years. Every good thing that happened she says she was a part of. And so the notion that you can selectively pick what you take credit for and then run away from what isn't politically convenient, that doesn't make sense.

MR. WILLIAMS: Now, Senator Obama, you can react to it and whatever you wanted to react to from earlier, but I've been wanting to ask you about this assertion that Senator Clinton has somehow cast herself as co-president.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think what is absolutely true is, is that when Senator Clinton continually talks about her experience, she is including the eight years that she served as first lady, and you know, often says, you know, "Here's what I did."

"Here's what we did." "Here's what we accomplished" -- which is fine.

And I have not -- I have not in any way said that that experience is not relevant, and I don't begrudge her claiming that as experience. What I've said, and what I would continue to maintain, is you can't take credit for all the good things that happened but then, when it comes to issues like NAFTA, you say, well, I -- behind the scenes, I was disagreeing. That doesn't work. So you have to, I think, take both responsibility as well as credit.

Now there are several points that I think Senator Clinton made that I -- we need to discuss here. First of all, she talked about me objecting to caps on credit cards. Keep in mind, I objected to the entire bill -- a bill that Senator Clinton, in its previous version, in 2001 had voted for. And in one of the debates with you guys said, well, I voted for it, but I hoped it wouldn't pass -- which, as a general rule, doesn't work. If you don't want it to pass, you vote against it. (Laughter.)

You know, she mentioned that she is a fighter on health care. And look -- I do not in any way doubt that Senator Clinton genuinely wants to provide health care to all Americans.

What I have said is that the way she approached it back in '93, I think, was wrong in part because she had the view that what's required is simply to fight. And Senator Clinton ended up fighting not just the insurance companies and the drug companies, but also members of her own party. And as a consequence, there were a number of people, like Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Bill Bradley and Pat Moynihan, who were not included in the negotiations. And we had the potential of bringing people together to actually get something done.

I am absolutely clear that hope is not enough. And it is not going to be easy to pass health care. If it was, it would have already gotten done. It's not going to be easy to have a sensible energy policy in this country. ExxonMobil made $11 billion last quarter. They are not going to give up those profits easily.

But what I also believe is that the only way we are going to actually get this stuff done is, number one, we're going to have to mobilize and inspire the American people so that they're paying attention to what their government is doing. And that's what I've been doing in this campaign, and that's what I will do as president.

And there's nothing romantic or silly about that. If the American people are activated, that's how change is going to happen.

The second thing we've going to have to do is we're actually going to have to go after the special interests.

Senator Clinton in one of these speeches -- it may have been the same speech where you showed the clip -- said you can't just wave a magic wand and expect special interests to go away. That is absolutely true, but it doesn't help if you're taking millions of dollars in contributions from those special interests. They are less likely to go away.

So it is important for us to crack down on how these special interests are able to influence Congress. And yes, it is important for us to inspire and mobilize and motivate the American people to get involved and pay attention.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, let me ask you about motivating, inspiring, keeping your word. Nothing more important. Last year you said if you were the nominee you would opt for public financing in the general election of the campaign; try to get some of the money out. You checked "Yes" on a questionnaire. And now Senator McCain has said, calling your bluff, let's do it. You seem to be waffling, saying, well, if we can work on an arrangement here.

Why won't you keep your word in writing that you made to abide by public financing of the fall election?

SEN. OBAMA: Tim, I am not yet the nominee. Now, what I've said is, is that when I am the nominee, if I am the nominee -- because we've still got a bunch of contests left and Senator Clinton's a pretty tough opponent. If I am the nominee, then I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that is fair for both sides, because Tim, as you know, there are all sorts of ways of getting around these loopholes.

Senator McCain is trying to explain some of the things that he has done so far where he accepted public financing money, but people aren't exactly clear whether all the T's were crossed and the I's were dotted.

Now what I want to point out, though, more broadly is how we have approached this campaign. I said very early on I would not take PAC money. I would not take money from federal-registered lobbyists. That -- that was a multimillion-dollar decision but it was the right thing to do and the reason we were able to do that was because I had confidence that the American people, if they were motivated, would in fact finance the campaign.

We have now raised 90 percent of our donations from small donors, $25, $50. We average -- our average donation is $109 so we have built the kind of organization that is funded by the American people that is exactly the goal and the aim of everybody who's interested in good government and politics supports.

MR. RUSSERT: So you may opt out of public financing. You may break your word.

SEN. OBAMA: What I -- what I have said is, at the point where I'm the nominee, at the point where it's appropriate, I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, an issue of accountability and credibility. You have loaned your campaign $5 million. You and your husband file a joint return. You refuse to release that joint return, even though former President Clinton has had significant overseas business dealings.

Your chief supporter here in Ohio, Governor Strickland, made releasing his opponent's tax return one of the primary issues of the campaign, saying repeatedly, "Accountability, transparency." If he's not releasing, his campaign said, his tax return, what is he hiding? We should question what's going on.

Why won't you release your tax return, so the voters of Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island know exactly where you and your husband got your money, who might be in part bankrolling your campaign?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, the American people who support me are bankrolling my campaign. That's -- that's obvious. You can look and see the hundreds of thousands of contributions that I've gotten. And ever since I lent my campaign money, people have responded just so generously. I'm thrilled at so many people getting involved. And we're raising, on average, about a million dollars a day on the Internet. And if anybody's out there, wants to contribute, to be part of this campaign, just go to, because that's who's funding my campaign.

And I will release my tax returns. I have consistently said that. And I will --

MR. RUSSERT: Why not now?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I will do it as others have done it: upon becoming the nominee, or even earlier, Tim, because I have been as open as I can be.

You have -- the public has 20 years of records for me, and I have very extensive filings with the Senate where --

MR. RUSSERT: So, before next Tuesday's primary?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I can't get it together by then, but I will certainly work to get it together. I'm a little busy right now; I hardly have time to sleep. But I will certainly work toward releasing, and we will get that done and in the public domain.

MR. RUSSERT: One other issue. You talked about releasing documents. On January 30th, the National Archives released 10,000 pages of your public schedule as first lady. It's now in the custody of former President Clinton. Will you release that -- again, during this primary season that you claim that eight years of experience, let the public know what you did, who you met with those eight years?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. I've urged that the process be as quick as possible. It's a cumbersome process, set up by law. It doesn't just apply to us, it applies to everyone in our position. And I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can. Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible.

MR. RUSSERT: But you've had it for more than a month. Will you get to him -- will you get it to the White House immediately?

SEN. CLINTON: As soon as we can, Tim. I've urged that, and I hope it will happen.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, one of the things in a campaign is that you have to react to unexpected developments.

On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: "Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago." Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you reject his support?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, Tim, you know, I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy. (Laughter.) You know, I -- you know, I -- I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments.

MR. RUSSERT: The problem some voters may have is, as you know, Reverend Farrakhan called Judaism "gutter religion."

OBAMA: Tim, I think -- I am very familiar with his record, as are the American people. That's why I have consistently denounced it.

This is not something new. This is something that -- I live in Chicago. He lives in Chicago. I've been very clear, in terms of me believing that what he has said is reprehensible and inappropriate. And I have consistently distanced myself from him.

RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness."

He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell."

RUSSERT: What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?

OBAMA: Tim, I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago and in this presidential campaign. And the reason is because I have been a stalwart friend of Israel's. I think they are one of our most important allies in the region, and I think that their security is sacrosanct, and that the United States is in a special relationship with them, as is true with my relationship with the Jewish community.

And the reason that I have such strong support is because they know that not only would I not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form, but also because of the fact that what I want to do is rebuild what I consider to be a historic relationship between the African-American community and the Jewish community.

You know, I would not be sitting here were it not for a whole host of Jewish Americans, who supported the civil rights movement and helped to ensure that justice was served in the South. And that coalition has frayed over time around a whole host of issues, and part of my task in this process is making sure that those lines of communication and understanding are reopened.

But, you know, the reason that I have such strong support in the Jewish community and have historically -- it was true in my U.S. Senate campaign and it's true in this presidency -- is because the people who know me best know that I consistently have not only befriended the Jewish community, not only have I been strong on Israel, but, more importantly, I've been willing to speak out even when it is not comfortable.

When I was -- just last point I would make -- when I was giving -- had the honor of giving a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in conjunction with Martin Luther King's birthday in front of a large African-American audience, I specifically spoke out against anti- Semitism within the African-American community. And that's what gives people confidence that I will continue to do that when I'm president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Senator...

CLINTON: I just want to add something here, because I faced a similar situation when I ran for the Senate in 2000 in New York. And in New York, there are more than the two parties, Democratic and Republican. And one of the parties at that time, the Independence Patty, was under the control of people who were anti-Semitic, anti- Israel. And I made it very clear that I did not want their support. I rejected it. I said that it would not be anything I would be comfortable with. And it looked as though I might pay a price for that. But I would not be associated with people who said such inflammatory and untrue charges against either Israel or Jewish people in our country.

And, you know, I was willing to take that stand, and, you know, fortunately the people of New York supported me and I won. But at the time, I thought it was more important to stand on principle and to reject the kind of conditions that went with support like that.

RUSSERT: Are you suggesting Senator Obama is not standing on principle?

CLINTON: No. I'm just saying that you asked specifically if he would reject it. And there's a difference between denouncing and rejecting. And I think when it comes to this sort of, you know, inflammatory -- I have no doubt that everything that Barack just said is absolutely sincere. But I just think, we've got to be even stronger. We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.

OBAMA: Tim, I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

CLINTON: Good. Good. Excellent.


WILLIAMS: Rare audience outburst on the agreement over rejecting and renouncing.

We're going to take advantage of this opportunity to take the second of our limited breaks. We'll be back live from Cleveland right after this.


WILLIAMS: We are back from Cleveland State University. We continue with our debate.

The question beginning this segment is for you, Senator Obama.

The National Journal rates your voting record as more liberal than that of Ted Kennedy.

In a general election, going up against a Republican Party, looking for converts, Republicans, independents, how can you run with a more liberal voting record than Ted Kennedy?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, let's take a look at what the National Journal rated us on.

It turned out that Senator Clinton and I had differences on two votes. The first was on an immigration issue, where the question was whether guest workers could come here, work for two years, go back for a year, and then come back and work for another two years, which meant essentially that you were going to have illegal immigrants for a year, because they wouldn't go back, and I thought it was bad policy.

The second -- and this, I think, is telling in terms of how silly these ratings are -- I supported an office of public integrity, an independent office that would be able to monitor ethics investigations in the Senate, because I thought it was important for the public to know that if there were any ethical violations in the Senate, that they weren't being investigated by the Senators themselves, but there was somebody independent who would do it.

This is something that I've tried to push as part of my ethics package.

OBAMA: It was rejected. And according to the National Journal, that position is a liberal position.

Now, I don't think that's a liberal position. I think there are a lot of Republicans and a lot of Independents who would like to make sure that ethic investigations are not conducted by the people who are potentially being investigated. So the categories don't make sense.

And part of the reason I think a lot of people have been puzzled, why is it that Senator Obama's campaign, the supposed liberal, is attracting more Independent votes than any other candidate in the Democratic primary, and Republican votes as well, and then people are scratching their head? It's because people don't want to go back to those old categories of what's liberal and what's conservative.

They want to see who is making sense, who's fighting for them, who's going to go after the special interests, who is going to champion the issues of health care and making college affordable, and making sure that we have a foreign policy that makes sense? That's what I've been doing, and that's why, you know, the proof is in the pudding. We've been attracting more Independent and Republican support than anybody else, and that's why every poll shows that right now I beat John McCain in a match-up in the general election.

WILLIAMS: Let's go from domestic to foreign affairs and Tim Russert.

RUSSERT: Before the primary on Tuesday, on Sunday, March 2, there's an election in Russia for the successor to President Putin. What can you tell me about the man who's going to be Mr. Putin's successor?

CLINTON: Well, I can tell you that he's a hand-picked successor, that he is someone who is obviously being installed by Putin, who Putin can control, who has very little independence, the best we know. You know, there's a lot of information still to be acquired. That the so-called opposition was basically run out of the political opportunity to wage a campaign against Putin's hand-picked successor, and the so-called leading opposition figure spends most of his time praising Putin. So this is a clever but transparent way for Putin to hold on to power, and it raises serious issues about how we're going to deal with Russia going forward.

I have been very critical of the Bush administration for what I believe to have been an incoherent policy toward Russia. And with the reassertion of Russia's role in Europe, with some of the mischief that they seem to be causing in supporting Iran's nuclear ambitions, for example, it's imperative that we begin to have a more realistic and effective strategy toward Russia. But I have no doubt, as president, even though technically the meetings may be with the man who is labeled as president, the decisions will be made by Putin.

RUSSERT: Who will it be? Do you know his name?

CLINTON: Medvedev -- whatever.



RUSSERT: Senator Obama, do you know anything about him?

OBAMA: Well, I think Senator Clinton speaks accurately about him. He is somebody who was hand-picked by Putin. Putin has been very clear that he will continue to have the strongest hand in Russia in terms of running the government. And, you know, it looks -- just think back to the beginning of President Bush's administration when he said -- you know, he met with Putin, looked into his eyes and saw his soul, and figured he could do business with him.

He then proceeded to neglect our relationship with Russia at a time when Putin was strangling any opposition in the country when he was consolidating power, rattling sabers against his European neighbors, as well as satellites of the former Soviet Union. And so we did not send a signal to Mr. Putin that, in fact, we were going to be serious about issues like human rights, issues like international cooperation that were critical to us. That is something that we have to change.

RUSSERT: He's 42 years old, he's a former law professor. He is Mr. Putin's campaign manager. He is going to be the new president of Russia. And if he says to the Russian troops, you know what, why don't you go help Serbia retake Kosovo, what does President Obama do?

OBAMA: Well, I think that we work with the international community that has also recognized Kosovo, and state that that's unacceptable. But, fortunately, we have a strong international structure anchored in NATO to deal with this issue.

We don't have to work in isolation. And this is an area where I think that the Clinton administration deserves a lot of credit, is, you know, the way in which they put together a coalition that has functioned.

OBAMA: It has not been perfect, but it saved lives. And we created a situation in which not only Kosovo, but other parts of the former Yugoslavia at least have the potential to over time build democracies and enter into the broader European community.

But, you know, be very clear: We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation, as has Great Britain and many other countries in the region. And I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded.

RUSSERT: Before you go, each of you have talked about your careers in public service. Looking back through them, is there any words or vote that you'd like to take back?

Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, obviously, I've said many times that, although my vote on the 2002 authorization regarding Iraq was a sincere vote, I would not have voted that way again.

I would certainly, as president, never have taken us to war in Iraq. And I regret deeply that President Bush waged a preemptive war, which I warned against and said I disagreed with.

But I think that this election has to be about the future. It has to be about what we will do now, how we will deal with what we're going to inherit.

You know, we've just been talking about Russia. We could have gone around the world. We could have gone to Latin America and talked about, you know, the retreat from democracy. We could have talked about Africa and the failure to end the genocide in Darfur.

We could have gone on to talk about the challenge that China faces and the Middle East, which is deteriorating under the pressures of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the interference that is putting Israel's security at stake.

We could have done an entire program, Tim, on what we will inherit from George Bush.

And what I believe is that my experience and my unique qualifications on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue equip me to handle with the problems of today and tomorrow and to be prepared to make those tough decisions in dealing with Putin and others, because we have so much work to do, and we don't have much time to try to make up for our losses.

RUSSERT: But to be clear, you'd like to have your vote back?

CLINTON: Absolutely. I've said that many times.

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, any statements or vote you'd like to take back?

OBAMA: Well, you know, when I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a situation surrounding Terri Schiavo. And I remember how we adjourned with a unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into that decisionmaking process of the families.

It wasn't something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better.

And so that's an example I think of where inaction...

RUSSERT: This is the young woman with the feeding tube...

OBAMA: That's exactly right.

RUSSERT: ... and the family disagreed as to whether it should be removed or not.

OBAMA: And I think that's an example of inaction, and sometimes that can be as costly as action.

But let me say this, since we're wrapping up this debate. We have gone through 20 debates now. And, you know, there is still a lot of fight going on in this contest, and we've got four coming up, and maybe more after that.

But the one thing I'm absolutely clear about is Senator Clinton has campaigned magnificently. She is an outstanding public servant. And I'm very proud to have been campaigning with her.

And part of what I think both of us are interested in, regardless of who wins the nomination, is actually delivering for the American people.

You know, there is a vanity aspect and ambition aspect to politics. But when you spend as much time as Senator Clinton and I have spent around the country, and you hear heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story, and you realize that people's expectations are so modest.

You know, they're not looking for government to solve all of their problems. They just want a little bit of a hand-up to keep them in their homes if they're about to be foreclosed upon, or to make sure their kids can go to college to live out the American dream.

You know, it is absolutely critical that we change how business is done in Washington and we remind ourselves of what government is supposed to be about.

And, you know, I have a lot of confidence that whoever ends up being the nominee that the Democratic standard-bearer will try to restore that sense of public service to our government. That's why I think we're both running, and I'm very pleased that I've had this opportunity to run with Senator Clinton.

RUSSERT: But the voters can only choose one, Brian.

RUSSERT: And I think you have a question.

WILLIAMS: Well, we don't have such thing in our format as a closing statement, but I am going to ask a closing and fundamental question of you both. And I'll ask it of you fist, Senator Obama.

What is the fundamental question you believe Senator Clinton must answer along the way to the voters here in Ohio and in Texas, and for that matter across the country, in order to prove her worthiness as the nominee? And then we will ask the same question of Senator Clinton.

OBAMA: I have to say, Brian, I think she is -- she would be worthy as a nominee. Now, I think I'd be better. Otherwise, I wouldn't be running. But there's no doubt that Senator Clinton is qualified and capable and would be a much better president than John McCain, who I respect and I honor his service to this country, but essentially has tethered himself to the failed policies of George Bush over the last seven years.

On economics, he wants to continue tax cuts to the wealthy that we can't afford, and on foreign policy he wants to continue a war that not only can we not afford in terms of money, but we can't afford in terms of lives and is not making us more safe. We can't afford it in terms of strategy.

So I don't think that Senator Clinton has to answer a question as to whether she's capable of being president or our standard bearer.

I will say this, that the reason I think I'm better as the nominee is that I can bring this country together I think in a unique way, across divisions of race, religion, region. And that is what's going to be required in order for us to actually deliver on the issues that both Senator Clinton and I care so much about.

And I also think I have a track record, starting from the days I moved to Chicago as a community organizer, when I was in my 20s, on through my work in state government, on through my work as a United States senator, I think I bring a unique bias in favor of opening up government, pushing back special interests, making government more accountable so that the American people can have confidence that their voice is being heard.

Those are things -- those are qualities that I bring to this race, and I hope that the people of Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont decide that those are qualities that they need in the next president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, same question, and that is again -- is there a fundamental question Senator Obama must answer to the voters in this state and others as to his worthiness?

CLINTON: Well, Brian, there isn't any doubt that, you know, both of us feel strongly about our country, that we bring enormous energy and commitment to this race and would bring that to the general election and to the White House.

As I said last week, you know, it's been an honor to campaign. I still intend to do everything I can to win, but it has been an honor, because it has been a campaign that is history making.

You know, obviously I am thrilled to be running, to be the first woman president, which I think would be a sea change in our country and around the world, and would give enormous...


... you know, enormous hope and, you know, a real challenge to the way things have been done, and who gets to do them, and what the rules are.

So I feel that either one of us will make history.

The question that I have been posing is, who can actually change the country? And I do believe that my experience over 35 years in the private sector as well as the public and the not-for-profit sector, gives me an understanding and an insight into how best to make the changes that we all know we have to see.

You know, when I wasn't successful about getting universal health care, I didn't give up. I just got to work and helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program. And, you know, today in Ohio 140,000 kids have health insurance. And yet this morning in Lorain, a mother said that she spent with the insurance and everything over $3 million taking care of her daughter, who had a serious accident. And she just looked at me, as so many mothers and fathers have over so many years, and said, "will you help us?"

That's what my public life has been about. I want to help the people of this country get the chances they deserve to have. And I will do whatever I can here in Ohio, in Texas, Rhode Island, in the states to come making that case. Because I think we do need a fighter back in the White House.

You know, the wealthy and the well-connected have had a president. It's time we had a president for the middle class and working people, the people who get up every day and do the very best they can. And they deserve somebody who gets up in that White House and goes to bat for them.

And that's what I will do.

WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.

[End Transmission Voice of Blogistan]

26 February 2008

The Texas Showdown

[Begin Transmission Voice of Blogistan]

transcript from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Feb. 20: Austin Debate - Clinton vs. Obama

The following is a transcript of the Feb. 20 Democratic debate in Austin, Texas, sponsored by CNN and Univision, as provided by Federal News Service.


MS. BROWN: And we have given the candidates the opportunity to make opening statements. The order was determined by a draw. Senator Obama won the draw and elected to go second, so please go ahead, Senator Clinton.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, thank you.

And I am just delighted to be back here in Austin. You know, nearly 36 years ago I came to Austin for my very first political job, and that was registering voters in south Texas. And I had the great privilege of living for a while in Austin and in San Antonio, and meeting people and making friends that have stayed with me for a lifetime. And I found that we had a lot in common, a lot of shared values -- a belief that hard work is important, that self-reliance and individual responsibility count for a lot.

And among the people whom I got to know who became not only friends, but heroes, were Barbara Jordan, who taught me a lot about courage. And today -- (applause) -- today would actually be her birthday. And I remember all the time about how she got up every single morning facing almost insurmountable odds to do what she did. And another was my great friend Ann Richards, who taught me so much -- (cheers, applause) -- about determination.

You know, Ann was a great champion for the people of Texas. She also reminded us that every so often, it's good to have a laugh about what it is we're engaged in.

And as I think back on those years, and the work that I've done ever since, you know, for me, politics is about making real differences in people's lives. And I'm very, very proud that over these years, I have been able to make a difference in the lives of people in Texas, Ohio and elsewhere.

You know, 350,000 children in Texas get health care every month, because I helped to start the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Applause.) And 21,000 National Guard and Reserve members get access to health care, because I went across the party line and joined up with a Republican senator to make that happen.

So there's a lot that we've already done, but there's so much more to do. I want to take on the tough issues that face us now. I want to stop the health insurance companies from discriminating against people because they're sick. You know, it's unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of race or gender or ethnic origin or religion, but it's okay to discriminate against sick people. And we're going to end that, because it's time we said, "No more." (Applause.)

And I want to continue the work that I've done in the Senate to take care of our veterans. It was shocking and shameful what happened, that we discovered about a year ago at Walter Reed. We can do so much better to take care of the people who have taken care of us.

And there is a lot of work ahead. I offer a lifetime of experience and proven results. And I know that if we work together, we can take on the special interests, transfer $55 billion of all those giveaways and subsidies that President Bush has given them back to the middle class to create jobs and provide health care and make college affordable -- (applause) -- and I ask you -- I ask you to join in my campaign.

It's now up to the people of Texas, Ohio and the other states ahead. So if you'll be part of this campaign, which is really your campaign about your futures, your families, your jobs and your health care, we'll continue to make a difference for America.

Thank you all very much. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton, thank you.

Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, thank you so much to the University of Texas for hosting us, and it's a great honor to share the stage once again with Senator Clinton. I've said before that we've been friends before this campaign started; we will be friends afterwards -- unified to bring about changes in this country.

You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war, and our economy is increasingly in shambles. And the families of Texas and all across America are feeling the brunt of that failing economy.

This week I met a couple in San Antonio who have, as a consequence of entering into a predatory loan, are on the brink of foreclosure, and are actually seeing them having to cut back on their medical expenses because their mortgage doubled in two weeks.

I've met a young woman who gets three hours of sleep a night because she has to work the night shift even as she's going to school full time, and still can't afford to provide the health care for her sister, who's ill.

In Youngstown, Ohio, I've talked to workers who have seen their plant shipped overseas as a consequence of bad trade deals like NAFTA, literally seeing equipment unbolted from the floors of factories and shipped to China, resulting in devastating job losses and communities completely falling apart.

And all across America I'm meeting not just veterans, but also the parents of those who have fallen. One mother in Green Bay gave me this bracelet in memory of a 20-year-old son who had been killed in a roadside bomb as a consequence of a war that I believe should have never been authorized and should have never been waged, and that has cost us billions of dollars that could have been invested here in the United States, in roads and bridges and infrastructure and making sure that young people can go to college, and that those who need health care actually get it.

Now, Senator Clinton -- (applause) -- and I have been talking about these issues for the last 13 months. And we both offer detailed proposals to try to deal with them. Some of them are the same; some, we have differences of opinion on. But I think we both recognize that these problems have to be dealt with, and that we've seen an administration, over the last seven years, that has failed to address them, in many ways has made them worse.

But understand that what's lacking right now is not good ideas. The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die. (Applause.) They go to die, because lobbyists and special interests have a stranglehold on the agenda in Washington. They go to die in Washington, because too many politicians are interested in scoring political points rather than bridging differences in order to get things done.

And so the central premise of this campaign is that we can bring this country together, that we can push against the special interests that have come to dominate the agenda in Washington, that we can be straight with the American people about how we're going to solve these problems, and enlist them in taking back their government.

You know, Senator Clinton mentioned Barbara Jordan, somebody who was an inspiration to me and so many people throughout the country, and she said that what the American people want is very simple. They want an America that is as good as its promise. I'm running for president because I want to help America be as good as its promise.

Thank you very much. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right, Senator Obama, thank you. And let's begin with questions.

Jorge Ramos.

MR. RAMOS: Thank you very much. (Speaks in Spanish.) Thank you so much for being with us, and let me start with a little news.

After nearly half a century in office Fidel Castro resigned as the head of the Cuban government. Ninety miles off the coast of the United States we might have a new opportunity.

A question for you, Senator Clinton. Would you be willing to sit down with Raul Castro or whoever leads the Cuban dictatorship when you take office at least just once to get a measure of the man?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Jorge, I hope we have an opportunity. The people of Cuba deserve to have a democracy, and this gives the Cuban government under Raul Castro a chance to change direction from the one that was set for 50 years by his brother.

I'm going to be looking for some of those changes -- releasing political prisoners, ending some of the oppressive practices on the press, opening up the economy. Of course the United States stands ready, and as president I would be ready, to reach out and work with a new Cuban government once it demonstrated that it truly was going to change that direction. I want to bring the region together, our European allies who have influence with Cuba, to try to push for some of those changes, and to make it very clear that if Cuba moves toward democracy and freedom for its people the United States will welcome that. And as president, I would look for opportunities to try to make that happen and to create the momentum that might eventually lead to a presidential visit. But there has to be evidence that, indeed, the changes are real, that they're taking place, and that the Cuban people will finally be given an opportunity to have their future determined by themselves.

MR. RAMOS: Very simply, would you meet with him or not, with Raul Castro?

SEN. CLINTON: I -- I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening because I think it's important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction.

Then I think, you know, something like diplomatic encounters and negotiations over specifics could take place.

But we've had this conversation before, Senator Obama and myself, and I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest and, in this case, in the interest of the Cuban people. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Obama, just to follow up, you had said in a previous CNN debate that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, among others. So presumably you would be willing to meet with the new leader of Cuba.

SEN. OBAMA: That's correct. Now, keep in mind that the starting point for our policy in -- in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba, after over half a century.

I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time.

But I do think that it is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends but also to talk to its enemies.

In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference. (Applause.)

One other thing that I've said as a show of good faith, that we're interested in pursuing potentially a new relationship, what I've called for is a loosening of the restrictions on remittances from family members to the people of Cuba as well as travel restrictions for family members who want to visit their family members in Cuba. And I think that initiating that change in policy as a start and then suggesting that an agenda get set up is something that could be useful, but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton talked about.

MS. BROWN: But that's different from your position back in 2003. You called U.S. policy towards Cuba a miserable failure, and you supported normalizing relations. So you've back-tracked now.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the -- I support the eventual normalization, and it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure.

I mean, the fact is is that during my entire lifetime -- and Senator Clinton's entire lifetime you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.

So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization, but that's going to happen in steps.

And the first step, as I said, is changing our rules with respect to remittances and with respect to travel. And then I think it is important for us to have the direct contact not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally. I'm -- I recall what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. And this moment, this opportunity when Fidel Castro has finally stepped down I think is one that we should try to take advantage of. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton, do you want a quick response?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I agree absolutely that we should be willing to have diplomatic negotiations and processes with anyone. I've been a strong advocate of opening up such a diplomatic process with Iran for a number of years because I think we should look for ways that we can possibly move countries that are adversarial to us, you know, toward the world community. It's in our interest. It's in the interests of the people in countries that, frankly, are oppressed, like Cuba, like Iran.

But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process. But I don't think it should be offered in the beginning because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.

And as President Kennedy said, he wouldn't be afraid to negotiate but he would expect there to be a lot of preparatory work done, to find out exactly what we would get out of it.

And therefore I do think we should be eliminating the policy of the Bush administration, which has been very narrowly defined and frankly against our interests, because we have failed to reach out to countries. We have alienated our friends and we have emboldened our enemies.

So I would get back to very vigorous diplomacy and I would use bipartisan diplomacy. I would ask emissaries from both political parties to represent me and our country. Because I want to send a very clear message, to the rest of the world, that the era of unilateralism, preemption and arrogance, of the Bush administration, is over. And we're going to start working together. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Okay. Very briefly, and then we're going to move on.

SEN. OBAMA: I think, as I've said before, preparation is actually absolutely critical in any meeting. And I think it is absolutely true that either of us would step back from some of the Bush unilateralism that's caused so much damage.

But I do think it is important, precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations, that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.

Because the problem isn't -- is if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it's important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step. That's the kind of step that I would like to take as president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: A question now on the economy. John King.

MR. KING: Campbell noted -- Senators, good evening, first. I want to bring the conversation back home.

You know from your travels, you don't need to look at the polls or anything else, that the economy is by far now the dominant issue that voters want to hear about from the candidates, and for some that's a question about what should we do about an economy that is at the edge or perhaps in the early stages of a recession. For some, it's more focused; maybe it's will you raise the minimum wage, maybe it is about trade deals that they think leave them on the raw end, as you mentioned in your opening statement, Senator Obama. But when we asked Democrats how are these two candidates different, many of them say they don't know.

So Senator Obama, beginning with you, tell us as specifically as you can how would a President Obama be different than a President Clinton in managing the nation's economy.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me emphasize the point that you just made, which is you don't need an economist or the Federal Reserve to tell the American people that the economy's in trouble because they've been experiencing it for years now.

Everywhere you go, you meet people who are working harder for less.

Wages and incomes have flatlined. People are seeing escalating costs from -- of everything from health care to gas at the pump. And so people have been struggling for a long time, and in some communities they have been struggling for decades now. So this has to be a priority of the next president.

Now, what I've said is that we have to restore a sense of fairness and balance to our economy, and that means a couple of things.

Number one, with our tax code, we've got to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas and invest those tax breaks in companies that are investing here in the United States of America. (Applause.) We have to end the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy -- (cheers, applause) -- and to provide tax breaks to middle- class Americans and working Americans who need them. So I've said that if you are making $75,000 a year or less, I want to give a(n) offset to your payroll tax that will mean a thousand extra dollars in the pockets of ordinary Americans. Senior citizens making less than 50,000 (dollars), you shouldn't have to pay income tax on your Social Security. We pay for these by closing tax loopholes and tax havens that are being manipulated.

On our trade deals, I think it is absolutely critical that we engage in trade, but it has to be viewed not just through the lens of Wall Street, but also Main Street, which means we've got strong labor standards and strong environmental standards, and safety standards so we don't have toys being shipped into the United States with lead paint on them. (Applause.)

Now -- so that's -- these are all issues that I've -- I've talked about repeatedly.

And I think there are also opportunities in our economy around creating a green economy. We send a billion dollars to foreign countries every day because of our addition to foreign oil. And for us to move rapidly to cap greenhouse gases, generate billions of dollars that we can reinvest in solar and wind and biodiesel -- that can put people back to work. (Applause.)

So the -- now, I don't want to take too much time, and I'm sure we'll be able to spend more time discussing this.

Senator Clinton and I, I think, both agree on many of these issues. And I think it's a credit to the Democratic Party as a whole that the other candidates who were involved earlier on agreed with us on many of these issues. I think that there is a -- a real, solid agenda for moving change forward in the next presidency. The question people are going to have to ask is, how do we get it done? And it is my strong belief that the changes are only going to come about if we're able to form a working coalition for change, because people who are benefiting from the current code are going to resist, the special interests and lobbyists are going to resist. And I think it has to be a priority for whoever the next president is to be able to overcome the dominance of the special interests in Washington, to bring about the kinds of economic changes that I'm talking about, and that's an area where Senator Clinton and I may have a slight difference.

But I'm happy to let her speak first, and then can pick up on anything that's been left out. (Applause.)

MR. KING: Let's give Senator Clinton that opportunity then.

As you have campaigned, Senator, on this issue and others but specifically on this issue, you have said, I am ready on day one to take charge of the economy. The clear implication, since you have one opponent at the moment, is that you're ready; he's not.

What would you do differently on day one than a President Obama would when it comes to managing the nation's economy?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I would agree with a lot that Senator Obama just said, because it is the Democratic agenda.

We are going to rid the tax code of these loopholes and giveaways. We're going to stop giving a penny of your money to anybody who ships a job out of Texas, Ohio or anywhere else to another country. We're certainly going to begin to get the tax code to reflect what the needs of middle class families are, so we can rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class.

The wealthy and the well-connected have had a president for the last seven years. And I think it's time that the rest of America had a president who works for you every single day. (Cheers, applause.)

We will also have a different approach toward trade. We're going to start having trade agreements that not only have strong environmental and labor standards, but I want to have a trade timeout.

We're going to look and see what's working, what's not working. And I'd like to have a trade prosecutor to actually enforce the trade agreements that we have before we enter into any others.

We're also going to put much tougher standards in place so that people cannot import toys with lead paint, contaminated pet food, contaminated drugs into our market. We're going to have a much more vigorous enforcement of safety standards.

Now, in addition, there are steps I would take immediately. One is on this foreclosure crisis. I have been saying for nearly a year we had to crack down on the abusive practices of the lenders. But we also need a moratorium on home foreclosures. Everywhere I go, I meet people who either have been or are about to lose their home -- 85,000 homes in foreclosure in Texas, 90,000 in Ohio. I've met the families: the hairdresser, the single mom who's going to lose her home; the postal worker who got really hoodwinked into an agreement that wasn't fair to him. So I would put a moratorium for 90 days to give us time to work out a way for people to stay in their homes, and I would freeze interest rates for five years because these adjustable-rate mortgages, if they keep going up, millions of Americans are going to be homeless -- (applause) -- and vacant homes will be across the neighborhoods of Texas and America.

Now, in addition, there are three ways we need to jumpstart the economy. Clean green jobs -- I've been promoting this. I wanted it to be part of the stimulus package.

I thought a $5 billion investment in clean green jobs would put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work helping to create our future. We also need to invest in our infrastructure. We don't have enough roads to take care of the congestion. We have crumbling bridges and tunnels. We need to rebuild America, and that will also put people to work.

And finally, we need to end George Bush's war on science, which has been waged -- (cheers, applause) -- (off mike).

MS. BROWN: Thank you, Senator.

And we've got a lot of ground to cover --

SEN. CLINTON: So I want to think about how we fund the future. We've got to get back to being the innovation nation. Think of everything that goes on at this great university to create the new economy -- (cheers, applause).

MS. BROWN: All right, Senator Clinton, thank you very much.

As I was saying, we've got a lot to get through, so I do want to shift gears and go on to another topic especially important here in Texas, which is immigration.

And Jorge, you have a question.

MR. RAMOS: (Speaks in Spanish.) Federal raids by immigration enforcement officials on homes and businesses have generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community and have divided the family of some of the 3 million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent.

Would you consider stopping these raids once you take office until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed?

SEN. CLINTON: I would consider that, except in egregious situations where it would be appropriate to take the actions you're referring to. But when we see what's been happening with literally babies being left with no one to take care of them, children coming home from school, no responsible adult left -- that is not the America that I know.

That is against American values. (Applause.) And it is -- it is a stark admission of failure by the federal government.

We need comprehensive immigration reform. I have been for this. I signed on to the first comprehensive bill back in 2004. I've been advocating for it. Tougher, more secure borders -- of course. But let's do it the right way: cracking down on employers, especially once we get to comprehensive immigration reform, who exploit undocumented workers and drive down wages for everyone else. I'd like to see more federal help for communities like Austin and others, like Laredo where I was this morning, that absorb the health care, education and law enforcement costs. And I personally, as president, would work with our neighbors to the south to help them create more jobs for their own people.

And finally, we need a path to legalization to bring the immigrants out of the shadows, give them the conditions that we expect them to meet: paying a fine for coming here illegally, trying to pay back taxes over time, and learning English. If they had committed a crime in our country or the country they came from, then they should be deported. But for everyone else, there must be a path to legalization. I would introduce that in the first 100 days of my presidency. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Obama, is your position the same as Hillary Clinton's?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, there are a couple of things I would add. Comprehensive immigration reform is something that I've worked on extensively. Two years ago we were able to get a bill out of the Senate. I was one of a group of senators that helped to move it through, but it died in the House this year. Because it was used as a political football instead of a way of solving a problem, nothing happened.

And so there are a couple of things that I would just add to what Senator Clinton said. Number one, it is absolutely critical that we tone down the rhetoric when it comes to the immigration debate, because there has been an undertone that has been ugly. Oftentimes it has been directed at the Hispanic community. We have seen hate crimes skyrocket in the wake of the immigration debate, as it's been conducted in Washington, and that is unacceptable.

We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of immigrants, and we can reconcile those two things.

So we need comprehensive reform -- (applause) -- we need comprehensive reform, and that means stronger border security. It means that we are cracking down on employers that are taking advantage of undocumented workers because they can't complain if they're not paid a minimum wage, they can't complain if they're not getting overtime, worker safety laws are not being observed. We have to crack down on those employers, although we also have to make sure that we do it in a way that doesn't lead to people with Spanish surnames being discriminated against. So there's got to be a -- a -- a safeguard there.

We have to require that undocumented workers, who are provided a pathway to citizenship, not only learn English, pay back taxes and pay a significant fine, but also that they're going to the back of the line, so that they're not getting citizenship before those who have applied legally, which raises two last points.

Number one, it is important that we fix the legal immigration system, because right now we've got a backlog that means years for people to apply legally. (Applause.) And what's worse is, we keep on increasing the fees, so that if you've got a hard-working immigrant family, they've got to hire a lawyer; they've got to pay thousands of dollars in fees. They just can't afford it, and it's discriminatory against people, who have good character, we should want in this country, but don't have the money. So we've got to fix that.

The second thing is, we have to improve our relationship with Mexico and work with the Mexican government, so that their economy is producing jobs on that side of the border. (Applause.)

And the problem that we have, the problem that we have, is that we have had an administration that came in promising all sorts of leadership on creating a U.S.-Mexican relationship. And frankly President Bush dropped the ball. He has been so obsessed with Iraq that we have not seen the kinds of outreach and cooperative work that would ensure that the Mexican economy is working, not just for the very wealthy in Mexico but for all people.

And that's a policy that I'm going to change when I'm president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right, Senator Obama.

We're going to stay with this topic. I want to have John King ask another question. Go ahead, John.

MR. KING: I want to stay on the issue, but move to a controversial item that was not held up when the immigration debate collapsed in Washington, and that is the border fence. To many Americans, it is a simple question of sovereignty and security:

America should be able to keep people out that it doesn't want in. But as you know, in this state, especially if you go to the south of here along the border, and in other border states, to many people it's a much more personal question. It could be a question of their livelihood. It could be a question of cross-border trade. It might be an issue to a rancher of property rights. It might be a simple question of whether someone can take a walk or a short drive to see their family members.

Senator, back in 2006 you voted for the construction of that fence. As you know, progress has been slow. As president of the United States, would you commit tonight that you will finish the fence and speed up the construction, or do you think it's time for a president of the United States to raise his or her hand and say, you know what, wait a minute, let's think about this again; do we really want to do this?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think both Senator Obama and I voted for that as part of the immigration debate.

And having been along the border for the last week or so -- in fact, last night I was at the University of Texas at Brownsville, and this is how absurd this has become under the Bush administration because, you know, there is a smart way to protect our borders and there is a dumb way to protect our borders. (Laughter, applause.)

And what I learned last night, when I was there with Congressman Ortiz, is that the University of Texas at Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off.

This is the kind of absurdity that we're getting from this administration. I know it because I've been fighting with them about the northern border. Their imposition of passports and other kinds of burdens are separating people from families, interfering with business and commerce and movement of goods and people.

So what I've said is that I would say, wait a minute. We need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense it would be considered, but as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive.

So I would have a review. I would listen to the people who live along the border, who understand what it is we need to be doing to protect our country. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Let me go on and --

Sorry, John.

MR. KING: But does that mean that you think your vote was wrong or the implementation of it was wrong, because, as you know, when they first built the fence in the San Diego area it only went so far, and what it did was it stopped the people coming straight up the path of where that was built and they simply moved, and California's problem became Arizona's problem.

SEN. CLINTON: But you know, John, there is -- there's a lot we've learned about technology and smart fencing. You know, there is technology that can be used instead of a physical barrier. It requires us having enough personnel along the border, so that people can be supervising a certain limited amount of space and will be able to be responsive in the event of, you know, people attempting to cross illegally.

And -- and I think that the way that the Bush administration is going about this, filing eminent domain actions against landowners and municipalities, makes no sense.

So what I have said is, yes, there are places when, after a careful review -- again, listening to the people who live along the border -- there may be limited places where it would work.

But let's deploy more technology and personnel instead of the physical barrier. I frankly think that will work better, and it will give us an opportunity to secure our borders without interfering with family relations, business relations, recreation and so much else that makes living along the border, you know, wonderful.

MS. BROWN: All right --

SEN. CLINTON: And the people who live there need to have a president who understands it, will listen to them and be responsive.

MS. BROWN: All right, Senator Clinton.

Senator Obama, go ahead, please. (Applause.)

SEN. OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier.

And the Bush administration is not real good at listening. That's not what they do well. (Laughter.) And so I will reverse that policy.

As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having Border Patrol, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach.

The one thing I do have to say, though, about this issue is it is very important for us, I think, to deal with this problem in terms of thousands of -- hundreds of thousands of people coming over the borders on a regular basis if we want to also provide opportunity for the 12 million undocumented workers who are here. Senator Clinton and I have both campaigned in places like Iowa and Ohio and my home state of Illinois, and I think that the American people want fairness, want justice. I think they recognize that the idea that you're going to deport 12 million people is ridiculous, that we're not going to be -- (applause) -- devoting all our law enforcement resources to sending people back. But what they do also want is some order to the process.

And so we're not going to be able to do these things in isolation. We're not going to be able to deal with the 12 million people who are living in the shadows and give them a way of getting out of the shadows if we don't also deal with the problem of this constant influx of undocumented workers. And that's why I think comprehensive reform is so important. That's the kind of leadership that I've shown in the past. That's the kind of leadership that I'll show in the future.

One last point I want to make on the immigration issue, because we may be moving to different topics. Something that we can do immediately that I think is very important is to pass the DREAM Act, which allows children who -- (applause) -- through no fault of their own are here but have essentially grown up as Americans -- allow them the opportunity for higher education.

I do not want two classes of citizens in this country. I want everybody to prosper. That's going to be a top priority. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Okay. Let's -- we've got one last question on immigration.

Jorge, go ahead.

MR. RAMOS: (Remarks in Spanish.)

Right now there are more than 30 million people in this country who speak Spanish. (Applause.) Many of them are right here. By the year 2050, there will be 120 million Hispanics in the United States.

Now, is there any downside, Senator Clinton, to the United States becoming -- (remarks in Spanish) -- becoming a bilingual nation? Is there a limit?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think it's important for as many Americans as possible to do what I've never been able to do. And that is learn another language and try to be bilingual, because that connects us to the rest of the world.

I think it is important though that English remain our common, unifying language -- (applause) -- because that brings our country together in a way that we've seen generations of immigrants, coming to our shores, be able to be part of the American experience and pursue the American dream.

You know, I have been adamantly against the efforts by some to make English the official language.

That I do not believe is appropriate, and I have voted against it and spoken against it. I represent New York. We have a hundred and seventy languages in New York City alone, and I do not think that we should be in any way discriminating against people who do not speak English, who use facilities like hospitals or have to go to court to enforce their rights.

But I do think that English does remain an important part of the American experience, so I encourage people to become bilingual, but I also want to see English remain the common unifying language of our country. (Applause.)

MR. RAMOS: Senator Obama, is there any downside to the United States becoming a bilingual nation?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think it is important that everyone learns English and that we have that process of binding ourselves together as a country. I think that's very important.

I also think that every student should be learning a second language because -- (interrupted by applause) -- you know -- so when you start getting into a debate about bilingual education, for example, now I want to make sure that children who are coming out of Spanish-speaking households have the opportunity to learn and are not falling behind. And if bilingual education helps them do that, I want to give them the opportunity. But I also want to make sure that English-speaking children are getting foreign languages because this world is becoming more interdependent, and part of the process of America's continued leadership in the world is going to be our capacity to communicate across boundaries, across borders.

And that's something, frankly, that's fallen very -- where we've fallen behind. And one of the failures of No Child Left Behind, a law that I think a lot of local and state officials have been troubled by, is that it is so narrowly focused on standardized tests that it has pushed out a lot of important learning that needs to take place. (Cheers, applause.)

And foreign languages is one of those areas that I think has been neglected. I want to put more resources into it.

MS. BROWN: All right.

We're going to take a quick break. We've got to go to a commercial. We'll be back with a lot more.

There's also a debate, we should mention, raging online right now, so go to our website,, to join in.

The debate here at the University of Texas in Austin continues right after this. (Cheers, applause.)


MS. BROWN: And we are back. We're here in Austin, Texas, the capital city. Welcome back to the Texas Democratic debate at the University of Texas-Austin.

The first question now goes to John King.

MR. KING: Senators, as I'm sitting here, we're about 45 minutes into the discussion tonight, and I'm having what I like to call one of those parallel universe moments. I've been watching each of you give speeches in arenas not unlike this one, individually, and the tone is often quite different than the very polite, substantive discourse -- (laughter, applause) -- we've had tonight.

And so I want to ask you about that. There are times when each of you seems to call into question the other one's credibility or truthfulness. And Senator Clinton, I want to talk specifically about some words you've spoken here in the state of Texas over the past couple of days. You've said, quote, "My opponent gives speeches; I offer solutions." You said the choice for Democrats in this campaign is, quote, "talk versus action."

Now, in a campaign that some of us are old enough to remember -- maybe not many of the students here -- this would be called the "Where's the beef?" question. (Laughter.) But since we're in Texas, I'd like to borrow a phrase that they often use here, and you've used yourself in the context of President Bush. Are you saying that your opponent is all hat and no cattle? And can you say that after the last 45 minutes? (Laughter, applause.)

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have said that about President Bush, and I think our next president needs to be a lot less hat and a lot more cattle. (Cheers, applause.)

You know, I think you can tell from the first 45 minutes, you know, Senator Obama and I have a lot in common. We both care passionately about our country. We are devoted to public service. We care deeply about the future. And we have run a very vigorous and contested primary campaign, which has been by most standards, I think, very positive and extremely civil.

But there are differences between us, and I think in our efforts to draw those contrasts and comparisons we obviously try to let voters know how we see the world differently. And I do offer solutions. That's what I believe in and what I have done, and it's what I offer to voters because it's part of my life over the last 35 years:

working to get kids health care, working to expand legal services for the poor, working to register voters, working to make a difference, because I think that this country has given me so much. And there are differences between our records and our accomplishments. I have to confess I was somewhat amused the other night when on one of the TV shows, one of Senator Obama's supporters was asked to name one accomplishment of Senator Obama, and he couldn't. So I know that there are comparisons and contrasts to be drawn between us, and it's important that voters get that information.

So yes, I do think that words are important and words matter, but actions speak louder than words, and I offer -- (by cheers, applause) -- (off mike).

MS. BROWN: Senator Obama, go ahead. Senator Obama, do you want to respond?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think actions do speak louder than words, which is why over the 20 years of my public service I have acted a lot to provide health care to people who didn't have it, to provide tax breaks to families that needed it, to reform a criminal justice system that had resulted in wrongful convictions, to open up our government, and to pass the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate -- (applause) -- to make sure that we create transparency -- to make sure that we create transparency in our government so that we know where federal spending is going and it's not going to a bunch of boondoggles and earmarks that are wasting taxpayer money that could be spent on things like early childhood education.

You know, I think if you talk to those wounded warriors at Walter Reed who, prior to me getting to the Senate, were having to pay for their meals and have to pay for their phone calls to their family while they're recovering from amputations, I think they'd say that I've engaged not just in talk, but in action. (Cheers, applause.)

Now -- now, I think Senator Clinton has a fine record, and I don't to denigrate that record. I do think there is a fundamental difference between us in terms of how change comes about. Senator Clinton of late has said "let's get real." And the implication is, is that, you know, the people who have been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional -- (laughter) -- and that -- (chuckles) -- that, you know, the -- (laughter) -- you know, the 20 million people who have been paying attention to 19 debates, and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas -- (cheers, applause) -- you know, the thinking is that somehow they're being duped and that eventually they're going to see the reality of things.

Well, I think they perceive reality of what's going on in Washington very clearly. And what they see is that if we don't bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done. And the reason that this campaign has done so well -- (applause) -- the reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions.

Senator Clinton and I share a lot of policy positions. But if we can't inspire the American people to get involved in their government, and if we can't inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions, that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and non-performance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways.

I'm running for president to start doing something about that suffering and so are the people who are behind my campaign. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: I think -- I think one of the points -- (interrupted by continued cheers, applause). I think one of the points that John King was alluding to in talking about some of Senator Clinton's comments is there has been a lot of attention lately on some of your speeches, that they're very similar to some of the speeches by your friend and supporter, Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. And Senator Clinton's campaign has made a big issue of this. To be blunt, they've accused you of plagiarism.

SEN. OBAMA: Right.

MS. BROWN: How do you respond?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, the -- first of all, it's not a lot of speeches. There are two lines in speeches that I've been giving over the last couple of weeks. I've been campaigning now for the last two years. Deval is a national co-chairman of my campaign and suggested an argument that I share, that words are important, words matter, and the implication that they don't, I think, diminishes how important it is to speak to the American people directly about making America as good as its promise. And Barbara Jordan understood this as well as anybody.

Now, the notion that I had plagiarized from somebody who's one of my national co-chairs -- (laughter) -- who gave me the line and suggested that I use it, I think is silly. (Cheers, applause.)

And -- you know, but -- but -- but this is where we start getting into silly season in politics, and I think people start getting discouraged about it. (Cheers, applause.) They don't want -- what they want is, how are we going to create good jobs at good wages? How are we going to provide health care to the American people? How are we going to make sure that college is affordable?

So what I have been talking about in these speeches -- and I got to admit, some of them are pretty good -- (laughter, cheers, applause) -- what I've been talking about is not just hope and not just inspiration; it's a $4,000 tuition credit for every student every year -- (cheers, applause) -- in exchange for national service so that college becomes more affordable. I've been talking about making sure that we change our tax code so that working families actually get relief. I have been talking about making sure that we bring an end to this war in Iraq so that we can start bringing our troops home and invest money here in the United States. (Applause.)

And so just to finish up, these are very specific, concrete, detailed proposals, many of them which I've been working on for years now. Senator Clinton has a fine record.

So do I. And I'm happy to have a debate on the issues, but what we shouldn't be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton, is it the silly season?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition. (Applause.) And you know -- you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in; it's change you can Xerox. And I just don't think --

SEN. OBAMA: Oh, but that -- that's not what happened there --

SEN. CLINTON: No, but -- you know, but Barack, it is, because if -- you know, if you look -- (jeers from the audience) -- if you look -- if you look -- if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions.

Now, there is no doubt that you are a passionate, eloquent speaker, and I applaud you for that. But when you look at what we face in this country, we do need to unite the country, but we have to unite it for a purpose around very specific goals. It is not enough to say, "Let's come together." We know we're going to have to work hard to overcome the opposition of those who do not want the changes to get to universal health care.

You know, when I proposed a universal health care plan, as did Senator Edwards, we took a big risk, because we know it's politically controversial to say we're going to cover everyone.

And you chose not to do that. You chose to put forth a health care plant that will leave out at least 15 million people. That's a big difference.

When I said we should put a moratorium on home foreclosures, basically your response was, well, that wouldn't work, and you know, in the last week even President Bush said we have to do something like that.

I just believe that we've got to look hard at the difficult challenges we face, especially after George Bush leaves the White House. The world will breathe a sigh of relief once he is gone. (Applause.) We all know that. But then we've got to do the hard work of not just bringing the country together, but overcoming a lot of the entrenched opposition to the very ideas that both of us believe in and for some of us have been fighting for a very long time.

You know, when I took on -- (interrupted by cheers, applause).

When I took on universal health care back in '93 and '94, it was against a fire storm of special interest opposition. I was more than happy to do that because I believe passionately in getting quality affordable health care to every American. I don't want to leave anybody out. I see the results of leaving people out. I am tired of health insurance companies deciding who will live or die in America.

That has to end. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right. Senator Clinton, thank you.

Senator Obama, please respond.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that Senator Clinton mentioned two specific issue areas where we've got some differences. And I'm happy to debate those, which is what I think should be the focus of this campaign.

We both want universal health care. When I released my plan, a few months later, we were in a debate, and Senator Clinton said, we all want universal health care. And of course, I was down 20 points in the polls at the time, and so my plan was pretty good. It's not as good now, but my plan hasn't changed. The politics have changed a little bit.

We do -- we both -- 95 percent of our plans are similar. We both want to set up a system in which any person is going to be able to get coverage that is as good as we have as members of Congress. And we are going to subsidize those who can't afford it. We're going to make sure that we reduce costs by emphasizing prevention, and I want to make sure that we're applying technology to improve quality, cut bureaucracy.

Now, I also want to make sure that we're reducing costs for those who already have health insurance. So we put in place a catastrophic reinsurance plan that would reduce costs by $2,500 per family per year.

So we've got a lot of similarities in our plan.

We've got a philosophical difference which we've debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it, and my belief is the reason that people don't have it is not because they don't want it, but because they can't afford it. And so I emphasize -- (applause) -- reducing costs. And as has been noted by many observers, including Bill Clinton's former secretary of Labor, my plan does more than anybody to reduce costs, and there is nobody out there who wants health insurance who can't have it.

Now, there are legitimate arguments for why Senator Clinton and others have called for a mandate, and I'm happy to have that debate. But the notion that I am leaving 15 -- 15 million people out somehow implies that we are different in our goals of providing coverage to all Americans, and that is simply not true. We think that there's going to be a different way of getting there.

One last point I want to make on the health care front. I admire the fact that Senator Clinton tried to bring about health care reform back in 1993. She deserves credit for that. (Applause.) But I -- I've said before I think she did it in the wrong way because it wasn't just the fact that the insurance companies and the drug companies were battling her -- and no doubt they were -- it was also that Senator Clinton and the administration went behind closed doors, excluded the participation even of Democratic members of Congress who had slightly different ideas than the ones that Senator Clinton had put forward.

And as a consequence, it was much more difficult to get Congress to cooperate.

And I've said that I'm going to do things differently. I think we have to open up the process, everybody has to have a seat the table, and most importantly, the American people have to be involved and educated about how this change is going to be brought about.

The point is this: We can have great plans, but if we don't change how the politics is working in Washington, then neither of our plans are going to happen and we're going to be four years from now debating once again how we're going to bring universal health care to this country. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right --

SEN. OBAMA: That's not something I want to do.

MS. BROWN: -- I've got -- we've got some time constraints here.

Now, we've got to take to another real quick break. Stay with us. We've got a lot more ahead. You can compare the candidates on the issues any time, just go to our website, A lot more ahead here at the University of Texas. We'll be right back. (Cheers, applause.)


(Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: An enthusiastic crowd here at the University of Texas. Welcome back to the Texas Democratic debate. Let's get right to it. Jorge Ramos with the next question.

MR. RAMOS: (Thank you ?), Campbell.

Senator Clinton, yesterday you said -- and I'm quoting -- "one of us is ready to be commander in chief." Are you saying that Senator Obama is not ready and not qualified to be commander in chief?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I believe that I am ready, and I am prepared. And I will leave that to voters to decide.

But I want to get back to health care because I didn't get a chance to respond --

MS. BROWN: All right --

MR. RAMOS: Oh, but --

SEN. CLINTON: -- after Senator Obama. No, let -- let me finish,

Jorge --

MR. RAMOS: But I would like you also to come back to this after --

SEN. CLINTON: -- because this is a significant difference. You know, Senator Obama has said it's a philosophical difference. I think it's a substantive difference. He has a mandate for parents to be sure to insure their children. I agree with that. I just know that if we don't go and require everyone to have health insurance, the health insurance industry will still game the system, every one of us with insurance will pay the hidden tax of approximately $900 a year -- (applause) -- to make up for the lack of insurance.

And you know, in one of our earlier debates John Edwards made a great point. It would be as though Social Security were voluntary; Medicare, one of the great accomplishments of President Johnson, was voluntary. (Applause.) I do not believe that is going to work.

So it's not just a philosophical difference. You look at what will work and what will not work. If you do not have a plan that starts out attempting to achieve universal health care, you will be nibbled to death, and we will be back here, with more and more people uninsured and rising costs. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right. We appreciate that you want to make a point.

Senator Obama, we have limited time --


MS. BROWN: -- so I would like Jorge to move on to another subject, or we're going to be out of time.

SEN. OBAMA: But I -- well, I -- I understand, but I think that Senator Clinton made a -- (laughter) -- you know, she's making a point, and I -- and I think I should have the opportunity to respond very briefly, and I'll -- I'll try to make it as quickly as possible.

MS. BROWN: Very briefly, absolutely.

SEN. OBAMA: Number one, understand that when Senator Clinton says a mandate, it's not a mandate on government to provide health insurance; it's a mandate on individuals to purchase it. And Senator Clinton is right; we have to find out what works.

Now, Massachusetts has a mandate right now. They have exempted 20 percent of the uninsured because they've concluded that that 20 percent can't afford it. In some cases, there are people who are paying fines and still can't afford it, so now they're worse off than they were. They don't have health insurance and they're paying a fine. (Applause.) And in order for you to force people to get health insurance, you've got to have a very harsh, stiff penalty. And Senator Clinton has said that we will go after their wages.

Now, this is a substantive difference. But understand that both of us seek to get universal health care. I have a substantive difference with Senator Clinton on how to get there, okay.


MS. BROWN: All right. All right, Senator Clinton --

SEN. CLINTON: Wait a minute. No, this is too important. (Laughter.) This is the number one issue that people talk to me about. You know, when a mother grabs my arm and says "I can't get the operation my son needs because I don't have health insurance," it is personal for me. And I just fundamentally disagree.

You know, Senator Obama's plan has a mandate on parents and a fine if parents --

SEN. OBAMA: That's right.

SEN. CLINTON: -- do not insure their children.

SEN. OBAMA: That's right.

SEN. CLINTON: Because he recognizes that unless we have some kind of restriction, we will not get there. He's also said that if people show up at the hospital sick without health insurance, well, maybe at that point, you can fine them.

We would not have a social compact with Social Security and Medicare if everyone did not have to participate. I want a universal health care plan. (Cheers, applause.)

SEN. OBAMA: That mother, who is desperate to get health care for her child, will be able to get that health care under my plan, point number one.

Point number two, the reason a mandate for children can be effective is, we've got a ability to make affordable health care available to that child right now. There are no excuses. If a parent is not providing health care for that child, it's because the parent's not being responsible under my plan, and those children don't have a choice.

But I think that adults are going to be able to see that they can afford it under my plan; they will get it under my plan. And it is true that if it turns out that some are gaming the system, then we can impose potentially some penalties on them for gaming the system. But the notion that somehow I am interested in leaving out 15 million people, without health insurance, is simply not true.


MS. BROWN: (Off mike) -- (applause).

SEN. CLINTON: We disagree on that.

MS. BROWN: Okay.

Let's let Jorge re-ask his question because I don't think anyone remembers. (Laughter.)

MR. RAMOS: Let me try again and not in Spanish, okay? (Laughter.) Here we go again -- because we also believe the war in Iraq is very important, and here's the question.

Are you suggesting that Senator Obama is not ready, he doesn't have the experience to be commander in chief? That's a question.

What did you mean by that phrase?

SEN. CLINTON: What I mean is that, you know, for more than 15 years I've been honored to represent our country in more than 80 countries to negotiate on matters such opening borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, to stand up for women's rights and human rights around the world. I've served on the Senate -- (interrupted by cheers, applause). I've served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I have worked as one of the leaders in the Congress on behalf of homeland security and the very difficult challenges we face. You know, just this week -- it's a good example -- we had elections in Pakistan; we had a change in government in Cuba or at least the leadership; we've had the elections that, you know, should have happened, that haven't happened, and just change the leader the way they do in Cuba; we've had Kosovo declaring independence; and we have had our embassy set on fire in Serbia.

x x x Serbia.

So we have serious problems that pose a real question about presidential leadership, and also some great opportunities. You know, we now have opportunities, perhaps, with Cuba, I hope with President Musharraf for him to do the right thing. I've supported the independence of Kosovo because I think it is imperative that in the heart of Europe we continue to promote independence and democracy.

And I would be moving very aggressively to hold the Serbian government responsible with their security forces to protect our embassy. Under international law they should be doing that.

So when you think about everything that is going to happen, what we can predict and what we cannot predict, I believe that I am prepared and ready on day one to be commander in chief, to be the president, to turn our economy around, and to begin making a lot of these very difficult decisions that we will inherit from George Bush. And that is what I am putting forth to the voters. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Obama. Go ahead, Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I was prepared to be commander in chief. (Cheers, applause.) And my -- my number one job as president will be to keep the American people safe. And I will do whatever is required to accomplish that, and I will not hesitate to act against those that would do America harm.

Now, that involves maintaining the strongest military on earth, which means that we are training our troops properly and equipping them properly and putting them on proper rotations. And there are an awful lot of families, here in Texas, who have been burdened under two and three and four tours, because of the poor planning of the current commander in chief. And that will end when I'm president.


But it also means using our military wisely. And on what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation -- whether or not to go to war in Iraq -- I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that. (Applause.)

Now, that has consequences. That has significant consequences because it has diverted attention from Afghanistan, where al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001.

I heard from a Army captain, who was the head of a rifle platoon, supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition; they didn't have enough humvees.

They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief. Now that's a consequence of bad judgment, and you know, the question is on the critical issues that we face right now who's going to show the judgment to lead. And I think that on every critical issue that we've seen in foreign policy over the last several years -- going into Iraq originally, I didn't just oppose it for the sake of opposing it. I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan; this is going to fan the flames of anti- American sentiment; this is going to cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and overstretch our military, and I was right.

On the question of Pakistan, which Senator Clinton just raised, we just had an election there, but I've said very clearly that we have put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. That was a mistake. We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists as well as expanding democracy, and I was right about that.

On the issues that have come up, that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. That is the leadership that I want to show when I'm president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right, Senator Clinton, we're going to stay with this and stay on Iraq.

John King.

MR. KING: I want to continue in this vein and hone in on the very point you just made because one of you, unless this remarkable campaign here takes another wacky, unpredictable turn, is going to be running against a decorated war hero who is going to say that you don't have the experience to be commander in chief.

And you have both said it's not about that type of experience; it's about judgment.

You both had to make a judgment a short time ago in your job in the United States Senate about whether to support the surge. And as that was going on, Senator Clinton, you had the commanding general in Iraq before you, and you said, "I think that the reports you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief," your words to General Petreaus.

I want you to look at Iraq now and listen to those who say the security situation is better. Ideal? No, but better, some say significantly. In recent days, even some steps toward the political reconciliation. Is Iraq today better off than it was six months or a year ago because of the surge?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, John, I think you forget a very important premise of the surge. The rationale of the surge was to create the space and time for the Iraqi government to make the decisions that only it can make. Now, there is no doubt, given the skill and the commitment of our young men and women in uniform, that putting more of them in will give us a tactical advantage and will provide security in some places. And that has occurred.

But the fact is that the purpose of it has not been fulfilled.

The Iraqi government has slowly inched toward making a few of the decisions in a less than complete way.

It was one of the reasons why the economy was booming. I've got that, you know, clearly in my economic blueprint, which is something that I've published the last few days, because it's part of what we have to do again, and I think that I will be very comfortable and effective in taking on Senator McCain over the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republican Party that he's been a part of. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right. An issue relating to the current election. Jorge.

MR. RAMOS: As we can see, this has been an extremely close nomination battle that will come down to superdelegates. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in government, said recently -- and I'm quoting -- "It would be a problem" -- and this is a question for you, Senator Clinton -- "It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided." Do you agree?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, these are the rules that are followed, and I -- you know, I think that it'll sort itself out. I'm not worried about that. We will have a nominee, and we will a unified Democratic Party, and we will go on to victory in November. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Obama, go ahead. Do you have a response to Senator Clinton?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think it is important, given how hard Senator Clinton and I have been working, that these primaries and caucuses count for something. (Applause.) And so my belief is that -- that the will of the voters, expressed in this long election process, is what ultimately determine who our next nominee is going to be.

But understand what I think is most important to the voters, and that is that we have a government that is listening to them again. They feel as if they've been shut out.

You know, when I meet mothers who are trying to figure out how to get health care for their kids, it's not just the desperation of that single mom. It's also that when they try to find some help, oftentimes they're hitting a brick wall. And they don't get a sense that the debates that are happening in Washington right now relate to them at all. What they believe is that people are trying to get on TV, and they're trying to score points, and they're trying to win elections, and that they're not interested in knocking down the barriers that stand between the American people and their dreams.

And I have no doubt that the Democratic Party, at its best, can summon a sense of common purpose again, and higher purpose, for the American people. And I think that the next nominee, going into the November election, is going to have a lot to talk about, because the American people are tired of a politics that's dominated by the powerful, by the connected. They want their government back, and that's what I intend to provide them when I'm nominated for president of the United States.

MS. BROWN: We have time for just one final question and we thought we'd sort of end on a more philosophical question.

You've both spent a lot of time talking about leadership, about who's ready and who has the right judgment to lead if elected president.

And a leader's judgment is -- is most tested at times of crisis. And I'm wondering if both of you will describe what was a moment -- what was THE moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis?

Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I -- I wouldn't point to a single moment, and what I look at is the trajectory of my life, because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. And there were rocky periods during my youth when I made mistakes and was off course. And what was most important in my life was learning to take responsibility for my own -- my own actions -- learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions, but how I can bring people together to actually have an impact on the world. And so working as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago with ordinary people, bringing them together and organizing them to provide jobs and health care and economic security to people who didn't have it, then working as a civil rights attorney and rejecting the jobs on Wall Street to fight for those who were being discriminated against on the job, that cumulative experience I think is the judgment that I now bring. It's the reason that I have the capacity to bring people together, and it's the reason why I am determined to make sure that the American people get a government that is worthy of their decency and their generosity. (Applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think everybody here knows I have lived through some crises and some challenging -- (laughter) -- moments in my life, and -- (interrupted by cheers, applause).

And I am grateful for the support and the prayers of countless Americans. But people often ask me, how do you do it, you know, how do you keep going, and I just have to shake my head in wonderment because with all of the challenges that I've had, they are nothing compared to what I see happening in the lives of Americans every single day.

You know, a few months ago I was honored to be asked, along with Senator McCain, as the only two elected officials to speak at the opening of the Intrepid Center at Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, a center designed to take care of and provide rehabilitation for our brave young men and women who have been injured in war. And I remember sitting up there and watching them come in: those who could walk were walking; those who had lost limbs were trying with great courage to get themselves in without the help of others; some were in wheelchairs and some were on gurneys. And the speaker representing these wounded warriors had had most of his face disfigured by the results of fire from a roadside bomb.

You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country. And I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed, and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted. That's what gets me up in the morning. That's what motivates me in this campaign. (Cheers, applause.) And -- and you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored. I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. (Cheers, applause.)

SEN. OBAMA: (Off mike.)

SEN. CLINTON: And you know, whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about. Thanks. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: All right. A standing ovation here in Austin, Texas. Our thanks to Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. Appreciate your time tonight -- (cheers, applause) -- and to John and Jorge as well.

(Applause continues.) We also want to thank our debate partners, the university, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Texas Democratic Party and the LBJ Library, as well as the city of Austin.

Stay with CNN on March 4th for complete coverage of the primary results in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island. I'm Campbell Brown in Austin. This debate will be broadcast in Spanish later tonight on the Univision television network. It'll air at 11:30 p.m. Eastern and 10:30 p.m. Central.

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