Skip to main content
  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print

Part II: CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate transcript

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

This is part two of the transcript for the CNN/YouTube presidential debates. To see the transcript of part one click here.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- QUESTION: Hi, my name is Shawn and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is a scientific consensus for man-caused climate change, and I've heard each of you talk in previous debates about alternative energy sources like solar or wind, but I have not heard any of you speak your opinion on nuclear power. I believe that nuclear power is safer, cleaner, and provides a quicker avenue to energy independence than other alternatives.

QUESTION: I am curious what each of you believe.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?


Eight candidates gathered in South Carolina for a new type of questioning.

EDWARDS: Wind, solar, cellulose-based biofuels are the way we need to go. I do not favor nuclear power. We haven't built a nuclear power plant in decades in this country. There is a reason for that. The reason is it is extremely costly. It takes an enormous amount of time to get one planned, developed and built. And we still don't have a safe way to dispose of the nuclear waste. It is a huge problem for America over the long term.

I also don't believe we should liquefy coal. The last thing we need is another carbon-based fuel in America. We need to find fuels that are in fact renewable, clean, and will allow us to address directly the question that has been raised, which is the issue of global warming, which I believe is a crisis.

COOPER: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix. There are no silver bullets to this issue. We have to develop solar. I have proposed drastically increasing fuel efficiency standards on cars, an aggressive cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted.

OBAMA: But we're going to have to try a series of different approaches.

The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of -- we've been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades.

And the reason it doesn't change -- you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups once. He met with renewable energy folks once. And then he met with oil and gas companies 40 times. And that's how they put together our energy policy. We've got to put the national interests ahead of special interests, and that's what I'll do as president of the United States.


COOPER: Senator Clinton, what is Senator Edwards -- why is he wrong on nuclear power?

CLINTON: First of all, I have proposed a strategic energy fund that I would fund by taking away the tax break for the oil companies, which have gotten much greater under Bush and Cheney.


And we could spend about $50 billion doing what America does best. It's time we start acting like Americans again.

CLINTON: We can solve these problems if we focus on innovation and technology.

So, yes, all these alternative forms of energy are important. So is fuel efficiency for cars and so is energy efficiency for buildings.

I'm agnostic about nuclear power. John is right, that until we figure out what we're going to do with the waste and the cost, it's very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that's where American technology comes in. Let's figure out what we're going to do about the waste and the cost if we think nuclear should be a part of the solution.

But this issue of energy and global warming has the promise of creating millions of new jobs in America.


CLINTON: So it can be a win-win, if we do it right.


COOPER: I want to go another YouTube video, another question.

QUESTION: Hi, everyone. My name's Melissa and I'm from San Luis Obispo, California.

My question is for everyone: In recent years, there's been so much controversy regarding dangling chads, then no paper trail in electronic systems.

I know it costs money to amend things like that, but if I can go to any state and get the same triple grande, non-fat, no foam vanilla latte from Starbucks, why I can't I go to any state and vote the same way?

QUESTION: Don't you think that standardizing our voting practices will increase legitimacy, and possibly even voter turnout in our elections? What are you going to do to fix that? If you want, give me a call and I will make a standardized form for you.

COOPER: Governor Richardson?


RICHARDSON: I, as president, I would push the whole country to verified paper trails. There are close to 10 states that do this.


My state a year ago, my state was one of those states, along with Florida and Ohio, that, because of the touch-tones, there was uncertainty about the election.

We have close to 50 percent of those Americans eligible to vote voting. That is inexcusable, compared to many other nations. We need to have same-day registration. We need to have an effort to get the Republican Party to stop suppressing minority voters. We need to find ways also to depoliticize the Justice Department that tried to find those voters that were legitimately voting.

RICHARDSON: And lastly, a verifiable paper trail with optical scanners is going to improve turnout, democracy, and it's going to get a lot of young voters in the polls.


COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We're going to go to break with a YouTube-style video from Senator Biden's campaign.


ANNOUNCER: Imagine you're trapped deep in a hole with a group of politicians debating.

President Bush says the only way out of Iraq is to dig us deeper and deeper. But what if one leader stood up for us and said no, we can get out now, without leaving chaos behind?

Joe Biden is the only one with the experience and the plan to end this war responsibly so our children don't have to go back.

BIDEN: I'm Joe Biden and I approved this message.




KUCINICH: You can vote now to end the war in Iraq. Text Peace, 73223. Text peace now to send a message to the White House and to the Democratic Congress that now's the time to end the war. Text Peace, 73223. Make your vote count and your voice be heard. Text Peace, 73223, to move this country away from war as an instrument of policy, and to achieve strength through peace. Text Peace.

This is Dennis Kucinich, and I authorized this message.




COOPER: Welcome back. We still have a lot of YouTube videos we want to try to get to. This next one is about a pocketbook issue. Let's take a look.


QUESTION: Hi. I'm Cecilla Smith.

QUESTION: And I'm Asanti Wilkins.

QUESTION: And we're from Pennsylvania, and my question is to all the candidates, and it's regarding the national minimum wage. Congress seems to never have a problem when it comes time to give themselves a raise. But when it came time to increase the minimum wage, they had a problem.

My question to the candidates: If you're elected to serve, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage?



COOPER: So, it's pretty simple, yes or no. Minimum wage, by the way, goes up tomorrow to $6.55. In 2009, it will be $7.25.

Senator Gravel, would you work for the minimum wage?

GRAVEL: Oh, yes, I would, but I would say that we don't need a minimum wage; we need a living wage. We don't have that in this country because of what they passed.


COOPER: Senator Dodd, would you work for the minimum wage?

DODD: I have two young daughters who I'm trying to educate them. I don't think I could live on the minimum wage, but I'm a strong advocate to seeing to it that we increase it at least to $9 or $10 to give people a chance out there to be able to provide for their families.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

DODD: That's leadership in the country.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?



Senator Clinton?


Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Well, we can afford to work for the minimum wage because most folks on this stage have a lot of money. It's the folks...


... on that screen who deserve -- you're doing all right, Chris, compared to, I promise you, the folks who are on that screen.



DODD: Not that well, I'll tell you, Barack.

OBAMA: I mean, we don't have -- we don't have Mitt Romney money, but...


But we could afford to do it for a few years. Most folks can't. And that's why we've got to fight and advocate for...

COOPER: Governor -- Governor Richardson, yes?

RICHARDSON: Yes, I would.


Senator Biden?

BIDEN: I don't have Barack Obama money either.


My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That's what happens you get elected at 29. I couldn't afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I'd do it.


COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: Anderson, I live in the same house I purchased in 1971 for $22,500. I think we need to increase the minimum wage and so all my neighbors can get an increase in their wages.

COOPER: So would you work for it?

KUCINICH: I would.


KUCINICH: But I wouldn't want to...

COOPER: By the way, you'd all get overtime, too. So don't worry about that.


Let's watch another video here, another question.

QUESTION: This is Nancy McDonald from Wilmington, Delaware.

QUESTION: We all know that Social Security is running out of money, but people who earn over $97,500 stop paying into Social Security. What is up with that?

COOPER: Senator Dodd, what about that? The Congressional Research Service says that if all earnings were subject to payroll tax, the Social Security trust fund would remain solvent for the next 75 years.

DODD: I don't disagree with that. I think frankly this is an issue that comes to a head, as we all know, by the year 2040. Obviously, I think it would be important to start to address the issue. Certainly, we have no ideas, and I would be totally opposed to the privatization of Social Security. That is a very bad idea and I am glad we rejected it.

But one of the ideas is to raise that level above $97,000.

COOPER: Do you support that?

DODD: I would support that. That is one of the solutions that would make a lot of sense to me to make the trust fund whole.

COOPER: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I think that it is an important option on the table, but the key, in addition to making sure that we don't privatize, because Social Security is that floor beneath none of us can sink.

OBAMA: And we've got to make sure that we preserve Social Security is to do the same thing that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were able to do back in 1983, which is come up with a bipartisan solution that puts Social Security on a firm footing for a long time.

COOPER: Another question on Social Security.

QUESTION: What's the dirtiest little secret in Washington? The U.S. is going broke. With the retirement of the baby boomers, things are only going to get worse. Fed Chairman Bernanke has said Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need to be radically changed to avoid this crisis, yet everything is business as usual in D.C.

There are two solutions, both of which are politically unpopular: Raise taxes or cut benefits. Which would you choose, and how would you convince the public to support you?

COOPER: Governor Richardson?

RICHARDSON: The best solution to those two issues is a bipartisan effort to fix it.

RICHARDSON: Medicare -- 33 percent of it is diabetes. Let's have major prevention programs, and also ways that we can ensure that we find a cure.


Social Security -- stop raiding the Social Security trust fund. Stop talking about privatization.


And then thirdly, let's look at a universal pension, 401(k) universal pension, that would assure portability for those that want to keep their pensions as they move into other professions.

But what we need is a bipartisan effort. Put this issue aside. If I'm president, I would take this issue and I would say, Republicans, Democrats, within a year, let's find a solution. No politics. This is the safety net of this country.

COOPER: Here's a question on taxes.

QUESTION: This here is a two-part question.

(SINGING): Pay taxes on my clothes and food, pay taxes on my place, pay taxes on my moisturizer, I pay taxes on my weights. I pay taxes on my land. Every year, y'all make me pay. I pay tax on this guitar so I can sing for you today.

My taxes put some kids in college I can't afford to send myself. Now, tell me, if you were elected president, what would you do to help?

Also, I got a parking ticket last week. Could one of y'all pardon me?


COOPER: Senator Biden, this guy's overtaxed.

BIDEN: First of all, change the tax structure. We are giving people tax breaks who don't need it. The top 1 percent got an $85 billion a year tax break. It is not needed.


My dad used to have an expression -- don't tell me what you value; show me your budget.

And the budget we have here is we all dance around it. We need more revenue to be able to pay for the things the governor and everybody else talks about.

And there's only one way to do it. You either raise taxes or take tax cuts away from people who don't need them. I'd take them away from people who don't need them.


COOPER: I'm sorry. There's another tax question right here.

QUESTION: My name is Marcus Benson from Minneapolis. And I'd like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to rise like usually they do when a Democrats gets into office?

COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, are the taxes going to rise?

KUCINICH: The answer is no; that we're going to stop the tax increases that President Bush gave to people in the top brackets. We're going to end war as an instrument of policy, with the defense policy of strength through peace.

So we're not going to be borrowing money from China to fight wars in Baghdad. We're going to lower our trade deficit by ending NAFTA and the WTO and going back to trade based on worker's rights.

We're going to have a change in our economy so that people will be able to get something for the taxes they pay but they're not going to have to pay more.


COOPER: One of the most popular topics that we got questions on was health care. We, frankly, were overwhelmed with videos on health care, so we put several of them together.

I want to show you some personal stories.

QUESTION: Mark and Joel Strauss, Davenport, Iowa. Not every parent has the luxury of two loving sons to care for them during Alzheimer's.

QUESTION: My question for the candidates is, people like us -- the baby boomer generation -- is going to see a boom of Alzheimer's over the upcoming decades.

What are you prepared to do to fight this disease now?

QUESTION: Hi. These are my grandmothers. Both of them suffered from diabetes and ultimately died of massive heart attacks.

This is my mother. She suffers from diabetes and she's also had a heart attack.

The statistics for women with heart disease are staggering. What I'd like to know is, how do each of you plan on addressing chronic disease and preventative health in your health care plans? I would like my mother to be around to see her grandchildren.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Kim. I'm 36 years old and hope to be a future breast cancer survivor from Long Island. My chances for survivor aren't as good as they might be, however, because like millions of Americans, I've gone for years without health insurance that would have allowed me to take preventative medicine.

QUESTION: What would you as president do to make low-cost or free preventive medicine available for everybody in this country? Thank you.


COOPER: Senator Obama, 45 million uninsured Americans. Senator Edwards says your plan doesn't really provide universal coverage. Does it?

OBAMA: Absolutely it does. John and I have a disagreement. John thinks that the only way we get universal coverage is to mandate coverage. I think that the problem is not that people are trying to avoid getting health care coverage.

It is folks like that who are desperately in desire of it, but they can can't afford it.

OBAMA: And I know from personal experience. My mother, when she was between jobs, contracted cancer, and she spent the last few months of her life trying to figure out whether or not she was going to be able to pay for the treatments.

It is an outrage. How is that the wealthiest nation on Earth cannot afford to provide coverage to all people? And that's why I put forward a plan.


But let's understand this. Everybody here is going to have a plan. John's got a plan. I've got a plan. Hopefully, everybody here will provide a plan for universal coverage.

But we've had plan before, under a Democratic president in the '90s and a Democratic Congress. We couldn't get it done because the drug insurance -- drug and insurance companies are spending $1 billion over the last decade on lobbying.


And that's why we've got to have a president who is willing to fight to make sure that they don't have veto power. They can have a seat at the table, but they can't buy every single chair when it comes to crafting the sort of universal health care that's going to help the folks that you saw in that video.

COOPER: Senator Edwards...


COOPER: Senator Edwards, does Senator Obama provide universal coverage?

EDWARDS: No, because the only way to provide universal coverage is to mandate that everyone be covered.

But I want to say, you know, I came out with a universal plan several months ago. A couple of months later, Senator Obama came out with a plan. He's made a very serious proposal, and I'm not casting aspersions on his plan. I think it's a very serious proposal. It just doesn't cover everybody. The only way to cover everybody is to mandate it.

And the stories we have just heard, from diabetes, to Alzheimer's, to cancer -- there are millions of people in this country who are suffering so badly. And just this past week -- in fact, you were with me on the third day -- I went on a three-day poverty tour in America.

The last day, I was with a man in western Virginia, in the Appalachian mountains -- 51 years old, three years younger than me.

EDWARDS: He'd been born with a severe cleft palate, and he was proud of the fact that someone had finally volunteered to correct it. He had not been able to talk -- I want to finish this. He had not been able to talk until it was fixed.

Here was the problem. It was fixed when he was 50 years old. For five decades, James Lowe (ph) lived in the richest nation on the planet not able to talk because he couldn't afford the procedure that would've allowed him to talk. When are we going to stand up and do something about this?

We have talked about it too long. We have got to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies that Barack just spoke about. It is the only way we're ever going to bring about real change. We should be outraged by these stories.

COOPER: Senator Clinton, this goes back to the first question that we got. How is it going to be any different under your administration?

CLINTON: Well, first, I want to thank Mark and Joel and Charity and Kim and Mike. You know, it's not easy coming in front of the entire world and talking about your Alzheimer's, or your diabetes or your breast cancer, or your disability.

CLINTON: But the fact that this is happening in a country as rich as ours is just a national disgrace.

And, yes, I did try in '93 and '94, and I like to say I have the scars to show for it, but I learned a lot about what we have to do. And having a plan, yes, that's part of it. But more important, we have to have a sense of national commitment that universal health care is an American value.

We have to quit being told the special interests, like the insurance companies and the drug companies, that, somehow, we can't do what most other developed countries do, which is cover everybody and provide decency and respect to every single person in this country with health care.


COOPER: All right. I've got another question on health care.

Let's watch.

QUESTION: Hi, this is Lucia Ballie (ph) for a group of friends on the east side of L.A. And our question is: Does your health care plan cover undocumented workers?

QUESTION: Thank you.

COOPER: Senator Dodd?

DODD: First of all, I hope all of us get a chance to comment on this issue. This is a huge issue that deserves the attention and every candidate here ought to have the chance to talk about health care.


DODD: First of all, the woman with the Alzheimer's issue -- stem cell research. Under a Dodd administration, stem cell research will be conducted so they can deal with diabetes.


Regarding the family that's talking about diabetes, 49 percent of our school districts have exclusive contracts with soft drink companies and junk food companies because we're not funding enough in our education system.


That's an obesity problem as well.

COOPER: Would your plan cover undocumented workers?

DODD: It would. People who live in this country -- children certainly would be covered. And I'm in support of the immigration policy here that requires them to contribute so that...

COOPER: So that's a yes?

DODD: If they're paying part of that thing, then they also get covered. Because, frankly, I don't want them contributing disease problems and health issues to the rest of the...

COOPER: Let's try to answer the question.

COOPER: Would your plan, Governor Richardson, cover undocumented workers?

RICHARDSON: Yes, it would. It should cover everybody.


In this country, no matter who you are, whether you're a ditch- digger, you're a teacher, you're a CEO, you're a waiter, you're a maid, every American deserves the right to the best possible quality health care.


That would be part of my plan. But also, it is prevention. It's starting early with kids. It's having -- get rid of junk food in schools, as I did in New Mexico...


... a healthy breakfast for every child, mandatory phys ed, research into Alzheimer's, into cancer, into stem cell.

COOPER: OK. Another question from a YouTube viewer.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Chris Nolan and I'm a Democratic precinct committeeman from Mundelein, Illinois. And my question is for Hillary Clinton.

With Bush, Clinton, and Bush again serving as the last three presidents, how would electing you, a Clinton, constitute the type of change in Washington so many people in the heartland are yearning for, and what your campaign has been talking about?

I was also wondering if any of the other candidates had a problem with the same two families being in charge of the executive branch of government for 28 consecutive years, if Hillary Clinton were to potentially be elected and then re-elected.

QUESTION: Good luck. And, whoever becomes the nominee, I'm pulling for you.

QUESTION: Go Democrats!


COOPER: The question is for Senator Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, I think it is a problem that Bush was elected in 2000.


CLINTON: I actually thought somebody else was elected in that election, but...


CLINTON: Obviously, I am running on my own merits, but I am very proud of my husband's record as president of the United States.


CLINTON: You know what is great about this is look at this stage and look at the diversity you have here in the Democratic Party. Any one of us would be a better president than our current president or the future Republican nominee.


CLINTON: So I'm looking forward to making my case to the people of this country...


CLINTON: ... and I hope they will judge me on my merits.

COOPER: Thirty seconds, Senator Gravel. Do you have a problem with it?

GRAVEL: Well, yes, I do, a serious problem. The Democratic Party used to stand for the ordinary working man. But the Clintons and the DLC sold out the Democratic Party to Wall Street.

Look at where all the money is being raised right now, for Hillary, Obama and Edwards. It's the hedge funds, it's Wall Street bankers, it's the people who brought you what you have today.

Please wake up. Just look at the New York Times of the 17th of July that analyzes where the money's coming from.

COOPER: Time's up.

GRAVEL: It comes from the bankers on Wall Street and of course hedge funds, which is code for bankers on Wall Street. And they're lock, stock and barrel in their pocket.

COOPER: Since you went to Senator Obama, we'll let you respond, if you want.

OBAMA: Look, I think every single question we've heard you see cynicism about the capacity to change this country. And the question for the American people, who desperately want change, is: Who's got a track record of bringing about change?

Who can unify the country, so that we're not just talking about Democrats and Republicans, but we're talking about Americans? And who can overcome the special interests in Washington so that we have a president of the United States who is fighting on behalf of ordinary people?

COOPER: In our remaining...

OBAMA: And that, I think, is going to be the kind of president that is going to be elected -- is going to be nominated by the Democrats, and I believe that I'm best qualified to fill that role.

COOPER: In our remaining few minutes, the questions turn to two subjects -- God and guns. First question.

QUESTION: Hi, I'm Zenne Abraham in Oakland, California. The cathedral behind me is the perfect backdrop for this question. This quarter reads "United States of America." And when I turn it over, you find that it reads "liberty, in God we trust." What do those words mean to you? Thank you.

COOPER: Senator Biden.

BIDEN: Religion informs my values.

BIDEN: My reason dictates outcomes. My religion taught me about abuse of power. That's why I moved to write the Violence Against Women Act. That's why I take the position I take on Darfur. It came about as a consequence of the reasoning that we're able to do it.

You know, look, I don't think they're inconsistent. I don't find anything inconsistent about my deep, religious beliefs and my ability to use reason. I think the coin's got it just right. I think I have it in perspective.

COOPER: Here's a question from the other side of the coin.

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Stephen Marsh of Thousand Oaks, California, proud citizen of the United States of America that does not believe in God. However, the former President Bush said this statement was an oxymoron.

Now, I am worried about the amount of time given to evangelical concerns while secular voters are more or less getting a snubbed -- the faith and politics forum.

So my question is this: Am I wrong in fearing a Democratic administration that may be lip service to the extremely religious as much as the current one? And if so, why? Thank you for your time.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: As president of the United States, we will embrace and lift up all Americans, whatever their faith beliefs or whether they have no faith beliefs, as Stephen just spoke about. That's what America is.

Now, my faith is enormously important to me personally. It's gotten me through some hard times, as I'm sure that's true of a lot of the candidates who are on this stage.

But it is crucial that the American people know that as president it will not be my job -- and I believe it would be wrong -- for me to impose my personal faith beliefs on the American people or to decide any kind of decision, policy decision, that will affect America on the basis of my personal faith beliefs.


COOPER: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don't think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.

OBAMA: But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state, and I think that we've got to translate...


By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that's why we have such a thriving religious life.

But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy's functioning, will continue to function. That's what the founding fathers intended.

COOPER: Another question regarding guns.


QUESTION: Good evening, America. My name is Jered Townsend from Clio, Michigan.

To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe.

This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me your views.

Thank you.

COOPER: Governor Richardson, you have one of the highest NRA ratings.

RICHARDSON: The issue here, I believe, is instant background checks.

RICHARDSON: Nobody who has a criminal background or is mentally ill should be able to get a weapon. That is the key, and that includes gun sales. That includes gun sales at gun shows.

The key is going to be also attacking poverty, bringing people together, dealing with those kids in the ghettos that are heavy users of gun violence and they are victims of gun violence, to make sure that this country attacks the core problems of poverty, having child care, bringing parents together.

COOPER: Senator Biden, are you going to be able to keep his baby safe?

BIDEN: I'll tell you what, if that is his baby, he needs help.


I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don't know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being serious. Look, just like me, we go around talking about people who own guns. I am the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban, that became law, and then we got defeated and then Dianne Feinstein went to town on it and did a great job.

BIDEN: Look, we should be working with law enforcement, right now, to make sure that we protect people against people who don't -- are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun because they're either mentally imbalanced and/or because they have a criminal record, and...


BIDEN: Anyway...


COOPER: We got one more question. Before...

BIDEN: ... I hope he doesn't come looking for me.


Before we do -- we've got one more question. Before we get to that, we're going to play our last YouTube-style campaign video from the Obama campaign.


OBAMA: We want an end to this war. And we want diplomacy and peace. Not only can we save the environment; we can create jobs and opportunity. We're tired of fear. We're tired of division. We want something new. We want to turn the page.


The world as it is is not the world as it has to be.


COOPER: And this last...


COOPER: This last question from a YouTube viewer will be asked to each of you.

QUESTION: My name is Jason Koop, and I am from Colorado Springs, Colorado. And my question is for all of the candidates, and it is intended to lighten up the mood a little bit.

I would like for each of you to look at the candidate to your left and tell the audience one thing you like and one thing you dislike about that particular candidate. And remember, be honest.

COOPER: Senator Gravel?

GRAVEL: I turn to my left and I like Chris Dodd. I knew his dad, I served with his dad.

I do have a difference of opinion with respect to where the money's coming from.

GRAVEL: I've advocated, people, follow the money if you want to find out what's going to happen after any one of these individuals are elected. Follow the money, because it's politics as usual is what you're seeing.

COOPER: Senator Dodd?

DODD: I like John Edwards. I love his wife Elizabeth and his family, and I think we've had enough of negative in politics. I have nothing negative to say about the gentleman.


COOPER: You're not going to answer the question. All right. Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: I admire what Senator Clinton has done for America, what her husband did for America.

I'm not sure about that coat.


COOPER: Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Yes, John, it's a good thing we're ending soon.


You know, I think that Chris Dodd has it absolutely right. I mean, I admire and like very much Barack, as I do with all of the candidates here. And I think that what you've seen tonight is how ready the Democrats are to lead.

CLINTON: We are ready to lead the change that America so desperately needs.

COOPER: All right. I'll take that as you're not going to answer.

Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I actually like Hillary's jacket. I don't know what's wrong with it. And I like the fact that Bill Richardson has devoted his life to public service, because that, I think, is the highest of callings.


I don't like the fact that he either likes the Yankees or the Red Sox, but doesn't apparently like the White Sox. And we're having a tough time this year.

COOPER: Governor Richardson?

RICHARDSON: You know, let me just say, I love all of the candidates here.

RICHARDSON: In fact, I think they would all do great in the White House as my vice president.


Let me say something about Joe Biden.


Joe Biden -- you know, the only negative thing about Joe. We disagree on Iraq very strongly, on Darfur. But this man has devoted his whole life to public service. He's been a distinguished chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He's had great contributions in civil rights, in issues relating to gun control, in Supreme Court nominees. He will make an excellent secretary of state for me.


COOPER: Senator Biden?

BIDEN: I don't like a damn thing about him. I -- no, I'm only kidding. Only kidding.


Dennis and I have been friends for 25 years. I think this is a ridiculous exercise.


Dennis, the thing I like best about you is your wife.


COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, talk about Senator Gravel.

KUCINICH: Wait a minute. He talked about my wife.

COOPER: Well...


KUCINICH: You notice what CNN did. They didn't put anybody to the left of me. Think about it.


COOPER: I'm not sure it would be possible to find anybody.



KUCINICH: And you know what? And you know -- and I'm glad I get a chance to debate you to my left, because there's no one more mainstream on the war and on health care and on trade than I am, Anderson.

Now, about Senator Gravel: Didn't he show great courage during the Vietnam War, when he exposed what was going on with the Pentagon Papers. Really courageous American. I'm proud that he's up here.

Thank you, Senator Gravel.


COOPER: All right. We'll leave it at that.

I want to thank all the candidates tonight. CNN and YouTube would also like to thank all our partners, the South Carolina Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, for sponsoring tonight's big debate.

We want to thank our host, The Citadel.

September 17th is the Republican debate. I want to encourage everyone to submit their questions via YouTube. You can start doing that right away. All you've got to do is go to, click on the link. [Editor's note: The CNN-YouTube Republican debate has been rescheduled for November 28.]

Thanks very much, everyone.

Good night.

END E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print