Sweet Dem debate special. Partial debate transcript. Will be posting entire transcript when available.

SHARE Sweet Dem debate special. Partial debate transcript. Will be posting entire transcript when available.
SHARE Sweet Dem debate special. Partial debate transcript. Will be posting entire transcript when available.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN A DEBATE

SPONSORED BY CNN, GOOGLE, YOUTUBE AND THE DNC

JULY 23, 2007

PART ONE

SPEAKERS: SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.

FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.

SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., D-DEL.

REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, D-OHIO

FORMER SEN. MIKE GRAVEL, D-ALASKA

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.

ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR

[*]

COOPER: Our first question tonight is Zach Kempf in Provo, Utah.

QUESTION: What’s up? I’m running out of tape; I have to hurry.

So my question is: We have a bunch of leaders who can’t seem to

do their job. And we pick people based on the issues they that they

represent, but then they get in power and they don’t do anything about

it anyway.

You’re going to spend this whole night talking about your views

on issues, but the issues don’t matter if when you get in power

nothing’s going to get done.

We have a Congress and a president with, like, a 30 percent

approval rating, so clearly we don’t think they’re doing a good job.

What’s going to make you any more effectual, beyond all the platitudes

and the stuff we’re used to hearing? I mean, be honest with us. How

are you going to be any different?

COOPER: Senator Dodd, you’ve been in Congress more than 30

years. Can you honestly say you’re any different?

DODD: Well, I think so.

First of all, thank you for inviting us here in The Citadel.

It’s great to be here at this wonderful college, university.

Certainly, I think it’s a very important question one ought to be

asking because, while hope and confidence and optimism are clearly

very important, I think experience matters a great deal — the

experience people bring to their candidacy, the ideas, the bold ideas

that they’ve championed over the years, whether or not they were

successful in advancing those ideas and able to bring people together.

DODD: I’m very proud of the fact that, over my 26 years in the

Senate, I’ve authored landmark legislation, the Family and Medical

Leave Act, child care legislation, reform of financial institutions.

In every case, those are new ideas, bold ideas, that I campaigned

on and then were able to achieve in the United States Senate by

bringing Republicans as well as Democrats together around those

issues.

That’s what’s missing, more than anything else, I think, right

now, is the ability to bring people together to get the job done.

COOPER: But if someone really wants a change, are you the guy to

give it to them?

DODD: Well, I think they ought to look back. Speeches are easy

to make and rhetoric is easy to expose here. But I think the idea of

looking back and saying, “What have you done?” –if you want to get a

good idea of where someone is going to lead or how they’re going to

lead, I think it’s very appropriate to say, “What have you done? Show

me. Demonstrate to me the ability to get these things done that

you’ve championed in the past.”

COOPER: Senator Obama, your supporters say you are different.

Your critics say you’re inexperienced. You’re a first-term senator.

OBAMA: Well, I think the questioner hit the nail on the head.

As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for

change in Washington. And we are not going to fix health care, we’re

not going to fix energy, we are not going to do anything about our

education system unless we change how business is done in Washington.

Now, part of that is bringing people together, as Chris said.

But part of it is also overcoming special interests and lobbyists who

are writing legislation that’s critical to the American people.

And one of the things I bring is a perspective as a community

organizer, as a state legislator, as well as a U.S. senator, that

says: Washington has to change.

COOPER: A lot of people say — Congressman Kucinich, your

supporters certainly say you are different. Even your critics would

certainly say you are different. Here’s a direct question for you.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Davis Fleetwood. I’m from Groton,

Massachusetts. My question is for Dennis Kucinich.

After watching the first several debates, which seemed more like

conversations than actually debates, we’re all clear out here that you

Democrats are united. We get it.

But we have a very important decision to make coming up very

soon, and Americans desperate for a change need to know: Congressman

Kucinich, how would America be better off with you as president than

we would be if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama became

president?

COOPER: What do you have that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama

do not have?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, a clear record as having not only

opposed the war from the very beginning — the only one of the stage

that actually voted against the war, and also the only one on the

stage who voted against funding the war 100 percent of the time.

You know, we’re here at The Citadel. I want the people of The

Citadel to know that I mourn the passing of those people who gave

their lives, but I also would not hesitate to call upon you to defend

this country, but I’ll never send you in pursuit of a political agenda

or a lie.

Just like my father before me, who served in the Marines, and my

brother who served in the Marines in Vietnam, and my nephew who served

in Iraq, I believed in duty and honor and I think it’s important to

have those commitments to this country.

KUCINICH: And so I say we achieve strength through peace.

That’s the new doctrine that I’m going to promote throughout this

campaign; that we’ll use the science of human relations and diplomacy;

that we pursue an approach which says that you can use international

agreements and treaties; and that you can work to settle your

differences without committing the young men and women to war, unless

it’s absolutely necessary.

COOPER: Senator Clinton, you were involved in that question. I

want to give you a chance to respond, 30 seconds.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, I think the Democrats are united, as Davis said,

and we are united for change. We cannot take another four or eight

years of Republican leadership that has been so disastrous for our

country.

The issue is: Which of us is ready to lead on day one? I have

35 years of being an instrument and agent of change, before I was ever

a public official. And during the time that I’ve been privileged to

serve as first lady and now as senator, I’ve worked to bring people

together, to find common ground where we can, and then to stand our

ground where we can’t.

COOPER: Senator Obama, you were involved in that question as

well.

OBAMA: Look, I don’t think this is just a Republican problem. I

think this is a problem that spans the parties. And we don’t just

need a change in political parties in Washington. We’ve got to have a

change in attitudes of those who are representing the people, America.

And part of the reason I don’t take PAC money, I don’t take federal

lobbyists’ money is because we’ve got to get the national interests up

front as opposed to the special interests.

And that is something that I’ve got a track record doing, and I

think that is what the American people are looking for in this

election — people of both parties as well as independents.

COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Rob Porter, and I’m from Irvine,

California.

QUESTION: I have a question for Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton, how would you define the word “liberal?”

And would you use this word to describe yourself?

Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: You know, it is a word that originally meant that you

were for freedom, that you were for the freedom to achieve, that you

were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the

individual.

Unfortunately, in the last 30, 40 years, it has been turned up on

its head and it’s been made to seem as though it is a word that

describes big government, totally contrary to what its meaning was in

the 19th and early 20th century.

I prefer the word “progressive,” which has a real American

meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the

20th century.

CLINTON: I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who

believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that

we are better as a society when we’re working together and when we

find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life

get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves

and their family.

So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I

think that’s the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring

back to American politics.

COOPER: So you wouldn’t use the word “liberal,” you’d say

“progressive.”

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Gravel, are you a liberal?

GRAVEL: I wouldn’t use either word (OFF-MIKE) Zach asked about

change. You’re not going to see any change when these people get

elected.

We were asked about — that we’re united.

GRAVEL: We’re not united. I’m not united on many of their

views. And I want to take on Barack Obama for a minute, who said he

doesn’t take money from lobbyists. Well, he has 134 bundlers. Now,

what does he think that is?

And, besides that, he has received money from a Robert Wolf, the

head of the USB (sic) bank in the United States, who raised $195,000

— from this bank — wait a second — who has lobbyists in

Washington…

COOPER: Your time is up.

GRAVEL: … and it’s a foreign-owned bank.

COOPER: Senator Obama, I’m going to have to let you respond.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

Well, the fact is I don’t take PAC money and I don’t take

lobbyists’ money.

And the bundlers — the reason you know who is raising money for

me, Mike, is because I have pushed through a law this past session to

disclose that.

And that’s the kind of leadership that I’ve shown in the Senate.

That’s the kind of leadership that I showed when I was a state

legislator. And that’s the kind of leadership that I’ll show as

president of the United States.

GRAVEL: Wait a minute…

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Biden.

QUESTION: Hello. This question is for all of the candidates.

Partisanship played a major role in why nothing can be done in

Washington today. All of you say you will be able to work with

Republicans. Well, here’s a test. If you had to pick any Republican

member of Congress or Republican governor to be your running mate, who

would it be?

BIDEN: At the risk of hurting his reputation — and it will hurt

him — but I would pick Chuck Hagel, and I’d consider asking Dick

Lugar to be secretary of state.

And I do have — I do have a record of significant

accomplishment. The crime bill, which became known as the Clinton

crime bill, was written by Joe Biden, the Biden crime bill. That

required me to cross over, get everyone together, not — no one’s

civil liberties were in any way jeopardized.

We put 100,000 cops on the street. Violent crime came down.

BIDEN: The Violence against Women Act, what we did in Bosnia,

and so on. So I have a track record of being able to cross over and

get things done.

And by the way, if you want to end all this money, support my

effort to pass public financing of all elections.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: All right. Stay on the topic.

Senator Edwards? Any Republicans?

EDWARDS: Actually, I think Chuck Hagel is a good choice. But I

— if you listen to these questions, they all have exactly the same

thing, which is how do we bring about big change?

And I think that’s a fundamental threshold question. And the

question is: Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring

about big change? I don’t.

I think the people who are powerful in Washington — big

insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies — they are

not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power.

The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we

take it away from them.

(APPLAUSE)

And I have been standing up to these people my entire life. I

have been fighting them my entire life in court rooms — and beating

them.

EDWARDS: If you want real change, you need somebody who’s taking

these people on and beating them…

COOPER: Time.

EDWARDS: … over and over and over.

COOPER: The other thing you’re going to see tonight are

candidate videos. We’ve asked each campaign to put together a 30-

second YouTube-style video. The first one is from Senator Chris Dodd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Senator, I have to ask, what’s with the white hair?

DODD: I don’t know why you bring that up. Bill Richardson,

Hillary, Joe Biden and I, we’re all about the same age. I don’t think

the white hair is an issue.

QUESTION: Well, how did you get the white hair?

DODD: Hard work, I suppose. For example, it took me seven years

to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, and I helped to end wars in

Central America and bring peace to Northern Ireland. I’m ready to be

president.

QUESTION: Well, how many white hairs do you have?

DODD: Hundreds, thousands, I presume.

QUESTION: Really?

DODD: I’m Chris Dodd, and we approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: There you go. Nothing wrong with white hair.

(LAUGHTER)

DODD: A young person with white hair, too?

COOPER: Yes, sadly, my age is catching up to my hair.

(LAUGHTER)

Almost 50 percent of South Carolina’s Democrats are African-

Americans. It’s among the highest percentage of the nation. So we’re

giving a lot of questions from YouTube viewers on race tonight.

This first one is for Senator Edwards. Let’s listen.

QUESTION: Hello, America. Hello, presidential candidates. This

is Will from Boston, Massachusetts. And I hope, you know, they put

this question on. It’s a question in the back of everybody’s head.

You know, in some people, it’s further back than others, collecting

cobwebs.

But is African-Americans ever going to get reparations for

slavery?

I know you all are going to run around this question, dipping and

dodging, so let’s see how far you all can get.

COOPER: Senator Edwards, no dipping and dodging. Should

African-Americans get reparations?

EDWARDS: I’m not for reparations. I can answer that questions.

But I think there are other things we can do to create some equality

that doesn’t exist in this country today.

Today there was a report that, right here in Charleston, African

Americans are paying more than their white counterparts for mortgages

than any other place in America, any other place in the United States

of America.

(APPLAUSE)

EDWARDS: And here’s an example. What is the conceivable

explanation for this, that black people are paying more for their

mortgage?

And, by the way, it’s not just low-income African Americans; it’s

high-income African-Americans. There’s absolutely no explanation for

this. It goes to the basic question that I raised just a few minutes

ago.

To have a president that’s going to — is going to fight for

equality, fight for real change, big change, bold change, we’re going

to have to somebody — we can’t trade our insiders for their insiders.

That doesn’t work.

What we need is somebody who will take these people on, these big

banks, these mortgage companies, big insurance companies, big drug

companies. That’s the only way we’re going to bring about change.

And I will do that as president.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Obama, your position on reparations?

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I think the reparations we need right here in South

Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools. I did a…

(APPLAUSE)

I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina, in an area

called the corridor of shame. They’ve got buildings that students are

trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And

we’ve got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they’re

teaching and high dropout rates.

We’ve got to understand that there are corridors of shame all

across the country. And if we make the investments and understand

that those are our children, that’s the kind of reparations that are

really going to make a difference in America right now.

COOPER: Is anyone on the stage for reparations for slavery for

African-Americans?

Are you?

KUCINICH: I am.

The Bible says we shall be and must be repairers of the breach.

And a breach has occurred.

KUCINICH: We have to acknowledge that. It’s a breach that has

resulted in inequality in opportunities for education, for health

care, for housing, for employment. And so, we must be mindful of

that.

But it’s also a breach that has affected a lot of poor whites as

well.

We need to have a country which recognizes that there is an

inequality of opportunity and a president who’s ready to challenge the

interest groups — be they insurance companies or mortgage companies

or defense contractors who are taking the money away from the people

who need it.

COOPER: Time.

KUCINICH: Yes, I am for repairing the breach. Yes, I am for

reparations.

COOPER: Our next question is for Senator Dodd.

QUESTION: Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane

Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent,

predominantly white city? What roles do you believe race and class

played in the storm’s aftermath? And if you acknowledge that race and

class affected the response efforts, what can you do to ensure that

this won’t happen in the future? And what can you do to ensure this

nation’s most needy people, in times of crisis and always, something

will be done to help them too?

DODD: Well, it’s a great question, Morgan, to raise here. It,

obviously, points to one of the most dark and shameful moments in

recent past history in our country — the fact that a major American

city went through a natural disaster, and we found almost (ph) little

to do. The American president had almost no response whatsoever to

the people of that city, New Orleans.

In fact, today still, the problem persists where people who had

to move out of their city, move elsewhere, and little or no efforts to

make sure they can get back in their homes. They have literally

thousands of people whose homes were destroyed, their economic

opportunities destroyed.

I believe that had this occurred in a place with majorly a white

population, we would have seen a much more rapid response and a

consistent response to that issue.

As an American president, we can never, ever allow again a major

city, a major population center in our country go through what New

Orleans, what the Gulf states did as a result of the kind of neglect

from an American president.

As president, I would commit to do everything possible we bring

to bear the talents, the resources.

DODD: In fact, it should have been done ahead of time, to have a

FEMA operation that was prepared to respond to these predictable

disasters. So it’s a mark of shame on our country. It ought to be

reversed. It will in the Dodd administration.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor Richardson, the Democrats talk a lot about the

failure of the president with Hurricane Katrina. The governor of that

state was a Democrat; the mayor of that city is a Democrat as well.

RICHARDSON: Well, there was politics. All of a sudden, other

states that had the similar devastation got better treatment, like

Mississippi.

This is what I would do. The response of our government to

Katrina, before, during and after, was inexcusable. We have got to

eliminate in the future any red tape that helps families — that helps

the devastation.

Secondly, we have to let those that live there to come back

first, instead of big moneyed interests. We have to stop the

predatory lending of insurance companies, housing and many others that

are ripping off the people.

And then, finally, we have to make sure that a president cares —

and doesn’t just pose for photo ops, but makes a difference and a

commitment to rebuild that city and that region.

(APPLAUSE)

RICHARDSON: Our next question comes from Jordan Williams.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Jordan Williams, and I am a student

at K.U., from Coffeyville, Kansas.

QUESTION: This question is meant for Senator Obama and Senator

Clinton.

Whenever I read an editorial about one of you, the author never

fails to mention the issue of race or gender, respectively. Either

one is not authentically black enough, or the other is not

satisfactorily feminine.

How will you address these critics and their charges if one or

both of you should end up on the Democratic ticket in ’08?

COOPER: Senator Obama, how do you address those who say you’re

not authentically black enough?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Well…

COOPER: Not my question; Jordan’s question.

OBAMA: You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan — in the

past, I think I’ve given my credentials.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race

permeates our society. It is still a critical problem.

OBAMA: But I do believe in the core decency of the American

people, and I think they want to get beyond some of our racial

divisions.

Unfortunately, we’ve had a White House that hasn’t invested in

the kinds of steps that have to be done to overcome the legacy of

slavery and Jim Crow in this country.

And as president of the United States, my commitment on issues

like education, my commitment on issues like health care is to close

the disparities and the gaps, because that’s what’s really going to

solve the race problem in this country.

If people feel like they’ve got a fair shake, if children feel as

if the fact that they have a different surname or they’ve got a

different skin color is not going to impede their dreams, then I am

absolutely confident that we’re going to be able to move forward on

the challenges that we face as a country.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Clinton, you have a minute as well since this

question is to you.

CLINTON: Well, I couldn’t run as anything other than a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

I am proud to be running as a woman.

CLINTON: And I’m excited that I may…

(APPLAUSE)

… you know, may be able, finally, to break that hardest of all

glass ceilings.

But, obviously, I’m not running because I’m a woman. I’m running

because I think I’m the most qualified and experienced person to hit

the ground running in January 2009.

And I trust the American people to make a decision that is not

about me or my gender, or about Barack or his race or about Bill and

his ethnicity, but about what is best for you and your family.

We have big challenges…

(APPLAUSE)

… and big needs in our country. And I think we’re going to

need experienced and strong leadership in order to start handling all

of the problems that we have here at home and around the world.

And when I’m inaugurated, I think it’s going to send a great

message to a lot of little girls and boys around the world.

COOPER: Senator Edwards…

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Edwards, earlier this week, your wife said that you would

be a better advocate for women than Senator Clinton.

COOPER: Was she right?

EDWARDS: Well, let me say first that on the question that was

just asked to Senator Obama…

COOPER: We prefer you stay on the question…

EDWARDS: I’m going to stay on your question. I promise I’ll

answer that question. But the first thing I want to say — and I want

to speak for everybody, I believe, on this stage — anybody who’s

considering not voting for Senator Obama because he’s black or for

Senator Clinton because she’s a woman, I don’t want their vote. I

don’t want them voting for me.

(APPLAUSE)

I think what Elizabeth was saying was — to answer your question,

what Elizabeth was saying was there are very important issues facing

women in this country. More women are affected by the minimum wage

than men are affected by the minimum wage. I have been the most

aggressive — in fact, I would challenge every Democrat on this stage

today to commit to raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the

year 2012.

(APPLAUSE)

Second, there are more women in poverty than men in poverty.

EDWARDS: And I have made this a central cause in my life and a

central cause in my campaign. More women have difficulty getting the

health care that they need than men do. And I was the first person to

come out with a comprehensive, truly universal health care plan.

COOPER: So do you think you’re a better advocate for women than

Senator Clinton?

EDWARDS: Those are issues — listen, Senator Clinton has a long

history of speaking out on behalf of women. She deserves to be

commended for that. But I believe that on the issues that directly

affect women’s lives, I have the strongest, boldest ideas and can

bring about the change that needs to be brought.

COOPER: Senator Clinton, is he a better advocate for women?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Anderson, I have a great deal of admiration for

Elizabeth Edwards. And I appreciate greatly John’s comments. You

know, I have spent my entire life advocating for women. I went to

Beijing in 1995 and said that women’s rights are human rights, and

I’ve done everything I can to make that principle come true.

And, specifically on issues, I got to vote to raise the minimum

wage.

CLINTON: I put in legislation which said that Congress should

not get a salary increase until they did raise the minimum wage, and I

am putting that back in, because I agree that by the time we got it

raised after 10 years, it was already out of date.

And as to women in poverty and women with health care needs, I

have been on the forefront of both advocating and creating change in

my public service, in my time in Arkansas, the White House, and now in

the Senate.

But I think it is terrific. We’re up here arguing about who’s

going to be better for women, because isn’t that a nice change for

everybody to hear.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Our next question is on a topic that got a lot of

response from YouTube viewers. Let’s watch.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Mary.

QUESTION: And my name is Jen.

QUESTION: And we’re from Brooklyn, New York.

If you were elected president of the United States, would you

allow us to be married to each other?

COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: Mary and Jen, the answer to your question is yes. And

let me tell you why.

(APPLAUSE)

KUCINICH: Because if our Constitution really means what it says,

that all are created equal, if it really means what it says, that

there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our

brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or

transgendered should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone

else, and that includes the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony.

Yes, I support you. And welcome to a better and a new America

under a President Kucinich administration.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Dodd, you supported the Defense of Marriage Act.

What’s your position?

DODD: I’ve made the case, Anderson, that — my wife and I have

two young daughters, age 5 and 2.

DODD: I’d simply ask the audience to ask themselves the question

that Jackie and I have asked: How would I want my two daughters

treated if they grew up and had a different sexual orientation than

their parents?

Good jobs, equal opportunity, to be able to retire, to visit each

other, to be with each other, as other people do.

So I feel very strongly, if you ask yourself the question, “How

would you like your children treated if they had a different sexual

orientation than their parents?,” the answer is yes. They ought to

have that ability in civil unions.

I don’t go so far as to call for marriage. I believe marriage is

between a man and a woman.

But my state of Connecticut, the state of New Hampshire, have

endorsed civil unions. I strongly support that. But I don’t go so

far as marriage.

COOPER: Governor Richardson?

RICHARDSON: Well, I would say to the two young women, I would

level with you — I would do what is achievable.

What I think is achievable is full civil unions with full

marriage rights. I would also press for you a hate crimes act in the

Congress. I would eliminate “don’t ask/don’t tell” in the military.

(APPLAUSE)

If we’re going to have in our military men and women that die for

this country, we shouldn’t give them a lecture on their sexual

orientation.

RICHARDSON: I would push for domestic partnership laws,

nondiscrimination in insurance and housing.

I would also send a very strong message that, in my

administration, I will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of

race, gender, or sexual orientation.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: This next question is for Senator Edwards.

QUESTION: I’m Reverend Reggie Longcrier. I’m the pastor of

Exodus Mission and Outreach Church in Hickory, North Carolina.

Senator Edwards said his opposition to gay marriage is influenced

by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong

and unconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation,

and denying women the right to vote.

So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay

American their full and equal rights?

(APPLAUSE)

EDWARDS: I think Reverend Longcrier asks a very important

question, which is whether fundamentally — whether it’s right for any

of our faith beliefs to be imposed on the American people when we’re

president of the United States. I do not believe that’s right.

I feel enormous personal conflict about this issue. I want to

end discrimination. I want to do some of the things that I just heard

Bill Richardson talking about — standing up for equal rights,

substantive rights, civil unions, the thing that Chris Dodd just

talked about. But I think that’s something everybody on this stage

will commit themselves to as president of the United States.

But I personally have been on a journey on this issue. I feel

enormous conflict about it. As I think a lot of people know,

Elizabeth spoke — my wife Elizabeth spoke out a few weeks ago, and

she actually supports gay marriage. I do not. But this is a very,

very difficult issue for me. And I recognize and have enormous

respect for people who have a different view of it.

COOPER: I should also point out that the reverend is actually in

the audience tonight. Where is he? Right over here.

Reverend, do you feel he answered your question?

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: This question was just a catalyst that promoted some

other things that wrapped around that particular question, especially

when it comes to fair housing practices. Also…

COOPER: Do you think he answered the question, though?

QUESTION: Not like I would like to have heard it…

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: What did you not hear?

QUESTION: I didn’t quite get — some people were moving around,

and I didn’t quite get all of his answer. I just heard…

COOPER: All right, there’s 30 seconds more. Why is it OK to

quite religious beliefs when talking about why you don’t support

something? That’s essentially what’s his question.

EDWARDS: It’s not. I mean, I’ve been asked a personal question

which is, I think, what Reverend Longcrier is raising, and that

personal question is, do I believe and do I personally support gay

marriage?

EDWARDS: The honest answer to that is I don’t. But I think it

is absolutely wrong, as president of the United States, for me to have

used that faith basis as a basis for denying anybody their rights, and

I will not do that when I’m president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Obama, the laws banning interracial marriage in

the United States were ruled unconstitutional in 1967. What is the

difference between a ban on interracial marriage and a ban on gay

marriage?

OBAMA: Well, I think that it is important to pick up on

something that was said earlier by both Dennis and by Bill, and that

is that we’ve got to make sure that everybody is equal under the law.

And the civil unions that I proposed would be equivalent in terms of

making sure that all the rights that are conferred by the state are

equal for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples.

Now, with respect to marriage, it’s my belief that it’s up to the

individual denominations to make a decision as to whether they want to

recognize marriage or not. But in terms of, you know, the rights of

people to transfer property, to have hospital visitation, all those

critical civil rights that are conferred by our government, those

should be equal.

COOPER: We’re going to take a quick break, but before we go

we’re going to show another candidate video. This one is from the

Clinton campaign. And then when we come back from the break, we’ll

see one from the — from Senator Edwards’ campaign.

(MUSIC PLAYED FROM CLINTON CAMPAIGN VIDEO)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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