John Edwards in 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College


On War & Peace: End combat missions & focus on removing all combat troops

EDWARDS: [To Clinton]: Good people have differences about this issue. I heard Senator Clinton say on Sunday that she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, thatís a continuation of the war. I do not think we should continue combat missions in Iraq, and when Iím on a stage with the Republican nominee come the fall of 2008, Iím going to make it clear that Iím for ending the war.

CLINTON: I said there may be a continuing counterterrorism mission, which, if it still exists, will be aimed at al Qaeda in Iraq. It may require combat, Special Operations Forces or some other form of that, but the vast majority of our combat troops should be out.

EDWARDS: I would not continue combat missions in Iraq. Combat missions mean that the war is continuing

Q: Would you send combat troops back in if there was genocide?

EDWARDS: I believe that America along with the rest of the world would have a responsibility to respond to genocide. But itís not something we should do alone.

Source: (X-ref Clinton) 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 26, 2007

On War & Peace: 40,000 troops out by 2009, but no pledge for all out by 2013

Q: Will you commit that at the end of your first term, in 2013, all US troops will be out of Iraq?

A: I cannot make that commitment. I can tell you what I would do as president. If there are in fact, as General Petraeus suggests, 100,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq, I will immediately draw down 40,000 to 50,000 troops and, over the course of the next several months, continue to bring our combat troops out of Iraq until all of our combat troops are in fact out of Iraq. I think the problem is, we will maintain an embassy in Baghdad. That embassy has to be protected. We will probably have humanitarian workers in Iraq. They have to be protected. I think somewhere in the neighborhood of a brigade of troops will be necessary to accomplish that--3,500 to 5,000 troops. Everyone up here wants to take a responsible course to end the war in Iraq. And the debate will be between a Democrat who wants to bring the war to an end, & a Republican who wants to continue the war.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

On Civil Rights: Ok to read about same-sex couples to second-graders

Q: Last year some parents of second graders in Lexington, Massachusetts, were outraged to learn their childrenís teacher had read a story about same-sex marriage, about a prince who marries another prince. Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?

A: Yes, absolutely. I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that theyíre faced with every single day of their lives. Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade to be exposed to all of those possibilities because I donít want to impose my view. Nobody made me God. But what I will do as president is I will lead an effort to make sure that the same benefits that are available to heterosexual couples--1,100, roughly, benefits in the federal government--are available to same-sex couples; that we get rid of DOMA; that we get rid of ďdonít ask, donít tell.Ē

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Drugs: Do not lower drinking age from 21 to 18

Q: Would you as president remove the requirement that a state have a legal drinking age of 21 in order to receive federal highway funds, thereby returning the drinking age back to the states?

BIDEN: Absolutely no, I would not. The cost of alcoholism in America, the cost of accidents that flow from drunkenness, are astronomical.

DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming..

RICHARDSON: No, I wouldnít lower it. I think you need a dual approach: strong law enforcement, but you also have to have substance abuse treatment.

GRAVEL: I think we should lower it. Anybody that can go fight and die for this country should be able to drink.

KUCINICH: Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16.

Q: No on 18?

OBAMA: No.

EDWARDS: What was the question?

Q: Lower the drinking age to 18?

EDWARDS: I would not.

Source: [Xref Biden] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

On Drugs: Supports national ban on smoking in public places

Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Who would favor a national law to ban smoking in all public places?

BIDEN: Yes. I would ban--in all public [places], nationally.

DODD: 3,000 kids start smoking every day in this country.

RICHARDSON: I did it in New Mexico as a national law.

KUCINICH: You bet Iíll go for a national law.

Q: So Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel and Kucinich in favor of a national law.

EDWARDS: Wait, wait, wait, and Edwards.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Energy & Oil: No on developing more nuclear power in the US

Q: We have a dependency on foreign oil which all across America people say we must become energy independent.

A: Yes.

Q: Would you be in favor of developing more nuclear power here in the United States?

A: No.

Q: Period?

A: No. So that was less than 30 seconds.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Health Care: 2004: universal coverage irresponsible; but US has changed

Q: In 2004 when you ran for president, you said we could not afford universal health care, it was not achievable, and it was not responsible. Youíve changed dramatically on this issue.

A: Thatís true and so has America. I proposed universal health care for children at that point. What happened in Ď94 is we didnít get universal health care, but we got NAFTA. And when Iím president, you have my word I will never pull the universal health care bill. I will making sure thatís enacted.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Health Care: Congress grants healthcare to all, or give up their own

FactCheck: Edwards overstated his own proposal when he said, ďI will say to the Congress... you lose your health careĒ unless it passes universal health care by July 2009. Thatís an empty threat, since no president has the authority to strip members of Congress of health insurance which is given to them by federal law.

Edwardsí legislative plans would have been more accurately portrayed as asking Congress either to grant health care to all citizens or give it up for themselves.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

On Social Security: Raise cap with ďprotective zoneĒ from $97K to $200K

EDWARDS: I think we have to be very careful to protect the middle class, so, specifically, what I would do as president is create a protective zone between $97,000 up to around $200,000 because there are a lot of firefighter couples, for example, that make $100,000 to $115,000 a year. We donít want to raise taxes on them. But I do believe that people who make $50 million or $100 million a year ought to be paying Social Security taxes on that income.

KUCINICH: Of course we ought to be raising the cap in order to protect Social Security. And in addition, we should be thinking about lowering the retirement age to 65. Peopleís bodies break down.

DODD: You could do this by basically readjusting that tax so it doesnít have to affect everyone in society.

Q: But youíd raise the cap to $500,000?

DODD: Youíve got to raise it up, clearly, to do this.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Social Security: We canít grow our way out of Social Security crisis

Q: Can you grow your way out of the Social Security crisis?

A: No, sir, you cannot. You cannot solve this problem just by setting up a bipartisan commission. All of us are for that. You cannot solve this problem just by growing the economy. All of us are for that. But the American people deserve to hear the truth. They have heard so much politician double-talk on this issue. Thatís the reason young people donít believe Social Securityís going to be there for them. Why would you possibly trust a bunch of politicians who say the same thing over and over--ďWeíre going to grow our way out of thisĒ--but nothing changes. The honest truth is there are hard choices to be made here. The choice I would make as president is on the cap. But I donít understand why somebody who makes $50 million a year pays Social Security tax on the first $97,000, and not all the rest, while somebody who makes $85,000 a year pays Social Security tax on every dime of their income.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

The above quotations are from Democratic Presidential Debate on MSNBC, moderated by Tim Russert, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Sept. 26, 2007.
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