John Kerry in Democratic debate in Columbia SC


On Energy & Oil: Led effort to try to raise fuel efficiency standards

KERRY [to Gephardt]: I led an effort in 2002 to raise fuel efficiency standards in the country. And just yesterday, they reported they are at a 22 year low. Youíre the one member of Congress here who doesnít support raising fuel efficiency standards. How do we get to energy independence when 50% or more of our fuel is in oil for transportation? How are we going to break out without raising fuel efficiency?

GEPHARDT: I agree that we need to do it. However, we need to put together an energy program that includes an increase in the CAFE standards, but also includes setting a 10-year goal of not only mileage requirements and pollution requirements, but also moves us to hybrid cars in the interim and hydrogen fuel cells in the long-term. I would put the auto companies, the oil companies and the environmental groups at a table and I would work out a 10-year plan. Iíd call it an Apollo 2 program, and I believe we could pass it, have everybody committed to it and get this done for the country.

Source: [X-ref to Gephardt] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On Free Trade: Capitalism and democracy go hand in hand

Q: The senior senator from SC, Ernest Hollings, worked hard against NAFTA He says these free trade agreements are job killers. You voted for them. Why is Sen. Hollings wrong?

KERRY: It would be a terrible mistake for the US to suddenly try to button up and move away from globalization. Itís happening, no matter what.

We have to manage it more effectively. What we need is not to cancel NAFTA. We need trade. Fritz Hollings had a great article in the paper today with a number of things that would make sense to do. Whatís missing is a president who is prepared to negotiate to keep it from being a rush to the bottom, to raise the standards for people.

We can negotiate a raising of the standards of labor and environment. The US could be the marketer of sustainable development practices, and still open markets for us.

We need to export our capitalism and our democracy. They go hand in hand. But we need a president who is prepared to negotiate the tough trade agreements that protect people.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On Health Care: Cover more citizens with health plan like Congress gets

KERRY: Every American ought to have access to affordable health care through the same plan that the President & Congress give themselves. I will lay out how you can do that, how you can buy into Medicare [at age] 55, and also how we can cover children. But when Dean became governor, 90.5% of the citizens of Vermont were already covered. When he left as governor, 90.4% were covered. So youíve got this problem of bringing people into the system and getting to the percentage that America ought to get to, which is covering more citizens.

DEAN: When I came into office, Vermont had a program that insured everybody up to the age of 6 to 225% of the poverty [level]. I expanded that up to the age of 18 for 300% of the poverty [level]. That means if you live in a family that makes $54,000 a year or less in our state, everybody under the age of 18 gets coverage. In fact, Senator, about 96.4% of all our people are covered today, something which I intend to deliver to America when you all make me president.

Source: [X-ref to Dean] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On Principles & Values: Iím talking about things that matter to people

Q: The rap on you is that youíre just too aloof, that you donít have the common touch it takes to win.

KERRY: Well, probably I ought to just disappear and contemplate that by myself.

You know, Iíve heard that for a long time, but Iím attracting support all across the country and itís because Iím talking about things that matter to people. Iím the only person running for this job whoís actually fought in a war.

I believe I bring strength to this ticket: strength about how we maintain a military that is strong, but make ourselves stronger in the world. And I think I know what our vision is for this country at home: health care, really leaving on child behind, putting people back to work and I have a proven record of fighting the tough fights that will give people trust that I will do that for America.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On Principles & Values: It is time for this country to ask again, why not?

35 years ago I heard the news of Robert Kennedyís victory and then assassination. That moment was seared in me, as were the words, ĎSome men see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask, why not?í

Iím running for presiden because I believe it is time for this country to ask again, why not? Why not in the richest country on the face of the planet, health care for all of our citizens accessible and affordable? Why not early childhood education so that all of our children get the best start in life? Why not invest in our future and our jobs by creating energy independence for America? Why not have a military that is strong but at the same time advances our ideals around the globe? And why not have a president who understands the truth that the flag and patriotism do not belong to any one party, they belong to all Americans?

I believe we can achieve these ideals, and I ask you to join me in the effort to make America safer, stronger and more secure.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On War & Peace: Preferred diplomacy, but supported invading Iraq

Q: On March 19 Pres. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. Was that the right decision at the right time?

KERRY: I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

Q: Gov. Dean, youíve criticized Sen. Kerry on the campaign trail saying heís tried to have it both ways on the issue of Iraq.

DEAN: Iím delighted to see Saddam Hussein gone. I appreciate that we have a strong military in this country, and Iíd keep a strong military in this country. But this was the wrong war at the wrong time because we have set a new policy of preventive war in this country. Sooner or later weíre going to see another country copy [that policy].

Q: But do you believe Kerry is still trying to have it both ways?

DEAN: Thatís not up to me to judge that. Thatís up to the voters to judge that, and Iím sure they will.

Source: [X-ref to Dean] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

On War & Peace: Disarm Saddam, but war should be a last resort

Iím the only person running for this job whoís actually fought in a war. Iím not ambivalent about the war [in Iraq]. I believe that before you go to war, it ought to really be the last resort and you should exhaust your diplomatic remedies, but I was in favor of disarming Saddam Hussein, and Iím glad we did. Thereís no ambivalence. I believe I bring strength to this ticket: strength about how we maintain a military that is strong, but make ourselves stronger in the world.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

The above quotations are from First Democratic presidential primary debate, May 3, 2003, at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
All 9 declared Democratic candidates for the presidency, in a 90-minute debate moderated by George Stephanopoulos..
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Page last updated: Apr 16, 2013