Barack Obama in 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College


On War & Peace: Leave troops for protection of Americans & counterterrorism

The first thing I will do is initiate a phased redeployment. Military personnel indicate we can get one brigade to two brigades out per month. I would immediately begin that process. We would get combat troops out of Iraq. The only troops that would remain would be those that have to protect US bases and US civilians, as well as to engage in counterterrorism activities in Iraq.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

On War & Peace: Hopes to remove all troops from Iraq by 2013, but no pledge

Q: Gen. Petraeus and Pres. Bush indicated that in January 2009, there will be 100,000 troops in Iraq. What do you do?

A: I hope and will work diligently in the Senate to bring an end to this war before I take office. And it is very important at this stage, understanding how badly the presidentís strategy has failed, that we not vote for funding without some timetable for this war. If there are still large troop presences in when I take office, then

Q: Will you pledge that by January 2013, the end of your first term, there will be no US troops in Iraq?

A: I think itís hard to project four years from now, and I think it would be irresponsible. We donít know what contingency will be out there. I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013, but I donít want to make promises, not knowing what the situationís going to be three or four years out.

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

On Civil Rights: Ok to expose 6-year-olds to gay couples; they know already

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: My 9-year-old and my 6-year-old are already aware that there are same-sex couples. And my wife and I have talked about it. And one of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, and because there have been times in our history where I was considered different. And one of the things I think the next president has to do is to stop fanning peopleís fears.

Q: Have you sat down with your daughters to talk about same-sex marriage?

A: My wife has.

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 Energy & Oil: Nuclear power ok if we safeguard against waste & terrorism

Q: Would you be in favor of developing more nuclear power to reduce oil dependency?

A: I donít think that we can take nuclear power off the table. What we have to make sure of is that we have the capacity to store waste properly and safely, and that we reduce whatever threats might come from terrorism. And if we can do that in a technologically sound way, then we should pursue it. If we canít, we should not. But there is no magic bullet on energy. Weíre going to have to look at all the various options.

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

On Health Care: National smoking bans only after trying local bans

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

A: I think that local communities are making enormous strides, and I think theyíre doing the right thing on this. If it turns out that weíre not seeing enough progress at the local level, then I would favor a national law. I donít think weíve seen the local laws play themselves out entirely, because I think youíre seeing an enormous amount of progress in Chicago, in New York, in other major cities around the country. And because I think we have been treating this as a public health problem and educating the public on the dangers of secondhand smoke, that that pressure will continue. As I said, if we canít provide these kinds of protections at the local level, which would be my preference, I would be supportive of a national law.

Q: Have you been successful in stopping smoking?

A: I have. You know, the best cure is my wife.

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

On Homeland Security: America cannot sanction torture; no loopholes or exceptions

America cannot sanction torture. Itís a very straightforward principle, and one that we should abide by. Now, I will do whatever it takes to keep America safe. And there are going to be all sorts of hypotheticals & emergency situations & I will make that judgment at that time. But what we cannot do is have the president state, as a matter of policy, that there is a loophole or an exception where we would sanction torture. I think that diminishes us and it sends the wrong message to the world.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

On Immigration: Sanctuary cities show that feds are not enforcing law

Q: Would you allow ďsanctuary citiesĒ to ignore the federal law & provide sanctuary to immigrants?

A: The federal law is not being enforced not because of failures of local communities, but because the federal government has not done the job that it needs to do.

Q: You would allow the sanctuary cities to exist?

A: What I would do as president is pass comprehensive immigration reform. And controlling our borders but also providing a rational immigration system, which we currently donít have.

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

On Principles & Values: Turn the page: invite GOP & independents to join in agenda

Q: You go around the country saying itís time to turn the page. Are you talking about the Bushes, the Clintons or both?

A: What Iím talking about is ending the divisive politics that we have in this country. I think it is important for us as Democrats to be clear about what we stand for. But I think we also have to invite Republicans and independents to join us in a progressive agenda for universal health care, to make sure that they are included in conversations about improving our education system and properly funding our public schools. I think turning the page means that weíve got to get over the special interest-driven politics that weíve become accustomed to. And most importantly itís important for us to make sure that weíre telling the truth to the American people about the choices we face.

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

On Social Security: Privatization puts retirement at whim of stock market

Q: Would you raise the cap for Social Security tax above the current level of the first $97,500 worth of income?

A: I think that lifting the cap is probably going to be the best option. Now weíve got to have a process [like the one] back in 1983. We need another one. And I think Iíve said before everything should be on the table. My personal view is that lifting the cap is much preferable to the other options that are available. But whatís critical is to recognize that there is a potential problem: young people who donít think Social Security is going to be there for them. We should be willing to do anything that will strengthen the system, to make sure that that we are being true to those who are already retired, as well as young people in the future. And we should reject things that will weaken the system, including privatization, which essentially is going to put peopleís retirement at the whim of the stock market.

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

On War & Peace: Tell people the truth: quickest is 1-2 brigades per month

RICHARDSON: With all due respect to Sen. Obama & Sen. Clinton, what I heard tonight is that even in their second terms, they will not get the troops out. Therefore, the war will not end.

OBAMA: It is important to tell the American people the truth. Military commanders indicate that they can safely get combat troops out at the pace of one to two brigades a month. That is the quickest pace that we can do it safely. I have said I will begin immediately and we will do it as rapidly as we can.

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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