January 11th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
3 years ago

Blitzer: What would you ask the Democrats in South Carolina?

 Weigh in on the South Carolina Democratic debate.
Weigh in on the South Carolina Democratic debate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - I am going to be hosting a Democratic presidential debate on Monday, January 21, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The CNN debate will be co-sponsored with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Suzanne Malveaux and Joe Johns will be joining me in the questioning. All of us are really looking forward to this debate which coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.

It comes just before the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday, January 26. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all have respective strengths and weaknesses in that state. Hopefully, we will be able to learn more about these three candidates during that forum, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on CNN. The two earlier Democratic debates I moderated – in New Hampshire in early June and in Nevada in November – included a lot more candidates. Several of them, as you know, have dropped out. This one should be more manageable.

There are so many questions all of us have about the candidates. I have my ideas, and am excited, but l really want to hear from you - I would love your input. Let me know what you would ask these Democratic candidates if you had the chance. This race for the White House is at a pivotal point for the Democrats and the Republicans. And the stakes for the nation are very high. Thanks in advance.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: South Carolina • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (2,911 Responses)
  1. Sylvio- Denver

    Wolf,
    Ask all candidates: If elected president 1) what would you do to stabilize the economy and how? 2) Would you help third world countries such as Haiti, Darfur, and others to end poverty and starvation?
    Thank you,

    January 15, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  2. Michael Soneff

    To all the candidates?
    Do you know anyone more knowledgeable about foreign affairs (especially Pakistan) than Joe Biden? Shouldn't he be our secretary of state?

    January 15, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  3. Michael Soneff

    All the candidates:
    What do you think of Joe Biden's plan to federalize Iraq? Do you have a viable alternative?

    January 15, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  4. Patricia S. Dumas

    Wolf,

    I would like to ask a question to all of the candidates:

    Why is "socialized medicine" such a dirty word?

    C'mon! You're all supposed to be Democrats; now act like one and tell us!

    January 15, 2008 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  5. Michael Soneff

    Constitutionally, Bill Clinton can run for Vice President, as the Constitution only prohibits "being elected to the office of the president" more than twice. Would any of you have a problem with him running?

    January 15, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  6. Mr. Kelly Jenkins

    As immigration (illegal and legal) continues to increase in this country, English-as-Second Language (ESL) students are drastically on the rise. These students are requiring a tremendous amount of educator's time in the classroom as the language barrier prohbits them from performing at a pace consistent with english-speaking students. Additionally, these same immigrants are bringing down achievement test scores that are used to measure success of a school as well as to determine funding. Good schools that are receiving a large number of non-english speaking immigrants are being punished because these students are reducing the overal performance of the schools. Likewise, english speaking students, especially those that are gifted, are not receiving the quality education they could have otherwise.

    1) What WILL you do address the issue of non-english speaking students being mainstreamed into english-speaking classrooms and the disruption they cause to the education of America's best and brightest students?

    2) What WILL you do to balance the investment in our gifted students, especially in math/science, that are currently being held back due to the high-level of educator's time in the classroom caused by non-english speaking students?

    3) By constantly taking from the middle-class to give to the poorer class, are we not becoming a socialist soceity? If this trend continues, what is the incentive for those Americans who are currently ambitous and innovative to remain so, since much of their earnings will be taken to "level the playing field"? Isn't it dangerous to America's future to risk the initiative of the working class by rewarding those that contribute less with equal compensation through taking from the middle class and giving it to the poorer class?

    January 15, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  7. mike

    To Hillary:

    When is it appropriate for the U.S. to declare war on another nation?

    January 15, 2008 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  8. Donne

    Kindly ask Mrs Clinton ,if 35 years of leadership is not enough for retirement.?

    January 15, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  9. Dan Du Bois

    Sen. Edwards, would you please consider Dennis Kucinich as a running mate?

    January 15, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  10. Mark

    WHen Senator Clinton was here in NH, she spoke about promising to work for equal rights for all Americans. I'd like if you could ask the Senator how she can say this while not supporting gay marriage.

    January 15, 2008 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  11. Brian Michaels

    In the hope you are still muddling through further debate questions Id humbly submit the following question:

    To Senator Obama – It's no secret a major part of your campaign rests on your opposition to the war in Iraq. You have declared time and again your commitment to swiftly end that war and that this war was illegal. Yet at the same time you have made comments that you would, as President, in effect, violate the sovereignty of another nation by "going into Pakistan" unilaterally to pursue Al Qaeda, a move to which President Musharraf has responded to strongly in his recent comments. How do you reconcile these two views? Wouldn't an invasion, whether it be large scale or small scale, still be a major violation of International Law. And if it does violate International Law, and you would still do it, how does that view really effect change? An illegal war is an illegal was isnt it?

    Brian Michaels
    Columbia, South Carolina

    January 15, 2008 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  12. Brian Michaels

    Typo on the last sentence...."an illegal war isnt it"

    January 15, 2008 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  13. Karen

    I have quite a few questions to field to the candidates, since it seems they all share many of the same end-goals but their APPROACHES vary when it comes to tackling the challenges America faces. Hopefully one of these (or some questions similar to these) will make it into the debate. Just FYI, I'm an independent, not a full-fledged Democrat, so if a few of my questions have a Republican flavor, please forgive me. I'm anticipating November a bit, here.

    1.) Iraq: How and when will you get us out, and how exactly do you plan to do it in a way that will not destabilize Iraq and the Middle East? Give more details please! Explain why your approach is realistic, with reference to the wider Middle-Eastern and international perspective. Do try to keep in mind that the situation may be different, in various possible ways, by this time next year. Take those possible differences into account in your answer.

    2.) Health Care: Discuss the differences in your health care plans with regard to the decision of including mandates. Do you believe such mandates can actually be enforced in practice, and if so, how? If you included certain mandates, why do you believe they are necessary? If you omitted certain mandates, what was your rationale for that decision? Most importantly, how will you gain the cooperation and assistance of the House and Senate in making your plan a reality?

    3.) Faith and Religion: What role will your personal beliefs have in your presidency? What do you believe is the most important thing to remember when it comes to balancing the role of faith in public life, for elected officials and for ordinary Americans? (Yes, it's a question more often asked of the Republican candidates, but it's still worth asking you to address.)

    4.) Change: Discuss how you, as president, will help our nation heal and move beyond the Bush presidency (and other previous messy political legacies still affecting today's politics). How will you help us get back on track to embody the ideals of our founders and our previous generations? How will your actions in the short term (first year in office to end of your first term) fit with your goals regarding to the longer-term future of America and the opportunities of generations not yet born? How will you lead America FORWARD, rather than merely in a circle or back-and-forth between the current "left" and "right" as we've seen happen in the last few decades?

    (To clarify #4 if needed: We still face many of the same difficulties we faced in the 1970s: energy, environment, inflation, foreign policy blunders, social issues, etc. Some of these items have improved, to various degrees, but in some areas it feels like we have made little meaningful progress, particularly on energy and the environment. How can we realistically solve these problems, in practical ways that bring parties and citizens together rather than deepening America's ideological divides?)

    5.) Experience: Discuss the role of a candidate's experience in a presidential race. Which experiences from your own life do you believe are the most valuable, and how do they affect your vision of policy and leadership? What kinds of new experience and what new goals would you be bringing to the White House? How will you handle concerns about lack of personal or policy-making experience in certain areas, since Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson (all of whom have vast experience in government, diplomacy, and policy-making) are no longer in this race? Can you comment on how experience and expertise will affect your choice of advisors?

    6.) Individual candidate concerns:

    John Edwards: How will you mitigate the possible trickle-down effects to low-income and middle-class workers while you crack down on the corporate greed and corruption you cite so frequently as a problem in America and politics today? In other words, how will you ensure that the irresponsible corporate executives you intend to crack down on will not simply drop the burden on their workers? Also, how do you differentiate between responsible and irresponsible corporations? It would be helpful if you laid this out in some whole-system terms to explain what your proposed corporate crackdown would mean for our economy and what effects you'll achieve regarding the poor and the rich, as well as the middle class you've been so focused on.

    Hillary Clinton: Please address once and for all the concerns that you are "too divisive" to be an effective president. What steps will you take to reach out and bridge the many divides among the American people and in our government? What will you do to reconcile America with the rest of the world to build a better future for all? How do you plan to gain the respect of people who disagree with you at home and abroad? How do you plan to handle any dissent you encounter from Republicans, voters, and others? What will you do to win hearts and minds, not just political arguments, at home and around the world? How will this help you rise above the division issue? This is related to question #4, but more focused on some of your perceived weaknesses.

    Barack Obama: One of the goals you've highlighted repeatedly is the goal of bringing the American people together to help tackle America's challenges and to be more active in politics and government. Discuss how you plan to accomplish this goal. How will you continue to "network" with the American people and make sure that you are working together effectively with the rest of the nation throughout your presidency? How will you restore trust and unity to the United States, with regard to citizens, states, local governments, the military, and the different branches of the government? Also, discuss how, specifically, you will increase the openness, transparency, and accountability of the government. What new resources will you give the American people to help us hold our president and federal government accountable for their actions? Do you think people will be motivated to stay involved after the election in November is over? How will you work to keep the public involved so that a departure from "politics as usual" will be a long-lasting change for America?

    Yes, I realize this set of questions could just about be a made into full-length debate without having to put much other material in there, and any one of the questions could be expanded on to essay or book length. I still hope at least a few of my concerns will be addressed, though.

    January 15, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  14. Matthew

    To all candidates:

    It has long been my feeling that there are some fundamental questions of government, which, when truly and honestly examined and answered, can tell you what is needed about a candidate, or, in fact, any person's political beliefs. I present a few of these to you now.

    What are a government's responsibilities to its citizens, and what are a citizen's responsibilities to their government?
    Which is more important, freedom TO or freedom FROM?
    Is there ever a time when is it ethical for a society as a whole to do what is unethical for a single member of that society to do?

    January 15, 2008 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  15. TruthTelling

    Senator Clinton,

    Do you understand why so many people, especially in the black community, think that there are racial overtones and fear-based attacks behind a pattern of comments and actions attributable to you or your supporters/surrogates?

    1) Emails forwarded by two (2) of your staffers suggesting Senator Obama is a Muslim, etc.
    2) Mr. Shaheen raising Senator Obama's teen drug use and suggesting that Senator Obama may be accused of being a drug dealer
    3) Mark Penn using the word "cocaine" on national TV as he referred to Senator Obama's teenage drug use in the aftermath of Mr. Shaheens's comments
    4) Bob Johnson's subtle comments about Senator Obama's teenage drug use
    5) Bob Kerrey's repeated "code word" use of Senator Obama's middle name and "madrassa" schooling on national TV
    6) One of your staffers suggesting that people want Senator Obama as an "imaginary hip black friend," as reported in The Guardian
    7) Andrew Cuomo's "shuck and jive" line
    8) President Clinton referring to Senator Obama's campaign for President of the United States as too risky, a roll of the dice, etc.
    9) Your charges that Senator Obama was giving people "false hope" and that Senator Obama, with an accomplished resume, is a talker and not ready to lead.

    January 15, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  16. marc mulder

    To All:

    Do you see biodiesel as climate-neutral, though the same amount of CO2 comes out of the exhaust and crops on the land could be used for other purposes like food?
    I do not understand why the establishment deem that climate neutral!
    What long term solution do you see for cars not to run on fossil fuels or biosiel, but on antother viable alternative.

    January 15, 2008 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  17. Shandi

    TO ALL CANDIDATES:

    Based on 2006 figures:

    – seventy cents of every income-tax dollar goes to pay for past, present, and future wars while Education gets only *two cents*.

    – the cost of military aircraft parts and ammunition kept *in storage* by the Pentagon is greater than the combined federal spending on pollution control, conservation, community development, housing, occupational safety, and mass transportation all put together.

    – the US Navy spends more money in its development of a submarine rescue vehicle than is spent for public libraries, occupational safety, and daycare centers combined.

    If you were President, would you cut military spending to pay for important and necessary social and environmental programs?

    January 15, 2008 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  18. dominicmaccormack

    For all candidates:

    Global Warming is a global problem, and requires a global solution.
    The future safety and security of the world depends on immediate Carbon Dioxide emissions reductions. If elected President, will you take all necessary steps and actions to immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol and engage with all nations in developing stronger and committments to drastically and immediately reduce all Carbon Emissions?

    Thank you!

    Dominic, California

    January 15, 2008 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  19. Pam

    Wolf,
    In general to the candidates:
    I need to know more about their healthcare plans and SPECIFICALLY how it would affect Nursing and the Nursing shortage, which is only getting worse. It is my understanding that several of the candidate's plans have included salary caps for Nursing.
    As a Healthcare professional and more proudly, a Registered Nurse, I find that humiliating. We are the front lines of the healthcare profession. We are the bedside managers of not only patients care, but in most cases, their lives. From counselor to teacher and everything in between. We wear more "hats" in one day than any other profession. If anything we deserve MORE than what we are currently making.
    I want SPECIFIC answers (not numbers or quotes) and solutions to this overwhelming problem.
    I did specifically email this question to the Clinton campaign, but got one of those automated responses, which is something I don't want this time.

    January 15, 2008 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  20. Sandy...Georgia

    What I would like to ask the candidates...............As President, What would you do the morning after a "katrina" when Americans are trapped?

    January 15, 2008 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  21. Chris Vega, Phoenix, AZ.

    To all the candidates:

    As President, how do you propose to fix the mistakes made by the Bush administration and unify the nation, as well as our allies, on all fronts?

    Extra Credit: Answer without using campaign cliches or political buzzwords!

    January 15, 2008 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  22. Susuviri

    Hi I am writing from Tanzania. Question to HIllary about Africa: In 2004, you received an award from the Sullivan foundation together with Condi Rice. (link http://www.thesullivanfoundation.org/foundation/news/AllAfricaStory.asp) That same award was also given to President Obasanjo of Nigeria who now faces corruption probes in Nigeria. Your husband (Bill Clinton) is sitting on the board of Sullivan foundation which is chaired by Andrew Young. Andrew Young was appoint by President Clinton as the Chairman of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund. Andrew Young and carlton Masters are also the founders of Good Works International that is currently implicated in one of the biggest corruption scandals in NIgeria (reported by New York Times). All this is public information.
    The question is : Despite your talk of helping Africa with your husband, you have appeared to be held hostage by economic hitmans and lobbyists. How do you plan to help Africa without stealing a chapter from your husband's book?

    Wolf, I would truly appreciate if you could get Hillary to answer this question, as they are ransacking Africa and pretend to be helping us!

    January 15, 2008 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  23. JoySan

    Does Mr. Obama really believe in the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and our country for which it stands. I am one of many concerned americans that when he was sworn in as a senator he would not place his hand on the HOLY BIBLE nor does he place his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance. He turns his back to the flag. Does he really believe in Jesus Christ and what our nation stands for. I am also concerned regarding his Muslim belief and the safety of our country if he should become President of my UNITED STATES.

    Take Notice and Wake Up America!!

    January 15, 2008 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  24. John W

    To Mrs. Clinton

    1. Your campaign staffers and supporters don't seem to be very organized, too many people speaking for you, the former president, your husband running a campaign of his own. How does that speak to your experience and leadership and how can you convince America that Bill Clinton will not interfere with your presidency, if you cannot control him during the campaign?

    2. I believe all the democrats have very good ideas but the reality is that nothing will get done if the house is divided as is today. With that said, half of the country (Republicans and Independents) dislike the former president for many reason we don’t need to get into, how do you plan on bring the country together (republican and democrats) with Bill Clinton back in the White House, and do you feel the former president is a reliability to win in NOV, remember Bush won in 2000 partly claimed to bring honor and integrity back to the White House?

    January 15, 2008 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  25. Harry Bryant

    if the people in this country understand our government, they would understand why Sen Clinton made the satement about LBJ that she did, the civil rights act had to be signed into law to take effect, and being he was President at that time, it was him that signed it into law. the flap that is created by reporters is a disgrace to the american people, they distort theings, then other reporters instead of checking the facts just carry along with the same old misrepresentations, when are we going to have truth in reporting the same as we have truth in advertising, probably never, reporters slant the news anyway they want to spin it, and so do the pundits on our media system. I can remember when a reporter never mentioned his choice for any office or how he would vote or who he would support, he had his privacy the same as the electorate, now days all reporters think that spinning some story to the way he wants to hurt or help some candidate is the proper way to report, all I can say is a pox on the house of all spinners. thanks

    January 15, 2008 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
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