January 11th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
2 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. Nick

    I would greatly appreciate asking them what their position is on education reform for higher education as opposed to just no child left behind. Example: do they support or oppose federally funded tuition, do they support or oppose tax breaks for families with college students, etc.

    January 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. Tony Branch

    Many activist Democrats–the kind who are precinct captains and work phones before elections–are appalled that Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have taken impeachment of Bush and Cheney off the table. We now have the precedent set where we impeached a sitting president for a lie about sex, but took no action for a president (and especially vice president) who lied us into a war, stonewalled gthe summons of congressional committee summons, had secret meeting with energy corporate chieftans, allowed billions of dollars of totally corrupt purchasing practices and contractors to push tax payer money toward cronies etc. etc. etc.

    Doesn't there at least need to be potential impeachment proceedings if only to prove that the president is not an emperor and must answer to American law and especially to the Constitutioin?

    January 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Naydean-NY

    My concern and the concern of my friends relate to the current state of the economy. Over the last year former Fed Chairman Greenspan has spoken of a recession and now it seems likely. The defecit seems to be out of controll and we import more than we export, and the crisis of the housing market, and the continuing sliding of our currency. At this point doesn't America require the most qualify president whether Democrat or Republican. While every other meaningful job in America requires experience shouldn't that be one of the pre-requisite for the man or woman who intends to hold the highest office in our land. Our current President had little or no experience and look at the mess we are in right now?

    January 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  4. Michael

    Small Firms Continue to Face Inequities in Securing Capital.

    "Another barrier that small businesses face in accessing the capital they need for start-up, operation and expansion costs [thus creating more jobs!] . . . . is a law that bans small businesses from receiving interest on their business checking accounts. Large corporations can exploit loopholes in the system, utilizing their vast resources, to avoid the ban."

    Small Business Record Report by the House Small Business Committee, Democratic Staff

    The Bush administration promised at the beginning of the108th Congress to make it one of the most small business focused in recent years.– Yet, nothing significant was done.

    Would any of the democratic candidates repeal the ban prohibiting payment on business checking accounts?

    January 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  5. Frank Spatara

    Hi Wolf,

    I'm an ex-pat living in Peru. I'm very concerned about the gridlock and partisan arguing in congress, especially considering that they are hardly doing a thing for this country any more. I have three questions that I'd like to see addressed in the upcoming debate:

    1) Will the new president commit to work on getting term limits imposed on members of congress? I can't see the need for some congressmen sitting around in Washing and doing nothing until they're 100 years old (except passing out money to get themselves re-elected).

    2) Will the new president work to get the line item veto approved? Congress should be pulling together for what's good for the country instead of using a bill that needs to gets passed as either a political football or an instrument to serve their own selfish interests.

    3) Earmarks. A waste of hundreds of billions of dollars of the taxpayers' money. Will the new president support a change in the law that will ELIMINATE EARMARKS COMPLETELY and give each state a FIXED AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR DISCRETIONARY SPENDING, WITH THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE DECIDING ON WHAT PROJECTS IT GOES TO? This will take congress OUT of the earmarks game completely.

    Wolf, thanks a lot. Have enjoyed your Sunday show a lot on CNN International. Now I see that the Situation Room is appearing nightly down here in Peru. I hope it's going to stick around longer than just through the election. Keep up the good work.

    Best regards,
    Frank Spatara
    Lima, Peru

    January 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Tim , NY and SC

    Dear Wolf,
    I watch you, Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs whenever I can.

    I'd ask the candidates what they are doing to stem the tide of illegal aliens who are bidding down wages, costing us a fortune in education and healthcare.

    I'd also like to know if they oppose the S.P.P. (North American Union).

    I'd also like to know if they oppose the NAFTA Superhighway being constructed by a Spanish firm with a Mexican customs house in Kansas. It will run from Laredo TX up to Canada with branches to other US cities.
    I'd ask if they'd "privatize" or "means test" social security or "totalize" with
    Mexico.
    I'd ask if they will get rid of the US Chamber of Commerce's control of DC.

    I would also give each candidate a small bag of change. as they keep asking for change without specifying what type or denomination. Definitely include some pennies for their thoughts. Their real thoughts. Not "campaignspeak" or "spin doctoring"

    January 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  7. Dominique

    Please ask all the candidates that when they discuss medical reforms or special interests of medical insurance why is no one address the ridiculous high medical costs we have. Everyone wants to get the insurance rates affordable. Why don't they make the medical bills affordable so more people could afford treatment. The hospitals and doctors charge more in USA than any other country because they have to triple the costs in order to get the amount the insurance company pays them. Bring the medical charges down instead of making the taxes higher to pay for the un insured.
    Check the rates around the world for normal hospital charges. A heart attack in USA is 5 times higher than the heart attack in another European country and the treatment is the same if not better. Attack the sueing issues, stop allowing sueing and the rates will drop of these institutions.

    January 11, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. Kevin,FL

    ASK OBAMA ABOUT HIS EXPRIENCE AND ASK CLINTON IF SHE WILL PICK OBAMA AS HER VP OR IF OBAMA WILL PICK HER AS HIS VP IF THEY GET THE NOMINATION..

    January 11, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Duane

    I hope you will ask all the canidates if they would pledge as McCain did,to secure our ports and borders first and then deal with the illegal allien problem.

    January 11, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Yakov Epstein

    There has been a great deal of discussion about experience versus change. Some have said that Obama does not have sufficient experience. But what about the matter of judgment? The President is the head of the "Executive" branch. He is an executive. As an executive he is not expected to have the information needed to make decisions. What he is expected to have is the ability to assemble a team of experts who have expertise in various areas in which the President needs to make policy decisions. I would like you to ask several questions about this. What criteria would the candidates use to select people who will advise them? And more than just selecting the people, how will they conduct meetings so as to get the most effective discussions that can lead to good decisions? Psychologist Irving Janis coined the term "groupthink" when he analyzed the way President Kennedy's advisors became a cohesive group that resisted thinking about divergent viewpoints. On the other hand, in her book "Team of Rivals", Dorris Kearns Goodwin talks about how President Lincoln made effective use of divergent viewpoints. We have never heard any candidates in any of the debates talk about the PROCESS of decision making they would use in their administration. Could you ask the candidates questions that would give us an idea of how they would organize their team of experts so as to develop a PROCESS of arriving at decisions rather than having them tell us the PRODUCT of their thinking. As we saw with September 11th, a President will face situations in which he has never had any experience regardless of who that President is. What's important is not what his past experience has been but rather how he thinks and works with experts to fashion decisions in areas in which he needs new information.

    January 11, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Mirta

    Mr. Blitzer:

    I would like to ask Senator Obama about his church, Trinity United Church of Christ and the 10 Point Vision and Black Values listed on their website. I especially am interested in Point #4 which states the congregation has a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA (This is exactly how it is written on the web page). Will his religious beliefs influence his decisions regarding the U.S. policies toward Africa? If not, please give a specific example of how he would oppose the mandate of his church.

    January 11, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. John Flores

    If you are elected President of the U.S. will you authorize a special prosecutor to look into the possible law breaking by those in the Chaney and Bush administration.
    If found guilty will you hold them accountable.

    January 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. Doug Donley

    As a person who just moved from South Carolina, I want to know what they plan to do about the illegal immigrants that are taking over the building industry down there. There are more illegals than americans working in the industry. I moved to S.C. and thought I really went "South of the Boarder"

    January 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Craig H Easton, PA

    Globalization is a fact that isn't going away. What I've been anxious to hear from all of the candidates is first, an acknowledgment of that fact, and second, a plain-spoken plan explaining how we as a country, society, and economy better prepare ourselves to compete and to maintain our standard of living.

    January 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  15. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Please ask Senator Obama and former Senator Edwards:

    "If Senator Clinton wins the nomination, or enough delegates to win the nomination; will you support and campaign for her as the Democratic Nominee? Or, will you entertain an independent run for the Presidency similar to that being considered by Mayor Bloomberg of New York?"

    Then ask Senator Clinton the same question.

    I think voting Democrats have a right to know if their vote is going to a REAL Democrat with the good of the country at heart; or an Independent intent on becoming President at any price.

    January 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. Patrice C.

    Please ask Hillary Clinton if she will put American women's issues near the top of her Presidential aganda? We can't afford to have the coat hanger become the medical instrument of desperation for women, who would be banned from having reproductive choice, should the GOP retain control of the White House and tip the Supreme Court further to the right.
    Many of us who voted for Hillary already, (Me in New Hampshire) not only believe in her greatly for what she stands for, but also casting our votes for her on behalf of our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters, and ourselves. Sexism is alive and well, the still very real glass ceiling must be shattered. If we pass up the chance now to elect this strong woman, it might be another two or three decades before we have another electable woman.

    January 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. Start debating?

    If, as you insist, your political mission transcends race, what do you mean by "making history" and constant references to MLK.?

    January 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Laura Spurlin, 17, Florida

    Dear Wolf,

    I would like to ask all of the candidates what do they make of the recent nuclear incident , where the security were found to be sleeping. I bring this up due to the dangers of nuclear technology ,specially with the coming up transportation of nuclear material and wastes across america to yucca mountain. if a few people think that sleeping on the job is enough of a threat for their lives what about hazardous material moving close to many more americans. Is any alternative a main issue on any candidates agenda? If so how could these help the energy crisis in America and the prevention of rising global climates due to large emissions, America being one of the larger contributors.

    January 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. Doug Donley

    As a person who just moved from South Carolina, I want to know what they plan to do about the illegal immigrants that are taking over the building industry down there. There are more illegals than americans working in the industry. I moved to S.C. and thought I really went "South of the Border"

    January 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. Dorothy

    I'd like to see you ask why it is acceptable and/ or a strategy for Hillary Clinton to raise gender as a constant issue in her campaign defense (whether leading – as in the boys are all "attacking her" – or losing – as in NH ) but Senator Obama refrains from solely using or discussing his race. Senator Obama does not run on, nor constantly mention that he is the "Black Senator" running for President (he is just "a Senator running for President") yet Senator Clinton routinely mentions that she is a woman running for president, and focuses extensively on her gender. Both candidates' race/gender are self-evident to all of us. As a woman, and as a soon to be mother (of a baby girl) Senator Clinton's constant evocation of her female gender offends me as a woman.

    Secondly, I would like to hear a question addressing Bill Clinton's very suspect comments regarding Barack Obama's campaign as a "fairytale." This strikes me (and certainly many in South Carolina) as a racist, degrading and/or condescending remark. (akin to someone calling Hillary a "princess.")

    (FYI, full disclosure I am a white female Democrat, just like HRC).

    Thanks Wolf! You rock.

    January 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. Keisha

    Do the Democratic candidates think that their refusal to participate in a Democratic primary subverts true democracy?

    Ask each one of the candidates to explain their health care plan whether it be a universal health care plan or not.

    January 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. Donald, Butte, MT

    President Bush, and past Presidents to a lesser extent, has attached a 'signing statement' to every piece of legislation passed into Public Law by the Congress.
    By doing so he states he will not abide/enforce any portion of the LAW that HE thinks infringes upon his executive authority under the Unitary Executive Doctrine (?). Quite simply, he is stating he won't comply will the will of the people and NOONE in Congress has challenged him on this.

    Will you, as President, follow this example or if you feel so strongly about a piece of legislation will you veto it? What is your legal interpretation of the validity of these so-called "signing statements?

    January 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Nick, Minneapolis, MN

    Wolf,

    This government was created around and based on the concept of compromise.

    These days, it seems as if nobody in the Congress will work together anymore because they are afraid of looking "weak."

    Likewise, the Executive Branch has had trouble compromising AT ALL with members of Congress in general, not to mention the opposition party.

    The candidates love to explain their various plans in detail, but the reality is that much compromise will be necessary with members of Congress for anything to be accomplished. They will have to pull back many parts of their plans, in the end, or nothing will get done.

    I would simply like the candidates to publicly recognize this and explain their attitude towards compromising with Republicans.

    January 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. d

    I would like to see you actually PIN THESE CANDIDATES DOWN on what exactly their AGENDAS ARE and HOW THEY PLAN TO GO ABOUT CHANGE. Nobody, and I mean nobody had been asked THE really TUFF questions. We, the American People, have only heard a bunch of bull crap if you get my drift. We the American People are smarter than these politicians think of us. We want answers before the final vote to who actually wins both the Democratic and Republican nominations. Please help us out here Wolfe. All's I hear is pandering, pandering, pandering...........actually it depends on "who" these candidates are speaking to. Shame on them all.

    January 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  25. Jesse

    Wolf, I've noticed a lot of concern for the middle class lately. This very important, but what happened to our obligation to lower class and homeless Americans? According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 40% of homeless men are veterans. This is no way to treat the brave men who have fought for out country. What, if anything, will any of these candidates do to help this overlooked group of citizens?

    January 11, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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