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. Rose

    I would ask all of them to explain their stance on the trade agreements that have taken so many manufacturing jobs from Americans. These trade agreements have only made the big corporations richer by providing cheap or slave labor, and have nearly made the middle-class nonexistent. What do they propose to reverse this betrayal to American workers? I'm talking about a complete and real reversal, not just a "lip-service" suggestion of tax incentives for companies who keep their manufacturing in the U.S. That is a joke. What company would stay in the U.S. for a few thousand in tax incentives when they can be millions richer by going out of the country?

    January 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Cathy Roberts

    1. What one or two events in your life helped to shape your political philosophy and what is that philosophy?
    2. There has been a lot of discussion in this campaign about experience versus change. Senator Clinton has claimed 35 years of experience (starting at age 25?!?!), including her 8 years as First Lady, however the records of those 8 years are sealed. How can the public evaluate that time period as "real" experience if no one has been given access to those records. What are the Clintons doing to get those records unsealed?
    3. What should our policy be towards emerging super powers such as China and Russia?

    January 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. LP

    Obama stated in the NH elections that if he were starting a healthcare plan from scratch he would make a single payor system. Well that sounded as though he was going to keep the current system and only require healthcare for children. What are his intentions of the current system in place (who pays for the children's healthcare) and how is he going to provide healthcare to those who don't have it and who will pay for it?

    January 11, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. James Bierly

    Please don't exclude Dennis Kucinich!!

    January 11, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. Christopher

    As a president, making decisions is important. With that being said, how would decide on a rule that can effect the lives of many people in a negative way. Would you stick with the rule, just so you can be loyal to it ( Meaning you can overlook the rule, but you choose not to just to be loyal)? Or would you reach out to the people that are affected by it and overlook this rule for the people, because we do count as well.
    Ex: Not attending a state's primarey, in order to be loyal to a rule that was broken. Leaving the people hurt, from your absence ( that was just a minor example.)

    January 11, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Harjinder Sokhi

    Although I am a Canadian citizen and live in Canada, I do understand that the political leadership and its vision can also have substantial dynamics with this country in the North. I am sort of amused to hear every Dem. leader talking about Change. Sure, we all know and understand that Change is an essential component of our lives as we see that happening every day to us with the tick of every second. However when we see these contenders talking so big about the Change – my question to them is – how would they bring about these changes? Would Obama as soon as if he is sworn in, immediately sign the withdrawal even without talking to Pentagon, the Iraqi leadership and others? Would Hillary Clinton be more matured to seek a transition path to gradually bring in the change? Would John Edwards be a real transforming Guru or saviour of the middle class? AND OF COURSE, if they can not do what they are just promising just now and making a mockery of the supportes, would they immediately submit their resignations even before their term expires? Is it going to be an immediate radical change or gradual transformation?

    January 11, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. JEANNIE MCLEOD

    Our government is so VASTLY corrupt and broken the Presidential "candidates for change" (both democratic and republican) are only the latest masters of spin!
    U.S. citizens have a saying about the U.S. government:

    Fool me once, shame on you;
    Fool me twice, shame on me.

    I have no question that I believe I will get an honest answer to.

    U.S.CITIZEN

    January 11, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Janann

    I am a 54 year old single parent of a college student that has an aspiration of becoming an OB/GYN. She wants to work with the homeless women, do some medical work with the AIDS victims in Africa and work in America as a doctor. I make $40,000 a year, have a modest home that I have to maintain, I have little savings and bake on the side to help support my daughter through school. Gasoline is high, the dollar is weak, water bills are high, gas to heat my home is high, we rely on loans (more debt) for her because the FAFSA says I can contribute $2800 a year to a in-state college that she attends. We buy used books, I make too much money for her to get SEOG support. I need to prepare for my retirement but can't seem to save money due to high energy costs, insurance for the house is high, for the car is high on my job is high, prescriptions are high ($30 co-payment for prescriptions and doctor visits) and I don't qualify for any assistance. We buy second hand clothes, cut coupons, she works part-time and its a struggle for us both. What will your presidency bring to my world that George Bush has not?

    January 11, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  9. Rodney Mattson

    A very simple question why do you want to open the boarders to everyone when our economy is in such a mess ? This isn't a good idea we can't even help are own Americans that are homeless or poverty stricken

    January 11, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  10. Stephen

    IMMIGRATION WOLF, The Democratic canidates are trying to skate on the issue of illegal immigration and they should not be allowed to. This is a very, very big problem in our country and all I see of the Democrats is pandering. WE THE PEOPLE are sick and tired of hearing what the problem is, we know what it is. Our government doesn't have the will to do what's right. The Democrats are counting on the Latino vote therefore they won't say anything that may offend them. Then you have the Republicans who want to hold on to all the cheap labor so they don't have the will either to do what's right. Therefore nothing gets done. I wish I could make them answer the question of just what they would do to fix illegal immigration and most importantly will they build the border fence that's now law. We must, I repeat MUST SECURE OUR BORDERS !!!!

    January 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. Carl E. Mulley

    Dear Wolf

    Since each of the Democratic Candidates feel that someone who entered, or remained in this country illegally. Deserve the privilege of not only remaining but to be eventually granted citizenship. Should everyone else in this world , who feel they would be financially better off in the United States now come by what ever means neccessary?

    Carl Mulley
    Wheeling, WV.

    January 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Meaghan Leavitt

    Mr. Blitzer, thank you for allowing public input in this debate. I would really appreciate if you would ask the candidates about their plans to help the environment. What are their opinions on liquid coal, alternate energy sources, increase in MPG output of automobiles and the protection of our national parks. I do understand this is a broad selection of topics, but no one seems to be really putting the environment in front of the candidates as much as I feel they should be. Europeans are well known for their environmental standards and protections, the United States is known for its military. I'd like to see if any of the candidates would like to see us known for more.

    January 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. Christopher

    Responding, to my question above.
    Choosing not to be loyal, will make a large amount of people upset. Choosing to be loyal will hurt a large amount of people.
    What will you do, and would do you to say to the citizens who oppose your side?

    January 11, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. California Lady

    Please please – make Hillary account for her claimed 35 years of experience.
    I think we have a right to know and I think it will prove that she is lying about her experience. Being First lady does not experience make – not in my books anyway.

    January 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. Ignacio, Miami Fl

    I would ask them about their understanding of the connection between global warming and global warring. I would also ask them what they think of the National Intiative.

    January 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. Vickie, Lexington, SC

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    And yes, there -is- a right answer!

    *Ahem* On a more serious note...

    From the Board of Trustees of the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, 2007 Annual Report:

    "The HI [hospital insurance] trust fund is not adequately financed over the next 10 years... expenditures are expected to exceed tax income in 2007 and thereafter."

    "The HI trust fund is projected to be exhausted in 2019... The financial outlook for the Medicare program continues to raise serious concerns."

    "These projections demonstrate the need for timely and effective action to address Medicare's financial challenges... In theory, the 2.9% payroll tax could be immediately increased to 6.45% or expenditures could be reduced by a corresponding amount. Note, however, that these changes would require an immediate 122% increase in the tax rate or an immediate 51% reduction in expenditures."

    Now, I don't expect to ever benefit from Medicare myself, as the program will probably implode long before I reach that age, so I plan on taking care of my own retirement. Nor am I complaining about pay taxes supporting it (well, not much), because it seems like a waste of time (imagine complaining about the weather). However, I would like to hear what each candidate has to say about this report and its dire predictions.

    It sounds like the Board of Trustees, not being politicians themselves, have outlined a stark choice in the years to come: more than double the tax rate (and yes, I -will- be complaining about that one), or drop half the nation's seniors from the program. To someone running for political office, the question is even simpler: which segment of society do you plan on angering, young people like me, or the elderly? Think about it.

    ***

    While you're stewing on that one, there's another. Spending on prescription drugs in this country is a continuing concern and something that many people would like to reform. Asked about their own drug coverage, however, many responded that they're satisfied and would not want it tampered with. The reason, it turns out, is simple. Although the average U.S. per capita spending on Rx drugs in 2004 is about $630 (less than the average for telephone bills and tied with the average for consumer electronics), keep in mind that this number is an average. In reality, few people ever spend that much on drugs in a single year. In fact, in 2004, the top 2% of the nation's most costly patients accounted for 33% of annual drug spending while the top 5% accounted for about 50% of annual drug spending.

    In other words, were we to help just these 2-5% of patients, we could potentially decrease drug spending by 33-50%. Why then can I find no legislation targetting this most needy group? Instead, we have legislation designed at lowering -everyone's- costs, with the inevitable end result that everyone's costs drop by a few dollars and no one is satisfied and the people who really need help never receive as much as they need. My question to the candidates is this: have you seen these studies and their conclusions and if not, why not? If you have seen them, how do you plan on incorporating them into your health care reform?

    Thank you for your time,
    Vickie
    Lexington, South Carolina

    January 11, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. carolyn hill

    I would like for you to ask Sen. Clinton why is she acting like the incumbent. I don't recall her doing so much for the country besides sticking with Bill to have this run at the white house. Since she went back to Obama's kindergarten why don't she explain white water and all the affairs her husband had and the whole world watched. Those who live in glass houses need to shut their mouth.

    January 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. Janet

    All candidates..Do you support the revised Children's Insurance Program that has been vetoed by Pres. Bush? Funding for this program will come from increased tax on tobacco. With more and more people quitting, how can you support a program with revenue unknown? Also, Bud is weizer. Why don't we see some tax on alcohol? Alcohol must have some effective lobbyist.

    January 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  19. Bruce Smith

    For Sen. Clinton:

    Senator you have stated that you are running so that you can serve the american people. That being said, my question is: If you lost the Democratic nomination
    for President, but was asked to serve as Vice-President would you serve, if not why?

    January 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Bharat Balan

    During the entirety of this campaign, there has been such tension between candidates of the same party. My question to the democrats, especially Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, is, will you promise to run a campaign that sends a positive message to the voters even during accusations and negative attack ads, or will you retaliate? This question addresses both the primary election and general election campaign against the republicans?

    January 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. Duane McLean

    This question is for Senator Hillary Clinton: Barack Obama's campaign has grasped something that seems to have been ignored by politicians for far too long. As Americans we have much more in common than what divides us. As JFK once said "we all breath the same air and want the best for our children." As much as I admire you and your husband Senator, how could another Clinton Presidency possibly unite this nation? I am not alone in feeling Bush-Clinton-Bush fatigue and like many other Americans am looking for a breath of fresh air in politics. I thank you for your service.

    January 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. Craig, Carlsbad CA

    To: Hillary Clinton

    Your campaign has specifically warned of the problems of developing 'false hopes'. Specifically what are the hopes articulated by Sen Obama and Sen Edwards that you think are false. If a direct answer is not given the follow up question might be; "Sen. Edwards has advocated an extensive reform agenda that needs confront the vested interestes which control our political agenda, Sen. Obama has an extensive reform agenda that he seeks to engage in a broad consensus in. What aspects of their agenda do you feel is unrealistic to achieve?"

    January 11, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. Brenda-Minnesota

    Ask Hillary Clinton: Since parts of the Middle East have no respect for women, how would she handle America's involvment in the peace process there? I am afraid that they will not listen to a woman under an circumstances, whick would in turn not be a good thing for America.

    January 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. Cristina

    I'd like to ask Obama this:

    Change is the order of the day Obama.

    Would your definition of change mean throwing out the baby with the bath water mean and that there is nothing good or working well in the system in Washington? If that is not the case, then how can you assure the people listening to this debate that you will manage this zeal for change and your statement of "i've only been in washington two years, but i've been there long enough to know it needs to change."

    If you are driving a car and the there is a clanking noise coming from the hood and the smoke coming out of the engine, would you think that in order to change the way that engine functions you might need some more experience understanding how that engine works and driving that car?

    Obviously, the entire United States is driving this contraption and we ALL AGREE IT NEEDS TO CHANGE. How can you stand there today and tell me that you won't look to Hillary Clinton for that help?

    You said yourself doing a debate, "I LOOK FORWARD TO BEING ADVISED BY YOU." You said that during a debate.

    Obviously you understand that she has worthy advice and you look forward to hearing it. Is that a product of the same old, same old or a product of her experience.

    What makes you think that Hillary Clinton doesn't have as much passion to move this country in the right direction and the ability to do it better than you?

    January 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  25. Leslie O'Shaughnessy

    Political power and influence no longer resides with the citizens of this country. Corporate money determines what political candidates will run for office, and what legislation they will enact. The only way for U.S. citizens to reclaim their voice, influence, and interest in this country is by ELIMINATING political contributions and implementing PUBLICLY FUNDED ELECTIONS.

    What, specifically, will YOU do to implement PUBLICLY FUNDED ELECTIONS in this country? And what will you do to ensure that ALL VOTES ARE COUNTED, even in states and counties that use electronic voting machines that make no provision for a recount in the event of a close election, as is the case in my home state of Virginia?

    January 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
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