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. Will Baird

    I would like to know if what the candidate's stance on Puerto Rico is. Right now, as is, PR is in a strange semi-colony status. There has been a lot of back and forth over the years about whether or not to change this status. I feel that it is very embarrassing to us as a nation and people that we allow this unrepresentative status. That we who espouse being democratic allow a territory to exist under the Insular Cases within the American nation-state. They were racist. They were imperialistic. They are stomach turning. It's time to either set PR free or incorporate it as a state. There is a bill in the House that does exactly that: HR 900 the so-called Puerto Rico Democracy Act. Do the candidates pledge to support this bill if they are elected?

    BTW, the Enhanced Commonwealth variant has been declared unconstitutional before someone brings that up by all sides save those that want it: a nation within a nation is not compatible with our Constitution.

    Thank you.

    January 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. Jackie

    Wolf, here is my question:

    Hillary: You have changed your message and your strategy since Iowa. You seem to be more open to questions and giving answers to all of them. My question is, why won't you discuss your vote for the Iraq War in clear terms instead of blaming George Bush for your vote? No one forced you to vote yes.

    Barack: If you could pick any social program that was aimed at lower to middle class families, children, workers, etc that has ceased to exist or has had it's funding cut since Bush took office, which one would you bring back and why?

    Barack: What would you do, as President, to provide relief for students and families who are repaying student loans?

    January 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Cristina

    Clarification:

    Obama said to Hillary Clinton: "I look forward to being advised by you Hillary."

    Obviously Obama understands Hillary has something of value. What makes him believe that he has something she doesn't? And what makes him believe he'll be a better President? What makes him believe Hillary doesn't want to move this country forward as much as he does?

    And instead of change, why not say, "move this country in the right direction and involve every one in the process." Change for change's sake in certain things is not the best way to go; don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    January 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Jan from Wood Dale, IL

    For Senator Obama:

    Between 1983 – 1988, you worked at Business Internation Corp, then NYPIRG. then in Chicago as a community organizer. (3 different jobs in 5 years)

    Even though I believe in the abilities of multi-tasking, there are many in IL who felt you were only a part time state senator (1996 -2004), since you divided your time rightfully to your family, as well as a lecturer at the University of Chicago (1993 – 2004), made a primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives (2000), wriote at least one book, and then your run for the U.S. Senate seat. Now as a U.S. Senator (2004 to present), you have spent a considerable amount of time campaigning for President. If nothing else, it appears you have fast-tracked your career.

    Other than being extremely ambitious, and extremely fortunate to have found the financial backers to support your runs for office, how would you respond? Also, many employers wouldn't hire someone who has had so many different jobs in such a short time. While should the American public hire (elect) you?

    January 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. devaki ganesan

    WE HEAR ALL THE TIME ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES GETTING AHEAD IN EDUCATION. HOW ARE WE GOING TO IMPROVE EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY? MOST COUNTRIES WHO HAVE HIGHER STANDARDS ALSO HAVE COMPETATIVE EXAMS AT EVERY LEVEL. iN USA THE STUDENTS GET HIGH SCHOOL DIPLAMO WITHOUT BASIC LEVELS OF SCIENCE, MATH AND LANGUAGE SKILLS.

    CAN WE GIVE INCENTIVES TO CORPORATIONS TO PROMOTE EDUCATION
    AT PRIMARY LEVEL AND INNER CITIES?

    I AGREE WITH MANY WHO FEEL MEDIA IS GIVING A LIGHTER TREATMENT AND ALLOWS MR. BARACK OBAMA TO GENERALIZE ANSWERS IN FLOWERY LANGUAGE AND FRILLS. MRS. HILLARY CLINTON IS SUBJECTED TO TOUGH QUESTIONING AND SCRUTINY. I LIKE THE WAY SHE ANSWERS THOUGHTFULLY AND CAREFULLY. IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE FOR A POLITICIAN TO GLOSS OVER HARD ISSUES BY PLAY ON LANGUAGE.

    MR. OBAMA IS YOUNG AND SHOULD ACCUMULATE EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THE SENATE AND ESTABLISH A RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS BEFORE HE STANDS FOR PRESIDENCY. I CANNOT MAKE A DECISION BASED ON HIS CURRENT TRACK RECORD.

    January 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. Louis McKenzie

    FOr Senator Clinton can you please explain what you would do as President of the United States if there was a movement to charge the former president for war crimes for the offense of torturing prisoners, invading Iraq without UN authorization, fabricating the idea of weapons of mass distruction, and misapproriating his power as president to send american young men and women to be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. As well as the various other war crimes that this president has either allowed authorized or enacted. Would you defend his position or would you take the position that even in our country justice should pervail?

    For Senator Obama: Do you realize that by winning the novemeber election you will be walking into a hornets nest? The dollar is at its worst , the credit system is collapsing and the american people have been decieved so much we do not even know what is truth and what is lie anymore. How will you cope with a failing ailing america and as somone of mixed race in America how will you respond to those who would chose not to shake your hand because of the color of your skin?

    January 11, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. Brian

    Wolff: Thank you for taking our questions!

    Hillary: Do you honestly consider your beginning of 35 years of experience to be when you volunteered for the McGovern campaign in 1972? If that's the case, then doesn't Obama have more experience than you claim, dating all the way back to when he was a community organizer? So then really, he has 15 years of experience.

    January 11, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  8. John Covington

    Read to all Presidential Candidates in Debate

    As a 15 year-old I want to enherit a plantet which is not totally destroyed by my parents generation.

    I want a planet to raise my children on. One with coastal areas that have not been devastated by raising sea levels. One with clean air and polar bears. With rainforests and diverse species.

    Scientist agree that we are already experiencing the effects of global warming. There is no way to totally stop it.

    What we can do though is dramaticaly and drastically reduce the effects.

    Every candidate has a stance on climate change but the goals and policies set by the candidates do not seem to be neither drastic enough nor would have the impact nescecary to stop this. Like both Obama's, Clinton's and Edward's plans that would only cut carbon emmisions 80% by 2050. 2050. that seems awfully to late for me. If I, the teenager, can see that then why they?

    My question : DO YOU THINK THAT YOU PLAN TO REDUCE CARBON EMMISIONS AND DEPENDANCE OF NON-RENEWABLE ENERGY IS SUFFECIENT AND THOROUGH ENOUGHT TO STOP THE WORST EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING AND WHY??

    ____________John Covington

    January 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. michael

    1) I am originally from Buffalo NY, and I would like to ask Ms. Clinton why she has not delived on her promise to add 200,000 jobs to upstate NY when she ran for state Senator.

    2) I hear most of the democratic politians talk about tax relief for the middle class. As a middle class family with 2 children we are paying more for our childcare than our mortgage, however the federal government doesn't allow any REALISTIC tax breaks for families that pay for childcare. I would like to ask the democratic hopefuls what they would do to reduce the burden on middle class families that are forced to pay the exorbinant price for chidcare .

    January 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. FOR OBAMA

    Obama: Do you believe Dennis Kucinich should be requiring a recount in New Hampshire's primary, and, in answering, please do not respond with the fact that he has that right. We know that. YES or NO, Do you support the recount (which seems to be on your behalf according to Kucinich's own comments) in New Hampshire?

    Wolfe: Please do not allow him to answer vaguely that everyone has the right in this Country to ask for a recount. Please make him ansewr directly even if it takes a follow-up question.

    Thank you.

    January 11, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Stella Scott

    I am very disappointed with the people who ask the questions on these debate shows. I want to know what they think about amnesty, health care, economy, jobs lost to China, and bringing them back, and the sky high oil prices, with the companies, having record profits, and nothing being invested in future interest, and CEO's getting millions of dollars in severance pay, and when are our troops coming home from Iraqi, because they were placed there for a lie, anyway, and why they keep voting for the funding of the war, for special interest people who are raping our country of money, and not getting anything done. Also why the Iraqi govt. isn't getting anything done, and being paided too. I am tired of all of this talking, and nothing really being said. Stick it to them, put them on the spot, that is what they are being paided for, and YOU. And don't settle for he-ha answers. When is our country going to come first again, and quit attacking us. When did we become, a losing country, and treat our officials like royalty, they work for us, have we forgotten that. I will not watch, if they don't have to answer the Piper. Wolf please ask and get answers?

    January 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Stu, Terrebonne, Oregon

    There has been little discussion by any candidate, Democrat or Republican, about services and benefits for veterans and those on active duty, particularly those in harms' way. What specifically would the candidate do to implement the recommendations of the President's Veterans Benefits Commission? Do they favor a mandatory budget for the VA and how will they ensure that legislation will be enacted to implement this? What do they intend to do about the growing problem of homeless veterans? Are they prepared to give the VA every dollar they need to adequately care for all veterans in a reasonable manner? Take your pick. I am a totally disabled Vietnam veteran, as are many of my friends, and our vote will be based on answers to these questions.

    January 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. Mark

    If you were the Democratic Party's nominee, which republican candidate would you like to run against? Which candidate do you not want to run against? Why?

    January 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. William, Greensboro,NC

    Questions for the candidates:

    Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton..... Does this not bother anyone else in the Democrat Party? Repetitiveness? Or is this maybe the only counter against the Bush Presidencies? Is it what Washington D.C. needs?

    Education: What will you do about the unacceptable drop out rate in high schools around the country? What will you do to return the hope to those kids who need the support to stay in school?

    Katrina/ Natural Disasters: After Katrina, insurance companies could not take the load of claims, and turned people away. What as the President would you do for those people who were turned down and who have lost everything.

    Also Katrina effected the poor the most in New Orleans, Will you fight for the poor in these types of situations if another Katrina were to happen again?

    Housing Market: With the Housing market still not finding any relief... How will you go after the problem? Many Americans rely on it economically (Carpenters, Banks, Realtors, etc...) than many economist are willing to say. What are you going to do to help those people?

    Foreign Policy: Most of you are saying out of Iraq and back into Afghanistan. How much are you willing to spend and where are you going to get the money?

    Change: Many of you are advocating change as what you think Washington needs. Can you describe what changes you will bring to each of the 3 branches of government? Please Clarify.

    January 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. Jeff in Hoboken

    My goodness Tristan Penton! Can you say *bias*? Racial or Sexist I don't know, but please! I believe there is plenty of 'dirt' that can be leveled on the Clinton's as well. As for drugs "I did not inhale"? I'm a Hillary fan and an Obama fan, but I believe that your question is exactly the type of change Obama is looking for. Hillary would also be a welcome change from the past 8 years, but while Hillary has been attacking Obama ("he wanted to be president in Kindergarden"), Obama has to be best of what I can see not done the same back. We'll see if that changes as politics often does that in an election cycle.

    My questions:
    1. Please provide some specifics with respect to your solutions regarding illegal immigration as well as why you feel those are the best steps – among many different proposals on the left and right – to solve the problem

    2. What would be the priorities of your first 100 days in office, with specifics (what steps you would take to do it) on what you feel is your platform's highest priority.

    2a follow up after first question is asked: What is your goal with respect to a date of completing or implementing this highest priority.

    3. Sr. Clinton and Sr. Obama, you have many of the same positions but there are a few differences you have on Health Care. Your specifics are well documented online, so can you please explain why you feel *your* health care plan is the better plan and the one that will most likely pass both houses of congress.

    January 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. Tim

    Military recruitment has fallen under the Bush administration and soldiers have faced multiple tours of duty. After Bush's term, there is a real possibility that more soldiers will be needed in other global hot spots.
    If more troops become necessary while you are President, would you consider a military draft? If so, in what form?

    January 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. John Jopling

    Please ask Hillary to specify what she considers her greatest accomplishments in the 35 years of experience she speaks of. By "accomplishments," I mean policies she has advocated for that have actually been enacted, legislatively or otherwise.

    Please ask John Edwards , if he believes (as he has said in past debates) that he and Sen. Obama represent positive change, and that Sen. Clinton represents the change-resistant status quo, why does he not abandon a race he clearly cannot win and endorse Sen. Obama?

    Please ask Sen. Obama whether he considers the the national debt and annual federal deficits to be acceptable and, if not, how does he intend to address these problems? Specifically, which of his proposed policy initiatives would he be willing to forego or postpone in favor of fiscal responsibility?

    January 11, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. goldietaylor

    Mr. Blitzer,

    You should ask them to both address the racial tension in this campaign and the claims made by former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton. In the spirit of Dr. King's birthday, how would he feel about the current tenor of the campaign.

    It's funny, Hillary was a "Goldwater Girl," but Barry Goldwater was opposed to the Civil Rights Act.

    January 11, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Tracy Jolivette

    Where does each candidate stand on media consolidation and what would each would do to eliminate it?

    January 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. Edwin

    I would like to ask the media why they ignored John Edwards. They gave him such little attention. He is not black, nor is he a woman, but his views are right on and he has not been given coverage. Since when does the media decide who we should vote on?

    January 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. Sunder Iyer

    All 3 Democrats say that they are the candidates of Change, but we dont know their tracxk record or their specific future plans.

    My question is

    - in their careers so far what initiatives have they taken to effect change
    - what change have they managed to achieve in their careers to date
    - what "specifically' would be the first thing they would do to effect change if they became President.

    January 11, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  22. Benjamin Playfair

    The same thing I asked Senator Edwards as he was walking out the door at a "Welcome Home Rally" in Columbia, SC.

    "What about world poverty?"

    January 11, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. CR

    1. How do you define negative campaigning?

    2. Do you view negative campaigning as the politics of change or the politics of the status quo?

    3. If you have such a strong record, why do you feel the need to participate in negative campaigning? (Senator Clinton)

    January 11, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. TRAnderson

    I am an "old School: Democrat that belives in the working Men and Women, education and the enviroment. But right now there is one issue that can have a positive effect on all of these. When will the Democrats realize that we have to get tough on Illegal imigration???? I mean realy tough. no amesty. Secure the boarders and get those that are here illegaly OUT!!!!

    January 11, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. Profits

    In 2004, not-for-profit Iowa Health System reported "excess of revenues over expenses", we'll be old fashioned and call them what they are, profits of $51.5 MILLION.
    In 2005, profits increased to $69.9 MILLION.

    In 2006, profits soared to $107.7 MILLION.

    And for the first three months of 2007, they have already reported making a profit of $36 MILLION.

    That's much higher than the $23.3 million in profits they reported making in the first three months of 2006, the year they crushed their old profit record.

    In the never ending game of public relations, profits, which they used to describe as "excess of revenues over expenses" are now listed as "reserve for growth and development".

    I wonder how much they paid the person who came up with that line?

    Question #1, for the candidates. Do you feel that this is an excessive amount of profit for a not-for-profit hospital?

    While we don't have any update on the total compensation of their President and CEO Samuel T. Wallace, as a public service to all those Presidential candidates who talk about making health care more affordable, we will remind them that in 2003, Samuel received $1,354,807 in total compensation.

    In 2004, he received $2,255,862 in total compensation, an increase of $871,055 from the year before.

    Question #2. Do you feel that that is an excessive amount of compensation for an executive of a not-for-profit organization?

    In 2006, Iowa Health System reported that total revenue surpassed $1.79 billion.

    For comparison sake, according to the last figures available for The Calgary Health Region in Canada, total revenue came to just over $2.08 BILLION, profits came in at $440,000 (you read that right just 440 thousand dollars in profit–they only charge what it costs), and as for the President and CEO of the Calgary Health Region, he received $536,000 in total compensation.

    That was only $2000 more than the previous year.

    Question #3. Under your plan to make health care more affordable, will you set compensation levels for executives of not-for-profit hospitals that recieve government funds?

    Question #'s 4-5-6 etc.

    Mark ups. Arbitrage. Underfunded pension obligations. Etc.

    And finally, how much money in campaign contributions have you received from not-for-profit hospital executives or members of their family?

    It's not that I know whether or not the candidates will or won't answer these questions (they won't), it's the fact that because of the power of hospitals (advertising dollars, putting members of the media, or their family on their boards, etc), that I know that the media will never ask these questions.

    January 11, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
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