November 15th, 2007
10:33 PM ET
15 years ago

Democratic candidates talk dangerous Chinese imports

(CNN) - Addressing concerns over tainted products entering the U.S. marketplace from China, Democratic candidates sounded off at the CNN debate in Las Vegas by either criticizing one another or the current administration.

With tainted Chinese toy imports in the news ahead of the holiday season, candidates were asked if those who voted to fully open trade relations with China should bear some of the responsibility for consumers' fears.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said yes and scolded Sen. John Edwards for voting to open up trade relations with China, "understanding that workers were going to be hurt."

"Now, you're a trial lawyer, you knew better," Kucinich said to Edwards on stage at the debate.

The former North Carolina senator responded to the debate question, not Kucinich, saying he felt it was a mistake to allow "China to operate unfettered, to send dangerous products into this country, to not have the president of the United States hold them responsible for their trading obligations to the WTO."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd called the Bush administration response to dangerous Chinese imports outrageous and said that "if a U.S. corporation produced contaminated toys or food, they would have been shut down in 20 minutes."

"When those products were announced to be contaminated, it should have stopped right then and there," he added.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said the U.S. should send its own inspectors over to China to ensure import safety.

- CNN Political Assignment Editor Katy Byron

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. theresa lv

    The Clinton's are a big factor in the Chinese having such a huge hold on the U.S. Go back to the first Clinton presidency. Say one thing; do another when in office. Be very cautious of putting another Clinton in office.

    November 15, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  2. Dave, Dallas, PA

    I have grave doubts that China would be willing to allow US Inspectors into their country at Sen. Obama's request.

    This kind of flippant talk is frightening. What we do has to be within our field of responsibility. We take the products or don't. We should have enough experience with the current administration to know that trying to force our ways on others doesn't work and is dangerous.

    November 15, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  3. Jim L., Irmo, SC

    Obama's idea was innovative and specific, and just what we need to do. I am almost convinced now who to vote for, even though no one seemed to really shine in this debate.

    November 15, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. Ann ME

    Oh, this is right up Hilliary's alley. Remember all the Chinese going in and out of the Bill Clinton White House with their dictates for the Clintons to apply to Americans? Our country has been changed forever because of China and Bill Clinton. Do you not understand that Hillary is marching to the same "made in China" drum? LEAVE THIS IN CNN.

    November 15, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. Sue, Midland, MI

    I have a better idea than more inspectors-BOYCOTT CHINESE PRODUCTS! I realize that we will pay more, but there has been scare after scare this year, from toothpaste to Barbi dolls, and it's time to take this into our own hands, as the government obviously won't protect us on this. And what is China doing to its own people if they're sending us this crap?

    November 16, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. Andrew, Haslett, MI

    More proof that federal and international regulation of free trade screws up the markets and creates problems like this. Just allow the free market to determine trade policy and everything will be fine! Nobody wants products that kill people and companies importing products won't take that chance. The WTO is yet another bureaucracy that is screwing up our economy!

    November 16, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  7. stan pitts pa

    i cant take anymore of hillarys rigged debates!!! thanks hillary for undermining our democracy and trying to fool the american people, the people in the crowd who booed were planted, just like most of the questions she gets asked on the campaign trail this woman will do anything to win!!! shameful!!!

    November 16, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  8. Brian, Seattle WA

    Senator Obama's response was the educated one. With the economy the way it is, do you want to pay twice as much for everything you buy because you won't import from China while the rest of the world is doing so? Staying ahead means using everything to your best interest, including Chinese goods. We have our own strengths, and that is technology. If Bush turned our economy into one that depends upon competing with China for making shoelaces and hairnets, then we're truly in trouble.

    November 16, 2007 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  9. mark wilkes barre pa

    we gave away the store years ago to foriegn industry and now we want to whine because we have no controll over the quality of what is consumed here Hmmmm

    November 16, 2007 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  10. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Hillary responded "but when my husband and I made those "deals" with these people, they promised everything would be on the up and up and it must be Bush's fault".

    Funny money and lousy merchandise, but as long as they donate to your campaign eh, Hillary.

    November 16, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Kate, Aurora CO

    In response to Sue from Midland MI:

    I'm right with you. My husband and I have made an agreement that we will no longer purchase anything made in China. Our youngest daughter is autistic and the thought of her being exposed to even more chemicals and/or risk is enough to scare us straight. I know it will cost us more this holiday season but we opted to buy less. NONE of our politians are going to look our for our best interests, as they have proven time and time again. We should take back this country and by products made only in the USA.

    November 16, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. therealist

    Who gave China most favored nation status??

    November 16, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Herb, Pittsburgh, PA

    Where is American manufacturing these days? Our so-called leaders sent it down the toilet. Bill Clinton was one of those who put a nail in its coffin, and his wife already has subscribed to more of the same. Note how we don't call that country "Communist China" anymore? I suppose the Chinese human rights issues have gone away? Sure, we boycott poor little Communist Cuba, with its tired-old-man leader, but we are giving the store away to one of the most dangerous nations on earth.

    Our "leaders" are selling us down the river, no doubt about it. Any candidate who represents "the establishment" should be avoided like poison. We need someone whose first and only allegiance is to the citizens of the United States and their interests.

    November 16, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. Dennis Gray, Spring Valley, New York

    Once again Rep. Kucinich was right on target with blaming the federal government, especially the Congress. He blasted Sen. Edwards among others for their poor voting records on issues like the trade disaster with China. Kucinich really seems to get the real issue. I only hope more Americans get it. Kucinich seems to be against the status quo. He walks the walk more than Obama who is talking more, but hey! talking is half the battle which is better than the rest. Richardson also earned points, mainly because of his disassociation with the terrible voting record of Congress who is partially responsible for the import problem with China.

    November 16, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Dave, Kansas KS

    Let them stand on their own merits like any other manufacturer. When people don trust the product, or brand names, they wont buy the items and buy another. Just like Edsels and Yugos.

    November 16, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. therealist

    Sounds great Dave, exept there are no other manufactures anymore..

    November 16, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Dixon Benshoof, Des Moines Iowa

    Big business is responsible for the product sold in our country, not China. Why do you think the price is so low? They build a cheap product using unskilled labor. Of course the price we pay is still very high. Until we learn to buy from companies who use our people and laws to produce the product we get what we deserve.

    November 16, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    In the last 7 years Michigan has lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs. Most of them went to India and China. A new economic study out today states that we have not bottomed out yet. It predicts that Michigan will loose an additional 250,000 jobs over the next 2 years. Most of them in manufacturing and most will go to China. These jobs currently are not being replaced with other jobs. They are just gone. Now who is it that says America is not good at exporting ? We have mastered the art of exporting jobs ! There is obviously alot more to the issue of "free trade" with China than anti-freeze in our tooth-paste.

    November 16, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Jed in Texas

    The "RED" Chinese,Red necks from Arkansas,and Walmart from Bentonville Ark. help to fund the winning team.And in 5 years it will be the highest paying job in America!!!

    November 16, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Jed in Texas

    Good idea Dave from Kansas,just wait till enough people drop dead from poisen drugs and additives and we stop buying the crap.Sounds like you been sniffin to much bug spray from that

    November 16, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. laurinda,ny

    I had to throw a brand new Christmas wreath out because Dr, SanJay Gupta said that they would give you cancer by touching those things. By the way he is adorable and I hope he gets that raggedy bandage off his hand soon. I wouldn't want him doing brain surgury with that on his hand.

    November 17, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Jim Topeka, Kansas

    Let see, its 7+ years in to the Bush administration and everything is still Clintons fault.

    November 19, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. JC

    By the way, was it not Sam Walton's slogan to buy American. Today in Walmart you are lucky to find anything in the stor with a assembled in part from pieces in the USA imported from outside the USA by labors inside the USA but from other countries. Lots of luck.

    November 19, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |