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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/11/art.sc.debate.cnn.jpg caption=" 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. Yvette

    Please ask if the candidates would consider:

    0 earmarks. All expenses have to be voted on and approved.

    Campaign Finance Reform: Campaigns to be funded by tax dollars and each candidate gets the same amount and only 6 months to campaign. This levels the playing field, will make candidates more creative and will keep candidates doing the job they were hired to do instead of campaigning.

    Are they willing to take the budget and make a list of priorities and nice things to have but not necessary and start cutting government spending and waste and dealing with the deficiet. Instead of focusing on cutting tax's, raising tax's etc... How about cutting the nice things to have. Citizens against government waste has already outlined many of these items.

    Would the candidates consider calling in the top accountants in the country to go through all the books and make recommendations.

    I am undecided but looking at the candidate that will work night and day to put the financial house in order I think the minimum wage should be $10 per hour and if you make less than $65,000 a year you pay 0 tax.

    Talk to Coburn he takes NO EARMARKS and thinks it is important to get the financials in order.

    January 14, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  2. Ken Sain

    For Senator Clinton, this post from Andrew Sullivan's blog is something I think she should address:

    "The benign interpretation of the Clintons' evocation of the importance of an LBJ to complement an MLK is about the need for legislative activity to enshrine the vital work of civil rights activists. As such, it's a perfectly reasonable analogy to make, if a little condescending to King. But does it reflect who the Clintons actually are? Are they really today's version of LBJ? In fact, unlike most others in this race, we have some direct evidence of how the Clintons, given the power of the White House, responded to the civil rights movement of their own time.

    In the 1990s, we saw a burst of grass-roots activism, protest and rhetoric in defense of gay and lesbian equality. Out of the ashes of the AIDS epidemic, the gay rights movement rose like a phoenix. And the Clintons, seeing a fund-raising opportunity, reached out to some in the movement to finance their own campaign. Those donors trusted them. I wrote the TNR endorsement. But as soon as the gays had performed their role – financing the Clintons in power and supporting their campaign – the Clintons turned on us. They dropped their promise to end the military's ban instantaneously and then presided over a doubling of the discharges of gay servicemembers under the hideous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. They then used the other emerging civil rights issue – marriage equality – to triangulate against gay couples. They ran ads on Christian radio stations bragging about the Defense of Marriage Act that president Clinton eagerly signed. And the only gay people they embraced were those willing to continue to trade money for access – and loyalty to the Clintons. Who helped them devise this anti-gay strategy? Dick Morris. Who recommended hiring him in the first place? Hillary Clinton.

    Johnson risked his entire coalition on the issue of civil rights – a heroic act that still reverberates today. The Clintons wouldn't risk a smidgen of a percentage point in a Mark Penn poll for the duration of a news cycle. That's the difference."

    January 14, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. Max Nielsen, Bothell, WA

    For each Democratic candidate:
    The Democratic Congress, with the support of 2/3 of the American people and a plurality of seats, failed to end the war in Iraq. Why? How did you vote? What part did you otherwise play?

    January 14, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  4. H

    Wolf and the CNN team,
    I have a variety of questions to ask.
    In the current primary season the word is "change" and so every viable candidate is desperately trying to attach themselves to it. But experience is a crucial part of decision making. In all spheres of life, people make better informed decisions based on past experiences. Why is experience considered, as Bill Richardson said at the recent New Hampshire debate, such a "leper?" Why is it considered to be an inferior asset to being able to say the word "change" many times?
    As Obama said at the New Hampshire debate, "All of the [Democratic] candidates here represent a change from George W. Bush." This leads me onto my question. Wolf I was wondering if you could possibly ask him why his policies are so appealing? What makes him the candidate who should be elected? And please don't let him waffle on about "change" and "hope" and "unity", make him present his positions. I naturally adher to Democratic principles over Republican ones, but I'm failing to see a great deal of distinction between the candidates.
    Wolf I also wondered if you could pose the field a q on the ridiculousness of the American Primary system. Whilst I advocate the public selection of candidates, which we do not have in England, I cannot for the life of me comprehend how the US has such an amazingly strange system. The first two states in the primary calendar, Iowa and New Hampshire, are around 95% white. They hold an enourmous say in who the next President is. The percentage of whites in the US is around 75%. The equality in that selection process is minimal. Why not have New York or California as the first states to vote, or why don't all the states just vote on the same day? Whilst it is unlikely that the candidates will deride the system, for fear of alleniating Iowans and the people of New Hampshire; could you possibly ask them their opinions on the equality and sensibleness behind the process?

    January 14, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  5. Tracy

    It is very sad and frustrating the lack of follow-through from the government and others after Katrina. It is a terrible how services and funds are still lacking.

    Please ask all three what will they do to address the rebuilding the Gulf Coast region post-Katrina?

    January 14, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  6. nyeita

    List one good quality you admire in each of the other candidates.

    January 14, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  7. Max Nielsen, Bothell, WA

    For each Democratic candidate:
    The war in Iraq is being financed with money that has not been collected through taxation. What will you do to stop and reverse the inevitable inflationary effect this has on our currency?

    Explain your feelings on the morality of using soldiers for hire.

    Explain your understanding of what portion of the US military presence in Iraq is in the form of soldiers for hire.

    Explain your position on "free trade" agreements, and the loss of jobs in the US they have caused.

    January 14, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. meyerdb

    Everyone participating in this debate has an element of "Change" within their message. Please address two points. 1) Do you need to work with Republicans to get that change since the U.S. currenlty have a Democrat Congress and 2) Do you think Republicans would work well with you if that control would reverse itself?

    January 14, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  9. Paul

    I realize to the world there are many more pressing issues than my own . However as the father of a twelve year old son with Duchenne muscular dystrophy , the upsets surrounding the lack of advancement in stem cell research and this current administrations naive and blatant disregard for American opinion and well being . I would like to ask all candidates what their opinion of stem cell research may be and if their opinion is favorable , what do they intend to do for the countless Americans who's lives and longevity may very well depend on it .

    Keep up the great work !

    January 14, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. Spencer, University of Florida student/Democrat

    We've heard Hillary boast her 35 years of experience while Barack believes that his grassroots approach to politics will gather the support to push him to the presidency. My question is: With the way that Washington operates today, in order to turn a candidate's much publicized/scrutinized ideas for 'change' that they're currently boasting on the campaign trail into reality once they're elected, it seems that they'll need countless connections in Congress, across the globe, and various support across the American political landscape. How will someone like Barack Obama, who's Federal political experience is limited to only a few years in the Senate, effectively implement his ideas once he's elected? Does he have the connections to turn his ideas into reality or is he relying on his alleged ability to unite Democrats and Republicans? With vitally important issues facing our nation in the coming years, such as global warming, the national debt and trade deficit (to nations like China), and the baby boomers on the verge on retirement in mass, this election is crucially important and Democrats need to nominate a candidate that not only believes in the right ideas, but also possesses the power to enact these new plans. (While Barack Obama is a great orator and a charismatic politician, it seems he currently lacks the political relationships to effectively implement ideas. I would love to him run when he's been in Washington longer)

    January 14, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  11. R

    I'd like to know how these Democrats think banning guns will stop criminals from getting them.

    January 14, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  12. Dana Shokes

    I would like to ask all the candidates what they are going to do about securing our borders and stopping the out-of-control violence going on at our borders.

    January 14, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  13. Gary D Rhodes

    Will you follow the 10th amendment?

    January 14, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. Sakari Sanders

    PLEASE CONSIDER: I would like to piggy back off of Roosevelt Allen's comment/question-

    With such negative tactics being used lately and further enhanced by the media coverage they get, I want to know how the candidate who does win the Democratic nomination will be able to unite the party again.

    While I understand a struggle for political survival can put candidates under tremendous pressure, integrity requires more than the tactics that have been used as of late. If the Democratic party continues to tear one another apart, once this primary is over, the party might be so divided that in the end we all loose out. Do we really want to tear each other down to the point that it really becomes hard for us all to rally around and support the Democratic nominee after the primary?
    To each of the candidates, America wants change, how can you bring that about now in your politicking?

    I am discouraged by what's happening but still have hope that this can turn around starting with each of the candidates.

    January 14, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  15. Johann

    I have read about 60% of the questions above. Is someone doing a statistical review to determine the groupings and then the distributions across a bell curve? I have read about 60% of the questions above. Is someone doing a statistical review to determine the groupings and then the distributions across a bell curve? I think the questions that are biased should be removed from consideration. There are many questions addressing the issues: the economy, education costs, mortgage defaults, wages, social security, immigration, the war in Iraq, Iran (currently a war of words), Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many minority group interests.

    These issues should be addressed from the position of how would you if elected President manage each of these situations providing us with facts as well as their plans. I think we need to know if they understand the issues enough to have a position regarding each.

    All the questions about experience are justified however, some of our Greatest Presidents had little or no experience, yet some of our Best Presidents owned their own businesses, or were State Governors and many were private practice lawyers maybe you could remind them.

    All the candidates are educated and very intelligent but are they prepared to be President. I know they think they are prepared ask them if they can prove it with a two sentence answer, a verbal resume. You could end the show with that question.

    January 14, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |

    All Candidates – Dems & Reps

    Economists are pointing to a recession – sales of goods and services didn't do too well in the fourth quarter. U.S. firms are allowed to export jobs overseas to cut costs with no savings-benefit to U.S. taxpayer-consumer, allowed to import a cheaper skilled and unskilled and educated and uneducated labor force causing the economy to downsize with salary cuts, rise in unemployment, rise in medical insurance costs to support the uninsured and unemployed coupled with a surge of 12 million illegal immigrants sending millions if not billions out of the country-economy – what is your remedy and can you show me your plan/or what will you introduce to turn-around and stimulate the economy (I can show you my "Catch 22 Economic Stimulus Plan") developed for the country upon request.

    January 14, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Jay in SC

    Sen. Obama, I have been hearing claims that you do not wear the America Flag pinning and you would not pledge on the Bible if elected, is this true?

    January 14, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  18. Wiliiam Dunston

    To each candidate:

    What is the content of your character?

    January 14, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  19. KC

    What specifically needs to happen to improve public schools? Is NCLB salvagable? Should it be salvaged?

    ALSO, I would like the candidates to say what they think they have in common with each other.

    January 14, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  20. Maria Cortez

    Wolf and the CNN team-

    I propose the following two questions for each of the candidates:

    1.) A strong leader must be able to assess and appreciate both the strengths and weaknesses of opponents and other dignitaries. That being said please state one quality for each of the other candidates that would make them a leader fit to lead today's America.

    2.) Come November only one of you will appear as the Democratic presidential candidate. Should it not be you, what issue would you continue to fight for, be it on the Hill or in your state?

    Thank you,

    Maria Cortez, Texas

    January 14, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  21. Joe

    Do you think that the Presidential powers that the current administration has claimed for itself are appropriate and what, if anything, will you and your administration do differently?

    January 14, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  22. Frederick

    Mr. Blitzer,

    Can you please ask the canidates their position on the State of Israel, the relationship between the two countries and if they would be as strong supporters of Israel as their Republican counterparts.

    January 14, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  23. W. J. A. Power

    Dear Sir,
    Would you please ask these candidates (a) who it is that they plan to have as their closest advisors if elected; and (b) why these particular persons, what expertise do they bring etc,; and (c) is there any bibliographic materials available to which we might refer to consider these persons more carefully.
    If we had known that Mr. Bush was going to ask the cast of characters that he ultimately did ask we might very well have anticipated and consequently avoided the kind of mess that they would produce and in which we now find ourselves.

    January 14, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. Valentine

    The candidates from both parties talk so much about themselves and broad-based programs they want to enact.

    What about me?

    I am a citizen (supposedly part of the entity the candidates know as their boss) and nobody has told me anything they will do that will make my life better!

    More this and less that does not translate well to what's in it for me.

    So to paraphrase the Clinton 42 phrase: "It's about ME, stupid!" What do each of the candidates have cooked up for me?

    Oh yeah, I'm deliberately not giving away any part of my identity – to make the question a little more real and less open for a canned response.

    January 14, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  25. Marcus Lienhard

    Two part question:

    We all know that politicians do not work long hours, or even long weeks, why is that? Serving the country is their job, we all have jobs, we all make sacrifices, work long hours, don't get compensated for extra hours worked, miss time with our families, etc... why dont our elected officals do the same. Work a 40, 50, 60 or 80 hour work week, get things accomplished instead of working how you will get relelected.

    Second question:

    Why are all bills passed thru with a ton of pork? This is their job, make laws and get them passed. Each law should be passed on its own merit, and not because your friend will vote for it if you give him 50 million for a bridge to nowwhere. Why cant the congress and the senate vote for one item at a time, figure out what is best for our country and then move on to the next item?? Seems practical, and it might actually force them to work more then 15 hours a week.

    January 14, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
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