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. Kevin

    If you could end one thing in the world, cancer or racism, which one would it be and why?

    January 15, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. Alix

    What will you do to honor the US commitment to the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty and treatable diseases like AIDS by 2015? And do you consider the issue of extreme stupid poverty to be one of national security?

    January 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Ron Sullivan

    Bush and Cheney are suspected of crimes against humanity. I do not expect them to be brought up on charges before the election. After the election, and if the democrats have a 2/3rds majority in Congress, there is a good chance charges will go forward. If they face charges and are found guilty would you be inclined to "pardon" them? (This question is for all candidates)

    January 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. SR

    All of the democratic candidates have made a pitch for universal healthcare in some form or another. How would they defend the arguement that healthcare was much better before the government mandates of HMO's in the seventies and that further intervention by the FEDERAL government would make it worse? In addition, how would they maintain freedom of choice? Currently, on Medicare and Medicade your treatment options are limited to only government approved methods. Would the move to universal healthcare undermine our medical freedom?

    January 15, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    A question for each of the candidates:

    If you were elected to office, in your first six (6) months in that office would you do to alleviate the following problems. Remember, these are your first steps and please be specific.

    1). The negative economic impact on the Middle Class due to the impending Recession.

    2). Housing Market crisis.

    3). Diplomacy with Iran.

    Note to moderator: If the responses become vague please interrupt and request more clarification.

    January 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Independent, Pennsylvania

    In the past year, the Department of Veterans Affair has attempted to increas its staff to cope with the large influx of claims as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am one of the fortunate new hires.

    Every single day, I get a chance to serve the veterans of this country. However, this job has a double edge. While we do so much good for so many, the laws are outdated and sometimes inconsistent. I have heard from several candidates on both sides mention the need for reform regarding service to our veterans. What would each of you do to push Congress into making the necessary legislative changes to ensure these veterans receive what they have earned?

    January 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. No Doublespeak

    President George W. Bush has advocated an extreme view of a "unitary executive," resulting in substantial expansion of presidential power. What is your view on the proper balance between the executive and legislative branches? How do you plan to implement that view? What limits should there be, for example, on presidential control over the operation of the Department of Justice?

    January 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. John Stuart

    Wolf should ask the panel this question:

    Which American's President's wife (excluding Hillary) do they admire the most , and would she have made a great preseident?

    January 15, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. Anni Johan

    Nikolas Sarkozy is in Saudi Arabia seeking deals to help the Saudis develop a nuclear program. As the country with the world's biggest , why should we not ask the question, " why do Saudi's need a nuclear program?"

    We are concerned that in Pakistan there will be leakage of nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.

    Given that a) 15 of 19 hijackers in 9-11 attackes were educated Saudis and

    b) We have an ally in Israel nearby

    Would you oppose France, US or any country transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia?

    January 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Anni Johan

    Nikolas Sarkozy is in Saudi Arabia seeking deals to help the Saudis develop a nuclear program. As the country with the world's biggest oil reserves, why should we not ask the question, " why do Saudi's need a nuclear program?"

    We are concerned that in Pakistan there will be leakage of nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.

    Given that a) 15 of 19 hijackers in 9-11 attackes were educated Saudis and

    b) We have an ally in Israel nearby

    Would you oppose France, US or any country transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia?

    January 15, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. John, Los Angeles

    Which sitting governor of a US state do you admire most and given that you all are in the Senate, would you feel compelled to choose a goverrnor as a running mate?

    January 15, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Anthony

    Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards,

    Sen. Obama has stated that he will speak out forcefully against any of his supporters who in engage in negative politics. Are you willing to make that same pledge?

    January 15, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. Anthony

    Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards,

    Sen. Obama has stated that he will speak out forcefully against any of his supporters who in engage in negative politics. Are you willing to make that same pledge?

    January 15, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  14. Noans

    Q: Senator Clinton: Would you immediately close tax loopholes for American companies and corporations, doing business outside of the United States, like Halliburtin, Blackwater, and many more, who are making billions but are using tax loopholes to not pay their fair share of taxes or any taxes at all? Please be specific about when you would close the tax loopholes.

    Q: Senator Obama: You said you would bring our troops home from Iraq, immediately. How and what would you do with Blackwater who continues to provide Americans as well as foreign mercenaries now fighting in Iraq? Would you also demand legislation to control the actions of Blackwater in war zones?

    Q: John Edwards: I recently saw Michael Moore's "Sicko" and as a Registered Nurse, I have seen insurance companies abuses first hand. Specifically when and how will you make sure America will have a nationalized health care system for all that is as successful as Sweden's, France's, England's and Canada's nationalized health care?

    Q: Senator Clinton: You talk about your contribution to education. Will you provide free college, as other countries do, to ensure that all Americans are able to get an education regardless of their social and economic status? Be specific about a plan for free college if you have one.

    Q: Senator Obama: We've heard a lot of rhetoric and have seen little or no action regarding resolution of the Israeli and Palestine conflict. What kind of benchmarks would you give both Israel and Palestine to restore a lasting peace? Would you withhold our tax dollars to Israel and Palestine until they met specific benchmarks that would ensure lasting peace in that region?

    Q: Senator John Edwards: I want a law making it a criminal offense if paper receipts were not given to electronic voters to help eliminate voter fraud and mistakes . Will you give Americans your word that any and all electronic voting machines will legally have a paper receipt? How and when will you do so? Please be specific.

    Q: Senator Clinton: Will you repeal the Medicare Drug Prescription Bill that was written by the drug companies and gives them obscene profits at taxpayers expense? How and when would you repeal it? if not, why?

    Q: Senator Obama: How would you make sure that our Department of Justice protects all Americans and not just those in one political party? Be specific.

    Q: John Edwards: What are your first three priorities as President and how will you accomplish them?

    Thank You

    January 15, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Douglass Davis

    I would like to ask all of them, do they think there is any problem that the government can not solve, if so, what is it.

    January 15, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. John

    To Senator Obama:

    You’ve admitted to drug use in the past, which shows some pretty poor decision making on your part.

    Why should the American people overlook this, and how can we trust that you’ll exercise better judgment if you become President?

    January 15, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. Becca

    Hi Wolf,

    Thank you for letting us share our questions.

    1) Why, in a nation where abortion is such a hot issue and every American wishes that no woman or girl should ever get one, where poverty exists and many people don’t have affordable access to prescription drugs, does Viagra get much more federal funding and coverage than birth control? All federal health plans cover Viagra while only 19% of federal health plans cover contraceptives; in addition to preventing conception, many women need the pill for medical problems such as endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. In 2005 after it came to light that sex offenders were receiving Viagra through Medicaid and the ensuing public outcry, the House passed a bill and publicly stated that ED drugs would no longer be paid for by the federal government. Yet in 2006, in a budget bill aimed at renewing and extending Bush’s tax cuts, a provision to pay for ED drugs was snuck back into the budget bill at a cost of $90 million, all the while cutting funding for Medicaid, child support enforcement, contraceptive coverage, and the Student Loan Program. As President, what will you do to ensure that a situation such as this never happens again, get rid of wasteful spending, and make it so that earmarks are more transparent for the American people?

    2) With regard to the current mortgage crisis – According to the law, no one is allowed to get out of a contract just because they realized after the fact that they made a bad deal, so why should the American people have to pay for the bad decisions of lenders and borrowers? It’s not the American people’s fault that these lenders and borrowers were irresponsible and that these borrowers had ruined their own credit ratings by not paying their bills and spending more money than they take in. I wish I could buy a house, but I can’t since I cannot afford one. So why should I now have to pay for someone else to own a house? What do you think is the fairest solution to the current mortgage crisis and can I plan on the government bailing me out in the future when I make bad decisions?

    3) With regard to Senator Obama’s wanting to substantially increase the minimum wage – most economists are against a minimum wage; they agree that raising the minimum wage only benefits teenagers, encourages them to drop out of school, does little to get people out of poverty, creates a black market where workers are paid off the books, creates unemployment among unskilled workers, discourages people from continuing their education, and causes inflation and lowers the value of money, in essence voiding the increase in the minimum wage and hurting all workers by decreasing the value of their money. Economists also believe in incentives; that without incentives, people will fail to do what is best for them. Raising the minimum wage takes away the incentive to stay in school, work hard, and attain a higher level of education. If people can make a living wage by working at McDonalds, there will no motivation and probably a shortage of people to fill needed jobs such as technology, engineering, science, health care, and education. How will the benefits of an increased in minimum wage outweigh these ill-effects and can you explain to me why it is that all of the people I know who live below the poverty line still manage to have cell-phones, smoke cigarettes and use other substances, have 1000-channel cable television, and continue to have one baby after another?

    4) My family has been in business for 30 years. As small business owners, we contribute to the community where we have our businesses, provide jobs, as well as tax revenue. I believe that small businesses and entrepreneurship are vital to our economy yet small business owners continue to struggle and most small business fail within five years; as president, is there anything that you think should be done to help and encourage small business ownership?

    5) What are your plans for energy independence and how will you support research and the wide-scale implementation of clean, renewal energy? In addition, what should be done about improving and protecting the country’s infrastructure, mainly its power grid?

    6) For Senator Obama – all of the candidates have plans for things that they wish to accomplish in office and things that they want to change, so what’s different about your change?

    January 15, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  18. Marie in Texas

    Two things.

    1. PLEASE DON'T AIR BILL CLINTON RIGHT BEFORE A CAUCUS , PRIMARY OR DEBATE. It is unfair to Obama or any other candidate that can't respond directly to his outrageous comments. So just stop it. I saw enough of Bill when he was president and it appears he is running agin but then I think we all know the answer to that. Enough already.

    2. MAKE HILARY HONOR HER TIME RESTRAINTS. She won't shut up. She also didn't get the same tough questions as the others.

    January 15, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Joe Dirt, FL

    Earlier, Mauve said (2nd to comment on here) "I would ask Obama why he thinks doubling the minimum wage and pegging it to the inflation rate would have on the value of money for middle class Americans and why uneducated people deserve the economic prosperity the educated people have worked so hard to earn. And if we are going to turn busboys, janitors, and laundry ladies into middle class people what impact would that have on the ever declining level of motivation for Americand teenagers to work hard in high school"

    ASK OBAMA, how do u deal with self-righteous, pious, class-minded, close-minded people like this that are the established Republicans smoking cigars in back rooms making decisions in the good-old-boy-network, looking down on people who work hard with their hands? How will you lessen their powerful stranglehold on the economy and the political arena which continues to suck huge profit margins to the greedy rich and gives so little to the actual WORKERS of this country (lousy rate of pay – minimum wage or thereabouts, 1 week of vacation or less, no health benefits) ? (Case in point, how is it possible for someone making $12K a year to buy a starter home for $279K ?) Can you get these people ever to understand that janitors are valued members of this society, necessary for the economy, and deserving of prosperity as well?

    January 15, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  20. Denise

    I would ask Hillary if she will be using the same formula for getting the budget balanced as President Clinton used in the 90's. It was so successful we would really like to see a repeat.

    January 15, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. Mike

    Is there any way that the federal gov't can subsidize teacher's salaries to encourage teachers to keep teaching? People need education. Whether they are soldiers or CEOs.

    January 15, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  22. Becca

    50% of all bankruptcies in this country are a result of medical illnesses. Even people who play by the rules, work hard, save, spend their money wisely, and have health insurance are only a diagnosis away from losing all that they have due to not being able to work and/or by incurring expenses that aren't covered under their insurance plans. As president, what would you do to ensure that all americans are not a diagnosis away from bankrupcy or losing all that they have, such as increasing disability and/or unemployment benefits?

    January 15, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. Becca

    As part of your universal health care plans, do you plan on putting a cap on the salaries of the executives of HMO's? Also, will there be fixed rates for how much can be charged for services? Do you think that regulation of the insurance and medical industry could be enough to bring down costs and provide services to more people, such as not allowing insurance companies to charge based on previous medical history, charging more to individuals as opposed to group plans, rescinding individuals after an illness, and the practice of doctors and hospital charging grossly more to the uninsured?

    January 15, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  24. Kevin, Illinois


    Can you please ask Senator Clinton about her beliefs on voter suppression because what she often states is opposite of what her campaign employs. In several instances in the first three states this issue of voter suppression has come to the fore front: in Iowa, there was the attempt to stop college students from coming early to caucus; in New Hampshire, there were reports where her campaign, in the three largest cities, attempted and in some instances succeeded in stopping Senator Obama's get-out-the-vote operation; and in Nevada there was the lawsuit filed against the Culinary Workers Union by the teachers union of which there are Clinton backers on board. This basically amounts to the disenfranchisment of voters and particularly voters of color in Nevada. Clearly these are three instances where Senator Clinton has attempted to suppress the supporters of Senator Obama and the reasoning for this question is to determine whether Senator Clinton will own up to these charges.


    January 16, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  25. Chet Vanbumble

    Wolf a question for all the candidates: which candidates are against NAFTA and what would they do about this trade agreement that continues to steal jobs from the american worker?
    Wolf keep up the great work you all the others do on CNN to make it the best political coverage on tv !

    January 16, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
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