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. Clayton Zook

    Change is the word this cycle, I think the others saw it working for Obama and decided it was the way to go. But the question remains "What are we changing?" Is it just back and forth between Bush and Clinton? Is it just a new fresh face?

    I have another too. How can you John, Barack and Hillary actually bring America together? We, the common folk, all want Washington to work better together. John how does your fiery rhetoric, or Hillary how does your family name and its history of partisan politics help that coming together?

    January 11, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. valerie

    I appreciate you giving us a chance to possibly have a questioned answered by the presidential hopefuls! Clinton, Edwards, and obama all mention the word middle class in their tax issues, I would just like to know what amount of money yearly constitutes middle class to them? I have looked up the word on the internet and it is incredibly vague. I make $23,000 dollars a year and work over 40 hours a week and I have 2 small children, am I considered middle class and if not then what are they going do for the low income people? I live in a small city no where near any big cities in Missouri so I will probably never have the chance to ask this question myself and I thank you very much for possibly giving me the opportunity.

    January 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. Craig, Carlsbad CA

    A great republican, President Eisenhower stated on Jan 17 1961 as he was leaving office,

    we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

    How has the unwarranted influence of large corporate interests grown to choke out the voice of the average citizen, what have you done to distance yourself from those influences in your own campaign, and how are you going to change the system to reduce the 'unwarranted influence' of corporate interests that have grown over the last 45 years – especially in the last 8 years.

    Thank you

    January 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. Carl E. Mulley

    Dear Wolf;

    Please ask each of the candidates. Since each of them feel someone who has entered, or remained in this nation illegally, deserve the privilege of not only staying in our nation, but should eventually be granted citizenship. Would it then be permissible, for every person in the world who feel it would be financially beneficial to come to this country enter by whatever means possible?

    Carl Mulley

    January 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    As you know, New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and many lives were lost due to the lack of effective means of transportation used to evacuate the poor and lower class citizens in that city. During Hurricane Rita, the roads outside Houston were moving at a complete and utter stand-still, which put many motorists at an even greater risk than if they were at their home. I would like for you to ask what each candidate would do to help Americans evacuate away from danger areas in the event of a hurricane, tsunami, or any other predictable natural disaster.

    January 11, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. MCC

    I want to know if they plan to limit the number of abortions that are occurring in this country, like Bill Clinton said that he wanted to do, and if so, why? If, deep in their hearts some Democrats believe that abortion is wrong, then why don't they try to ban it outright?

    January 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. Mike, Austin Texas


    In regard to the emotional response that you had prior to New Hampshire, my question is As President, how would you cope in a position that is the epidome of stress, exhausting, and often times one that can seem to be in a no win situation in the eyes of many and do you feel that emotions have their place in a position in which, from the viewpoint of many, should be impassive especially in dealings with foreign countries or when facing the nation in difficult situations such as war?

    January 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. Steph, Philadelphia

    Hillary, you talk of bringing about a new change and you claim you have 35 years of experience, please explain what change you make during the last 35 yrs. Please explain why you think being a woman is such a huge change to the white house. explain why you always play the gender role among your oponents? America need change yes but it should not matter the race or gender. United we stand. We need a uniter not a divider Hillary.

    January 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. Veena


    I would like to know what the candidates' positions are on rising costs of college education. I would also like to know how they feel about promoting crosscultural understanding through international fellowships and grants, and if they will continue these programs.

    Thank you!

    January 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  10. liz

    I would ask them all why should a Democrat or anyone from any affliation vote for them as opposed to the other two candidates. I would prefer that you asked them to not use the word "change" "hope" "experience"

    Why do they believe the American people are so gullible?

    Why do Americans dislike each other so much and believe a mortal man or women can rescue them?

    Is the divisiveness of this primary campaign an indication that perhaps the Democratic party is so split and will not win the white house any time soon.

    Why did Obama decide this was his time to run was he influenced by other?

    What about an Obama/Hillary, Hillary/Obama ticket?

    Where do they want to see this country in 8 years.

    Are the American people really as mean and biased as they appear in comment sections on the net?

    How important is having built relationships and earned the respect of other world leaders an important qualification for nomination, We do not live in a bubble.

    Why have we never had a serious female candidate for president in the past.

    January 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. Robin Strong

    While the candidates are telling us what they intend to do when elected, many of us understand that it also requires the cooperation of Congress to affect "change."
    Since Congress has done little over the passed four years, what quality does each candidate feel will enable him/her to work with members of Congress-on both sides of the aisle -to actually get significant legislation passed?

    Thank you.

    January 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  12. joseph

    Congratulations; you have been elected the next President of the United States.

    Prior to taking office, in December, another incident occurs between the US Navy and Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats. President Bush informs you that he will teach Iran a lesson, and is ordering an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities. This will happen within the next 24 hours. What is your response?

    You just received corroborated evidence that President Bush ordered torture at Gitmo. Furthermore, the Pentagon provides you with evidence that President Bush and VP Cheney suppressed data regarding WMD in order to launch the war in Iraq. Will your administration make it a priority to charge President Bush and VP Cheney with War Crimes?

    President Bush has vetoed every economi stimulus package that you and the Democratic Party has tried to push through Congress. When you take office, the Dow Jones has hit a 10 year low, the sub-prime mess has fully blown up with hundreds of thousands of home owners now in default, the unemployment rate has reached epic proportions, and the only thing preventing the collapse of the financial sector is the massive infusion of sovereign fund money from the Middle East. What are the first three things that you will do as President of the United States?

    During the third month of your administration, the CIA informs you that they have located Osama bin Laden. President Musharaff in Pakistan, having survived the election and needing to placate his populace and the new government flatly refuses any US attempt to intercept bin Laden. He has publicly stated that he would take the information, and use his own forces to capture bin Laden. You have a 2 hour window to launch a missile strike. Your advisors inform you that there will be heavy civilian casualties. You make a call to President Musharaff. What will you tell him? (or, will you call him at all?)

    Tell me what will happen in the first 100 days of a Clinton / Obama / Edwards administration.

    Please tell me two reasons why your opponents in the Democratic Party will become a good president in the event you do not win.

    These may be 'hypothetical', but I would applaud anyone with the courage to answer any and all of the questions.

    January 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  13. Greg Hutchinson

    1. Would or would not the candidates endorse a federal law similar to the Arizona law, recently passed, that penalizes the employer for knowingly hiring illegal aliens? (it either has or will go into effect shortly and from the stories in the news, has had a major effect on the illegal alien population.).

    2. What tax plan would each candidate consider to replace the current tax code, and why?

    January 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  14. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Wolf, thank you for soliciting our thoughts. I have lots of questions, but only one request, please let this debate stick to POLICY, not "diamonds and pearls," "who likes who," "religion," and "gays."

    If religion and gay issues are brought up, please let it only be in the context of policy i.e. "don't ask don't tell," "separation of church and state"

    Thank you again.

    Mia-Stafford, VA

    January 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  15. maggie elkins

    My question focuses upon the issue of mental health. While health care is an undeniable crisis that effects the very fabric of individual and community lives, a frequently ignored issue is that of mental health. The system is designed to respond to individuals only after they have failed every possible and protracted approach/plan to treatment, and may then be eligible for some level of support/guidance/supervision. What can and will you do specifically to actually put into place and fund policies that help real people with real illness? Regardless of the individuals insurance or lack of insurance. I am a masters level social worker with 32 years of practice coupled with several family members with debilitating mental illness.

    January 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  16. Steph, Philadelphia

    Obama, explain again how you plan to unite us. Explain again your plan on the new change you will bring when you are president.

    January 11, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  17. Steph, Philadelphia

    Clinton, Eplain your plan on imigration... What did you mean by "no woman is illegal" or that no man is illegal either. EXPLAIN.

    January 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  18. Ron


    The candidates consistently talk about taxing the income of the rich. Could you please ask would it not be better to tax wealth rather than productivity. Would it not make sense to have a tax surcharge of say 10 % on all wealth above a certain limit say 2 million dollars. This would be a great way to increase tax revenue without taxing productivity.

    Ron Hatch
    Richmond VA

    January 11, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  19. Puerto Rico

    Yes, I along with Mr. Baird (who spoke and wrote so eloquently about this situation) would like to know about what they intend to do with a nation America colonized unfairly and with force. We have been very peaceful. I grew up in a small town on the east of the island and there is a monument to thousands of puerto ricans who were killed only because they were peacefully organizing to ask for independence from America. We now speak English and Spanish, we fight in all of America's wars and yet we don't even have a right to vote for the President of the United States.

    More than this, I know that in America there is a lot of racism against us and that makes me very sad when the latin people have brought good things to America. We are not a perfect people, just like all nations are not perfect, but we don't deserve this kind of treatment in America. We led the way for the other latins and I think that we have managed this very

    I would really like to know how they intend to this respectfully and peacefully and with the help Puerto Rico deserves during this transition.

    We work hard in Puerto Rico and we generate a lot of income for America. It is not true that we are a loss for America.

    We make them a lot of money with what we buy and what we produce and our natural resources.

    January 11, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  20. George P. Burdell


    Here are some questions that would really tell the American people what he candidates believe in:

    1.) Why do they promote "democracy," when the Founding Fathers were clear that democracy was "tyranny of the majority?" Ask them what leads them to believe that the Founders were wrong.

    2.) Ask them how cutting taxes, or raising them for that matter, and bailing banks out with credit will solve our economy's real problem, the inflation of the dollar. Ask them what steps they would take to stop inflation, make them be very specific. Ask them how a socal medicine and alternative fuels will bring lower prices when the dollar is worth, compared to gold, 1/3 what it was 10 years ago?

    3.) Ask them why we should believe they are the party for civil liberties, when the Real ID act and the Domestic Spying legislation all were passed, not only on their watch, but because they pushed for them, and when they did nothing with their control of Congress to repeal the Patriot Act or to restore Habeas Corpus?

    4.) Ask them if they will swear to never enter a premptive conflict and that they will roll back the power of the President to as it was before 2000.

    5.) Ask them what their stance is on "line item veto".

    6.) Ask them why they favor government regulation of the internet, so called Net Neutrality, over ending the ~100 monoplies by contract that the FCC and Congress have granted the telcos. Ask them how on earth they will ever enforce Net Neutrality.

    7.) Ask them if they believe the rights of US citizens outlined in the Constitution apply to all people in the world, or only those that are actually citizens.

    8). Our patent and copyright system is broke. Ask them to specifically say how they would fix it.

    January 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  21. Deb

    Please ask John Edwards why his UNIVERSAL healthcare plan
    is better than Obama's only "affordable" healthcare plan.

    January 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  22. Dale E

    Why is it that a Republican message about Democrats being "tax and spend" seems to stick yet Democrats have not labeled Republicans as "spend at the expense of our children"? It is beyond me how Republicans are so eager to cut taxes just to place them on the shoulders of our children. As a Democrat I find no shame in paying taxes rather than pushing them down the line.

    January 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. Henry

    What will you do about the private army, exemplified by Blackwater Group and others, whose members are funded by the government, paid more than our U.S. Armed Forces and operate under less restrictive laws and rules?

    January 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  24. Kurt Hinz

    If you agree that Democrats and Republicans do not have a monopoly on good ideas, is there a current or recent Republican idea or proposal that you think has a lot of merit?

    January 11, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. Neil

    Please ask the candidates:

    Beyond the current election, what is the future of the Democratic Party?

    FDR made the Democrats the party of working people; LBJ made it the party of civil rights. Whose agenda will you bring in, and why would you personally be so effective at doing so? What is your long-term agenda for the Party?

    Please name two current party members (not on the stage!) who represent the future of the party, in your mind.


    January 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
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