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. will petrone

    I would like to ask Obama and Dems, What is there position on fair trials for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp detainees and what they think about "kidnapping persons (detainees) from other countries Illegally" thus denying them their rights ? I would also like to know if they would veto Congress draft legislation for the release of these detainees if they are not to be charged formally ?

    January 12, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  2. Andy Woerner

    Wolf, here's a question that will require a little backbone from the candidates for "change":

    In 2000, many Americans were shocked when Al Gore lost the presidential election even though he won the popular vote.

    Today, many Democrats don't realize that political insiders control nearly 40% of the delegates that are needed to win our own Democratic nomination.

    To date, 88 of these delegates have indicated that they will be supporting Obama, and a whopping 158 are leaning towards Clinton.

    Would any of the candidates be willing to ask these delegates to publicly pledge their delegate votes back to the people of their states?

    If the candidates want to change Washington, wouldn't changing our own party be a good place to start?

    Andy Woerner
    Kailua-Kona, HI

    January 12, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  3. kentfrommemphis

    Would any candidate nominate a Supreme Court Justice who has impeccable credentials but who is also pro-life?

    January 12, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  4. Ian

    I would ask all the candidates how they plan to deal with Iraq after having set a withdrawal date. It is very possible that once we leave Iraq before its government, police, economy, and military are ready, it will all fall apart. With all we have sacrificed and invested in Iraq, why not stay and finish the job the right way? I am aware of the high human cost as a result of this war; as well as how our economy simply can't support it for much longer. But I feel if we pull out, our enemies will see it as a major victory against us. Iraq could very likely fall into a power vacuum. If this happens, the new leader in power could be much worse than Saddam. Iraq could go right back to where it was, or worse. So if we leave, won't we be back there in ten or so years because the situation is much worse and Iraq is truly a threat?

    January 12, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  5. Arjun, Somerset, NJ

    I would ask Hillary about her emotional show in New Hampshire, is she emotionally strong enough to become president when she could not even handle the stresses of her compaign? I would also ask her that why she tries to use her gender to appeal to voters when Barack does not try(not as often) to use his ethnicity to do so?

    January 12, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |

    How does Barak Obama imply – and claim – that he can manage to succeed in enlisting the support of enough republicans to accomplish his ambitious program; when they have consistently resisted cooperation with democrats in the past fifteen years, which led to major failures in their passing legislation into law. There are examples: i.e. passing health-care reform by the Clinton's, and recent efforts to end the Iraq war in the senate. Hillary, at least has demonstrated she can work with republicans while in the senate, and gain the support of their constituency in New York state.

    January 12, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  7. Tim

    Wolf there is a considerable amt. of rhetoric from the Repulican side that states if we elect a Democratic ticket, that they will raise taxes to fund various programs. Yet, when I listen to the Democratic candidates I really don't recall them saying they'll raise taxes. Would you ask the candidates to shed some light on this Republican claim, please?Also, I don't think it outlandish, to ask if they plan to recommend a complete tax overhaul of the current outrageous inequitabe structure that overburdens the middle class taxpayers. Thanks, Tim

    January 12, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  8. Jon, Minnesota

    For Hillary Clinton:

    In detail, what experience are you citing when you claim to have 35 relevant years of experience toward being president. If being First Lady for eight years is a part of that, why are you not also accountable to the criticisms of your husband's administration.

    For All Candidates:

    Please allow each candidate to ask ONE OTHER candidate a question of their choosing, and provide time for a follow-up question from the candidate asking the question after the initial response.

    January 12, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  9. David

    To John Edwards: I've heard that your wife is taking chemotherapy treatments while campaigning. Why are you having her run around the country with you when she is ill? Why aren't you home taking care of her instead of running for president? I know if a woman candidate had a husband with cancer she would be run out of town.

    January 12, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  10. Kristian Wall, Illinois

    Wolf- I think one of the biggest tragedies of the Bush presidency is the beating that our international reputation has taken in all corners of the world. We have always held a certain moral standing in the world community and during the Bush years we saw our greatest opportunity for international support, compassion, and faith in American turned into a reason for hatred not just in hostile countries, but in all nations. It breaks my heart to hear the views so many around the world have of our great country. My question to each candidate would be, what initial steps would you take in the first 100 days to repair our international reputation and get the world community to once again believe in the ideal of America.

    January 12, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  11. Question for Obama

    One of your key endorsers, Deval Patrick who is the Governor of Mass, is trying to circumvent legislation and give free college tuition to illegal immigrants. Do you support his attempt and what is your defined stance on this issue, which is an issue both parties are facing?

    Specifics please.

    January 12, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  12. Jason in MD

    Since all of the candidates have been in this race for quite awhile now and are all extremely familiar with each other, I would ask this:

    Knowing what you know now of each of the other major candidates still in the race (including their experience, abilities, and policy positions), if you were not currently running for President, which of the other candidates would you vote for, and why?

    January 12, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  13. laverne turner

    I would ask all three of the candidates are they aware of the way that their campaigns are trashing one another and if so would they seperate themselves from the disrespect. as a democratic i already have decided to vote for the guy
    that respects their own party and address the issues that s truly affecting the world like the republicans.

    January 12, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  14. Suzanne

    Wolf -
    Please be fair and unbiased towards the candidates and let them speak to one another.

    Ask both candidates to clarify differences re: their health platforms - and try to establish who is more pro-business and who is more pro-consumer, which plan is truly universal and which is not. Make sure you get specifics.

    If you are courageous , Wolf, you will tackle the elephant in the room.
    1. How can both candidates keep the debate above board and not devolve into the politics of gender vs. race.

    2. What are SPECIFIC ways each candidate can heal this divisiveness within our country as well as divisiveness between US and other nations. Would the strategies be different?

    3. Ask both about the anti-woman vitriol ("Iron my shirts") coming out in the campaign. Why do they think these attitudes have not changed?

    More hard questions on the ENVIRONMENT - Global Warming - Oil and alternative fuel sources - dealing with the Utility Lobbies. Who will be the toughest?

    Ask both Obama and Hillary to identify 3 (THREE) significant things EACH accomplished while in the SENATE.

    Ask both to clarify their positions on same-sex marriage and gay unions.

    What is their Emergency Response Plan in the face of a multiple city attack?

    How will they bring down the Trade Deficit?

    How does Hillary Clinton's work in child advocacy and other activist causes over the past few decade define her today? What kinds of experience does she think relevant and important for governing this country.

    I am one of the few who thinks Oprah's presence in Obama's campaign is a negative and makes him look weak. Does Oprah and her staff provide media advice on his speeches, help write them, tell him to use a teleprompter as he did in IA and NH. Does he think celebrity media in politics is problematic?

    Please ask Obama to explain his inconsistent statements and voting record on abortion and reproductive rights issues. Please also ask him why we should not consider his patchy voting record in the Illinois legislature and absences (non-votes ) in the Senate evidence of calculation and indecisiveness or pandering . How does he explain his no-show voting record in the Senate - I think it is worse than any other candidate.

    Ask Obama if he regrets saying to Hillary "likeable enough" in the last debate.
    Ask Hillary if she thinks it's ok to show emotion on the campaign trail.

    January 12, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  15. laverne turner

    why is new york one of the most progressive states in the usa and we still have voting machines from world war ll.

    January 12, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  16. Jessi

    Not so much a question I have Wolf, but rather a request that ALL of the candidates still running are included in the debate in order to maintain the ideals of democracy. Please do not allow CNN to stoop to the level of Fox and more recently MSNBC, who has excluded Dennis Kucinich from their upcomming debate.

    Please continue to be the BEST POLITICAL TEAM on television, don't disappoint me Wolf!

    January 12, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  17. John P.

    All candidates are making exaggerated claims of what they will accomplish. Ask the candidates what they believe are the limits on the power of the office of the President and particularly their beliefs regarding Presidential authority to with regard to bill signing statements and their interpretation of executive priviledge.

    January 12, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  18. Ron LeSaar

    Is America willing to elect an Atheist President, and if not, why not & when do you think it could happen?

    January 12, 2008 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  19. Eyzwidopn

    Senator Clinton seems to almost brag about being "vetted" and "tested" by the Republicans, inviting any attacks from them that may come her way and ready to respond in kind, should she become the Democratic nominee in the general election.

    With that in mind, I have two questions for Senator Clinton:

    1) How does she think that she will be able to govern and bring about "real change" and reform on major issues like healthcare when her rhetoric involves inviting fights with the Republicans?

    2) How does her combative attitude towards Republicans help to advance this country beyond the bitter, partisan politics that have a stranglehold on our governments ability to advance critical legislation?

    January 12, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  20. David

    To All:

    In order to help get this economy back on track – instead of increasing taxes will you look to decrease spending by decreasing monetary assistance to foreign countries who don't use the money wisely?

    Will you get rid of failed faith based abstinence programs to help prevent pregnancies and AIDS and put the money towards more successful programs?

    Everyone talks about the southern border with Mexico but, what will be done about the Canadian border? Drugs and terrorists come through the north as well. As a matter of fact Lou Dobbs recently had a program about a new meth-ex drug that is coming in through the Canadian borders?

    Will you get rid of Bush's prescription law which forbids people from ordering their prescriptions from Canada where it is cheaper?

    Would you ever let a foreign country manage our ports as Bush wanted to do?

    What would you do to stop the influx of foreign nationals coming to this country and buying up our real estate?

    January 12, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  21. John Adkisson

    Question which has not been asked:

    Much has been made of experience v. change in this election. What changes would America enjoy as a result of your candidacy as compared to your opponents? And, specifically, give three examples of what you have done as a public servant or citizen that allows you to trumpet superior or excellent experience.

    Don't permit candidates to merely rely on generalities such as "I can better deliver change," or "I have more years of accomplishments."

    January 12, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  22. Sean (AZ)

    Good evening Wolf, I have several questions I'd like to hear answers to (from all the candidates). No agendas here....actual real questions.

    1) All of the democratic candidates have outlined a number of new programs (such as universal health care). I've heard bits and pieces of how they intend to pay for the specific programs. But overall, with tons of new spending....where's the fiscal responsbility? ****Do any of the candidates have plans to balance the budget while they are in office? If so, in what year and how?****

    2) What do each of the candidates think about Arizona's new law that punishes corporations for knowingly hiring illegal aliens?

    3) Since there are cars that get over 40 MPG today, why are we giving the auto makers such HUGE leeway in trying to bring vehicle MPG averages to those limits? The new standards that congress worked on passing give the industry a ton of time. Even Hilary, who was the only candidate that I could see that specified future goals in this regard, I believe showed a goal of 50 MPG by 2040. If we are truly trying to become energy independant and decrease global warming, wouldn't it be prudent to push the automakers a bit harder?

    January 12, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  23. Independent Voter in California


    Senator Clinton has pegged much of her rationale for nomination on her "experience of creating change for 35 years." As an Independent in California who will be closely watching your debate, I'm curious to hear backup for what has so far been an unchallenged claim.

    So, could you please ask her the following:

    "Senator Clinton, you have mentioned your experience creating change as one of the fundamental reasons voters should support you. Please list what you consider your top 3 achievements in creating change from your years in the White House and in the Senate."

    It's a very simple question and one that I think is critical to voters judging whether or not her claim of "experience creating change" is worthy of our vote.

    And yet, I've never heard anyone actually get an answer. Hope you can, and that you will.

    January 12, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  24. rennyjones

    I would ask Hillary how she is planning to unify the country and deal with the large numbers of Americans who polls show dislike her.

    January 12, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  25. paul murray


    January 12, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
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