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)

    A significant number of the voters who support your candidacy are between the ages of 18-24. Having done a sample survey of this age group, we found that most participants (who are your supporters) could not identify where Iraq was on a map, what the thirteen original colonies were, how many amendments to the constitution there are, and what is the term limit for a Supreme Court Justice as well as many other basic US and world facts. In addition, none of the 150 participants could answer any specific questions about your plan and stance on issues when asked. The overall response was that "Obama stands for change."

    Number one, given the scenario, what will you do to improve the education system in the US, and, number two, does it concern you that at least this sampling of your supporters is following you based on a slogan rather than knowledge and acceptance of your proposals and specifics for America?

    January 12, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. Elizabeth

    The buzz word for this campaign cycle has been "change" – change for our economy, change for our international profile, change in health care coverage, change for the situation in Iraq. It's easy to bandy about words, and it's easy to make vague promises. But I will be voting for true change. I want to elect the candidate who not only has a concrete, procedural agenda for affecting change, but will also swear here and now not to compromise his or her plans to "pay back" any corporate or PAC funding you have received. I want to vote for the candidate who can say, "It's 2009, our troops are home, our deficit is rapidly turning around, and all Americans have health care." So which one of you gets my vote? (And please swear on it in your answer!)

    January 12, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. James from Dallas

    Question to all:
    Which Republican candidate best deserves the nominatoin, and why?

    January 12, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. Cathy

    What is the biggest difference between the republicans and democratics?

    January 12, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |

    John Edwards,

    Many people in North Carolina tend to be on the republican side than the democratic side, why do you think this is so?
    I am asking you this from North Carolinian to North Carolinain

    January 12, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  6. Lori L McMaster

    Please ask Hillary to outline how bringing down education debt, healthcare will actually improve our health. 80 percent of the american people are strapped with so much debt that our stress level is so high which in turn makes people sick. How does she feel about this? Please ask her about our climate change and her plans on alterantive energey and how this as well will help the people with more jobs and also create less emissions; in return will help our health as well. Right now I do not want to talk about the war because until we get Bush out of the white house no one right now can bring our troops home. We all got the message what all the candidates plans are to bring our troops home so this to me is wasted time on the air. You know what I mean. I am for bring our troops home as safetly as soon as possible and responsible.
    Thanks you
    Lori Laurene McMaster

    January 12, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  7. American Expatriate

    Thank you for the opportunity Wolf

    To all candidates:

    Members of Congress are elected and paid by the American people to evaluate and take action on legislation that addresses the needs and problems of America. What would you do to address the abdication of responsibility and lack of participation amongst members of both houses to vote on the bills presented before Congress?

    January 12, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. carol m.

    For a change, ask them the difficult questions that have been asked to the Republicans, such as "what is your plan for immigration?"

    Next, ask them these specific questions (Obama and Clinton):

    How can you say you support human rights when you support partial birth abortion? Isn't that murdering a baby right before it's born?

    How can you say "repeal the Bush tax cuts" when your own Congress said that 115 million middle class people benefited and they would get a tax hike if it's repealed, and 7.8 million who currently don't pay taxes would be added to the tax rolls again if they are repealed. Also, no one who makes under $40,000 pays federal tax, and some of them get a check in the form of an EITC so they make money on tax day? And, your own Congress said that 82% of all taxes are paid by those making $100k or more/year. How do y ou justify your reckless remarks about taxation?

    Mrs. Clilnton: how are you going to pay for your "economic plan" that you announced a couple of days ago?

    Why did you block in Congress reforms to Social Security even though you know it's going to be a huge problem for the next President?
    AND SO ON.

    January 12, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. Cynos Lee

    As a foreigner resides in the USA, I would like to ask all these candidates a question of WHAT and HOW they will do in order to restore American's value within the international perspectives. What they will do to regain the reputation that America used to have before it were destroyed by the current administration!

    January 12, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  10. Virginia from San Francisco

    Senator Obama,
    As an independant voter...you seem to avoid answering the questions put to you by stating the following "The real question is" please anwer the question with specifics in "how" your administration will bring change in the current economy, creating jobs with wages one is able to live off, making products "made in the US", making education affordable (one reason why I could not transfer to a 4 year college), homelessness, single parents who require childcare, etc. I don't wish to know what the real question is but to know the answer to the question put to you.

    Afterwards please ask the rest of the candidates.

    I don't wish to know what they have done though what they will do for us as low income/middle income wage earners who pay the most on taxes.

    Please Wolf push the candidates a bit harder if they avoid the question move on to the next candidate and not waste my time. I do wish to thank CNN as this is the news channel I most view on TV and visit on the web.

    January 12, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Ghostrider334

    Thinking outside the box.........The question or idea I would like for the candidates to tackle is:

    We give millions to countries and we know that they will never be able to repay and sometimes we just forgive the debts. Why don't we give each U.S. citizen 18 and up a $50,000 debt relief? The money does not come to the individual but the debt is obsorbed by the government and removed from each individual's credit files. This will help jump start our economy out of a soon to Recession and strengthening the U.S. dollar back to number 1 instead of the Euro. Who knows it may even help stop the multitude of foreclosures we see everyday.

    This may not be feasible but I bet it will get people to talking in a hurry. Just imagine how many people that will get out to the polls to vote.

    January 12, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  12. Shpend

    I would like to ask all candidates, what will they do about KOSOVO? Are they ready to accept independence for that province. Thank You.

    January 12, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Steve

    This is to all the canidates on the stage . Why are you supporting the exclusion of Democracy from this debate . By not having Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel in this debate you are Alowing the Media to say who are the only canidates ... remember the media has no loyalty it could have been Dennis ,Gravel and Edwards as the cosen media darlings .. and Hillary Clinton & Barak Obama excuded from Debates ..Imagine that .. The Miedia giving as much coverage to Kucinich & Gravel ... and ignoring clinton & Obama

    January 12, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  14. liz

    How do we know you will not owe favors to the special interest and those who have funded your campaigns when and if you are elected.

    January 12, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Jack

    You should ask Clinton about her strategy:

    What we should care about is whether we want to endorse a candidate willing to copy GOP attack politics verbatim.

    For those who missed the dirty politics last weekend in NH (and then Bill's "clarifications yesterday", here's one voter's primer on the Clinton playbook:

    Step 1: Slander your opponent
    Step 2: Wait and see if you're called on the slander
    Step 3: If called on the slander, decide whether you've offended a group you need to win the election
    Step 4: If the answer to step 3 is "yes, we need that group," deny Step 1 ever happened.
    Step 5: Hope nobody realizes what you just did
    Step 6: If someone does realize what you did, see step 1 (slander them)

    And now, the teacher's union in Nebraska has filed suite to disenfranchise the voters of the Culinary Union (see report in New York Times today). Of course Senator Clinton's campaign will say it has nothing to do with that but who are they trying to kid. If they think the tactic is underhanded politics, they can certainly talk the "Teacher's Union" into withdrawing their suite. The Clinton campaign won't and that will be an implicit endorsement of yet another slimy Rovian tactic: if the voters aren't going to vote for you, try to disenfranchise them.

    I'll say it again: if you're woman or a man and want to vote for Senator Clinton solely because you think it's time we had a woman President, there's nothing wrong with that. It is high time we have more women leaders in national positions.

    But please don't insult your own intelligence or ours by denying that Senator Clinton's campaign is using the very same trash and burn tactics that she's so criticized the right wing for using for so long. De-nial is not just a river in Egypt.

    January 12, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. Paul in New Mexico

    Ask all candidates to explain the specifics of what they would do to fix the failing economy, with particular attention to the people who have lost or are about to lose homes because of sub prime mortgages.

    January 12, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. Susan Stanton

    I live in NE Florida. This is a quiz for each candidate. I would like to know just how in touch with the American family they really are. I would like you to give each of them a slip of paper, and ask them to price each of these items I bought at my local grocery store (Piggly Wiggly chain) today:
    A dozen extra large eggs: ($1.95) (that 50% over what I paid 6 months ago.)
    1 gallon of 2% milk: ($3.88) (that's up almost a dollar from last year!)
    a quart of store-brand orange juice: ($2.29)
    one loaf of 100% whole wheat bread: ($2.00!!!!!) now that is crazy.
    bonus points: bananas that I did not buy were 60 cents a pound!

    Please have them write down their answers as you name each item. "My wife does the shopping" is NOT AN EXCUSE.

    Also -- how come we aren't getting oil reserves released to lower gas prices?
    AND, lastly - all the ethanol we are producing from corn, where is it? Why aren't we using it? How will each candidate mandate that usage?

    Thanks Wolf!

    PS – My greatest concern is still the war in Iraq; it's just that my economy is so much closer to me, and more immediate. And grows more week by week.

    January 12, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Andrei Radulescu-Banu

    For Hillary
    In a previous debate, you said that having a woman president represents change. How do you comment on the fact that Barack Obama does not bring up his race when he talks about his candidacy?

    For Barack
    You talk about uniting the country, and about erasing the red/blue divide. However, your policy positions are hardly much different from those of Hillary and John. How do you answer the republicans that say you are too liberal to be a uniter?

    Andrei Radulescu-Banu
    Lexington, MA

    January 12, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. Matt

    Please ask the candidates to describe their military experience. Why should we put you at the helm of the most powerful military in the world?

    January 12, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  20. Carole Lutness

    Recently the head of the national Chamber of Commerce threatened all of the presidential candidates that the Chamber will spend $60 million dollars to destroy them if they speak out about runaway corporate power and how the corporations own our government and are taking us to the brink of disaster. Such school yard bully tactics infuriate me. I wonder how Hillary and Obama feel about the Chamber's position. How can we reign in corporate power and restore strong govermental oversight over them since they are the cause of all of the horrible problems we are facing from global warming, to globalization/loss of our middle class, lack of afforable health care, the plundering of our resources for this endless war for oil, etc.

    January 12, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  21. K

    Question for Clinton:

    Are you unable to beat Barack Obama without resorting to racial and personal attacks? And how much credit do you give to Matin L. King for the improvement of civil rights in America, especially with regards to African Americans.

    P.S.: I am a black male, independent who supports Hucakabee and Edwards.

    January 12, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  22. Dave. San Diego, CA

    I would like to ask if each one of the candidates would be open to be hooked up to a polygraph to assist the American public in knowing who is truly sincere and who is not. Just because they say one thing in the public does not mean they are being truthful provided there are officials from both sides overseeing the results.

    What are your guys' thoughts.

    January 12, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  23. Michael

    "National Defense"

    My question is simple: some Republicans are likely going to try and make this election substantially about national security, about the threat of terrorism, and about who can protect the nation. This is not a question about how to handle the war in Iraq, but about the broader issue of a Democratic President as Commander In Chief. Can you describe your experience on national defense and differences between you and the other Democratic candidates on national defense?

    [This is an important question in the Democratic primary because some of our candidates do appear slim on this, and this issue could determine the ever-important "electability" issue for some Democratic voters]

    January 12, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  24. david

    i would ask john edwards how he can emphasize health care coverage for all when, as an attorney, few physicians in the charlotte area escaped a lawsuit at the hands of his law firm. according to the united states general accounting office (gao), lawsuits filed by attorneys against healthcare providers has helped to drive up the cost of healthcare. how the heck can anyone vote for this guy? he is an "ambulance chaser". wake up, america.

    January 12, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  25. Eric Fannin

    I would ask all the democratic candidates why they do not support the full rights of marriage for gays and lesbians rather than marriage as "civil unions" or by any other name. As far as I know only Kucinich supports full rights for gays and lesbians to marry. The other democratic candidates hide behind the bible and their religious beliefs when the issue is really one of civil rights. I believe all of the democratic candidates know it's the right thing to do but sell out to conservatives hoping for more votes. We live in a secular society and our government is supposed to protect the rights of minorities. Can we get a candidate with some balls on this issue, some real leadership for a change?

    January 12, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
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