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

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

 Weigh in on the South Carolina Democratic debate.

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. Dennis

    I would like to know more about the candidate's plan for our economy. To be specific, I would like to know what their plans are for bringing manufacturing jobs back into the country.

    January 14, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Judith, Ridgewood, NJ

    In this unique sitution, first woman, and firm african american to have a shot at the white house, this race is the democrates to lose. Negative compaigning hurts the party and hurts the country, and yet it does seem to work, at least momentarily. Therefore, it happens. Please express the affect on you personally of hearing that the candidate's organizaton has undermined your credibilty by "spinning" a story in a unflattering way. Secondly, what specific, pragmatic and bold suggestioncan you offer that will demonstrate your leadership capabilities, if honored by both campaigns could reduce the spin factor, and show an intention to put the country's interest s above your personal ambition?

    January 14, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. lynne

    I am so disappointed that rather than continuing genuine and intelligent debate on the issues, it appears that Obama and Clinton are both currently focusing on the race issue. Does this mean it is going to be politics as usual from now on? I would ask both candidates to refrain from either initiating the tsubject or responding to it. Otherwise I will find it difficult to vote for either one.

    January 14, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. Tess

    Question to Obama and Clinton: two part question

    How do you plan on funding any type of Healthcare plan? Will the middle-class taxpayers be hit with additional taxes for it?

    January 14, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. ATM

    How much influence will former Pres. Clinton have on a Hillary Clinton administration? Do voters see her presidency as an extension of Bill's?

    January 14, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. chuck wysocki

    I would ask the candidates if they would approve of one national primary to be held on the same date/day for each state, it would save money and give the american people the opportunity to focus on just the candidate for each party.

    January 14, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Concerned American


    I start this question admiting I'm a Hillary supporter, however at the last Demorcratic debate it really seemed as though you held court as a Hillary enabler. So I say first will you be able to hold an fair and civil forum amongst all the tension brewing?

    To Wolf,
    Could you please ask the canidates why the campaigning has turned so negative and it's getting down right nasty. I wholeheartledly love the Cliton's but to see the coninuous finger pointing, the New Hampshire abortion mailings, Bill Clinton call another man & senator of our country a fairy tale, and then the Bob Johnson comment is a bit much. As a former president and first lady they should be above these forarys and better than that, furthermore exude tact & set the example for Americans out there. Kids are talking in schools, and when my child poses me with difficult quesitons on blanket lables about the canidates I have an issue with that. Our leaders must clean up their act! Moreover, none of this happened when the young senator was 20 points be hind in polls.

    To Obama, you speak fo change...but please elaborate on the changes you intend to make. American's will not support change without knowing what your intentions are.

    To Hillary, you speak of 35 years of experience, what isses have you championed, what is the foreign policy expereince that is superior to your peers. This past administration has proven that experience is simply not enough.

    To Bill, I'm sure Mr. Clinton will be present. When are you going to life your wife run on her merits. You're commentary is stirring up unecessary controversy. It's no secret she is clearly your better half, intelligent, & capable indiviudal & your support might be acutally working against her in the minds of many.

    Hillary for president in 08'

    January 14, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Kippen Moxness

    Fuel Prices – Ask each candidate what they would do to address the present historically high price of gasoline, natural gas and home heating oil. The 100 percent increase in the price of gasoline is like a huge tax on the American wage earner who must get to their jobs to earn a living for their families. In Portland, Oregon we are paying over $300 per month hust for the natural gas to heat a single home. We spend $600 per month just to gas up two vehicles.

    Age Related Issues – Ask each candidate about their specific plan to keep Social Security workable. What will each candidate do to help our oldest citizens get proper long-term health care (assisted living) without having to first become paupers to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Would they consider no more income taxes at all for people over 70 years of age (making less than $50K) on the basis that they have paid taxes all their life and now need a break in their final years on earth.

    U.S. Armed Forces – Ask each candidate what they would do to resurrect our crumbling military infra-structure. Each service has shrunken to a dangerous level and desperately needs equipment replacement and modernization. The US Air force has less than 100 heavy bombers today (we had 1,200 heavy bombers during the Cold War) and our bombers are 30 (B-1) to 50 (B-52H) years old and we only have 26 modern B-2's; our fighters (F-15 and F-16) are mostly over 30 years old and are having serious structural issues; our tanker fleet (KC-135's) are over 40 years old, and even our ICBM's are early 70's vintage. Our gound forces are clearly far too small for our nation's commitments. How do they propose designing and paying for a sensible build up and modernization of our armed forces. How will they insure that any modernization is not just an opportunity for the handful of defense related corporations that are left not to just soak the US taxpayer giving us little bang for our buck. Case in point, look at the cost per copy of the much needed F-22 "Raptor." It is so costly we can only afford 180 of them when we need several hundred of them. We are facing an aggressive and resurgent Russia, a rapidly modernizing and huge Chinese military and a North Korean Army with over 1M men on the DMZ. We also will be facing a nuclear armed Iran in a few years. What strategy do the candidates have to address each of these potential adversaries in the event of actual conflict?

    January 14, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Scott, Madison, WI

    Ask Hillary:

    1) If she's all about change and experience, why has nothing changed since she (and Bill) hit the Washington scene almost 2 decades ago?

    2) What experience has she brought forth to even attempt to change things in that time?

    3) Why are we discussing the same issues we were prior to and during Bill's time in office?

    4) Why isn't she wearing her big girl underwear and standing up for herself when facing any questions or critcism rather than sending out her husband to do the dirty work? He not running for president again!

    January 14, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Justin

    One issue that hasn't received nearly enough attention is the War on Drugs. Specifically when it comes to marijuana policy, I think a lot of voters would like to see where the candidates stand when it comes to decriminalization. When compared to alcohol Marijuana seems relatively harmless and a lot of people would like to hear the candidates' opinions.

    January 14, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  11. Mike D

    The American voter is looking at diversity in this election much differently than before. This year the candidates have diverse backgrounds including ethnicity, race, sex, religion, to name a few. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to embrace our differences and similarities as a nation.

    Yet the candidates seem to run from one of the diversity issues – sexual orientation. I would like to ask a question about same sex marriage.

    If you support civil unions over marriage, in light of the "separate but equal" decisions of the US Supreme Court, how do you justify the treatment of a group of US citizens that basically separates and denies them from the rights enjoyed by the majority of US citizens?

    January 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Reinaldo Vega

    Hello Wolf,

    I have another question, but this time for Senator Obama:

    Senator Obama, I applaud your plan to increase government transparency by enabling the public, through the internet, to see where every dollar is going. However, I think we can agree that this by itself will not reduce government spending, and that the public would also be able to see which earmarks you personally approve of. Beyond the usual rhetoric of "reducing lobbyist influence," what specific measures would you take to curb porkbarrel spending? Would you support a measure enabling the President to strike down any or all earmarks at his/her own discretion attached to any bill sent to the White House for signing? If not, then what would you propose as an alternative? Thank you for your time.

    Reinaldo Vega
    Berkeley, California

    January 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Don


    I would like to pose the following question to all three candidates. We hear repeatedly that any long range solution to the problems of funding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will eventually demand imposing caps on benefits, higher rates for SS and enrollment in Health care plans, raising the minimum retirement age, etc - all of which are aimed at reducing benefits and expanding the cost to thopse who may require care. I hear very little serious or specific discussion of cutting costs by limiting the charges by providers (HMO's, drug companies, medical insurance providers, etc.). Why do I have to pay thousands of dollars for a CT scan or an MRI? The equipment is already there, one would assume it's paid for; the doctors and technicians are there at work and on the payroll whether I'm getting the scan or not. Why is the only solution for me to pay more for insurance, or be allowed only limited access to procedures? Same with charges for OR's, emergency room visits, beds in hospitals, drugs, bandages, inhaler tubes, etc. etc. provided by hospitals. Which, if any, of these candidates will pledge to cut costs by limiting profits rather than by continually escalating profits and passing the costs on to consumers - in this case the sick and aged.

    January 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Brian

    This question is first to Senator Obama, but open to all candidates:

    There is obviously a great deal of work to be done in America after 8 long years of mistakes and errors in judgement. The likelihood of a recession is growing, the national debt is out of control, and we are stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan yet owe it to the Iraqi people to rebuild their country. Meanwhile the current administration avoids asking the American people to make sacrifices (other than our soldiers) by offers tax cuts despite war spending and by hiring military contractors instead of instituing a draft. You have said in your speeches that you will tell the American people what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. So I ask you, what SPECIFIC sacrifices will you ask of the American people in order to get America back on track? What do we "need to hear?"

    January 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Judy

    I would like to know how Obama thinks he would be able to get a Top Secret/SCI clearance when he has done drugs other than marijuana? You will not get a clearance if you have done drugs other than that. I don't care how old you are, you know right from wrong when it comes to drugs. How do we know that he is done doing drugs? Also what is his experiance considering that he has only been in the Senate for less than four years?

    Why is race and issue here? He is the one that started talking about race when he spoke about Selma Alabama. The Clintons have support civil rights so now....he is using his race to gain votes. I will never vote for him because of that. You are running as an American not as a black american. The last thing we need is another Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton on the soap box.

    January 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Dan Waters

    I would like to see this question:

    When you take the Oath of Office, which would you choose to put your hand on:

    A religious document of your choice, such as the Bible,
    Or a historical document such as the Constitution of the United States or the Declaration of Independence,
    Or some other document?

    And why?

    January 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Christian, Tampa FL

    I would ask any candidate about a very specific foreign policy issue regarding our relationship with the Republic of Turkey.

    I would preface by mentioning the unique history of the Turkish state, whose modern Republic form was created by the efforts of an inspiring figure, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who westernized and democratized the former Ottoman Empire.

    My direct question is, considering Turkey's strategic importance as a NATO ally and the host of several U.S. military installations, notably Incirlik airbase, what will the candidates do to mend the strained ties with Turkey and improve relations? Will they more actively pressure the E.U. to accept Turkey as a member?

    January 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Jackie

    I feel very uncomfortable with race being an issue during this election. Is this some type of back door attempt to garner more support for Obama? I just hate the way issues are spun, to the point that no one knows what is truth and what is spin. I doubt very seriously that the Clintons are prejudiced against the black or any other race. I think the issue here is the experience Obama has or doesn't have. My question is why is race such an issue when everyone concerned is talking constantly about equality and this comes out of both camps. I just have this nagging feeling that the cards are being played to his advantage and made to look like racism. I hope that I'm wrong on this issue but my gut just says the opposite.

    January 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. RobertD. McCrindle

    Mr.Blitzer: Your request for questions to be used for debate was not
    interpreted as being permission for general publication. Respectfully, Bob McC.

    January 14, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Roman


    I am a very patriotic citizen of the United States of America. On March 3, 1999 I came to America from Russia- I was naturalized. Currently, I love politics and am very excited about the race. Also, I am probably more knowledgeable about world issues than the average American.

    Now, my question:

    Would you amend the Constitution so that I could become President of the United States?

    January 14, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. emilijawan

    What about the economy? What are the candidates' plans for the U.S. economy and strengthening the dollar?

    Also, what about energy and rising energy costs that are limiting the spending power of middle class Americans? Do they favor finding domestic sources of oil and gas? What are their plans to encourage renewable energy? For instance, wind, tidal, geothermal.....

    January 14, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Jag in Connecticut

    Question for Mrs. Clinton:

    Most Democrats have always loved President Clinton and respected him even more, for all his charitable initiatives since he left the office.

    I am dismayed at the recent bickering between the Clinton and Obama campaigns and how the former President had been dragged in to this – willingly or otherwise. Is the current fight worth loosing the White House to the Republicans?

    Are you willing to risk the respect and goodwill of the Democratic party and the African-American community to prevent Mr. Obama from being the nominee? Would you and President Clinton pledge to support Mr. Obama, if he is the eventual nominee?

    January 14, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Nate_ME

    Is the United States truly a democracy if two families rule it for a quarter of a century?

    ol·i·gar·chy /ˈɒlɪˌgɑrki/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[ol-i-gahr-kee] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun, plural -chies.
    1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
    2. a state or organization so ruled.
    3. the persons or class so ruling.
    [Origin: 1570–80; < ML oligarchia < Gk oligarchía. See olig-, -archy]
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 01/14/08 at 22:14 GMT (EST+5) is

    January 14, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Julia, Kentucky

    I would like to ask the candidates what their reaction would be to the following situation:

    My mother passed away in 2006 from cancer. During her treatment at a local cancer center, I was witness to a very sad event. An elderly man came in to receive his continuing chemo treatment (as he had been doing for some time). The nurse stopped him and said "Mr. X, your insurance company has denied anymore payment for your treatments".Mr. X looked at her and said" What on earth am I supposed to do, go home and die?" I never saw that poor man again.

    What I want to know is what the candidates would do to change this monopoly these insurance companies have over patient care..Why should they decide, literally, who lives and who dies?

    Thank You.

    January 14, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Sandra Burgess

    I have only one question. How would any of the Democrat candidates handle the President of Mexico? He has made so many derogatory remarks about this country and not one of our candidates seem to notice. Also, why are Mexican troops and police allowed to cross our borders whenever they feel they need?

    January 14, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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