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. John Leone

    Does the privatization of our military incentivize war?
    Are we going to war to enrich profiteers and fulfill
    quarterly earnings targets?

    January 14, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Del Dickson, New York, NY

    1) Sen. Clinton, you have routinely stressed the importance of experience in this campaign. However, when you were a freshman Senator in 2002 ,and you had to decide how to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, you decided to follow the inexperienced opinion of Pres. George W. Bush as opposed to the more experienced opinions of people like Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Bob Graham, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Carl Levin, military expert and former marine Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and former Vice President Al Gore. If experience should matter to voters as much as you think it should now, why didn't it matter that much to you back then?

    2) Sen. Obama, you have come out in support of "merit pay" for public school teachers. What metrics would you use to determine which teachers have more merits than others?

    3) Sen. Clinton and Sen. Edwards, if Congress passed the healthcare reform package put forward by Sen. Obama, which lacks an individual mandate, and would likely not pass a healthcare reform package with an individual mandate, would you sign it or veto it?

    4) Sen. Obama, if Congress passed the healthcare reform package put forward by Sen. Edwards or Sen. Clinton, which both have an individual mandate, and would likely not pass a healthcare reform package without an individual mandate, would you sign it or veto it?

    January 14, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. a Sokol

    Ask John Edwards what specificaly does he mean when he keeps saying CHANGE?
    its an old worn-out catch-phrase and i just roll my eyes every time i hear it. SAY SOMETHING SPECIFIC and dont say CHANGE again. This goes for Obama as well.

    January 14, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Joseph Fuoto

    My question

    Why when we talk about universal medical coverage does no one talk about what is being charged for providing services and materials? Medical coverage would become much more affordible if a 10 minute office visit was not being build out at 150 dollars an hour or the cost of medicine was not 8 dollars a pill.

    January 14, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Tony

    The candidates talk a lot about health care.

    I submit that no one really wants health care, they want health.

    I have had two parents live beyond their mid-80's. They recieved the care that they needed but each of them developed some form of senior dementia.

    How are you going to change the health care system in the U.S. to provide health to americans. Specifically address how you will prevent senior dementia and
    cure diseases like cancer and aids

    Finally, how will you do this at a cost that doesnt bankrupt the nation.


    January 14, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  6. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Please with a unified and on stage effort have the candidates debate/defend the positive side of the Party System.

    January 14, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I would like to know why Hillary Clinton keeps bringing her past experience in the white house as part of her resume. She is fresh into her second term as the Junior Senator from New York. In other words, she's been in the Senate, her only real experience in national politics, for 7 years. Not the 35 years she's claiming.

    January 14, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. Eric

    Please ask the candidates if they will do away with or, in the alternative, actually lower the terror alert system imposed by the Bush Administration. I'm tired of it constantly being on yellow and constantly being displayed on some networks to keep the populace scared. They only move it up to orange around late September and October to try to scare up some votes before the November elections.

    January 14, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. Kenneth Zank

    Above and beyond the usual issues addressed by all political candidates, I would like you to ask them some simple questions. How much does a gallon of milk cost? A loaf of bread? A pound of ground beef ? A fill-up for an average sized car?
    These questions are ones that are answered by most Americans on daily basis. I would be wrong to assume those running for office have the need for those same answers but it would be interesting to see exactly how out of touch they are with everyday America...Thank you

    January 14, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. Mary

    I am interested in how they would deal with "special interest" groups. Because many times one person's special interest group is another person's advocate. You may be willing to take on lobbyists from the oil companies, big business and lawyers. But what about lobbyists from AARP, unions, and healthcare? Are you willing to be unpopular for the good of the nation?

    January 14, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Greg

    EDUCATION! EDUCATION! EDUCATION! i teach second grade in an inner city school. What will you do to help my kids succeed instead of setting them up for failure? And more money to waste isn't the answer...how will you insure that money is spent in a way to benefit all learners??

    January 14, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. John Hardwich

    You have to confront Hillary Clinton on her claim of experience. She has less experience than Barack Obama in a position of responsibility. It is easy to claim experience when you can not be held accountable for any decisions. Barack Obama is a decent enough guy to not raise that issue all the time.
    However, it is a central argument in her campaign and cannot be left untouched.

    January 14, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Ann Turpin

    I would ask Hillary how, with all her claims to exceptional experience, she just last week "found her voice?"

    January 14, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Kathleen

    Senator Obama: I am a full-time working female, a home owner, and living from paycheck to paycheck, in a metropolitan area with astronomical costs of living. How will your recently proposed $250 tax credit help me?

    January 14, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. George

    Please don't waste time with political horse race questions or speculation about Bloomberg or other candidates.
    Can you name 2 things the Bush Administration has done right.
    None of you has served in the military. As Commander-in-Chief, how would you go about earning the confidence of U.S. soldiers and their leaders?
    How reliable and important do you think the National Intelligence Estimates are? How would they factor into your decision making? Should they continue to be made public?

    January 14, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. WHF

    To all candidates; are you willing to take a drug test?

    January 14, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Dave Jensen

    While I think this would be better for the Republicans, it works for all:

    Our next president will face more policy questions than ever before that require a sound understanding of science and scientific principals. From Global Climate Change to energy policy to education. As such, any of the following would be excellent questions:

    1. What is your understanding of plate tectonics? Do understand the theory of how the continents got to where they are?

    2. What is the age of the earth?

    3. Scientists believe that oil was formed over millions of years by decaying plants and animals. Do you agree?

    January 14, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Calguy

    The three top Democratic candidates have previously communicated their positions with regard to same-sex marriage. However, as lawyers, why has no one asked them to justify their opinions against what is clearly a basic question of equal protection? Personal feelings and religious beliefs aside, the President of the United States upholds the rule of law. I want each Democratic candidate to justify their denial of civil marriage to same-sex couples based on legal precedent regarding equal protection.

    January 14, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. Maureen Mower

    Talk about opening a can of worms, lol. I have several questions for the candidates...

    1. To Barack Obama: I am a married heterosexual woman who also happens to be a Humanist and a supporter of full, equal rights for gays. I have read that your position on gay marriage is that you oppose full marriage rights, but support civil unions as an alternative. To me, this is like saying you oppose equal rights for blacks, but support ending slavery.

    So, would you please expain your position on this issue, and in particular, what reason you have for opposing equal rights – including marriage rights – for ALL people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation? I'm particularly interested in knowing if your position is based on religious ideology, as this IS America, and religion has no place in determining our laws or the policies of our government.

    2. To Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: I believe that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and many other members of their cabinet should be impeached, convicted, and imprisoned for lying to the American public about WMD's in Iraq, starting an illegal and ill-advised war that has cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, authorizing the torture of prisoners and the illegal surveillance of American citizens' private communications, the illegal and immoral detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without hearings or even charges, etc.

    I want to know your position on these issues. Do you think President Bush should be impeached, and if so, why haven't you spoken out in support of it? Also, if you are elected, will you initiate an investigation into the policies and practices of the Bush administration, make the results public, and authorize prosecution against ANYONE who broke the law, no matter who that might be?

    3. To all the candidates: As a lifelong New York City resident, I was there when the World Trade Center was attacked – both times. It has been sickening to watch as the tragic events of 9/11 have been used to polarize this nation and manipulate the fears of the average American in order to gain a few votes or garner support for a war that had NOTHING to do with Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaida. It has been even more terrible to watch America go from being held in the hearts of the world after 9/11 to being hated and feared because our leaders have acted with single-minded arrogance and threatened the stability of much of the world, including actually increasing the threat of terrorism by destabilizing Iraq and threatening Iran.

    So I am asking all of you – should you become President, what do you plan to do to reunite America, and to restore our reputation with the rest of the world?

    4. To all the candidates: I am a 46 year old post-menopausal woman with a disabled husband and one 16 year old son. I work full time. My husband gets Medicare because of his disability, and my son gets Medicaid (thanks to CHiP). Despite the fact that I have several chronic medical problems and should be receiving both regular medication and physical therapy, I cannot obtain either because I have no health insurance for myself.

    Our family is not rich by any means. Our annual income is less than $35,000, including my salary. Buying health insurance on my own would cost approximately $400 a month, which is prohibitively expensive when we also have to pay rent, ever-increasing utility costs, ever-increasing gas costs in order for me to get back and forth to work, and ever-higher food costs due to the rising price of oil and the effects of global warming.

    My employer does not offer paid health insurance, but I could buy into their plan; however that would also cost me almost a week's net pay out of every two-week paycheck, and the policy requires me to make copayments of $30 per doctor visit, $20 or more per prescription (depending on the medication), $25 per visit for physical therapy, and has a $1000 deductible.

    There are no free clinics in my area, and the only state program available for someone in my situation has a 2-year waiting list just to apply. It is a constant source of fear for me, as I am at an age where many types of health problems can develop, and I don't even have the ability to have them detected because I cannot afford to see a doctor or have tests done. My fears are not just for myself, but also for my family – I am the primary caretaker, and if I become incapacitated by an illness that could have been prevented or treated, who takes care of them?

    So I would like to know, specifically, how each of your health care plans would help someone in my situation.

    January 14, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. Amy

    Why do you believe raising taxes on every hardworking American should be spent to pay expenses for lazy welfare addicts who continue to have baby after baby that they cannot afford?
    I would like to know why it's OK for Obama to belong to an exclusively BLACK "church"? If Clinton belonged to an exculsively white church (no blacks ALLOWED) he would be up in arms!! Why is it OK in this country to have exclusively black clubs, schools and groups, but if any whites created a WHITE AOL site or a WHITE only church blacks would be protesting. Seems like a oneway street.

    January 14, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Chris

    I would ask any of the candidates about the apparent weakening to the checks-and-balances of our governmental system. It's not that we necessarily think that the present Executive branch is abusing its power (although they may be, it's hard to tell), but it sets a horrendous precedent for future generations to have the attitude 'if the President does it, it cannot be illegal'. Do any of these candidates see this as a problem? And if so, what would you do to repeal some of the damage done to our government?

    January 14, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Scott Bass

    Hi Wolf, I doubt this question would receive the light of day since it was not taken very seriously in the republican debate. But many of us would really like to know exactly how enthusiastically the candidates would support the space program. Specifically the constellation program. It was said from the beginning that it would take strong support from many generations of presidents and bipartisan support of congress to keep everything on track. It will truly be inspiring to the world when we return to the moon and it would effect my vote knowing who was for it or against it. No one knows that I am aware of.

    January 14, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Felly

    My question is to all the candidates:

    A barrel of crude oil is $100, and an average American is paying about $3 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline today. This translates to a high cost of living ranging from perishable and non perishable commodities. This pain at the pump is being felt every where with its attendant effects. What would you do as a President to fix or ameliorate this problem?

    January 14, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Jenn

    Why would any sane person want this job? Seriously, it's the economy, the environment, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, our education system, our healthcare debacle, our standing overseas, the price of gas, the cost of food, milk costs more because we're using the corn for ethanol but at least it's not foreign oil, and don't forget the foreign child workers, the exporting of American jobs, the trade deficit, it's the unions-no it's not the unions, the falling apart infrastructure, the housing crisis, the banking crisis, the crisis crisis...

    No one can fix all of this. Seriously. Most issues are so interwoven you can barely separate one issue from another, which gets back to my first question. Why would you or anyone else want this job?

    January 14, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Joy Vance

    Why don't any of the candidates other than Dennis Kucinich support SINGLE PAYER health care? Health insurance companies don't add any value to providing health care, they just take money and delay resource allocation. United Healthcare paid it's CEO $1 billion when he retired!!! It seems like we would have a lot more money to provide healthcare if the insurance companies didn't suck so much of it up. If not single-payer health care, would the candidates support limiting profits of insurance companies?

    What choice does say, my husband have? With kidney stones in his past ($54,000 for 2 nights in the hospital, a cat scan and pain medication) he can pay $400 a month for a $2000 deductible plan as part of my companies group plan, otherwise his costs would be astronomical for health care because of previous conditions. More likely, he the health insurance would probably not cover kidney stones for him. So it's either $400 a month or nothing, soon to be $440 next year.

    January 14, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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