January 11th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
8 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. To Mrs. Bill Clinton

    Mr. Blitzer,

    Three questions for Mrs. Clinton:

    1) Explain IN DETAIL what you accomplished during your self-promoted "35 years of experience" and what exactly were the job titles/positions that you held while racking up these "accomplishments." Note: your answer cannot include the accomplishments of your husband – they must be something you actually did on your own, independent of your husband and/or his administration.

    2) Your husband was the Governor of Arkansas before being elected President. Please address how being the Governor of the small state of Arkansas imparts more experience than being a U.S. Senator from the large state of Illinois.

    3) Why is it than when those of us born after 1960 look at Senator Obama, all we see is a young, dynamic man with an intelligent wife and beautiful children? It appears that when you look at him, all you see is the color of his skin and a way to make sure that fact is introduced into the equation in your obsession for power. Guess it's just a product of your baby boomer generation. So much for change.

    January 14, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. Nathan Bullman

    My name is Nathan Bullman and I am a 25 year old recovering drug addict. I am clean and sober 2+ years now and have turned my life around even landing a high paying career job. It is an everyday fight but so far I am winning. I did this only by the grace of god and the help of a friend in a program. Two part Question,

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it is estimated that almost 22.8 million Americans need treatment for either alcohol or drug addiction. Out of these 22.8 million people, only a small percentage received help from rehabilitation, and the rest were not exposed to any rehab programs.

    My first question to you is "Why? why are so many Americans under the grip of addiction and not able to get help, and what are you prepared to do about it?" And please dont say harsher sentences for drug dealers, most of them are addicts too.

    Thank You

    January 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  3. Sean Birmingham

    To all candidates:

    While I would like to scapegoat the current President for everything that has gone wrong in the past eight years, I feel that it is not all his fault. When you review the current administration's track record it seems as if both 9/11 and the current war in Iraq could have been avoided all together. My question to you all is what, if any, reforms would you make in the intelligence community so that we do not have another national faux pas?

    January 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. FL

    Yo Wolf!
    PLEASE PLEASE talk about campaign contributions.

    How is CHANGE expected to occur when companies have given ten (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars to certain candidates?

    I'm sorry, but unless donations are given anonymously, favors will be expected.

    Is our Presidency for sale???

    January 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  5. Alan in Canada

    I am watching these primaries with sooooo much interest...I love this stuff. I really want our very best friends down there to turn it around and get their ever loving "stuff" together moving forward.

    My question would be relatively simple. What are the candidates positions on stem cell research?

    Kindest regards,


    January 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. steve

    Ask them about things that will actually make a difference such as:

    Real campaign finance reform with public financing so that our elected leaders do not spend more than 50% of their energy raising money for re-election. This is so obviously the most important thing we could do to improve our government but nobody ever mentions it.

    Scrapping this ridiculous primary system where some early states have way too much power (states filled with white people - big surprise there). Why not go to a rotating regional system or even national primary day. duh!

    Why they dance around the idea of supporting gay marriage - calling for civil unions even though marriage is just a legal 'civil union'. I thought the democrats were supposed to be about making the kind of progress that makes the country better (like the civil rights of the 60s). Legalizing gay marriage is the only conclusion if you actually read the constitution. Isn't this America where everybody is supposed to be treated the same by the law? By the way, I am not gay, just not brainless.

    Why they don't talk about improving the parenting by offering free classes in infant care and basic child psychology. The US has millions of morons who have no clue how to raise kids, and what do they produce? Criminals and drug addicts. We can't prevent all of that or even most of it, but we could have some effect with the right policies. Politicians don't talk about this because they don't want to 'anger' the voters, even though the voters are sometimes complete idiots.

    By the way, CNN, Blitzer and the rest of the media do NOT help by this petty focus on imaginary squabbles between Obama and Hillary. Stick to the issues and maybe try to analyze the real problems ( and maybe even suggest some solutions) instead acting like some show on E!.

    January 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. Nathan Bullman

    My name is Nathan Bullman and I am a 25 year old recovering drug addict. I am clean and sober 2+ years now and have turned my life around even landing a high paying career job. It is an everyday fight but so far I am winning. I did this only by the grace of god and the help of a friend in a program.

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it is estimated that almost 22.8 million Americans need treatment for either alcohol or drug addiction. Out of these 22.8 million people, only a small percentage received help from rehabilitation, and the rest were not exposed to any rehab programs.

    My question I would have you ask is "Why? why are so many Americans under the grip of addiction and not able to get help, and what are you prepared to do about it?" And please dont say harsher sentences for drug dealers, most of them are addicts too.

    Thank You

    January 14, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Bob H., Prescott, AZ

    Wolf –

    The comments from Bruce Smith and Michael Lederer both deal with the current candidates choosing one of the other candidates as a vice-president. I haven't watched all the debates, so i don't know if this question came up, but it seems that at least one of the "Big Eight" would make a decent vice-president for the winner. I really would like to see this question asked and then the answer posted in the ticker.

    And as a side note, why not give "us" a chance to rate/vote on which questions (after you have combined duplicates like the vice-presidential one) are of interest to your readers. Of course, you want some of your own picks, put perhaps you could use the "Top Five Reader Picks" as part of the questions you ask.

    I'm sure you've got a technical guru in the wings that could create a quick webpage poll to pull this off by Monday.

    Thanks for the opportunity. RJH

    January 14, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Catherine

    Wolf, please ask all of the presidential candidates what their short and long-term plans are for the detainees and facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. What rights do the candidates feel that the detainees have and how can we assure that the detainees are being treated fairly? What impact do the candidates feel our policies towards "unlawful combatants" have for the United States' reputation as a world leader in protecting human rights?

    I would also like to know how the candidates feel about the Patriot Act? What will the candidates do to protect citizen's rights to privacy? How much freedom does each candidate feel Americans must cede in order to promote national security?

    Thank you.

    January 14, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  10. Brad

    Most of you candidates have spoken out against the war in Iraq and pledged to withdraw our troops if elected. When, in fact, we are winning the war in Iraq. As we march towards victory in Iraq, would you still pull our troops out if you were elected? If so, would you set a deadline for doing so?

    January 14, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Satyan Shah


    Could you please ask each of the candidates to layout their foreign policy objectives?
    How do you plan to move the current administration's pro-democracy movement in the Middle East? How do you plan to counter the Pro-militant Islamist war against the other religions of the world?
    How would you go about gaining religious reconciliation around the globe?
    How will you plan on dealing with the globalization movement that will increase the power of emerging countries like India and China?

    Finally, if you could only accomplish 3 things in the next 4 years, what would they be and why?

    January 14, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Tim in New Hampshire

    I haven't heard any discussion or debate on the war on drugs. The US has spent billions of dollars on eradication programs in counties like Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. These campaigns cause social problems and environmental damage in these nations but they don't reduce the cost or availability of drugs in the US. How would the candidates address this failure and pursue a more just and effective policy on illegal drugs?

    January 14, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. Alan Fitterman

    My Debate question would be;

    The U.S seems to be heading for recession . The Federal Reserve is being questioned about it's lanquid response at a time when thousands of Americans are losing their American dream – Americans are losing the homes they live in-
    and neighborhoods are being affected.
    Early on the Fed told us the crisis would be contained in the housing sector, yet Christmas retail sales slumped and unemployment jumped in December;

    Please respond to the serious questions raised by this;

    1) Do you agree that the Federal Reserve failed to fore-see the fall-out from this crisis and that the Fed has been too slow to make a difference and too detached from the downside consequences of Americans losing their homes and now their jobs , as demand falls ?

    2) The possibility of a loss of confidence in the management of the economy is spreading, would you promise not to reappoint the Federal Reserve Chairman (Mr Bernanke) because of the foregoing ?

    January 14, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Christopher, Rolla, Missouri

    I am currently enrolled at Missouri University of Science and Technology and I wanted to know if any of the candidates had plans to help college students with tuition and what exactly those plans are.

    January 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. Betty in CA

    US foreign policy is held hostage to oil producing countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and will be held hostage to holders of our massive debt (e.g., China). I'd like to hear Sens. Clinton, Obama and former Sen. Edwards explain what specific initiatives his/her administration will take to reverse what amounts to a curbing of our sovereignty. I think we need a federal mandate (like JFK's sending a man to the moon and safely returning him home) to free ourselves from foreign fuel sources and recover our financial independence by resuming manufacturing and paying-as-we-go vs. using credit to excess!

    January 14, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. bob from dover delaware home of the military morgue

    I would ask both hillary clinton and barack obamma how they could support the Jenna Six after it was released that the 6 black boys that attacked the 1 white boy kicked him in his head and body as he laid unconscious on the ground unable to defend himself.

    My understanding is that when you inflict damage on a persons body and they are unable to fight back especially when you kick them to the head and cause blood clots in to be formed in their eyes and maybe their brain that this is Attempted Murder.

    Mrs Clinton was the first to defend the boys and then after Jessy Jackson said obama was "acting white" Mr Obama released a statement backing the six criminals that continued to kick and beat an unconscious boy.

    The reason behind the beating even if it was self defense which it was not escalated to attempted murder after the white boy was unconscious.


    My Direct Question to both of them is : If you or someone you loved were on the ground and beaten while unconscious wouldn't you want the criminals that did it prosecuted 100% to the fullest extent of the law and will you now condemn the actions of Al Sharpton and the 20,000 black people that went to Jena to have the verdicts changed and the criminals released.

    How can we trust you if you won't even defend an unconscious HUMAN beaten by six others no matter what their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.



    And I put to you that Neither of you are worthy to lead if you can not see past your own past and apply justice to everyone as we are ALL created equally by God and those rights are not to be taken away for political gain or any other reason.

    [ WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday over his reaction to the arrest of six black juveniles in Jena, Louisiana, on murder charges, accusing the Illinois senator of "acting like he's white," ]

    "Today I stand with those who stand for justice in Jena. The thousands of Americans from every race and region who have descended on this small Louisiana town carry forth the legacy of all those who sat at lunch counters and took freedom rides to strike a blow against injustice wherever it may exist. When a noose hangs from a schoolyard tree in the 21st century and young men are treated in a way that is not equal nor just, it is not just an offense to the people of Jena or to the African-American community, it is an offense to the ideals we hold as Americans. I renew my call for the District Attorney to drop the excessive charges filed in this case, and I will continue my decades-long fight against injustice and division as President." – Sen. Barack Obama's statement.

    January 14, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Tom Pelandini

    Please ask all the candidates:

    1. if they believe the invasion of Iraq was justified and how they voted, if they were in the position to do so.

    2. what is their plan to end the occupation and bring the troops home.

    3. What steps they would take to stablize the middle east.

    4. And finally, how will they restore the reputation of the United States around the world.

    January 14, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Kenneth J. Baker

    ask Hilliary the following:

    What steps will she take to overcome her past history of causing feelings of divisiveness in America that evolved during the Clinton Presidency and was demonstrated during her first try at solving the healthcare crisis? These feelings of divisiveness are easily seen in the reaction from South Carolinians when her name is mentioned, and will hinder her effectiveness as a leader. Will she have an open Jacksonian presidency or a closed one like the Bush's?


    Kennth J. Baker, MD
    Lancaster, SC

    January 14, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. Peter Friedman

    I have not heard Obama being questioned on his views with regard to Israel. Does he support Israel as the only true democracy in the mideast and our strongest long-term ally in that part of the world?

    January 14, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. Tommy

    If whoever among them wins the democrat nomination is able to win the general election in November. Are the others ready to serve the winner if call into Government. They may not know it well but they are all respected, apreciated and are capable of doing great things for America and the world at large.
    God Bless america

    January 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Anna

    Please ask Clinton, Edwards, and Obama why any Democrat in Florida should support them?

    The Florida legislature changed the date of the primary without our consent. In response, the DNC has disenfranchised us in regards to choosing the next Presidental candidate.

    To the best of my knowledge, NOT ONE of these candidates has come to our defense. Instead, they are complicit with this disenfranchisement by refusing to campaign in the State of Florida.

    Yet after one of them is nominated, he/she will expect those of us who are active Democrats to work on his/her campaign, to distribute literature, to make phone calls, to stuff envelopes, and – oh, yes – to send money.

    If they don't care about the rights of the Democrats within the Democratic Party when they are candidates, why should we expect them to care about the rights of citizens of the United States when they are in the White House?

    So why should we bother with them? Perhaps we would be better off supporting a moderate Republican or an independent.

    January 14, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. terry

    I would like for you to do 2 things for the viewers Wolfe: 1) Please ask them to detail their plan rather than to bash another's plan; and 2) Please ask them to define what/who is the "rich" rather than just using an abstract title.

    I would like to ask all the canadiates 3 questions:

    1.) What is their take on the surge in Iraq after violence has droped 70% from '06 to '07. What do we do now going forward from these improvements, or do they still want to cut and run?

    2.) How are they going to pay for their "social" healthcare plans (if they say just that they will tax the rich refer to the top of the page).

    3.) What will you do to fix the social security, medicare, and medicade programs that anyone in my generation (I am 27) looks at in its current state as an added tax since the program will not be around when we retire.

    There are those that would rather get to the substance of their plans, rather than political bickering and pondering!

    January 14, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Steve


    One question that hasn't been raised much during the primary:

    Why is it that each candidate can raise millions of dollars to run in these races, yet we as American's can not raise that same amount and insure millions of American's who are without healthcare?

    Thank you for letting me submit my question.


    January 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. Jason (MN)

    Thank you for remaining open to the concerns of the public. It is good to hear that the issues brought up by those of us "out here" are being addressed.

    In September of last year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unfairly (and possibly illegally) imposed new work rules on its own air traffic controller work force. These controllers have been working under a new pay scale that has been cut by approximately 30%. This along with several other issues was being discussed in good faith during the recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

    That is until the FAA declared an impasse and under a highly questionable loop-hole in the law, was able to unilaterally impose their offer on their own people. The union representing the controllers the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has been trying to get the FAA back to the table to negotiate fairly, but apparently they will not hear of it.

    I would ask everyone to consider what can be done to resolve this issue. The change in work rules have caused massive retirements throughout the nation. These veteran controllers cannot be easily replaced, because to train a new controller can take from about 8 months at smaller facilities to over 2 years at the busier, more complex locations.

    The recent GAO report that highlighted some very disturbing trends in air safety can be at least, partially attributed to this loss of skilled controllers. I for one would prefer our skies remain safe. If the controllers were given an opportunity to negotiate a new contract, it may help put a temporary patch in the leaky air traffic system.

    I would ask what each candidate has in mind on this issue and in labor relations in general. How can we make the first steps to restoring any kind of trust between the FAA and its controllers? What can be done to bring the FAA's focus away from making money and back to safety where it was designed to be.

    Thank you for allowing us to voice our concerns and bring our issues to the candidates' attention.

    Jason (MN)

    Sen. Obama, I know that controllers appreciate your support of their cause in the past, and would ask you to continue giving that support.

    January 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. Patricia Mansker

    As the spouse of a Vietnam Vet, who is helping him though the disability process, what would you, as President, do to streamline the disability process for Veteran's and help those who have been waiting years (I kid you not, we filed a claim in 2003 we are still waiting on) to get the medical and financial assistance they deserve.

    What will you do to streamline the VA's long disability process so that it is more in line with what they claim is a 180 day turnaround? Most Vet's that I have been in contact with have taken well over a year, and some have been up to 10 years and still no decision on the claim.

    Since Agent Orange is known to cause cancers, including skin cancers, from all tests that have been done and studies that have been reported, what will you do to help the veteran's suffering from this disease to receive assistance from the VA both with disability and medical assistance?

    January 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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