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Transcript: CBS-New York Times Democratic Debate

KERRY: I am not only going to have a 120-day review of every trade agreement, so that we have smart, thoughtful people look and see what's working and what isn't working, but he knows very well that I have also pledged for a number of years that we should have no trade agreement that does not also have labor and environment standards contained within it. 

Now, that's exactly the same position...

_____CBS-NYT Dem. Debate_____
In N.Y. Debate, It's No More Mr. Nice Guys (The Washington Post, Mar 1, 2004)
Debate Raises Doubts For Kerry-Edwards Run (The Washington Post, Mar 1, 2004)

RATHER: Senator, you look nervous over...

EDWARDS: He is dead wrong. Dead wrong. If you look at -- I mean, it's all fine to say, "Going forward, this is what I'm going to do." But what you've done in the past gives some indication to the American people about what you're, in fact, going to do.

Let me just give you some differences between us on the record. There's no way to dispute this. 

First, I voted against final fast track authority for this president to continue to negotiate these trade agreements; he voted for it. I voted against the Singapore trade agreement; he supported it. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement; he supported it. I voted against the African trade agreement; he supported it. I voted against the Caribbean trade agreement; he supported it.

It's just simply not the truth...


EDWARDS: If you'll allow me to finish. 

These are great arguments about what he intends to do going forward. But it's similar, for example, Senator Kerry has consistently said that he can pay for all the things that he's proposing and substantially reduce the deficit, I think I've heard him say cut it in half, in his first term. 

Well, The Washington Post today just analyzed his proposals, and its the same old thing. Here we go again. In fact, in fact, he overspends, in terms of being able to pay for all of his proposals, he overspends by $165 billion in his first term, which means he would drive us deeper and deeper into deficit. 

My point is very simple about all this. This is the same old Washington talk that people have been listening to for decades. They want something different, Dan.

RATHER: Let me give Senator Kerry a chance to respond to...

KUCINICH: Dan, let's talk about the same old Washington...

KERRY: Wait, wait, can I respond, Dennis...

KUCINICH: No, this is my turn. And I'm saying that we could talk about the same old Washington talk, but with all due respect, John, you told the New York Times that NAFTA should exist. And I think that NAFTA should not exist.

Now, when we're going back to what both, you know, Senator Kerry and you are -- and we've been back on it a lot. Senator Kerry, you knew full well that when NAFTA was passed, and when the WTO passed, that it was written specifically so as not to provide for workers' rights, human rights and environmental quality principles. 

It's kind of like crying crocodile tears for workers, after millions of jobs have been lost in this country, to say, "Well, we're going to fix it."

The fact of the matter is, the WTO does not permit any modification. It was written that way. 

And so I've said as president I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, and go back to bilateral trade, which will save those jobs in Ohio.

RATHER: Let's give Senator Kerry a chance to respond. 

KERRY: Well, yes, we need to go on, but these are central issues.

KERRY: And John has just made some very important statements, and I want to respond to them.

I think John would have learned by now not to believe everything he reads in a newspaper. And he should do his homework, because the fact is that what's printed in The Washington Post today is inaccurate. 

A stimulus is by definition something that you do outside of the budget for one year or two years. The Washington Post included the stimulus when they figured the numbers. The stimulus is what you do to kick the economy into gear so that you can reduce the deficit. 

Secondly, they did not include the reduction of the $139 billion of the Medicare bill which I have said I am sending back to Congress because it's a bad bill. I voted against it, it's bad. 

Now, when you add up my stimulus that's outside of the budget and the Medicare numbers that they didn't even include, you do not go over, I do not spend more...

BUMILLER: Senator Kerry, let me...

KERRY: No, no, I insist on being able to finish.

BUMILLER: I want to ask a really important question. 

KERRY: This is important.


SHARPTON: If we're going to have a discussion just between two -- in your arrogance (ph), you can try that, but that's one of the reasons we're going to have delegates, so that you can't just limit the discussion. 

And I think that your attempt to do this is blatant, and I'm going to call you out on it, because I'm not going to sit here and be window dressing.

BUMILLER: Well, I'm not going to be addressed like this. 

SHARPTON: Well, then, let all of us speak. 


SHARPTON: I want us to be able to respond, or then tell us you want a two-way debate. 

RATHER: Here's where the thing is. We certainly want to hear, I think you will agree, the voters have spoken. 

SHARPTON: No, the voters have not spoken. We've only had -- he's won one primary. He's come in fourth seven times. 

BUMILLER: How many delegates...

SHARPTON: What you're trying to do is trying to decide for the voters how we go forward. The voters need to hear this morning from four candidates, or say the media now is going to select candidates. 

RATHER: Reverend, we've heard from you, we're going to hear from you. I don't understand what the argument is. 

SHARPTON: I had to fight to speak on Haiti, I had to fight to speak on trade. You got a guy with one primary that you're pretending he's -- Gary Hart won more primaries than Mondale. 

Let's have an open debate and go into Super Tuesday, or say that you guys want to decide the nominee. 

RATHER: Reverend, debate them, not me. 

SHARPTON: If I get time, I would love to do that.

RATHER: You've been on, but the clock's been running on you. I wanted to hear what you had to say...

KERRY: Can I just finish?

RATHER: Finish what you have to say, Senator, then we're going to go to Reverend Sharpton. 

KERRY: On trade, there is no difference between what John Edwards would do today and what I would do today. And to listen to John try to carve out this -- what I think is sort of a protectionist point of view in the past, actually is not documented by the record. 

John Edwards has been in the Senate for five years. He's talked more in the last five weeks about trade than he has in the entire five years. 

KERRY: The fact is that he didn't vote in the 1994 election when he had a chance to vote about trade. He didn't talk about it, against it, in his election in 1998 when he ran for the Senate. 

And he went to The New York Times last week and said that he thought that NAFTA, in fact, was good for the prosperity of our country. 

RATHER: Senator, I'm going to call time.

KERRY: I think you have to be consistent in this...

EDWARDS: After Reverend Sharpton speaks, I deserve a chance to respond to that. 

RATHER: Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: I think that, again, NAFTA and the WTO were wrong from its beginning. You cannot change it; you must rescind it. It has cost thousands upon thousands of jobs. We talk about it being a "patriotic" thing to protect American businesses, but we call it "protectionism" to protect American workers. 

I think there are a lot of differences among us. I think clearly Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards voted for the war. They support trade agreements. They supported what I think is the most anti-civil rights act of our time, the Patriot Act. 

But I also think that that's why we have a convention, that's why we have delegates, that's why we'll come to a consensus and have a candidate to beat Bush. 

But as long as we try to stifle the discussion, it feeds into the Ralph Naders of the world that say the only way to deal with this is to leave the party. 

KIRTZMAN: Senator Edwards, didn't you tell The New York Times editorial board last week that your plan would not, in fact, significantly cut the export of jobs? 

EDWARDS: No, what I said was we need a trade policy in this country that works for American workers, that allows them to compete. 

I want to go back to something that the senator...

KIRTZMAN: Before you do, though, are you saying flatly now that your NAFTA proposal would stem the flight of jobs abroad, and by how much? 

EDWARDS: I think it would help. Not just NAFTA, I think that all our trade policy can have a significant impact on the outflow of jobs, plus our outsourcing policy. Taking away, for example...

KIRTZMAN: Can you quantify it somehow? 

EDWARDS: No, of course not. There's no way to do that. What we know is there are millions of jobs leaving, millions of jobs leaving this country. We need a trade policy and a tax policy that allows American workers to be competitive. 

But you've got to give me just at least 60 seconds to respond to what Senator Kerry said. 

The suggestion -- the suggestion -- that I came late to this? I want to say to Senator Kerry, I have lived with this my entire life. I saw what happened when the mill in my hometown closed that my own father worked at. 

I respect your -- you have a right to have a different view than I do. But to suggest for a moment that this is not personal to me? I have lived...

KERRY: I never said that. I never said that. 

EDWARDS: Excuse me, if you'll let me finish, I have lived with this my entire life. I have seen the effect not just on the economy, but on the families who are involved when families lose jobs. 

RATHER: Senator, can I come back...

EDWARDS: This is something I take very seriously and very personally. And there is, in fact, a significant difference between us on our records. 

BUMILLER: Can I just change the topic for a minute, just ask a plain political question? 

The National Journal, a respected, nonideologic publication covering Congress, as you both know, has just rated you, Senator Kerry, number one, the most liberal senator in the Senate. 

You're number four. 

How can you hope to win with this kind of characterization, in this climate?

KERRY: Because it's a laughable characterization. It's absolutely the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life. 

BUMILLER: Are you a liberal? 

KERRY: Let me just...

BUMILLER: Are you a liberal?

KERRY: ... to the characterization. I mean, look, labels are so silly in American politics. 

I was one of the first Democrats in the United States Senate in 1985 to join with Fritz Hollings in deficit reduction. Now, does that make me a conservative? 

I fought to put 100,000 police officers on the streets of America. Am I a conservative? 

BUMILLER: But, Senator Kerry, the question is... 

KERRY: I know. You don't let us finish answering questions. 

BUMILLER: You're in New York. 


KERRY: Well, I'm going to fight for it. And that's exactly what I'm going to do, I'm going to fight for it. 

BUMILLER: All right.

KERRY: Do you know what they measured in that? First of all, they measured 62 votes. I voted 37 times; 25 votes they didn't even count because I wasn't there to vote for them. 

Secondly, secondly, they counted my voting against the Medicare bill, which is a terrible bill for seniors in America, they called that being liberal. Lots of conservatives voted against that. 

In addition, they counted my voting against George Bush's tax cut that we can't afford. I thought it was fiscally conservative to vote against George Bush's tax cut. They call it liberal. 

BUMILLER: Is this a helpful characterization in this campaign? 

KERRY: I think it's the silliest thing I've ever heard. 

KUCINICH: Let me answer directly. I'm liberal, and I'm co- chairman of the Progressive Caucus in the United States Congress. And as such, I stand for full-employment economy, universal health care, protection of Social Security, canceling NAFTA and the WTO, creating a Department of Peace. 

These are the kinds of things that relate to creating a sustainable society where people can have peace and prosperity simultaneously. 

RATHER: Congressman, do you consider Senator Kerry a liberal by your definition? 

KUCINICH: I think it's important to hear how the senator describes himself. 

RATHER: But my question is, how do you describe him? Is he a liberal? 

KUCINICH: I don't think so, because he voted for the war. He voted for the Patriot Act. He supported NAFTA and the WTO. I would say that...

RATHER: Reverend Sharpton, do you consider Senator Kerry a liberal? 

SHARPTON: No. I think that anyone -- if you want to use George Bush as the definition of conservative, most of America is liberal now, because most of America would vote against Bush. 


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