These are all the questions (text and video) asked by YouTube users who made videos for the Democratic presidential candidates' debate in Charleston, SC, July 23, 2007. From the CNN transcript.
1. Zach Kempf in Provo, Utah. What makes you different than the rest of 'em?
So my question is: We have a bunch of leaders who can't seem to do their job. And we pick people based on the issues they that they represent, but then they get in power and they don't do anything about it anyway.
You're going to spend this whole night talking about your views on issues, but the issues don't matter if when you get in power nothing's going to get done.
We have a Congress and a president with, like, a 30 percent approval rating, so clearly we don't think they're doing a good job. What's going to make you any more effectual, beyond all the platitudes and the stuff we're used to hearing? I mean, be honest with us. How are you going to be any different?
2. Davis Fleetwood in Groton, Massachusetts. How will America be better off with Kunich as president?
After watching the first several debates, which seemed more like conversations than actually debates, we're all clear out here that you Democrats are united. We get it.
But we have a very important decision to make coming up very soon, and Americans desperate for a change need to know: Congressman Kucinich, how would America be better off with you as president than we would be if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama became president?
3. Rob Porter in Irvine, California. Clinton, Are you a "liberal"?
I have a question for Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton, how would you define the word "liberal?"
And would you use this word to describe yourself?
4. Who would you pick a Republican Running Mate?
Hello. This question is for all of the candidates. Partisanship played a major role in why nothing can be done in Washington today. All of you say you will be able to work with Republicans. Well, here's a test. If you had to pick any Republican member of Congress or Republican governor to be your running mate, who would it be?
5. Will in Boston, Massachusetts. Will Americans get reparations for slavery?
But is African-Americans ever going to get reparations for slavery?
I know you all are going to run around this question, dipping and dodging, so let's see how far you all can get.
See the Video
6. Did race play an issue in the response to Hurricane Katrina?
Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent, predominantly white city? What roles do you believe race and class played in the storm's aftermath? And if you acknowledge that race and class affected the response efforts, what can you do to ensure that this won't happen in the future? And what can you do to ensure this nation's most needy people, in times of crisis and always, something will be done to help them too?
7. Jordan Williams, student at K.U. in Coffeyville, Kansas. How do you address being "black enough" or "female enough"?
This question is meant for Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.
Whenever I read an editorial about one of you, the author never fails to mention the issue of race or gender, respectively. Either one is not authentically black enough, or the other is not satisfactorily feminine.
How will you address these critics and their charges if one or both of you should end up on the Democratic ticket in '08?
8. Mary and Jen in Brooklyn, New York. Do you support gay marriage?
If you were elected president of the United States, would you allow us to be married to each other?
9. Reverend Reggie Longcrier, pastor of Exodus Mission and Outreach Church in Hickory, North Carolina. Is it ok to cite religion to deny gay rights?
Senator Edwards said his opposition to gay marriage is influenced by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong and unconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation, and denying women the right to vote.
So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay American their full and equal rights?
10. Gabriel and Connie in a refugee camp near Darfur. How do we get past empty promises in Darfur?
Before you answer this question, imagine yourself the parent of one of these children.
What action do you commit to that will get these children back home to a safe Darfur and not letting it be yet another empty promise?
11. Mitch in Philadelphia. Are we watching the same blanking war?
My question for all the candidates: How do we pull out now? And the follow-up, are we watching the same blankin' war? I certainly wasn't a big fan of the invasion/liberation. It sickens me to hear about soldiers wounded and getting killed daily, not to mention innocent Iraqis, but how do we pull out now? The government's shaky; bombs daily.
Don't you think if we pulled out now that would open it up for Iran and Syria, God knows who -- Russia -- how do we pull out now? And isn't it our responsibility to get these people up on their feet? I mean, do you leave a newborn baby to take care of himself? How do we pull out now?
12. How many more soldiers need to die?
Thank you for taking my question. The 2006 election gave the Democrats in office a mandate to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Since that time, 800 of our military service members have died there.
As the mother of an American soldier deploying to Iraq for a second time, I would like to know if the perception is true that the Democrats are putting politics before conscience.
How many more soldiers must die while these political games continue in our government?
Is the reason why we are still in Iraq and seemingly will be for some time due to the Democrats' fear that blame for the loss of the war will be placed on them by the Republican spin machine?
13. Don in West Virginia. Are the troops dying in vain?
My question is for Mike Gravel. In one of the previous debates you said something along the lines of the entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain.
How do you expect to win in a country where probably a pretty large chunk of the people voting disagree with that statement and might very well be offended by it?
I'd like to know if you plan to defend that statement, or if you're just going to flip-flop.
14. Tony Fuller in Wilson, Ohio. Should women register for the draft?
I was wondering if the candidates feel women should register for the draft when they turn 18. Why or why not?
15. John McAlpin, serving overseas in the military. Would a women president be taken seriously by arab states?
This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton. The Arab states, Muslim nations, believe it's women as being second-class citizens. If you're president of the United States, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks, negotiations, or any other diplomatic relations? I feel that is a legitimate question.
16. Would you meet diplomatically with these countries' leaders?
1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
17. When will US troops be out of Iraq?
Dear Presidential Candidates, see those three flags over my shoulder? They covered the coffins of my grandfather, my father, and my oldest son.
Someday, mine will join them.
I do not want to see my youngest sons join them.
I have two questions. By what date after January 21st, 2009, will all U.S. troops be out of Iraq? And how many family members do you have serving in uniform?
18. Sheena Currell in South Carolina. Favorite teacher?
My question is: Who was your favorite teacher and why?
19. No Child Left Behind, scrap or revise?
20. Mike Green in Lexington, South Carolina. Do you send your kids to public or private school?
I was wanting to ask all the nominees whether they would send their kids to public school or private school.
21. Anne, works at a Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania. Have you talked with your kids about Sex Education?
My question is, we here at Planned Parenthood support comprehensive sex education and I'd like to know if any of you as candidates have talked to your children about sex and used medically accurate and age-appropriate information?
22. Jackie Broyles and Dunlap in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Does Al Gore hurt your feelings?
This here question's for all you candidates. Mainstream media seems awfully interested in old Al Gore these days. Is he losing weight? What's it say in his book? Is he still worried about all the ice? They interpret all these as signs that he may or may not run. They really want to know if Al Gore's going to run again. Yes. Well, what we want to know is does that hurt you-all's feelings?
23. Snowman in Winter Wonderland. Will my son be safe from global warming?
Hello, Democratic candidates. I've been growing concerned that global warming, the single most important issue to the snowmen of this country, is being neglected.
As president, what will you do to ensure that my son will live a full and happy life?
24. Stephanie Mackley in Berkley California. How will your policies reduce energy consumption?
We're in the Bay area, in my bathroom, because this is one of the places where I use compact fluorescent light bulbs. I use these to decrease my personal energy use, and I hear politicians talking about alternative energy to delay -- to decrease our energy impact as a whole.
So my question for you is, how is the United States going to decrease its energy consumption in the first place? In other words, how will your policies influence Americans, rather than just using special light bulbs, to do this?
25. Shawn in Ann Arbor, Michigan. What is your stance on nuclear power?
There is a scientific consensus for man-caused climate change, and I've heard each of you talk in previous debates about alternative energy sources like solar or wind, but I have not heard any of you speak your opinion on nuclear power. I believe that nuclear power is safer, cleaner, and provides a quicker avenue to energy independence than other alternatives.
I am curious what each of you believe.
26. Melissa in San Luis Obispo, California. Why don't we have standardized voting?
My question is for everyone: In recent years, there's been so much controversy regarding dangling chads, then no paper trail in electronic systems.
I know it costs money to amend things like that, but if I can go to any state and get the same triple grande, non-fat, no foam vanilla latte from Starbucks, why I can't I go to any state and vote the same way?
Don't you think that standardizing our voting practices will increase legitimacy, and possibly even voter turnout in our elections? What are you going to do to fix that? If you want, give me a call and I will make a standardized form for you.
27. Cecilla Smith and Asanti Wilkins in Pennsylvania. Would you agree to be payed the minimum wage?
QUESTION: And we're from Pennsylvania, and my question is to all the candidates, and it's regarding the national minimum wage. Congress seems to never have a problem when it comes time to give themselves a raise. But when it came time to increase the minimum wage, they had a problem.
My question to the candidates: If you're elected to serve, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage?
28. Nancy McDonald in Wilmington, Delaware. Extending Social Security taxes to those who make over $97,500?
QUESTION: We all know that Social Security is running out of money, but people who earn over $97,500 stop paying into Social Security. What is up with that?
29. America is going broke! What are you going to do?
QUESTION: What's the dirtiest little secret in Washington? The U.S. is going broke. With the retirement of the baby boomers, things are only going to get worse. Fed Chairman Bernanke has said Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need to be radically changed to avoid this crisis, yet everything is business as usual in D.C.
There are two solutions, both of which are politically unpopular: Raise taxes or cut benefits. Which would you choose, and how would you convince the public to support you?
30. What would you do to help me cut taxes?
(SINGING): Pay taxes on my clothes and food, pay taxes on my place, pay taxes on my moisturizer, I pay taxes on my weights. I pay taxes on my land. Every year, y'all make me pay. I pay tax on this guitar so I can sing for you today.
My taxes put some kids in college I can't afford to send myself. Now, tell me, if you were elected president, what would you do to help?
Also, I got a parking ticket last week. Could one of y'all pardon me?
31. Marcus Benson in Minneapolis. Will taxes rise if a democrat takes office?
I'd like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to rise like usually they do when a Democrats gets into office?
32. Compilation. Various questions on Healthcare.
QUESTION: Mark and Joel Strauss, Davenport, Iowa. Not every parent has the luxury of two loving sons to care for them during Alzheimer's.
QUESTION: My question for the candidates is, people like us -- the baby boomer generation -- is going to see a boom of Alzheimer's over the upcoming decades.
What are you prepared to do to fight this disease now?
QUESTION: Hi. These are my grandmothers. Both of them suffered from diabetes and ultimately died of massive heart attacks.
This is my mother. She suffers from diabetes and she's also had a heart attack.
The statistics for women with heart disease are staggering. What I'd like to know is, how do each of you plan on addressing chronic disease and preventative health in your health care plans? I would like my mother to be around to see her grandchildren.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Kim. I'm 36 years old and hope to be a future breast cancer survivor from Long Island. My chances for survivor aren't as good as they might be, however, because like millions of Americans, I've gone for years without health insurance that would have allowed me to take preventative medicine.
QUESTION: What would you as president do to make low-cost or free preventive medicine available for everybody in this country? Thank you.
See the Video
33. Lucia Ballie (ph) in east side of L.A. Does your health care plan cover undocumented workers?
Does your health care plan cover undocumented workers? Thank you.
34. Chris Nolan, Democratic precinct committeeman in Mundelein, Illinois. Have we had the same two families in charge for too long?
And my question is for Hillary Clinton. With Bush, Clinton, and Bush again serving as the last three presidents, how would electing you, a Clinton, constitute the type of change in Washington so many people in the heartland are yearning for, and what your campaign has been talking about?
I was also wondering if any of the other candidates had a problem with the same two families being in charge of the executive branch of government for 28 consecutive years, if Hillary Clinton were to potentially be elected and then re-elected.
Good luck. And, whoever becomes the nominee, I'm pulling for you.
Kid: Go Democrats!
35. Zenne Abraham in Oakland, California. What do the words "liberty" and "in God we trust" mean to you?
The cathedral behind me is the perfect backdrop for this question. This quarter reads "United States of America." And when I turn it over, you find that it reads "liberty, in God we trust." What do those words mean to you? Thank you.
36. Stephen Marsh of Thousand Oaks, California. Would you treat non-religous americans equally?
My name is Stephen Marsh of Thousand Oaks, California, proud citizen of the United States of America that does not believe in God. However, the former President Bush said this statement was an oxymoron.
Now, I am worried about the amount of time given to evangelical concerns while secular voters are more or less getting a snubbed -- the faith and politics forum.
So my question is this: Am I wrong in fearing a Democratic administration that may be lip service to the extremely religious as much as the current one? And if so, why? Thank you for your time.
37. Jered Townsend from Clio, Michigan. Are my guns safe?
To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe.
This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me your views.
38. Jason Koop, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One thing you like and dislike about the candidate on your left.
And my question is for all of the candidates, and it is intended to lighten up the mood a little bit.
I would like for each of you to look at the candidate to your left and tell the audience one thing you like and one thing you dislike about that particular candidate. And remember, be honest.
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