Transcript of Dennis Kucinich's comments during the Nov. 15 Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, sponsored by CNN and the University of Nevada:
Posted by Plain Dealer Staff November 16, 2007 15:14PM
During Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich got the spotlight for just about 8 1/2 minutes.
But, although Kucinich didn't get much air time, he got a lot of applause from the audience, particularly to his comments against the Iraqi War and his suggestion that President Bush be impeached.
Another big applause moment came when CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer noted that Kucinich was the only person on the stage who had a chance to vote on the Patriot Act right after 9/11 and that he voted against it.
"That's because I read it. " Kucinich note, as the audience roared.
Blitzer and CNN correspondents Campbell Brown, John Roberts and Suzanne Malveaux questioned the Democratic contenders.
Here's what Kucinich said, courtesy of CQ Transcripts, as the debate progressed:
BLITZER: I just want to go down the line and ask everyone, and then we're going to move on to the next question.
Just to be precise, because there was a little confusion thanks to (North Carolina) Senator (John) Edwards earlier in the week -- I just want to make sure I fully understand all of you Democrats.
Are you ready to commit, absolutely, positively that you will support the Democratic nominee, no matter who that nominee is? No ifs, ands or buts. ....
KUCINICH: Only if they oppose war as an instrument of policy.
On the issue of driver licenses for illegal immigrants (a question askd by Wolf Blitzer of several candidates)
BLITZER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: I take issue with your description of people being illegal immigrants. There aren't any illegal human beings. That's number one.
KUCINICH: Number two, they are undocumented. I believe that the best way to do it -- thank you.
I believe the best way to deal with this is cancel NAFTA and renegotiate the trade agreement with Mexico.
BLITZER: Let me re-phrase the question, Congressman.
If undocumented people in this country should be able to get driver's licenses...
KUCINICH: You give people a path to legalization, and then they can be legal and have their driver's license. That's the way to work it.
BLITZER: What about in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform?
KUCINICH: You know what? You give people a path to legalization and you work to make sure that you don't criminalize their status any further. Again, I take exception to the way you framed that question.
BLITZER: We're talking about education right now, and I want I want to bring Congressman Kucinich in, because I know you're a strong supporter of the unions -- the teachers union, very powerful -- teachers unions, very powerful.
Are there any issues with unions -- teachers unions or other unions, for that matter -- with which you disagree?
KUCINICH: My father was a truck driver. He was a member of The Teamsters. I happen to be a member of the IATSE. I think that the trade -- that the union movement is essential to upholding human rights.
And I think that if we had trade agreements that had workers' rights in them, that would lift up conditions for workers in this country and in all countries.
KUCINICH: So I'm the candidate of workers in this -- this campaign because I've stood for jobs for all, full employment economy, health care for all, education for all.
And the fact of the matter is that a Kucinich administration will means a workers' White House. Right now wealth is being accelerated upwards, and I'm the one candidate in the race who comes right from the working class and can address those needs directly because I remember where I came from.
BLITZER: All right. I take it that the answer is there's nothing -- there's no issues, no major issues you disagree with America's unions.
KUCINICH: Well, you know, the Teamsters wanted to drill in Alaska. I voted against drilling in Alaska. So it's not like I'm a slam dunk on every issue.
BLITZER: All right.
KUCINICH: But I'm for working people. That's why I'm up here.
BLITZER: Congressman Kucinich, is the troop increase...
BLITZER: Is the troop increase, as General Petraeus has put forward over these past few months -- is it working?
KUCINICH: No. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. In 2003, I put forth a plan to get out of Iraq. I'm actually the only one on this stage who voted against the war...
... voted against funding the war, 100 percent of the time.
KUCINICH: And also who has a plan to bring the troops home. And they should be brought home now. And let me tell you something, the Democrats in Congress have not done the right thing for the American people. They should tell President Bush, we're not going to give you another dime. We're not putting a bill on the floor. Bring them home now.
Also, when you talked about Pakistan, you didn't get a chance to come to me on that question, but I want to point something out to you, Wolf. You cannot look at Pakistan and the destabilization that is occurring in many Muslim nations without understanding the role that our aggression against Iraq has played in contributing to that destabilization. So I am speaking about a new policy of strength through peace, no more unilateralism, no more preemption, no more first-strike, open-dialogue diplomacy, and adherence to international law.
BLITZER: Thank you, Congressman.
BROWN: Congressman Kucinich, we're approaching the holiday season right now and parents across the country are in a panic. They are rifling through their toy boxes. They are throwing things away because they are so worried that toys, that products coming from China right now are too dangerous for their children.
Do you believe that the people on this stage who voted to fully open trade relations with China bear some of the responsibility for what's going on right now?
KUCINICH: Well, of course they do, in the same way that people who voted for the war bear responsibility for what's going on.
KUCINICH: People who voted for the Patriot Act bear responsibility for what's going on.
People who voted for Yucca Mountain bear responsibility.
People have to take responsibility for their positions.
Now, let's talk about China trade. The fact of the matter is, Wolf, it was well known when China trade came up that China doesn't have environmental quality standards, doesn't have health standards, doesn't have workers' rights, doesn't permit people to form unions.
Now, everyone knew that. And for someone to come up afterwards -- and I think in the last < debate >, I think Hillary Clinton was criticized by John Edwards for some trade-related issue, but the fact of the matter is, John, you voted for China trade understanding that workers were going to be hurt.
Now, you're a trial lawyer, you knew better. I'm saying that it's important, really.
BLITZER: All right.
Senator Edwards, he made a specific reference to you.
KUCINICH: This is a fact, though. I mean, I'm not backing down from this. This is a fact. People have to take responsibility for their position.
BLITZER: Let's ask Senator Edwards to respond.
Was that vote a mistake?
EDWARDS: I'm not sure what I being a trial lawyer has to do with it, but -- wait, what my response is...
KUCINICH: Product liability.
EDWARDS: Cute, Dennis.
BLITZER: Congressman Kucinich, I believe you're the only person on this stage who had a chance to vote on the Patriot Act right after 9/11 who voted against it right away.
KUCINICH: That's because I read it.
BLITZER: Now, here's the question.
Here's the question. Here's the question. Here's the question.
Congressman, do you feel, as you felt on other issues, that those who voted for the Patriot Act, and there are several here on this stage, bear a responsibility for the way this individual, this American citizen is being treated when he goes through an airport?
KUCINICH: You're owed an apology, you really are. And every American should be able to present themselves without having to be further scrutinized based on ethnic identity.
But let's go back to the point that you made here. The time -- you know, the president of the United States is called upon to make the right decision at the right time. And you've seen here tonight people who voted for the war, voted to fund the war, now they have a different position. People voted for the Patriot Act. Now they have a different position. People voted for China trade. Now they have a different position. People who voted for Yucca Mountain. Now they had a different position.
Just imagine what it will be like to have a president of the United States who's right the first time. Just imagine.
And I don't think -- I don't think that the first questioner's question was really answered about what are you going to do about this president, and for that matter the vice president, because they're out of control, and Congress isn't doing anything.
BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you, Congressman.
KUCINICH: It's called impeachment and you don't wait.
You do it now. You don't wait.
BLITZER: All right. Suzanne has another question...
KUCINICH: Now. Impeach him now.
MALVEAUX: Governor Richardson, since you're the only one on this stage who does not support even building a fence, why don't you take this one?
KUCINICH: That's not true.
NEW MEXICO GOV.BILL RICHARDSON: By the way, Dennis, you keep -- stop including me in all these votes. I've been a governor. I'm in New Mexico. I'm not in Washington.
BLITZER: Let's go down the whole panel, and if you could give me a short yes or no, would you insist on a Supreme Court nominee supporting abortion?
KUCINICH: A Kucinich appointment to the Supreme Court would have a litmus test on abortion. It's a question of a woman's right to choose and a right to privacy.
But a president has to do more than that. A president has to be a healer. And this has been one of the great divides in our country. And so I want to let the American people know that I'll stand for prenatal care, postnatal care, child care, a living wage, universal health care, sex education, birth control...
BLITZER: All right.
KUCINICH: We can make abortions less necessary if we have a healer in the White House. And we can also protect a woman's right to choose. We can do both.
BLITZER: Thank you, Congressman.