New Feature: How would you have answered the CNN debate questions?
Here's a link to the CNN transcript.
Here are the questions. You can answer all of them or just the ones that interest you. You can answer them as yourself, as one of the candidates, or as some kind of fantasy Democrat. Also, if you think one of the candidates answered it better than you could, feel free to put that. I've scrubbed a few that were repetitive or redundant. Send it to me here at firstname.lastname@example.org or input them into the comments field. I will announce what I think are the best answers before next Monday.
This test is pass-fail, so don't worry about penmanship or grammar. Just express your passionate ideas about what a President should sound like. And most important, have fun!
One: It has been nearly six years since 9/11. Since that time, we have not suffered any terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Just yesterday, the FBI arrested three men for a terror plot at JFK Airport.
Could it be that the Bush administration's effort to thwart terror at home has been a success?
Two: Senator Edwards, let me let you clarify what you said the other day. You said the war on terror is a bumper sticker, not a plan.
With the news yesterday, this alleged plot at JFK which could have done, supposedly, horrendous damage and caused an incredible number of casualties, do you believe the U.S. is not at war with terrorists?
Three: Does the Bush administration deserve any credit for the fact there has been no terrorist attack here in the United States for nearly six years?
Four: Senator Clinton, do you agree with Senator Edwards that this war on terror is nothing more than a bumper sticker; at least the way it's been described?
Five: Congressman Kucinich, you voted against the Patriot Act when it was first introduced. You've since voted again against it. But some would say yesterday's plot that was described by the FBI underscores the need for precisely that kind of tough measure to deal with potential terrorists out there.
Six: Question for you on Iraq: You are the only person standing on this stage tonight to recently vote to continue funding the troops in Iraq.
My question is this. Why were Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd, and Congressman Kucinich wrong to vote against the funding?
Seven: Senator Biden, why are you reluctant to say now: They were wrong, and you were right?
Eight: Senator Clinton, you voted in favor of every funding for the U.S. troops since the start of the war until now. And some are accusing you and some others of playing politics with the lives of the troops.
What is your response?
Nine: Senator Obama, you did the same thing. Since you came into the Senate, you voted for the funding for the troops for this war until now.
What's your answer?
Ten: But, Senator Edwards, where, if at all, do you disagree with any of your Democratic colleagues -- Democratic candidates -- on this issue of the troops, the funding of the war, how to get out?
Eleven: Let me let Senator Edwards respond. Are the differences minor between you and these Democratic candidates?
Twelve: Governor Richardson, I want Governor Richardson to weigh in because I know you have been very concerned about what is happening with the genocide in Darfur.
What if some of the critics, some of the supporters of this war, are right, and a unilateral, quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- and you want troops out by the end of this year -- does lead not only to an increased civil war, but to genocide in Iraq?
What moral responsibility does the United States have to deal with that scenario?
Thirteen: But what about genocide? What about the possibility of genocide?
Fourteen: What about Iraq, if it were, God forbid, to happen?
Fifteen: Senator Gravel, I know you've been outspoken on all of these issues. Where, very briefly, do you disagree with these other Democratic candidates?
Sixteen: The Union Leader, the main newspaper here in New Hampshire, asked readers to e-mail their questions.
Here's one from Michael Pelletier (ph), a major in the New Hampshire National Guard: "Can you tell me if the mission we accomplished during our deployment in Iraq was worth our effort and sacrifice, or was it a waste of time and resources?"
Seventeen: Senator Clinton, do you regret voting the authorize the president to use force against Saddam Hussein in Iraq without actually reading the national intelligence estimate, the classified document laying out the best U.S. intelligence at that time?
Eighteen: Senator Edwards, you didn't read that national intelligence estimate either. Do you regret that?
Nineteen: Senator Obama, you didn't think the war was the right thing to do, even though you weren't in the U.S. Senate. You didn't have access to any intelligence information at the time. Do you think someone who authorized the use of force to go to war in Iraq should be president of the United States?
Twenty: Senator Gravel, do you think someone who voted to authorize the president to go to war should be president of the United States?
Twenty-one: Governor Richardson, a question on immigration. Despite your doubts about the immigration bill that's now pending in the U.S. Senate, you support granting legal status to about 12 million people who have entered this country illegally.
Why is this not an amnesty program?
Twenty-two: Let me get back to the question. Almost all of these 12 million illegal immigrants who are here would qualify for this new Z visa, which would make them legal residents of the United States. So here is the question: Why isn't this amnesty?
Twenty-three: Senator Biden, let me let you weigh in. You voted last year to support this immigration legislation, including the construction of an approximately 700-mile fence along the border between the United States and Mexico.
Governor Richardson doesn't think there needs to be such a fence. Why is he wrong?
Twenty-four: Let me bring back Senator Obama. You also voted for that legislation, including the construction of that fence. And some say, to be even-handed, if you want to build a fence along the border with Mexico, you should also build a fence along the border with Canada.
Twenty-five: We're going to move on to the next question. But before we do, one related question. And I'm going to periodically ask you to raise your hand if you agree or you -- if you agree with the question. And I want you to raise your hand if you believe English should be the official language of the United States.
The only hand I see is Senator Gravel.
Twenty-six: Senator Dodd, you know most of the polls show an overwhelming majority of the American public favors making English the official language of the United States.
Twenty-seven: Senator Edwards, question for you, sir. I was struck by your conversation that you had a moment ago about dishonesty in politics, and wanting to make things clear.
This is a health care question for you, and really focusing on price tags here.
Governor Richardson, for example, says that you can fund health care meaningfully without raising taxes. Senator Clinton has said that she's not prepared to say she will raises taxes to reform health care. Your plan does raise some taxes to fund your universal health care program.
So I am wondering: From your perspective, are they being honest about the true costs of universal health care in America?
Twenty-eight: Let me let Senator Obama weigh in, because you did release your plan, that Senator Edwards says is not really a universal health care plan because it isn't mandatory on everyone.
I wonder if you'd want to respond to that.
Twenty-nine: Senator Clinton, you've been involved in this issue -- as all of us remember -- for a long time.
What do you think of Senator Obama's plan?
Thirty: Senator Clinton, you can do that without raising taxes?
Thirty-one: Hold on one second. I promised Congressman Kucinich...
Thirty-two: Senator Clinton, you've said that it's time to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military and end the "don't ask/don't tell" policy that was implemented when your husband was president.
Was President Clinton's policy of "don't ask/don't tell" a mistake?
Thirty-three: Senator Clinton, the question was: Was your husband's decision to allow this "don't ask/don't tell" policy to go forward -- he was president of the United States; he could have changed it -- was it a mistake?
Thirty-four: But you know, Senator Biden, there are still a lot of military commanders out there, including the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, who say keep the current policy, "don't ask/don't tell," it would be demoralizing, it would be bad for military readiness to change that policy and let gays and lesbians serve openly in the U.S. military.
Thirty-five: Senator Edwards, I want you to weigh in on a related question. The governor of New Hampshire is here with us tonight. He just signed legislation into law in this state allowing civil unions.
All right. Let's try to keep the applause down.
The question is this: Is it time to move beyond that and let gays and lesbians get married?
Thirty-six: Senator Gravel, if you are elected president, how if at all would you use former president Bill Clinton in your administration?
Thirty-seven: Senator Dodd, gas prices are at record high levels. Granite Staters are frustrated. Americans are frustrated. What would you do to reduce gas prices?
Thirty-eight: Are the oil companies -- the big oil companies engaged in price- gouging of the American consumer?
Thirty-nine: My question is: What is your vision on ending major military operations and how do you plan on rebuilding the military after such many years of conflict?
Forty: But, Senator Obama, you want to increase the size of the U.S. military by almost 100,000 troops. That's going to cost billions and billions of dollars.
What do you say to Congressman Kucinich, who says he wants to cut the size of the U.S. military?
Forty-one: Senator Dodd, are there relics of the Cold War, big- ticket military items that you would cut?
Forty-two: My question is: Why is it that veterans cannot receive medical services at the hospital of their choice?
Forty-three: Senator Gravel, you served in the military during the Korean War. Have you had any experiences with the Veterans Affairs Department as a veteran yourself? Are you satisfied or unsatisfied?
Forty-four: I'd like to ask: How would you approach solving the problem we have Iran today? Would you use force or would you use diplomacy? And if you used diplomacy, what would you do?
Forty-five: So what happens, Senator, if diplomacy, when all is said and done, fails?
Forty-six: Senator Edwards, how far would you go, if necessary, to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb?
Forty-seven: What about that, Senator Biden? You're the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. If you got word from the U.S. intelligence community that Ahmadinejad and his government were on the verge of having a nuclear bomb capable of hitting targets in the region on missiles, what would you do?
Forty-eight: A number of the candidates have talked about alliance- building. I want to ask about a specific country. The U.S. has had close relations with Pakistan as part of the war in Afghanistan and part of the war on terror.
How do you reconcile our security interests with Pakistan with our interest in promoting liberal democracy? Pakistan is not a democratic country.
Forty-nine: Congressman Kucinich, if you were president of the United States and the intelligence community said to you, "We know where Osama bin Laden is. He's in Pakistan. We've got the specific target. But he's only going to be there for 20 minutes," you've got to give the order yes or no to take him out with a Hellfire missile, but it's going to kill some innocent civilians at the same time: What would be your decision?
Fifty: I want everybody to raise their hand and tell me: If you agree that if the U.S. had intelligence that could take out Osama bin Laden and kill him, even though some innocent civilians would die in the process, would you, as president, authorize such an operation?
If you would, raise your hand. [The candidates jumped in here - feel free to do so as well.]
Fifty-one: I would like to address the crisis in Darfur. At this time, as many as 400,000 people have been killed, millions or more are without food and shelter. If you were elected president, would role do you think the United States should play in addressing this terrible tragedy?
Fifty-two: Raise your hand if you agree with Senator Biden that the United States should use military force to stop the genocide in Darfur.
Fifty-three: Governor, would you use force to save people in Darfur?
Fifty-four: Hold on one second. What about that idea, Senator Dodd, about possibly boycotting the Beijing Summer Olympic games if China doesn't use its influence to stop the genocide in Sudan?
Fifty-five: Well, on a little bit lighter note, I spent last summer in Germany with a family whose oldest son was completing his one-year mandatory service to his country.
I was wondering if you think we should have that; and if so, how you plan to make it happen?
Fifty-six: Congressman Kucinich, should there be mandatory service for young people after they finish high school?
Fifty-seven: My wife and I have two daughters, middle school age. And we do reasonably well financially, but the vast majority of our spare income goes toward funding our retirement, putting aside money for their college education. And we don't have tax shelters.
We hear an awful lot about new spending -- all wonderful-sounding programs -- with the answer for funding being elimination of tax cuts that were geared toward the rich.
Fifty-eight: So give us a number, Senator Obama. At what number would you tell us that there is lower taxes, at what number people can afford higher taxes?
Fifty-nine: Congressman Kucinich, you know the Republicans will say what they're hearing, by and large, tonight is more Democrats suggesting raise taxes, raise spending, more of the same, the big tax, big spending party.
What do you say to them?
Sixty: The question is: Democrats have vowed to weed out corruption in the federal government. A major source of corruption for both Democrats and Republicans are bribes in spending bills, sometimes referred to as earmarks.
Would you vow, if elected president, to veto all bills containing earmarks?
And, Wolf, earmarks -- the pork spending that sometimes gets added to legislation without anybody really knowing about it.
Sixty-one: Given that the circumstances in this country and in our world were essentially the same when you take office, what would be your top priority for your first 100 days?
Sixty-two: Congressman Kucinich, what would be your top priority?