Liveblogging the AFSCME forum

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I’ll be updating regularly, as will Heath over at his place, so keep it tuned here for the latest from the debate.

1:00 p.m. — We’re getting started. The forum will feature each candidate individually, with George Stephanopoulos interviewing, so it won’t be an actual debate.

1:03 p.m. — Hotline editor John Mercurio is talking politics while we wait.

1:05 p.m. — Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid is starting up, looks like C-SPAN was having some problems. Reid is announcing Gerald McEntee, the President of AFSCME. McEntee is thanking Reid for making Nevada a bigger player in the presidential election process.

1:13 p.m. — Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn) is first up, and just as he started talking C-SPAN lost the feed again. He’s back.

“We can’t survive as a nation 51-49.”

Dodd says we need leadership that isn’t like the 6 years of on-the-job-training we’ve seen.

George mispronounced Nevada, which garnered boos from the audience.

1:17 p.m. — Dodd: cannot leave the Bush tax cuts permanent. Must redistribute them for the low and middle-classes.

George: why do you think your vote for the war was a mistake?

Dodd: The information we had about WMD was a major factor, but we don’t need to compound the mistake by making more in the future.

We should be redeploying forces immediately out of those densely populated area, where they’re nothing but referees in a civil war.

1:25 p.m. — Responding to a question on redeployment creating more chaos:

“How much more chaos can there be in Baghdad.

Dodd’s closng statement: I’m asked why am I doing this? I look at my children, and want them to grow up in a world a lot more secure than the one that will occur if we don’t change the leadership in this country.

“This is our watch, our responsibility, to leave our children a country that is as prosperous as the one left to us by the generation before.”

1:26 p.m. — Sen. Hillary Clinton is up next. Her opening statement:

“People like you, who are public servents… that you have a right to organize and bargain and have your voices hear in debates about these issues.”

I’m in to win to be the best president we can have for workig families. I’ve been focused on how we can have health care and education and give people the best services they can have to they can live the best life they can.

“Now I want to stand with you against the privitization of our governent.”

1:30 p.m. — George: why don’t you think your vote was a mistake?

Hillary: “I belive my vote was a sincere vote based on the information we were assured was accurate.”

Now she’s talking about her Irq plan, and cutting money fro Iraqi troops because they’re not “standing up” and fighting.

1:32 p.m. — Geroge: is universal health care possible?

Hillary: we already spend more on heaklth care than anybody else in the world, and we don’t even insure everybody.

“We’re also at a competetive disadvantage because our employers are providing health care and competing in a global economy.”

1:35 p.m. — The Obama scuffle is Clinton’s third question.

“I think we should stay focused on what we’re going to do for America.”

Clinton deflected the question on whether Obama should denounce the comments made by his campaign staffer.

1:40 p.m. — Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack:

“What have you done today to end the Iraq War?”

1:42 p.m. — Vilsack: “Let’s take the resources we’re spending in Iraq and put them back into the US.”

Health Care: “We absolutely do need universal health care… but it is much more than that. We have to incorporate wellness, in every level.”

“Maybe we can make health care a priority, and not the war in Iraq.”

1:48 p.m. — Former Sen. John Edwards is up next.

“The most important anti-poverty movement in history is the organized labor movement.”

“If a Republican can join the Republican party by signing their name to a card, a worker should be able to able to join a union the same way.”

Edwards says he’ll pay for his universal health care plan by repealing the Bush tax cuts.

Re: Iraq: “This is not a time for political calculation.”

“We need a leader who will be open and honest with the American people.”

1:55 p.m. —About the 2002 vote to authorize force: “It’s important for me to stand on a foundation for truth”

Looking back… I should never have given George Bush the authority I did back in 2002.

1:58 p.m. — Globalization question, and the consequences for America.

Edwards: “it’s created a stratification of class here in America.”

“It makes it much more difficult, particularly for working families with children, to move up.”

Edwards: we need to push math and science, and make college more affordable for college. Then we need a trade policy that works. We need a trade policy that is smart trade. For American workers, we have to put the social contract back in place.

2:02 p.m. —Intermission. Bill Richardson is up next, and, for some reason, he’s the only guy sporting slacks and a blazer, rather than a suit. The candidates were posing for a photo-op, and, while Richardson seemed to drawf them all, the slacks did stand out.

2:11 p.m. — Starting back up.

2:13 p.m. — Richardson: I think it’s really important to have a strong nominee. Proposing candidates sign a pledge against negative campaigning.

2:15 p.m. — Richardson:

“Governors actually do things.”

So much for no negative campaigning?

2:16 p.m. — On experience:

“When I say to you that the enormous challenges facing this country both here and abroad must be addressed by somebody with experience, who has been in the arena, who has done something.”

2:19 p.m. — Richardon: Obama should denouce the comments by David Geffen.

“I think these name callings are not good.”

“We should all sign a pledge that we’re gonig to be positive — that’s what the American people want, and that’s how we’re going to win.”

2:20 p.m. — Richardson said he would not raise taxes to pay for universal health care. He said 31 percent of costs are administrative.

Richardson: we need fair trade. Any future trade agreements should have worker protections; environmental protections; and wage disparity equity.

“I would reward American companies that kept their jobs and people in America..”

2:25 p.m. — Richardson: I believe next resident is going to hav to have experience internationally.

“(Pres. Clinton) used to say: bad guys like Richardson, so I’m sending him there.”

2:30 p.m. — Sen. Joe Biden (Delaware) is on, saying “you’ve got to decentralize Iraq.”

“I vastly underestimated the incompetence of this administration in Iraq. Because remember folks, they got it right in Afghanistan.”

Biden is saying there nees to be a regional approach to keep Iraq’s neighbors out, and to try and implement a federal system in Iraq.

2:35 p.m. — Education question on No Child Left Behind:

Biden: “I sleep with a teacher every night, the same teacher for the last 30 years.”

“We’ve underfunded it by about $70 million.”


  1. Need larger classrooms
  2. Need to attract bet and brightest coming out of college to be teachers and pay them

2:39 p.m. — Biden: President Bush is going to leave the next president with no margin for error.

2:42 p.m. — Rep. Dennis Kucinich is on now. He’s bringing on the sarcasm.

“It must be really tough for candidates for president to come before the American people and claim they there tricked, decived or misled — by George Bush.”

2:45 p.m. — George: What next in Iraq?


“We need to recognize it is time to end the occupation.”

Have to have a program for reconiliation. We have to have honest reconstruction. Have to get rid of the Halliburtons. Also need to have program for reparations. We have to stop trying to steal the oil from the people of Iraq.

2:50 p.m. — Kucinich: We have to ensure that all these institutions that have been set up to protect the rights of working men and women actually have teeth, and we have to have an administration that is willing to make it happen.

2:55 p.m. — Mike Gravel (former Alaskan senator) is up next.

Gravel: “Congress should pass a law ending the war.”

He suggests a constitutional crisis will occur, and that Senate Republicans will “wither on the vine.”

3:01 p.m. — Gravel is arguing for a progressive sales tax, using his $250 suit and George’s $2,000 suit as examples.

3:04 p.m. — Gravel:

“There is no one in this race with less money than I do. Some candidates are saying they want to opt out of public financing. I’m trying to opt in.”

3:05 p.m. — And that’s all she wrote. More later.

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