This is one of the best debates I’ve listened to (or watched). I like that they’ve chosen just 3 issues to discuss and Mike Gravel was invited to attend. Issues debated: Iran, Immigration and China. transcript ~ Lo
Click here to go to the quicktime audio debate
Iran Sparks Fireworks at Democratic Debate
NPR.org, December 4, 2007 · Democratic presidential candidates clashed over Iran, and tackled trade and immigration during a radio debate from Iowa on Tuesday. The forum, sponsored by NPR and Iowa Public Radio, comes just one month before the Iowa caucuses, at a time when polls show a tight three-way race among Sen. Barack Obama (IL), Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) and former Sen. John Edwards (NC).
Sparring over Iran
The candidates were asked about a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes Iran stopped work on its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The new report reverses the conclusion of two years ago that Iran was actively working on a nuclear weapon.
Clinton said she is relieved by the intelligence findings, and called on President Bush to pursue diplomacy with Iran.
Clinton has come under criticism from fellow Democrats for her September vote in favor of a Senate Resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama — who skipped the vote while campaigning in New Hampshire — has said it gave President Bush a “blank check” to go to war against Iran. President Bush warned in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could trigger “World War III.”
Edwards said Tuesday that the Senate had a responsibility to stand up to President Bush. “It’s absolutely clear — and eerily similar to what we saw with Iraq, where they were headed,” he said. Edwards noted that Clinton is the only Democratic presidential candidate who voted in favor of the resolution.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (CT) chimed in, saying the resolution, which he voted against, eliminated all options except a military one.
Clinton defended her vote, saying it was non-binding and did not authorize Bush to take any action against Iran. “I think we do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect,” Clinton said.
Sen. Joe Biden (DE) challenged the idea that the Senate vote influenced Iran’s nuclear plans. “With all due respect to anybody who thinks that pressure brought this about, let’s get this straight. In 2003, they stopped their program,” Biden said.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) said the new intelligence assessment confirms his earlier skepticism. “Just as five years ago, I warned that there was no evidence that would merit war against Iraq and warned this country not to do it, so for the past few years I’ve been saying that there’s no evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapons program.”
Kucinich complained that some of his fellow Democrats — Clinton, Obama and Edwards — still say “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran.