"America's Hometown Forum"
Presented by Jasper County Democrats
Newton High School
Newton, Iowa
June 21, 2003
[Partial transcript consisting of the introductory remarks and the first three rounds of questions]
Candidates participating: Sen. Edwards, Rep. Gephardt, Sen. Kerry, Rep. Kucinich, Rev. Sharpton.

CONG. BOSWELL: Okay, if we can have your attention please.  If we can have your attention please.  It's a great moment, its a great moment in Iowa.  I'm Congresman Leonard Boswell.  I'm your congressman and I'm proud to serve you.  I'm going to ask our presidentials to have a seat just for a moment, and I want to just say a couple of words.  I'm going to bring up our great Lieutenant Governor in just a second, but the singing, the applause took out my time--that's probably okay.  It's a good occasion we're here for.

But I just want to reprot to the gentlement in front of me, all of you, that we're proud to have you here; we thank you for coming and participating.  And as a person that's on the front line, if I can say that, our country is in peril.  We appreciate your willingness to step up and put yourself on the line to give the leadership that is sorely needed.  We appreciate you so much.

Let me say this.  Iowa takes this caucus very, very serious, and we should; we're the first in the nation and we take it extremely serious because of the import of it and we know that.  And I want to say to you folks gathered today--I'm kind of singing to the choir--but this caucus is important.  Participate.  Ask these gentlemen the hard questions.  They're ready for it.  I know each one of 'em.  They're ready for it.  Ask them the hard questions and expect them to respond to you.  They will.

We have the opportunity here, we have the opportunity here to have a part of what needs to happen in not only this world, but certainly in this nation and you folks here in Iowa have a major role to play and we take it as an awesome responsibility.  Thank you, and now I'd like to bring up Sally Pederson, our great Lieutenant Governor.

LT. GOV. PEDERSEN:  ...Thank you so much and thank you Congressman Boswell, we so much appreciate your leadership in Washington, DC.  Thank you for representing Iowa so well.  I want to say thank you to the Jasper County Democrats for hosting this event and organizing this event and giving Iowans an opportunity to get well acquainted with the candidates for president.  We appreciate the responsibility and the role that we play as Iowans with the first in the nation caucus.  We do take that seriously, but we're Democrats so we also have fun while we're doing it.

You know I think Iowans are typical of Americans everywhere, and we're very concerned because we have a man in the White House who doesn't really understand what Americans face--the challenges to our quality education, the challenges to having health care for all, the challenges to working families in trying simply to be able to put food on the table and pay their mortgages, and so we know that we need new leadership in the White House.  And so today is an important day in that process of choosing a new leader for all of America.  I want to say to all of the presidential candidates today that we wish you luck and we're very anxious to have a Democrat as president of these United States.

DOUG BISHOP: Well gentlemen.  Can everybody hear?  We'd like to ask that everybody shut off their cell phones so we're not interrupted today.  Flash photos will be allowed but we'd like to aks the press that once the forum gets started that they stay back out of the inner circle so that everyone --stay out of the inner circle so everyone can have a chance to see the candidates.

Gentlemen on behalf of our great state, the Jasper County Democratic Party, the forum committee today, and all of our fine citizens gathered here, we'd like to give you a warm and hearty welcome.

I will introduce each of you quickly.  We have Rep. Dick Gephardt from Missouri.  We have Sen. John Kerry from Massachussetts.  We have Sen. John Edwards from North Carolina.  We have Rev. Al Sharpton from New York.  And, we have Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio.

Gentlemen as you all know the road to the White House starts right here in Iowa and most of the fine citizens gathered here will be attending the Iowa caucuses held on January 19th 2004.  Part of the reason we are here today is to determine who we will be supporting out of the field of candidates and who will be the Democratic Party's nominee to beat George Bush in the general election next year.

We will be asking questions in a round-robin format.  Each candidate will have a chance to be first and each candidate will have a chance to be last.  Your seating and order of questioning were determined by luck of the draw, and your staffers did the drawing so if you're unhappy you need to speak to them about that.  We have decided that since Gov. Dean cannot be here today that we will take his questions and put them at the end of the question session in sort of a wild card fashion and that'll give each of us an opportunity to hear you one more time on how you feel on the issues.  So Gov. Dean's loss will be your gain and our gain also.  You'll each have one extra question.

Now let me quickly introduce the panel.  To my right is County Auditor Ken Slothouber.  He'll be our timekeeper.  You'll have a two-minute time period to answer your questions.  When there's 15 seconds left, he'll hold up the paddle; when your time is done he'll turn red.  We will hold strictly to the two-minute time limit.  To my left is Carol Kramer; she's a retired school teacher from Newton, and to her right is John Dillingsley [phon.], a local attorney, and I'm Doug Bishop, the mayor of Baxter, Iowa and a proud member of United Auto Workers Local 997.

We would like to ask that the audience members hold their applause down if they could.  We want each candidate to have a fair chance to answer the qeustions and use their full time allotted.  Gentlemen, I believe we're ready to begin.  Carol will ask Rep. Gephardt the first question.

KRAMER: Good morning, gentlemen.  Welcome to Newton, Iowa.  I hope you know how pleased we are to have all of you here.  My first question is for Mr. Gephardt.  Since the introduction of NAFTA and GATT, U.S. companies have been placed at a huge disadvantage with foreign concerns that do not have direct costs of employee health insurance.  Would some form of national health care make us more competitive?

GEPHARDT: First thank you all for letting us be here.  We are all fighting to be the Democratic nominee, but we're all united together in wanting to defeat George Bush in November of 2004.  I have a plan for universal health care that I think is a good plan; I think it is the plan that will get everybody covered.  We've been trying to do this for over 60 years in this country.  My plan is simple.  I'll go to the Congress in my first week as president and ask the Congress to rescind the Bush tax cuts.  They haven't worked.  And I'll use most of those monies to get everybody covered with good health insurance in this country.  Jean and I, who's here today, have a son Matt.  When he was two he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  We were lucky; we had insurance.  We got through it.  Matt's 32 years old; lives in Atlanta and he's married.  He's a gift of God.  We met parents when he was sick who also had kids with cancer; some of them didn't have health insurance.  Let me just tell you something, folks.  This is a moral issue.  It's not just an economic issue, and when I'm--when I'm president we will get this bill passed.  LBJ signed Medicare at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.  When I'm president I'll get universal health care finally, and you're all invited to Independence, Missouri, to the Truman Library; we'll sign the bill.

BISHOP: Sen. Kerry, your question.

QUESTION: Sen. Kerry, should a Democratic president support a health care system that bases the cost of insurance on lifestyle decisions such as smoking or overeating?

KERRY: Who are you talking to?  I'm skinny as a rail.  [inaud].  Let me just say thank you.  Iowa, thank you for an absolutely extraordinary day today.  Thank you.  It is so beautiful out here and Lt. Gov. Sally Pedersen thank you for your rousing welcome; Leonard Boswell thank you for your leadership and we share the great brotherhood of Vietnam and I'm honored always to be with you; and Secretary of State Chet Culver it's great to be with you too.  Thank you all of you.  Let me just say very quickly, let me just say very quickly, you know with Maytag closing and Iowa unemployment up higher than its ever been in recent memory, there is no place in the country, with Medicare reimbursements the lowest in the nation, there's nowhere where it's more important to have leadership than in the subject of health care.  Health care is not just one of the ways in which we're going to make our companies competitive.  I mean I know UAW workers who are going to the bargaining table; they bargain for an increase in wages and the whole increase goes to the increase in the premiums.  I am offering America the only health care plan yet offered that talks to 163 million Americans who get their health care in the workplace, for whom the costs are rising, I will lower those costs by having the federal government pay for 75 percent of the cost of every case $50,000 or more.  We will take those costs down.  But more importantly, I'm going to offer every single American something long overdue.  All of you will have the chance to buy in to the exact same health care plan that the President and Senators and Congressmen give themselves thanks to you.  If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for all Americans and we're going to make it available.  Finally.   Yes, we need not to base the premium on questions of nutrition, we need to have a wellness program as part of the health care plan of America and we will do that.

BISHOP: Senator Edwards.

QUESTION: Senator Edwards, how can we claim to have the best health care system in the world when up to 42 million Americans have no health insurance?

EDWARDS: First of all it is an honor to be here with you, with the very people that George Bush is betraying every single day that he is in office.  And with these great leaders who fight for you every single day.  We're proud of you, proud of what you do, proud of the Democratic leadership here in the state of Iowa.  Thank you all very much for what you do every day.  We have to give every single American access to quality health care.  And we have to do specific things that'll get us there.  First, we have nine million children in America who have no health care coverage.  Every single one of those kids should have coverage; they should be required to have coverage.  We ought to give people more opportunity to have access to quality health care by allowing people over the age of 55 into the Medicare system who are not covered, at cost, subsidizing those who can't afford it; allowing people who are parents of kids in the Childrens Health Insurance Program who are not covered to be covered; to get into the system at cost.  We need to expand the public health service--make it more available to all Americans by having it available in malls, public facilities, easy places to have access to.  But at the end of the day, we're never going to deal with the health care crisis in America unless we do something about cost and the escalating health care costs in America.  Which means, means we're going to have to have a president who's willing to stand up to big HMOs, stand up to big insurance companies, stand up to big drug companies.  This president is not part of the solution because he is part of the problem.  I have stood up to these companies, I have stood up to these companies every day of my adult life--big insurance companies, big HMOs, big drug companies.  Ted Kennedy, John McCain and I wrote the Patients Bill of Rights.  You should have more control over your health care decisions.

BISHOP: Rev. Sharpton.  Rev. Sharpton, your question.

KRAMER: Rev. Sharpton.  An Iowa hospital group is about to begin recruiting nurses from India because of the huge shortage of nurses in this state and in this country.  How would you address this situation.

SHARPTON:  Well first let me join my colleagues in thanking the leadership here for having us here.  I must honestly say how well we have all been treated and respected, and the hospitality of Iowa is not a myth; it is real.  And I want to thank all of you for that.  I also want to say, and I'm going to answer your question directly, there are nine of us running today.  At least when we got here.  I guess we'll know by the evening news if there are still nine or ten or eight, but whoever wins the nomination, I'll tell you a secret, out of nine running, eight of us are going to lose.  Don't tell them that, but eight of us won't make it.  But whoever wins the nomination, and I intend to be that one, I pledge we will be back to Newton to campaign to make sure we defeat George Bush in November 2004.  How I would as president deal with the recruiting of nurses is first of all, there are many young Americans that if they were given assistance and incentives would go into nursing and into being doctors.  We, we have a president who has cut back on areas that could be both aiding young people toward those professions and giving incentives to those professions and I think this is something that speaks to the values of this administration.  It also speaks to the values of this administration that we fight the right of people to have health care in this country.   I'm not only for a program, a single payer plan where every American is covered and you have a national plan that the government runs nationally, I'm for a health amendment in the Constitution.  We should have the right to health care as Americans.  And let me say.  I want to say this.  I feel bad about the people who our backs were turned to 'cause the government's back been turned to me so long I'm with y'all.  But I want to say this.  We must have a country that sees this as what we are mandated to do.  You can't have universal health care for the people in Iraq and think its socialistic to have it here in the state of Iowa.

QUESTION: Rep. Kucinich, your question.

QUESTION: Rep. Kucinich, the current administration's policy limits stem cell research to existing stem cell lines.  If this is continued in the long run, won't that mean that our health care research industry will fall behind other nations' that do not have similar restraints?

KUCINICH: First of all, I want to thank the committee for choosing Newton as the site, because coming from Ohio, when I look up and I see the Newton Cardinals, the cardinals being our state bird, I'm right at home here at Newton High School, and a cardinal principle of my administration is going to be health care for all.  Now to answer your question about stem cell research.  Stem cell research is a very controversial issue right now, but one thing's for sure.  All of us want to find a way to have the best medical technology made available so that we can cure so many of the diseases that now seem to be incurable.  As a matter of fact, America's genius has always been that we develop new technologies and new medicines and new possibilities, but I contend that we're not going to have a chance to do that unless we recognize that in this nation we have a right to health care.  And how can we secure that right?  You deserve to know the specifics.  I've introduced legislation, H.R. 676, along with Mr. Conyers of Michigan and Mr. McDermott of Washington, which establishes a single payer system.  Medicare for all.  Universal health care.  No premiums.  No co-pays.  No deductibles.  Full prescription drug coverage.  Vision care.  Dental care.  Preventive health.  We can have that right now.  We just need the leadership to move this country forward to have health care for all.  Now there are those who say well it won't pass in Congress, and I'll say that we need a president who's ready to fight for health care for all, for Medicare for all, and I'm that president.  Thank you.

QUESTION: Gentlemen I will remind you we need to honor the two minute time limit so everybody has a fair chance.  We got your introductions out of the way; we're good to go now.

Sen. Kerry, your question.

Market forces and an unregulated America are causing the abandonment of small towns and cities in rural Iowa and throughout the nation.  Should we be looking at the return of some government regulation in the marketplace.

KERRY: Let me just start by saying, boy I'll tell you Dennis Kucinich has some nerve trying to steal the cardinals from this guy over here.  [Laughs].  But that's alright.  Anything goes.  I don't want to--  In some cases there is some regulation that we might return to.  For instance, this administration has been completely unwilling to regulate properly a number of the--take the most recent effort on the media, where we've had a takeover of media conglomerate ownership as a consequence of Mr. Powell's decision at the FCC.  That was a purposeful result.  In the airline industry we saw deregulation take place too rapidly so that we have too few airlines competing in many routes we've created a hub system that doesn't work.  But by and large what we need to do is have a president who is prepared to put in place the economic policies that will advance the growth of our whole economy.  The Bush tax cut, the Bush tax cut is unfair, unwise; it is not economic.  It will hurt this country.  We need a manufacturing policy that helps our companies to be able to compete.  We need a president who will negotiate a trade agreement that will be fair and that doesn't rush to the bottom but lifts companies up.  I will never negotiate a trade agreement that doesn't have a labor and environment that raises the standards in other countries so we do not lose those efforts.  Thank you very much.

BISHOP: Sen. Edwards, your question.

KRAMER: Sen. Edwards.  NAFTA has cost this nation 2.5 million industrial jobs, many of them from small towns [and?in] rural America.  Should it be repealed.

EDWARDS: We have got to have not just free trade in America but fair trade so that our working people have a real chance to compete in this country, and not only, not only should we negotiate trade agreements in a way that allows our workers to compete, with real labor protections, real environmental protections, but in addition to that we need to have a plan in place to replace the manufacturing jobs that we've already lost by giving real financial incentives for companies to locate in the communities where those jobs have been lost.  We've lost almost two million manufacturing jobs under this president.  We have to give companies--in my state of North Carolina we've lost over 100,000 textile jobs.  My father worked in a mill all his life.  I understand what families go through when they lose a job, something they've been doing their entire lifetime.  And I want to say one other thing about this president.  This president is saying that he wants a debate about values in the election in 2004.  We're going to give this president a debate about values in 2004.  His values are not the values of the American people.  You know the fundamental divide between George Bush and John Edwards?  George Bush honors and respects only wealth.  He wants to make sure that those who have it keep it, that they're part of an exclusive club that no one else is ever allowed to get in.  That is what he's about--building barriers, closing doors.  We're about the opposite.  Our values are hard work; our values are responsibility.  We're not about building barriers; we're about knocking those barriers down.  We're not about closing doors; we're about opening doors.  We're about giving every single American the same opportunity in this country.  That's what my life has been about and that's what I'll do as president.

BISHOP: Rev. Sharpton, your question.

QUESTION: Rev. Sharpton, more and more United States corporations are listing their headquarters addresses in places like Bermuda and the Bahamas, things like that, both to avoid taxes and in some cases to make it more difficult and expensive for their stockholders to attend the annual shareholder meetings.  To whom are these corporations accountable and how should they be held accountable?

SHARPTON: Well first of all I think the corporations must be accountable to the public that they sell their goods and they must be regulated by government that is put in place to protect the citizens.  We are in a present climate where this government protects the multinational conglomerates rather than protects the citizens of the country.  The president is not elected to be the business agent in Washington for billionaires, they're elected to execute law to protect the American people.  So when you look at the fact that President Bush, with his ties to people like Ken Lay of Enron, and you have several thousand offshore corporations that were connected to them not paying taxes; he then comes and preaches to the people of Iowa how our young men and women have to sacrifice in war, while he tells businessmen they don't have to sacrifice anything to help build the economy of the United States.  But we also must be honest in the party.  I want to answer the last question with this one.  We should not only repeal NAFTA, we should have never supported NAFTA from the beginning as Democrats.  NAFTA is a Republican concept that helps big fat Republican billionaires.  We have got to have an election next year where the Democrats are Democrats and the Republicans are Republicans and let's win the country back, because we have a situation now where this president talks of leaving no child behind, but he really wants to leave no billionaire behind.  And we going to leave them all behind.

BISHOP: Rep. Kucinich, your question.

QUESTION: Rep. Kucinich.  NAFTA was sold to farmers as a road to prosperity, yet after ten years and millions of jobs lost corn is still at $2 a bushel and beans at 5.  Why should a young person today select a career as a family farmer when they face a global commodity market over which they have no influence?

KUCINICH: You're absolutely right.  What happened with NAFTA is it was sold not only to farmers but to workers around this country saying that there were going to be more opportunities and it's meant less.  Farmers have seen their prices driven down.  They've lacked access to important markets.  I know that all over this country there are workers who are really concerned that the next shoe that's going to drop is that their own company is going to pull out because of NAFTA.  NAFTA in this country has meant a loss of not only jobs, it's meant communities breaking up; it's meant homes breaking up; it's meant a loss of dreams; it's meant a transfer of wealth out of this country.  I've seen this.  I've gone to community after community around America to talk to people about NAFTA and about the effects of NAFTA.  And after talking to so many people, I make this pledge here today, that right after I take that oath of office as President of the United States, that my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO, and, and, and to return to bilateral trade which will be conditioned on workers' rights--the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages and benefits, the right to a secure retirement, the right to participate in the political process.  It will, our bilateral trade will be conditioned on human rights.  We're going to stop slave labor; we're going to stop child labor.  Our bilateral trade will be conditioned on protecting the environment--the air and the water.  We're going to take the power back for workers.  We're going to take the power back for the people the moment that we cancel NAFTA and return to bilateral trade.  It is time.  All over this country people are waiting for this.  And you, you the people of Iowa and the people of America have a right to demand the answers from all candidates who want your support.  Will you or will you not cancel NAFTA and the WTO?  Thank you.

BISHOP: Rep. Gephardt, your question.

KRAMER: Rep. Gephardt.  Given the loss of several millions of industrial jobs and the growing trade deficit abroad, currently running over $1.3 billion a day, was GATT a bad idea for America?

GEPHARDT: Well let me try to put this question in human dimensions, because it's easy to get off into the policies and forget what's happening in America in the last years.  Millions of jobs have been lost.  They moved to Mexico; now they're moving to China, even from Mexico.  In Iowa alone 10,000 jobs have been lost to Mexico between 1993 and 2003.  And we believe that by 2010 unless policies are changed, 10,000 more Iowa jobs will move to China.  What's happening is a race to the bottom, and it is hurting families and people, children.  People are giving up because the jobs are leaving.  Jobs that paid 10 and 20 and 30 and 40 dollars an hour with health care.  And they're getting jobs that pay minimum wage or a little bit above, without health care.  That's what's happening.  The standard of living of ordinary families is going down in America.  We're hollowing out our economy.  We're going to lose the most important part of our economy.  The Maytag jobs in Galesburg, Illinois are on their way to Mexico and I know there's worry in this room today that the Maytag jobs here could go to Mexico as well.  Now, everything I'm proposing in this campaign is designed to get this economy moving, to restore our economic growth, to get us back to building jobs.  In the Clinton administration we created, with your great work and help, 23 million new jobs in this country.  In the last two years we've lost 3.5 million jobs.  I'll give you health care, education, fair trade; we will get this economy moving again.

BISHOP: Gentlemen.  Sen. Edwards you'll start this round.

QUESTION: Sen. Edwards, who should pay for pollution or pollution cleanup?  Should it be the company that creates the product or should the cost be borne on the user of the product or should it be borne on the taxpayers generally?  Who should pay for environmental protection and cleanup?

EDWARDS: There's a very simple answer to that question.  Who should pay for who caused the pollution?  The people who actually are responsible for it.  That's who should pay for pollution.   And we actually have a problem right here in Iowa, a problem that we've also had in North Carolina, with these big corporate hog lots.  We have important work to do to protect the environment here in Iowa, to protect the environment in North Carolina.  Actually over the next couple of weeks I will be introducing legislation in the United States Senate to deal specifically with that issue, to do three things.  So that we don't, by the way, so that we don't have neighbors who are having to move out of neighborhoods, having to move because of the smell, because of the damage to their water.  There are obvious things that we can do.  First thing we can do is actually have serious, strict enforcement of strong laws at the federal level to protect our clean water.  We've got them now.  We need to enforce them; they need to be stronger.  Second, we need a serious strengthening and enforcement of the laws that protect our clean air.  And third, third we ought to stop using taxpayer money to subsidize these big corporate hog farms with all the damage that they're doing to the environment both here in Iowa and in the state of North Carolina.  The last thing we should have, the last thing we should have is your tax dollars going to damage your water, your air, the air and water that your kids and your grandkids are going to depend on.  We ought to stand up.  We ought to do something about it.  I'm offering legislation in the Senate to do that, and we will make it law when I am president.  Thank you all.

BISHOP: Rev. Sharpton, your question.

QUESTION: Rev. Sharpton, Ben Franklin said you will know the worth of water when the well runs dry.  Most of the solutions to alleviate the looming water crisis will require major policy shifts by government.  What are your plans for water management?

SHARPTON: Well aside from the natural plan of I'm the only minister in the race that can make intervention to other places for rain.  I don't want to use my advantage in that area.  I think that first of all we must look at the current policies as to why they are not working.  Why they are not working is we are too careful to protect the business interests of those that don't want us to open up into reservoirs of available water, clean that water, and make it ??palpable for the American people.  We are not in a problem of nature, we are in a problem of business arrangements, because we don't have a president and we don't have a leadership that is saying that the people should have the priority and not those concerns that feel that they can monopolize what nature has provided for all people on the globe and particularly the American people.  I think in order to talk about environment, whether we're talking about waste dumps, whether we're talking about going from an oil economy to electrical cars or something of that nature, whatever we're talking about, the real problem is that we need a president that will stand up to big business and say that environmental concerns cannot be compromised and cannot be bargained in the back room of some corporate headquarters.  And I think that unless, unless we have a president that feels that that is their mandate we're going to continue to have problems that we will think is a shortage of nature when it's a shortage of courage by who's sitting in the Oval Office saying that these arrangements may be good even to some of my contributors, but my job is to get clean water into every American household, and if I've got to go in dealing with reservoirs and cleaning processes that does not serve the business interests of my friends, so be it.  I was elected to do that.

BISHOP: Rep. Kucinich, your question.

KRAMER: Mr. Kucinich, the Pew Commission just recently released a report that found the oceans of the world are at risk from overfishing, pollution, agricultural runoff and waste disposal.  Can one nation really address this type of policy by itself or does it require global cooperation?

KUCINICH: Well certainly America can lead the way since America is responsible for creating so much of the waste.  Three weeks ago in San Francisco, I announced an initiative specifically dealing with oceans that would enable us to begin the efforts to replenish our oceans, stop the overfishing, and address the point source pollution that is a direct result of the degradation of ocean environment and in some cases the destruction of coral areas.  I want to say that with so many areas in this country dependent on coastal environments for their economic as well as for their well being we need to make sure that we make the preservation of our oceans important, but let's go to the larger issue of water.  Water represents this great resource we have a right to; it's basic for life.  But what's happened is that water is now becoming a target for corporations to take their next advantage and monopolize it.  In the WTO corporations, global corporations are seeking rules that would enable them to be able to go in and take over municipal water systems, declaring that those municipal water systems represent unfair competition.  As President of the United States, I intend to make the maintenance of our environment one of the top issues.  I intend to help accomplish the greening of the Democratic party itself, because it is time for our party to take a stand on environmental issues.  Now we all remember, you know, oh beautiful for spacious skies have become polluted because of corporate control of our environmental policy.  Our amber waves of grain are not getting sold abroad because of corporate control of our environmental policy.  Our purple mountain majesty is getting dimmed by the haze of pollution because we don't have renewable energy policies and I say, America, America let us reclaim you in the name of environmental protection, in the name of clean air, in the name of clean water, in the name of future generations.  We do not--the Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth and we need to make sure that the corporate environment in this country gets that message loud and clear.

BISHOP: Rep. Gephardt, your question.

QUESTION: Rep. Gephardt, assume that you have a budget of $100.  How much of the $100 would you spend on the environment?

GEPHARDT: The problem is today most states don't have a budget of $100.  Bush economic leadership has left almost every state in bankruptcy and the first thing we need to do, as I said a moment ago, is to get the economy straightened out so that state budgets get straightened out.  This president's trying to give his rich friends a tax cut about every week.  It's causing service cuts all over this country; that's what you need to know.  But let's talk about the environment, energy, water, air.  We only have one Earth that we've been given by God.  And we as the stewards of this Earth, in the richest country in the world, have to set an example for the whole world on how we treat our air and our water, our environment.  I announced last week an energy plan that would get us to 10 percent of all of our energy from renewables in ten years.  Twenty percent in 20 years.  How do we do it?  We do it through ethanol, a program that I have supported since the beginning of that program.  We do it by moving to hydrogen, hybrid cars.  We ought to have big tax incentives for hybrid cars and not SUVs.  We ought to be, we ought to be moving our CAFE standards up.  We ought to be trying to solve the problems of water pollution.  This administration is unwinding every good environmental regulation that we've put on the books and have been implementing over the last 30 years.  And there's a reason for it.  The money for their election came from the same energy companies that have tried to get rid of these regulations.  When I am president we will protect the God-given environment of this country.  Thank you.

BISHOP: Sen. Kerry, your question.

QUESTION: Sen. Kerry, Science magazine reported recently that Caltech researchers warn that in switching to hydrogen fuel, mankind could release into the atmosphere three times as many hydrogen molecules as are currently going into the stratosphere thus greatly enlarging the ozone holes and depleting ozone levels by up to 8 percent.  Should we look at other alternatives?

KERRY: We have to look at every single alternative there is.  This administration is locked into a policy of trickle down economics where they give all--three trillion in tax cuts taken off the table for the next ten years and it robs us of all the opportunities to go look at whatever alternatives there may be.   Everywhere I go in this country I'm meeting a whole bunch of Americans who are tired of being trickled on by this administration.  And what we need to start to do--  I have been involved in environmental leadership since I came back from Vietnam in 1969.  I was part of Earth Day in 1970.  I was New England chairman of Earth Day in 1990.  I've been chairman of the Oceans Subcommittee.  I  am proud I led the fight with John McCain to try to raise the standards of automobiles.  We lost it, but I'm proud I led the fight that we won to stop the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.  And I will tell you, what we need-- I am going to be the president who sets a standard for this country.  We're going to produce 20 percent of our electricity by the year 2020 from alternatives and renewables.  And I am going to be the president who embarks this nation on the same kind of journey that President Kennedy asked us to go on.  He said we'd go to the moon in ten years.  I say we're going to go to the moon right here on Earth by putting the $20 billion that comes from the royalties that our oil companies get from drilling on your public lands, we're going to invest it in Caltech, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, laboratories, universities; we are going to use American ingenuity, American creativity, American entrepreneurial capacity to create the jobs of the future.  Five hundred thousand jobs will be created in the first few years in our effort to become energy independent.  Never again should young men and women be held hostage to our dependency on oil in the Middle East.  I'm going to declare energy independence for America.

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Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.