Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. Joe Biden

posted on April 24, 2007

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Yepsen: SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN OF DELAWARE IS IN THE JAM-PACKED FIELD OF CONTENDERS SEEKING THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT. WE DISCUSS THE POLICY AND POLITICS OF HIS 2008 RUN FOR THE WHITE HOUSE WITH JOSEPH BIDEN ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, APRIL 27 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: TWENTY YEARS AFTER HE FIRST CAMPAIGNED FOR THE NATION'S HIGHEST OFFICE, SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN IS MAKING A GO OF IT AGAIN. MR. BIDEN'S FIRST TASTE OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNING AND THE IOWA CAUCUSES CAME IN 1988. TODAY HE'S IN ANOTHER RACE THAT'S SHAPING UP TO BE A WIDE-OPEN CONTEST IN BOTH PARTIES. SENATOR BIDEN IS IN HIS 34TH YEAR REPRESENTING DELAWARE IN THE U.S. SENATE, AND HE'S ONE OF THE LONGEST SERVING MEMBERS IN THE CONGRESS, HAVING BEEN ELECTED IN 1972 AT THE AGE OF 29. HE NOW SERVES AS CHAIRMAN OF THE INFLUENTIAL SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. SENATOR, WELL BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Biden: IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK, DAVID.

Yepsen: GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Biden: GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Yepsen: AND ALSO WITH US AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE ARE KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH 'RADIO IOWA,' AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE REPORTER WITH THE 'ASSOCIATED PRESS.'

Glover: SENATOR, THE NEWS STORY THAT HAS TRANSFIXED THE NATION HAS BEEN THE DEADLY SHOOTINGS AT VIRGINIA TECH UNIVERSITY. WHAT RESPONSE SHOULD THAT INCIDENT BRING FROM CONGRESS?

Biden: WELL, I'M NOT SURE THERE'S A DIRECT RESPONSE IN CONGRESS. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE THOSE OF US WHO WOULD LIKED TO HAVE NOT SEEN THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN LAPSE THAT WE -- I SUPPORTED THE IDEA YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF BULLETS IN THE CLIP OF A GUN AND 9 MILLIMETER GLOCKS AND ALL THAT. BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS I CAN'T MAKE THE ASSERTION OR CAN WE IN CONGRESS THAT HAD THAT LAW BEEN IN PLACE THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED. WHAT IT DOES INDICATE, THOUGH, IS THAT THERE IS A REAL NEED FOR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE -- I MEAN, EXCUSE ME, ADMINISTRATORS, PERSONNEL TO TAKE A MUCH CLOSER LOOK AT THE ABERRATIONS THAT EXIST IN STUDENT BEHAVIOR. MY WIFE IS A TEACHER AT A COMMUNITY COLLEGE. SHE FACES THIS FREQUENTLY, NOT WHAT HAPPENED AT VIRGINIA TECH. BUT STUDENTS WRITE IN THEIR JOURNAL. SHE TEACHES A WRITING COURSE AND SHE HAS THEM KEEP JOURNALS AND THEY WRITE SOME VERY DISTURBING THINGS AND IT CREATES A REAL DILEMMA. SHE GOES TO COUNSELORS. THERE'S NOT ENOUGH COUNSELORS ON CAMPUSES MANY TIMES. EVEN WHEN THERE ARE COUNSELORS, THE LAWS IN STATES HAVE LIMITATIONS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO. AND ONE OF THE THINGS I THINK WE HAVE TO REVISIT IS WHETHER OR NOT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT SOMEONE MAY BE AN ADULT BUT A STUDENT UNDER THE CARE OF A PARENT PAYING FOR TUITION, IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE ABLE TO GO TO DIRECTLY TO PARENTS, GET THEM ENGAGED, AND REVEAL TO THEM WHAT YOU KNOW. BUT IT TURNS OUT NOW IT LOOKS LIKE THEIR PARENTS KNEW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS.

Glover: ISN'T THERE A REAL BALANCING ACT GOING ON HERE BETWEEN THE NEED OF AN INSTITUTION TO KEEP SECURITY IN PLACE AND THE RIGHTS OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO HAVE SOME RIGHTS TO PRIVACY?

Biden: YEAH, NO, THERE IS AND IT'S VERY, VERY DIFFICULT. LOOK, THIS IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. I MEAN I'M THE AUTHOR OF THE CRIME BILL, WHICH PROVIDED FOR SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS. YOU CAN STOP WHAT HAPPENED IN THE AMISH SHOOTING. YOU CAN STOP THE IMPACT ON WHAT HAPPENED AT COLUMBINE IF YOU HAD SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS IN THE SCHOOL, ARMED POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE THERE, AND NOT JUST FOR PROTECTION BUT FOR INTERFACING WITH THE KIDS, AND THE ADMINISTRATION HAS ELIMINATED THAT. BUT IN TRUTH, THERE WERE CAMPUS POLICE. HAVING A SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER IS NOT AN ANSWER ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS, AND IT GETS VERY, VERY, VERY TOUCHY.

Henderson: IS YOUR PARTY PREPARED FOR A DEBATE ABOUT GUN CONTROL? THERE ARE THOSE AMONG YOU WHO WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU'VE LOST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS BECAUSE OF THIS VERY ISSUE. YOU MENTIONED AT THE ONSET GUN CONTROL. IS THAT A LIABILITY FOR DEMOCRATS TO BRING THAT UP?

Biden: I THINK IT CAN BE A LIABILITY. FOR EXAMPLE, I OPPOSE REGISTRATION. I OPPOSE A LOT OF THE -- THERE IS A SECOND AMENDMENT AND IT'S REAL. THE QUESTION IS, THOUGH, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT I HAVE STRONGLY SUPPORTED: ELIMINATING COP KILLER BULLETS, ASSAULT WEAPONS, THE DEALING WITH THE ABILITY TO HAVE MULTIPLE ROUNDS IN A GUN, A SEMIAUTOMATIC, 20, 25, 17, 18 ROUNDS. I DON'T VIEW THAT AS ANY INFRINGEMENT ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT, AND I KNOW IN MY STATE, WHICH IS A BIG GUN OWNER STATE, THERE IS A GENERAL ACCEPTANCE BY HUNTERS AND SPORTSMEN FOR THOSE LIMITATIONS. BUT YOU HAVE OTHERS IN OUR PARTY WHO BELIEVE VERY STRONGLY THAT IF THEY COULD THEY'D LEGISLATE NO HAND GUNS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. THEY'D LEGISLATE RESTRICTIONS AND REGISTRATION, WHICH I DO NOT SUPPORT. SO I THINK THERE IS A LOGICAL BALANCED APPROACH TO TAKE WITH REGARD TO DEALING WITH GUNS AND GUN OWNERSHIP. BUT I -- BUT I DON'T THINK -- I DON'T AGREE WITH SOME IN MY PARTY WHO ARE VERY, VERY STRICT ON GUN CONTROL ISSUES RELATING TO WHETHER OR NOT THERE'S A SECOND AMENDMENT, WHETHER THE SECOND AMENDMENT APPLIES TO INDIVIDUALS. I THINK IT DOES.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO CHANGE GEARS AND TALK ABOUT IRAQ.

Biden: YEAH.

Yepsen: SENATOR REID, THE MAJORITY LEADER, RECENTLY REFERRED TO IRAQ AS A LOST WAR. DO YOU THINK WE'VE LOST THE WAR IN IRAQ?

Biden: IF THE PRESIDENT DOESN'T RADICALLY CHANGE POLICY, I THINK THAT'S THE INEVITABILITY. I THINK THERE'S STILL ONE LAST CHANCE HERE. I THINK THERE'S A CHANCE FOR US TO BE ABLE TO DO WHAT'S BEEN DONE SUCCESSFULLY IN OTHER SELF-SUSTAINING CYCLES OF SECTARIAN VIOLENCE, SEPARATE THE PARTIES. BUT ABSENT THAT, THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION. HARRY IS RIGHT ABOUT THAT.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT. WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION TO IRAQ?

Biden: MY SOLUTION IS VERY SIMPLE. MY SOLUTION SAYS: IMPLEMENT THEIR CONSTITUTION, WHICH ALLOWS THEM TO SET UP REGIONS; GIVE LOCAL AUTHORITY MUCH MORE AUTHORITY OVER THEIR SECURITY, LOCAL POLICE FORCES; CONTROL OVER THEIR LAWS RELATING TO MARRIAGE, EDUCATION, AND DIVORCE; LIMITED CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WITH CONTROL OVER THE BORDERS AND THE ARMY; USE AMERICAN FORCES ONLY TO TRAIN THEIR ARMY AND FOR FORCED PROTECTION. WE DID -- SIMILAR TO WHAT WE DID IN THE BALKANS. THERE WAS NO MORE SECTARIAN VIOLENCE THERE FROM VLAD THE IMPALER TO MILOSEVIC THAN IN THE 5000-YEAR HISTORY OF IRAQ. WHAT DID WE DO? WE ESSENTIALLY SEPARATED THE PARTIES. WE GAVE THEM LIMITED AUTONOMY WITHIN A BOUNDARY, A BORDER. WE HAD 20,0000 TROOPS THERE -- NATO TROOPS THERE. NOT ONE HAS BEEN KILLED IN TEN YEARS, KNOCK ON WOOD. THE SECTARIAN VIOLENCE HAS STOPPED. THAT'S THE NATURE OF THE FORMULA. YOU'VE GOT TO BRING THE WORLD IN IT. YOU'VE GOT TO LEAD. THE PRESIDENT HAS TO GO, IN MY VIEW. IF I WERE PRESIDENT TODAY, I'D CALL THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL INTO SESSION, BRING IN GERMANY AND FIVE OF THE -- THE FOUR LARGEST MUSLIM STATES TO AGREE ON THAT POLITICAL SOLUTION. ABSENT THAT, I DON'T -- LOOK, LET ME SAY IT ANOTHER WAY. THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY OF A STRONG, CENTRAL DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT BEING ESTABLISHED IN BAGHDAD.

Glover: LET'S LOOK AT ANOTHER ISSUE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. IS WAR WITH IRAN INEVITABLE?

Biden: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Glover: IS THAT WHERE WE'RE HEADING?

Biden: IT'S ABSOLUTELY NOT INEVITABLE. I WORRY ABOUT THE LOOSE TALK ABOUT THAT, AND I THINK IT'S A PRODUCT OF 'NOT TALKING.' THIS PRESIDENT HAS PUSHED THE MUTE BUTTON WHEN HE BECAME PRESIDENT WITH ANYONE WE DISAGREED WITH, SO THE IDEA THAT WE'RE NOT DIRECTLY ENGAGED IN IRAN, I FIND -- I FIND DANGEROUS. AND THE TALK ABOUT GOING TO WAR WITH A COUNTRY OF 72 MILLION PEOPLE THAT IS MUCH MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN IRAQ WHILE WE'RE TIED DOWN IN IRAQ I FIND FOOLHARDY. SO I THINK NO PRESIDENT CAN EVER TAKE OFF THE TABLE THE POTENTIAL USE OF FORCE, BUT THERE'S MANY, MANY THINGS IN BETWEEN, FROM NEGOTIATIONS TO SANCTIONS, THAT ARE STILL AVAILABLE IF IN FACT WE CAN'T WORK OUT SOMETHING WITH -- WITH THE -- WITH THE IRANIANS. BUT WAR IS NOT INEVITABLE.

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST IN GENERAL. FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER WAS IN IOWA EARLIER THIS MONTH AND SUGGESTING THAT IOWANS ASK THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IF THEY CAN BE AN HONEST BROKER, SPECIFICALLY REFERENCING THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN DEBATE AND IN HIS VIEW HOW U.S. POLICY HAS BEEN SIDING WITH THE ISRAELIS TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE PALESTINIANS.

Biden: I'M A BIG FAN OF JIMMY CARTER'S. I WAS, AS YOU REMEMBER, HIS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN IN 1976, THE FIRST PERSON TO ENDORSE HIM. THIS IS WHERE HE AND I HAVE PARTED COMPANY OF LATE AND MANY OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN SUPPORTERS OF HIS. I DON'T THINK IT'S A MATTER OF US SIDING WITH THE ISRAELIS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PALESTINIANS. I THINK IT'S US FAILING TO BE AN AGGRESSIVE BROKER FOR PEACE AND NOT HELPING THE ISRAELIS. LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. WE FORCED THE ELECTION ON -- IN THIS LAST SUMMER IN THE WEST BANK. MANY OF US SAID: THAT'S GOING TO PRODUCE A HAMAS VICTORY; WE'RE GOING TO LEGITIMIZE A TERRORIST GROUP; WHAT ARE WE DOING THAT FOR? I MET IN THE WEST BANK WITH FATAH, THE LEADERSHIP OF THE OPPOSITION WITHIN WHAT WAS THE PARTY -- THE PLO'S PARTY, THE PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATION. THEY WERE SAYING THEY NEED HELP. WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELPING THAT PARTY IN TERMS OF GIVING THEM THE ABILITY TO ESTABLISH SOME CONSTITUENCY. WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELPING THEM BUILD HOSPITALS, GIVING THEM THE ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE THEY COULD DELIVER. WE DID NONE OF THAT, SO IT IS OUR NONFEASANCE IN THE NAME OF HELPING ISRAEL. IT'S HURT ISRAEL AND ALSO HURT THE WHOLE PROCESS.

Glover: LET'S TURN TO DOMESTIC POLITICS IF WE COULD FOR JUST A SECOND. NOT LONG AGO THE SUPREME COURT ISSUED A RULING IN WHICH IT AGREED TO OUTLAW A LATE-TERM TERM ABORTION PROCEDURE. WHAT SHOULD PRO-CHOICE POLITICIANS DO MOVING FORWARD IN THE WAKE OF THAT DECISION?

Biden: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE SHOULD DO IS THEY SHOULD HAVE JOINED ME IN MORE VIGOROUSLY GOING OFF ROBERTS AND ALITO SO THEY DIDN'T GET IN THE COURT. I GOT HEAVILY CRITICIZED, REMEMBER, FOR HAVING A VERY TOUGH EXCHANGE WITH BOTH ALITO AND WITH ROBERTS. AND WE ALL WERE -- WE WERE ALL BEING TIMID ABOUT IT AT THE TIME, SAYING THEY'RE REALLY NICE GUYS, THEY'RE GOOD GUYS. THEIR VIEWS ON WHAT I CONSIDER BASIC FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS UNDER THE 14TH AMENDMENT SEEMS TO ME ARE OUT OF STEP WITH WHERE WE'VE BEEN THE LAST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS.

Glover: BUT THEY'RE ON THE COURT. WHAT DO YOU DO GOING FORWARD?

Biden: WELL, YOU MAKE SURE NOT ANOTHER ONE GETS ON THE COURT. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE THREE PEOPLE. THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE TO ELECT A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT. I MEAN THIS SINCERELY. THIS IS THE -- THE TWO BIGGEST ISSUES THAT WILL HAVE LIFETIME EFFECTS FOR OUR KIDS ARE GOING TO BE WHO THE NEXT SUPREME COURT APPOINTEE IS. AND I WISH THEM LONGEVITY, BUT YOU LOOK AT TWO OF THE JUSTICES ON THE COURT WHO VOTED THE OTHER WAY, THOSE JUSTICES, ONE IS IN THEIR EIGHTIES AND ONE IN THEIR MID SEVENTIES AND HAS BEEN IN POOR HEALTH. SO IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT REFLECT THIS RIGHTWARD SWING OF THE SUPREME COURT.

Glover: BUT, SENATOR, IN PAST CAMPAIGNS, I RECALL WHEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE SOUGHT TO MAKE SUPREME COURT APPOINTEES AN ISSUE. IT HASN'T REALLY RESONATED WELL WITH VOTERS.

Biden: WELL, IT HASN'T. YOU KNOW WHY IT HASN'T? IT HASN'T RESONATED THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE BECAUSE WE ALL GOT A LITTLE SECURE AND HAPPY: THERE'S NO PROBLEM; ROE V. WADE IS THERE FOREVER; NOT A PROBLEM. GUESS WHAT? ALL OF A SUDDEN WOMEN ARE WAKING UP IN AMERICAN THAT HAVE BEEN DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN, INDEPENDENT SAYING, WHOA, MY DAUGHTER, 25 YEARS OLD, WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HER MOTHER'S INTENSE FEELING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, ROE V. WADE BECAUSE IT'S JUST -- HER WHOLE LIFE, IT'S JUST A GIVEN. WELL, GUESS WHAT, ONE MORE ROBERTS ON THE COURT, ONE MORE ALITO ON THE COURT, IT'S NOT A GIVEN, IT'S A GONER. AND IT'S GOING TO FOCUS PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.

Henderson: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT VOTERS ARE FOCUSED ON IS HEALTH CARE AND THEIR INABILITY TO MAINTAIN AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE. WHAT WOULD PRESIDENT BIDEN DO IN REGARDS TO THIS ISSUE?

Biden: I'D IMMEDIATELY MOVE TO TAKE A PAGE OUT OF JOHN KERRY'S BOOK, AND I WOULD INSURE EVERY CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 18. I WOULD IMMEDIATELY MOVE FOR CATASTROPHIC HEALTH COVERAGE, AND I WOULD SECONDLY MOVE TO -- AND YOU COULD DO THIS QUICKLY LIKE WE'RE DOING IN MY STATE, MOVE TO ELECTRONIC RECORD KEEPING, WHICH WOULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE COST. BUT THEN WHAT I WOULD DO IS I WOULD GIVE MUCH MORE LEEWAY TO THE STATES WHO ARE NOW EXPERIMENTING WITH FULL COVERAGE, MANDATORY HEALTH CARE COVERAGE LIKE AUTOMOBILE COVERAGE. AND I WOULD DO IT A LITTLE BIT LIKE WHAT WE DID IN THE WELFARE REFORM. WE GAVE -- WE UNDERWROTE THE STATE'S ABILITY TO ENGAGE IN WELFARE REFORM AND MOVED FROM WELFARE TO WORK. AND WHEN WE'VE GOT A CRITICAL MASS OF 35 STATES, WE OUGHT TO CHERRY PICK -- PICK THE BEST IDEAS THAT HAD BEEN EXPERIMENTED WITH IN THE STATES, AND WE HAD IT LIKE THAT, BANG, WE HAD A CONSENSUS. THE SAME THING IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW. THE STATES ARE THE INCUBATORS FOR THIS. I WOULD LIKE VERY MUCH -- FOR EXAMPLE, JOHN EDWARDS HAS A VERY EXTENSIVE PLAN. IT'S A SOLID PLAN. I HAVE SOME DISAGREEMENT WITH IT, BUT THE IDEA THAT YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE ALMOST $2 TRILLION WORTH OF THE GDP AND MOVE IT IN ONE FELL SWOOP BY ONE VOTE IN THE CONGRESS, I WISH IT COULD HAPPEN. IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN SO YOU'VE GOT TO BUILD A PROCESS.

Yepsen: SENATOR, HOW DO YOU PAY FOR YOUR IDEA?

Biden: YOU PAY FOR MY IDEA BY DOING THREE OR FOUR THINGS, DAVID, AND ALSO YOU GO AFTER THE DEBT THIS WAY. I WOULD FUNDAMENTALLY -- YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY AND A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN TERMS OF THE TAX POLICY. I WOULD LET THE TAX CUTS FOR ALL OF THE MIDDLE CLASS LAPSE. I WOULD NOT MOVE FORWARD WITH THE NEW TAX CUT CALLED FOR BY ELIMINATING THE INHERITANCE TAX. I WOULD -- I WOULD LET LAPSE WHAT WOULD COST $195 BILLION OVER TEN YEARS THE TAX CUT FOR DIVIDENDS. I WOULD ELIMINATE TOTALLY THE TAX CUT FOR PEOPLE MAKING OVER -- IN THE TOP ONE PERCENT, WHICH IS $600 BILLION. IN ADDITION TO THAT, ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY SIDE OF THE AGENDA, I WOULD END THE WAR IMMEDIATELY. I WOULD END THIS WAR. THAT WOULD SAVE ME A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. AND IN ADDITION TO THAT I WOULD BE ABLE TO MOVE -- AND I WOULD ELIMINATE THE STAR WARS PROGRAM. I WOULD NOT DEPLOY THE STAR WARS PROGRAM, WHICH IS A MULTITRILLION-DOLLAR, LONG-TERM INVESTMENT WE'RE MAKING, AND I WOULD NOT MOVE FORWARD WITH THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM OF NEW NUCLEAR WARHEADS, WHICH ADDS UP IN THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THAT WOULD GIVE ME, DAVID, SOMEWHERE IN A YEARLY BASIS AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT IMMEDIATELY IF WE DID THIS, MANY OF THESE THINGS, I WOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE ANOTHER ROUGHLY $200 BILLION A YEAR AVAILABLE. $200 BILLION. I COULD FOR $26 BILLION INSURE EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY CHILD IN AMERICA --

Glover: DO YOU AGREE WITH JOHN EDWARDS THAT IT TAKES A TAX INCREASE TO PAY FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH CARE PLAN? EDWARDS HAS SAID, LOOK, LET'S BE HONEST --

Biden: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EDWARDS AND ME, EDWARDS IS TAKING ALL OF THE TAX CUT AND PUT IT INTO HEALTH CARE. I THINK THAT IS NOT GOING TO WORK FOR THE REASONS I SAID, SUCH AS A ONE FELL SWOOP. AND WE HAVE OTHER NEEDS AS WELL. AND I WOULD TRY TO BUILD A CONSENSUS AND IMMEDIATELY RELIEVE PRESSURE ON THOSE WHO ARE PAID -- THIS IS COST AND ACCESSIBILITY. I WOULD IMMEDIATELY RELIEVE PRESSURE ON THOSE THAT PAYING FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE. AND ON EMPLOYERS -- EMPLOYERS WHO ARE PROVIDING HEALTH CARE AND WALKING AWAY FROM IT -- FOR EXAMPLE, AS YOU AN EMPLOYER, IF I PROVIDE CATASTROPHIC HEALTH FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES AND INSURE EVERYBODY UNDER THE AGE OF 18, I DRASTICALLY REDUCE THE PREMIUM YOU'RE HELPING YOUR EMPLOYEE PAY TO GET HEALTH CARE. SO THAT'S THE WAY I WOULD GO ABOUT IT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S ON THE MIND OF A LOT OF VOTERS RIGHT NOW IS THE QUESTION OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. WHAT WOULD PRESIDENT BIDEN DO ABOUT CURBING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?

Biden: THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING, DAVID, I WOULD DO IS I WOULD DEAL WITH MEXICO. LOOK, EVERYBODY GIVES ME CREDIT -- I'M SUPPOSEDLY THIS GUY THAT KNOWS SO MUCH ABOUT -- YOU KNOW, IT'S AN OLD JOKE; EXPERTS ANYWHERE FROM OUT OF TOWN WITH A BRIEFCASE. I READ THESE DAYS NOW FROM TWENTY YEARS AGO I'M THE EXPERT ON FOREIGN POLICY AND PEOPLE CHEER ME WHEN I SAY GO -- YOU KNOW, GO AFTER KHARTUM AND SOMALIA AND LAY DOWN THE LAW WITH THE SAUDIS, ET CETERA. WELL, I'D LAY DOWN THE LAW WITH THE MEXICANS. MEXICO IS ONE OF THE RICHEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD. AND IT'S CLEARLY THE RICHEST IN THE HEMISPHERE, AND THEY HAVE AN ESSENTIALLY DYSFUNCTIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF OPPORTUNITY IN THAT COUNTRY. AND, DAVID, WE CAN TAKE CARE OF THE 12- TO 13 MILLION ILLEGALS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY HAVIN EARNED CITIZENSHIP OVER THE NEXT SIX OR SEVEN YEARS. WE CAN MOVE, WHICH I WANT TO DO, IS HAVE EMPLOYER SANCTIONS TOUGHENED. WE CAN MOVE WITH A GUEST WORKER PROGRAM. WE CAN MOVE IN ALL THESE AREAS. BUT GUESS WHAT, MY SON AND DAUGHTER ARE GOING TO BE FACING THIS THING TEN YEARS FROM NOW WITH 15 MILLION ILLEGALS, BECAUSE AS LONG AS YOU CAN MAKE FOUR TO TEN TIMES AS MUCH IN IOWA BY ILLEGALLY COMING ACROSS THE BORDER THAN YOU CAN MAKE IN YOUR HOME VILLAGE, YOU'RE GOING TO COME. AND THE POINT I WANT TO MAKE IS THIS, PEOPLE DON'T SIT THERE IN THEIR VILLAGES AND SAY, YOU KNOW, WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF WE GET EVERYTHING WE HAVE, GIVE IT TO A SMUGGLER WHO IS A THUG, HE'LL PUT US IN A TRUCK AND TAKE US ACROSS THE DESERT TO GO TO A PLACE THAT DOESN'T WANT US, A LANGUAGE WE DON'T SPEAK. THEY GO FOR ONE REASON, ONE REASON: THE GIGANTIC DISPARITY IN OPPORTUNITY. AND MEXICO SHOULD STRAIGHTEN UP.

Glover: SENATOR, IT WOULDN'T AN OFFICIAL 'IOWA PRESS' SHOW IF WE DIDN'T TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT POLITICS. AS DAVID MENTIONED IN HIS OPENING, YOU SOUGHT THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION IN 1987 AND '88. IT DIDN'T WORK OUT SO WELL. WHAT'S CHANGED SINCE THEN?

Biden: WHAT'S CHANGED SINCE THEN IS THE ENVIRONMENT, AND I HOPE I'VE CHANGED. I HOPE I'VE LEARNED A LOT. LOOK, WHEN I WAS OUT HERE TWENTY YEARS AGO AS A 42-YEAR-OLD KID, THE FARM CRISIS WAS UNDERWAY, THE ECONOMY WAS IN TOUGH SHAPE. THIS WAS A VERY DIFFERENT STATE. NOW YOU'RE FEELING GOOD. YOU'VE MADE GREAT PROGRESS UNDER YOUR GOVERNOR THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. ENERGY IS VIEWED AS AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT NOW. THINGS ARE MORE -- AND WHAT'S CHANGED INTERNATIONALLY IS I THINK -- LOOK, EVERY YEAR -- EVERY FOUR YEARS THERE'S A NEW JOB DESCRIPTION THE AMERICAN PEOPLE PUT OUT FOR THEIR PRESIDENT. THIS YEAR'S JOB DESCRIPTION SAYS WE WANT SOMEBODY TO RESTORE OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD AND REINVIGORATE THE MIDDLE CLASS. I THINK I'M CLEARLY THE MOST QUALIFIED PERSON TO DEAL WITH BOTH OF THOSE ISSUES. I HAVE A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE, AND I THINK THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, WHEN CONSTITUTIONAL POWER IS HANDED FROM BUSH TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT, THERE WILL BE LITERALLY NO MARGIN OF ERROR, NONE. I CAN SAY THAT WITHOUT EXCEPTION, AND IT'S NEVER OCCURRED SINCE ROOSEVELT. NO MARGIN OF ERROR FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT. HE OR SHE IS GOING TO HAVE TO IMMEDIATELY END THE WAR IN IRAQ WITHOUT COMPROMISING OUR INTEREST FOR A GENERATION AND IMMEDIATELY TURN TO OTHER HOT SPOTS IN THE WORLD BEFORE THEY EXPLODE ON ANOTHER WAR.

Glover: BUT LET'S LOOK AT HISTORY A LITTLE BIT. MY EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN THAT WHEN CANDIDATES TALK ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY, VOTERS GENERALLY TUNE OUT. ELECTIONS TRADITIONALLY ARE DECIDED ON DOMESTIC ISSUES.

Biden: I THINK THAT'S TRUE. EXCEPT YOU GO BACK TO 1972, AS A 29-NINE-YEAR-OLD KID, I WON A RACE FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE AGAINST THE GUY WHO HAD AN 81-PERCENT FAVORABLE RATING AND WAS BEATING ME 62 TO 18 IN SEPTEMBER OF THAT YEAR, AND THE WAR IN VIETNAM WAS THE ISSUE. THIS IS A DIFFERENT CASE. YOU LOOK AT THE POLLS IN IOWA, 79 PERCENT OR 80 PERCENT OF THE DEMOCRATS SAY THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE TO THEM IS THE WAR IN IRAQ. YOU LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH REGARD TO NATIONAL, 49 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE. YOU ASK THE PEOPLE AFTER THAT WHETHER OR NOT THEY THINK IF YOU END THE WAR IN IRAQ IF THINGS ARE GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT, AND THEIR ANSWER IS NO. THEY'VE NEVER BEEN AS UNCERTAIN OR THE NATION HAS NEVER BEEN AS ISOLATED INTERNATIONALLY AS TODAY. THAT'S WHY IT'S AN ISSUE.

Henderson: YOU BRING OUT POLLS. POLLS SHOW YOU BARELY REGISTERING IN THE MINDS OF VOTERS AS A POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.

Biden: I'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE.

Henderson: AND YOUR FUND-RAISING HAS FALLEN FAR SHORT OF SOME OF THE LEADING COMPETITORS IN YOUR PARTY. WHY IS IT THAT IN 2008 YOUR PARTY WILL SELECT AN EAST COAST MALE SENATOR WHEN THEY HAD ONE OF THOSE LAST TIME AROUND AND HE LOST?

Biden: WELL, BECAUSE I'M FROM THE DELMARVA PENINSULA. WE ARE NO PART OF THE DEL-CONNECTICUT-MASSACHUSETTS PENINSULA. WE ARE NOT A NEW YORK SENATOR. WE ARE NOT AN ILLINOIS SENATOR. WE ARE NOT SOMEONE WHO COMES FROM THE STATE THAT IN FACT IS VIEWED AS A VERY LIBERAL STATE. MY STATE IS A STATE THAT IS TWO-THIRDS OF IT -- TWO-THIRDS OF IT GEOGRAPHICALLY AN ONE-THIRD OF IT IN TERMS OF POPULATION TALK AT YOU LIKE THIS. YOU THINK I'M JOKING. YOU DON'T KNOW MY STATE. YOU ALL THINK WE SHOULD KNOW YOU. YOU GUYS SHOULD KNOW US. BUT ALL KIDDING ASIDE, I MEAN WE ARE -- I COME FROM A STATE THAT I HAVE -- I'M VERY PROUD TO SAY THE EIGHTH LARGEST BLACK POPULATION IN AMERICA IN MY STATE. I COME FROM A STATE THAT UP UNTIL THE MID '80S, THE MID '60S, DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS CHOSE TO BE PART OF THE SOUTHERN GOVERNORS CONFERENCE. YOU ALL JUST -- IT'S KIND OF A MIDWESTERN THING. YOU ALL THINK THAT, WELL, DELAWARE -- CONNECTICUT, IS THAT -- WAIT A MINUTE, DELAWARE, CONNECTICUT, RHODE ISLAND, WHERE IS THAT? SO I AM NOT A NORTHEASTERN SENATOR. BUT THAT'S NOT PARTICULARLY RELEVANT IN MY VIEW BECAUSE I THINK FOR THE FIRST TIME THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IN A LONG TIME IS EXTREMELY SOBER ABOUT WHERE THEY ARE. I'VE BEEN IN THIS STATE NOW A BUNCH OF TIMES, AND I HAVE YET TO HAVE ANYBODY ASK ME ANY QUESTIONS THAT WERE -- THAT WERE IMPORTANT BUT NOT CONSEQUENTIAL. IT'S AMAZING. I MEAN IT'S AMAZING. YOU'VE BEEN WITH ME SOME OF THE TIME, AND YOU FOLLOW A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE. I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ASKING ABOUT -- GAY MARRIAGE IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE. NOT ONE I GET ASKED A LOT OUT HERE IN THIS LIBERAL CONSTITUENCY. THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT MAKING ME SAFER, SENATOR.

Glover: SENATOR, MOST PEOPLE WHO LOOK AT THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION SEE TWO DIFFERENT TIERS OF CANDIDATES. THEY SEE A TOP TIER AND A SECOND TIER. MOST PEOPLE PUT YOU IN THE SECOND TIER.

Biden: I THINK THAT'S ACCURATE.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO -- WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN TO GET YOU INTO THE FIRST TIER?

Biden: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, YOU HAVE TO TAKE A LITTLE LOOK AT HISTORY HERE. HISTORICALLY, AS DAVID BRODER WROTE NOT TOO LONG AGO, THIS IS ALL SPRING TRAINING. NAME ME A TIME WHEN ANY OF THE POLLS THAT YOU ALL -- WE COULD ALL CITE TODAY WHERE EVERYBODY SAT IN THE POLLS THAT TURNED OUT TO HAVE ANY CONSEQUENCE OVER THE OUTCOME OF IOWA OR ANY CONSEQUENCE IN THE OUTCOME OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. SO PEOPLE HAVE NO HARD CHOICES. I, YOU KNOW -- YOU TALK ABOUT ME BEING LOW ON THE POLLS. I SAW THE ZOGBY POLL ABOUT A MONTH AGO SAYING 93 PERCENT OF OBAMA'S SUPPORTERS SAID THEY COULD CHANGE IN THE NEXT ELEVEN MONTHS, 60 SOME PERCENT. SO THIS IS JUST WIDE, WIDE OPEN. AND PART OF THE EXPLANATION IS, I THINK, IT'S EXCITING FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO HAVE A WOMAN AND AN AFRICAN AMERICAN. WE'VE BEEN A PARTY ABOUT PROMOTING -- ABOUT PROMOTING WOMEN AND MINORITIES. THIS IS AN EXCITING THING. BUT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO END UP TAKING A HARD LOOK. AND YOU OUT HERE LIKE TO KICK THE TIRES AND LIFT OF THE HOOD AND LOOK AT ENGINES.

Yepsen: ONE THING, SENATOR, THAT I'VE NOTICED THAT ACTIVISTS IN BOTH PARTIES ASK ABOUT IS ELECTABILITY.

Biden: YEP.

Yepsen: WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST ELECTABLE DEMOCRAT? IF A DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS GOER IS WATCHING US TODAY AND LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO CAN WIN THE WHITE HOUSE, WHY ARE YOU THE MOST ELECTABLE?

Biden: I CAN WIN IN THOSE BORDER STATES. I CAN COMPETE IN AT LEAST A DOZEN STATES THAT HAVE A CHANCE OF WINNING, AND I CAN GET MORE THAN 45 PERCENT OF THE VOTE IN ANOTHER 12 OR 13 OF THE RED STATES. LOOK, LAST TIME OUT, WE LOST 30 STATES, AND WE LOST 30 STATES BY OVERWHELMING MARGINS, OVERWHELMING. LIKE 15 WE ONLY GO 32 PERCENT OF THE VOTE AND ANOTHER 15 AROUND 40 PERCENT. YOU CAN'T GOVERN -- YOU CAN'T GOVERN THE NATION IF 58 SENATORS COME FROM STATES WHERE YOU HAVE NO LEGITIMACY. AS PRESIDENT THE UNITED STATES, I'M GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE SOME VERY TOUGH DECISIONS, AND I'M GOING TO HAVE TO ASK THE PUBLIC TO MAKE SOME REAL SACRIFICES. AND I'D ASK THE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES: WHO CAN WIN IN KENTUCKY; WHO CAN WIN IN MISSOURI; WHO CAN WIN IN LOUISIANA; WHO CAN WIN IN FLORIDA? WHO CAN WIN IN -- AND I CAN GO DOWN THE LIST. AND I THINK I CAN WIN IN THOSE STATES.

Glover: THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM POINTS TO PRESIDENT BUSH'S HANDLING OF THE WAR THAT MOST POLLS SHOW IS UNPOPULAR. PRETTY GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2006. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THAT 2008 IS A DEMOCRATIC YEAR. HOW DEMOCRATIC WILL 2008 BE?

Biden: IT WILL DEPEND ON OUR NOMINEE, AND I'M NOT BEING FACETIOUS. IT WILL DEPEND DIRECTLY UPON OUR NOMINEE. IF OUR NOMINEE CANNOT LAY DOWN UNIMPEACHABLE CREDENTIALS ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND BE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE THE FAITH ISSUE, THEN OUR NOMINEE WILL NOT WIN. IF YOU LOOK AT THOSE POLLS EVERYBODY IS TALKING ABOUT AS I SAW THEM -- AND I'M A LITTLE BIT OUT OF MY LEAGUE HERE. I'VE THOUGHT MORE ABOUT HOW TO GOVERN THAN HOW TO GET ELECTED; I'M TRYING TO RECTIFY THAT. YOU KNOW, AS BAD AS REPUBLICANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE, WHEN THEY'RE MATCHED UP AGAINST THE FRONT-RUNNERS, THEY DO PRETTY WELL. SOMETHING IS UP.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT A MINUTE LEFT. LET'S GO BACK TO GOVERNING QUESTIONS FOR A MINUTE. PUT YOUR HAT ON AS CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE SENATE. HOW WOULD YOU AS PRESIDENT RESTORE AMERICA'S STATURE IN THE WORLD?

Biden: FIRST OF ALL BY TALKING AND LISTENING, LISTENING TO OTHER NATIONS. IT WOULDN'T BE US OR THEM. SECONDLY, I WOULD GET RID OF THE TWO PILLARS OF THIS ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY. THEY ARE PREEMPTION AS A DOCTRINE, AND THEY ARE REGIME CHANGE. I WOULD JETTISON THEM, REPLACE THEM WITH PREVENTION AND CONDUCT CHANGE, AND I WOULD UNMUTE THE MUTE BUTTON. I WOULD GO OUT AND I WOULD BE ENGAGING THESE OTHER COUNTRIES AND TALKING WITH THEM. I KNOW AN AWFUL LOT OF THESE WORLD LEADERS JUST BECAUSE I CAME UP WITH THEM. THAT'S BECAUSE WHEN I WAS 29, THEY WERE 35 OR 40 AND THEY'RE NOW RUNNING THEIR COUNTRIES. AND THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THEY DESPERATELY WANT THE UNITED STATES TO LEAD AGAIN. THEY ARE SO WORRIED -- THEY RESENT THE FACT WE'RE THE ESSENTIAL NATION, BUT THEY KNOW WE ARE. SO I THINK THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO HAVE AN HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY LITERALLY, DAVID, NOT FIGURATIVELY, TO CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF THE WORLD, LITERALLY. THE WORLD IS READY. BUT IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS MORE THAN HIS OR HER ADVISORS. IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOMEONE WHO IS GOING TO KNOW ON THEIR OWN WHAT THEIR PHILOSOPHY IS AND WHAT THEIR FOREIGN POLICY IS AND WHERE THEY THINK AMERICA'S PLACE IN THE WORLD SHOULD BE PLACED.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I HAVE TO INTERRUPT. WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

Biden: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Yepsen: APPRECIATE IT.

Biden: APPRECIATE IT.

Yepsen: NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE RETURN OUR SPOTLIGHT TO THE IOWA STATEHOUSE AND TO THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2007. OUR TEAM OF IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTERS GATHERS TO FOCUS ON THE MAJOR ISSUES DEALT WITH BY IOWA'S 150 ELECTED SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. WE RETURN NEXT WEEKEND AT OUR REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 P.M. AND SUNDAY MORNING AT 11:30. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER' SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG ON THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' THANKS FOR JOINING US.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


Tags: Democrats interviews Iowa presidential candidates