Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. John Edwards

posted on June 15, 2007

Note: If this video does not play, you may need to download the free RealPlayer video plugin for your web browser.

>>

Borg: PURSUING A VISION... FORMER NORTH CAROLINA SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS IS SEEKING IOWA CAUCUS MOMENTUM IN HIS BID FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. WE'LL QUESTION JOHN EDWARDS 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, JUNE 15 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: JOHN EDWARDS HAS A BIG STAKE IN IOWA. A STRONG SHOWING IN IOWA'S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION CAUCUSES WOULD PROVIDE ESSENTIAL MOMENTUM TOWARD THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. WITH BETTER THAN SEVEN MONTHS REMAINING IN THOSE CAUCUSES OR UNTIL THEY OCCUR, POLLS ARE NOW SHOWING HIM IN THE TOP TIER OF DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES, ALONG WITH SENATORS HILLARY CLINTON AND BARACK OBAMA. MR. EDWARDS KNOWS IOWA AND IOWANS KNOW HIM. CAMPAIGNING HARD HERE DURING THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CYCLE, IOWA DEMOCRATS CAUCUSING HIM A STRONG SECOND TO JOHN KERRY AT THAT TIME, A HARBINGER TO THE PARTY'S EVENTUAL TICKET, WITH MR. EDWARDS BECOMING KERRY'S CHOICE FOR HIS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE, BACK NOW ON THE 2008 CAMPAIGN TRAIL. WE WELCOME YOU TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Edwards: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Borg: AND YOU KNOW THE TWO GENTLEMEN ACROSS THE TABLE VERY WELL FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.

Edwards: JUST A LITTLE BIT.

Borg: THEY ARE 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, LET'S TURN TO ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS ISSUES IN AMERICAN POLITICS RIGHT NOW. CONGRESS IS WRESTLING WITH IT. CANDIDATES ARE WRESTLING WITH IT. THAT'S IMMIGRATION. THERE'S A BILL IN CONGRESS. WHAT'S YOUR SOLUTION TO THE IMMIGRATION PROBLEM?

Edwards: I THINK THERE ARE SEVERAL PIECES THAT ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE IMMIGRATION REFORM WORK. ONE, WHICH IS IN THE BILL THAT'S IN THE CONGRESS NOW, IS MUCH TIGHTER BORDER SECURITY. WE'VE GOT TO GET CONTROL OF OUR SOUTHERN BORDER PARTICULARLY. THAT MEANS USING ALL THE TOOLS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO US: PEOPLE, RESOURCES, TECHNOLOGY, EVERYTHING. SECOND, WE HAVE TO BE TOUGHER ON EMPLOYERS THAT ARE KNOWINGLY HIRING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND IN SOME CASES ABUSING THEM. THAT'S ALSO IN THE BILL. AND THE THIRD COMPONENT IN MY VIEW, THERE NEEDS TO BE A PATH NOT TO AMNESTY BUT TO EARN CITIZENSHIP, AND THERE OUGHT TO BE SOME BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO THAT EARNED CITIZENSHIP LIKE PAYING A FINE AND LEARNING TO SPEAK ENGLISH.

Glover: AND THAT'S THE FLASHPOINT OF THE WHOLE ISSUE. THOUGH YOU DON'T LIKE TO CALL IT THAT, CRITICS SAY THAT'S AMNESTY IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER. HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT CHARGE? AND AREN'T CANDIDATES WHO SUPPORT THAT VULNERABLE TO THE CHARGE THAT THEY'RE SUPPORTING AMNESTY FOR ILLEGALS?

Edwards: NO, NOT IF -- FIRST OF ALL, NOT IF YOU HAVE A CLEAR SET OF REQUIREMENTS THAT HAVE TO BE MET IN ORDER TO OBTAIN CITIZENSHIP. AND THEN SECONDLY, MY ANSWER TO PEOPLE IS WE HAVE ELEVEN, TWELVE MILLION -- WE'RE JUST ESTIMATING HOW MANY ARE HERE -- ELEVEN, TWELVE MILLION PEOPLE, AND WE DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE WE HAVE ONE GROUP OF FIRST-CLASS CITIZENS AND A SECOND-CLASS GROUP OF LABORERS. THAT'S NOT AMERICA. THAT'S NOT WHO WE ARE.

Glover: ISN'T THIS A FLASHPOINT BETWEEN REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS? I MEAN DEMOCRATS TEND TO SUPPORT YOUR POSITION AND SAY WE FAVOR SOME KIND OF A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP. REPUBLICANS ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY OPPOSE IT. ISN'T THIS GOING TO BE A GENERAL ELECTION ISSUE?

Edwards: OH, IT WILL BE A GENERAL ELECTION ISSUE; THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. BUT I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IT'S QUITE THAT CLEAR ALONG PARTY LINES OR EVEN IDEOLOGICAL LINES. I THINK THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN MY PARTY WHO DON'T SUPPORT WHAT I JUST DESCRIBED. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WHO DO. I THINK THIS GOES ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER HOT ISSUE IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW IS ENERGY PRICES, SPECIFICALLY HIGH GASOLINE PRICES. WHAT WOULD YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Edwards: TWO THINGS. ONE IS WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE LONG-TERM PROBLEM, WHICH IS WE'RE ADDICTED TO OIL. WE USE 22 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL A DAY; 12 MILLION OF THOSE BARRELS ARE IMPORTED. IT FEEDS THE SOURCES OF TERRORISM, PARTICULARLY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. IT FEEDS DANGEROUS GOVERNMENTS AND REGIMES. AMERICA HAS GOT TO GET OFF ITS ADDICTION TO OIL. I HAVE SOME VERY CLEAR IDEAS ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD DO THAT. IT SHOULD BE COMBINED WITH ADDRESSING GLOBAL WARMING, CAPPING CARBON EMISSIONS IN AMERICA, AUCTIONING OFF THE RIGHT TO EMIT ANY CARBON DIOXIDE BELOW THE CAP, USING THE PROCEEDS OF THAT, $30 BILLION OR SO, TO TRANSFORM THE WAY WE USE ENERGY. BUT THOSE ARE ALL LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS. SHORT TERM, I THINK FIRST OF ALL THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATING THESE VERTICALLY INTEGRATED OIL COMPANY OPERATIONS TO SEE IF IN FACT THEY'RE ENGAGING IN ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. ONCE WE HAVE THAT INFORMATION, IF IT TURNS OUT -- AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE ANSWER TO THAT IS. IF IT TURNS OUT THAT THEY'RE NOT TECHNICALLY VIOLATING THE LAW BUT THEY'RE VIOLATING THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW, THERE MIGHT BE SOME TWEAKING OF THE LAW THAT NEEDS TO OCCUR. I THINK THAT STATES OUGHT TO BE ENFORCING MUCH MORE RIGOROUSLY THEIR CLEAN AIR LAWS AGAINST THESE OIL REFINERIES, AND I THINK WE OUGHT TO CUT OFF $3 BILLION OF OIL COMPANY SUBSIDIES THAT TAXPAYERS ARE FUNDING.

Borg: WHAT'S YOUR LEVEL OF CONCERN AND, BROADER QUESTION, WHAT SHOULD BE THE U.S. RESPONSE TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE GAZA STRIP RIGHT NOW BETWEEN HAMAS AND FATAH?

Edwards: OH, IT'S A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM. I WAS IN ISRAEL LAST SUMMER, AND AT THAT POINT THERE WERE MISSILES BEING LAUNCHED OUT OF GAZA INTO ISRAEL. IT WAS A CAUSE OF GREAT CONCERN, WHICH WHAT'S HAPPENED IS THE COALITION GOVERNMENT IS A DISASTER BETWEEN HAMAS AND FATAH. I THINK IT'S A VERY DANGEROUS, VOLATILE SITUATION. I MEAN WHAT AMERICA WANTS TO DO OVER THE LONG TERM IS WE WANT TO PROVIDE HELP AND SUPPORT TO THOSE WITHIN THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WHO ARE MORE MODERATE, WHO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL'S RIGHT TO EXIST, WHO ARE WILLING TO ABIDE BY PAST AGREEMENTS AND ACTUALLY WANT TO LIVE IN PEACE AND SECURITY SIDE BY SIDE. BUT IT'S A DIFFICULT TASK. IT'S NOT SIMPLE.

Borg: ANY IMMEDIATE ACTION THE U.S. SHOULD BE TAKING THERE, IN YOUR VIEW?

Edwards: WE SHOULD BE INVOLVED AS SOON AS WE CAN AT THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE LEVEL OF TRYING TO FIND A PARTNER FOR ISRAEL, BECAUSE THAT'S THE PARTNERSHIP THAT HAS TO OCCUR. I THINK AT THIS POINT MAHMOUD ABBAS, THE PRESIDENT OF FATAH, APPEARS TO BE THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATE FOR TRYING TO MOVE FORWARD, AND AMERICA SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN A SERIOUS DIPLOMATIC WAY IN THAT EFFORT.

Glover: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WAR ON TERRORISM. YOU CAME UNDER SOME HEAT NOT TOO LONG AGO WHEN YOU SAID THERE REALLY IS NO WAR ON TERRORISM. WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Edwards: NO, WHAT I SAID IS I REJECT GEORGE BUSH'S SLOGANEERING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR. TERRORISM IS A VERY SERIOUS THREAT. I MEAN WE ARE -- IT'S NOT A FANTASY THAT TERRORIST GROUPS EXIST FROM AL QAEDA TO ISLAMIC JIHAD, HEZBOLLAH. I MEAN THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM. AND AMERICA -- AND I WILL AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES; AMERICA HAS TO FIND THESE TERRORISTS WHERE THEY ARE AND STOP THEM BEFORE THEY CAN DO HARM TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, USING EVERYTHING WE HAVE AVAILABLE TO US: THE MILITARY; INTELLIGENCE; OUR ALLIES AND THEIR INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS. BUT WHAT GEORGE BUSH HAS DONE IS HE'S TAKEN THIS BIG POLITICAL FRAME, WHICH IS WHAT IT IS, AND HE'S PUT EVERYTHING IN IT: THE WAR IN IRAQ; GUANTANAMO; THE JUSTIFICATION FOR TORTURE; ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS. AND I REJECT THAT. AND ON TOP OF THAT, HE HASN'T MADE US SAFER. I MEAN IT'S REALLY A PRETTY SIMPLE THING. WE HAVE LESS ALLIES TODAY AND WE HAVE MORE TERRORISTS, BASED ON HIS OWN STATE DEPARTMENT'S EVALUATION. SO I THINK IT'S CLEAR WE'RE NOT SAFER. HE'S USED THIS THING AS A POLITICAL TOOL, AND HE ALSO WANTS TO BLUDGEON ANYBODY WHO TRIES TO SPEAK OUT IN OPPOSITION TO HIS POLICIES.

Glover: SO WHAT YOU'RE SUGGESTING IS NOT THAT THERE'S NOT A WAR ON TERROR BUT THAT HIS WAR ON TERROR IS INEFFECTIVE?

Edwards: NO, I'D GO FURTHER THAN THAT. I THINK THAT -- I THINK HIS WAR ON TERROR IS COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE; I DO BELIEVE THAT. BUT I THINK BEYOND THAT, THIS A POLITICAL SLOGAN INTENDED FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES. I THINK THAT -- I THINK THAT THE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES, THOUGH, CARRIES AN ENORMOUS RESPONSIBILITY TO FIGHT TERRORISM, TO GO AFTER THEM WHERE THEY ARE, AND TO KEEP THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND OUR ALLIES SAFE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, LET'S KEEP TALKING ABOUT IRAQ FOR A LITTLE BIT. WHEN YOU WERE HERE FOUR YEARS AGO, YOU VOTED FOR THE WAR AND YOU WERE SORT OF A MODERATE DEMOCRAT ON THAT ISSUE AND OTHERS. NOW FOUR YEARS LATER YOU'RE AGAINST IT. YOU SAID IT WAS A MISTAKE. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT JOURNEY, HOW YOU GOT FROM YOUR POSITION FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN IOWANS FIRST CAME TO KNOW YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY.

Edwards: WELL, WHEN I VOTED FOR THE WAR, I DID IT IN GOOD FAITH. I MEAN I DID WHAT I BELIEVED WAS RIGHT AT THE TIME. BUT I'M THE ONLY PERSON WHO KNOWS WHAT THOUGHT PROCESS I WENT THROUGH. AND THERE WERE BASICALLY TWO MAJOR COMPONENTS TO THE DECISION. ONE WAS DID I BELIEVE THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN HAD WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL, AND WAS THERE A CHANCE HE WAS TRYING TO GET NUCLEAR. THAT'S QUESTION ONE. THE SECOND COMPONENT WAS DID I TRUST GEORGE BUSH WITH THIS AUTHORITY. ON THE FIRST QUESTION, THE INFORMATION WAS PRETTY CONSISTENT FROM BOTH MY SERVICE ON THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, WHAT I LEARNED AS A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND PROBABLY, AT LEAST AS IMPORTANT, FROM HIGH LEVEL CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS WHO I'VE MET WITH AND SPENT LOTS OF TIME STUDYING THIS ISSUE. THAT TURNED OUT TO BE WRONG. THE SECOND QUESTION I FELT HUGE CONFLICT ABOUT AT THE TIME, WHICH WAS I HAD DISTRUST ABOUT WHAT PRESIDENT BUSH WOULD DO, WHAT HE WOULD DO IN THE LEAD-UP TO WAR, WHETHER HE HAD AN AGENDA THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IRAQ. AND SO I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION TO GIVE HIM THAT AUTHORITY. ON BOTH SCORES IT TURNS OUT I WAS WRONG.

Yepsen: SENATOR, REGARDLESS OF HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT, WE ARE WHERE WE ARE IN IRAQ AS A COUNTRY. WHAT WOULD YOU DO AS PRESIDENT NOW?

Edwards: IF I WERE PRESIDENT TODAY? I'D DRAW 40- TO 50,000 TROOPS OUT IMMEDIATELY OUT OF THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH. I WOULD TELL THE MALAKI GOVERNMENT, THE SHIITE LEADERSHIP, AND THE PRETTY FRAGMENTED SUNNI LEADERSHIP THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE PULLING OUR COMBAT TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ OVER THE COURSE OF ABOUT TEN MONTHS OR SO, THAT WE WANT TO FACILITATE A SERIOUS DISCUSSION BETWEEN THEM TO TRY TO REACH A POLITICAL RECONCILIATION. IT'S THE ONLY WAY THERE'S EVER GOING TO BE STABILITY IN IRAQ. ON TOP OF THAT, I WOULD ENGAGE THE OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE REGION IN TO HELPING STABILIZE IRAQ, PARTICULARLY SYRIA AND IRAN, WHO I THINK ARE CRITICAL TO IRAQ BEING STABILIZED. AND BOTH THOSE COUNTRIES HAVE A CLEAR INTEREST IN A STABLE IRAQ. THEY DON'T WANT REFUGEES COMING ACROSS THEIR BORDER. THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE A BROADER MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT. IF YOU'RE IRAN, YOU'RE A SHIITE COUNTRY IN A SUNNI DOMINATED MUSLIM WORLD. I MEAN THEY HAVE VERY CLEAR INTERESTS, AND WE NEED TO ENGAGE THEM IN THAT EFFORT.

Glover: SENATOR, ONE OF THE FIRST JOBS, IF NOT THE FIRST JOB, OF ANY PRESIDENT IS TO KEEP THE COUNTRY SAFE.

Edwards: YES.

Glover: HOW DO DEMOCRATS ANSWER THE CHARGE THAT THEY'RE SOFT ON SECURITY, THAT THEY'RE NOT TOUGH ENOUGH?

Edwards: FIRST OF ALL, IT'S JUST BLATANTLY FALSE. I THINK WHAT --

Glover: BUT HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT?

Edwards: THE WAY YOU ANSWER IT IS YOU SAY: DO YOU LIKE WHAT GEORGE BUSH HAS DONE; DO YOU FEEL SAFER UNDER GEORGE BUSH; ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHAT'S HAPPENED IN IRAQ, BECAUSE IF YOU'RE SATISFIED WITH WHAT'S HAPPENED IN IRAQ, THEN WE'VE GOT A WHOLE GROUP OF REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES YOU CAN VOTE FOR. WHOEVER TURNS OUT TO BE THE NOMINEE, THEY'RE GOING TO GIVE YOU FOUR MORE YEARS OF WHAT YOU SEE HAPPENING IN IRAQ RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, YOU COULD MAKE JUST EXACTLY THE SAME CASE ON DOMESTIC ISSUES, TO THE CHARGE. THE ANSWER IS AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I WILL BE TOUGH -- TOUGH ON KEEPING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SAFE, TOUGH ON TERRORISTS, STOPPING THEM BEFORE THEY CAN DO HARM TO US, BUT WE WILL ALSO BE SMART. WE WILL BE SMART ABOUT UNDERMINING OVER THE LONG TERM THE FORCES THAT ACTUALLY FOMENT TERRORISM, THAT ALLOW TERRORISTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN A GROUP.

Glover: AND ARE THERE STRUCTURAL CHANGES THAT ARE NEEDED IN AMERICA'S MILITARY? DO WE NEED A LARGER MILITARY? DO WE NEED A REDESIGNED MILITARY? DO WE NEED A MODERNIZED MILITARY? HOW WOULD YOU UPGRADE THE MILITARY?

Edwards: WELL, OUR MILITARY IS WORN OUT. IT'S NOT ALL THAT COMPLICATED. I MEAN WHAT'S HAPPENED IS THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE IN THE MILITARY HAVE BEEN ON MULTIPLE DEPLOYMENTS, THE RESERVE AND THE GUARD HAVE BEEN USED FOR THINGS THAT THEY WEREN'T INTENDED TO BE USED FOR. OUR EQUIPMENT, EVERYTHING FROM ARMORED VEHICLES TO TANKS TO TRUCKS HAVE BEEN WORN OUT. WE'VE GOT TO RESET THE MILITARY. WE'VE GOT TO GET OUR EQUIPMENT BACK IN SHAPE. SECONDLY, THE CIVILIAN/MILITARY LEADERSHIP CONNECTION HAS BEEN DESTROYED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS ADMINISTRATION. THAT HAS TO BE REESTABLISHED. AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I WILL BE MEETING DIRECTLY WITH THE UNIFORMED MILITARY LEADERSHIP, SO IT'S NOT BEING -- GOING THROUGH SOMEBODY ELSE. I WANT TO HEAR DIRECTLY FROM THEM WHAT IT IS THEY BELIEVE WE NEED TO BE DOING. I THINK THE MILITARY HAS BEEN GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOING HUMANITARIAN AND POLICE KEEPING FUNCTIONS THAT THEY WERE NOT INTENDED TO DO, WHICH HAS CREATED ADDITIONAL STRESS ON THE MILITARY. THAT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN AWAY. I THINK WE OUGHT TOE CREATE A 10,000-PERSON MARSHAL CORPS, WHICH IS WHAT I CALL IT, WHO IS ACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HUMANITARIAN EFFORT, SO OUR MILITARY IS FREE TO ENGAGE IN MILITARY ACTION. AND THEN I THINK AS WE WITHDRAW FROM IRAQ -- I THINK IT'S PREMATURE AT THIS POINT. I HAVE SOME DIFFERENCE WITH MY COLLEAGUES WHO ARE RUNNING FOR OUR NOMINATION ON THIS. I THINK IT'S PREMATURE NOW TO SAY THIS IS THE NUMBER OF TROOPS WE NEED IN ADDITION TO WHAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, SOMEONE SUGGESTED 80,000. GENERAL MCCAFFREY HAS SUGGESTED 80-, 85,000 OVER THE COURSE OF TWO TO THREE YEARS. BUT I THINK THE PROBLEM IS THAT'S ALL BASED ON THE OPERATIONS AND THE TEMPO THAT'S ONGOING IN IRAQ RIGHT NOW. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE. AND I THINK WE NEED TO EVALUATE WHAT WE NEED GOING FORWARD, DEFINING THE MISSION AND AFTER WE'RE OUT OF IRAQ.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS HERE. ONE OF THE THINGS WE LIKE TO DO ON THIS PROGRAM IS TO ALLOW CANDIDATES JUST A LITTLE -- A FREE THROW, JUST A CHANCE TO STATE YOUR COMMERCIAL. WHY SHOULD AN IOWA DEMOCRAT STAND UP FOR YOU ON CAUCUS NIGHT?

Edwards: BECAUSE I COME FROM THE SAME PLACE THAT MOST IOWA DEMOCRATS COME FROM. I HAVE FOUGHT FOR THE KIND OF PEOPLE I GREW UP WITH MY ENTIRE LIFE. I BELIEVE THAT EVERYBODY IN THIS COUNTRY OUGHT TO HAVE THE KIND OF CHANCES THAT I'VE HAD. AND WHEN I MAKE THE CASE FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, FOR BRINGING GAS PRICES DOWN, FOR ENERGY TRANSFORMATION, FOR LIFTING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY, THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT. THIS IS NOT -- IT'S NOT POLITICS FOR ME. THIS IS MY LIFE. I'VE SPENT MY ENTIRE LIFE FOR THESE CAUSES, AND I WILL PUT EVERYTHING IN MY -- IN MY BODY AND SOUL INTO MAKING THE LIVES OF ORDINARY AMERICANS BETTER.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ONE OF THE THINGS WE ALSO LIKE TO DO IS GIVE CANDIDATES A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO SOME OF THE NEGATIVES AND SOME OF THE CRITICISMS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE OF THEM.

Edwards: YOU'RE NOT SUGGESTING SOMEBODY IS CRITICIZING ME?

Yepsen: AS A MATTER OF FACT -- ONE OF THE CRITICISMS, AND IT'S A GENERAL ONE, IS THAT YOU MIGHT BE A PHONY: I MEAN THE $400 HAIR CUT; YOU LIVE IN A BIG HOUSE; WORKING FOR A HEDGE FUND; PICKED UP A BIG SPEAKING FEE AT AN ANTIPOVERTY CONFERENCE, THAT THIS MAKES YOU SOME KIND OF HYPOCRITE OR FLAWED MESSENGER AS YOU TALK ABOUT POVERTY. SO I WANT TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO ANSWER THAT.

Edwards: SURE. IT'S COMPLETE NONSENSE. AND IF YOU LOOK AT MY LIFE, WHICH I THINK THE WAY -- INSTEAD OF JUST LISTENING TO WORDS, LOOK AT THE WAY I HAVE SPENT MY LIFE. LOOK AT WHERE I'VE COME FROM. YOU KNOW, MY FATHER HAD TO BORROW MONEY TO GET ME OUT OF THE HOSPITAL WHEN I WAS BORN. HE TOOK ME HOME TO A TWO-ROOM HOUSE IN A MILL VILLAGE. I WORKED IN THE MILL MYSELF, NOT JUST MY FATHER AND MY MOTHER, WHEN I WAS YOUNG. I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE. I KNOW WHAT HARD WORK IS LIKE, AND I KNOW HOW DIFFICULT THE LIVES ARE OF PEOPLE WHO WORK HARD. I THEN WENT ON TO BECOME A LAWYER. AND WHO DID I REPRESENT? I REPRESENTED EXACTLY THE SAME KIND OF PEOPLE THAT I GREW UP WITH AGAINST REALLY POWERFUL OPPONENTS IN COURTROOMS: BIG CORPORATIONS, BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES, BIG DRUG COMPANIES. I DID IT FOR DECADES. THEN I WENT TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE. I WAS A SENATOR FIGHTING FOR THESE SAME CAUSES. MADE THE SAME -- I TALKED ABOUT POVERTY WHEN I WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT HERE IN IOWA IN 2004. AND THEN WHEN I'M OUT OF THE RUNNING FOR ANYTHING AFTER 2004, LOOK AT WHAT I'VE SPENT MY TIME DOING. I'VE BEEN ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ORGANIZING WORKERS IN THE UNIONS, THOUSANDS OF WORKERS. I ON MY OWN STARTED A POVERTY CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL. I WORKED ON SIX DIFFERENT STATE MINIMUM WAGE CAMPAIGNS. I STARTED A COLLEGE PROGRAM FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES IN EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA. I'VE BEEN IN OTHER PLACES AROUND THE WORLD DOING HUMANITARIAN WORK. I MEAN I THINK THE WAY TO JUDGE WHETHER SOMEBODY REALLY BELIEVES SOMETHING IS HOW THEY'VE SPENT THEIR LIFE. AND THIS IS NOT POLITICS FOR ME. THIS MY LIFE. IT WILL BE MY LIFE AS LONG AS I'M ALIVE.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IS YOUR PROPOSAL FOR EXPANDING UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. THAT'S BEEN A TOPIC THAT'S BEEN ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA FOR DECADES. WHY -- HOW WOULD A PRESIDENT JOHN EDWARDS MAKE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE A REALITY? AREN'T THE FORCES THAT YOU'RE FIGHTING REALLY ENTRENCHED, BIG POWERFUL FORCES?

Edwards: THEY ARE. AND I THINK THAT THERE ARE REALLY THREE COMPONENTS TO THIS. FIRST, YOU START WITH A PLAN THAT'S NOT IDEOLOGICALLY DRIVEN, AND I DON'T BELIEVE MY PLAN IS. I THINK IT IS APPEALING. IT'S BEEN PRAISED BY A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM. I THINK IT'S APPEALING ACROSS THE POLITICAL SYSTEM. SECOND, YOU'VE GOT TO MAKE THE CASE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, AND I THINK WE ARE IN A VERY RECEPTIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR THAT. PEOPLE NOT ONLY ARE WORRIED ABOUT THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE COVERAGE, THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT LOSING THEIR COVERAGE THEMSELVES IF THEY HAVE COVERAGE, AND THEY'RE TERRIFIED ABOUT THE RISING COSTS OF HEALTH CARE, WHICH ARE UP -- PREMIUMS ARE UP ANYWHERE FROM 90 TO 100 PERCENT OVER THE LAST SIX YEARS NATIONALLY. SO YOU MAKE THE CASE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. AND WHILE MAKING THAT CASE, I CAN TELL YOU I WOULD STAND ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN AND SAY THIS IS WHY WE NEED UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, COVER THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE IT, BUT TO BRING DOWN COSTS FOR EVERYBODY. BUT I'M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEE OPPOSITION. YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO SEE TELEVISION ADS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS SPENT. BUT EVERY TIME YOU SEE AN AD IN OPPOSITION TO WHAT I'M PROPOSING, I WANT YOU -- EVERY TIME I WANT YOU TO ASK YOURSELF ONE QUESTION -- WHO'S PAYING FOR THIS -- BECAUSE I'M TELLING YOU, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PAYING FOR IT ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CHARGING YOU THESE BIG PREMIUMS.

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU PAY FOR YOUR PLAN?

Edwards: IT COSTS $90- TO $120 BILLION A YEAR PAID FOR BY -- MOSTLY, NOT ENTIRELY, BY GETTING RID OF BUSH'S TAX CUTS FOR PEOPLE WHO MAKE OVER $200,000.

Yepsen: BUT YOU HAVE SAID THAT IF YOU HAVE TO ADD TO THE NATIONAL DEFICIT, A DEBT, YOU WOULD DO THAT, CORRECT?

Edwards: NO, I DIDN'T SAY THAT. I SAID SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT ELIMINATION OF THE NATIONAL DEFICIT IS THE TOP PRIORITY. THEY'RE GOOD PEOPLE. THERE'S AN ARGUMENT FOR THAT. I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO CAP THE DEFICIT, NOT MAKE IT WORSE, FIND WAYS TO REDUCE IT. BUT I THINK THAT TRANSFORMATION TO CHANGE THAT'S NEEDED WITH A DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, WITH OUR ADDICTION TO OIL, WITH 36-, 37 MILLION PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN POVERTY, THE CONTINUED STRUGGLES WITH THE MIDDLE CLASS, I THINK THOSE THINGS CHANGE IN THOSE AREAS BECAUSE IT'S MORE IMPORTANT STRUCTURALLY TO GROWING THE AMERICAN ECONOMY GOING FORWARD THAN JUST ELIMINATION OF THE DEFICIT.

Yepsen: TALK MORE ABOUT THE DEBT AND THE DEFICIT. THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAS SAID THE NATION FACES A DEBT TSUNAMI, $40- TO $50 TRILLION. IT'S RECURRING FEDERAL DEFICITS. IT'S THE COST OF MEDICARE. IT'S THE RISING COST OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND RISING HEALTH CARE COSTS. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

Edwards: WELL, IT'S THE CHICKEN AND EGG PROPOSITION. HERE'S THE PROBLEM. THE PROBLEM IS IF YOU ARGUE THAT DEALING WITH ALL OF THAT DEFICIT AND DEBT ON THE FRONT END IS CRUCIAL TO ESTABLISHING A FOUNDATION FOR LONG-TERM ECONOMIC GROWTH AND BRINGING DOWN LONG-TERM INTEREST RATES, THEN YOU WOULD SAY THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO SPEND OUR TIME AND ENERGY AND MONEY ON. I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE IF WE DON'T DEAL WITH THESE OTHER PROBLEMS, WHICH I THINK ARE STRUCTURAL AND ARE LIKE AN ALBATROS AROUND THE NECK OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY AND AMERICAN FAMILIES, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THOSE. AND I WOULD ADD TO THAT I MET WITH JOE STIGLITZ, WHO IS A NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST. HE WAS PRESIDENT CLINTON'S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR FOR -- WHEN HE WAS IN OFFICE WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT. I MET WITH HIM A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, AND HE ACTUALLY ARGUES THAT THE ECONOMY IS VERY SOFT AND, IF YOU REDUCE THE DEFICIT, WHICH EFFECTIVELY TAKES MONEY OUT OF CIRCULATION, THEN THE RESULT OF THAT WILL BE VERY NEGATIVE FOR AN ALREADY VULNERABLE ECONOMY. SO I THINK THERE'S A GOOD ECONOMIC ARGUMENT THAT WHAT I'M SUGGESTING IS THE RIGHT WAY TO GO. BUT I -- I'M MORE FOCUSED ON THE STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED.

Borg: DOES THE WAR ON TERRORISM TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ANYTHING ELSE IN SPENDING?

Edwards: I THINK -- I THINK WE HAVE TO -- OF COURSE. FIRST OF ALL, WE HAVE TO KEEP AMERICA SAFE. IF WE DON'T EXIST, THE OTHER THINGS DON'T MATTER. BUT I THINK WE NEED A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WHO CAN WALK AND CHEW CHEWING GUM AT THE SAME TIME. I MEAN WE CAN'T JUST BE COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY CAPTIVATED BY ONE ISSUE. I MEAN DO WE NEED TO ADDRESS BOTH SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM THE FORCES OF TERRORISM AND THE RISKS IT CREATES FOR AMERICA AND OUR ALLIES? OF COURSE WE DO. BUT ON TOP OF THAT, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THESE OTHER PROBLEMS: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE; ENERGY TRANSFORMATION; FAMILIES WHO LIVE IN POVERTY. ALL THESE THINGS ARE HUGE ISSUES FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES.

Glover: SENATOR, IT WOULDN'T BE AN OFFICIAL 'IOWA PRESS' PROGRAM IF WE DIDN'T SPEND A LITTLE TIME TALKING ABOUT POLITICS. AS DEAN MENTIONED IN HIS INTRODUCTION, YOU RAN IN 2004. YOU WEREN'T SUCCESSFUL. WHY ARE YOU ELECTABLE IN THIS ELECTION CYCLE?

Edwards: WELL, I THINK FIRST OF ALL, IT'S PRETTY CLEAR FROM THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE IF YOU LOOK AT IT, TAKEN IN TOTAL -- I SAW A POLL JUT A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO THAT SAID VERY CLEARLY EDWARDS IS THE STRONGEST GENERAL ELECTION CANDIDATE BY A BIG MARGIN, NOT EVEN CLOSE. AND THAT'S BEEN A PRETTY CONSISTENT PATTERN IN THE NATIONAL POLLS THAT I'VE SEEN. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE LIKE ME, HAVING GROWN UP IN A RURAL COMMUNITY IN NORTH CAROLINA -- AND TRUST ME, I'VE SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN IOWA. THAT'S VERY SIMILAR TO THE RURAL AREAS OF IOWA. THOSE ARE THE PLACES WHERE -- IN SWING STATES WHERE ELECTIONS USUALLY GET DECIDED. IT'S HOW GOOD -- HOW GOOD A CANDIDATE AND HOW COMPETITIVE CAN YOU BE IN THOSE PARTS OF AMERICA. AND IF YOU CAN BE COMPETITIVE IN THOSE PARTS OF AMERICA, YOU GET ELECTED. IT'S PRETTY SIMPLE. AND I THINK I CAN COMPETE IN REGIONS LIKE THAT, SMALLER TOWNS, SMALLER COMMUNITIES, RURAL AREAS. I ALSO THINK GEOGRAPHICALLY I AM A STRONG CANDIDATE AND CAN COMPETE VERY WELL IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE TALK LIKE I DO IN ADDITION TO HERE IN THE MIDWEST.

Glover: SO YOU'RE A STRONGER GENERAL ELECTION CANDIDATE THAN EITHER HILLARY CLINTON AND BARACK OBAMA?

Edwards: I BELIEVE THAT, YES.

Yepsen: SENATOR, HANDICAP THIS CAUCUS RACE, IF YOU WOULD, PLEASE. DO YOU HAVE TO WIN IOWA?

Edwards: HERE'S WHAT I -- I'VE BEEN ASKED THAT A LOT, DAVID. I THINK THAT ANYBODY WHO WANTS THIS NOMINATION, NOT JUST ME -- BUT IT WOULD APPLY TO ME TOO -- IF YOU DON'T DO WELL IN IOWA, IT IS VERY HARD TO WIN THIS NOMINATION. I THINK JOHN KERRY EFFECTIVELY WON THE NOMINATION OF 2004 WHEN HE WON THE IOWA CAUCUS. AND I ACTUALLY GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR THAT BECAUSE IF YOU REMEMBER, HE FIGURED IT OUT. HE CLOSED HIS OPERATIONS EVERYWHERE ELSE AND MOVED EVERYTHING TO IOWA. I AND OTHER PEOPLE DIDN'T DO THAT. AND HE WAS SUCCESSFUL: HE WON THE IOWA CAUCUS; HE WON THE NOMINATION. I THINK IT'S HARD TO SAY IN ADVANCE THAT ANYBODY HAS TO WIN THE IOWA CAUCUS, BUT I THINK IF YOU DON'T DO WELL HERE, IT'S VERY HARD TO WIN THE NOMINATION?

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU SIT ON A LEAD, SENATOR? YOU LEAD IN THE POLLS IN IOWA. WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY THERE?

Edwards: FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T SIT ON ANYTHING. WHAT I'M GOING TO DO IS WE'RE RECORDING THIS PROGRAM ON A DAY WHERE I'M GOING TO BE DOING MULTIPLE HOUSE PARTIES AND TOWN HALL MEETINGS. I'LL BE DOING THE SAME THING TOMORROW, ON SATURDAY. THE SAME THING ON SUNDAY. AND ELIZABETH WILL BE WITH ME. MY KIDS ARE GOING TO BE HERE. I KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO CAMPAIGN IN IOWA. YOU'VE GOT TO -- YOU'VE GOT TO -- FIRST OF ALL, YOU CAN'T JUST GO TO EVENTS WHERE THERE ARE 2- OR 3,000 PEOPLE. I'M NOT BEING CRITICAL OF ANYBODY. I'VE DONE THAT MYSELF. BUT YOU'VE GOT TO GET IN PEOPLE'S HOMES. YOU'VE GOT TO GET IN SMALLER TOWNS AND COMMUNITIES, AND YOU'VE GOT TO DO THE WORK. YOU'VE GOT TO DO THE ORGANIZING, AND WE KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. THAT'S WHY I HAVE 99 COUNTY CHAIRS. I HAVE 99 ONE CORPS CHAIRS, WHICH IS THE SERVICE ORGANIZATION WE HAVE. WE HAVE RURAL CHAIRS IN EVERY COUNTY. I MEAN WE HAVE -- WE'RE WORKING.

Glover: AND I'D LIKE YOU TO -- YOU'VE BEEN AROUND POLITICS FOR A GOOD LITTLE WHILE. I'D LIKE YOU TO HANDICAP NEXT YEAR. FOR A GOOD LONG TIME, THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM WAS THAT NEXT YEAR WAS A PRETTY GOOD DEMOCRATIC YEAR. WE HAD A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT WHO WAS DOWN IN THE POLL NUMBERS. THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS VERY UNPOPULAR. BUT NOW WE'VE GOT A LOT OF POLLS THAT SHOW THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS IS NOT VERY POPULAR EITHER. WHAT'S NEXT YEAR LOOK LIKE: A DEMOCRATIC YEAR; A REPUBLICAN YEAR; A MIXED BAG?

Edwards: IT SHOULD BE A DEMOCRATIC YEAR. I THINK -- I THINK THE ENVIRONMENT IS VERY FAVORABLE FOR DEMOCRATS, BUT I THINK THERE'S SOME REQUIREMENTS THAT HAVE TO BE MET IN ORDER FOR IT TO TURN INTO A DEMOCRATIC YEAR. WE NEED A CANDIDATE AND A SET OF IDEAS THAT ARE STRONG, BOLD, AND CLEAR. IF WE RUN ON POLITICS, YOU KNOW, DON'T HAVE ANY VISION, DON'T LAY OUT A CLEAR SET OF IDEAS ABOUT WHAT WE WANT TO DO HERE AND IN THE REST OF THE WORLD, THEN THAT ADVANTAGE COULD BE LOST. BUT IF WE'RE CLEAR AND STRONG ON ISSUES LIKE WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT TODAY, EVERYTHING FROM HEALTH CARE TO POVERTY, TO ENERGY, TO THE WAR IN IRAQ, IF WE'RE VERY CLEAR ABOUT THOSE ISSUES AND CLEAR ABOUT WHAT WE WANT TO DO AND CLEAR ABOUT OUR VISION FOR AMERICA IN THE WORLD, IT SHOULD BE A DEMOCRATIC YEAR.

Glover: WHO IS THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE?

Edwards: I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW. I'M NOT JUST SAYING THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR SHOW. I'VE BEEN ASKING A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE IS GOING TO BE, AND I CAN'T TELL.

Borg: I'M GOING TO CALL TIME RIGHT AT THE RIGHT TIME I THINK. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SENATOR EDWARDS, FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

Edwards: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Borg: WE LEAVE YOU WITH AN 'IOWA PRESS' REMINDER. THIS PROGRAM AND PREVIOUS PROGRAMS ARE NOW ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB, SO YOU CAN REVIEW TODAY'S EDITION AND THOSE ALREADY IN THE ARCHIVES. TRANSCRIPTS AVAILABLE TOO, ALONG WITH AUDIO AND VIDEO STREAM. YOU MIGHT SAY THAT ALL THINGS 'IOWA PRESS' CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.IPTV.ORG. JUST FOLLOW THE PROMPTS WHEN YOU GET THERE. WE'LL BE BACK NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; AND 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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: campaign 2008 Democrats Iowa John Edwards politics presidential candidates