Iowa Public Television

 

Congressman Richard Gephardt

posted on January 9, 2004

FROM THE STUDIOS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS "THE CANDIDATES WITH DAVID YEPSEN." TONIGHT DAVID YEPSEN'S GUEST IS CONGRESSMAN RICHARD GEPHARDT OF MISSOURI, CANDIDATE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. HERE IS "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: GOOD EVENING. TONIGHT WE CONTINUE WITH OUR TEN-PART SERIES FOCUSING ON THE IOWA CAUCUSES OF 2004, SPOTLIGHTING THE CANDIDATES AND THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM. WE OPENED OUR SERIES ON MONDAY WITH A LIVE CONVERSATION WITH SENATOR JOHN KERRY. WE FOLLOWED WITH A TUESDAY NIGHT VISIT WITH CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH. AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT WE DISCUSSED THE CAMPAIGN WITH AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN. AND LAST NIGHT WE GOT HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE FROM POLITICAL AUTHOR JULES WITCOVER OF "THE BALTIMORE SUN." THIS EVENING WITH TALK POLICY AND POLITICS WITH ONE OF THE IOWA FRONT-RUNNERS, CONGRESSMAN RICHARD GEPHARDT. HERE IN IOWA, MR. GEPHARDT GOES INTO THE FRAY WITH TWO DISTINCT ADVANTAGES. FIRST, HE'S A POPULAR NEIGHBORING STATE POLITICIAN WHO IS FAMILIAR TO IOWA DEMOCRATS, AND CAUCUS GOERS IN PARTICULAR. SECOND, HE'S BEEN THROUGH THE PROCESS BEFORE, WHEN HE WAS THE IOWA CAUCUS WINNER IN 1988. MR. GEPHARDT IS IN FOURTEENTH TWO-YEAR TERM IN THE U.S. HOUSE, MOST OF THOSE IN A LEADERSHIP PROGRESSION, INCLUDING MAJORITY LEADER AND MINORITY LEADER. MR. GEPHARDT, WELCOME BACK TO IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

Gephardt: IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE. THANK YOU.

Yepsen: I WANT TO OPEN OUR CONVERSATION THIS EVENING BY ASKING YOU ABOUT A REPORT THAT NBC AIRED LAST NIGHT. LISA MYERS OF NBC -- THEY'VE DISCOVERED A SERIES OF TAPES FROM CANADIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION IN WHICH GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN DID SOME APPEARANCES AS A COMMENTATOR ON A TALK SHOW. THESE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS HE SAID. "IF YOU LOOK AT THE -- THIS IS ABOUT THE IOWA CAUCUSES, AND I'M QUOTING GOVERNOR DEAN. "IF YOU LOOK AT THE CAUCUS SYSTEM, THEY ARE DOMINATED BY SPECIAL INTERESTS ON BOTH SIDES IN BOTH PARTIES." HERE'S ANOTHER QUOTE. "SPECIAL INTERESTS DON'T REPRESENT THE CENTRIST TENDENCIES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THEY REPRESENT THE EXTREMES." HERE'S A THIRD QUOTE WHERE HE SAYS CAUCUSES ARE NOT FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE. "I CAN'T STAND THERE LISTENING TO EVERYBODY ELSE'S OPINION FOR EIGHT HOURS ABOUT HOW TO FIX THE WORLD." HE SAID AT ANOTHER POINT, "I THINK THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WHO TALKS ABOUT VARIOUS PREFERENCE QUOTAS ARE OUT AND OUT RACISTS. AND FINALLY HE USES THE WORD "CRAP" -- I APOLOGIZE BUT I'M QUOTING GOVERNOR DEAN THERE -- TO DESCRIBE AN OPINION HE DISAGREES WITH. THAT'S A LONG QUESTION, MR. GEPHARDT. BUT WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO WHAT GOVERNOR DEAN SAID?

Gephardt: WELL, I HOPE BY NOW HE'S FOUND OUT A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE IOWA CAUCUSES, BECAUSE HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THEM IN 1988 AND OVER THE LAST YEAR, I COULDN'T DISAGREE WITH HIM MORE. I THINK THE IOWA CAUCUSES ARE ANYTHING BUT DOMINATED BY SPECIAL INTERESTS. THIS IS JUST ORDINARY PEOPLE COMING OUT TO ALL THESE MEETINGS TO LISTEN TO ALL OF US. I'M HUMBLED BY THEIR WILLINGNESS TO COME AND LISTEN TO ALL OF US, AND I'M ALSO HUMBLED BY THE EARNESTNESS WITH WHICH THEY TAKE THIS ROLE THAT THEY PLAY, WHICH IS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE. WE DON'T -- YOU KNOW, OTHER THAN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE, YOU REALLY DON'T DO THIS KIND OF ALMOST DOOR-TO DOOR CAMPAIGNING -- PERSON-TO-PERSON CAMPAIGNING. THEY TAKE OUR STOCK. THEY JUDGE US AS HUMAN BEINGS AND THEY PLAY A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE AND THEY DO IT WELL. THERE'S NEVER BEEN ANY QUESTION ABOUT THE HONESTY OF THE CAUCUSES HERE, SO I DON'T KNOW WHERE HE GOT THOSE IDEAS BUT I DON'T AGREE WITH THEM AND I HOPE THAT HE HAS CHANGED HIS MIND AFTER BEING OUT HERE.

Yepsen: IS IT APPROPRIATE TO CALL YOUR REPUBLICAN OPPONENTS RACISTS?

Gephardt: I DON'T THINK SO. I DON'T THINK YOU EVER USE "ALLNESS" STATEMENTS LIKE THAT. I DON'T THINK THAT ALL REPUBLICANS WOULD FALL INTO THAT CATEGORY AT ALL. I DON'T KNOW WHY HE SAID THAT --

Yepsen: BUT WHAT ABOUT HIS USE OF A SCATOLOGICAL TERM, THE "C" WORD, ON TELEVISION. HE'S ON TELEVISION, HE IS THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF VERMONT, AND HE USES A WORD LIKE THAT. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU? SHOULD THIS GIVE PEOPLE ANY PAUSE ABOUT SUPPORTING HOWARD DEAN, OR DO WE JUST DON'T MAKE A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT?

Gephardt: WELL, YOU KNOW, HE HAS A TENDENCY TO SAY THINGS THAT COME TO HIS HEAD, AND HE HAS EVEN CRITICIZED HIMSELF FOR THAT. I THINK IF YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY, YOU'VE GOT TO KIND OF WATCH WHAT YOU SAY, YOU'VE GOT TO BE APPROPRIATE IN MOST SETTINGS, AND YOU'VE GOT TO -- YOU'VE GOT TO CONVEY TO PEOPLE A SENSE OF LEADERSHIP AND STABILITY AND THAT YOU CAN REALLY DO THIS JOB. I'M NOT SAYING HOWARD CAN'T DO THAT. HE'S RUNNING A VERY IMPRESSIVE CAMPAIGN, BUT I HAVE SOME BASIC DISAGREEMENTS WITH HIM ON SOME IMPORTANT ISSUES AND I'VE TRIED TO GET THOSE OUT IN THIS CAMPAIGN. AND I'M NOT TRYING TO BE NEGATIVE. I'M JUST TRYING TO CARRY ON A DIALOGUE ON IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT I THINK PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT. WELL, WE'LL GET TO SOME OF THOSE ISSUES. LET'S TALK ABOUT YOU AND YOUR CAMPAIGN FOR A LITTLE BIT. A SIMPLE QUESTION, CONGRESSMAN: WHY SHOULD AN IOWA CAUCUSES GOER STAND UP FOR YOU ON JANUARY 19?

Gephardt: WELL, I THINK THERE ARE REALLY THREE BASIC REASONS. FIRST, I HAVE THE MOST EXPERIENCE OF ANY OF THE CANDIDATES. I'VE BEEN IN CONGRESS A LONG TIME, BUT I'VE BEEN A LEADER IN THE CONGRESS. I'VE WAS THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER FOR THIRTEEN YEARS, AND I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. I THINK I WOULD HAVE THE BEST ABILITY SINCE MAYBE LYNDON JOHNSON TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO GET THINGS DONE, AND I THINK PEOPLE REALLY WANT THE NEXT PRESIDENT TO GET SOME IMPORTANT THINGS DONE. SECONDLY, I'VE TRANSLATED THAT EXPERIENCE INTO THE BOLDEST AND I THINK THE MOST REALISTIC AND FEASIBLE IDEAS ON HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION, ENERGY, AGRICULTURE, TRADE, JOBS. AND I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. EXPERIENCE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH. YOU'VE GOT TO USE THAT EXPERIENCE TO TRANSLATE IT INTO THINGS FOR THE FUTURE. AND THEN FINALLY, I THINK I HAVE THE BEST CHANCE TO BEAT GEORGE BUSH. IF YOU'RE GOING TO BEAT BUSH, YOU'VE GOT TO BEAT HIM HERE AND IN MISSOURI AND IN ILLINOIS, KIND OF THAT STRING OF STATES FROM IOWA OVER TO WEST VIRGINIA. THAT'S WHERE YOU'VE GOT TO BEAT HIM. WE'RE GOING TO WIN CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK. THOSE ARE THE STATES YOU HAVE TO WIN. THAT'S WHERE I'M FROM AND THAT'S WHERE I CAN BEAT HIM THE BEST.

Yepsen: WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?

Gephardt: I KNOW I CAN DO IT. IT ISN'T ABOUT ME. I DON'T HAVE SOME COMPULSION TO BE PRESIDENT. THERE ARE A LOT OF PERSONAL DRAWBACKS TO BEING PRESIDENT THAT I DON'T THINK ARE THE REASON YOU SHOULD DO THIS. I'M DOING IT BECAUSE I KNOW I CAN DO THIS JOB. I'VE BEEN AROUND FIVE PRESIDENTS. I'VE BEEN AROUND THE LAST TWO PRESIDENTS A LOT. I WATCHED PRESIDENT CLINTON. I WORKED WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON ON A DAILY BASIS. I WAS EXCITED ABOUT THE THINGS WE WERE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THE COUNTRY: 22 MILLION NEW JOBS IN SEVEN YEARS; TOOK A $5-TRILLION DEFICIT, TURNED INTO A $5-TRILLION SURPLUS. THAT WAS REALLY WONDERFUL TIMES. AND I KNOW WE CAN GET BACK TO THAT. I'VE BEEN REALLY FRUSTRATED WITH THIS PRESIDENT. I'VE TRIED TO HELP HIM. I'VE TRIED TO BE AN ALLY ON FOREIGN POLICY, BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT TO KEEP OUR PEOPLE SAFE. BUT I'M JUST FRUSTRATED WITH HIS LACK OF MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS, MOVING US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTIONS. AND I REALLY THINK THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TIME FOR OUR COUNTRY. I THINK WE'RE CHALLENGED BY TERRORISM, BY THE LOSS OF JOBS. WE'RE IN AN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY THAT'S BEWILDERING IN MANY WAYS, AND I THINK WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO CAN DEAL WITH ALL THAT AND LEAD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO GET BIG THINGS DONE.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE TO DO WITH THESE INTERVIEWS IS LET CANDIDATES HAVE A CHANCE TO TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THEMSELVES. SO I'LL ASK YOU A QUESTION THAT BRIAN LAMB ON C-SPAN LIKES TO ASK HIS GUESTS, AND THAT IS "WHO IS DICK GEPHARDT?" WHO ARE YOU?

Gephardt: WELL, I'M A YOUNG PERSON -- I USED TO BE A YOUNG PERSON WHO GREW UP IN ST. LOUIS, THE SON OF A MILK TRUCK DRIVER AND A SECRETARY. IN FACT, THAT WAS THE BEST JOB MY DAD EVER HAD. HE LOST IT AFTER TEN YEARS. HIS BACK GAVE OUT AND HE HAD TO DO OTHER THINGS. WE WERE REALLY POOR. I CAN STILL SEE HIM SITTING AT THE DESK IN OUR LITTLE HOUSE IN ST. LOUIS TRYING TO PAY THE BILLS EVERY MONTH. MOST MONTHS HE COULDN'T PAY THEM. THE HOUSE COST $4,000 WE LIVED IN FOR TWENTY-ONE YEARS. HE NEVER MADE A PRINCIPAL PAYMENT ON IT IN TWENTY-ONE YEARS. SO WE WERE OF MODEST BACKGROUND, BUT I HAD A GREAT EDUCATION. I HAD A GREAT CHILDHOOD: BIG CARDINALS FAN; BIG SPORTS FAN; I LOVED TO PLAY BASEBALL AND LOTS OF SPORTS. I LOVE SPORTS.

Yepsen: HOW DID THAT BACKGROUND SHAPE YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS AND WHO YOU ARE TODAY?

Gephardt: I SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF PEOPLE LIKE MY PARENTS. THEY STRUGGLED. IT WAS A STRUGGLE TO GET BY, TO PAY THE BILLS, TO PAY THE HEAT BILL, TO HAVE FOOD ON THE TABLE. MY DAD STRUGGLED TO JUST GET TO THE STORE TO BUY THE FOOD THAT WE NEEDED. AND SO -- BUT WE THOUGHT WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE CLASS, AND WE PROBABLY WEREN'T BUT WE THOUGHT WE WERE. IT WAS A WONDERFUL TIME IN AMERICA WHEN PEOPLE OF MODEST MEANS COULD HAVE ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT YOU WANT OUR PEOPLE TO HAVE, AND IT MADE AN IMPRESSION ON ME THAT PEOPLE REALLY STRUGGLE, THAT MOST PEOPLE REALLY HAVE A HARD TIME PAYING THEIR BILLS, RAISING THEIR KIDS, HAVING HEALTH INSURANCE, EDUCATING THEIR KIDS. AND I WAS PROFOUNDLY IMPRESSED BY THE SACRIFICES MY PARENTS MADE TO GET THE EDUCATION THAT I WAS ABLE TO GET, AND I RESPECTED THAT. AND I CAME INTO PUBLIC LIFE RESPECTING THE STRUGGLE THAT PEOPLE MAKE AND WANTING TO HELP THEM MAKE IT AND SUCCEED IN MAKING IT.

Yepsen: WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS? WHO ARE YOUR PERSONAL ROLE MODELS?

Gephardt: WELL, MY MOM AND DAD, OBVIOUSLY. I THINK WE ALL THINK THAT WAY. THEY WERE CERTAINLY MY ROLE MODELS. MY MOTHER WOULD -- MY DAD DIDN'T TALK MUCH. MY MOTHER TALKED. SHE WAS MORE VERBAL. SHE WOULD TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW TO TREAT PEOPLE. SHE'D SAY TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU'D LIKE TO BE TREATED. SHE'D ALWAYS SAY YOU GET BACK WHAT YOU GIVE OUT, AND THOSE ARE LESSONS I'VE NEVER FORGOTTEN. AND THEN BASEBALL PLAYERS. STAN MUSIAL, MARTY MARION, THAT WHOLE CROWD WAS MY HEROES. AND I WANTED TO BE A BALL PLAYER. I GOT OVER THAT SOON. I WAS NO GOOD. [ LAUGHTER ] AND THEN IN POLITICS, HARRY TRUMAN, OBVIOUSLY. I'M FROM MISSOURI SO I GREW UP IN THE PERIOD WHERE HARRY TRUMAN WAS PRESIDENT. I DIDN'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT IT, BUT I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS NEAT THAT WE HAD A PRESIDENT FROM MISSOURI.

Yepsen: WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMAN?

Gephardt: HE WAS DECISIVE. HE WAS HONEST. HE JUST DID WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS RIGHT. HE NEVER APPEARED TO ME TO BE DECIDING THINGS ON THE BASIS OF POLITICS. HE NEVER SEEMED TO BE WORRIED ABOUT GETTING REELECTED. HE JUST WAS WORRIED ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. AND HE MADE A LOT OF PEOPLE MAD AND HE MADE A LOT OF DECISIONS THAT MADE PEOPLE MAD, BUT IT'S WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS RIGHT. I MEAN IMAGINE THE THINGS THAT HE DECIDED: DROPPING THE "A" BOMB IN JAPAN, AND SETTING UP THE MARSHALL PLAN, AND SAVING EUROPE AFTER THE WAR, AND THE KOREAN WAR, AND TAKING OVER THE STEEL COMPANIES WHEN THEY WERE GOUGING PEOPLE. HE DID SOME REALLY EXTRAORDINARY THINGS IN A TOUGH, TOUGH TIME IN OUR COUNTRY.

Yepsen: WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE IN YOUR LIFE? AS YOU LOOK BACK OVER YOUR LIFE, WHAT EVENT OR THING HAS MOST SHAPED WHO YOU ARE TODAY?

Gephardt: I'D HAVE TO SAY TWO THINGS. ONE IS WHEN I GOT MARRIED TO JANE GEPHARDT. WE'VE BEEN MARRIED THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS. SHE'S THE BEST PERSON I'VE EVER MET. I REALLY ADORE HER AND WE HAVE A WONDERFUL RELATIONSHIP. AND THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE. AND THEN MATT'S ILLNESS. MY ELDEST SON -- OLDEST CHILD, MATT, WAS DIAGNOSED WITH TERMINAL CANCER WHEN HE WAS EIGHTEEN MONTHS. THEY GAVE HIM FOUR WEEKS TO LIVE, AND HE LIVED. AND I'M ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR THAT. AND SINCE THAT TIME, REALLY NOTHING BOTHERS ME. I MEAN I LOVE POLITICS. I LOVE WHAT I DO. I LOVE THE JOB AND THE CONGRESS. I WANT TO BE A GOOD PRESIDENT IF I CAN WIN THIS RACE. BUT WHEN YOU GO THROUGH SOMETHING LIKE THAT WITH A CHILD AND YOU REALIZE HOW LUCKY YOU ARE TO HAVE THEM SURVIVE WHEN THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE, NOTHING ELSE BOTHERS YOU. I DON'T CARE WHAT HAPPENS. I'M FINE. WE'RE FINE. WE HAVE THE GRACE OF GOD.

Yepsen: YOU CAME OUT OF THAT EXPERIENCE -- I'VE HEARD YOU TALK IN CAMPAIGN SPEECHES -- REALLY COMMITTED TO SOME FORM OF NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE FOR PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU SAW PEOPLE IN THE HOSPITAL WHO WERE NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE. YOU WERE AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS.

Gephardt: I REALLY THINK THIS IS A MORAL ISSUE. I'LL ARGUE ALL THE ECONOMICS TO YOU, BUT IN THE END, TO ME, THIS IS A MORAL ISSUE, BECAUSE I DON'T THINK MATT -- I KNOW MATT WOULDN'T HAVE LIVED IF WE HAD NOT HAD GOOD INSURANCE. I'M POSITIVE OF IT BECAUSE WE SAW OTHER KIDS WHO HAD CANCER WHO DIDN'T HAVE INSURANCE, AND THEY SIMPLY DID NOT GET THE SAME CARE, THE SAME EXPERIMENTAL THERAPIES THAT MATT WAS ABLE TO GET. AND IT'S JUST WRONG. IT SHOULDN'T BE.

Yepsen: BEFORE WE GET INTO A LOT OF THE SPECIFIC ISSUES, I LIKE TO GIVE CANDIDATES A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO SOME OF THE CRITICISMS THAT ARE MADE OF THEM. IN THIS CAMPAIGN, CONGRESSMAN, I CONSTANTLY HEAR THIS FROM IOWA DEMOCRATS, "GEE, WE REALLY LIKE DICK GEPHARDT BUT HE'S KIND OF AN OLD FACE. HE'S BEEN AROUND. WE NEED SOMETHING FRESH." YOU HEAR THIS. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ASK YOU THAT, WHO HAVE THAT CONCERN?

Gephardt: I UNDERSTAND THAT CONCERN AND I GUESS WE ALL LOOK FOR THE NEW THING IN WHATEVER WE'RE DOING. BUT I -- WHAT I TRY TO SAY TO PEOPLE AND WHAT I BELIEVE IS THAT IN THE WORLD WE'RE IN, EXPERIENCE IN A PRESIDENT IS A REAL ASSET RIGHT NOW. AND I SAY THAT BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A DANGEROUS WORLD. TERRORISM SINCE 9/11 IS A NEW MULTILAYERED, VERY TOUGH FOE THAT WE FACE. AND WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO HAS FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE, DEFENSE EXPERIENCE, AND DOMESTIC POLICY EXPERIENCE TO TRY TO GET THE ECONOMY STRAIGHTENED OUT IN WHAT IS NOW OBVIOUSLY A WORLD ECONOMY THAT HAS MANY CHALLENGES THAT WE'VE NEVER FACED BEFORE. SO MY ARGUMENT IS, IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE FRESH FACE, IF THAT'S REALLY WHAT YOU WANT, I'M PROBABLY NOT YOUR CANDIDATE. IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR REAL EXPERIENCE, STEADY HANDS, A RELIABLE PERSON WHO'S DONE ALL OF THESE THINGS AND KNOWS HOW TO DO THIS JOB, THEN MAYBE I AM YOUR CANDIDATE.

Yepsen: LET'S GO THROUGH SOME OF THE ISSUES IN THIS CAMPAIGN, CONGRESSMAN. IRAQ: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE; WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

Gephardt: WE'VE GOT TO GET HELP. I HAVE BEEN TELLING THIS PRESIDENT FOR OVER A YEAR AND A HALF THAT IF HE WANTED TO DEAL WITH IRAQ, HE HAD TO GET HELP, HE HAD TO GET NATO, HE'S GOT TO GET THE U.N. WE DON'T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO DO THIS ALONE. AND WE'RE NEVER GOING TO GET A LARGE NUMBER OF OUR TROOPS BACK HOME, WHICH WE ALL WANT TO DO, UNTIL WE GET THE HELP THAT HE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN A LONG TIME AGO. IT IS A MAJOR MISTAKE FOR OUR COUNTRY AND FOR THE WORLD. TERRORISM IS AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM. IT'S NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PROBLEM, AND HE SHOULD BE GETTING THE HELP OF THE WHOLE WORLD. HE HASN'T DONE IT BECAUSE HE'S BEEN OBSTINATE AND I THINK ARROGANT IN THE WAY HE'S DEALT WITH OTHER COUNTRIES, AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE WAY WE CAN LEAD TODAY.

Yepsen: YOU VOTED TO AUTHORIZE THE WAR ON IRAQ. A LOT OF CAUCUS GOERS ARE ANGRY ABOUT THAT WAR. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS GOER WHO LIKES YOU BUT WHO JUST CAN'T GET PAST THE FACT THAT YOU VOTED FOR THAT WAR?

Gephardt: WELL, I RESPECT EVERYBODY'S VIEW. AND IF THAT'S THE WAY THEY FEEL, THEN THAT'S THE WAY THEY HAVE TO VOTE. BUT I WILL SAY TO PEOPLE, GIVE ME A CHANCE TO EXPLAIN WHY I DID WHAT I DID. I DID IT BECAUSE I CAME TO BELIEVE THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN EITHER HAD WEAPONS OR COMPONENTS OF WEAPONS OR THE ABILITY TO QUICKLY MAKE COMPONENTS OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION THAT COULD WIND UP IN THE HANDS OF TERRORISTS AND WIND UP IN THE UNITED STATES. NOW, IT MAY TURN OUT THAT INTELLIGENCE WAS FLAWED. WE NEED A BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION TO FIGURE THAT OUT SO WE DO BETTER IN THE FUTURE. BUT THAT'S WHAT I WAS TOLD NOT ONLY BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT BUT BY GEORGE TENNANT AT THE CIA, BY FORMER OFFICIALS IN THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION WHO I RESPECT DEEPLY. THAT WAS THEIR VIEW. AND ON THE BASIS OF THAT, I FELT WE HAD TO DO THIS TO KEEP OUR PEOPLE SAFE. LOOK, 9/11 WAS A MAJOR FAILURE OF ALL OF OUR GOVERNMENT: THE PRESIDENT, THE CONGRESS, THE MILITARY, EVERYBODY. THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE WERE SLAUGHTERED AND WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN AGAIN. IT CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN IN THE UNITED STATES! AND I FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY AS ONE OF THE TOP LEADERS IN THE COUNTRY AT THE TIME TO DO WHATEVER WE COULD DO TO PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, AND THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVED I WAS DOING.

Yepsen: LET'S TURN TO DOMESTIC ISSUES, CONGRESSMAN. THE ECONOMY: EVERY POLL SAYS IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE. ALL AMERICANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT IT. WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THE ECONOMY?

Gephardt: I THINK YOU'VE GOT TO DO A VERY DIFFERENT SET OF POLICIES THAN WHAT PRESIDENT BUSH HAS DONE. HE'S REALLY HAD ONE POLICY ON THE ECONOMY, AND THAT'S TAX CUTS, 60 PERCENT OF WHICH GO TO THE WEALTHIEST AMERICANS. AND MY VIEW IS IT IS NOT WORKING. IT IS NOT CREATING JOBS. WE MAY BE GETTING SOME GROWTH, BUT WE'RE STILL NOT GETTING JOBS. SO YOU'VE GOT TO STRAIGHTEN THAT OUT. I WOULD DO THAT BY TAKING AWAY THE BUSH TAX CUTS. I SAY THIS IN EVERY SPEECH I DELIVER OUT HERE. I WOULD GET RID OF THE BUSH TAX CUTS AND USE THAT MONEY TO SEE TO IT THAT EVERY PERSON HAS HEALTH INSURANCE IN AMERICA THAT CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. NOW, I THINK THIS PUTS MORE MONEY IN THE AVERAGE FAMILY'S POCKET THAN THE BUSH TAX CUTS. THERE'S A BIG DEBATE NOW ABOUT WHETHER WE SHOULD GET RID OF ALL THE TAX CUTS OR JUST PART. MY ANSWER IS THEY'RE NOT WORKING. LET'S GET RID OF THEM. LET'S USE THE TAX CUT TO GET MORE MONEY INTO THE AVERAGE FAMILY THAN THE BUSH TAX CUTS. IT FIGURES OUT TO BE ABOUT $3,000 AS OPPOSED TO $5- OR $700, SO I'LL ARGUE THAT. SECONDLY, WE NEED AN ENERGY PLAN, I CALL APOLLO 21. THAT WILL CREATE TWO MILLION NEW JOBS IN AMERICA, MAKE US INDEPENDENT OF MIDDLE EASTERN OIL. AND I'VE GOT MY TRADE POLICY AND CREDITS, INCENTIVES FOR COMPANIES TO KEEP JOBS IN THE UNITED STATES THAT WILL BOTH PRESERVE JOBS HERE AND HELP US CREATE MORE JOBS IN THE UNITED STATES AND NOT LOSE THEM IN THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM, WHICH IS WHAT NAFTA AND THE CHINA AGREEMENTS HAVE REALLY PRODUCED, IN MY VIEW.

Yepsen: TALK ABOUT TRADE. YOU'VE BEEN CRITICAL OF NAFTA ALMOST YOUR ENTIRE CAREER, AND A LOT OF AMERICANS ARE HAVING SOME OF THE SAME CONCERNS THAT YOU HAVE, THAT IT ISN'T QUITE WORKING AS WE ALL THOUGHT IT WOULD. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO ABOUT TRADE? WHAT WOULD BE PRESIDENT GEPHARDT'S TRADE POLICY?

Gephardt: TWO THINGS. ONE, I'D TRY TO REWRITE NAFTA AND THE CHINA AGREEMENT SO THAT THEY HAVE IN THEM WHAT I WANTED IN THEM AT THE OUTSET. AND IT'S THIS: AS A CONDITION OF THESE OTHER COUNTRIES GETTING TO COME HERE AND BRINGING THEIR PRODUCTS HERE TO SELL THEM TO AMERICANS, I WANT TO SAY THAT THEY HAVE TO BEGIN GETTING LABOR MINIMUM WAGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS UP IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. I KNOW IT WILL TAKE TIME. I KNOW IT WON'T HAPPEN EASILY, BUT WE'VE GOT TO START PRODUCING CONSUMERS IN THESE OTHER COUNTRIES BOTH FOR THEIR OWN PRODUCTS AND FOR OUR PRODUCTS. WE'RE ON OUR WAY TO A WORLD WHERE THE WORKERS EVERYWHERE WORK FOR NOTHING, AND THAT'S A BAD ECONOMY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. SO WE NEED TO LEAD THE WHOLE WORLD ECONOMY. SECONDLY -- AND IN CONJUNCTION WITH THAT, I WOULD GO TO THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION AND ASK FOR THE IMPOSITION OF AN INTERNATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE. IT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, BUT WE'VE GOT TO SAY TO EVERY COUNTRY THAT IF PEOPLE WORK, THEY'VE GOT TO BE PAID ENOUGH SO THEY CAN SURVIVE AS A HUMAN BEING. THAT IS NOT HAPPENING TODAY. AND THAT WILL HELP PRODUCE CONSUMERS FOR BOTH THEIR PRODUCTS AND OURS.

Yepsen: EDUCATION; WHAT IS THE FEDERAL ROLE IN EDUCATION?

Gephardt: IT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT USED TO BE, AND THE REASON FOR THAT IS I THINK THE AMERICAN FAMILY HAS CHANGED MORE DRAMATICALLY IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS THAN ANY TIME IN OUR HISTORY. WHAT HAPPENED WAS EVERYBODY WENT TO WORK, SO PARENTS HAVE LESS TIME WITH CHILDREN. AND THE ONLY INSTITUTION THAT HAS THE CAPACITY TO HELP THE FAMILIES PICK UP THOSE TIME HOLES THAT ARE CREATED ARE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE LOCAL TAXPAYER IS TAXED OUT. THEY'RE NOT GOING TO VOTE FOR MANY MORE TAXES, SO THE ONLY GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY THAT CAN REALLY HELP PROVIDE THE EXTRA RESOURCES THAT YOU NEED TO HELP THE SCHOOLS DEAL WITH THESE PROBLEMS IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. WE SPEND 7 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL COST NOW OF PUBLIC EDUCATION. IT NEEDS TO BE MORE THAN THAT. ONE OF THE PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS WHEN I WAS MAJORITY AND MINORITY LEADER WAS THAT EVERY YEAR OF CLINTON'S PRESIDENCY, WE ADDED MORE MONEY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION, FOR PRESCHOOL, FOR AFTER SCHOOL, FOR SMALLER CLASSROOM SIZE. AND I WANT TO ADD ONE MORE IDEA TO THAT I CALL TEACHER CORPS. I'D SAY TO YOUNG STUDENTS IF YOU'LL TRAIN TO BE A TEACHER, TEACH WHERE WE NEED YOU FOR FIVE YEARS, I'LL HAVE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PAY YOUR COLLEGE LOANS.

Yepsen: THE ENVIRONMENT? WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Gephardt: I THING THE MAIN THING IS TO REIMPOSE SOME OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS THAT THIS PRESIDENT HAS THROWN ASIDE. HE HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE ON THE ENVIRONMENT. HE'S GIVEN IN TO ALL THE SPECIAL INTERESTS. SO I'D BRING A LOT OF THOSE REGULATIONS BACK INTO FORCE. AND THEN MY APOLLO 21 PROGRAM I THINK HOLDS THE BEST PROMISE FOR CLEANING OUR AIR AND DEALING WITH GLOBAL WARMING AT THE SAME TIME. MY PLAN BASICALLY IS TO GET 10 PERCENT OF ALL OF OUR FUEL IN THE COUNTRY FROM RENEWABLES IN TEN YEARS, 20 PERCENT IN TWENTY YEARS. I THINK IT'S A REALISTIC GOAL. BY RENEWABLES I MEAN WIND, SOLAR, SOY DIESEL, ETHANOL, HYDROGEN, ALL THINGS THAT WE CAN MAKE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. AND INCIDENTALLY, A LOT OF IT COULD BE MA HERE IN IOWA, ESPECIALLY THE WIND. WE'VE GOT A LOT OF WIND OUT HERE.

Yepsen: YOU ALWAYS GET A GOOD LAUGH OUT OF THAT LINE ON THE CAMPAIGN. WHY WOULD THAT BE, CONGRESSMAN?

Gephardt: BECAUSE THE PEOPLE KNOW IT'S WINDY. IT'S WINDY IN MISSOURI TOO.

Yepsen: WHY WOULD YOU BE -- WE'RE IN RURAL AMERICA. WHY WOULD YOU BE THE BEST PRESIDENT FOR RURAL AMERICA?

Gephardt: BECAUSE I THINK I'VE WORKED LONGER ON THESE AGRICULTURAL ISSUES AND TRADE ISSUES THAN ANYBODY IN THIS RACE. BACK IN THE '80S I DID THE HARKIN/GEPHARDT AGRICULTURE BILL THAT I STILL THINK HAS MANY APPLICATIONS TODAY. I'VE WORKED WITH TOM HARKIN, TOM DASCHLE, BYRON DORGAN, A LOT OF THE MIDWESTERN SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES, ON MIDWESTERN AGRICULTURAL POLICIES. I'M FOR A PACKER BAN. I'M FOR COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING. I'M FOR FOCUSING THE FEDERAL SUBSIDIES ON THE FAMILY FARM. I'VE GOT TO TELL YOU I THINK -- I THINK WE'RE IN BIG TROUBLE HERE IN THE MIDWEST. WE ARE LOSING A WHOLE CULTURE, A WAY OF LIFE. THE INDIVIDUAL FAMILY FARMER IS DISAPPEARING. THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE IOWA FARMER IS 57. AND WHEN THE INDIVIDUAL FARM DISAPPEARS, THE LITTLE TOWNS OUT HERE IN RURAL IOWA, RURAL MISSOURI, ARE GOING TO DISAPPEAR. AND THAT, I THINK, IS SOMETHING THAT WE CAN'T ALLOW TO HAPPEN. MY FARM POLICY WILL HELP ADDRESS THAT.

Yepsen: WHAT WOULD YOU DO AS PRESIDENT TO HEAL THE NATION'S RACIAL TENSIONS AND RACIAL DIVIDES?

Gephardt: I THINK THE CONTINUATION OF PROGRAMS LIKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. I FOUGHT NEWT GINGRICH AND THE REPUBLICANS WHEN THEY WANTED TO END AFFIRMATIVE ACTION A FEW YEARS BACK AND WE SUCCEEDED AND WE KEPT THE PROGRAM IN PLACE. I THINK THAT'S VITALLY IMPORTANT. I THINK WE NEED TO CONTINUE FUNDING EDUCATION AT HIGHER LEVELS BECAUSE PART OF THE PROBLEM OF GIVING EVERYBODY THE OPPORTUNITY THAT WE NEED IS NOT HAVING EDUCATION, ESPECIALLY IN THE INNER CITIES WHERE MANY MINORITIES LIVE AND CAN'T GET A GOOD EDUCATION. FINALLY, I THINK WHAT BILL CLINTON DID IN HIS TERM, ESPECIALLY HIS SECOND TERM, IN STARTING A CONVERSATION IN THE COUNTRY ON RACE AND REALLY GETTING PEOPLE TO AIR THEIR FEELINGS ABOUT RACIAL ISSUES WAS A VERY POSITIVE THING TO DO, AND I'D LIKE TO RESTART THAT AND KEEP IT GOING.

Yepsen: VERY QUICKLY, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL THE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCED EARLIER THIS WEEK?

Gephardt: I HAVE A DIFFERENT AND I THINK A BETTER PROPOSAL. MY PROPOSAL BASICALLY SAYS IF YOU'VE LIVED HERE FOR FIVE YEARS, YOU'VE WORKED FOR TWO YEARS, YOU'VE PAID YOUR TAXES, OBEYED ALL THE LAWS, YOU CAN THEN BECOME A LEGAL RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. HIS IS REALLY JUST A GLORIFIED GUEST-WORKER PROGRAM AND I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO WORK AND I DON'T THINK IT WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM. WE ALSO NEED TO BETTER ENFORCE OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS. I'D TRY TO BEEF UP THE IMMIGRATION SERVICE SO THEY CAN DO THAT BETTER.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT. I'LL GIVE IT TO YOU. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOU AS THEY HEAD INTO THEIR PRECINCT CAUCUSES ON JANUARY 19?

Gephardt: I'M THE CANDIDATE WITH REAL EXPERIENCE. I'M THE CANDIDATE WITH THE BOLDEST AND I THINK THE BEST IDEAS TO SOLVE THE MAJOR PROBLEMS THIS COUNTRY FACES. AND I HAVE THE BEST CHANCE TO DEFEAT GEORGE BUSH BECAUSE I THINK I CAN DO THE BEST AGAINST HIM IN STATES LIKE IOWA AND MISSOURI, WHERE WE HAVE TO WIN THIS ELECTORAL CONTEST. FINALLY, I WOULD WANT THEM TO REMEMBER, IF THEY REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE, THAT WHEN I AM PRESIDENT, I WILL NOT REST UNTIL EVERY PERSON IN THIS COUNTRY IS COVERED WITH GOOD HEALTH INSURANCE THAT CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. I CALL IT MATT'S PLAN. IT'S NAMED AFTER MY SON. AND I WANT EVERYBODY TO HAVE THE BENEFIT OF WHAT WE HAD THE BENEFIT OF WHEN HE WAS REALLY SICK.

Yepsen: THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN. APPRECIATE YOUR TAKING TIME TO BE WITH US TODAY.

Gephardt: THANK YOU.

Yepsen: TONIGHT'S BROADCAST COMPLETES THE FIRST WEEK OF OUR TWO-WEEK SERIES. AND WE CONTINUE OUR PROGRAM ON MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, PRECAUCUS PROGRAMS NEXT WEEK. I HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US AT 6:30 P.M. HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA IOWA TELEVISION. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER." THANKS FOR BEING WITH US.

CAPTIONS BY: MIDWEST CAPTIONING DES MOINES, IOWA.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.


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