AFL-CIO Democratic Candidates' Debate

The AFL-CIO Democratic candidate's debate, moderated by Keith Olbermann, is tonight at 7pm ET. MSNBC will air it live. More than 12,000 union members and guests are expected to attend.

Here are the candidates' two minute opening statements.

Seven of the eight contenders are participating. (Mike Gravell is not.)

I'll be watching and will live-blog in updates below.

7:06 pm: Dodd gets the first question on what programs he would fund and defund. He' defund the war in Iraq. He's passionate.

Hillary Clinton: We need to invest in infrastructures. For safety and security.

Obama: What are we not prepared for? We are not safer now than we were in before 9/11. We shouldn't have gone into Iraq. It has allowed us to neglect Afghanistan. He wants to get out of Iraq and onto the right battlefield.

I missed Biden. Edwards asks who will be the leader for change. Kucinich is fiery.

Olbermann to Obama: He defends vote as a state legislator to rebuild Soldier's Field.

Richardson: Privatization is not the answer. Makes a joke, tells the audience he will continue to take their financial support. He would eliminate the Congressional earmarks and corporate welfare. We have to invest in our power grid, bridges and highways.

Clinton: NAFTA has hurt American workers. We need a broad reform for how we approach trade. NAFTA is just a part. We must enforce the agreements we have. The Bush Administration has been MIA in this area. We need a source of new jobs and must invest in renewable energy.

Richardson: He will get rid of the union busting attorneys.

Time out for a few minutes, I'll be back soon.

Update: 7:35 pm. I'm back. Commercial and then they will switch to Iraq. This is a very fast-paced debate. Olbermann is very sure-footed.

Richardson: If al-Qaeda takes over Iraq and we're not there, then what? He's lost in his answer, it makes no sense.

Obama: Reminds us once again he voted against war in Iraq. We should begin a phased re-deployment. We can keep troops in the vicinity.

Biden: The truth is if al-Qaida takes Iraq, we have to go back. Slam at Obama for suggesting we go into Pakistan.

Clinton: Three point plan, redeploying our troops responsibly. Put more pressure on Iraqi government, including withholding aid. We need to keep al-Qaida on the run like we are doing in the Anbar province. Third, a diplomatic effort.

Dodd: Begin redeploying troops. Have a diplomatic effort.

Edwards: Draw 40 to 50k troops out today. Try to get a political reconciliation and make an intense diplomatic effort. We have to prepare for things to go bad. We have to prepare for genocide in case the Shia try to wipe out the Sunnis.

Kucinich: Get out now and mobilize a U.N. peacekeeping force. He would withhold funding.

Question to Obama: Why did you wait so long to decide your position on May 24 funding authorization? Stumbles over his answer.

Clinton: Same question. I had to think long and hard to not undercut our support for troops. Concluded only way to get message to Bush was to vote against supplemental. We have to force Bush to begin to end the war.

Dodd: Asked about his criticism of Obama on foreign policy. We can't lose Pakistan, Obama's language was wrong, we have to work with allies we don't like. Obama responds: Criticizes Dodd and others who voted for war for criticizing him. What he said was we have to help Pakistan deal with al Qaeda but if we have actual intelligence on al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and Musharraf won't act, we have to. Cheers for Obama.

Clinton: Presidential candidates shouldn't engage in hypotheticals. We shouldn't destabilize the Musharraf regime which is fighting for its life. They have nuclear weapons. Think big, but you shouldn't always say everything you think because it has consequences around the world. After she's done, there's booing, but it's not clear if it's for Hillary or for Olbermann who decided to go back to Dodd.

Dodd: He made mistake in voting for war. (subtle swipe at Hillary for not apologizing.)

Obama again, this crowd is his, by the way. They cheer everything he says.

Commercial and then audience questions.

First question by mine widow to Biden: As President what will you do to improve conditions in coal mines and workplaces?

Whoa, he ignores her question and goes back to Iraq. He's booed loudly.

Next question: What will you do to restore rights of workers who want to form a union. Kucinich: I am a union member. The right to organize is a basic right in a democratic society as is the right to strike. These rights will be the hallmark of his presidency.

Question by Iraq vet to Richardson: What will you do to keep manufacturing jobs from leaving the country? He will protect their pensions and health care. He will fully fund VA hospitals to deal with mental health and PTSD. He will let them get health care at any hospital, wherever they want.

Internet question to Dodd on why soldiers have to spend their own money on uniforms. We should provide the best we have to offer.

Audience question: Lost pension and health care when company went bankrupt. His voice chokes, he gets a standing ovation. What's wrong with our health care. Edwards: Pension of CEO's should be treated just like workers'. We need universal health care. Crowd cheers wildly. Unions and organized labor are important to the future of our country. He's walked picket lines and organized workers. Goes over time. Keith interrupts, Edwards shoos him off.

Internet question to Clinton: Pension system is broken. Companies should not be allowed to go into bankruptcy to get out of paying pensions. We should guard against privatization of social security. She will sign the employee free choice act. We will rebuild our manufacturing sector. She is the NY AFL-CIO favorite sister. Audience cheers.

Audience question from naturalized citizen to Obama: He will work for comprehensive immigration reform, and to hold employers accountable for taking advantage of undocumented workers, we must have path to citizenship. Touts his record in IL for labor.

Audience: Health care question. Biden: He praises nurses. We need not 100,000 new cops but 100,000 new nurses. He'd ensure every child in America while we work towards national health care system. Now he's touting his walking on picket lines. No one has a better a labor record than him.

Audience question on health care to Kucinich: No more premiums, copays or deductible. Single payor, universal, not for profit health care plan.

Edwards given chance to respond to Biden's comment on picket lines. He believes in an America where anyone who works hard should make a decent wage, have health care coverage for their kids, has a pension that can't be taken away. No scab can walk through a picket line and take your job.

Audience question for Dodd: What policies would he enact to make companies invest in energy efficient products.

Internet question for Clinton: What changes to No Child Left Behind would you make? She answers energy question. Onto No Child, it's a terrible imposition, in part because it was not funded. Hecklers. Some cheers.

Break. Again, this is way too fast paced and the candidates are talking so fast to get even basic positions out. I don't see the value of this kind of debate. It allows only for soundbites.

What would your VP be like? Richardson: "Not Dick Cheney."

Question to Hillary on lobbyists: We have to get rid of the contracting out. Cheers. I have fought against special interests, drug and insurance companies, for a long time.

Obama: What's the different between lobbyists contributing to your campaign and raising money for you from others? Non-response.

Edwards: How are trial lawyers different from lobbyists? It's very different. Lawyers can't give money to the jury, it's a bribe. Back to his campaign theme of who will stand up for America.

Biden: Would he appoint a Republican to run intelligence agencies or Pentagon? He'd consider it. We need a consensus. We won't get a health care plan or an education plan without it. He will reach across the aisle to unite the country.

Dodd: Was creation of Homeland Security Agency a good idea? We're not safer today. Terrorism is a real issue. It's a tactic not a philosophy. We need first responders at home. We haven't funded them. (Didn't answer.)

Kucinich: What have Dems changed since midterm election? Touts the health and infrastructure bills he's introduced, and his bill to get out of Iraq. He's working to get the Dems to act on these.

Obama: If President, would he honor Barry Bonds at White House? (Huh, who cares?) Refuses to answer.

Clinton: What would you do to improve New Orleans from Katrina damage? Put someone competent in charge. Stay on top of their efforts. Rebuilding N.O. is an American problem, not a local or Louisiana problem.

Biden: Would you stop no-bid contracts? Yes.

Another stupid question: Does it trouble you that if elected, race to replace you will begin days into your first term. Richardson answers with his platform.

Same question to Obama: Campaigns last too long, cost too much and are influenced by political insiders. Changing parties won't fix everything, even though Bush is a disaster.

Same questions to the others. A waste of time. Now the debate is over.

Did you learn anything new? Kucinich and Obama had the most support. Hillary and Edwards did well. They overshadowed the others. Richardson had nothing of substance to say.

< Tuesday Open Thread | Who Were the Boos For? >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Keith moderates well (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:34:21 PM EST

    He will get rid of the union busting attorneys. (none / 0) (#1)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:24:53 PM EST
    How is that even possible?  Is he going to open up a new Gitmo for them?

    I want to like Richardson, but mostly he comes off as an empty suit who spouts things like "I have a one point plan for Iraq - get out" and "balanced budget amendment."  

    Is Edwards mostly giving his stump speech answers? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Maryb2004 on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:52:51 PM EST
     I'm not watching.

    I thought Edwards did that at YKos, didn't answer the question actually asked just jumped in with his set talking points.  Obama did it a bit too but not as much - he at least tried to look like he was answering the question even if he veered off.

    yes, Edwards is reciting (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:19:55 PM EST
    his campaign themes, Who will be the leader?, "I believe in an America." He's not the favorite here and he gets a better audience response when he actually answers the question and stops campaigning.

    It's a shame (none / 0) (#14)
    by Maryb2004 on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:48:35 PM EST
    Edwards misses opportunities with audiences as educated as YKos and Labor by not responding to the questions.

    I'm surprised Obama didn't get a coal industry question - he was asked about his coal fuel subsidy position at his YKos break out session and I thought his answer verged on incoherent.   But he seemed to fool the room there.  


    He does but it's too fast (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:53:12 PM EST
    30 seconds is too short for anything but a soundbite.

    Huge HRC gaffe? (none / 0) (#5)
    by joejoejoe on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:53:33 PM EST
    Did Hillary Clinton just say something about not saying openly what you are going to do as President in terms of foreign policy? And then get loudly booed?

    It occurred in the context of a heated exchange between Dodd, Clinton, and Obama on Obama's Pakistan comments.

    there was a belated booing (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:55:10 PM EST
    After Hillary's answer and before Dodd's. I think the boo was for her, but it was not for her answer but for her implied criticism of Obama. This crowd seems to love him.

    Boo! (none / 0) (#8)
    by joejoejoe on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:04:07 PM EST
    I think the booing was HRC's 'you shouldn't always say everything you think'. I don't think it's Obama's crowd so much as Kucinich's crowd.

    Also, I think it was AWFUL that Joe Biden choose to respond to the woman who lost her husband in the Sago mine with a reference back to another question. I didn't like that at all and don't like that none of the other candidates have gone back to workplace safety. If people ask a question and candidates don't respond to the individual and just slip into stock response it's rude and shallow IMHO.

    Too much pandering to the crowd in this debate in my view.


    I'm surprised (none / 0) (#9)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:06:42 PM EST
    that HRC hasn't gone back to it given all the shows today airing tape of the Utah mine owner calling her out by name for her support for worker safety.  

    See my comment below (none / 0) (#11)
    by joejoejoe on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:13:30 PM EST
    HRC did go back to it as the debate played out. She did well.

    Credit for HRC (none / 0) (#10)
    by joejoejoe on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:12:39 PM EST
    Sen. Clinton went back to the woman's question about worker safety who lost her husband in the Sago Mine disaster. Kudos to her for her good answer.

    Just watched that segment again (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:54:27 PM EST
    And I think the booing was for Olbermann who decided to go back to Dodd after Hillary's answer.

    Blowing off a mine widow (none / 0) (#7)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 06:59:33 PM EST
    while there are miners trapped in Utah?

    Clearly Joe has realized he isn't going to be the democratic nominess.

    Cranky Biden (none / 0) (#12)
    by joejoejoe on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 07:14:21 PM EST
    He's crankier than Gravel today. Vote Biden off the island, he's awful.

    Sadly, 12,000 union members... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 07, 2007 at 09:18:07 PM EST
    ...are about all of us left.  

    Not entirely accurate, but true in a poetic sense.