Democrats Debate in New Hampshire

Posted 11:43pm January 28

by Melissa Kronfeld
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

At the Koonz Auditorium at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, the remaining Democratic candidates reunited last week after Senator John Kerry’s crushing defeat of his peers in Iowa.

On this issue of war, Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., defended their vote to engage in military activities but not to grant the President his requested $87 billion because the war was just but the post-war direction was wrong. Kerry’s decision was justified by his lack of support for special interest groups that rule Washington, while Edwards supported the view of internationalization. Opposing them, former Gov. Howard Dean continued to justify his opposition for both the war and the reconstruction bill on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had not been an imminent threat and had already been contained by the United States for 12 years.

General Wesley Clark was prodded by moderators on his stance on the Iraq war and his Democratic Party credentials. Clark charged that President Bush had not done enough to stop 9/11. He also that he had voted for both President Clinton and Vice-President Gore.

Health care was a major issue in the debate. Dean defended his health care record by citing his success in Vermont and announced his intention to simply spread the same health care advantages across the nation that will be paid for by repealing the Bush tax cut. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., also cited a health care plan that would be universal and free for U.S. citizens until 25, and called upon the government to legalize Canadian prescription drugs being sold in America as a way to create competition among U.S. firms and lower prices. Edwards did not approach much of the health care issue but did promote a view that was against the prescription pill lobby that he feels “dominates Washington.”

On the issue of taxes, Dean called for a balancing of the budget at all costs, Kerry called for the protection of the middle class and business taxing the rich, while Lieberman and Clark discussed their plans for working class families. Most of the candidates have voted in their career for tax increases, and all three have major platforms for health care, education and military reforms.

Kerry told the crowd in New Hampshire that his first 100 days would be a time period to create two new military regiments with 40,000 people that he cited were in desperate need to because the military was “overextended.” Edwards discussed his belief in state’s individual rights in regards to gay marriage and civil unions in addition to limits on the Second Amendment Right, which allows the a citizen to bear arms. Dean also purported this view in his discussion of a renewed weapon’s assault ban.

Overall, the debate featured little infighting, as each candidate focused on the positive points of their campaigns. Humorous, riveting and forceful, each candidate seemed to truly believe in the responsibility of their presidential aspirations.

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