Below are my notes from the above debate, shown on C-Span on Monday evening, 10/23/06. I missed the first 8-10 minutes of the broadcast. Transcription is not verbatim. (Note – this is a very long post.)
Here is a news account of a segment that I had missed:
Spencer, a conservative who has repeatedly accused Clinton of focusing on national ambitions and shortchanging New York concerns, startled observers when he praised Clinton’s experience and qualifications for higher office, including her years as first lady.
“Senator Clinton would make a tremendous candidate for president of the United States but not at the expense of New Yorkers,” Spencer said. He spent much of the rest of the debate clarifying his position, saying he wasn’t endorsing her and would never vote for her.
“From a Republican point of view, maybe she would be an excellent candidate because we can beat her,” Spencer later told reporters.
Clinton’s presumed national ambitions took center stage in the early moments of the forum, but she refused to disclose her plans for 2008, saying she had not made up her mind. Yet, she also refused to say whether she would commit to serving another six-year term in the Senate.
“I’m not looking past this election – I can’t make a decision now,” Clinton said.
On Iraq – showed results from a poll:
NYS Residents Support – 29% yes; 67% no; 4% not sure
Timetable to withdraw? – 59% yes; 32% no; 8% not sure
At least 78 have died there this month; now the NY-Times said President Bush is considering a timetable; would you support staying the course? What is your view?
Spencer – I get a little emotional; I’ve been in a war; I saw my nation do a meltdown; I didn’t vote to go to war; I’m still figuring out Clinton’s position on the war. My position – we are in a difficult situation. I believe in a strategy of victory; we must prevail, must get them stabilized. I think the polls are a reflection of people, like me – we want them home; victory (means) a stable Iraq, freedom, liberty, where they don’t have sectarian violence and start stabilizing the Middle East. If not, we will have massive problems
Clinton– My concerns are shared by Americans. Iraq is the most serious challenge we face. I voted to give the president … to put inspectors back into Iraq. The president has refused to change course. My bottom line – the president’s “stay the course” is not a strategy. I hope he will share his strategy before the election. We need to have a much more concerted effort – we have to put more pressure on them; get their neighbors on them; phased redeployment; send a clear message that they (Iraqi’s) have to take responsibility for their security; they need to be put on the spot to defend themselves.
To Senator Clinton – You still have not apologized for your vote
Clinton– This was a leader who had used chemical weapons; I was worried that there were residual WMD’s and Saddam wouldn’t take second seat to OBL; we know from recent books that this administration never intended to let inspectors do their job and contain Saddam. I regret that – we’ve had strategic blunders. If we knew then what we knew now, there would never had been a vote. (President Bush was) ill prepared to do what needed to be done and to be successful. I regret the way that (President Bush) used the vote and used the authority that congress gave him.
Spencer– Clinton conducted the vote; the problem with the poll numbers is that the conduct is what i’m talking about; of people in Washington that vote to send people to war. They should think about what a war is. Wars do not go well, then the blame game – with Clinton, its all about blame Pres Bush; putting politics over our troops.
SpencerThey focused well on Afghanistan; we must move forward stop the blame game.
North Korea and Iran – when is a response from the US appropriate to use military action?
Spencer – not a response I would like to think about, but leave it on the table. After exhaustive dialog, 6 party talks; North Korea duped the US and the world, but it should go well now that China stepped up to the plate. Iran – we have to employ the world community. if (the UN fails), the US should impose sanctions. I would have voted to put bunker buster bombs in place (for North Korea, in case we need them).
Clinton – Iran cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. They are the big winner out of the failed Bush policies. The new president (is) inflammatory and outrageous. We should have talks and be prepared. We don’t need a nuclear response; better diplomacy, and all options, but not to extent my opponent (wants).
In reference to the recent remark by Senator John McCain that “every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not do to something, they did and they were rewarded every single time…
Clinton– its really North Korea’s fault – they are seeking to destabilize the region and the world. We think that they started seeking (weapons) years ago and may have come up with the first device in first the Bush administration. (President) Clinton made it clear (to use) military action if they didn’t back down. After the agreement framework, the plutonium system in North Korea was under lock and key. They did not process or reprocess plutonium in the 90’s and did not produce nuclear weapons. We caught you, shut you down; but the Bush administration threw out inspectors…
Spencer– Senator John McCain was right; when the situation was unfolding a few weeks ago, the first response was to blame Bush. In 1998, NY-Times and Washington Post did a story on it; they knew and did nothing.
Immigration; NY State provided healthcare, services, etc. to everyone. (To Spencer) You proposed cutting off these services and funds. Would you cut off funds to your own state?
Spencer – It was not dealt with properly for three decades. Its starting now; secure border; social security benefits to illegals – no, its fundamentally wrong; spend some money trying to get people here legally; speed up broken federal system; these people are being exploited; secure the border.
(to Spencer: Would you cut funding for NY?) No one has cut funding as much as Senator Clinton; if funding is going to illegals on Social Security, then yes.
Clinton – we need comprehensive immigration reform consistent with the law; I support improving border security, crackdown on employers, reimbursement for states and locals for services. We need to get these people out of the shadows.
Time magazine cover on Clinton – “Love her?/ Hate her?” Why do you think you are a polarizing figure?
Clinton – I’ll leave it up to others; I do have strong opinions and take a strong stance; its shameful that there are more uninsured Americans. I disagree with the Bush administration on a range of issues. Some people agree with me, some don’t; there is a lot that people can judge people in public life about; I’ve been gratified with the response from the people of NY. I don’t think about it a lot; its an issue for speculation.
[To Clinton: The recent Elizabeth Edwards remark that she is more joyful (in her life than Hillary). Did her remark bother you?] No; I’ve been blessed and have a wonderful family, husband, daughter, mother; I made choices that were right for me.
Spencer – The word “hate” is not a good word; I like Hillary; we met years ago. That word needs to come out of our vocabulary in politics. I want to solve problems. I disagree with Senator Clinton; I don’t see her as part of the solution.
Spencer’s style – Some who have worked with you have strong opinions; “execute or be executed”, “Its his way or the highway”. Can your style fit in to the senate?
Spencer – I know it can, but when you get to know me;…; the “execute” (statement) was a joke; (On the “highway” statement) – I was a strong mayor and I am proud that. I cut taxes to attract development and bring in new jobs; my style is to get it done; empower people.
Clinton – we do have differences about what we think is best for NY and America. I have worked with my opponent; to support what were good ideas. it’s important that we stay focused on the record; he did raise taxes about 16 times, increased spending 60%, raised deficit of the city. I’m supportive of middle class tax cuts.
9-11 security is still important to voters. To Clinton – do you feel safe; does your family feel safe?
Cinton – 9-11 issues, I’m trying to get the money for NY; we are safer, but not yet safe; they don’t have the right strategy; an independent, non partisan effort is needed; how do we get funding to follow the risk and threat. We have not been able to do it; i regret it and I oppose the scatter-shot approach of the administration. We are not taking care of Homeland Security; borders, ports, transit – great opinions, but we are not getting it done. It is a matter of budget because of the deficit – told the president to shave some of the tax cuts off the high earners, but they say no.
Spencer– I cut taxes; when you are in local government … we raised taxes over a (?) … we had the lowest tax of Westchester county. For security – we made great strides, but we aren’t entirely safe; more can be done. Clinton hasn’t made much of a dent in NYS security…
Clinton– I’m proud of my accomplishments; the fight over Homeland Security is big states vs all the others. I got support from representatives who represent big states like mine; the president and his team controls… I would have hoped for better.
Spencer -(she) has got to concern herself with the other states because she’s running for president.
Do you support a draft?
Spencer – I don’t support a draft. The draft is not fair; its nonsense. I would hope for a sense of service; we are in a war for the free world. I would hope that young Americans would feel a spirit of service.
Clinton– I’m very proud of the fact to be the first NY’er to serve on the senate armed services committee. I see the stress – they are stretched extremely thin; they are not getting the support; the equipment wears out; we worked hard to make sure they got what they needed; i support all voluntary military, but we have to make it bigger and treat them with respect. I don’t support a draft.
Economy – References the 2000 statement, “Hillary has a serious plan to create 200K jobs to upstate NY”.
Clinton– I did put forth a plan and wish it had been implemented; (internet) broadband plan – we are not going to be able to attract and keep jobs; tax credits for business; we don’t have a national plan for jobs.; 9-11, recession, economic plan not suited to jump starting upstate. She told of programs she has started for farms, small businesses. Trying to find what are the jobs of the future and investing in them.
Spencer – I think what she is going to concentrate on is running for president; she voted over 50 times against tax cuts; if her friends take over they will roll back the tax cuts. to create economic development; I’ve done it through cutting taxes; need private investment to create jobs.
Clinton – there is no doubt that NY state taxes are too high; I am hoping with a new governor, we are going to see tax relief at state and local level; I have voted for middle class tax cuts and to eliminate the marriage penalty.
Spencer – she voted for (the elimination of the) marriage penalty when it didn’t count.
Social Security – as Baby Boomers age, the concern is that the system will go broke.
Spencer– i would support the concept that Senator Clinton is running on the social security position that the private side thinkers believe in. We can do better than making 2%; any systemic changes must protect the people in the system now. No one is a part of the solution; Clinton is part of the problem; look at various programs, they call it privatizing, what about the concept of people having some control over their money; younger generations could make more.
Clinton– i will do everything possible to protect it. Don’t borrow from the fund; we had a balanced budget and surplus back in 2000, we need additional opportunities for people to invest; they need it on top of the base Social Security; a nest egg; risky scheme to privatize; it will cost $1-2 trillion.
The efforts in early 90’s for health care for all Americans. If that was approved, (would we be better off?)
Clinton– We will never know; we need a unique solution. One of the areas is to create electronic medical records. With EMR’s, we would get a good base level of what works and what doesn’t in the healthcare system; big pool that small business can participate in. Small businesses should be able to get together. Medicare (should be able) to bargain with pharmaceuticals. We need to have a national conversation with payers, employers, doctors, nurses, and the public. We need to get that fixed.
Spencer – The problem hasn’t been solved in six years; Clinton is part of the problems; I believe in health savings accounts programs.
Life begin at conception?
Spencer– Life begins at conception; I was adopted and met my mother (when I was) 32 years old. I’m pro-life, I believe in adoption…to eliminate abortion. Clinton has 100% support from NARAL. She agreed to parental notification, but now involved in California proposition…why are you in California, Senator Clinton? (She is) running for president… It’s a woman’s issue. If you want to help people, help promote adoption.
Clinton– Wants abortion safe, legal, and rare. Spent time to promote adoption; proud of work done with Tom DeLay (in adoption issues). Foster care kids need to be more quickly moved nto adoption. Teen pregnancy – set a goal to reduce by 1/3 (and achieved it). (She will) protect and defend a woman’s right to choose.
Should there be a litmus test for nominees to supreme court?
Clinton– I look at the entire record for nominees. It is a lifetime appointment. It affects every area of our lives. I look and make judgements on philosophy, background, experience. On those grounds, I voted against Roberts and Alito. I disagreed with their philosophies; they would not represent the entire range of (issues) before the Supreme Court.
Spencer– I believe that she is being disingenuous. If you followed Roberts and Alito, you saw it intertwined(?) from Schumer and Clinton. Despite their incredible records, they voted no. What was the issue? Because they (Roberts and Alito) believe in life. That’s not the way to select Supreme Court justices.
Clinton– I can’t speak for others. I disagree profoundly with the expansive view of executive powers. Roberts and Alito / president and vice president who are not willing to subject to accountability. Alito drafted signing statements. I had deep concerns about their judicial philosophy.
Clinton– I would listen to the people of NY. I want to thank you..because i listened, I went to work (to find) new ways to create jobs; after 9-11 I demanded that we get money to rebuild and for first responders. I want a new direction, an energy policy, to set a course for healthcare. I am not going to apologize for taking on the administration and republican majority because they need to be held accountable.
Spencer – I’m the only one standing before you that would serve for six years. I want to fulfill for you the broken campaign promises of Clinton; I want to defend our nation, (to be) strong on the technology we need to catch terrorists before they blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Check out my background; learn about me. Visit my website.