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JIM LEHRER: Now, two more snapshots from the Democratic presidential campaign.
First, Wesley Clark, taking questions from a group in Concord, N.H., today.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (Ret.): I want to bring a higher standard of leadership to America, leadership that looks out for America as a whole, leadership that looks beyond the next election, leadership that gives specific goals, leadership that pulls the country together.
The nation is at a point of risk. We’re at risk abroad. We’ve talked about Iraq. We’re at risk at home. We’re at risk because we’ve got a government that doesn’t want to tell us the truth, that doesn’t believe in open government.
It’s the most closed government, the most imperial presidency, since Richard Nixon’s. And when I think about what this country could be, what we could do with talent, the energy, the intellect, the determination, the spirit, the character of the American people; how we could help each other, how we could prepare the way for our children and grandchildren, how we could reach out around the world, there’s just joy in my heart.
MAN IN GROUP; President Bush believes that he has the right as president to sign a piece of paper and declare an American citizen to be an enemy combatant and send them off to a military brig essentially forever. Would you promise not to do that?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (Ret.): Yes, I won’t do that. (Applause) Listen, that’s unconstitutional, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just flat wrong. It’s not going to happen, and I’m going to get those people out at Guantanamo, and they’re going to go and stand trial in an international court.
And if they’re innocent, fine, they’ll be released. And if they’re guilty, then they’ll be sentenced to jail. But they’re not going to stay in detention indefinitely in Guantanamo. That’s hurting the United States of America. It’s hurting how we’re perceived around the world, and it hurts me as an American to see it.
ANOTHER MAN IN GROUP: I was wondering if you could tell us in some very specific ways, with regards to compassion and jobs and environmental standards, if you could describe the differences between the General Clark of today and the General Clark that habitually voted Republican for several decades.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (Ret.): Well, it’s a very simple difference. When we were in the Cold War and our nation was under threat, I was in the United States armed forces to help protect this country, and I voted for a lot of people who were strong on national security.
I may have been wrong, but that’s why I voted that way. When the Cold War was over and I looked around, it was clear to me that America’s strength wasn’t just its armed forces; that we needed a broader, more effective leadership.
I looked at Bill Clinton and I thought to myself, there’s a guy who can pull America together. He’s a man who has the intelligence, charisma, leadership, experience, and intellect to really make a difference in this country. I voted Democratic, and I’ve stayed Democratic since then.
JIM LEHRER: Now, Dick Gephardt, speaking to a group of farmers in a barn near Jefferson, Iowa.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT: Now, if we’re going to draw a real contrast with George Bush on the important issues of the agricultural economy and jobs in agriculture and saving the family farm, we’ve got to have a candidate who has for a long time been working hard on these issues of agriculture and trade so that we can really take this fight to George Bush.
I’m for limiting the federal subsidy payments so that the big agribusiness operations don’t get all the federal subsidies, but a majority of it goes to the individual family farmer. And I’m for country-of-origin labeling that’s enforced so that consumers know where their meat products are coming from. You get a tag on your shirt when you buy it.
You get a tag on your TV when you buy it. Why shouldn’t you have a tag on your meat so that you know where it’s coming from? And I’ve been working with Tom Harkin to get this done, to get it enforced. If we had had it enforced, we might not have this mad cow disease problem that we face right now.
And finally, I’ve got the best agricultural policy that will get a fair price for farm products and get up the low prices that are now in the marketplace for agricultural goods. We have been sending away our agricultural jobs because of trade treaties like NAFTA and China that don’t have good provisions in them on agriculture or good provisions in them to get wages and to get environmental conditions up in these other countries. I’m the only one in this race who opposed and led the fight against NAFTA and against the China agreement.
These agreements have hurt our workers and hurt our family farmers. Let me finally leave you with my philosophy of life, because that’s how I decide all issues and look at all issues and how it’s different from “W.” I think we’re all tied together.
If we don’t get trade fixed and get wages up in these other countries, we’re going to continue to have a race to the bottom and continue to lose jobs to these lower-wage countries, and we’re never going to have anybody to sell anything to in these countries because they’re never going to have any money to buy anything.
We’re all tied together. We can make America a better place than it’s ever been if we insist on bringing everybody forward together, because that’s the only way it really works. Thank you for being here. God bless all of you. Thank you. ( Applause )