JIM LEHRER: Now, the candidates in action. Here are snapshots from appearances by John Kerry, Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: You can tell from listening to the state of the union message last night, that the president is facing re-election. I wish he'd face reality.
Watching President Bush's speech last night, one thing kept coming back to me. He just doesn't get it. The president was talking about an America that is not the America that the people I meet are living. The president was talking about a different America, different from the problems of the people who are trying to make ends meet, working two and three different jobs, who every time they try to get that health insurance it's one touch out of reach.
This past weekend, ladies and gentlemen, Associated Press ran a story about the White Houses' preparations for their big night last night. The headline was, "lobbyists pin hopes on state of the union." And last night, the Tysons and the Tycos of the world got what they prayed for, and they got what they paid for. Just look what he said about health care.
President Bush talked a good game about making health care affordable to people. But if he was really serious about holding down health care costs, he'd focus on solutions instead of sound bytes. There is no way to bring affordable health care to families in American if you're not willing to take on the most powerful organized interests in Washington. And the fact is, when it comes to HMO's and drug companies, the ones that fuel this campaign, the motto of this administration is: "No special interest left behind." (Applause)
One of the biggest reasons that health care costs are being pushed into the stratosphere year after year is that prescription drug costs are going up year after year, not to mention premiums in health care. Prescription drug costs are rising by almost 20 percent a year. The big drug companies charge Americans the highest prices in the world, while they run up record-breaking profits. And George Bush is looking out for the profits of the drug industry. I'm going to look out for the Americans who are struggling to pay their prescription drug costs. (Applause)
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (Ret.): It's high time for a higher standard of leadership in America. A leader with experience and a success strategy to get us out of the mess in Iraq. We need a leader who has been on the front lines of battle and in the back rooms of diplomacy. We need a leader who will know, day one, how to get us out of Iraq and how to win the war on terrorism. We need a leader who knows enough to use force only as a last resort. We need a leader who will stand up for American values. And I am that man.
I am in this race because the American people deserve better from their commander-in-chief, because there's no responsibility more important than protecting the American people. President Bush didn't tell you this last night, but I will. And let me state it again. There is no easy way out of Iraq. Every American should understand this: An early exit means retreat or early defeat, and we can't afford either.
If I am elected president, not only will I protect America from the threat of al-Qaida and the terrorist network, but I will bring success to the failed strategy in Iraq. I will draw on my 34-year military career, the lessons of diplomacy, my experience as supreme allied commander of NATO, the personal relationships I developed with foreign leaders, my understanding of guerrilla warfare, my efforts commanding the war and winning the peace in Kosovo. But even more, I promise that I will never, ever bring politics into questions of war and peace. I promise you that we will use all the tools of statescraft to keep America safe and secure. International law, diplomacy, alliances, our economic suasion and power and force only, only, only, as a last resort. I will never misuse our military, and I will never mislead the American people.
What I will do is get us out of the mess in Iraq. I will recruit other countries to share the burden. I will protect our troops, I will draw them down, and eventually bring them home. We will leave Iraq, and we will have succeeded in Iraq. And that is the higher standard of leadership that the American people deserve. That's the higher standard of leadership I will deliver as your president. Together we can take America forward and keep it safe. Thank you. (Applause)
HOWARD DEAN: One of the most extraordinary things about this campaign is that ordinary people are fueling it. Look around here. That's what this campaign is about. It's about ordinary Americans. It's not about Washington special interests and special certain groups funding campaigns because they think they're going to follow their interests. It's about ordinary people trying to take their country back. You can't do it if the playing field is lopsided.
We need to make people understand in this country it's not enough just to vote. If you really want to take your country back, you've got to come in here and sit at these computers like these guys are doing day after day, and call people and spread the message. If I become president, which I will if we win the New Hampshire primary... ( cheers and applause ) ...I will appoint a national commission on democracy. And there will be not one politician on it. There will be ordinary people from both sides of the aisle; thoughtful people who are not beholden to political parties. A lot of independents will be on this commission. And what they're going to do is look at cutting-edge ideas, like instant run-off voting and the abolition of the electoral college.
I'm not standing here saying these are all good things and these are Howard Dean's policies, I'm saying we need to look at ways to preserve our democracy. And I've learned a lot from this campaign. This campaign is a two-way campaign. It's the first one in history, as far as I can tell, where we lay out agendas and then you push back on them and talk about it, or I give speeches and you critique the speeches and I look at the critiques and I say, "well why don't you do it a little differently the next time?" It's no longer. And I hope this campaign is going to do this: Kill the 30- second ad, ultimately, so that the 30-second ad will be a dialogue. We'll put out a message and you'll respond to the message, and we'll respond to what you're interested in.
VOICE: We believe in you Howard.