The year’s first debate among most of the democratic presidential candidates was feisty. The discussion staged at Iowa Public Television started on the subject of Iraq, and some of the seven candidates took Howard Dean to task for saying last month that the country’s not safer because Saddam Hussein’s been captured. At one point, Des Moines Register editor Paul Anger — the moderator — jokingly stepped in. Angerer told the candidates to “take it outside, if you need to.” Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman was the sharpest on the attack. Lieberman said he doesn’t know how anybody could say that we’re safer with a homicidal manic, a brutal dictator, a supporter of terrorism and a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens in prison rather than in power. Lieberman said it would be like saying the U-S wasn’t safer after defeating Hitler in World War II because Stalin was still in power in Russia. Dean countered, saying Saddam was a threat to his region, but not to the U-S. Dean said the resources of the U-S should be directed in the fight against al Qaeda. Dean called the Bush Adminstration’s focus on Saddam a “distraction.” Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said Dean doesn’t have the temperment to be president. Kerry said Dean, because of his controversial statements on a variety of foreign policy issues, won’t be able to stand up to George Bush and make Americans feel safe. Dean responded, saying “a gaffe in Washington is when you tell the truth and the Washington establishment thinks you shouldn’t have.” Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt’s most notable entrance in the fray was to answer Dean’s assault on so-called Washington politicians. Gephardt said Dean seems to be suggesting Tom Harkin, or Edward Kennedy or Bill Clinton never did anything good. Gephardt said he’s proud of what he’s done in D.C. North Carolina Senator John Edwards did not challenge Dean, and offered a warning to his competitors to stop the distortions. Former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun said her limited fundraising has limited her ability to campaign in Iowa, and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich had a quick response to those who question whether he’s got a chance. “I’m electable if you vote for me,” Kucinich said, to laughter from the audience and the other candidates.
You are here: / / First Democrat Debate of ’04 feisty