2008 debates: Republicans would officialize English, Democrats would not

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Wed Jun 13 14:04:19 UTC 2007

2008 debates reveal stark differences in the parties
By Christina Bellantoni
The Washington Times
June 11, 2007

Clear policy differences have emerged between the hopefuls on the
Democratic and Republican tickets and last week's debates provided an
outline of where the parties diverge regardless of which candidates
win the 2008 presidential nominations.

The Republicans would make English the official language; all but one
of the Democrats disagree. The Democrats would scrap "don't ask, don't
tell"; the Republicans would keep the military policy on homosexuals.
Republicans would rather use pre-emptive force against a nuclear Iran;
while the Democrats prefer diplomacy.

"The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and
the Republicans are major," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York
Democrat, at last week's debate "I don't want anybody in America to be

"Someone would have had to have slept through both debates to think
that there are no differences," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a
Republican, said yesterday on CNN.

On Iran, the Democrats at the debate favored talks to avoid another
war like the one in Iraq, and Republicans accused the other party of

"The Democrats … don't seem to have gotten beyond the Cold War," said
former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at the Republican debate,
accusing the Democrats of being "in denial" for saying Iran is 10
years from having nuclear weapons.

He was referring to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph
R. Biden Jr., who said at his party's debate that the United States
should end its "regime change" policy on Iran.

"What we're saying to everybody in Iran is … give up the one thing
that keeps us from attacking you, and after that, we're going to
attack you, we're going to take you down," the Delaware Democrat said.
"Understand how weak Iran is. … They are a decade away from being able
to weaponize."

Mr. Giuliani countered this assertion, saying, "The danger to us is
not just missiles. The danger to us is a state like Iran handing
nuclear weapons over to terrorists."

Mrs. Clinton said diplomacy is "way overdue" with Iran, and talks
should be a starting point while saying, "Iran having a nuclear weapon
is absolutely unacceptable."

"We need a process of engagement," she said. "The president's policy
has been: We don't talk in this administration to people we don't
agree with or that we think are bad. All during the Cold War, we
always talked to the Soviet Union."

Former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, noted a "long
history of pro-American sentiment in Iran." He said he would make
nuclear fuel available to Iran but keep it under the control of the
international community and forbid its weaponization, and would impose
"serious" economic sanctions.

"This is the clear path … no president, no responsible president,
would ever take any option off the table," he said.

But Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, said talking with terrorist
states such as Iran is only sometimes acceptable, such as before the
war in Afghanistan.

"We didn't open up formal diplomatic relations and we shouldn't," he
said. "We have to show that purpose and resolve, that we're going to
confront these guys and we're going to stand with our allies like
Israel, we're going to stand against them oppressing and pushing us,
and trying to fund terrorists against us."

The debates — one for each party's slate of candidates — were hosted
by CNN two days apart, making the differences all the more stark.

The Democrats talked at length about health care policy, a major issue
for their base voters, bickering over minor differences while agreeing
that there is a need for universal coverage. The Republicans barely
touched on the topic, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said
the Democrats are "talking about a form of socialized medicine,
government takeover, massive tax increase."

But on immigration, an issue that deeply divides Republicans, the
Republican candidates were effusive and the Democrats were nearly
silent — with just a few of them offering their thoughts when the
question was posed.

Several Democrats agreed when Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois said the
official language question is a distraction "designed precisely to
divide us."

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, who speaks fluent
Spanish, said: "We ought to be encouraging more of that in the country
and not talking about how we have one official language in our nation.
That's not helping our country."

The Democratic candidates all said they would support repealing the
"don't ask, don't tell" policy and let homosexuals serve openly in the
military, while the Republicans said they would retain President
Clinton's policy.

"It is not the best way for us as a nation to proceed," said Mrs.
Clinton, the former first lady.

Mr. Biden said that it is "not a rational policy" and the U.S. is
"breaking" the military because 9,000 troops have "been kicked out."

Mr. Romney said the policy "seems to be working" and echoed Mr.
Giuliani saying: "This is not the time to put in place a major change,
a social experiment, in the middle of a war."

The Republicans got more questions on climate change, considered a
Democratic issue, and those who responded said the country must strive
toward energy independence.

It was nearly an hour into the Democratic debate before Mr. Dodd used
a question on gas prices to tout his global warming plan — raising the
fuel efficiency standard for new cars and imposing a carbon tax.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, said he would start an
"Apollo" program "asking every American to sacrifice, to conserve."

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