Transcript Of The V.P. Debate, Part 2

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., left, responds to a question during the debate with Republican presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. AP


See part 1 here.
See part 3 here.

IFILL: Let me clear something up, Senator McCain has said he supports caps on carbon emissions. Senator Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I don't believe you've always supported.

BIDEN: I have always supported it. That's a fact.

IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Governor Palin.

PALIN: Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is
"drill, baby, drill." And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America's largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets. into hungry markets.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we're in.
You even called drilling --safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.

There -with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that "all of the above" approach that Senator McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal.

I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn't anything -such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.

IFILL: We do need to keep within our two minutes. But I just wanted to ask you, do you support capping carbon emissions?

PALIN: I do. I do.

IFILL: OK. And on the clean coal issue?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets, number one...

IFILL: Clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, I'm sorry.

IFILL: On clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, on clean coal. My record, just take a look at the record. My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology.
A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won't be as dirty, it will be clean.

But here's the bottom line, Gwen: How do we deal with global warming with continued addition to carbon emissions? And if the only answer you have is oil, and John -and the governor says John is for everything.

Well, why did John vote 20 times? Maybe he's for everything as long as it's not helped forward by the government. Maybe he's for everything if the free market takes care of it. I don't know. But he voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources.

IFILL: The next round of --pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Senator Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted --same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair. is that under the Constitution we should be granted --same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.

It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it.
We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.

But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in
America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a
McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my nonsupport for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.

IFILL: You both have sons who are in Iraq or on their way to
Iraq. You, Governor Palin, have said that you would like to see a real clear plan for an exit strategy. What should that be, Governor?

PALIN: I am very thankful that we do have a good plan and the surge and the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that has proven to work, I am thankful that that is part of the plan implemented under a great American hero, General Petraeus, and pushed hard by another great American, Senator John McCain.

I know that the other ticket opposed this surge, in fact, even opposed funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so.

PALIN: And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don't need early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there or we're going to be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq.

And with the surge that has worked we're now down to presurge numbers in Iraq. That's where we can be. We can start putting more troops in Afghanistan as we also work with our NATO allies who are there strengthening us and we need to grow our military. We cannot afford to lose against al Qaeda and the Shia extremists who are still there, still fighting us, but we're getting closer and closer to victory. And it would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, with all due respect, I didn't hear a plan. Barack
Obama offered a clear plan. Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating. The only odd man out here, only one left out is John McCain, number one. Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You've got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.

We're spending $10 billion a month while Iraqis have an $80 billion surplus. Barack says it's time for them to spend their own money and have the 400,000 military we trained for them begin to take their own responsibility and gradually over 16 months, withdrawal. John McCain -this is a fundamental difference between us, we'll end this war. For John McCain, there's no end in sight to end this war, fundamental difference. We will end this war. billion surplus. Barack says it's time for them to spend their own money and have the 400,000 military we trained for them begin to take their own responsibility and gradually over 16 months, withdrawal. John McCain --this is a fundamental difference between us, we'll end this war. For John McCain, there's no end in sight to end this war, fundamental difference. We will end this war.

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear today, that's for sure. And it's not what our nation needs to be able to count on. You guys opposed the surge. The surge worked. Barack Obama still can't admit the surge works.

We'll know when we're finished in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people. And our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met. And Maliki and Talabani also in working with us are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that's within sight.

Now, you said regarding Senator McCain's military policies there,
Senator Biden, that you supported a lot of these things. In fact, you said in fact that you wanted to run, you'd be honored to run with him on the ticket. That's an indication I think of some of the support that you had at least until you became the VP pick here.

You also said that Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief. And I know again that you opposed the move he made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that. I don't know how you can defend that position now but I know that you know especially with your son in the National Guard and I have great respect for your family also and the honor that you show our military. Barack Obama though, another story there. Anyone I think who can cut off funding for the troops after promising not to is another story.

IFILL: Senator Biden?

BIDEN: John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops. Let me say that again. John McCain voted against an amendment containing $1 billion, $600 million that I had gotten to get MRAPS, those things that are protecting the governor's son and pray god my son and a lot of other sons and daughters.

He voted against it. He voted against funding because he said the amendment had a time line in it to end this war. He didn't like that. But let's get straight who has been right and wrong. John McCain and Dick Cheney said while I was saying we would not be greeted as liberators, we would not -this war would take a decade and not a day, not a week and not six months, we would not be out of there quickly. John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he's been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts. love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he's been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.

IFILL: Let's move to Iran and Pakistan. I'm curious about what you think starting with you Senator Biden. What's the greater threat, a nuclear Iran or an unstable Afghanistan? Explain why.

BIDEN: Well, they're both extremely dangerous. I always am focused, as you know Gwen, I have been focusing on for a long time, along with Barack on Pakistan. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons.

Pakistan already has deployed nuclear weapons. Pakistan's weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean. Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be very, very destabilizing. They are more than -they are not close to getting a nuclear weapon that's able to be deployed. So they're both very dangerous. They both would be game changers.

But look, here's what the fundamental problem I have with John's policy about terror instability. John continues to tell us that the central war in the front on terror is in Iraq. I promise you, if an attack comes in the homeland, it's going to come as our security services have said, it is going to come from al Qaeda planning in the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's where they live. That's where they are. That's where it will come from. And right now that resides in Pakistan, a stable government needs to be established. We need to support that democracy by helping them not only with their military but with their governance and their economic well-being.

There have been 7,000 madrasses built along that border. We should be helping them build schools to compete for those hearts and minds of the people in the region so that we're actually able to take on terrorism and by the way, that's where bin Laden lives and we will go at him if we have actually intelligence.

IFILL: Governor, nuclear Pakistan, unstable Pakistan, nuclear
Iran? Which is the greater threat?

PALIN: Both are extremely dangerous, of course. And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was the General Petraeus and al Qaeda, both leaders there and it's probably the only thing that they're ever going to agree on, but that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq. You don't have to believe me or John McCain on that. I would believe Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda.

An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period. Israel is in jeopardy of course when we're dealing with Ahmadinejad as a leader of Iran. Iran claiming that Israel as he termed it, a stinking corpse, a country that should be wiped off the face of the earth. Now a leader like Ahmadinejad who is not sane or stable when he says things like that is not one whom we can allow to acquire nuclear energy, nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, others who are dangerous dictators are one that Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with without preconditions being met first.

IFILL: Governor and senator, I want you both to respond to this.
Secretaries of state Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?

PALIN: No and Dr. Henry Kissinger especially. I had a good conversation with him recently. And he shared with me his passion for diplomacy. And that's what John McCain and I would engage in also. But again, with some of these dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women's rights, those who would try to destroy what we stand for cannot be met with just sitting down on a presidential level as Barack Obama had said he would be willing to do. That is beyond bad judgment. That is dangerous.

No, diplomacy is very important. First and foremost, that is what we would engage in. But diplomacy is hard work by serious people. It's lining out clear objectives and having your friends and your allies ready to back you up there and have sanctions lined up before any kind of presidential summit would take place.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Can I clarify this? This is simply not true about Barack Obama. He did not say sit down with Ahmadinejad.

BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, it surprises me that Senator
McCain doesn't realize that Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran. The theocracy controls the security apparatus, number one.

Number two, five secretaries of state did say we should talk with and sit down.

Now, John and Governor Palin now say they're all for -they have a passion, I think the phrase was, a passion for diplomacy and that we have to bring our friends and allies along.

Our friends and allies have been saying, Gwen, "Sit down. Talk.
Talk. Talk." Our friends and allies have been saying that, five secretaries of state, three of them Republicans.

And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn't sit down. Now, how do you do that when you don't have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?

And look what President Bush did. After five years, he finally sent a high-ranking diplomat to meet with the highest-ranking diplomats in Iran, in Europe, to try to work out an arrangement. Our allies are on that same page. And if we don't go the extra mile on diplomacy, what makes you think the allies are going to sit with us?

The last point I'll make, John McCain said as recently as a couple of weeks ago he wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally that has troops in Afghanistan with us now. I find that incredible.

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned Israel and your support for
Israel.

PALIN: Yes.

IFILL: What has this administration done right or wrong -this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -what have they done? And is a two-state solution the solution?

PALIN: A two-state solution is the solution. And Secretary
Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there, also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace, and that needs to be done, and that will be top of an agenda item, also, under a McCain-Palin administration.

Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see.

We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.

They succeeded with Jordan. They succeeded with Egypt. I'm sure that we're going to see more success there, also.

It's got to be a commitment of the United States of America, though. And I can promise you, in a McCain-Palin administration, that commitment is there to work with our friends in Israel.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.

But you asked a question about whether or not this administration's policy had made sense or something to that effect. It has been an abject failure, this administration's policy.

In fairness to Secretary Rice, she's trying to turn it around now in the seventh or eighth year. in the seventh or eighth year.

Here's what the president said when we said no. He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack
Obama said, "Big mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them."
What happened? Hamas won.

When we kicked -along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of
Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.

The fact of the matter is, the policy of this administration has been an abject failure.

And speaking of freedom being on the march, the only thing on the march is Iran. It's closer to a bomb. Its proxies now have a major stake in Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip with Hamas.

We will change this policy with thoughtful, real, live diplomacy that understands that you must back Israel in letting them negotiate, support their negotiation, and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has.

IFILL: Has this administration's policy been an abject failure, as the senator says, Governor?

PALIN: No, I do not believe that it has been. But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that.

No, in fact, when we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say, "Enough is enough with your ticket," on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game.

There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.

But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there's just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that's where you're going.

Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We'll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations.

And we're going to forge ahead with putting government back on the side of the people and making sure that our country comes first, putting obsessive partisanship aside.

That's what John McCain has been known for in all these years.
He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers. He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers.

But I know, Senator Biden, you have respected for them that, and
I respect you for acknowledging that. But change is coming.

IFILL: Just looking backwards, Senator?

BIDEN: Look, past is prologue, Gwen. The issue is, how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet.

I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different on Iran than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different with Israel than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Afghanistan is going to be different than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Pakistan is going to be different than George Bush's.

It may be. But so far, it is the same as George Bush's. And you know where that policy has taken us.

We will make significant change so, once again, we're the most respected nation in the world. That's what we're going to do.

IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.

Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent.
And that's a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry.

But for those countries -North Korea, also, under Kim Jong-il
-we have got to make sure that we're putting the economic sanctions on these countries and that we have friends and allies supporting us in this to make sure that leaders like Kim Jong-il and Ahmadinejad are not allowed to acquire, to proliferate, or to use those nuclear weapons. It is that important.

Can we talk about Afghanistan real quick, also, though?

IFILL: Certainly.

PALIN: OK, I'd like to just really quickly mention there, too, that when you look back and you say that the Bush administration's policy on Afghanistan perhaps would be the same as McCain, and that's not accurate.

The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the
Bush administration.

Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.

That's not what we're doing there. We're fighting terrorists, and we're securing democracy, and we're building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in -in Afghanistan, also.

IFILL: Senator, you may talk about nuclear use, if you'd like, and also about Afghanistan.

BIDEN: I'll talk about both. With Afghanistan, facts matter,
Gwen.

The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge -the surge principles used in Iraq will not -well, let me say this again now -our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan.

He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Look, we have spent more money -we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.

Let me say that again. Three weeks in Iraq; seven years, seven years or six-and-a-half years in Afghanistan. Now, that's number one.

Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.

John McCain has opposed amending the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty with an amendment to allow for inspections.

John McCain has not been -has not been the kind of supporter for dealing with -and let me put it another way. My time is almost up.

Barack Obama, first thing he did when he came to the United
States Senate, new senator, reached across the aisle to my colleague, Dick Lugar, a Republican, and said, "We've got to do something about keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists."

They put together a piece of legislation that, in fact, was serious and real. Every major -I shouldn't say every -on the two at least that I named, I know that John McCain has been opposed to extending the arms control regime in the world.

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. Certainly, accounting for different conditions in that different country and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one and even the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan. And those leaders who are over there, who have also been advising George Bush on this have not said anything different but that.

IFILL: Senator.

PALIN: Well, our commanding general did say that. The fact of the matter is that again, I'll just put in perspective, while Barack and I and Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar have been calling for more money to help in Afghanistan, more troops in Afghanistan, John McCain was saying two years ago quote, "The reason we don't read about Afghanistan anymore in the paper, it's succeeded.

Barack Obama was saying we need more troops there. Again, we spend in three weeks on combat missions in Iraq, more than we spent in the entire time we have been in Afghanistan. That will change in a Barack Obama administration.
The Commission On Presidential Debates
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