Presidential Hopefuls Call For Diplomacy In Iran During Debate

This story was written by Neha Jaganathan, Daily Bruin
The latest Democratic presidential candidate debate was held Tuesday at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Candidates were asked questions about a wide variety of issues and focused on United States relations with Iran, the war in Iraq and education reform.

Candidates also answered questions about the consistency of their election platforms.

Candidates John Edwards, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Christopher Dodd, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Bill Richardson participated in the debate. Candidate Mike Gravel was absent.

Candidates fielded questions about Iran and agreed that diplomacy, rather than military combat, is a superior approach to potential nuclear weapons development in Iran. Candidates also pledged to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear bomb if elected president.

"We are all committed to this. There is a larger issue at stake -- we have been governed by fear for the last six years," Obama said.

But, though the candidates all endorsed diplomacy, both Obama and Edwards made reference to Clinton's recent vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which they argued favors the Bush administration's preference for military combat in the Middle East.

Though Clinton did not respond to their criticism directly, she responded by affirming her desire to engage in diplomatic measures with Iran.

Candidates also agreed on the need for more government funding for education,

In response to a student's question on attracting students to the medical field, candidates maintained that the solution lies in creating a universal health care system that would spare doctors from working with HMOs and providing financial assistance toward paying off student loans.

When asked questions about the current situation in Iraq, most candidates agreed that they would spend the beginning of their terms removing troops from Iraq.

Kyle Kleckner, president of Bruin Democrats, said he believes all of the candidates feel the country should have a new direction in Iraq.

"I think all the Democratic candidates showed that they are ready to lead," he said.

But, though candidates agreed on many foreign policy and education issues, they did disagree on certain issues. Many faced criticism from fellow candidates about their campaign contribution policies, and a few were accused of being inconsistent when it came to their policy issues.

When asked about allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, Obama said he believed that they would make roads safer.

Dodd said he disagreed because he believes government identification should be issued to legal residents.

"A license is a privilege," he said.

Much of the discussion surrounding the question, however, concerned Clinton's response, in which she said that, while she does not endorse the policy personally, she believes it makes sense.

Again, Obama and Edwards responded by claiming that Clinton's stance on the issue was contradictory to previous statements she made during the course of the debate.

"Sen. Clinton said two different things in a course of two minutes," Edwards said.

Later, the candidates addressed several other issues including the recent wildfires in Southern California.

"We have to be smart, but when a natural disaster comes, our country has to be there for its people," said Edwards.
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