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2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION / THE DEMOCRATIC HOPEFULS

Q & A / John Edwards

2004 Presidential Election / The Democratic Hopefuls

May 25, 2003

Should we have gone to war in Iraq? What would you have done differently?

I've consistently argued that disarming Saddam Hussein, even if it meant the use of force, was necessary to defend America's security. Last fall, I co-sponsored and voted for the congressional resolution to authorize force against Iraq. One thing I would have done differently is plan better for a post-Saddam Iraq -- something this administration clearly did not do well.

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How would you try to stop the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran?

Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology is one of the most important priorities for U.S. foreign policy.... A nuclear North Korea is a serious threat not just because of our regional interests, but because North Korea could sell nuclear weapons to terrorists. I believe that we need to sit down with North Korea, make clear that its actions are unacceptable, and that they must stop....

Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable. We must work with our allies to prevent Iran's acquisition of nuclear-related technology. In particular, there must be real penalties for states that continue to provide nuclear-related goods and services to Iran.

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What will be America's greatest foreign policy challenge in the next 20 years?

Our highest priority is to protect the American people -- and therefore the greatest challenges will be to win the war on terrorism and halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

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Should income taxes be cut? If so, how? If not, why not?

I support tax cuts for working families. I've proposed a new, $2,500 refundable tax credit that families with newborns can use to take time off and be with their child. But I would freeze the 2001 cuts in tax rates for families making over $200,000. Those are cuts we simply cannot afford.

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How would you provide health-care coverage to the uninsured?

We need to make sure every American family has access to affordable health insurance, and we need to control the costs of health care. We need to do four things: provide health insurance for all children; offer more health-care choices to all Americans; help out small businesses that want to offer insurance but can't afford it right now; bring down health-care costs by taking on the drug companies, the insurance companies and the HMOs.

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What are the most important steps the federal government can take to invigorate the economy?

First, we need to give the economy a shot in the arm now. I've proposed a plan to do that: a $500 energy tax credit for every family, $50 billion in aid to states that are raising taxes and cutting education ... accelerated depreciation for businesses so they'll invest more now, and extended unemployment benefits.

Second, over the long term, we need to get back to fiscal discipline. So I've proposed a plan to cut spending, close corporate loopholes and delay the portion of President Bush's tax cut for the very wealthiest Americans.

Third, while most American businesses continue to act responsibly, we must rein in some excesses.

According to Fortune, median CEO compensation rose by 14% in 2002, even as the returns on the S&P 500 dropped 22%. Some companies have protected executive compensation yet cut workers' pensions. I have proposed a Shareholder and Worker Bill of Rights that would offer more-equal treatment of pensions for workers and CEOs, require greater disclosure about exorbitant CEO pay and give shareholders the ability to nominate board members without a costly proxy fight.

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As president, would you propose a plan to bring the federal budget back into balance by a specific date?

I would reduce the deficits projected under this administration and put the country back on the path to a balanced budget.

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Would you explicitly require that anyone you nominate to the Supreme Court commit to upholding the Roe vs. Wade decision that guaranteed a legal right to abortion?

I would choose nominees based on their entire records, their character and their approaches to the law. I would look for individuals who are committed to interpreting the law fairly, not based on politics, and who will protect our equal rights and our civil rights as Americans.

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