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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Counting Down to CNN/YouTube Presidential Debate; Running on Faith

Aired July 21, 2007 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. And welcome to the YouTube debate countdown. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts.

The clocks are ticking down. Get ready for democracy at lightspeed.

CHETRY: For the first time ever, we're turning over an entire presidential debate to you, the voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): It sure isn't your grandparents' debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first question to Senator Kennedy from Mr. Fleming (ph).

CHETRY (voice-over): Or even the MTV generation's debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The world is dying to know, is it boxers or briefs?

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: If you want to be president...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So help me God.

CHETRY: ... you better look out.

ROBERTS: It's a brand-new generation, the YouTube generation.

CHETRY: And they have some video questions that will make you think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you allow us to be married to each other?

ROBERTS: Make you squirm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has your husband, Bill Clinton, engaged in adulterous behavior since he has left office?

CHETRY: Make you laugh out loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you're better looking than Barack Obama?

ROBERTS: A debate like never before.

CHETRY: Want to know what voters really want to know? Just listen to their questions.

NATHAN ROBERTS, FATHER: I'm the father of a young family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm worried about...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... restoring America's place in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. And good luck.

ROBERTS: Tonight, on the CNN/YouTube debate countdown.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And we're counting down to Monday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The Democratic candidates for president will be front and center at the Citadel Military College in Charleston, South Carolina.

CHETRY: And, actually, so will you. For the first time ever, the questions for a presidential debate will look like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL BERG, NEW YORK, NEW YORK: And this is a map of the more than 1,200 soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City. More than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, live in homes that can't afford enough food. And the problem is getting worse. Will you commit to ending hunger for all Americans?

JHNNYSILVR: My question is, what will they do about global warming? If we don't act soon, we're going to end up trying to swim to the mall.

Yes, I mean, what are you going to do about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, those questions and many more are posted on YouTube, the video-sharing Web site. We will be sharing our favorites with you during this hour, although we do not know which ones are going to be selected for the actual debate.

CNN chief national correspondent John King is keeping track of the preparations at the Citadel in Charleston. He joins us now.

John, with such a unique format, what are the campaigns doing to prepare for Monday night?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A number of things, John.

Number one, they are trying to shape our debate. If you go to any of their Web sites, you will see efforts to get their own supporters to record questions and submit them to YouTube. So, that is one way.

But we also know in their debate preparation sessions, they are not only taking questions from some of their aides. Some of the companies, I'm told, are also using video monitors. They're looking down and getting the questions through video monitors, much like they will in the debate.

But, both from an issue standpoint, they know this will be wide- ranging. They know there could be some wild card questions, if you will. And from a technological standpoint they are doing some preparation as well, because this will be truly groundbreaking.

ROBERTS: It's very easy for a candidate, John, to take a question from a journalist moderator and try to turn it to their advantage, answer not the question that was asked but the question that you want to answer.

But is there any anxiety among the campaigns, the candidates, to answer questions that come from such a wide-ranging audience and particularly some that come from a personal aspect for many of these people?

KING: In some sense, yes, there is anxiety, because you can't dodge the question when it comes from an average American asking about global warming, as we just heard in the preview, asking about a specific health insurance problem or a specific college cost problem.

They have to be more personal in their answers, talk essentially to the person asking the question, even though the person is asking it through a video link, and then also talk to the broader audience, so it's a dual challenge for the candidates. But most of the campaigns I have talked to say they look forward to this, that for them it's sort of a high-tech town hall format and they are very much looking forward to this different way of doing things.

ROBERTS: Well, they may have to elevate their game to do it, too.

John King, thanks very much.

KING: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: Now here's Kiran.

KING: Thank you.

CHETRY: People have been uploading questions for this debate since mid-June. So what is on voters' minds? Well, predominantly domestic issues, education, health care. And that's just for starters. So, now for a closer look, I'm joined by two CNN political strategists, Paul Begala, former Clinton White House adviser, and J.C. Watts, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: You know, education topped the list of the submitted questions. So, we are going to listen to a few of the education questions that have been sent in so far.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENECA, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: It seems that our schools are falling apart and we have spent somewhere between -- about $60 billion on education and almost $500 billion on this war. What are you going to do to shift the nation's spending priorities?

KEVIN, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: I just graduated from high school and will be going to college in the fall. But my brother has a long way to go. As president, what will you do to make sure that Jeffrey (ph) receives an excellent education in safe schools with qualified teachers?

KATHY, MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Last year, a million kids dropped out of American high schools, and I'm really worried about what's going to happen to them. If you're elected, what would you do to help more kids receive their high school diploma?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, we did some research. In both the Democratic and Republican debates so far, the words college, tuition and high school dropouts were never mentioned, not even once.

But it seems like the voters really do care about these issues, especially when it comes to how they are going to be able to pay for education.

So, my first question is to you, Paul. What should Democrats do? What should they say, the candidates in this debate, to show that they are on it?

BEGALA: Well, first, most importantly, what they should not say. Don't fall into platitudes. We're so tired of the sloganeering. And Governor Bush of Texas, before he became president, got elected in part by saying, I will leave no child behind.

A lot of Democrats feel like that was empty rhetoric. So, don't be Whitney Houston. Don't just do the, I believe the children are our future. Get into the specifics. That's what those voters who sent in those questions from YouTube want. That's what I think Democrats across the country want. Give me your four- or five-point plan to help that young man get to college.

CHETRY: You know, and, J.C., this No Child Left Behind, it's proving to be pretty unpopular, I guess, among Democratic voters. Republicans, what do they need to say when it comes to focusing on domestic issues like education?

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, No Child Left Behind, Kiran, has gotten mixed results. And I think in those under-served communities, minority areas, it's gotten pretty good results.

But I think Republicans need to continue to emphasize, you know, local control, you know, giving parents options to put their kids in schools that work, even if it is a private school. I think a lot of those things they Have talked about. You know, the problem is, education just hasn't been an issue, because the war has sucked up so much of the political oxygen.

CHETRY: Yes, and some would say some of the money as well.

Well, let's take a look at a couple of the questions That were sent in regarding health care, because this is another Really big issue for the YouTube submissions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM PENCE, GLENDALE, KENTUCKY: Members of Congress have the best health care insurance money can buy, paid for with my tax dollars. Why should I pay for their health care insurance, when they didn't bother to protect mine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not every parent has the luxury of two loving sons to care for them during Alzheimer's. My question for the candidates is, people like us, the baby boomer generation, is going to see a boom of Alzheimer's over the upcoming decades. What are you prepared to do to fight this disease now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And these are the types of videos that we're seeing, when they really show the human story.

And, Paul, you were an adviser for President Clinton during the time that Hillary was pushing her health care plan. So far though she's not released details about her health care plan. Should she, or at this point should she stay fuzzy?

BEGALA: Yes, I think she's got time to be specific. I think the greater challenge for her -- and it does not come naturally -- is to show us what is in her heart.

She's a daughter who has cared for an ailing -- an elderly mother. She's raised a child. She's confronted health care not just as a policy wonk, which we know, but also as a mom and as a daughter. And if I were advising her, I would tell her to open her heart a little bit.

If you see those films, the questions that you just showed us, those men feeding their mother with Alzheimer's, you have got to open your heart to that.

CHETRY: Yes.

And, J.C., can the Democrats win pushing some form of universal health care?

WATTS: Well, Kiran, that is going to be interesting.

I think most Americans -- or many Americans -- not most, but many Americans, believe that the government should be providing health care for everybody. But I would encourage them to understand that, if they think that health care is expensive, you know, now, wait until they see what the cost is going to be when they get it free.

I hope that candidates would talk about not just health care, but I think they need to talk about health. And I think you will see Republicans talk more about that, about us being more healthy in our eating habits, exercise and so forth, in order to deal with the situation that we're in, in America.

CHETRY: All right. Well, both of you, thanks. Stick around, though, Paul Begala and J.C. Watts. We're going to have much more ground to cover when we come right back -- John.

ROBERTS: Kiran, the YouTube questions cover a remarkable variety of issues, but some common themes are coming through as well, including a big streak of voter impatience, like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZACH KEMPF, PROVO, UTAH: What's up?

You are going to spend this whole night talking about your views on issues, but the issues don't matter if, when you get in power, nothing is going to get done. What's going to make you any more effectual, beyond all the platitudes and the stuff we're used to hearing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Judging by the questions that we're seeing about voter anger and broken government, Washington had better watch out.

Are things in the nation's capital really that bad? Fasten your seat belts, because we will hear from more dissatisfied voters in just a minute.

Later on, running on faith. How important is a candidate's religion to your vote?

Plus, the YouTube community's surprising take on the number one international issue. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We are counting down to Monday's Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina. You're going to see it here on CNN, and it's the first of its kind. The candidates will be answering questions submitted by users of YouTube, the video-sharing Web site.

And you may be surprised to hear that what's on the minds of YouTubers doesn't always match up with what we learn from public opinion polls about the concerns of Democratic voters.

Back with me now is our chief national correspondent, John King, who is in Charleston, South Carolina, the site of Monday's debate. And with me here in the studio, senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Let's take a look at the difference between what voters across the country and YouTube users say are their top issues. A recent CNN poll found that, of likely Democratic voters, Iraq was the top issue, followed by health care, the economy, immigration, and terrorism, whereas the questions we have been getting on YouTube, the greatest number of questions were about education, followed by health care, energy and the environment, then Iraq, and then immigration.

Bill Schneider, why the disparity between what we see in polls across the country and what we are seeing on YouTube?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What you're getting from YouTube users are specific questions that are intense concerns to specific constituencies, like young people. They are concerned about education. They ask questions about their education.

Older people, health care is a big concern. A lot of motorists want to know about gasoline prices. These are specific concerns from those constituents.

ROBERTS: So, these are coming from a very personal standpoint?

SCHNEIDER: Right, very, very personal, because YouTube is the most personal medium possible.

ROBERTS: John King, how do candidates have to adjust their game plans to respond to these questions? Because, so far, a lot of what we have seen in the campaign, and particularly over Congress over the last little while, has been Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, and some immigration.

KING: And I think in part what you're seeing is some of these YouTubers are closely engaged in this campaign, and they have heard a lot about Iraq, and, as Bill noted, they want to hear about other things now.

How do the candidates adapt? John, they will be getting -- this is a town hall format. We're using technology in revolutionary way, but it's essentially a voter asking a question face to face. So, when somebody says, "I was denied coverage on my health insurance plan; what are you going to do about it? I can't afford to send my kid to college or to pay my own college bills; what will you do about it?" you tend to get more personal, more emotional answers, because you're getting a direct human story given to the candidate, not a question from a journalist, like you or me.

ROBERTS: But, John, this is different than a typical town hall, though, because, even though there are real people asking those questions, they are vetted to some degree. And this is just wide open to people across the country, and they could get a question sailing in from left field that they never even thought about in.

KING: Well, that does -- you know, candidates go through all this preparation time. And they have polling. They have focus groups. They have research. They have the staff sit at a table, and they pepper the candidates with questions, trying to come up with all these off-the-wall questions that they can't think about.

But you're exactly right. This gives us an opportunity to test the candidates. Look, these are men and women who want to be president of the United States. They have to be prepared for anything. Here's a nice chance to test that.

ROBERTS: Bill Schneider, is there any way that this debate could change the numbers in South Carolina for the Democrats? Because we see in our latest CNN poll Hillary Clinton has got a 14-point lead over Obama. I mean, she would really either have to step in it, or he would really have to excel to change those numbers, it would seem.

SCHNEIDER: Two words, unscripted, unrehearsed, that's the nature of this debate, particularly this debate, because of the nature of the questions, from ordinary citizens.

Debates allow voters to see the candidates in a natural setting, and they often have very telling moments, like when George W. Bush, the -- the father, rather, George Bush, looked at his watch or Al Gore sighed a lot.

ROBERTS: Sighed. We all remember that.

SCHNEIDER: Those were all unscripted, unrehearsed, and people saw the real candidate.

ROBERTS: You know, we have also been getting a lot of questions on the issue of broken government.

Take a quick look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN VERTON, RESIDENT VIRGINIA: What specifically would your presidency do to restore the constitutional protections and freedoms that the current administration has diluted under the guys of fighting terrorism? And how would you balance those actions with a very real need for more security?

ZACHARY FREIER, GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO: We have seen a significant increase in presidential power and a significant decrease in congressional power. If elected president, what would you do to reverse this trend?

MARK WITT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY: Name three conflicts of interest in our current government and how they can be reformed.

MATT SHERMAN, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Lobbyists gave Uncle Sam a high-five and got back 30 in return. Obviously, lobbying is very profitable for corporations, but it doesn't always speak for the American people. How would you curtail the influence of lobbyists in Washington?

ROBERT L. VOGEL, EAST LYME, CONNECTICUT: Will you pledge to open transparent government and to faithfully observe domestic and international law?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: John King, just before last year's election, you did a documentary on broken government. We noticed that a lot of these questions are coming from young people. Why is -- a lot of them first-time voters as well. Why is there such mistrust of the government by young people?

KING: They feel the politicians don't spoke their language, and they feel their liberties are being eroded.

But, John, I find this to be one of the most fascinating issues in this campaign, because you have Democrats who have said they would scale back the Patriot Act of the Bush administration, Democrats who have criticized the so-called warrantless wiretapping program, Democrats who have criticized Guantanamo Bay prison, where terror detainees are held.

And, yet, the next president of the United States, Democrat or Republican, will inherit a country that is still under threat from abroad, and you -- candidates don't always do as president -- once they are president, what if their FBI or CIA director says, I still need these powers?

So, this could be one of the more fascinating issues in this campaign.

ROBERTS: Bill Schneider, how i(r)MDNM¯tense is this distrust of the government? And how has this changed over the years?

SCHNEIDER: After September 11, 2001, trust in government soared, 55 percent. It was a high point for decades.

Now it's down to 24 percent. Why? Because people see the government as not responsive. Look at the list of issues, top concerns. I ask you, what has government done about this? The war in Iraq seems to be a morass, the health care issue. They have done nothing.

The economy, people worry about gas prices. The government can't control them. Immigration, it failed. Terrorism, the recent report was, it's getting more dangerous. ROBERTS: Right.

And, again, as we see with the YouTube questions, a lot of people are asking, what's government going to do about education is their top issue.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Bill Schneider, John King, thanks very much.

KING: Thank you.

CHETRY: Well, we're getting some questions from people with a direct stake in the war on terrorism, like this man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE STEUERLE, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA: My wife was among those who died on September 11, 2001, in part because of a fairly weak foreign aid budget.

By contrast, after World War II, the United States gave on the order of 15 times the share of GDP it gives for foreign aid. I would like to know what you plan to do to fulfill the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that educational and economic opportunity be a key part of any campaign or global strategy against terror?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: So, again, this is the type of thing that you're going to see in this YouTube debate questioning, people who actually lived through something. So, we're going to talk much more about that.

Coming up in our debate preview, some questions about America's role in the world, not only when it comes to war, but also peace. Are we doing enough to save the global environment?

Stay with us for some hot questions coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Monday's CNN/YouTube presidential debate will be something completely new. Instead of a moderator asking the questions, the Democratic candidates will face taped questions that have been posted on YouTube, the video-sharing Web site.

And we're spending this hour looking at some of the provocative questions that have already been submitted on topics like the environment and religion.

And back with us now, CNN political strategist Paul Begala and J.C. Watts.

We're going to take a look at some of the questions on faith and values, another hot topic that we have got.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIACOMMUNICATIONS: If you're elected president, how will you balance the responsibility you have to the principles of your faith and your duty to defend the Constitution, if those two should ever come into conflict?

MONTY KNIGHT, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Does one have to be the right kind of Christian to be elected president of our great nation?

MAXIDOG707: Can you assure atheists and agnostics that your decisions for our country will be based solely on sound logic and reason?

NEXPRES: What will guide you in making your decisions, the want of your party, the way of your religion, or the will of the people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Hmm.

Well, and, if you take a look at this poll, J.C., about religion in the White House, by a 2-1 one margin Republicans say that a president should use his faith to guide his decisions. But Democrats largely reject this idea. Could it be a mistake though for Democrats if they talk too much about religion?

WATTS: Well, I think most Americans are comfortable with people talking about their religion. If your faith is inextricably interwoven in your daily life, how can you put it on and take it off? I think you become a hindrance to your faith.

I think most Republicans understand that. And I think most Americans and I think -- or hope Republicans will understand that they want you to have some backbone. The American people want you to believe something. Just don't bounce from wall to wall, looking like you don't have any substance in your life.

CHETRY: Yes, and, Paul, there's been a lot of questions this week about the candidates, both Republican and Democrat, and whether or not they are being authentic when they talk about the role that religion plays in their lives.

So, do you think that, by talking about religion too much, candidates could look like they are pandering?

BEGALA: Yes, I think the Democrats have had the opposite problem. For too long, they talked too little about their faith. And I know many of these Democrats who are running. Gosh, I guess I know all of them. And they are people of real faith.

What I think Democratic voters want to hear from that, though, is a little backbone, as J.C. said, a little righteous indignation. I want to hear a Democrat stand up at that debate and say, you know what? I will be damned if I am going to let the party of David Vitter, who is caught hanging out wearing diapers with hookers, say that they are better people of faith than the party of the people standing on that stage.

And I think Democrats are really tired of being lectured by Republicans that somehow they are more moral than we are.

CHETRY: I have to let J.C. get the last word in, at least some comeback from that one.

WATTS: Well, but I don't -- think most Republicans would say, don't judge an entire party by what David Vitter did, no more than we would say, judge an entire party by what Bill Clinton or somebody else might do.

I think most Republicans will stand on their own concerning those issues, just as Democrats will.

CHETRY: All right, another really hot topic, guys, the environment, especially with the young voters. Let's take a look at some of the questions that have been submitted on the environment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELLISSAJENNA, CALIFORNIA: What are your ideas and plans as a candidate to make being environmentally responsible a lifestyle choice, instead of kind of a pop culture, seasonal idea?

ERIC STRAND, IOWA: Right now, the United States is addicted to fossil fuels. During your administration, how would you change the United States' status from world leader in consuming fossil fuels to world leader in consuming renewable energy?

MOSSINSC, SOUTH CAROLINA: Most scientists say that, when I'm about your age, half the species on Earth will go extinct. If you become president, what will you do to help save the endangered animals and their habitats?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: well, maybe not this time around, but he is going to be one of the future voters.

Do the Democrats need to try to make the environment extremely important in some of these debates to capture the youth vote, Paul?

BEGALA: Well, not just the youth vote. That young man, I hope, is not just a voter, but a candidate one day, because he made a lot of good sense.

Democrats need to explain the environment as a national security and economic security issue. I think voters now get that because of Mr. Bush's war in Iraq. But this is a way that environment, which was once seen as sort of a soft issue, can be a very tough, hard issue. Democrats need to embrace that.

CHETRY: Now, and, J.C., are we going to see the GOP also try to jump in there and prove, hey, we're also -- we can also be green? WATTS: Well, you know, Kiran, this is an issue that Republicans have conceded to Democrats for years, just like Republicans conceded poverty.

I think it's a huge mistake for Republicans not to be involved in this issue. But I think it's important to use real science, not political science. The issue is too important to do otherwise.

CHETRY: All right, Paul Begala, J.C. Watts, great to see both of you. Thanks again -- John.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Well, Kiran, we have received a tremendous number of questions from Democratic voters, but even the Republicans couldn't resist submitting a debate question.

Check this one out. It's from the Republican National Committee chairman, Mike Duncan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE DUNCAN, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Senator Clinton, last year, you said you didn't think it was a -- quote -- "smart strategy" to set a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq.

And, Senator Obama, you said you didn't -- quote -- "believe that setting a date certain for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops was the best approach to achieving our goals."

Since then, however, both of you have reversed your positions.

My question to both of you is this: In the 2004 election, your colleague Senator Kerry was criticized for his contradictory positions on the Iraq war. How do you expect to win this election by taking a page from his playbook?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, the Republicans aren't the only ones with questions about Iraq. It is the number-one international topic. And many of the YouTube questions make a surprising assumption. That's coming up next.

Later, how do the candidates relate to young people and their questions?

Plus, the answer that everyone wants to know: Who the heck is picking the questions that will go into the debate, anyways?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIESCHELLER: My question is for Hillary Clinton since she's the only female running for president. We're currently in the middle of a war with a society of people who consider women to be weak, and I was wondering if you're elected president, would that make America vulnerable to further terroristic attacks because they will view us as a nation who's being led by a weaker person?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, welcome back to our counterdown to Monday's CNN/YouTube Presidential Debate. The Democratic candidates will be facing questions like that one posted on YouTube, the video-sharing Website. And that mother's question is just one of many that focus on America's role in the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELITMER: You can put more troops in. You can even take the troops out. You can divide it up in different regions between the Sunnis and Shias and the Kurds, but if you do withdraw the troops, the question still remains (graphic) happens...then??? iRaq

JEFF JARVIS: What obligation do we have to the people of Iraq for their safety and security for this civil war that we had a role in starting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Back with me now from the site of Monday's debate at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, is our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley and joining me here in the studio is CNN's Jill Dougherty.

Jill, the idea of getting out of Iraq for all of these people, and many who have submitted questions on YouTube, seems to be a given. The question that they have, and a very clever question that was micking the iPhone commercial, is what happens after you get out of Iraq? How do you prevent Iraq from descending into chaos?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right, that, of course, is the main question because what does happen. It could be a really dire scenario, and then you take it to the other level of what the image of the United States is like. You're going to have a lot of people who will say, look, they're cutting and running, remember Vietnam. Look what happened. The terrorists have won. America goes back with its tail between its legs, et cetera.

Or there's the other theory which is some people would say, look, it shows a country that took a brave step, perhaps not exactly in its own interest, at that point politically speaking, but it decided to get out and take the consequences.

ROBERTS: Candy Crowley, do any of the candidates really have a good answer for this question of then what? There has been some talk about building international alliances, but as we've seen for the last two years the international community doesn't seem to have much interest in getting involved.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. and that's what a lot of them are sort of using as a campaign -- in their campaign speeches, and that to say what we need is a clean break from what we've had. I can offer a new face of the U.S. government. I can put people out there that will mend our diplomatic relations with so many people around the country, but in terms of a specific answer to what's next, there is not -- that has not been out there for that long. We have really sort of turned this corner over the past couple of weeks, and certainly it's showing up in these YouTube questions as, you know, what are we going to do? Are we just going to leave the Iraqis there, that kind of thing, I think you're hearing more and more on the campaign trail in these town hall meetings. So eventually they're going to have to come up with a pretty clear cut answer.

ROBERTS: There was a new shot fired in the debate over what to do in Iraq this week and it was fired from the Pentagon by the under- secretary of defense, Eric Edelman, who said of Hillary Clinton, "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have don in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia."

Candy Crowley, her campaign was quite aggressive in pushing back against that charge saying it was outrageous and dangerous. You know, you wonder the level of pushback by the campaign, is that a sign that they are worried that that charge could stick, if not in the primary, during the general election?

CROWLEY: I think it's a sign that it does not hurt Hillary Clinton to be seen standing up to the Pentagon at this point. This is what the base of the party, in fact the entire party, is looking for, is someone who will stand up to the president, someone who will stand up to the Pentagon. This fight, to me, had a little bit of Kabuki Theater in it in that it really is a positive thing for Hillary Clinton to take on the Pentagon at this point.

ROBERTS: Of course, not all of the questions have been about Iraq. There are questions about other international issues as well. YouTube users very concerned about what's going on in some other hot spots in the international scene. Let's take a quick look at those.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN SIXTA, DIAMOND BAR, CA: Would you be willing to meet separately without pre-condition, during the first year of your administration in Washington or anywhere else with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries? LAURIE DUNDON, OREGON: What would you do to end this ongoing cris in Darfur, to end the suffering of these people and to prevent such atrocities in the future?

DAVID, COLORADO: How would your administration respond to a surprise Iranian nuclear weapons tests?

ROBERTS: Jill Dougherty, is it important for the candidates to look beyond Iraq in we hear so much about that. Joe Biden did have some pretty good answers about Darfur a couple debates ago, but is it important for them as a group to look well beyond Iraq in.

DOUGHERTY: You know, you'd have to say that, John. There's, no question, because if you myopically concentrate on only that issue of terror, only on the issue of Iraq, you forget about all sorts of other really big issues that can then come around and bite you and big time. I mean, you have relations with China. You have nuclear non- proliferation. You have Iran is -- the people there know -- mentioned, so there are a lot of thing and they have a lot of different areas to deal with in a world that has become very, very unpredictable in terms of how things are organized.

ROBERTS: And there was one other area of concern for YouTube users that we want to highlight. You touched on this just a while ago. It's America's image in the world. Take a listen to this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE HAGEMAN, SEATTLE, WA: My dad, a citizen of America, and my mom, an immigrant from Japan, often talk with me about how great America used to be. They think that America's reputation has been shattered. My question is how will you restore America's prestige?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Candy Crowley, John Edwards has an idea for that. He says he would embark on a world tour to try to repair relations with the international community. Do the others have a good answer for that? Do they have a good policy?

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton has said that she would send out the former president, her husband, Bill Clinton. Bill Richardson, as you know, who relies heavily on his diplomatic credentials says that he would use that experience to reach out to some of these places to try to repair the damage, so they all basically have an idea about how they would do it, but it's essentially the same idea and that is to go to these countries and with a new face and a new policy, start a new era.

ROBERTS: Well, whoever is covering the president, should it be a Democratic president, can expect a lot of world travel in the first few months that have presidency.

ROBERTS: Candy Crowley in Charleston for us; Jill Doherty, thanks very much -- Kiran. CHETRY: All right, John, thanks. Well, the YouTube community skews pretty young, so how does a group of 40, 50, 60 or even 70- something's get involved with the YouTube generation? Well, we've got something for you, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKI SCHECHNER, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: So, do you know what you want to ask of the presidential candidates? Coming up, I'll show you how to get your question onto YouTube?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That's right. Even if you've never YouTube before, it's easy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We continue our countdown now to Monday's CNN/YouTube debate. The YouTube community skews fairly young, so what do today's young people really care about? As we've seen, education, especially paying for college.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUCAS BROWN EYES, SOUTH DAKOTA: My name is Lucas Brown Eyes from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and I just graduated with honors. I was accepted in my dream college, but I can't afford the $50,000 a year. We spend over a trillion dollars on defense and interests on the national debt, but only $80 billion on education. The solution for the high-skilled labor shortage is to grant foreigners H1-B visas. I say let's skill America, from America, for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So, how do the candidates relate to young people and their questions? They ask people like James Kotecki. Just weeks ago he graduated from college, Georgetown University, and he's already advising presidential candidates on how to use YouTube. And we just saw Lucas Brown Eyes, an award-winning film student, who submitted the education question that we just showed you, he joins us now.

Lucas, first of all, let's talk to you. What's your story, what prompted you to pose that question to the candidates?

BROWN EYES: Well, I just graduated this year, and I got into the top school of my choice and I was really excited and then I got the financial aid package and I found out I can't afford to go to college.

And I mean, I'm a minority, I'm Native American and Spanish, and I'm still having a hard time finding scholarships. And I might not be able to go, so that's what really prompted me, especially seeing my friends going through the same things, but worse. Not being able to pay for their college.

ROBERTS: Now, we're not going to say that Lucas Brown Eyes' question is going to be on the debate, because we don't know, yet. But it is questions and issues like that that the candidates are going to have to deal with. And in some cases, they turn to people like James Kotecki, as we said, a new graduate from Georgetown University in Washington, because he's plugged into the YouTube generation.

What does the YouTube generation want from these candidates?

JAMES KOTECKI, RECENT GEORGETOWN GRAD: In a word: authenticity. I think a lot of people in my generation are fed up with seeing politicians in a kind of overly glossy, overly P.R. driven atmosphere and they just want to see and relate to them as real human beings. So, if they make a video and put it on YouTube, it doesn't even have to be very high quality, if they're being authentic and if they're really trying to reach out people and go beyond sound bites politics.

ROBERTS: Now, you've actually worked with some of the candidates, Ron Paul, James Gravel, came to your dorm room -- (INAUDIBLE), came to your dorm room for a little bit of one-on-one counseling session. Dennis Kucinich, as well, you talked to. You've also talked to John Edwards. What are they looking for? What wisdom are they seeking from you?

KOTECKI: Well, I think they want to do interviews with me because I reach an audience that they may not otherwise get, which are young people, as you said, a lot of young people are watching YouTube videos, now. Many of them, I think like me -- I don't even own a TV. I get most of my entertainment from YouTube.

And I think what they're looking for is also to talk maybe more about the issues with me. Because I see a lot of interviews that politicians do, and they can't always talk about all of the different questions that I think are interesting and so I try to ask them questions that aren't often asked and I hope it's those same kind of questions that get asked in the YouTube debates.

ROBERTS: Lucas, you know, we've heard from so many young people over the years that they feel disenfranchised in the voting process, the political process. They don't feel like they can ever become really part of the campaign, unless of courser, they were to go work for one of the campaigns. Do you feel a little more empowered knowing that you can put a question on YouTube and have it at least considered for use in a nationally televised debate?

BROWN EYES: Oh yes, yes, completely. This has got me -- I registered to vote today, actually. This has got me involved in politics because now I feel like I have a voice. For all these years, I think the reason why the young, youth voter turnout hasn't been as high as people would like, is because we don't feel like we have a voice. And now, I think this will give them a voice.

ROBERTS: Well Lucas, we appreciate your question. Thanks very much for submitting it. It's an interesting story that you've got to tell, one that's repeated across this country. Maybe somebody will actually pick up the torch and give you a little assistance.

Lucas Brown Eyes joining us as well as James Kotecki. Thanks very much, appreciate you being here.

CHETRY: Well, if you haven't sent in a question to YouTube there's still some time. Even if you have all time in the world you still have to know how to do it. Right? Well, here's internet correspondent Jacki Schechner to show us is how.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JACKI SCHECHNER, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Hi guys. No matter how you capture your video, there is a way to get it onto YouTube. Let me show you what you do.

We start with our digital camera or your camcorder. Now, once you record your question, you're going to want to put it on to your computer and then log on to YouTube.com. Create an account, that's the best way to manage your videos. Name your question -- we'll call this "Jacki's Question," and the upload the file from your system.

Once it's online, add it to the contest and you're done, it's that easy.

If you've got a cell phone with video, that's easy, too. YouTube gives the option of sending a question directly from your phone. Just shoot your video and then e-mail it. Question accomplished.

The final way is the quick capture version on YouTube.com. If you've got a have a webcam this is the easiest thing to do. Record yourself talking into the camera, quick capture it, then once you're done it takes a couple seconds to process and then it pops up online. It's that easy. In fact, there's only one challenge left, what do you want to ask? And well that, I can't help you with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Well, here is the one question that everybody is asking. Who is picking the questions that we'll see on Monday night. Part of the answer is on your screen right now. Who are these guys? Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: I'm Governor Charlie Crist of Florida. When you're done watching the Democrats come back here on Monday night, come right back here to CNN September 17 and watch the Republicans, right here from St. Petersburg, Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: So, sure, someone put a lot of work into producing that question for CNN/YouTube Presidential Debate, but will it make it on the air on Monday? Only a few will, and we haven't talked yet about how they'll be chosen and why. Tom Foreman takes us inside that process, now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your opinion of America's image abroad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After attending various...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will you do to counteract...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is this...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If elected...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you use your power...

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of questions from all over to be seen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sort of like that.

FOREMAN: And sorted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's certainly different.

FOREMAN: And selected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like this one a lot, absolutely.

FOREMAN: High inside our New York offices, locked away in this private room, this small group is taking on that task. Led by senior vice president David Bohrman.

DAVID BOHRMAN, SR VICE PRESIDENT, CNN: I just think it's a little touchy-feeley.

FOREMAN: And Sam Fice (ph), our political director, both delighted at the quantity and quality of questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, my question is what are you going...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Are you going to help to stop...

FOREMAN: A small number of submissions involve special production.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be sure that your healthcare plans are...

FOREMAN: Most are simply people talking to a camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women are not included in the United States constitution...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How often are your religious beliefs...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's bring this question out in the open...

BOHRMAN: We're finding these questions to camera from senior citizens and middle-aged people and young people from all around the country so the -- because it's so simple and easy to do we're getting a real broad spectrum.

FOREMAN: They are all graded, some for cleverness and some for earnestness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I really like that?

FOREMAN: Some because they think it ought to be asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My fear is it leads to a stump speech.

FOREMAN: Some because it hasn't been asked before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It put candidates behind on no child best behind.

BOHRMAN: There clearly are questions that we, the journalists of mainstream media, would never think to ask in a presidential debate.

FOREMAN (on camera): Like what?

BOHRMAN: I'm not going to tell you.

FOREMAN (voice-over): He's smiling.

BOHRMAN: Really, I'm not.

FOREMAN: But not kidding.

(on camera): Only 50 videos will make it into the debate and exactly how they are being chosen is a secret. Even around here.

BOHRMAN: The focus is with some context, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a vein of questions in a lot of these.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the questions we're getting on healthcare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asks it and then they are going to...

FOREMAN (voice-over): And when the selection is done, only these folks, host Anderson Cooper and a handful of others will know which of your questions will be heard by someone who might become president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a really good question.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERTY: Well, our colleague Anderson Cooper will be hosting and moderating Monday's debate, and he joins me now to talk about it.

Are you getting excited?

ANDERSON COOPER, AC-360: I am. I've actually been -- that meeting you just saw, I've been in those meeting for the last couple of days looking at the 1,600 or so videos that we've had and it's a tough process trying to figure out which ones to select.

CHERTY: You know, in fact, each day it gets harder because more and more people decide, hey, I want to be a part of this and they are going and uploading their videos.

COOPER: And we're accepting videos all through July 22, until the day before. So, we're not making final determinations really until the day of the debate.

CHERTY: You know, it's funny because there's been criticism in the Internet community that TV executives, not real people, are going to be...

COOPER: Right.

CHERTY: ...able to pick these, they're going to be the ones that eventually decide what go on the air.

COOPER: TV extfs certainly are not real people.

CHERTY: No. That's why they are only seen from the waist up.

COOPER: Right, I totally understand their concern. There are some who are saying, look, why shouldn't -- this is YouTube, why shouldn't YouTube viewers be the ones who select these videos? And it's a good question. We would like nothing more than that to be the case. Unfortunately, there's not a system really in place. If we left it up to how many clicks a video got, for instance, campaigns could very easily just manipulate, they could have their people just clicking on the questions they want.

We've already seen some campaigns attempting to insert questions, have their followers ask particular questions to -- in the hopes that those questions will get nominated. There's some site that have people selecting which questions they like the most. Right now I think the one that got the most hits for a while was a question asking if the candidates believed there Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cyborg, so, you know...

CHERTY: So, you guys are doing some form of quality control, but you're also really keeping track of some of the issues and which issues are top of mind, like education like a lot of the YouTube postings.

COOPER: Yeah, this is really a bottom-up process, it's not a top-down process that TV executives and myself are saying, look, we want questions on Iraq, so let's get four questions on Iraq, this is very much, literally, watching all the video and just whittling them down and letting the videos kind of determine which ones bubble up to the surface, really determine which ones are going to get asked.

CHERTY: And it's going to be tough because there's a lot of good ones out there.

COOPER: There are, yeah.

CHERTY: Anderson, thank you.

COOPER: My pleasure.

CHERTY: We'll see you Monday -- John.

ROBERTS: Kiran, there are so many good questions, but we have saved one of our favorites until the very last. Have you ever seen a snowman talk? Stay there. You won't want to miss this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOTASHQ, POINT HOPE, AK: I've been growing concerned that global warming...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHERTY: You know, in other presidential debates the questions have always been asked by a moderator or by people in the audience.

ROBERTS: But, when questions come from the Internet, you never know who or what will do the asking. Get a load of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOTASHQ: Hello, Democratic candidates. I've been growing concerned that global warming, the single most important issue to the snowman of the country, is being neglected. As president, what will you do to ensure that my son will have a full and happy life. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You know, there's one case where maybe global warming is not so bad.

CHERTY: Where's Frosty the Snowman when you need him? Well, thanks so much for counting down with us. We are now one hour closer to the big moment.

ROBERTS: The CNN/YouTube debate is Monday night from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be watching and we hope that you will be, too.

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