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Barack Obama at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Indianapolis; Obliterating Iran: Is it a Question of Substance or Style for Hillary Clinton
Aired May 4, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And took pride in the fact that he could make sure he saw his children graduate from one of the finest colleges in the world.
You have those own stories in your families. Every single one of them. And when I think about my father-in-law, when I think about my grandparents, the jobs that they got. They didn't just give them a paycheck. They gave them dignity. They gave them self-worth. They gave them a sense of community. They gave them a sense of meaning and purpose. They lived in an America that didn't just reward and honor wealth but also the work and workers who helped create it.
And we are here today and looking for an answer to the same question. Where is that America today? Where is that America today? How many veterans come home from this war without the care they needed. They wander the streets of the richest nation on earth without a roof over their head.
How many single parents can even afford to send their children to the doctor for a regular check up or even when they get sick never mind to four years of college?
How many workers have suffered the indignity of having to compete with their own children for jobs of the local fast food joint after the rugs been pulled up from under and then the jobs were shipped overseas, and they've lost not only their job but their health care and their pensions at the same time as they watch the CEO walk away with a million dollar golden parachute?
How many years --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching Barack Obama at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Indianapolis. This is a key primary state. And you are now also watching seven news here -- I mean, CNN tonight at 10:00 as we bring you this story and many others. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There's no doubt that many of these challenges have to do with fundamental shifts in our economy that began decades ago. Changes that have torn down borders and barriers and allowed companies to send jobs to wherever there is a cheap source of labor or an Internet connection.
And today, the countries like China and India educating their children longer and better and revolutions and communications and technology, they can send their jobs wherever they want. I saw the beginning of these changes up close when I moved to the south side of Chicago. More than two decades ago to help neighborhoods that were devastated when the local steel plant closed.
I saw the indignity of joblessness and the hopelessness of lost opportunity. But I also saw that we are not powerless in the face of these challenges. We do not have to sit here and watch our leaders do nothing. I learned we don't have to consign our children to a future of diminished returns, future of fewer opportunities. We don't have to stand by. We don't have to wait. We don't have to put off solving these challenges because this is the United States of America.
And when we are united -- when we come together, black, brown, white, young, old, rich, poor -- when we are determined to reach for a better America and to create a better future for our children and our grandchildren, nobody can stop us. And that is why I'm running for president of the United States of America right here and right now.
Understand this, I -- I think it's important to understand where I'm coming from, because politics didn't lead me to working people. Working people led me to politics. For the last 20 years, I've been working to figure out how we can make sure that every single person in this country can achieve their American dream, focusing on their struggles, their hopes, your hopes, your dreams.
I'm running because I don't think we can afford to settle for a Washington where John McCain gets the chance to give us four more years of Bush policies that have failed us over the last eight years. More tax breaks for CEOs who make more in one day than workers make in an entire year. More tax breaks for the same corporation that ship our jobs overseas, more of the trickle down, you're on your, can't do won't do philosophy of governance that says there's nothing that government owes to its citizens.
So we might as well just hand out a few tax breaks and tell people to buy their own health care, their own education, build their own roads, their own bridges. That hasn't worked in the past. And it won't work for our future.
We can't afford four more years of George Bush policies even if John McCain is the one who is presenting him. We can't afford four more years of a no exit strategy war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.
(APPLAUSE) We can't afford to have a president who looks back over the last eight years and concluded that George Bush had made great progress as John McCain was quoted as saying. I don't know who he was talking to. The 260,000 people that lost their jobs so far this year, the millions of people who are in threat of losing their homes to foreclosure, the millions of people without health care, the millions of children who despite the slogans of the left behind. I know he wasn't talking to them.
We can't afford to settle for Washington where our energy policy and our health care policy and our tax policy is sold to the highest bidding lobbyist. We can't keep taking thousands of dollars of their money year after year, election after election and suggest that somehow we are representing change. Some say these folks represent real Americans.
You and I know who they really represent. They represent oil companies and drug companies and insurance companies who keep us from bringing down the cost of our premiums and our prescriptions and investing in renewable fuels.
We can't afford to settle for a Washington where politicians only focus on how to win instead of why we should. Where our politics dictates that we check our polls before we check our principles. Where we calculate before we act on our convictions. That kind of politics may get politicians elected. But it doesn't get America where we need to go. It doesn't change anything.
We have always been at our best, our party, the Democratic Party. When we summoned an entire nation to lead not by polls but by principles, not by calculations, but by conviction. When we say to the entire nation we were calling you to a higher purpose, a common purpose. And that's the party that America needs us to be right now. And that's the choice that confronts the voters in Indiana, North Carolina on Tuesday.
That's the kind of politics that will actually bring about change that we can believe in. The debate we're having in Indiana this week is a perfect example. For 30 years, the Republican and Democratic administrations, Washington didn't do anything about the energy crisis.
They knuckled under to the power of corporate lobbyists and refused to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars. Refused to invest in alternative energy. Refused to do the things that we know we have to do to meet this challenge.
So instead of reducing our dependence on oil, we saw it grow and grow and grow to the point where we send hundreds of millions of dollars every single day to hostile nations to pay for our eviction. And that's the big part of why you are paying $4 a gallon at the pump. And now the answer that we're getting from some is a temporary summer gas tax holiday. The same proposal that John McCain made.
Well, people do need help. They desperately need help. And that's why after four months of straight job loss my stimulus package includes another round of rebates to put a little more money in the pockets of every day Americans, to help cope with the impact of rising costs. That's why I want to reform our tax system and eliminate corporate loopholes to pay for middle class tax cuts that will give the average family $1,000 of extra money to spend or to save.
But a gas tax holiday? This is an idea that will save you all together 30 cents a day for three months or $28. That's if the oil companies -- that's if the oil companies don't simply jack up their prices to fill the gap. As they've done when it's been tried before.
Does anybody here really trust the oil companies to give you the savings instead of pocketing the money themselves?
OBAMA: It is a Shell game, literally. But I make this point because we have to ask ourselves what do we stand for? What kind of party are we? Are we a party of expediency? Are we a party of just getting by getting to the next election? Because unfortunately that's how Washington too often works.
It offers empty gestures calculated to get politicians through the next election instead of real solutions to get our country and our people to the toughest challenges.
Now I wish I could stand here and tell you that we could fix our energy problems with a holiday. I wish I could tell you that we could take the time out from trade and bring back the jobs that have gone overseas. I wish I could promise that on day one of my presidency I could pass every plan and every proposal that I've outlined in this campaign. But my guess is that you would have heard that before.
You hear them every year in every election. And afterwards everyone goes back to Washington and the game playing and influence pedaling and the petty bickering continues. Nothing gets done. And four years later we're right back here making the very same promises about these very same problems.
Indiana, this year we have a choice. If you want to take another chance on the same kind of politics we've come to know in Washington, there are other candidates to choose from. But I still believe we need to fundamentally change Washington if we want to change America. I believe, I believe that this election is bigger than me or John McCain or Hillary Clinton. I think it's bigger than Democrats versus Republicans.
It's about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this country at this moment will continue to stand by while a few prosper at the expense of the hard working many. Or whether we're going to stand up and reclaim that American dream that my grandparents had, that my father-in-law had. We claim that American dream for every American. Reclaiming that dream will take more than one election. It will take more than one person. It will even take more than one party. It will take effort and sacrifice of a nation that is united. And that's the truth. But if we do it and I'm absolutely convinced that nothing can stop us.
We can provide relief that is more than a holiday to families that are struggling in this economy. And that's why I'm the only candidate who proposed a genuine middle class tax cut that would save not just every family who's working hard of middle income, $1,000 on their tax bill, but would also allow senior citizens who makes $50,000 a year or less not to pay income tax on their social security because they need relief. They need help right now.
That would help homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes, the kind of relief that they need right now. That's why I'm absolutely convinced that this is the election where we can start putting in place the kind of universal health care system that we've been talking about since Harry Truman. I've got a plan that says if you've got health insurance, we're going to lower your premiums by $2500 per family per year.
And if you don't have health insurance, we're going to give you health insurance that is at least as good as the health care I have as a member of Congress and we will not exclude for pre-existing conditions. And we will emphasize prevention so we have a health care system, instead of a disease care system and we won't wait 20 years from now to do it or 10 years from now to do it. We can do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.
And to pay for that, we're going to have to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the top two percent. And they can afford it. I can afford it. As the fact of the matter is we didn't need it and weren't even asking for it. And the notion that John McCain is offering more of the same in a time when he fought those same tax breaks said they offended his conscience when they first came, apparently his conscience got way laid on the course of the Republican nomination.
The wheels came off the straight talk express. But we're here to provide some straight talk. That's what this campaign needs. That's what America needs right now. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
We may not be able to bring back all the jobs that we've lost to trade. But we can create tomorrow's jobs in this country. I happen to believe in free trade. But we do because of trade no favors when we pass agreements that are filled with perks for special interests and absolutely no protections for American workers. There is absolutely no reason that we should be giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas. And when I'm president, I will eliminate those tax breaks. I will make sure that every single one of our trade agreements has labor standards and environmental standards that our workers can count on and believe in. They will actually be enforced and we will have safety standards for our children who are chewing on toys with lead paint on them that is a guarantee. Because trade has to work not just for Wall Street but for main street. That's one of the reasons I'm fighting in this race for the presidency of the United States of America.
We can create two million new jobs if we finally get serious about rebuilding our crumbling and decaying national infrastructure. Not just roads and bridges but laying broadband lines to stitch together this entire country and to stitch Indiana together so that everybody has access to this new global economy.
And if people tell you that we can't pay for it, then you just remind them that we are spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. Iraq just doubled its income because of rising oil prices. They can start paying a bigger share. And we can start putting some of that money to work right here in Indiana. We can start putting some of that money to work right here in the United States of America.
We want to take a permanent holiday from our (INAUDIBLE). We can finally get serious about energy independence to create 5 million new green jobs in the process. Jobs that will pay well and cannot be outsourced. All I think the Democratic candidates happily have proposals to create green jobs. But part of what is going to be required is telling the American people the truth. That there's going to be some costs to setting up a green economy.
We're going to have to do what I did when I went to Detroit and told the automakers that they're going to have to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars. We can make more efficient cars right here in the United States. There's no way that they have to be made in Japan. But it requires that Detroit changes its ways.
And I have to say that when I delivered that speech nobody clapped. The room was really quiet. But that's OK because that's part of what is the task of the next president. We can make companies pay for the pollution they release into the air. Well, we can tax the record profit for the oil companies. And we can use that money to invest and clean in affordable and renewable energy like solar power and wind power and biofuels.
If we want our children to succeed in this global economy, we want them to be able to compete with children in Beijing and Bangalore then we need to make sure that every child everywhere gets a world class education from the day they are born until the day they graduate from college. And that means investing in early childhood education to close the achievement gap. It means we need to recruit an army of new teachers and not just talk about how great teachers are but reward them for their greatness by giving them higher salaries and giving them more support. And we need the highest standards for our kids.
We need the highest standards for our kids but we can't measure high standards by a single high state standardized test, because I don't want my teachers teaching the test. I want teachers who are teaching what they love, teaching subject that's will instill a passion for learning in our children. I want them learning art and music and science and literature and the president of the United States should help teachers do their job in the classroom instead of trying to punish them.
And it means that in this country, in this global economy, we will not create a small class of the educated few by allowing thousands and thousands of young people to be priced out of college year after year. We're better than that. That's why as president I'm going to make a bargain with the young people of America. That says we're going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit every student, every year. But you're going to have to give something back.
You're going to have to work in a homeless shelter, spend some time in a veteran's home, join the Peace Corps, join the Foreign Service, we'll invest in you, you invest in America. Together this country can march forward. That's a bargain that young people of America are ready to participate in. But we've got to have some leadership in the White House to do it.
And finally, if we're going to be honest with the American people, then we start putting our foreign policy back on the right track. And my job as commander-in-chief will be to keep you safe. And I will not hesitate to do what's required. I won't hesitate to strike against those who do us harm.
But in order to keep you safe, we've got to maintain the finest military in the world. And that means training our troops properly and equipping them properly. It means putting them on proper rotation and it means that we are treating them properly when they come home. No more homeless veterans. No more begging for disability payments. No more driving for hours in order to get to a VA Center. We are better than that.
And it means using our military wisely. The war in Iraq was unwise. That's why I opposed it in 2002. That's why I will bring it to an end in 2009 and 2010. It is time to bring our troops home. Start focusing on al Qaeda in Afghanistan which we should have been doing in the first place. That's the kind of clear break and straight thinking that we need from the president of the United States of America. (APPLAUSE)
Real relief -- Real relief for middle class families, seniors and homeowners. Lower premiums for those who have health care and coverage for everyone who wants it. Five million green jobs right here in America. A world class education that will allow every American to reach their God-given potential and compete in this global economy.
All of this is possible, but it's just a list of policies until you decide that it's time to make Washington work. To make Washington look like the America that we know. One where the future is not determine by those with money and influence, where common sense and honesty, our cherished values where we are stronger when it comes to what we have in common than that which divides us.
Because in the end, we rise and fall as one nation and one people. That's what this election is about. And for all the contests that have been taking place during the course of this primary, and I know that some have felt the spirit of about the length of this primary.
I am absolutely convinced that Senator Clinton and I share the same values as you do. That we are interested in moving this country forward and we know in our hearts what the Democratic Party should be about. The question is whether we shed our cynicism and our fear and our doubts and we reach for what we know is possible. It won't be easy.
We've always known that this wouldn't be easy. Change in America is never easy. It happens in fifths and starts. And that's the only way that a black guy born in Hawaii named Barack Obama can win this race. That's the only reason I'm standing here today. If you decide that you'd have enough of the way things are. If you decide that this election is bigger than flag pins or sniper fire or the comments of a former pastor, bigger than the differences between what we look like or where we come from or even what party ultimately we belong to.
See, I will never forget that the only reason I'm standing here is because somebody, somewhere stood up for me, stood up for me when it was risky. Stood up for me when it was hard. Stood up for me when I wasn't popular and because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up with courage and conviction and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world. Now is our turn.
Our turn to follow in the footsteps of all those generations who sacrificed for us and faced down impossible lives to perfect this improbable union.
And if we're willing to do what they did, if we're willing to shed our cynicism and our doubts and our fears, if we're willing to believe in what is possible again, then we won't just win here in Indiana, we will win this nomination. We will win this general election. And you and I together, Indiana, we will change this country and we will change the world. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Barack Obama at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Indianapolis. Strong comments, of course finishing with some of his more important points about his opposition to the war in Iraq. Talking about change in America. He did mention the comments of his pastor and sounded somewhat conciliatory when referring to his opponent Hillary Clinton.
That has not been the theme throughout the day, though. We've got some examples of where that conciliatory tone may have been a little bit different. I'm Rick Sanchez. We are beginning our newscast now as well. And let me tell what we are going to have.
Hillary Clinton was on that same stage in that same building just moments ago. We have her comments. We also have the numbers from Indiana, the numbers from North Carolina.
All of that plus some comments from our analysts as we break down this political day here. This all important political day with the primaries in both Indiana and North Carolina less than 36 hours before the folks there start voting. We will be right back with all that and a whole lot more.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back to the world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez. You have heard some of the comments that have been delivered by Barack Obama. What we want to do now is allow you to also listen to some of the comments expressed earlier by Hillary Clinton on the same stage, in fact. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because we stand on the threshold of the new beginning for America. If you listen closely, you can almost hear it in the distance. The sounds of the moving van pulling away from the back of the White House taking George Bush back to Texas.
The whole world will breathe a sigh of relief when George Bush and Dick Cheney turn over the keys to the people's house and once again Democrats are back in charge!
We've had seven years of a president who gives tax breaks to billionaires while jobs get shipped overseas. Seven years of a president who puts corporate special interests first and hard-working families last. Seven years of a president who is looking out for the well-off and the well-connected. That is seven years too long. But it's not just George Bush.
The wealthiest have had not just a president but a party that looks out for them. The Republican Party will give the well-off and the well-connected tax cuts after tax cut. They'll run up the deficit even higher. They will stick our children with the bill.
But if you're fighting to pay the grocery bills and the doctor bills, the credit cards and mortgage payments and the outrageous price of gas at the gas pump, there is a party for you, too. And we invite all of the independent and Republicans in Indiana to join us at the oldest political party's resurgence right here in this state, the Democratic Party.
If there were ever any doubt before, the last seven years should have dispelled it. The Democratic Party is the party of working people and middle class families. The party of progress, the party of all who need a president on your side and a champion in your corner. I'm running for president to be that champion. To restore to the White House once again a president who understands that we must put the American people first. It is long pastime for us to pay attention to the bread and butter, kitchen table issues that determine whether or not people feel like they're going to have a chance at the American dream.
And there is no doubt in my mind that we can repair the damage we will inherit. And once again enter the future with confidence and optimism. I grew up outside of Chicago. I was raised in a middle class family back when our leaders knew that the middle class makes America great.
My father served in the navy and ran a small business. My mother taught Sunday school and took care of us. I stand here today because of their hard work and sacrifice. I carry with me not just their dreams but the dreams of people like them all across our country. People who embrace hard work and opportunity, who never waiver in the face of adversity, never stop believing in the promise of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: That was Hillary Clinton from just moments ago. We should tell you that throughout her speech as we watched it, there was no direct criticism of Barack Obama. Neither was there direct criticism of Hillary Clinton during Barack Obama's speech. If anything, he seemed to single out John McCain.
She singled out as you heard at the beginning of those comments there George Bush and the George Bush-Dick Cheney presidency as she had stated. We've got to run some numbers by you tonight. This weekend Guam went for Barack Obama, but certainly not that much.
Any other year who would care? Right? Well this year even Guam matters. We're going to break down some of those numbers for you in just a little bit. So if Guam matters, imagine how important Indiana and North Carolina suddenly become in less than 36 hours when they start voting in those states.
Now let's do this. Let's break it down how it stands right now. Here's how the delegate race stands. Senator Obama leads in pledged delegates. And as of today, overall delegates.
But Senator Clinton claims 20 plus more of those crucial superdelegates. That are all important. That's today. Wait until Tuesday and that, too, may obviously change as superdelegates go by the results in their state.
Now don't forget this also. These are the 368 delegates from Florida and from Michigan. States that don't count or weren't supposed to. But if somehow Bill and Hillary Clinton can convince the party to accept those delegates in some form or fashion, the ballots could somehow tip her way. Some could say big time. And as long as we're counting, here's what's at stake, Tuesday.
Indiana is going to send 72 pledge delegates and 13 superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention. Let's flip to North Carolina now. North Carolina has considerably more delegates at stake, 115, and is the largest state yet to vote before August.
Our own analysts take apart the numbers in Indiana and in North Carolina. Who do they think will win and why when we come back. Stay with us. We'll have this for you in just a little bit. Right here from the world headquarters of CNN.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Joining me now to talk about this Democratic horse race our political panel, Merle Black. He's a politics and government professor at Emory University in Atlanta. And Lynn Sweet is a Washington Bureau Chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times."
My thanks to both of you for being with us. Let's start with the polls. North Carolina, I presume, would be a good place to start. This is our poll of polls. What we do here in CNN. It's kind of a cumulative look at things.
As you look at this poll Obama up by eight percent. He has 52 percent to Senator Clinton's 42 percent. Eight percent, unsure at this point. Let's stop and talk real quick if we could about North Carolina. Lots of delegates at stake. How do you guys see this?
Merle, let's start with you.
MERLE BLACK, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Well, North Carolina is a state that Barack Obama ought to do well. African-Americans make up about a third of voters in the Democratic primary.
SANCHEZ: 40 percent when last we checked.
BLACK: 40 percent, well, that is even better for Barack Obama. And then you have large liberal votes out of Chapel Hill, Raleigh Durham. So Obama ought to win this thing. I think the race has been closing and Bill Clinton has been campaigning in a lot of rural, small town parts of North Carolina. So this is a state that Obama has to have. And it really would be an upset if Hillary were able to win it.
SANCHEZ: How important is it, Lynn, for him to win North Carolina as has been expected? And do you expect he will?
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: I think he will but it's not just the win, Rick, it's how much the margin is. The Clinton people have already been on record as saying that if he doesn't win by at least ten points, it's not as much of a win. The whole argument is not so much over delegates at this point. It's just to persuade superdelegates to at least hold off making decisions.
That's the importance of trying to cut down the margins. That's why Bill Clinton has been making 15 stops yesterday and today and tomorrow in North Carolina and why the Clinton campaign is putting more money on TV, too.
SANCHEZ: These are two very different states when you look at the demos -- the demographics. I mean, Indiana seems to play a little more for Senator Clinton and, certainly, North Carolina.
I mean, look at this. There's this triangle district there where people apparently are very young. There are a lot of researchers. There's a lot of -- I mean this goes right to his base in North Carolina. Not necessarily the case in Indiana. Right?
SWEET: Yes, but Rick, one quick thing. In northwest Indiana, though, it's basically suburban Chicago, where he's very well-known. High percentage of African-Americans there. So in that part of Indiana, it's really to his advantage.
SANCHEZ: So, you agree more we're looking at him in at least as far as Indiana is concerned, he wins that northern part of the state, but doesn't win the lunch pail Democrat Party which would be the center and the south?
BLACK: Well, those are the groups of voters he's had a very difficult time with throughout his campaign. If he were able to make that kind of breakthrough in Indiana and win Indiana and also win in North Carolina, that would be a huge night for him.
SANCHEZ: There's something else I want to ask you, guys, about. Stay where you are. Hillary Clinton defending today her "Obliterate Iran" statement. Barack Obama comes out swinging, comparing her to President Bush's, quote, "Cowboy diplomacy."
These are the things they were saying before they got to the Jefferson-Jackson speech. We'll have that for you and get your reaction on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: We welcome you back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rick Sanchez. On the issue of, quote, "Obliterating Iran," is it a question of substance or style for Hillary Clinton? Is it, for example, "Cowboy diplomacy?" Is it the right, tough thing to say or does it send the wrong message?
SANCHEZ (voice-over): A frenzied final weekend of campaigning. Two candidates trying to sharpen contrasts.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think it's language that's reflective of George Bush.
SANCHEZ: Barack Obama hitting Hillary Clinton where it hurts, comparing her to George Bush for a comment she made last month on what happens if Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon.
CLINTON: We would be able to totally obliterate them.
SANCHEZ: Obama says the U.S. should respond forcefully if Israel were attacked, but told "Meet The Press" Clinton's words send the wrong message.
OBAMA: It is important that we use language that sends a signal to the world's community that we're shifting from the sort of cowboy diplomacy or lack of diplomacy that we've seen out of George Bush. And this kind of language is not helpful.
SANCHEZ: In her own Sunday talk show appearance, Clinton defended her tough talk.
CLINTON: The question originally as some may remember was what would we do if Iran got a nuclear weapon and attacked Israel? And I think we have to be very clear about what we would do. I don't think it's time to equivocate about what we would do. They have to know that they would face massive retaliation. That is the only way to rein them in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So no regrets?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Vote for daddy.
SANCHEZ: Amid light moments on the campaign trail.
CLINTON: This is really a walk down memory lane.
SANCHEZ: Serious issues dominated the final hours. A foreign policy difference comes as the two battled all weekend over to suspend or not suspend the gas tax for the summer. Clinton painting Obama as out of touch for opposing the idea.
CLINTON: This is part of a larger difference between us. It's a difference that I think you should really consider as you move toward voting on Tuesday. Because you've got to make up your minds about who really is on your side.
SANCHEZ: And Obama arguing the idea will not help. That it's no more than a political shell game.
OBAMA: Now keep in mind this is an idea that will save you all together half a tank of gas. 30 cents a day. For three months. There's not an expert out there who believes that this is going to work. There's not an editorial out there that has said this is actually the answer to high gas prices.
SANCHEZ: Lynn, let me begin with you on this one. As I was preparing the support, I was thinking, take out the words that she used but just stay with the content itself. What's wrong with saying, somebody goes after Israel, we're going to go after them.
SWEET: Well, the answer, according to Obama, of course, is that you shouldn't speculate. That is not how you do diplomacy and that, as he said, you send the wrong signal.
On the other hand, Clinton wants to position herself early as a hawk and that's how you do it. You have to have the kind of tough talk. And at this point in the campaign, Rick, she just wants to draw these very sharp distinctions. And this is one of them. Now part of this is I think --
SANCHEZ: Let me bring Merle into this because I'm curious. She used the word obliterate, which kind of goes into, you know, words that oftentimes people use, nuke and stuff. And that seems to be what he's talking about. He says, you know this isn't the right way to say it for the rest of the world.
Merle, do you get that? Is he right?
BLACK: Yes. I think Obama has got a point here. I think obliterate is probably too strong a response if Iran went after Israel. Certainly, there would be a reaction. We would react toward Iran. But obliterate takes it to an entirely different level. And I think Clinton is really on the defensive when she tries to defend that.
SANCHEZ: Let's go back to this theory about she needing to sound tough because she's doing real well.
Lynn, you said this a little while ago. She does well with lunch-pail Democrats. The blue-collar Democrats. Do you -- is there a fear that if she goes too far in that direction, she may alienate or lose some of the other traditional Democrats as well?
SWEET: Well, I think right now there is a pickup that both of them have for the demographic groups that they might not have had in some of these earlier states. And this tough talk is coming at a time where she wants to engage Obama and that's why you have that gas tax argument, by the way, even though there are disagreements. She wanted the debate to be over a gas tax and it is.
So, she wants to make it look like and says, I'm solution- oriented. She's dealing with now and the immediacy of today. Obama is talking about tomorrow. That's what you heard a lot in the speech, you know, across the street here in this Jefferson Jackson dinner. And that's an easy way of saying it, Rick. She's talking about today which isn't bad because we're engaged in today. Obama wants to look at tomorrow. And this seem might a little --
SANCHEZ: Yes. It's almost like the ideological approach looking at the future and then she says, if he doesn't value those $30 that we may be able to save Americans, then maybe he's not, you know, a real guy. Not the words that she used. But that's part of the argument that was being presented.
Guys, we're out of time. We've got a lot to get to in this show because we're pushing it back a little bit. My thanks to both of you for being with us tonight and sharing your insight with us.
By the way, when we come back, the Jewish-American perspective on threatening comments about Iran. Is the U.S. foreign policy too one- sided toward Israel?
McCain, Obama, Clinton, who are they voting for? It's the League of First-Time Voters, takes me to Chicago and Northwestern University. Tough talk? We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. Earlier tonight, I shared with you a conversation I had with Muslim-Americans as part of my League of First-Time Voters, and they said some controversial things about, quote, "The war on terror."
As I travel around the country, I've also talked to women, for Hillary Clinton, young conservatives for John McCain and tonight young Jewish-American first-time voters from Northwestern University in Chicago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Is there something about this particular election that you think makes it different from elections that you've seen, your parents vote in or care about or talk about in the past?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I think we're living in a very historical moment in U.S. history and with the issues that we have to decide here, I think this is a really important election.
SANCHEZ: What's historic about this particular era?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that particularly when you look at U.S. foreign policy, I think that we see a really stark decision in this election between the competing camps and how we want to take U.S. foreign policy forward the next 50 years.
SANCHEZ: It does seem to be a real conflict between what McCain, for example, is saying, which some have said is a continuation of the Bush-Cheney doctrine, and what Obama and Hillary are saying, which some are saying is naive. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there is anything naive about specifically Obama's policy. I think he's still saying that we have to be engaged in the world, but that we have to have our resources spread to areas that need it the most.
And that so far, the political conditions in Iraq haven't been good enough based on our military presence there. And in Afghanistan and the western Pakistan, our forces are needed more. So, I think it's more pragmatic even than McCain's.
SANCHEZ: You think the Iraq war has set back the cause of freedom between Palestinians and Israelis?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think that Bush is unable to really engage in that dialogue. And he said that, OK, you guys can do whatever you want. Israel, you have full power over your security. And we basically put off the question of what goes on in Israel for eight years. I just don't think he has the political will within that scenario.
SANCHEZ: Somebody argue?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would disagree wholeheartedly with that. I think the issue is not the Iraq war and not that aspect of our foreign policy. I think the issue comes in the fact that to negotiate you need to have a partner with whom to negotiate.
And negotiating with Hamas is something that's not only not in the best interest of Israel, but I do not think is in the best interest of this country.
SANCHEZ: We're now thinking that the Iraq war will cost $3 trillion. Has it been worth it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It particularly depends on, I guess, your view of the war in Iraq. And if you think that it was worthwhile to go in and democratize the country, that maybe wasn't ready for it or is not going to work for them. And if it means that when I'm in 40 or 50 years, there won't be social security for my needs and for my hard work that I put in in the next 40 years, then I think that it was a waste. And that we shouldn't have to pay for decisions that majority of the country now doesn't agree with.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether or not that is true, whether you support the Iraq war, to ask if you think it's been a waste, I think you have to ask that in 40 years when she's talking about having to pay for it.
Because, you know, maybe it's a bad situation there right now. But it's the kind of bad situation where it's long term. And you really have to wait until years after Bush's presidency to see the effects of it.
SANCHEZ: Of the candidates out there right now, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who is the one most capable, in your opinion, of dealing with the situation that we've had to deal with in the Middle East?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's absolutely an internationalist. He's perceived as someone that can be objective. I think he's someone that knows how to articulate both sides while still asserting that Israel has a complete right to advocate for its security and do all measure for security.
I think he's looked at as more of an objective party than Bush is and has so much more credibility in the whole international community. And I think within Palestinians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say McCain, simply because I disagree with his look on foreign policy, generally speaking. I don't see why Obama is more qualified from the other candidates.
SANCHEZ: Why do you like McCain?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just more of a conservative in my aspect and how I see foreign policy.
SANCHEZ: A traditionalist in that sense?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's really what it would be. I don't see how just because Obama is very trendy and because he can speak well, I don't see how that necessarily gives him -- no, I didn't say that's all he was. I just don't see how that somehow gives him more credibility than other candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason he's supporting Obama is because he says that he can be objective. And I think that's really telling you with a great flaw in Obama's candidacy because he wants to be even handed but doesn't have the moral clarity to see that what Israel is doing is in its self-defense. And what Hamas and Hezbollah are doing is seeking the destruction of another people and another country.
And so I think that's why John McCain is the best leader on this issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think one of the biggest disappointments with the Israeli-Palestinian situation is that we're aware of the fact that Palestinian people have a lower quality of life than people living in Israel. And that's not because of Jewish people or because of Americans. It's partially because of the Palestinian leadership.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't things that Israel and the United States could be doing to improve their situation. And I don't think that electing McCain who's somebody who I feel would favor, you know, enhancing the military, putting more money into it, even though we outspend all of our closest competitors already. I don't feel like McCain is the person who's going to go and want to talk things out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest problem, though, in the Middle East right now is the threat from the Iranian nuclear program. I think that we need to be very concerned about the possibility of a nuclear bomb being used as a suicide weapon and the threat we've seen from radical Islam is a willingness to die, to kill your enemy.
So, I think that the threat we need to be concerned about coming from Iran is the development of a nuclear weapon which poses an existential threat to Israel and a massive security threat to the United States.
SANCHEZ: You think that's the most important issue?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important issue. And I want to see a Democrat or a Republican when they're in office making that their top priority -- ensuring that Iran does not go nuclear on our watch.
SANCHEZ: You think Barack Obama is capable of doing that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope so.
SANCHEZ: You think John McCain is more capable of doing that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Everybody agree that John McCain is more capable of doing that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a question of tactics. And I think that the way that he had this anti-military rhetoric is not something that stabilizes Iran and that empowers --
SANCHEZ: Anti-military rhetoric is the word you used?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: You don't think that works?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it works. I think it galvanizes all of Iran around their leader. And they have this anti- Americanism when there is a natural sentiment within much of the community to be pro-modernization.
SANCHEZ: We'll stop it there. Two good cautioned arguments there at the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: They're not pundits. They're real people. This week, by the way, I'm going to be going to Phoenix to talk to voters who are pumped up about the immigration debate. Both sides. And Asian- American first-time voters in San Francisco as well. We'll be bringing you that next week. By the way, you can join our growing community in The League of First-Time Voters. All you've got to do is go to cnn.com and express yourself and connect with others. That's cnn.com/league.