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Debate in New Hampshire
By Katelyn Lemay, 13, and Mary Buchanan, 13
Scholastic Student Reporters


Mary Buchanan (left) and Katelyn Lemay (right) talk to Congressman Dennis Kucinich in the spin room after Thursday night's debate. (Photo by Suzanne Freeman)


Friday, January 23—The seven Democrats left in the race for their party's presidential nomination debated once again last night. The debate at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, was the last debate before Tuesday's primary election in the Granite State—the first primary in the nation. The candidates continue to agree on providing health care for every child in America, and still disagree on America's role in Iraq.

"More than 43 million young people are without health care," said Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. "It is the No. 1 concern of the middle class." Most of the candidates agreed, and all talked about their similar plans for providing health care for kids.

Talking About the War

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean described himself as one of the few candidates who did not support sending troops into Iraq. Senators Lieberman, John Edwards of North Carolina, and John Kerry of Massachusetts all voted in favor of sending in troops.

"We had successfully contained Iraq for 12 years," said Dean. "Saddam Hussein's removal was good, but the way to do it was through the UN."

Lieberman defended his vote in favor of Bush's $87 billion spending plan for Iraq. He was asked how he will vote on the next request for money from President Bush.

"When it comes to our troops, I'll never say no," Lieberman said. "We owe them our lives and our liberty. That's the kind of Commander in Chief I'll be." He did say that he would be sure that the money was spent correctly.

General Wesley Clark criticized the Patriot Act, which is due to expire soon.

"We must find a balance between national security and civil liberties," Clark said. He would suspend the parts of the bill that allow the government to search and seize property without giving a reason. "We cannot fight a war on terrorism by giving up the freedoms we are fighting to protect."

Edwards said it was a mistake to give the White House a "blank check" to spend in Iraq.

"The United Nations needs to be in charge of the civil authority in Iraq," he said.

Backstage With the Candidates

After the debate, the candidates and their staffers entered a large room where TV cameras were set up. They gave interviews with reporters while standing under signs showing their names. (This is so reporters know where to find them.)

With so many reporters in the same place all needing quotes, it quickly became chaotic. Cameramen jogged for position and microphones were held at arm's length across shoulders and heads, pointing at the candidates faces. It was hard for our questions to be heard.

Candidate Dennis Kucinich pushed other reporters aside and gave his attention to Scholastic Student Reporters and Kevin Preskenis, 13, who represented a local TV station.

"These reporters are just as important as the TV network reporters," Kucinich said. "They are the future of reporting."