Dodd rips Edwards, Clinton over debates

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd on Saturday criticized rivals John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were overheard discussing among themselves their hope of limiting the number of Democrats in presidential debates.

The private exchange was picked up by several broadcasters on an open microphone after an NAACP forum in Detroit on Thursday. All the Democratic contenders took part in the program, including Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich.

“I’d remind them that the mike is always on,” Dodd told reporters on Saturday after addressing a state convention of Utah Democrats.

“Celebrity and money are not going to decide this race,” he said. “People take some offense at it in these early primary and caucus states.”

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, and New York Senator Clinton had agreed that the debates would be more meaningful if there were only a handful of candidates.

“We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group,” Edwards said, and Clinton agreed.

“Our guys should talk,” Clinton said, complaining the format had “trivialized” the discussion.

Dodd is the third Democratic presidential candidate to visit Utah following Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who arrived Friday night for a state party fundraiser.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is expected to attend a fundraiser in Park City in August.

Utah is dominated by Republicans, but some wealthy Democratic donors can be found here and its central location in the West makes it important to presidential candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.

Dodd blasted debate organizers for giving Democratic candidates little opportunity to offer voters more than “bumper sticker answers” on important issues.

“My problem is you’re insulting me and the American public when you give 30 seconds to talk about Darfur and Iraq,” he said. Sudan’s vast western Darfur region has been torn by ethnic conflict for four years, with more than 200,000 people killed and millions displaced.

In Utah on Friday, Richardson said voters should decide the election based on debates in which all the candidates can discuss issues unfiltered by big-money politics.


Ralph Nader told the Green Party’s national convention Saturday that he is considering a 2008 presidential run and accused Democrats of trying to shut smaller parties out of the political process.

“No other country comes close to providing voters with such a small number of choices and making third party candidates hurdle an almost insuperable number of obstacles just to get on the ballot,” said Nader, the Green Party’s 2000 presidential nominee.

Later, addressing a few hundred conventioneers who chanted “Run Ralph Run,” Nader exhorted Greens to focus on raising money to boost their competitiveness.

In 2000, Nader got 2.7 percent of the votes in the general election. Democrats say he siphoned votes from the party’s nominee, Al Gore, in Florida, New Hampshire and elsewhere, giving the election to Republican George W. Bush. In 2004, Nader was much less of a factor.

He ran as an independent in 2004 but was removed from the ballot in Pennsylvania and other large states after Democrats challenged his nominating petitions.

Nader said before jumping into the 2008 presidential race he would have to put together an organization of thousands of volunteers and pro bono lawyers to defend him against the “Democratic quadrennial assault.”

“We’re going to be ready for them. We will confront them on every level,” Nader told a news conference. “They better have clean hands.”

Nader said there should be a single federal statute to govern ballot access for candidates for federal office, which he said would make it easier for independent candidates.


Elizabeth Edwards reiterated her support for gay marriage in a speech Saturday, saying the idea that it threatens heterosexual marriage is “complete nonsense.”

“I think that we have undue fear of gay marriage,” she said.

Edwards was scheduled to address a prominent gay rights group in San Francisco Saturday night. Earlier in the day, she said she would discuss a Sacramento man who died after his friends say he was attacked by people who mistakenly thought he was gay.

The death of Satendar Singh, 26, has galvanized Sacramento’s gay community and others who see it as an outgrowth of anti-gay rhetoric coming from local evangelical Christian Slavic churches.

According to Singh’s friends, the group that attacked him earlier this month as he was leaving a picnic at Lake Natomas were speaking Russian. Singh was punched once in the face and fell backward, hitting his head. He died July 5 after four days on life support.

Authorities are investigating Singh’s death as a possible hate crime.

At a Sacramento news conference Saturday afternoon, Edwards said she rewrote the speech she planned to give in San Francisco when she learned of Singh’s death.

As she campaigns for her husband’s presidential campaign in California, Elizabeth Edwards has staked out an independent position on gay rights.

She appeared last month at a breakfast before San Francisco’s gay pride parade, where she announced her support for gay marriage.

The next day, her husband, John Edwards, said her position surprised even him. The former North Carolina Senator opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions.


Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam in Reading, Pa., contributed to this report.


  1. KayInMaine

    They should have their asses ripped apart for saying something like that! In a democracy, all views are heard and to think that Hillary & Edwards wanted to cut away those that THEY and the ROM (republican owned media) believe shouldn’t be part of the discussion is disgusting.

    Honestly, I wished guys like Dodd, Kucinich & Gravel got more airtime. Americans are tired of the same ole/same ole of the Clinton/Bush names/agendas….

  2. kent shaw

    SEAL, all I would add to your comment is that supposedly the airwaves are owned by the taxpayers. It should be little to ask that the media, once every four years, give a sufficidnt amount of free airtime to each candidate. They pay a pittance for use of our electromagnetic spectrum and make huge profits from same. Can’t the corporations give back just a little bit a couple times a decade? Outrageous.

    — Kent

  3. SEAL

    Edwards could not be considered a legitimate contender by anyone who witnessed him getting his ass kicked by Cheney in their debate in 2004. He was pathetic. Like a little boy in the pressence of a man.

    Edwards is against gay marriage and favors civil unions. His wife is off campaigning for him and advocating gay marriage. Edwards said he was surprised by that when asked by the press. The man doesn’t even know what his wife thinks or what she is doing. He is a weak vain little man that has no business wanting to be in charge of this nation.

    One point Dodd makes is very good and should be corrected. That is not giving the debaters enough time to respond. The media does not set aside enough time for a legitimate debate and only allows each one 30 seconds to a minute to make their case. As Dodd put it, there is only enough time for bumper sticker answers. To have a genuine debate you cannot set a ridiculously short time limit for complex questions. The result is that it isn’t a debate but a slogan quoting exercise. Ask a candidate what they would do about Iraq if they were president and they each need at least 5 minutes. Consequently, the media determines the effect of the candidates rather than the other way around as it should be.

  4. Wayne K Dolik

    Edwards and Clinton are advocating something called trying to control the message. You see if you eliminate alternative candidates you effectively have only one message. In this case it is the status quo or establishment.

    If we let them get away with this we are not doing our job as good citizens. When you see this happening please call the Press and TV and email your displeasure to them. Let the Press know how you feel. Your vote is your choice, not the Producers.

    By not letting all the candidates in each debate, this is a very subtle way of stealing elections. We need to demand that our Public Airwaves be held accountable for this.

  5. Carl Nemo

    Kent Shaw, I second your sentiments 10×10 to the 100th power…! : )

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. jennbeez

    Seal, I was one of the 15 or 20 ppl who watched the VP debates in 2004. The sight of Edwards sitting there grinning like a nervous monkey, utterly inadequate to the task of wiping the sneer off Cheney’s lying face is still too fresh for me to give him a chance.

    Now Obama…even when he says absolutely nothing (which is often) he says it with gravitas. If Obama gets the nomination, he will win. Both Hillary and Edwards know it. In fact, what are the odds of Obama being the number one candidate they would both most like to see marginalized?

  7. Steve Horn

    sorry – I’m chuckling about Dodd addressing a “state convention of Utah Democrats” – was that like three people who’d just moved in from out of state?

    The debates should be opened to all, the questions should not be available in advance AND they should be conducted in a true debate format. Of course, that won’t happen, but it would be nice!



  8. SEAL

    Jennbeez, You are right. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Clinton/Edwards ticket in the plan. For some reason, the dems seem to like Edwards a lot. Maybe it’s because he is such a good rip-off artist. Remember, he was a civil trial lawyer and they are the biggest thieves in the world. For example, the recent settlement engineered in th LA Catholic Church abuse case for 660 million. That computes to an average of just over a million for each victim. The lawyer gets 256 million. That’s what Edwards was and why he is so wealthy.