tv John King USA CNN October 13, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
our viewers and more importantly, voters here in the state of delaware, will have a better chance to size up these two candidates. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "john king usa" starts right now. thanks, wolf. good evening. tonight, the mine rescue miracle is approaching the magical moment. 28 of the 33 miners are up on the surface. the families of the remaining five awaiting their turn to celebrate. a live update from chile in a moment. also, a dramatic might in midterm election politics. the woman with the best brand in national politics today, first lady michelle obama, hits the trail in two critical races hoping her popularity provides a boost to two struggling democrats. and tonight is a defining moment for another woman who just recently burst into the national spotlight. delaware republican senate candidate christine o'donnell. at the bottom of this hour, a live debate, right here on cnn. our brand-new poll suggests o'donnell needs a commanding
performance if she is to have any hope of a second stunning come from behind victory. politics in a moment. let's get right to the heroic personal drama that is capital vising people around the world. the magicimaginmagical rescue o miners. the rescue operations have sped up. crews are now bringing to the surface miners at the rate of three an hour. five are left. plus a five-member rescue crew that's also gone down into that mine. right there on the scene for us, cnn's karl penhaul live with the latest. karl. >> reporter: john, they've been going at this, now, i guess for more than 20 hours. as each miner comes up, the whole process seems to speed up. in fact, initially, the mines minister believed it would take one hour per miner between 33 hours in total, right up to 48 hours. but in fact what they're telling us now is this rescue mission is going so well that it could all
be wrapped up by midnight. all 33 minors could be back on the surface after 70 days under ground. and in the course of the day and in the course of last night and as we go into another night, we have seen some amazing scenes, some emotional scenes. yes, on the one hand, the technical aspects of this rescue mission seem to be running like they were on rails. seem to be a matter of routine now. the rescuers have really got noon their stride. but that's where the routine stops. because as every miner steps out of that phoenix 2 rescue capsule, every emotion is different. there are family reunions. different members of their family, different emotions, all flood out to the fore. right now, the miner heading up is juan carlos aguilar. he was a mechanic down in the mine. he was also named one of the foreman of the three work shifts that the miners divided into.
they divided into three work shifts to keep some element of discipline and keep some routine during the time they were trapped underground. it's people like him that have helped build a team of the 33 miners so that any personal differences didn't come to the fore. but to make sure all 33 miners worked as a team. and that is really beyond any individual performance and beyond any individual hero that there may have been down there in the mine. the real hero here has been team work. it has been only through team work that these 33 men have fought against death and won. john. >> and, karl, as we watch this drama, this miracle unfold, you've been there throughout this more than two-month ordeal. as you see the miners come out of the phoenix capsule and you see maybe it's a brother or sister, often a spouse or girlfriend, children in recent hours as well, you have been here through this roller coaster, the fear, the devastation, then the hope, then the wait. just take us inside the mood and the spirit you feel.
>> yeah, i think you have to really have been here and experienced what they felt when they thought their miner husbands, brothers or lovers were actually dead, then they find out they're alive, now they're come back and being reborn. i mean, we only have to look at scenes like the most veteran miner, mario gomez, when he came back to the surface, he gave a huge hug to his wife, lila, and then immediately after that, took a knee and said a prayer to god and the virgin mary. the number two miner that came up, mario sepulveda, he was a joker, we knew him from the videos the miners sent to the surface. he was hugs all around. he was very cramped that phoenix rescue capsule, but somehow he managed to smuggle a bag of rocks. that was the first thing he did
when he got out, hand out rocks to the president of chile and to the mine minister. not much of a souvenir, but all that he had at hand. then he raised a cross to the rescue workers and led a soccer-style cheer in support of the miners of chile. others have come out and given passionate hugs to the people that they most loved in this life. there have been cries of joy. there have been tears of joy. but today, it's very much about a rebirth of these 33 miners and a rebirth for the 33 families. because all of them say their lives have now been marked by a "before" and an "after." john. >> such a breath-taking, remarkable scene to watch it unfold. we're blessed to have a great reporter like karl penhaul on the scene. karl, we'll get back in touch with you as the hour unfolds. stap with us right here. stay with us right here. we'll continue to watch this. in 20 days, a midterm election. as is almost always the case, it is largely a referendum on the president's first two years in
office. there are some candidates happy to appear with the president. many democrats happier if he stays far away. michelle obama is something else. democrats coast to coast are clamoring to share her star power. today, she campaigned in two pivotal senate races. in illinois, she's trying to help the democrats keep the seat once held by her husband. and in wisconsin, her focus was democratic incumbent russ feingold. our new cnn/"time" poll tonight finds feingold down by eight points. the first lady's message was this midterm vote matters just as much as the election that sent her husband to the white house. >> the chance to continue the progress we've made, the chance to finish what we've started, because this election, it isn't just about all we've accomplished these past couple of years. this election, wisconsin, is about all that we have left to do in the months and years ahead. >> even with the first lady on the trail, republicans are confident those illinois and
wisconsin senate battles, but now less so in delaware because of o'donnell's tea party surprise. in an unorthodox year, she's perhaps the most unorthodox of candidates. forced to distance herself from past comments about dabbling in witchcraft. tonight, she's certain to be asked about issues on abortion and other issues that place her considerably to the right of the more moderate democratic electorate. the man establishment had hoped to be part of their debate. who helped castle to 12 straightwide victories over the past. the poll shows o'donnell trailing the democrat, chris coon, by 19 points among likely voter, castle says based on his experience in the gop primary, it would be a mistake to count o'donnell out in the general election. >> no, i'm not going to endorse anybody in that particular race. not because of the competence of any of the candidates, but because the primary i went
through was very nasty and in a variety of ways, both politically and personally. i've just declined to get involved in that. i will give credit to the tea party express people who backed christine o'donnell. they're good politicians. anyone who says they're not politicians doesn't know what they're talking about as far as i'm concerned. they did an effective job of winning the race for her. and, you know, they're probably going to be very effective in setting up the last few weeks here of the general election as well if i had to guess. >> more from congressman californ and tonight's debate in a moment. also when we come back, a closer look for the battles for control of senate and how republicans hope to reach their magic number for capture and control. it's dif - t adththod easy-to-swallow petes.
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these blue states are held by democrats. the red states held by republicans. the republicans need a gain of ten to get control of the senate. let me go through and circle some of the states where the republicans are confident of picking up seats now held by democrats. pennsylvania, they're confident. there's two weeks out. but they're confident of this one. confident as well up here in wisconsin. in north dakota. in colorado. 1, 2, 3, 4. how do they get to ten? they're confidence in arkansas. that's five. they have to hold these states, florida, ohio, and new hampshire, at the moment, they're confident of doing that. how do they get the other five? even if all this goes like they plan and like they hope today, how do they get the other five? maybe reid's seat in nevada. maybe obama's old seat in illinois. that would get sem ven. this is a hypothetical, how do you get the rest of the way? west virginia, that's nine. the democrats are ahead in california, ahead in washington state. where does number ten come?
delaware, connecticut? two very tough states for the republicans. that's why they hoped mike castle won that primary because they think he would have had a better chance. let's go around some of the senate map now. jessica yellin, dana bash, ed henry, and our senior correspondent joe johns. jess, there was a new poll out today that showed a dead heat. harry reid a little ahead maybe out there in nevada. last week, we sent a camera crew down because sharon ang until a conversation at a tea party event said sharia law was being practiced in a couple places in the united states. i'm sorry, i need to break out. we need to go straight down and look at these pictures from chile. the 29th miner coming to the surface there as you watch the applause unfold. this has been methodical throughout. this is juan aguilar, 49 years old, the mechanic from the mining town of los lagos. he is a father of two.
has been mining for 19 years. now you see another one of these breath-take smiles as the phoenix capsule comes up to the surface. let's listen for a moment. seeing this roue teen play out. they're very careful when they bring this up. they ask the miner inside if he's okay. whether he's okay for them to open the capsule. then you see them open -- you see them opening the phoenix capsule. the president of chile there, family members as well. juan carlos aguilar. 49 years old. a mechanic. he is now the 29th of the miners to make it to the surface. that leaves four miners still down there. they've picked up the pace of this operation in recent hours. also a handful of rescue workers. let's listen to this. this is --
69 days they've loved ones have been waiting. that's what makes these moments so remarkable. >> chi-le! chi-chi-chi! le-le-le! los mineros de chile! [ applause ] in some ways, this is becoming routine. yet, each one of these is remarkable. he says hello to loved ones who are waiting. thanks the rescue workers. gets a handshake from the president of chile. each, just as a precaution, they've all seemed healthy and hardy so far coming up. as a percussir precaution, each
a stretcher for medical testing. 69 days, half a mile deep. juan carlos aguilar. 49 years old. he is the 29th. there's been a carefully orchestrated order of the miners coming up. those coming up now tend to be more senior members. 19 years experience in the case of aguilar. you see him shaking hands. you see the tearful ice here. a father of two. he will receive medical testing. most of all, be reunited with his family.
you see him being placed on the stretcher, taken off for testing. so far, though, this has all been precaution neither. officials say on the scene the miners have been in good health, considering 69 days, a half mile deep. keeping our eye on important politics as well. we'll take a quick break. [ male announcer ] how can rice production in india,
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live pictures there underground, a half mile deep. that is the mine, the san jose gold and copper mine, and it is a lot less crowded down there, which is a sign the miracle is unfolding above ground. at the moment, they're preparing to send the phoenix capsule back down for the 30th miner. raul bustos is 30 years old. the day of the collapse, he went inside to repair a truck. he will be the 30th miner brought to the surface. 33 miners in all and a handful of rescue workers who will come up as well. we're also just a few minutes away at the bottom of the hour. cnn will bring you a live debate from delaware. as we continue our conversation here. bit of an ad-lib. we were planning on covering a lot of senate races tonight. because of the breaking news in chile, we'll focus on the big debate coming up at the end of the hour. jessica yellin with us from vegas.
our senior congressional correspondent dana bash with us from new york. erick erickson with us. a bit of a crowd here to get through the final few minutes. we look at our poll tonight. likely voters, coons, 57%, o'donnell, 38%. paul, you're a democrat. i want to talk to you as a strategist, someone preparing a candidate to go into a debate. o'donnell knows she's down nearly 20 points. she's probably on the issues a bit to the right of her state. but she surprised us once. what does she need to do to surprise us twice? >> debates are all about expectations here. you've got to give her that. she set the expectations bar extraordinarily low. i'd say, relax, come out there, be pleasant, show them, as she said in her ad, you're not a witch. she'll have to show some mastery on a couple of issues but she knows enough to say i'm not for taxes. i think she'll be just fine think it's chris coons who has the harder job. very much like the palin/biden vice presidential debate.
biden ironically held the senate seat they're contesting for tonight. >> a lot of joy in the conservative moment when castle was toppled by o'donnell in the primar primary. when you look at trying to get a senate majority, has there been disappointment now as the polls have shown o'donnell trailing significantly? >> republicans who absolutely want a senate majority, yes, there is. overall, particularly among conservatives, no, simply because in the senate there really isn't a great deal of difference between having 49 seats and 51 seats given the requirement for filibuster. >> dana bash, this is your beat, when you talk to republican sources, you were in west virginia last week as you track these race, i assume, and i had a conversation with mcconnell where he wouldn't say so quite some time ago but they seem to think seven or eight, yes, but because of delaware, getting to nine or ten is tough. >> exactly right. i was talk to a senior republican official tonight who says they are less confident about states like illinois which they were hoping to do well in and even pennsylvania. still, as you showed earlier in
the program, hoping to do better out west. they're pouring now $3 million into the race in california. they're also pouring more money into washington. i just want to say that i actually respectfully disagree with erick. it does make a difference to have 51 votes because that means the republicans, not the democrats, will set the agenda. may not mean they're going to be able to pass all the legislation in the world but they'll be able to set the agenda and that is huge in the united states senate, absolutely huge. >> one more quick break. the debate coming up at the bottom of the hour. we'll have a little bit more of the pregame in a moment. ♪ [ e. clark ] i'm an engineer. i love my job. i can see what's it's doing for the community on a day-to-day basis. natural gas is cleaner burning than most fossil fuels
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for her. people aren't expecting her to do well. i wasn't expecting her to be as charming and as intelligence as i found her to be when i had dinner with her the first night. and she greatly exceeded my expectations and i think she'll do that in the debate. i'm looking forward to it. >> do you think the questions are more prove you can handle the policy portfolio or the questions are show us more of your character and see who you are so we know whether or not we're comfortable with you? >> i think the latter. think people knows where she stands policywise. she's conservative. she's backed by the tea party group. they love her. they love her for a reason. i was amazed at her policy knowledge. i think they'll go for the policy knowledge in a minute. i think they need to be proven that she's substantial. incredible. >> republican ad manfr, fred davis. i'm told palin, former alaska governor, called o'donnell recently, suggested for her debate prep she call on randy
shunaman who was a former adviser who helped palin out during the campaign. i'm told he was up in delaware, helping o'donnell prepare. you have a little nugget on how chris coons got ready for this debate that's quite interesting. >> he called sarah palin's opponent, joe biden, the vice president of the united states, experienced delaware politician. he watched that tape, i'm told, several times, of the biden/palin debate. because joe biden -- a lot of us didn't think biden could have the discipline to get through the debate without any personal attacks on palin and he did. chris coons campaign believes they need to do the same thing. they need to not attack her personally. they need to define the issues. and kind of rise above it. don't do anything that either patronizes or unduly antagonizes o'donnell. >> so much at stake as well. i was with the first lady today in chicago. they're worried about losing obama's senate seat in illinois. colorado, worried about that.
next week, murray and boxer. they have to have delaware is the bottom line. >> if she succeeds in making coons the issue instead of o'donnell, to any degree, she's probably succeeded. >> my apologies to our correspondents. jessica yellin had interviews with reid today. we will get to that tomorrow. remember, cnn is the place to stay. right now, to the delaware senate debate and wolf blitzer. >> i'm nancy karibjanian for delaware first media. >> good evening, i'm wolf blitzer from cnn. thank you so much for joining us for what's certain to be one of the most widely watched events of this, the 2010 midterm
election season. >> let's introduce the candidates. joining us for this debate tonight. democratic chris coons. welcome. and republican christine o'donnell, welcome. >> thank you. >> we also want to thank aarp delaware and the american cancer society cancer action network for their support making this
jobs and in concrete and engaged work working with our chamber of commerce, lots of groups who represent businesses large and small to effectively grow the economy. i've also presented as a candidate for the senate concrete and real ideas. they're on my website but i look forward to the chance to go over them in some detail tonight. i would advocate for a research and development tax credit and expand our tax credit that's combined with a new manufacturing tax credit that advocates for companies that invent things here and make them here, getting an extra
inventive. i also think we need to change the crazy tax policy in washington that gives an incentive to american companies to shut down operations here and ship jobs overseas. there's other things i've proposed. expanding the home office tax credit. expanding a tax credit for starting a new business that employs folks within the first couple of years. fighting harder in trade policy to make sure we're not letting our trading partners take advantage of us in trade deals signed over previous years. doing more in investment and innovation. at the end of the day, i think delaware has a long tradition of inventing and manufacturing world class products. the best way for us to get out of this recession is through growth. the best way to growth is by taking advantage of the skills and resources of a world class university like this one. and tieing that to a stronger more qualified more capable workforce. giving it the resources and the energy it needs to be once again the leader in the world. in creating high quality, high value manufacturing jobs. those are some of the ideas i
look forward to discussing more this evening. thank you. >> one minute for rebuttal. >> first, we have to keep in mind my opponent has a history of promising not to raise taxes on the campaign trail and then break those promises as soon as he takes office. unemployment here in new castle county rose, almost doubled in the last two years under his watch as new castle county executive. when it comes to the policies he has said on the campaign trail, he will continue to rubber-stamp the spending policies coming from washington. we were promised that the stimulus bill would create jobs. but instead it cost us 2.6 million jobs. we were promised that it would keep unemployment at 8%. but instead we see unemployment at 9.7%. the democrats are bragging that unemployment has leveled out. but while unemployment has leveled out, more people than ever are on food stamps and are welfare spending is higher than ever. this is not the right move. this is not a move towards real economic recovery. this is a move towards creating
a culture of dependency. i believe the best thing -- >> that's the time, sorry. now we get to open it to discussion. >> great. >> what's specifically, miss o'donnell would you do, specifically, to create jobs? >> what i think the best thing the government can do to get our economy back on real economic recovery is for -- to get out of the way of the small business owner and get out of the way of the entrepreneur and make sure these tax hikes don't come in january. begin to roll back some of the regulation that's forced them to close their doors. a couple things i'm proposing. number one, a temporary two-year tax holiday on the capital gains tax to give investors the money they need to reinvest in business. to permanently eliminate the death tax. that's not only an unjust bill because we've paid taxes while we saved it but it will also create 1.5 million new jobs. >> we are in the discussion portion so you can interject here as well as we continue to discussion that point. >> i'm not sure i understand what miss o'donnell means when
she says this is simply create ago culture of dependency and her primary objective would be to end the endless regulation and red tape. she denounce the obama administration. when frankly, just a few weeks ago, a new bill that would provide expanded sba loan capacity, t.a.r.p. funds that have been repaid, being repurchased towards small and midsized banks all over the united states. real and concrete steps are being taken. i also frankly can't imagine where she found the numbers that unemployment doubled in just the past year under my watch. i suspect we're going to need to keep a close eye this evening on the numbers that go flying back and forth. >> let's ask her -- >> the department of labor statistics and we'll have them on our website tomorrow. i want to point out that he said that we're not creating a culture of dependency. how would you explain what is happening when unemployment is leveled out, but more and more people are on food stamps? we've got to ask ourselves, what do we want delawarens to be
receiving, food stamps or paychecks? i say paychecks. >> obviously paychecks. we'd like to have americans able to receive the benefits they need to get through incredibly difficult times. but to simply denounce people as being dependent because they're applying for and receiving food stamps -- >> oh, chris, that's not fair -- >> -- worst recession in modern times -- >> that's not fair of you to say that because that's not at all what i'm doing. i'm not the person who would cut the tax benefits for disabled and low-income senior citizens, as you did as county executive. but what i'm proposing is to give these tax -- to make sure that the tax cults for our delawarens do not expire this january. you have said that you will stop the tax cuts for the so-called rich. what you fail to realize is the so-called rich are the small business owner, the dry-cleaner down the street, the pizza shop owner who makes $300,000 before they pay their four employees,
before they feed their own family -- >> miss o'donnell, we're going to try to have a conversation here this evening, rather than just a diatribe if we possibly could. i think it would be helpful to have an exchange of ideas and let each of us take turns so thank you for moderating, wolf. i think it's important to look closely at some of the things miss o'donnell's thrown out on her new website. most of them are untrue. some of them are flat-out lies. some are just factually untrue. i'm not going to stop every single time there's something she throws out that i disagree with or i think is factually untrue. let me just say, much of what you've put out, much of how you've characterized my record incorrect. if we simply sit here and say, that's not true, we're not going to make much progress. >> do you support the tax cuts for all americans or only those make under $200,000 a year? >> i don't think we should draw an arbitrary line at $250,000. the value i will apply as deciding how much to extend,
whether it goes up to 1 million or 2 million, is that we've got a tough choice. every increased tax cut, every extension given, it's going to cost, it's going to increase the deficit, add to the debt. here's the primary value i would apply in deciding whether to extend all the bush tax cuts and for how long. i think we should do those tax cuts that have the best chance of getting our economy going again -- >> all right -- >> we're out of time though for this discussion. >> area gyou're going to have a opportunity to get back into this discussion because this is issue number one. jobs, jobs, jobs. also, the deficit. i want to get into the deficit right now. you've mailde the point the national debt is exploding, the budget deficit is exploding right now. i want some specific meaningful cuts, if you're elected a senator from delaware, what would you cut in the federal budget? and don't just say waste, fraud and abuse, because everybody says that. what would you cut specifically? >> that's a great question because first of all we have got
to tackle the deficit and the debt because our deficit is almost becoming equal to our national gdp. when your deficit -- a country's deficit equals your gdp, that's when your currency collapses -- >> so what would you cut? >> first of all, cancel the unspent stimulus bill. second of all, put a freeze on nondiscretionary -- on discretionary spending, put a hiring freeze on nonsecurity personnel. and then, of course, when we're talking about cutting government spending, we've got to talk about waste, fraud and abuse. a recent report came out said we spend over 1 billion in medicaid waste fraud and abuse. we're talking about pharmacies, billing for prescriptions given to dead people. we're talking about home health care companies billing for patients who were in the hospital. senator coburn recently put out a report called schoolhouse pork
that disclosed millions of dollars that were supposed to go to education funding that instead went to special favors. now, special favors are something that my opponent knows very much about because he created 12 contingency funds so that he could pay out favors to special interest groups. the courts forced him to close 11 of them. but of the one that remained open, he paid $53,000 in a men's fashion show. he paid another -- more than $50,000, to appease liberal special interest groups. at a time when he brags about balancing the budget by raising our taxes, cutting policemen pay, this is how he chooses to spend our tax dollars. we've got to ask, do we want to send this gentleman to washington, d.c.? i would say no. he's a career politician who has proven he knows how to play the i'll scratch your back, you scratch mine game. >> you have a minute to respond.
>> there's so much to respond to, a minute may not be enough. the focus of the question, is what would you do to tackle the deficit and the debt? i think we have very large challenges. the overwhelming majority federal spending is made up of defense spending, medicare, medica medicaid, social security and interest on the debt. while the president has proposed and i would seriously consider supporting a freeze on nondiscretionary defense spending for three years, i've also identified on my website a series of reductions i would support. some of them are in agricultural price supports. some are in federal office space. and several in defense programs. defense acquisition that the pentagon itself has already said they don't need. the c-17 program for example, or the second engine for the f-35. there's a variety i think we can simply do away with. as we invest in making our military more modern, more flexible to the real threats we face in the modern world. as we continue to achieve some
savings through the program and other things that have shown a real capacity to save. >> let's open the discussion on correcting some of the financial issues here by talk about some of your own personal financial problems. most people know about it by now, including an irs lien about $12,000 in taxes and penalties from '05. there was the '08 mortgage default judgment on your home. you just received your bachelors degree because it took a decade to pay off your tuition. the question is how can voters rely upon your thoughts on how to manage the deficit if you're having such personal financial issues of your own? >> well, first of all, that irs tax lien, the irs already admitted it was a computer error and my opponent should not be bringing that up. because as i've gone up and down the campaign trail, i've discovered there are thousands of delawareans who have faced the same thing. an irs mistake has caused them greatly. which is all the more reason why we need to reform the irs, not
put them in control of our health care. second of all you mentioned education didn't have a trust fund. i didn't come from a privileged, sheltered background as my opponent said he did -- >> let's stay to the issue of paying bills -- >> i am. i paid for my own college education. i have a graduate fellowship from the claremont institute. i know how hard it is to earn and keep a dollar. and one of the reasons why the delawareans should be able to trust me is because when i did in this economy, i worked for nonprofit groups. nonprofit groups were the first to have been hurt. when i fell upon difficult times, i made the sacrifices needed to set things right. i sold my house. and i sold a lot of my possessions. in order to pay off my personal debt. and to become in a stronger position. i have worked hard in order to get to the position that i am. so i can relate to the thousands of delaware families that are suffering right now. and i'm stronger for it. i made it through to the other
side. and that's where -- leadership doesn't count in whether or not you fall, it counts in whether or not you've gotten up and that's what i've done. >> let's just remember we're in the discussion portion so if you have anything you want to address on things that have been said on this topic thus far, go need to focus in the debate and in the campaign, not on personal financial difficulties or background earns but on the issues in front of us, the things that delawareans are concerned. how do we get delaware back to work? lots of discussion in the national media about things my opponent has said or done that i frankly think are a distraction from the core things that delawareans ask about. >> you're jealous you weren't on "saturday night live." i'm dying to see who's going to play me, christine. >> lets, on a serious note, get through accusations that she made and give you a chance to respond. >> please. on the idea ta i was the one responsible for being sued for
creating 11, 12 -- she's confusing me with my pred ses. >> talking about county executive new castle. y raised property taxes, three times, 25% hike in the last fiscal year, proposed new taxes on hotels, paramedics services, 911 calls from cell phones. is that true? >> no. it's not true that we proposed a tax on the calls to the 911 center. >> it's not true. >> research into that would reveal that. it's difficult, it's complicated. >> explain your record on taxes. did you increase taxes as the county executive? >> wolf, let's me walk you through for a moment what's happened. one of the attacks, i've driven the county to the edge of bankruptcy. nothing could be the further from the truth. new castle county has a surplus. when a became an executive, it had a deficit. i have worked hard over six years to defend a significant reserve, which has made it possible for us to continue to
have a aaa bond rating out of roughly 3,000 counties in america, roughly 30 have a aaa bond rating and i reached a bipartisan solution -- >> it says stop. >> -- cut more in spending than raised in taxes. >> quick response. >> you've been criticized for saying that you brought the county to a aaa bond rating. you inherited that good rating. how do you justify cutting the tax exception for disabled seniors, cutting policeman pay when you wastefully spent so much money on apiepeasing speci interest groups. that is cronyism. >> we have to move to the next series of questions. >> there's a lot to respond to. >> do it in 30 seconds. >> that's going to be difficult, wolf. but i'll tell you, i'm proud of my record as new castle county executive. the very hard choices that had to be made to clean up the government, every time you get a bond rating, you earn a bond
rating. each time you go to the bond market you are rerated. moody's in their letter of rate two weeks ago said it was because of the conservative fiscal policies of my administration that we had reearned a aaa bond rating from all three agencies. >> move on to the next series of questions on national security, foreign policy, right now. 100,000 american men and women serve in military in afghanistan right now. the president of afghanistan, hamid karzai, has now acknowledged he's in direct talks with the taliban leadership, wants to create what he calls a peace council. here's the question, and it goes to mr. coons. would you support a negotiated settlement in afghanistan that includes taliban representation? would that be acceptable to you, a deal between hamid karzai and the taliban? >> wolf, i'm concerned about the security of our troops in the field and about honoring the service and the sacrifice of our veterans. the war in afghanistan is the
war of the two that we've been engages in, iraq and afghanistan that i think was justified by a direct attack on the united states. by the taliban who are offering harbor to al qaeda, who were the authors of the 9/11 attack. and i think in our tenth year now, on the ground in afghanistan, we have to look hard at whether we're continuing to contribute to america's security by having 100,000 troop on the ground. i would support a negotiated resolution to the war that allowed us leave security and intelligence assets in place and that allowed us the opportunity to reengage, should the taliban take control again, or allow al qaeda to reemerge as a real threat to the region or to the united states. we've spent $1.3 trillion in iraq and afghanistan, it has significantly contributed to our debt. we have lost more than 5,000 american servicemen and women. and i've got folks who i'm personally close to who are deployed now for the third or fourth tour. we have asked a lot of our men and women in the field. they have delivered brilliantly but, frankly, the mission hasek
seeded the scope that i think we could initially reasonably expect of them. i'm far more concerned about the threats to our security posed by an unstable pakistan, posed by iran and an endless war in a country where we're trying to bill a nation where there hasn't been one in modern times. >> one minute to respond. >> i would ask him if he's serious about making sure that afghanistan doesn't become a safe haven for terrorisms why has he said he supports this random time withdrawal? we have to support our men and women risking their lives, many have already given their lives over there, a random withdrawal he has said he supports will embolden the terrorists to come after us even more saying i've chased away the super power. when we with draw from iraq we need to make sure there are benchmarks in place. benchmarks are making sure there's a representative government over there that serves the needs of the people and that can defend themselves. when we've reached these benchmarks, that's when we
withdraw. >> you want to respond? >> she said withdraw from iraq. i suspect afghanistan. >> did i say iraq? i'm sorry. thank you, you're correct. >> talking about afghanistan. >> thank you. >> frankly, i come from a family of veterans. i come from a family that has dedicated a lot to the service of our nation, and i wear a flag pin every day to remain me of the young man who grew up next door to me killed in iraq in december 2005. i never take lightly the enormous sacrifices that our servicemen and women have made now and that we ask them to continue making oop . i don't know how long is too long. ten years strike me as too long. i question whether your standard, whether your principles give us any hope of winding up this war on any reasonable time line because the government of hamid karzai has prompt to be largely corrupt and, to be frankly effective establishing control over the whole country. we have dedicated trillions, hundreds of billions to the
conflict and i'm concerns it's a conflict without a reasonable end in sight. there are times in history -- >> saying that you're -- >> -- to honor the sacrifice of servicemen and women is to come up with a plan to responsibly wind down a conflict. >> the plan to be based on ben inch marks that means we have had success. again, you're saying how rhetoric, you say that your top priority is the concern for the safety of us on the homeland, if you seriously support this random time withdrawal because, again, all we're going to do is embolden terrorists to think they have more power than they do. i would ask you, you know, a couple times, whether it's the tax cuts or even here in this kind of veiled you've gone back and forth on what you just said in afghanistan, do you support the president or don't you support the president? with it tax cuts your saying you don't support the president. >> stay focus on the issue in front of us, afghanistan. >> and it's your -- you're jumping around. >> no, we're staying focuses on the issue of afghanistan rather than jumping to other issues. >> you're jumping around. >> the core issue --
>> let's let him finish his point. >> what reasonable prospect to you have to result in a withdrawal? in iraq there was a modern nation, there was a central government there was infrastructure in place. in afghanistan, there hasn't been a nation in ex-did ca di d. despite ten years of incredible effort we're not succeeding in billing a nation. benchmark, self-governance, security, we had a decent shot of that in iraq. >> when fighting the soviets in afghanistan in the '80 and '90s we did not finish the job. we have a responsibility to finish the job. if you make politically correct statements it's costing too much money it's threatening security of the homeland. >> let's ask, yes or no answer, is this nation more secure than it was under president bush? yes or no? >> yes. >> today? >> no. >> okay. >> we'll move on to our next topic and this question goes to
miss o'donnell. >> can i say why? >> no. >> we have more terrorist attacks on our homeland. >> we need to move on. i know that we said the statements out in the national media, the saturday night live skits are distractions, i appreciate that, but to the voter in delaware, it is the message that they are receiving. so we would be remiss if we did not address this issue. so the comments that you've made in the past, which are in your own word because they're on the videotape, have become the fodder for the late night tv shows. you even released an ad that opened up by saying "i'm not a witch" and a local newspaper columnist said the comments you seem to be making make delawareans cringe. what do you say to voter whose want the change but are uncomfortable by these remarks? >> this election cycle should not be about commentize made on a comedy show over a decade and a half ago. this election cycle should be about what is important to the people of delaware, how we're going to get real jo