Last night, the gloves came off, Hillary appeared to concede South Carolina, and Obama got his best shot on Hillary yet.
Transcript courtesy of CNN and The New York Times.
MALVEAUX: I'd like to follow-up with Senator Obama. It was just a few days ago that Senator Clinton asserted that she was the strongest candidate when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
She says that the new programs that she proposes she essentially can pay for. She says that you have failed in that regard in the tune of some $50 billion worth of new programs that you cannot account for.
How do you respond to that charge?
OBAMA: What she said wasn't true. We account for every single dollar that we propose.
Now, this, I think, is one of the things that's happened during the course of this campaign, that there's a set of assertions made by Senator Clinton, as well as her husband, that are not factually accurate.
And I think that part of what the people are looking for right now is somebody who's going to solve problems and not resort to the same typical politics that we've seen in Washington.
That is something that I hear all across the country. So when Senator Clinton says -- or President Clinton says that I wasn't opposed to the war from the start or says it's a fairytale that I opposed the war, that is simply not true.
When Senator Clinton or President Clinton asserts that I said that the Republicans had had better economic policies since 1980, that is not the case.
Now, the viewers aren't concerned with this kind of back-and-forth. What they're concerned about is who's actually going to help the get health care, how are they going to get their kids...
... going to college, and that's the kind of campaign I've tried to run. I think that's the kind of campaign we should all try to run.
CLINTON: Well, I couldn't agree more. But I do think that your record and what you say does matter. And when it comes to...
... a lot of the issues that are important in this race, it is sometimes difficult to understand what Senator Obama has said, because as soon as he is confronted on it, he says that's not what he meant.
The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote.
Now, I personally think they had ideas, but they were bad ideas. They were bad ideas for America.
They were ideas like privatizing Social Security, like moving back from a balanced budget and a surplus to deficit and debt.
And with respect to putting forth how one would pay for all of the programs that we're proposing in this campaign, I will be more than happy, Barack, to get the information, because we have searched for it.
You have a lot of money that you want to put into foreign aid, a very worthy program. There is no evidence from your Web site, from your speeches, as to how you would pay for it.
Now, why is this important? It's important because I think elections are about the future. But how do you determine what will happen in the future? Well, you have to look to the record, you have to look to what we say in campaigns, and what we have done during our careers.
And I want to be just very explicit about this. We are not, neither my campaign nor anyone associated with it, are in any way saying you did not oppose the war in Iraq.
CLINTON: You did. You gave a great speech in 2002 opposing the war in Iraq. That was not what the point of our criticism was.
It was after having given that speech, by the next year the speech was off your Web site. By the next year, you were telling reporters that you agreed with President Bush in his conduct of the war. And by the next year, when you were in the Senate, you were voting to fund the war time after time after time.
BLITZER: All right.
CLINTON: So it was more about the distinction between words and action. And I think that is a fair assessment for voters to make.
BLITZER: OK. Thank you, Senator. Senator, we're a little off topic. I have to let Senator Obama respond, then Senator Edwards, who's going to come...
OBAMA: We're off topic, but...
BLITZER: But go ahead and respond, and then I want to get back to this issue that we're talking about, fiscal responsibility. But go ahead.
OBAMA: Let's talk about it.
Hillary, I will be happy to provide you with the information about all -- all the spending that we do. Now, let's talk about Ronald Reagan. What you just repeated here today is...
OBAMA: Wait. No. Hillary, you just spoke.
CLINTON: I did not say anything about Ronald Reagan.
OBAMA: You just spoke for two minutes.
CLINTON: You said two things.
OBAMA: You just...
CLINTON: You talked about admiring Ronald Reagan and you talked about the ideas...
OBAMA: Hillary, I'm sorry. You just...
CLINTON: I didn't talk about Reagan.
OBAMA: Hillary, we just had the tape. You just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true.
What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.
OBAMA: I was fighting these fights. I was fighting these fights. So -- but I want to be clear.
So I want to be clear. What I said had nothing to do with their policies. I spent a lifetime fighting a lifetime against Ronald Reagan's policies. But what I did say is that we have to be thinking in the same transformative way about our Democratic agenda.
We've got to appeal to Independents and Republicans in order to build a working majority to move an agenda forward. That is what I said.
OBAMA: Now, you can dispute that, but let me finish.
Hillary, you went on for two minutes. Let me finish.
The irony of this is that you provided much more fulsome praise of Ronald Reagan in a book by Tom Brokaw that's being published right now, as did -- as did Bill Clinton in the past. So these are the kinds of political games that we are accustomed to.
CLINTON: Now, wait a minute.
Wolf, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Just a minute.
BLITZER: Senator Edwards, let them wrap up. Then I'm going to come to you.
CLINTON: I just want -- I just to clarify -- I want to clarify the record. Wait a minute.
EDWARDS: There's a third person in this debate.
BLITZER: Wait a minute, Senator Edwards. Hold on.
There has been a specific charge leveled against Hillary Clinton, so she can respond. Then I'll bring in Senator Edwards.
CLINTON: I just want to be sure...
OBAMA: Go ahead and address what you said about...
BLITZER: We have got a long time to go. You'll have a good opportunity.
CLINTON: We're just getting warmed up.
CLINTON: Now, I just -- I just want to be clear about this. In an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
OBAMA: Your husband did.
CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...
OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that.
But you also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.
OBAMA: I didn't say they were good ones.
CLINTON: Well, you can read the context of it.
OBAMA: Well, I didn't say they were good ones.
CLINTON: Well, it certainly...
OBAMA: All right, Wolf.
CLINTON: It certainly came across in the way that it was presented, as though the Republicans had been standing up against the conventional wisdom with their ideas. I'm just reacting to the fact, yes, they did have ideas, and they were bad ideas.
OBAMA: I agree.
CLINTON: Bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Resco, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.
OBAMA: No, no, no.
BLITZER: Hold on one second. Hold on.
Senator Edwards -- Senator Edwards has been remarkably patient during this exchange. And I want him -- I don't know if you want to get involved in this, Senator Edwards.
EDWARDS: What I want to say first is, are there three people in this debate, not two?
EDWARDS: And I also want to know -- I also want to know on behalf of voters here in South Carolina, this kind of squabbling, how many children is this going to get health care? How many people are going to get an education from this? How many kids are going to be able to go to college because of this?
EDWARDS: We have got to understand -- you know, and I respect both of my fellow candidates -- but we have got to understand this is not about us personally. It is about...
... what we are trying to do for this country and what we believe in.
Now, fiscal responsibility, which I think was the question. It was a little hard to tell there at the end of that. But I think the question was about fiscal responsibility.
I have proposed, I think, the most aggressive, most progressive agenda of the three of us up here. And I was the first to come out with a universal health care plan, first to come out with a global warming plan, first -- and, to the best of my knowledge, only at this point -- to come out with a comprehensive, detailed plan to end poverty in America, since we are on Dr. King's day.
This is the cause of my life. Everything I have proposed, I have come up with a way to pay for it. And I've been very explicit about how it should be paid for, not abstract, not rhetoric, very, very explicit.
But I do have to say, in response to something Senator Clinton said just a minute ago, both Senator Obama and I have said Social Security needs a solution. And we have said we won't privatize, we won't cut benefits, we won't raise the retirement age. Same thing that Hillary has said.
But she has proposed nothing about how we're going to create revenue to keep Social Security alive and talked about fiscal responsibility. Here's the problem: If you don't have -- this is not complicated. The American people understand it. If you've got more money going out than is coming in, you're going to eventually run out of money.
And you've got to have a way to pay for it, which is why -- now, let me finish this. Lord knows you let them go on forever.
What I'm saying is we have to be consistent in what we're saying. I have said I think Hillary doesn't want to talk about raising taxes. Let's just be honest about that.
Barack and I have both said that you've got to do something about the cap on Social Security taxes, which is now capped at $97,000. It means if somebody is making $80,000 a year, every dime of their income is taxed for Social Security. But if you are making $50 million a year, only the first $97,000 is taxed.
That's not right. And people ought to be paying their Social Security taxes. But the American people deserve to know what we're going to do.
We can disagree. There's nothing wrong with that, so they can make an informed choice, but they at least deserve to know where they stand and what we'd do.