- Cheri Honkala
vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party. She’s also national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.
- Luis Rodriguez
vice-presidential nominee for the Justice Party. He is a noted Chicano writer and a gang expert and interventionist. His 15 published books include the bestselling 1993 memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A, and its 2011 sequel, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing. He is a co-founder of the Network for Revolutionary Change.
Our “Expanding the Debate” special series continues as we open the discussion to include two third-party vice-presidential candidates who were excluded last night from the “official” debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan: Cheri Honkala of the Green Party and Luis Rodriguez of the Justice Party. With the general election just weeks away, Biden and Ryan squared off in their only debate Thursday night, aggressively challenging each other on foreign and domestic policy issues asked by moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Raddatz pressed them with questions on the deaths of Americans at the U.S. embassy in Libya, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, the budget deficit, terrorism and Afghanistan. Raddatz also asked each of the candidates, both of whom are Catholic, about how their personal beliefs affect their views on abortion. Romney’s personal wealth came up, but many issues were missing, including poverty, global warming, immigration, gun control and the country’s staggering incarceration rates. Democracy Now! poses many of these same questions today to Honkala and Rodriquez in order to bring new voices into the discussion. Democracy Now! first broke the sound barrier during the presidential debate on Oct. 3 by pausing after answers offered by President Obama and Mitt Romney to get real-time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Albuquerque, New Mexico, headed to Silver City, and then tonight we’ll be in Bisbee, Arizona, followed by tomorrow at 1:00 in [Tucson] and then tomorrow night in Phoenix.
But right now, with less than 24 days before the 2012 general election, the two vice-presidential candidates squared off in their only debate Thursday night, on the campus of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. For about an hour and a half, the candidates aggressively challenged each other on foreign and domestic policy issues as they sat at a table with moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Raddatz pressed them with questions on the deaths of Americans at the U.S. embassy in Libya, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, the budget deficit, terrorism and Afghanistan. She also asked each of the candidates, both of whom are Catholic, about how their personal beliefs affect their views on abortion.
Well, today, Democracy Now! brings you our second “Expanding the Debate” special. We first broke the sound barrier during the presidential debate in Denver by pausing after President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s answers to get real-time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, both of those parties’ presidential candidates. Well, today, we do the same, but this time with their running mates. Cheri Honkala, with the Green Party, she is the vice-presidential nominee in the 2012 election. She’s also national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. And Luis Rodriguez of the Justice Party is a noted Chicano writer and a gang expert and interventionist. His 15 published books include the bestselling 1993 memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and its 2011 sequel, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing. He’s co-founder of the Network for Revolutionary Change.
Vice-presidential candidates Luis Rodriguez and Cheri Honkala, we welcome them into the debate, but we will go to them in a moment. First, we begin with the debate moderator, Martha Raddatz.
MARTHA RADDATZ: …the state of our economy. The number one issue here at home is jobs. The percentage of unemployed just fell below 8 percent for the first time in 43 months. The Obama administration had projected that it would fall below 6 percent now after the addition of close to a trillion dollars in stimulus money. So will both of you level with the American people? Can you get unemployment to under 6 percent, and how long will it take?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don’t know how long it will take.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Vice President Biden.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We can and we will get it under 6 percent.
Let’s look at the—let’s take a look at the facts. Let’s look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. We had—the Great Recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, 1.7—$1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes and retirement accounts from the middle class.
We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that—and when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, “No, let Detroit go bankrupt.” We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, “No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.”
But it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend recently, in a speech in Washington, said 30 percent of the American people are takers. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, “not paying any taxes.”
I’ve had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent—it’s about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, “We’re going to level the playing field. We’re going to give you a fair shot again. We are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street,” making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super-wealthy.
They’re pushing the continuation of a tax cut that will give an additional $500 billion in tax cuts to 120,000 families. And they’re holding hostage the middle-class tax cut because they say, “We won’t pass—we won’t continue the middle-class tax cut unless you give the tax cut for the super-wealthy.” It’s about time they take some responsibility.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Mr. Ryan.
REP. PAUL RYAN: Joe and I are from similar towns. He’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania; I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I sure do.
REP. PAUL RYAN: It’s 10 percent.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yeah.
REP. PAUL RYAN: You know what it was the day you guys came in? Eight-point-five percent.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yeah.
REP. PAUL RYAN: That’s how it’s going all around America. Look—
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You don’t read the statistics.
REP. PAUL RYAN: Look—
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That’s not how it’s going. It’s going down.
MARTHA RADDATZ: This is his two-minute answer, please.
REP. PAUL RYAN: Look, did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely. But we’re going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing at 1.3 percent. That’s slower than it grew last year, and last year was slower than the year before. Job growth in September was slower than it was in August, and August was slower than it was in July. We’re heading in the wrong direction.
Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work today. Fifteen percent of Americans are living in poverty today. This is not what a real recovery looks like. We need real reforms for a real recovery, and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. It’s a five-point plan: get America energy-independent in North America by the end of the decade; help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want; get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis; make trade work for America so we can make more things in America and sell them overseas and champion small businesses; don’t raise taxes on small businesses, because they’re our job creators.
He talks about Detroit. Mitt Romney’s a car guy. They keep misquoting him, but let me tell you about the Mitt Romney I know. This is a guy who—I was talking to a family in Northborough, Massachusetts, the other day, Sheryl and Mark Nixon. Their kids were hit in a car crash, four of them—two of them, Rob and Reed, were paralyzed. The Romneys didn’t know them. They went to the same church. They never met before. Mitt asked if he could come over on Christmas. He brought his boys, his wife and gifts. Later on he said, “I know you’re struggling, Mark. Don’t worry about their college; I’ll pay for it.”
When Mark told me this story—because you know what? Mitt Romney doesn’t tell these stories. The Nixons told this story. When he told me this story, he said it wasn’t the help, the cash help; it’s that he gave his time. And he has consistently. This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined. Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about a hundred percent of Americans in this country.
And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: But I always say what I mean. And so does Romney.
REP. PAUL RYAN: We want everybody to succeed. We want to get people out of poverty, in the middle class, on to lives of self-sufficiency. We believe in opportunity and upward mobility. That’s what we’re going to push for in a Romney administration.
AMY GOODMAN: Luis Rodriguez, you’re the vice-presidential nominee for the Justice Party. Can you get unemployment under 6 percent? And how? You have two minutes.
LUIS RODRIGUEZ: One, you cannot do it relying on the old industrial basis of this country, because it’s gone. Technology has changed everything. The whole scenario has changed. Now you have what’s called the Wal-Marting of America, where people who do work are underemployed and cannot survive with those jobs—unrepresented, unorganized and low-paid.
So, what you have to do is think of a whole short range and long range. The short range would be, do what was supposed to be done. Get jobs to build our country—the infrastructure, the buildings. Get housing done by people. Give people the hammers and nails, and let them build this country from the bottom up. Give people the imagination, so they can get into the technology and utilize it to really have meaningful jobs.
In the long run, I do think it has to be structural changes. We have to restructure our economy so that everybody can work, everybody’s passions can be their profession, and we have a whole different way of looking at jobs than the way that’s constantly being done by both the Republicans and the Democrats.
AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, your response, vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party?
CHERI HONKALA: Well, first of all, I just want to thank you, Amy, for having us on today and having this debate. What we would do is we would green the economy, making sure that we put jobs that would last for a long time, that would save our environment, and that would put people to work. We would also turn the unemployment centers into employment centers, and we would put homeless people to work renovating abandoned houses. We have more abandoned houses than we have homeless people in this country, and we could do something by putting them to work.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to turn back to Martha Raddatz, debate moderator, in Kentucky.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Let’s talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive, Mr. Ryan?
REP. PAUL RYAN: Absolutely. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.
Look, when I look at these programs—we’ve all had tragedies in our lives—I think about what they’ve done for my own family. My mom and I had my grandmother move in with us who was facing Alzheimer’s. Medicare was there for her, just like it’s there for my mom right now, who’s a Florida senior. After my dad died, my mom and I got Social Security survivors benefits—helped me pay for college. It helped her go back to college in her fifties, where she started a small business because of the new skills she got. She paid all of her taxes, on the promise that these programs would be there for her. We will honor this promise.
And the best way to do it is reform it for my generation. You see, if you reform these programs for my generation, people 54 and below, you can guarantee they don’t change for people in or near retirement, which is precisely what Mitt Romney and I are proposing.
Look what—look what “Obamacare” does. “Obamacare” takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on “Obamacare.” Even their own chief actuary at Medicare backs this up. He says you can’t spend the same dollar twice. You can’t claim that this money goes to Medicare and “Obamacare.” And then they put this new “Obamacare” board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board, by the way, it’s 15 people. The president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training.
And Social Security? If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. We’re going to stop that from happening.
They haven’t put a credible solution on the table. He’ll tell you about vouchers. He’ll say all these things to try and scare people.
Here’s what we’re saying: give younger people, when they become Medicare-eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can’t be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums, not as much for the wealthy people, more coverage for middle-income people, and total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and the sick. Choice and competition. We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them, instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, where, when they get it.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, two minutes.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin. It seems every vice-presidential debate, I hear this kind of stuff about panels. But let’s talk about Medicare.
What we did is we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare. We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies when doctors and hospitals—the AMA supported what we did. AARP endorsed what we did. And it extended the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out. It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there, ask yourself, do you have more benefits today? You do. If you’re near the donut hole, you have 800—$600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without co-pays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare goes—becomes insolvent in 2016, number one.
Number two, guaranteed benefit—it’s a voucher. When they first proposed—when the congressman had his first voucher program, the CBO said it would cost $6,400 a year, Martha, more for every senior 55 and below when they got there. He knew that, yet he gathered all the guys in Congress and women in the Republican Party to vote for it. Governor Romney, knowing that, said, “I—I would sign it, were I there.” Who you believe? The AMA? Me? A guy who’s fought his whole life for this? Or somebody who had actually put in motion a plan that knowingly cut—added $6,400-a-year more to the cost of Medicare? Now they got a new plan. Trust me, it’s not going to cost you any more. Folks, follow your instincts on this one.
And with regard to Social Security, we will not—we will not privatize it. If we had listened to Romney, to Governor Romney and the congressman during the Bush years, imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the market. Their ideas are old, and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala, your approach to Medicare, its problems, and what you’ll do about it?
CHERI HONKALA: First of all, we see healthcare as a basic human right. We see that everybody in America should have access to healthcare. We believe in the U.S. single-payer healthcare, and we want to have Medicare for all in this country. We have enough to go around, and everybody should be guaranteed an opportunity to be healthy, productive citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: Medicare for all, what does that mean?
CHERI HONKALA: It means that we want a single-payer system. We think that everybody should be covered, from rehabilitation, drug and alcohol programs, to operations, to their dental coverage covered. You name it, people should have quality healthcare in this country, and they should be guaranteed it, just like the Medicare system that we have. It should be expanded to cover everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Luis Rodriguez, vice-presidential candidate of the Justice Party, your response?
LUIS RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, first of all, the whole medical system has to be taken out of the profit world, profit market, taken out of the market system. It’s an essential, as Cheri said. It’s something that everybody needs. We spend billions and billions of dollars wasting money, just because people aren’t being taken care of, the illnesses and the sicknesses they get at the back end because we don’t do enough to prevent, to help, to maintain, to give people the care they need.
And I think this is something that government should essentially have to do, because it’s got to be taken out of the hands of the insurance companies, out of the big hospitals. Healthcare cost, as you know, has gone astronomical. And then what we’re asking the government is, give me a little break, out of something that’s taken completely out of our hands. I think it does have to come back.
Single payer, as everybody has said, extend Medicare to everybody, not just to the elderly, but extend it to every kid, every adult, every youth. Make sure that everybody has access to the great technological innovations there are in medicine, but also just to understand, our bodies are our medicine. We don’t need to be given a lot of drugs. Pharmaceutical companies throw things in there. We can just need help in making own bodies heal, which requires good eating, good exercise, a sense of less stress, of living in a world that doesn’t demand too much of you, but making sure that the government ensures this as an essential need, not just something that somebody should be able to go to a market and try to profit off of it like is being done today.
AMY GOODMAN: We are expanding the debate, the only vice-presidential debate in this election season. We go to break and then come back. This is Democracy Now! This is what democracy sounds like.
AMY GOODMAN: We are expanding the debate, the only vice-presidential debate that’s taking place this election season. We are joined by Luis Rodriguez, the vice-presidential nominee for the Justice Party, and Cheri Honkala, the vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party. In Kentucky, Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential nominee is there, Paul Ryan, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Martha Raddatz is the debate moderator in Kentucky.
MARTHA RADDATZ: I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Two trillion dollars.
REP. PAUL RYAN: You don’t cut defense by a trillion dollars. That’s what we’re talking about. The additional trillion—
MARTHA RADDATZ: And what national security issues justify an increase?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Who’s cutting it by a trillion?
REP. PAUL RYAN: We’re going to cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 marines, 120 cargo planes. We’re going to push the Joint Strike Fighter out.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Drawing down in one war—
REP. PAUL RYAN: We’re cutting missile defense.
MARTHA RADDATZ: —and one more [inaudible]—
REP. PAUL RYAN: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the small it has—the smallest it has been since before World War I. This invites weakness.
Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don’t impose these devastating cuts on our military. So we’re saying, don’t cut the military by a trillion dollars—not increase it by a trillion, don’t cut it by a trillion dollars.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President Biden, on this, then I want to move on.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look, we don’t cut it. And I might add, this so-called—I know we don’t want to use the fancy word “sequester,” this automatic cut, that was part of a debt deal that they asked for. And let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference announcing his support of the deal. He said—and I’m paraphrasing — “We’ve been looking for this moment for a long time.
MARTHA RADDATZ: And I’d like to move on to Afghanistan, please.
REP. PAUL RYAN: OK.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Now, we’ve reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces. We’ve degraded al-Qaeda. So tell me, why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?
REP. PAUL RYAN: We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give al-Qaeda a safe haven. We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition.
Look, when I think about Afghanistan, I think about the incredible job that our troops have done. You’ve been there more than the two of us combined. First time I was there in 2002, it was amazing to me what they were facing. When I went to the Arghandab Valley in Kandahar before the surge, I sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Menominee Indian Reservation, who would tell me what he did every day, and I was in awe. And to see what they had in front of them, and then to go back there in December to go throughout Helmand with the Marines to see what they had accomplished, it’s nothing short of amazing. What we don’t want to do is lose the gains we’ve gotten.
Now, we’ve disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into account the recommendations from our commanders—General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen—on troop levels throughout this year’s fighting season. We’ve been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they’re shooting at us. But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful. And that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful, so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Vice President Biden.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Martha, let’s keep our eye on the ball—the reason I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq 20 times, I’ve been up in the Kunar Valley, I’ve been throughout that whole country, mostly in a helicopter and sometimes in a vehicle. The fact is, we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans—al-Qaeda. We’ve decimated al-Qaeda central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose.
And, in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It’s their responsibility to take over their own security. That’s why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we’ve agreed on a gradual drawdown so we’re out of there by the year—in the year 2014.
My friend and the governor say it’s based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security. We have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. There have been more than two dozen cases of green-on-blue, where Americans have been killed. If we do not—if the—if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols, we will not train in the field. We’ll only train in the—in the Army bases that exist there.
But we are leaving. We are leaving in 2014, period. And in the process, we’re going to be saving, over the next 10 years, another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party vice-presidential nominee Luis Rodriguez, respond on the issue of defense spending, as well as Afghanistan.
LUIS RODRIGUEZ: We have, unfortunately, an empire. The U.S. is behind this empire. We have the largest military force in the world. We have caused more damage, more destruction, more terrorism to happen than any other force in this world. I know this is hard to imagine anybody saying this, but I don’t need an intelligence mechanism to know that we have been behind so much war, so much destruction. It’s time for the American people to not have our soldiers, our mothers and brothers and sisters, out in the wars anymore in places that we don’t belong, in places that don’t resolve anything. In spite of the war against terror, I don’t feel any safer. Nobody feels any safer. I think this is about time that this empire were to end. It’s hurting our economy. It’s hurting our politics. We cannot survive as people in this world if we continually go around the world thinking that our issues, our demands and what we’re about is more important than anybody else in the world.
I am for making sure that this world is peaceful, which means you cannot have a military means of getting peace. You cannot have unmannned drones bombing civilians, no matter where it is in this world. So I do feel that we have to back off completely from the defense budget, which is the single-largest means that money is being taken away out of our economy, putting it back in military, put it back in defense industries that are making millions of dollars off our taxes and our sweat and blood.
AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, Green Party vice-presidential nominee, on the issue of defense and war spending in this country and Afghanistan?
CHERI HONKALA: We need to bring our troops home. We need to stop being the police force for the world. We need to stay out of other people’s business and their fight for democracy. And we need to take that money, and we need to bring it back home. We need to bring our soldiers back home, turn them into organic farmers, help—have them be busy rebuilding America. The answer is not with war. The answer is creating a better America for all of us to live in.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go right now to closing statements. Martha Raddatz at the—in Kentucky.
MARTHA RADDATZ: OK, we now turn to the candidates for their closing statements. Thank you, gentlemen. And that coin toss, again, has Vice President Biden starting with the closing statement.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, let—let me say at the outset that I want to thank you, Martha, for doing this, and Centre College.
The fact is that we’re in a situation where we inherited a god-awful circumstance. People are in real trouble. We acted to move to bring relief to the people who need the most help now. And—and in the process, we—in case you haven’t noticed, we have strong disagreements. But I—you probably detected my frustration with their attitude about the American people. My friend says that 30 percent of the American people are takers. They—Romney points out, 47 percent of the people won’t take responsibility. He’s talking about my mother and father. He’s talking about the places I grew up in, my neighbors in Scranton and Claymont. He’s talking about—he’s talking about the people that have built this country. All they’re looking for, Martha—all they’re looking for is an even shot. When they’ve been given the shot, they’ve done it. They’ve done it. Whenever you’ve leveled the playing field, they’ve been able to move. And they want a little bit of peace of mind. And the president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled, they in fact have a clear shot, and they have peace of mind, until they can turn to their kid and say with a degree of confidence, “Honey, it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.” That’s what this is all about.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan.
REP. PAUL RYAN: I want to thank you, as well, Martha; Danville, Kentucky; Centre College. And I want to thank you, Joe. It’s been an honor to engage in this critical debate.
We face a very big choice. What kind of country are we going to be? What kind of country are we going to give our kids? President Obama, he had his chance. He made his choices. His economic agenda—more spending, more borrowing, higher taxes, a government takeover of healthcare—it’s not working. It’s failed to create the jobs we need. Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work today. Fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty. This is not what a real recovery looks like. You deserve better.
Mitt Romney and I want to earn your support. We’re offering real reforms for a real recovery for every American. Mitt Romney—his experience, his ideas, his solutions—is uniquely qualified to get this job done. At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?
The choice is clear: a stagnant economy that promotes more government dependency, or a dynamic, growing economy that promotes opportunity and jobs. Mitt Romney and I will not duck the tough issues. And we will not blame others for the next four years. We will take responsibility. And we will not try to replace our founding principles; we will reapply our founding principles. The choice is clear, and the choice rests with you. And we ask you for your vote. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Cheri Honkala, you have one minute for your final statement.
CHERI HONKALA: As a formerly homeless mother, I know your pains out there. We can have a country that can be free from unemployment, hunger and homelessness. Let’s occupy the voting booths on Election Day. Let’s vote Green and put two women in the White House, so that we can take back America and have another country and another world.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Luis Rodriguez, vice-presidential nominee for the Justice Party, your final statement.
LUIS RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I think this is not about recovery, but a regeneration, of bringing back the idea, the imaginations, the power that we hold in our hands into the political process, into the economy. This country is vast. It’s got a lot of latent talent and attributes in our kids, in our working class, in people who build their homes and see their homes being taken away. This is a period of the worst corporate thievery that we’ve seen in our history, and nobody is putting them accountable. Let’s take it back and put it in our hands, in the hands of the people who work, in the hands of the people who can imagine, and regenerate our economy completely by making sure that everybody’s needs are met, everybody’s housing is taken care of, everybody’s medical needs, educational needs. No more corporation of the education, where kids are having $60,000 to $70,000 debt just to go to school, because they have to now, because they can’t survive without it. We have to re-imagine another America, another world, a clean, environmental—justice in our environment, justice in the economy, justice in our politics.
AMY GOODMAN: Luis Rodriguez, vice-presidential nominee for the Justice Party; Cheri Honkala, vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party, joining Paul Ryan of the Republican Party and Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party in this only vice-presidential debate of the 2012 election. And that does it for our “Expanding the Debates” series until next week, when we’ll be broadcasting from Hofstra.
We are continuing our 100-city Silenced Majority 2012 tour at noon in Silver City, New Mexico, at the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center at Western New Mexico University, then on to Bisbee, Arizona tonight, Friday, at the Bisbee Royale at 7:00. On Saturday, we’ll be in Tucson, Arizona, at 1:00, Fox Tucson Theatre, and in the evening in Phoenix.