Sen. Chris Dodd answers questions in our presidential mashup.

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Sept. 12 2007 11:52 PM

Dodd: Iraq Has Left Us More Vulnerable

Sen. Chris Dodd answers questions in our presidential mashup.

The following is an unedited transcript and may contain typos or omissions. Click here for more on the presidential mashup.

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Dodd: Well, Bill, I've taken the position, certainly with medical use of marijuana, that it ought to be allowed. And many states, I think 12 or 13 states allow that today. In fact, we just had a huge debate in the committee in which I serve dealing with the issue. And I've strongly advocated that these states not be biased or prejudiced because they allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. And again, the overall of general of allowing the decriminalization, I strongly advocate as well. We're cluttering up our prisons, frankly, when we draw distinctions. And let me go beyond marijuana here in terms of crack cocaine or powder cocaine, where we have differentials in prison sentences here. So I would decriminalize, or certainly advocate as president, the decriminalization of statutes that would incarcerate or severely penalize people for using marijuana. But I want to be careful, and I know there are a lot of people across the political spectrum who would just totally legalize it. I don't go that far. But certainly in the areas I've mentioned to you here, I think, certainly, are steps that move in that direction.

Rose: When you look at the issues that seem to be the third rail, give us a sense of how you feel about the divisiveness in American politics and the power of interest groups.

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Dodd: Well, I don't think we're as divided. I think this is one of the myths in American politics. The political community seeks to divide it. These wedge issues that are brought up all the time. But I find that there's a commonalty of interest, Charlie, among many subject matters here. People may disagree on how best to achieve universal health care or what needs to be done with education, but no one disagrees that our public school systems need far more attention than they're getting or that health care needs to be addressed. So the talk of actually uniting and bringing people together I think is a very important issue that doesn't get discussed enough in this campaign. It's important to talk about the grocery list of issues, where you stand on Iraq and health care and education. But the more important question is, show me what abilities you have, demonstrate to me that you have the capacity to actually bridge these gaps and bringing people together. It's something I've done for a quarter of a century. I do it very well. My colleagues know this, Democrats and Republicans. On every major issue of landmark legislation that I've authored that have fundamentally changed the face of America, such as family and medical leave, early childhood education, dealing with financial institutions, for instance. In every case, I did them with a conservative Republican. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because there no other way this was going to be achieved unless you brought people together around a common idea. And that's been missing, I think, in our debates. There's an acknowledgment that this is important because people talked about it, but too little is asked to demonstrate where you have shown the ability to do this. And I think we've reached a point where if we don't do this in the coming days, both domestic and foreign policy issues are going to split this country wide apart and make it very difficult for us to grapple with any problem at all. So it's a very important issue, one I hope we talk more about in the coming weeks.

Rose:  I welcome coming back to the table, Sen. Dodd. Thank you.

Dodd: Thank you very much, Charlie.

Rose: Sen. Christopher Dodd. Back in a moment.