Yes or No

Jonathan Garthwaite
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Posted: Nov 16, 2007 10:49 AM

Five minutes into the debate...

OBAMA: Senator Clinton, I think, is a capable politician and I think that she has run a terrific campaign.

But what the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions, and that is not what we've seen out of Senator Clinton on a host of issues -- on the issue of drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.

A few minutes later

BLITZER: All right. I want to just press you on this point, because it's a logical follow-up, and then I want to go and ask everyone.

On the issue that apparently tripped up Senator Clinton earlier, the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, I take it, Senator Obama, you support giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. 

Is that right?

OBAMA: When I was a state senator in Illinois, I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention.

(APPLAUSE)

And -- but I have to make sure that people understand. The problem we have here is not driver's licenses. Undocumented workers do not come here to drive. 

(LAUGHTER)

They don't go -- they're not coming here to go to the In-N-Out Burger. That's not the reason they're here. They're here to work. And so instead of being distracting by what has now become a wedge issue, let's focus on actually solving the problem that this administration, the Bush administration, had done nothing about it.

BLITZER: Well, let's go through everybody because I want to be precise. I want to make sure the viewers and those of us who are here fully understand all of your positions on this barring -- avoiding, assuming -- there isn't going to be comprehensive immigration reform.

Do you support or oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants?

OBAMA: I am not proposing that that's what we do.

OBAMA: What I'm saying is that we can't...

(LAUGHTER)

No, no, no, no. Look, I have already said, I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the same level can make that happen.

But what I also know...

BLITZER: All right...

OBAMA: But what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.

BLITZER: But -- because this is the kind of question that is sort of available for a yes or no answer. 

(LAUGHTER)

Either you support it or you oppose it.

(APPLAUSE)

Several minutes later after getting the other candiates to more or less say yes or no.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Obama, yes or no?

OBAMA: Yes.

BLITZER: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I'll tell you, I am going to be fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, and we shouldn't pose the question that, somehow, we can't achieve that.

I believe that the American people desperately want it; that's what I'm going to be fighting for as president.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: No.