tv The Contenders CSPAN September 30, 2011 8:00pm-10:30pm EDT
>> "the contenders" on key figures that run for president but lost. in a moment from indiana, the life of eugene debs. on thent obama's remarks u.s. air strike in yemen. >> are featured contender is eugene debs. if lifetime candidates for president of the socialist ticket, and the nation's most celebrated world war i protester. this footage captures eugene debs on his return home to terre haute, indiana. tonight, we are in terre haute at his home and museum. let me introduce you to our two
guests. his book is called "democraciy's prisoner." it has been 85 years since he died. why do we care about him? >> he was one of our most important labor leaders at a crucial time. more importantly, he was the central figure in the socialist movement at a time it was a viable growing part of the american political culture. >> does he have a lasting legacy? >> i think like many third-party candidates, he and his fellow socialist moved the conversation in different directions. in that regard, he is of his time but he is also a long impact on us as well. >> we will have time to delve into some of the elections later on.
of the five bids he made, are any particularly significant? >> de 1912 bid is the high mark of socialism where he got 6% of the votes. a different election was 1920 where he was imprisoned in the atlanta penitentiary and got 1 million votes while running from present -- prison. >> are 90 minute program, "the contenders", i look at people who made an attempt at the white house and failed. we are live tonight from the eugene debs and terre haute. he lived here in this house. we will show you more of the house as we continue here. the top floor of the house is an interesting mural. the mural depicts the years of
his public life. throughout our program we will be showing you aspects of the artwork to help illustrate eugene debs'story. let me introduce you to our second guest. she is courting us from what was his bedroom, now is a museum or with a lot of artifacts. she is a specialist in labor history. lisa phillips, thank you for being with us. your thoughts on his significance to the american story. >> i think the significance has to do with this activity in labor unions. he has had a lasting effect on many of the laws that were passed during the progressive era as a result of his activism, some of which we still enjoy. he can tell us a lot about his time. for running for president.
>> lisa phillips will be showing some of the artifacts -- artifacts through the house. tell us a little bit about the debs foundation. >> it seeks to keep his legacy a life. it hopes to promote not only the museum but the policies that eugene debs promoted such as the social justice and equality and the rights of workers. we try to live the spirit of his marriage -- his mission. as we turn to your expertise, can we -- can you tell me a little bit about how the house is financed and functions? critics care of it? >> it is paid for by the debs foundation and is cared for by dr. charles king and karen brown. both of them are here and terre haute and run tours of the
museum on a daily basis. >> our viewers in 10 minutes or so, we will open up all mines and invite you into the discussion. very interested to hear the discussion about eugene debs and the turn of the 20th century and that. that he represents. but me ask you a little bit about what made him a success. >> many people remember him most of all as a dynamic speaker. this is an area of wonderful stump speakers that can fill two or three hours with a speech. he was really the best in that genre. in fact, so good he could have charged admission for his audience and that is how they funded the socialist campaign in many cases. he was a very charismatic and had the ability -- i think he began as a victorian speaker but
became much more comfortable over the years. he developed a more modern impromptu style that later made and impact on his audience. >> over your shoulder is debs' library. my understanding is that eugene debs dropped out of school at age 14. i am curious about his extensive library and how he educated himself. >> he was very much self-taught. he worked very hard at that. he began working in the railroad union and was interested in literature there. he worked for a while as a grocery clerk in town. he always wanted more education but had to rely on his own. >> how did terre haute shape eugene debs? >> in many ways. mostly through his of bringing here when he was a younger man. he always harkened back to terre haute, and he invoked it all the
time in terms of the harmonious relationships that he said developed an old terre haute where everybody could aspire to do something good in their lives whether it be a business owner, whether you are a worker. everybody had the chance. he always set in the old terre haute everybody had the chance to improve their lives. that is what he held in the most regard. >> would you walk around the house, you can see he was interested in politics from an early age. he made bid for clark in his town and made a successful bid for the indiana legislature on the democratic ticket. his early roots were in two party systems. can you talk about that? >> i can say a little bit which is to say he ran on the democratic party ticket when he believed that he could form a relationship between multiple groups of people whether they be business owners, workers, and he
believed the party system in that regard. it was not until later in the 18 eighties and 1890's that he felt the party system through the democrats and republicans were not working for the best interests of all the people combined. >> when he sought the white house, what was his intention? did he ever really think that he could win? >> he said very clearly he had no intention of ever winning. he was interviewed in 19 08 and they said what would it be like for you to be president. he said if the party ever becomes close to winning, i would be the last person who would want the job. he really thought of himself more as an evangelist for the cause. he believed in democracy. i think he was more interested in using the campaigns to generate interest among workers and develop class consciousness to deliver his message very powerfully every four years. >> give us a snapshot of the america he was dissatisfied
with. >> there was an enormous concentration of capital. many people were worried about the labor problem. many workers felt in the face of the rapid industrialization that their skills or less soluble, their wages were being fitted into the international market where they were getting declining wages and a more difficult work environment. there was an enormous sense that labor was deeply unhappy. eugene debs turned it around and said the problem is of labor, the problem is capital. it is not that the workers are unhappy, the root problem is that these enormous concentrations of capital are undermining american democracy. >> socialism was on the rise in europe. how was eugene debs doing here different from over there? >> it was similar at first.
they considered themselves internationalists. socialism needed to be a worldwide movement. they expected it would be. they fell to their word distinctive challenges in an america to convince workers to do that. there was a stronger sense of a working class in europe on which to draw for socialist organizing their. one of the struggle for eugene debs throughout his career was to convince workers they should think of themselves not as democrats or republicans, not on the basis of their religious affiliations, but of members of the working class. >> how successful were he and his fellow thinkers in convincing the public? at the height of his popularity, how much ground that they make? >> it depends on how you measure that. if you measure it on his success, the high water mark was 1912. >> never any electoral college? >> know. there was a much broader.
socialists were much more successful on the local level. there were many socialist mayors. there was a vibrant international socialist society for college students started by jack london. a lot of college campus ferment about socialism. there was a lively press, some of our best in journalism from that time. comes out of the socialist press journals. socialism was a much bigger than counting the votes. >> today in congress, the united states senator bernie sanders from vermont is a socialist. we talked to him about eugene debs'legacy. let's listen to what he had to say. >> a lot of big ideas that he advocated. he talked about what people get old, there should be social insurance for them. that is what we call social
security today. amazingly, in 2011 there are those same people that want to destroy social security. he believed health care was the right of all people. that battle continues today. i think it is fair to say that many of the huge advances made during the 1930's under president roosevelt, the great society under lyndon johnson, those were ideas that people liked eugene debs probably brought to the attention. the first person to bring to the attention of millions of working people. >> let me ask you to add your perspective to the american that he saw and was dissatisfied with. colorado telecom of whether or not he saw himself as anti- american or wanting to change america. >> i do not think he saw himself as anti-american at all. i think he thought he was
advocating through his socialist party activity a kind of america that he harkened back to again in the old days of terre haute, one that was more community center, one that was less big business. he was not anti capitalist at all in his early days. it was not until the advent of big business and corporate capitalism that he felt there had to be a movement toward that profit motive that continued to bring everyday workers wages down. >> let me ask you -- you have something to add to that? "i agree with lisa. one of the things that made him so powerful is his ability to cast socialism as an american movement. it was not this is a revolutionary country in the first place, we fought a revolution for democracy. in his lifetime he experienced the civil war as a revolution. some of his greatest titles for the abolitionists.
his argument was the country had fought a battle to overthrow slavery. the next step is to overthrow wage slavery. >> a question for you -- who were his workers? did he include women in his few of it? did he include people other than whites? did he include immigrants? >> he was one of the first industrial union leaders. he was mounting a movement on behalf of the working class which he believed everybody who was a worker who earned wages was a part of what could they be an emigrant, black, women. so he saw them as all members of a working class that needed to be uplifted in some way, shape, or form. there is controversy to this day about whether he did enough on behalf of women and african- americans. he had some trouble seeing immigrants who came over
temporarily and worked for a very low wages and brought them back to their home countries as part of the same american working class that was trying to fight for higher wages. he had some trouble over the course of his career. as an industrial movement, his was one that recognized the rights of all workers regardless of their backgrounds. >> i understand you have one of the artifacts copies of the jungle. what is the significance? >> it is a huge significance. sinclair published in 1905. he was a member of the socialist party itself. he highlighted all the horrible conditions that meatpackers work in and the conditions. where really riled up the country were not only the conditions, but also the quality of the meat that was coming out
of the plants. he was the one who wrote about rats and people's fingers being caught in the processed meat and how horrible that was. he and eugene debs were supporters of each other. upton sinclair was able to demonstrate the problems with the growing gulf -- growing of big business. that led to the revolution of the food administration. >> the book actually ends with a scene where he wanders into a socialist meeting and here's a character that is supposed to be eugene debs making a socialist speech. for upton sinclair, that was not food regulations but socialism was the better answer. eugene debs is actually writing
the book. >> can you tell the story of his first imprisonment and how he got connected with the concept of socialism at that time? >> he was the head of the american railway union which mounted a successful strike against the great northern railroad co. in 1893. the aru gained thousands of members with eugene debs as its head. many of those members were part of the palace car company in 1894. the petition for support when they decided to walk out against george pullman who dropped their wages by a 28%. it wanted to walk out and they asked for support. eugene debs was reluctant at
first. he thought it was too risky. but the pullman workers had a lot of support not only within the town of pullman which is outside of chicago, but also had a lot of support from railray workers all the way to st. louis. it became national in scope. as a result of that, president aglow over cleveland and the clerks got involved and issued yen an injunction to stop them from stopping the transport of goods, especially the u.s. mail, along that corridor. grover cleveland got involved. he sent u.s. troops to open up the role re depots that had been shut down as a result of the strike that had been called by the aru. eugene debs ultimately did not
call the striking workers off and was found in content of court for not following the injunction. he spent three months in prison for being in contempt of court. it was then in prison after the pullman strike that he was introduced to socialist party literature and became a socialist party member and staunch advocate. >> i read a description that he entered prison a changed man for the first time. the you know more about that? "i think he did come to the realization that when the federal troops came in and smash to the strike. when he ended up in prison for defending the rights of workers that he made it as clear as could be that the two parties were both working against labor and there needed to be an alternative. he did not go right way to socialism. he was involved in the populist party. he was very active initially.
when that failed, the socialist party in march after that. west arkansas two guests are going to begin bringing your telephone calls into the mix. we will put the phone numbers on the screen. we will mccalls at the route are 90 minutes here. as we take our first call, we want to give you a sense of where the house is terre haute and on the campus. we will show you that via google maps as we listen to our first caller from north carolina. hi steve. >> it seems like they are appealing or trying to appeal to some what constituency. >> thank you very much. in the election of 1912, how did
they compare? >> eugene debs was initially and admirers of him. i think they shared some concerns about reform. i think the crucial difference is eugene debs was really a revolutionary. he not only was interested in reform, reform was necessary but they felt something much greater was needed. there needed to be an anti capitalism and public ownership of the means of production. that was a position that distinguished him from brian's campaign. >> the election was his first try in 1900. he got 0.6% of the popular vote that year. do you know what his early appeals were as a candidate and how they changed over his many bits? >> the real challenge for eugene debs was to try to knit
together socialists' coming from very different positions. one of the strongest hotbeds of socialism was oklahoma. people who had been populous started to develop these socialist camp meetings where they would gather together to hear socialist speeches. eugene debs was a real hero there. they also needed to speak to trade unionists in chicago and milwaukee to radical bohemians and san francisco, to jewish garment workers on the lower east side. it was a real challenge to find a way to knit together people who all agree on some level that capitalism needed to change fundamentally. they were coming at this from very different positions. it took a while to build the apparatus. >> another election in 1908
which involve william jennings bryan. he began to understand some early marketing. he had some campaign tactics of the red train special and the red special band. can you tell us a little more about that? >> 1908 was a critical year because of the descendants of the popularity of the labor party and the federation of labour and other labor unions. his message appealed to increasingly more people from a divorce amount of backgrounds. the red special would have been a good enough find symbol to use to unite what were very different groups of people who were working on farms or an urban areas. it meant to his supporters a challenge to big business. they would have called it a big business or monopolies in that
period. it was a good way to unify people with just the use of the red special. >> this is a caller named randy. welcome. >> thank you. i just wanted to give you background. my grandfather voted for eugene debs in his election. as i went through school, we never heard of eugene debs. it seems like one thing that is really lacking in our education system is labor history. the fact that people -- many people died for those benefits. they were not gifts. people were literally killed and beaten and a jailed for the right to have this insurance.
what the neo-fascist that are now running on the republican party, it seems like to read it established that message more than ever. we are in a critical point in history where it rightfully are not careful we could go towards fascism. >> a question for you before you go? you talk to you if your grandfather about eugene debs? >> the last election i believe was the 1916 election. >> that would be 1920. >> 1960 was the year he set out i believe. first of all, why did he set out in 1916? >> he was en el health. i think he only ran in 1920
because of the unusual circumstances. he felt it was time to pass on the bataan of the movement to somebody else. he did run for congress in indiana. he did not fill -- he did not feel ought to the special. he was giving 15 speeches a day and would come back exhausted to terre haute and collapse in one of the entrance upstairs. 1916 he decided to set out. >> randy's comments are probably amusing to your ears about the lack of teaching of labor history. i am wondering what you think about teaching of labor history to america's students. >> of course, i would say should be taught more than it is. i think there is so much we can learn about working people, about all of us to work every day and try to make ends meet and value them by teaching their
history is very important. it gives us a very different perspective on what it means to fight for some of those rights that the caller was mentioning and not take them for granted. as hard-fought as they were fought for, they can be easily taken a way. we need to really teach those struggles and how difficult it was so we do not take for granted the benefits that we received as a result of them. >> in the early part of the 20th century, was there a middle class? >> yes. a large part of corporate capitalism generated a much larger middle-class. >> of the people he represented, what they be part of the middle- class or unless the working class? >> there was a large number of middle-class supporters. it went to his meetings expecting to see just working class people were surprised to find that actually many of the
most important writers and political thinkers we can think of from that time. were either members of the socialist party are very sympathetic to their agenda. he considered it a working-class movement, but it had a strong leadership component. >> and the. 1900, it would be dangerous to call yourself a socialist in the united states? >> know, there were particular incidence to be involved as a socialist and a particular strike environment was a problem. there was some conflicts over the rights of soapboxes speakers. there were big believers of bringing their message to the speech. sometimes there were clashes with the police. as far as persecution of the
socialists, the river much a part of the political conversation. >> what did the public at large began to become more suspicious about intentions? >> what socialist started to get a lot of votes, that started the conversation. in 1908 and 1912, teddy roosevelt called eugene debs one of our most undesirable citizens. there was a sense that the forces of moderate opinion is needed to push back against socialism rhetorically. it was not until world war i that the gloves really came off and socialism was physically and legally a salted. >> next is a caller named cal from manhattan. >> hello. i am loving the series. it is really fascinating history. just off the bat, there are a couple of things that strike me
and hopefully your guests can comment on one or the other. one is the grievances against the growing capitalism, strangling the rights of the people as it was thought of then as it is now. as you know, we have these protests and lower manhattan that seemed to have part of its platform some of the same grievances as i understand them. also, the idea of the organization -- the mechanics of the organization of the movement. occupy wall street is receiving criticism because they are making a deliberate attempt not to have a specific platform or agenda or a list of grievances. maybe you can talk about the mechanics of organizing a movement as eugene debs and who might have inspired him in his life with things he might agree with. thanks for the series.
>> let me ask lisa to take up the question of what were his grievances against capitalism. >> his grievances was monopoly, corporate capitalism he had the most trouble with. that is why he thought an overthrow of corporate capitalism was an order. his grievances against them was the accumulation of wealth and the hands of a few and controlling what he argued or combinations of corporations and business owners would be able to get together to control many aspects of the economy. that is what he was clearly against. what he advocated were labor unions with similar groups of workers that could work together to break the monopoly is that corporate entities have been forming with each other to control many aspects of the economy at the time. people argue that our time.
is very similar to eugene debs' time. in terms of the growing gap between the wealthy and the less than both the. the mechanics that he used to organize them. >> i think that is a very interesting question. it is the case, one of the things that made socialism work in the way it has not worked sense is their talent for organizing. their willingness to attend a lot of meetings and to develop a separate independent press. they were very strong critics in a way that sounds very modern and about the influence of big money on newspapers. they very much believed that there was no way people were going to hear the worker's side of the store or their side of the stories of they did not treat their own alternative press. that was crucial. eugene debs was the exciting person who blew into town and
rallied the truth -- rallied the troops. it really involves a grass- roots progress and the attempt to win on a local level. the presidency was out of reach but it was not impossible to get on a city council. >> to think about the time period, this was even before radio began. politics for americans and those days meant what in their lives? was it an activity to fill the evening in ways we do not appreciate today? >> shore. this was a period of enormous party loyalty. it was starting to fade -- >> also socialism. people would gather in the evening and listen to speeches. now we have lots of media and our lives and that sort of thing. >> there were many more newspaper sources, and they were much more art. political unions have their own
press. there was a much more complicated mix available to people in a print. >> while we are talking about media, will you talk about a publication for which eugene debs wrote frequently called " the appeal to reason." >> a short period this is "the appeal to reason." and became the newspaper of the socialist party in 1901. it is one of the publications, many newspapers that would have existed in that time. where people would find out as much information as they could. the first time it was published was here and "the appeal to
reason." many authors of the. period would have written in this socialist party is bigger. i would like to read to you a statement that eugene debs made. after the election, he sent by telegraph to be published the results of the election. he wrote "it is now certain that the socialist party has doubled its national vote. we must lose no time in preparing for the next. we are the only ones who came out with colors flying. the socialist party from now on as the party of the people. this young giant will make history in the next few years. soon after the democrats this power, they will feel helplessness and thousands who voted their ticket will turn from them. and them" how was he as a prop for knox the gator? >> that was a poor prediction.
it began to fell right after that in terms of membership and never recovered the peak. >> why? >> one of the reasons was the bulls an administration did just the opposite of what deaths predicted. it brought in a slate of reforms. controls for 8 hour day for railroad workers, some regulation of the banking system, some gesture for the right of unions to organize. these were only small steps toward what the socialists wanted, but enough to win a long voters. >> let's take our next telephone call. this is sharon. >> i want to thank c-span for the wonderful series. i am wondering if your guest might comment on his early life, his formative years, and what his parents did for a living.
thank you very much. >> thank you. would you like to take that? >> chino, i am not exactly sure i can remember what his family did for a living. i know he was a great idealist. debs himself -- his middle name is after victor hugo. it was a big part of his upbringing. >> i was just remembering that his father was kind of a processor of pork. he was ill. he could not do that work. there are reminiscences of him being depressed as a worker. his wife -- at two small children. she was eugene debs eugene debs. they opened a small grocery in the front of their house.
he became a successful small grocer in terre haute. one of eugene debs'first jobs was an accountant for the home and car sri line. he had expected the family business. that enabled him to do that work. that was what his family -- that was where his family's income came from. >> why did he have to drop out of school at age 14? >> as i recall, i think it was not common for people to finish high school. he wanted to get a job on the railroad. he wrote or the newest and exciting thing for young men to get a part of. his first job was a paint scraper for the local railroad that was running through terre haute. it was later owned by william
keene. he was a paint scraper first. it was an exciting job in an era where people commonly did not finish high school. >> can either of you tell us about his marriage? >> that was always a source of controversy in the movement. he was deeply loyal to kate debs. it was pretty clear that she married him as an aspiring young grocer and congressmen and not as a socialist. she has often spoken in favor of socialism publicly but not enthusiastically. she probably would have been happier if he had not pursue that life. it also kept him on the road most of the time. eugene debs was back in terre haute mostly to collapse upstairs and recover before he headed out on another campaign. she was left keeping the home
fires burning in this house. >> so kate spent a lot of time in the living room where we are in this house in terre haute. >> with these down and out reward workers knocking on the door and hoping they could see his -- see their hero. >> did they have children? >> no. >> he said he traveled extensively and she chose not to do that? or was she not invited to come along? >> know. i don't know. >> let's take our next phone call. this is tom. here we are in your home town. have you been to this house? >> no, i have not. i work two blocks away from there so i have no excuse. thank you for a fantastic series. i would just like to make a quick comment because there are so many people across america who would love to be calling. i looked out to do it. i want to say this. when the unions and socialism came about because of the lack
of benevolent employers. i want to make one point. i live in colorado, i call on the minds of colorado. i used to drive through some colorado on interstate 25. i would pass a town called low. i would ask ms. phillips if she knows anything about the massacre. i am not sure when it happened. i am sure eugene debs was alive at the time. i will hang up now. please ponder what i have said, you moguls of america. we need jobs and we need them now. could you please tell us a little bit about the ludlow massacre in colorado. >> the ludlow massacre and
several other massacres and rights of the time. were often blamed on the striking workers at the time whether they be minors or whether they be protesting for their rights. what happened then ludlow that happened in other incidents is there would be federal troops port authorities brought in to quell the protest in workers. many of them would be killed. i cannot remember how many people died there, but in ots, rket and other right several people would be killed. striking workers would be blamed for protesting. that is a reason why the knights
of labor went by the wayside because they were blamed for the riot that caused the deaths of several people. it was an incident were striking workers were killed and where people -- the strikers themselves were bland and fortunately for that. i think to get to the caller's original point, what eugene debs actually wanted was a return to the benevolent employer. he had been friends with some that owned the road that came through there who he supported when they had the best interest of terre haute in mind. it was when they brought in what they called have a capitalist, and when they tried banking relationships with people out east that eugene debs started to break its ties with smaller business terre haute owners in
terre haute and started criticizing them toward their need for profit. it was not small business that he originally was against. it was the for profit motive that drove those small businessmen to become business moguls and create conditions that cause to the ludlow massacre when they think they had no other source but to strike. >> or the socialist all across the united states or was it a regional phenomenon? >> no, it was all across the united states. here in the midwest, also out west -- especially with the western federation of miners -- they were big supporters of the socialist party. they were mostly out west, oklahoma, the midwest, places like new york on the east coast where the strong holes of the
socialist party. they grew support from rural americans, from urban areas like chicago and new york, from western coal miners. they drew support from lots of people who were similarly negatively affected by this rise of corporate capitalism. >> did you have a thought you wanted to add? "i think rather than moving toward more benevolent employers, i don't think he believed that was possible at this point. rather than ending a monopoly capitalism and going back to small-scale capitalism, socialists were interested in arguing that business will get bigger and bigger. the important thing is for it to be run by the people rather than individuals for private gain. this was a much more radical proposition as a way to solve the problem. there were many of people including capitalists who were engaged in trying to soften the hard edges of the industrial
revolution that was going on. andrew carnegie with his gospel of wealth suggested that there needed to be more bad debt -- benevolent moguls. eugene debs said that is not the problem. we need to continue to build monopolies and take them for the people. >> we are following eugene debs at his home in terre haute in our series, "the contenders." we have 90 minutes tonight to learn more about this period of time. his five runs for the presidency were from 1900 until 1920. arkansas two guests are here. our next phone call is from john. >> high. wonderful problem. banks to c-span. i was intrigued by the comment that teddy roosevelt said that eugene debs was the most
dangerous man in a america or something to that affect. teddy roosevelt himself is known as breaking up standard oil. it seemed that they would have some things in common. i wondered if your guest could comment on that. >> . good question. roosevelt said, we need to take the same part of the eugene debs and adopt it, with him and his interest and taking over private industry and try to run it democratically, this was a crazy idea that would undermine one of the pillars of american democracy with private property and free enterprise. on the other hand, he was well aware of the growing concern among workers as well as the middle-class about the problems
of big business. roosevelt argued that it was important to take the good ideas, the things that we now have inherited from the socialist movement in many ways that we have been talking about and to adopt those. these became an important part of his progressive party platform. they were part of the reform agenda for the roosevelt administration. he said eugene debs was to stir up class workers against their masters in a sense. what he wanted to do was to socialize the country in a different way without socialism. >> the you have more to add on that question? >> i might be remembering this wrong. i do not think teddy roosevelt supported nationwide strikes that happened with coleman. that seemed very dangerous to
presidents who worked in charge of making sure the country ran smoothly. any time this i case where there was a strike by a national labor union that disrupted the growth of something as crucial as would put them on opposite sides of the divider and how strong you should be in order to stop business from functioning. >> another topic altogether to understand socialist thinking in the early 20th century, what about the intersection between socialist thinking and religion? >> a very large number of socialist were religious, especially in the south and in oklahoma, texas, there was a strong party there. it was a very strong movement in what was called in the social gospel or social christianity. many of those people were
supporters of eugene debs. he considered churches to be the enemy, sort of part of the apparatus of press workers -- particularly the catholic church. he claimed never to go into a church. many christians felt that he and his humanitarian compassion for workers really exemplified just a tremendous number of people over the course of his career said, i don't know what he believes, but he is the most christlike person that i know. his compassion for the underdog is the asset -- is the essence of christianity. this is an important distinction between the eugene debs movement and the communist movement that comes after it. not everybody in the socialist movement was a believer by any
means, but it was something or that was an important part of the mix. >> if you signed into a car that said you were a member of the socialist party in this time period, what does that mean the core of your beliefs were? >> that the most important struggle was a struggle between the working class and the owning class. this was inevitably going to result in a victory for the working class as a necessary next step and the evolution of history and for american socialist i think a necessary next step to realize or protect the principles of the american revolution and the dignity of individuals. >> so they thought of themselves as patriots. we have touched on that thing before. he spoke of abraham lincoln and also some of the founding
fathers in his writings. he saw himself as an extension of early roots of american history. >> defining the important movers and shakers as being radicals, history is driven forward by people -- he would point back to jesus, to saugerties, to thomas jefferson, john brown, wendell phillips. history moves forward by people who start off with an idea that seems deeply and pop look -- deeply unpopular, but that is the next step for moral revolution. >> this is chris on the line. >> the key for the conversation. i would -- i was wondering if you could comment on the relationship with industrial workers of the world. >> he was a founding member of
the iww that started in 1905. they were a clearly industrial union movement. it was juxtaposed against the american federation of labour which is more of a craft skills worker based union. the iww was a movement among the working class of people. in its size, it is not as nationalistic. it sought to work with workers and other countries. it is a part of -- it never came to be, but they saw themselves as part of the workers' movement with fighters fighting worldwide in not just in the united states. laters eugene debs' interpretation of what had to be
done to promote the rights of workers not only in the united states but in other places in the world as well. >> was the affiliated with them throughout his life? >> know, there was a split -- it was kind of complicated. there was a split in the iww or the socialist party -- there was a split in the socialist party that effected the iww. he remained very much -- he supported the iww but took less of a leadership position. haywood took over the iww plan and took it in a different position. >> i think one of the most important bricks was over the issue of violence or sabotage.
this was a tough bunch in a very tough environment working in mines and lumber fields. they argued that there were times in order to advance their cause, they needed to use sabotaging or other forms of violence to fight back. >> did eugene debs agree with that? >> he did not agree with that. he recognized there were times when he needed to use violence, but he felt the strategy of advocating violence was not appropriate for american democracy and workers all was lost when they tried violence. most of the power to spread violence belong to the state. >> next up is minneapolis. hi, ken. >> thank you c-span for this wonderful series. i work in public radio. a little bit earlier your scholars were talking about eugene debs and media.
in new york city, here is or was a famous radio station his name for eugene debs that debuted in the early 1920's. it was one of the first non- commercial listeners supported radio stations. given his name in the call letters, i am wondering if he had any involvement with the radio station. >> thank you. his demise was in 1926, radio just beginning to come on the scene as a median. de -- >> as far as i know, it is an homage to him, but he had no connection. >> we saw, we only have 35 minutes left already. this program is going by quickly. a question for you about eugene debs if you can answer it, if he were to walk in this room -- we are surrounded by images all
over. can you give us a sense about how tall a man he was. give us the personal gloves of him if you can. >> as far as i know, i think he was 6 foot 2 inches, i am not sure if that is correct. he was very thin. he was lanky. you can see that in the pictures. he was that way from his youth on. he was a commanding figure, but not burleigh i guess you could say. >> he told me he was an advocate of the temporary feet -- eating fads of the day. can you tell us a little about that? >> he was often l. it was hard to pin down with the problem was. some have suggested that it was a nervous exhaustion from the
hard campaigns. he would often retreat to try to recover. he would find himself to the sanitariums where he would experiment with walnuts and a catch of diet and sleeping with his head oriented toward the north and these sorts of things. he would write letters back to his brother suggesting that these things were working out great for him. >> switching gears here in our time. as the nation began to march toward world war i, what happened to the labor union -- what happened to the labor movement as of this turmoil was making these big decisions about its role in that? >> when the war first broke out in europe, most americans, workers and otherwise, were very determined to keep out war. they were isolationists, especially in the midwest. in the south, they said god give us the atlantic ocean for a very
good reason. that is to not get involved in the european war. a very large immigrant -- very large immigrant groups were divided about the conflict overseas, but did not want to participate helping the other side. there was a strong push for neutrality and initially really until things escalated out of control. wilson himself was elected a second term campaigning that he kept the country out of work. -- out war. just weeks after being elected for a second term, he began to move the nation toward war. >> in 1917, congress passed a law about speech about the war. will you tell our viewers what the law was?
>> is called the espionage act. and actually was never used to convict any spies during the war. there were provisions that allowed the government to have tremendous control. the postmaster was given the power to ban any publication not considered supportive of the war. anyone who was deemed to say anything that was discouraging of the war effort was liable to a $10,000 fine and 10-20 years in prison. >> first amendment challenges all over this. >> debs was one of the important test cases. about 1200 people were convicted under this has been not act.
>> & to prison? >> and were sent to prison. the supreme court unanimously supported at that point. >> he began to be anti-war ad what point? >> he was not a pacifist. there is a class struggle where it might make sense to take up arms. he considered the war in europe to be a cross between competing empires over colonies and the only people that would benefit -- there was a lot of money to be made, but the working people were going to suffer. that was the socialists' position. when the war broke out, when wilson and congress moved to war, the socialist gathered a few days later in st. louis and
passed a proclamation vowing that they were going to fight the war rhetorically in every possible way. a number of socialists broke from the party at that point. upton sinclair felt as if that was the wrong move. others worried that the party would be destroyed by this. it would be labeled on american american. >> we will take a call from nashville, tennessee. your question, please. >> thank you for your discussion tonight. >> thank you for watching. >> unfortunately, socialism,
central planning means there is a group involved themselves in the central planning of our economy or society. that leads itself to a small group to decide how citizen should behave. socialism, all the wonderful and its ideals, it does not actually exist. i believe that james madison described it correctly. we are in competition with each other. that is what -- that leads to individual freedom. central planning with still a small group. it just leads to someone in a small group [unintelligible] >> that was not too far off from
his decision. -- is positioned. he was arguing that the central planners of this day were the large business owners. they had a lot of political power and influence and where the central planners of the economy. he would have been with you on that. he wanted there to be a more diverse group of people working people who had a role in the planning of the economy and how wealth was distributed. he was against the central planning that was being done by very wealthy americans and business owners. >> in the interest of time, we were talking about the draft, but i want to go on to his position on the draft and his famous speech in ohio.
it was the speech said ended up having debs arrested. the working class who freely shed their blood have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. yours is not to reason why, yours is to do and die. when he made that speech, did he know that he was going to jail? >> he had to know that it was likely. he knew that there were federal agents, stenographers taking down what he had to say. i think he gave a number of speeches along the same lines and had not been arrested. he said at the start of the speech, i need to be careful what i say. i know that i am being watched. the audience fully understood the situation. he spent a lot of time in that speech announcing the fact that many of its comrades were
already in prison. if they are guilty, i am guilty, he said. >> what was the trial like? was it a big national event? >> it certainly was. he got an opportunity to make two very powerful speeches about socialism. in front of a national audience. his lawyers hope to give -- to get him off on a technicality. there were also making a very strong free speech argument in his defense. he felt the system was rigged and in the pockets of big business. it was more important for him to take this opportunity to win a propaganda coup for socialism. >> he ultimately was sentenced to 10 years. >> it is hard to say that he got a break.
he was an older man and not in good health. when he went off to prison, many people assume that if we did not give out, he would have died. >> about 20 minutes left, we are going to take a couple of calls and talk about his 1920 campaign. oklahoma, donna, go ahead, please. >> i am so happy to hear this program. i cannot tell you how grateful i am to have this over the air. a little comments about colorado. i have a very good friend of a woman and she talked about her parents being part of what happened there. i was going on a road trip with my son, she told me to look for a sign just north of trinidad. callable say is -- all it will
say it is a this is the place. kodak is the place for her mother -- that is the place -- the second thing i would like to say is about upton sinclair. upton sinclair was arrested for reading the constitution to the dock workers. that began in southern california aclu. i have moved back to oklahoma, i been gone for about 50 years. i lived here as a teenager. i went to a labor rally in support of the wisconsin public employees. a friend of mine sat next to me with a little sign in latin. she told me that it was the
oklahoma state motto. it was from a socialist desire. labor conquers all. now we are the reddest state in the union, which is kind of ironic thing. >> thank you for your comments. we will take a telephone call from eric in los angeles. >> i also am enjoying the program. i think that eugene v. debs try to keep us to our ideals. my question is about a christian socialist who ran on the ticket with debs in 1900. later, he was involved with the trials of the mcnamara brothers, who were accused of using sabotages to further their
cause. i know that debs defended imprint the mcnamaras. >> is this a period of his life that weekend for -- you can fill us in on? >> i do not know enough about it. i do know that -- clarence darrow was a big part of using the defense in 19 -- 1894. i do not know enough about him to comment on his involvement. >> debs did not intend to justify the dynamiting of the building. it was the center of a tremendous anti-labor, anti-
socialist the demand at that point. he believed that the mcnamara as were innocent. much of this defense of them was based on believing that this was a false charge. >> the second sentencing was under the espionage act. he made a speech at his sentencing. he went to prison and in the 1920 campaign, which he decided to take part in. can you tell me how he campaigned for president from his prison cell in atlanta? >> he was not allowed. it was an awkward situation for the federal government because he was a secessionist --
seditionist. they allowed him to give a little speech, the socialists did. then the government allowed them only to campaign by submitting 8 500-word letters to the press over the course of the campaign. it was spending the campaign relying on his party to go out and spread the word. >> it is very small, what does it say? >> it says, convict for president. it is the -- one of the most famous campaign buttons in u.s. history.
" he managed to garner nearly 1 million votes. how did he do that? >> he did that because he had such a national following. it was 1920, and he had been in the national newspapers for many years. people knew of this message. labor unions continue to support him. despite the fact that he was accused of encouraging people not to enlist in the military during world war room i, he stood out -- he still had a following. they believed in his message. he did that because of his national reputation. >> what were some of the other themes of the 1920 campaigns? >> this is a vote for free speech.
this was an opportunity for all americans to cast a vote in protest against the wilson administration. not just socialist, but passive this of all kinds. -- pacifists of all kinds. many americans had thought maybe that was a good idea, started to reconsider that. there were supported by a small group of people who became the american civil liberties union. there were only about 100,000 socialists by this point. i think the number is something in the 20 or 30,000.
he got 1 million votes. some of those people were socialists, but a lot of those people were voting for free speech. >> indiana, this is david. >> how are you? >> great, thanks. do you have a question about one of your famous citizens? >> i am a graduate of an 8 -- i am a graduate of indiana state university. what was his impact on the university? did he have an influence on what part did you take into the development of the university? >> i do not know, that is a great question. i do not know if eugene v. debs had any kind of influence on indiana state. i am curious not to find out.
>> syracuse, new york, the head, please. >> ibm dain -- i am a uaw worker from upstate new york. you got the socialist party and the socialist workers party and the american federation of labour. you never had a unified worker'' movement in this country. that was his problem. he was never able to achieve this goal. thank you very much. >> there was a huge -- the caller is absolutely right. there is a split between -- debs
was after a working-class movement were you embrace the lines that divided skilled workers from unskilled workers. the american federation of labour was composed of very tightly organized. it was a very different kind of approach towards representing working-class interest. they did not see eye to eye continuing into the 1930's. >> debs campaigning for the president can 1920. why did wilson say no? >> it is a little complicated. wilson was open to the idea
initially, it seems. as a way to clear the air. he had a stroke. he seemed to lose his moral compass, many people felt. this was an obvious gesture of goodwill that he might make. he heard from a lot of soldiers and their families that debs was a trade war. -- traitor. he was the embodiment of that descent. -- dissent. >> was there a movement to keep debs in jail? >> they said this was their party number one. the ku klux klan was emerging at this point and they considered debs and the other radicals that it was important that they stay in prison. there was a lot of pressure on
the president. not a lot of political gain, in his judgment, to release. >> how did you secure an early release? >> wilson left office and in the process of putting pressure on the president began again with warren harding. people in the amnesty movement were a lot less optimistic. harding was a republican not seem to have less motivation. there were plenty of socialist that supported wilson. harding, he campaigned on the idea of returning the country to a pre-were normalcy, to stop these tensions. the amnesty movement was not just the election, but it was a huge movement. there were petitions being gathered on the streets all across the country.
they would have to bring the petitions and on the back of a pickup truck to deliver to the white house. many people from across the united states, george bernard shaw, hd wells, helen keller, many people were involved in this movement to get the prisoners out. for harding, he had no interest in inheriting this mass. -- mess. he waited a little while, and then he let the matter prison. >> he invited him to the white house. >> that is right. >> and you went? >> yes. what do we know about that meeting? >> neither one of them said anything about it. it was a christmas afternoon meeting, i guess. debs said, harding seems like a
very nice man. i believe he said, you know, the president asked me to count on my rhetoric, but i have no intention of doing that. he got back on the train. >> you are looking some -- looking at some rare footage. debs coming out of the white house and speaking to the media after his meeting with the president. he lived until 1926. we have about 10 minutes left. let's get a couple of calls. michigan, james, you are on the air. >> is it ok if i asked to questions? >> go ahead. >> let's move on, please. our time is short.
our next call is from charleston, south carolina. >> i want to know what you think the movement could exist in modern day america with the development of global capitalism? what do you think he would think about the tea party movement? thank you. >> this is always a tough thing for historians to project what the character might think of today. >> it needs to be done with real caution. global capitalism is not something new. that was very much an issue with the flow of immigrants and worldwide nature of capitalism. it seems likely overstate the global nature of the economy that we live in now. as far as the tea party goes,
lisa? >> he would not have been an agreement with the tea party support of big business. that is the simplest way i can put it. i do not know -- his message still resonates with us today. we're still facing some of the same problems that he was fighting against as a result of workers' wages being driven down by the policies of multinational corporations. not just in the u.s., but worldwide. he would've had a lot to say about the same types of things that had escalated from his. until today. i am sure he would not -- i am sure he would be against the negative impact of multinational corporations globally. >> you have a final artifacts for us. look at the size of those.
have you help us finish out our program? how is he viewed by the labor movement today? how did it look back on his time and his contribution? >> i just attended a banquet last week put on by the debs foundation. danny glover was in attendance. everybody remembers them for being a spokesperson for the working class. he continues to carry that legacy for workers in this country and beyond. he certainly resonates. >> as we think about his final years, i was showing you the time magazine, the 1926 obituary. here is what they wrote.
a month ago, he went to a sanitarium, where he died, at age 71. what were his final years like after prison? how important a voice was see in the last few years? >> he spent the rest of his life trying to rebuild the socialist party. that was both a self-inflicted wound because the socialist party had a bitter split over communism. it was a very difficult thing for him. the communists were trying to convince him to join them. he was the country's most famous -- most high-profile and
beloved radical and the communist wanted very much to happen on board. he was very enthusiastic about the bolshevik revolution, but he refused to sign on with the communists, objecting to the idea of a dictatorship and to some of the methods of the bolsheviks. he was left with half of the party. much of the young energy had gone into the communist party. meanwhile, the party had been smashed by a legal attacks, as well as mob attacks during the war. he tried to rebuild the party those years without a whole lot of success. >> he is buried here in indiana. we have some video of this grave site and we will look at that as they listen to our next caller from new york city. > what was eugene v. debs's
view on the russian revolution? can you separate socialism from marxism during this time period? >> he did not visit russia. there was an attempt to get him to go to russia. the bolsheviks considered him to be an american hero. he was and then barber of the bolshevik revolution -- revolution -- he was an admirer of the bolshevik revolution. in spite of all he had experienced, he still believed in american democracy and still believed the way forward for american workers was to organize in unions and to support the socialist party. >> it is great to have people locally participating. this is todd.
>> i would like to thank you for this program. for lisa, do i understand is a member of the foundation, i would like her to address his continuing legacy toward equality and social justice and let people know how they might pursue their interests if they want to know something more about it. >> certainly. in this age of technology, there is a web site devoted to the foundation. that is an easy way to access more information. the social justice peace -- piece -- he continues to provide inspiration to working people.
>> this house is open for visitors. how many do you get every year? >> i do not know the numbers and how many people we had every year. the museum is open every afternoon of the week. and on saturdays. you can go to the website and contact karen brown, who runs towards of the museum about the week. >> we have one minute left. >> another great resource is the indiana state university. they have pamphlets and access to his letters. >> the book is about eugene v. debs and his campaign for president in 1920. thank you to both of you as we close out. telling us more about this a
third-party five-time pursuer of the white house. as we close out, some think used to the foundation. debs foundation.org is there website. thank you to all of you for helping us put this program together. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
>> that contenders features profiles of key figures to ran for president and lost. our series continues next friday. we will be taking your calls about charles evans hughes. the series airs live every 49 at 8:00 eastern december 9 on c- span. you can see our program from indiana on eugene v. debs again tonight at 11:00. for more information on our series, go to our website. you will find a schedule of the series, biographies of all the candidates, historians appraisals and portions of speeches when available. that is all at c-span.org. contenders. >> president obama remarks on the death of anwar al-awlaki. at 11:00, the contenders on key
figures who have run for president and lost. tonight, from indiana, the life of eugene v. debs. >> watch more video of the candidate, see what political reporters are saying, and track the latest campaign contributions. easy to use, it helps you navigate the political landscape in. links to c-span media partners. >> president obama announced the death of al qaeda clara anwar al-awlaki at a ceremony welcoming martin dempsey as the 18th joint chiefs of staff chairman and honoring outgoing chairman admiral mike mullen. he was killed in the u.s. air strike in yemen.
here is a brief portion of the remarks. >> before i begin, i want to say a few words about some important news. earlier this morning, anwar al- awlaki, a leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, was killed and yemen. [applause] the death is a major blow to al qaeda as most active operational affiliate's. anwar al-awlaki was the leader of the external operations for al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. in that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent americans. he directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on christmas day in 2009. he directed the failed attempt to blow up u.s. cargo planes in 2010. he repeatedly called on
individuals and united states and around the globe to kill innocent men and women and children to advance a murderous agenda. the death of anwar al-awlaki marks another significant milestone in the effort to defeat al qaeda. the success is a tribute to our intelligence community and to the efforts of yemen and security forces. anwar al-awlaki and its organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many yemeni citizens. his hateful ideology, targeting of innocent civilians, have been rejected by the vast majority of muslims and people of all faiths. he has met his demise because the government and people of yemen have joined the international committee and a common effort against al qaeda. al qaeda it in the arabian
peninsula remains dangerous, but we can -- weakened terrorist organization. make no mistake, it is further proof that al qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world. working with yemen and other allies and partners, we will be determined, relentless, resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aimed to kill americans. >> up next, a white house briefing. the major topic of discussion was the killing of the leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, anwar al-awlaki, by a u.s. drone attacked in yemen.
>> i don't support that. >> there it is -- espn.com headline -- "don't fire tito." >> are you speaking for the president? >> tito was manager for the first two world series victories in a long, long time for the boston red sox. so red sox nation owes him greatly. >> what do you think about the orioles? >> i'm a red sox fan because i grew up here without a team and i never really -- the whole baltimore thing didn't work for me. >> i'm from baltimore so don't say anything -- >> i love baltimore. i just didn't -- my fan allegiance didn't travel up interstate 95. >> what specifically do you like about baltimore? >> i love the inner harbor -- i've taken my kids to the aquarium and they have a great
children's museum. it's fantastic. ok. and i do like to go to games in camden yards -- when the red sox are playing. so, with that, i guess there's nothing going on today, right? i don't have any announcements so i'll go straight to your questions. >> thank you, jay. on the killings of al-awlaki and samir khan, does the president believe a different standard applies when the target, in this case al-awlaki, is a u.s. citizen? does the president view al qaeda senior operatives in the same vein, or does he have a different standard of proof when the target is an american citizen? >> jim, you heard the president speak today about al-awlaki's death and why that is a significant event. he was a principal leader in al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, the most operational affiliate, if you will, of al qaeda.
and he himself was directly involved in plotting terrorist attacks against the united states and american citizens, including the so-called underwear bomber who attempted to bomb an airliner in december of 2009, and the failed attempt to bomb cargo planes headed to the united states. so in the overall effort, the sustained effort to continue to put pressure on al qaeda, this is a significant fact that al- awlaki is dead. questions about the circumstances of his death i'm not going to get into. so i think the question that you just asked contains within it assumptions that i just won't address. >> the question is, is there a greater burden of proof simply because he's a u.s. citizen than there would be if you were going after another --
>> again, i think that just goes to the assumptions about the circumstances of his death, and i'm not going to address that. >> well, is the administration prepared to lay out the evidence that it had against him? you spelled out the instances where you think he was operational, but can you show where that could be -- >> separate from, again, the events, the fact of his death today, that he was a leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and was operationally involved in serious attempted terrorist attacks against the united states and americans is an established fact that we've talked about for a long time from here, and we have talked about for a long time about how dangerous aqap is, and that's been a focus of ours. and that's why our cooperation with yemen, militarily and with intelligence and diplomatically with yemen, has been so important. and this is -- it certainly reflects on the partnership that we have had in
that effort with yemen and with the yemeni officials and why that is so important to continue. and that's the same -- in to overall effort that we've made there are many components to it. and when we talk, as i did yesterday, about pakistan and the complicated but important relationship with pakistan, our cooperation with pakistan has helped us in the efforts against al qaeda. and certainly our cooperation with yemen has done the same. >> does the administration make a distinction between his role as an inspirational leader and an operational leader? and was their a tipping point -- is there a tipping point that you guys can point to? >> well, again, he certainly -- there is no question he was engaged in inspirational efforts, or that he was a recruiter for al qaeda. but he was also very demonstrably, and provably, involved in
operational aspects of aqap. he was a senior leader. but those are statements of fact, same as i would have said last week if you'd have asked me. but again, in terms of everything relating to the circumstances, i think i've said all i can say about that. >> on a separate matter, you brought up pakistan. secretary clinton, on wednesday, said the administration is in the final formal review on whether to designate the haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization. the administration -- you had a meeting yesterday -- the nsc with the president. are you any further along in those discussions? are you at the point of making a decision as to whether to designate the haqqani network as an fto? you designated some of its leadership as terrorist but not the entire network. >> well, i was going to make that point, that individuals have been designated, and that review continues. i don't have an update on the review.
>> do you have a time? >> i don't have a time for you. yes, john. >> getting back to the events in yemen. did the president personally order or approve the attack? >> i'm going to go back to what i said to jim. the circumstances of his death i'm not going to address. and what i will say is what i said to jim about who he was, the threat he posed. the fact that -- and this is significant, and it goes to our cooperation both with yemeni officials and counterparts, but also around the region and why it's so important -- because we cannot forget that the victims, the principal victims of the violence perpetrated by aqap -- al qaeda in the arabian peninsula -- were muslims, in
yemen. and as a leader of aqap he was responsible for that. again, going into the circumstances of his death is not something i'm going to do from here. >> well, his focus was primarily international, though, because of his english language capabilities, his abilities on the net in radicalizing english- speaking muslims. what effect do you think his death will have on efforts by aqap to destabilize the governments of yemen and saudi arabia? >> well, there is no question that this is a serious blow to al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. but we remain extremely vigilant. that affiliate, that organization remains very dangerous and very -- has proven itself to be operational and capable. so the vigilance continues -- as it has in the wake of the successful mission against osama bin laden.
obviously al qaeda remains a threat, and a serious threat, and one that we continue to confront in a variety of ways. so while this is an important milestone, it is not the end of aqap and it doesn't change our posture, if you will, towards that organization. >> is there a new willingness, do you sense, in the yemeni government to help the u.s. with this, or is this just part of the -- as things have been going along? >> well, i think we've said -- and i was asked this, because of the unrest in yemen, how that has affected our cooperation. and there's no -- it made it more difficult, but the cooperation continued, and it will continue. and it is separate from president saleh and our view
about him; that has not changed. we continue to call on him to abide by the commitments he's made to begin the transfer of power immediately, as stipulated in the gcc agreement. and that hasn't changed. and we call on him and his government to cease any violent actions against the yemeni people. that continues to be our position. however, it has been also important to maintain the kind of cooperation we've had against this threat in yemen, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. >> a factual question hopefully you can answer. >> we'll see. >> where, when, and by whom was the president notified of the death? >> he was notified early this morning by john brennan, his counterterrorism advisor, and he was briefed on it again this morning. >> woken up by a phone call? >> he was just notified. i won't get into specifically
how -- >> you said this morning. can you tell us when he was -- >> early this morning. >> no, when was -- >> before the sun rose. >> when did brennan first -- what time? >> i don't have a specific time for you, but it was early. >> you said he was briefed twice. that's why i was -- >> i mean that he was notified when he was still in the residence. and then this morning, once he came to the oval, he had his normal pdb daily briefing, intel briefing, and this was obviously a subject there in that discussion. >> so going back, nobody questions that both this administration and the prior have identified aqap as a threat. other u.s. officials have said this was a u.s. drone, and we know this is an american. so don't the american people deserve to understand our government's justification for killing -- or deciding where and when an american can be killed, in this case someone who is unindicted? can you speak at least hypothetically to legal justifications for killing americans? >> i'm not going to speak hypothetically, and i'm not going to speak about the circumstances of his death. and i don't -- i'm not aware of anyone by name who has made the kind of statements that you've said who is a member of the government. >> can you explain then why you won't get into any of the specifics of what's gone on
here? we know that -- we've all been reporting that a u.s. drone has been involved, that there's u.s. involvement in this attack, that this is an american. help us understand why you're not sharing any more detail. >> again, i'm not going to get into the circumstances of awlaki's death. i would simply say that we are asked questions like that all the time, and our response is the same, which is that we cooperate with partners around the world -- whether it's in pakistan or yemen -- in taking the fight to al qaeda, and that cooperation takes many different forms. it's vital to the success that we've had in degrading al qaeda -- and by "we" i mean collectively with our partners. and that effort continues. but i'm not going to get into the specific circumstances of his death. >> you said that awlaki was demonstrably and provably involved in operations. do you plan on demonstrating --
>> i should step back. he is clearly -- i mean "provably" may be a legal term. i think it has been well established, and it has certainly been the position of this administration and the previous administration that he is a leader in -- was a leader in aqap; that aqap was a definite threat, was operational, planned and carried out terrorist attacks that, fortunately, did not succeed, but were extremely serious -- including the ones specifically that i mentioned, in terms of the would-be christmas day bombing in 2009 and the attempt to bomb numerous cargo planes headed for the united states. and he was obviously also an active recruiter of al qaeda terrorists. so i don't think anybody in the field would dispute any of those assertions. >> you don't think anybody else in the government would dispute that? >> well, i wouldn't know of any credible terrorist expert who would dispute the fact that he was a leader in al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, and that he was operationally involved in terrorist attacks against american interests and citizens.
>> do you plan on bringing before the public any proof of these charges? >> again, the question makes us -- has embedded within it assumptions about the circumstances of his death that i'm just not going to address. >> how on earth does it have -- i really don't understand. how does -- he's dead. you are asserting that he had operational control of the cargo plot and the abdulmutallab plot. he's now dead. can you tell us, or the american people -- or has a judge been shown -- >> well, again, jake, i'm not going to go any further than what i've said about the circumstances of his death and -- >> i don't even understand how they're tied. >> -- the case against him, which, again, you're linking. and i think that -- >> you said that he was responsible for these things. >> yes, but again --
>> is there going to be any evidence presented? >> i don't have anything for you on that. >> do you not see at all -- does the administration not see at all how a president asserting that he has the right to kill an american citizen without due process, and that he's not going to even explain why he thinks he has that right is troublesome to some people? >> i wasn't aware of any of those things that you said actually happening. and again, i'm not going to address the circumstances of awlaki's death. i think, again, it is an important fact that this terrorist, who was actively plotting -- had plotted in the past, and was actively plotting to attack americans and american interests, is dead. but i'm not going to -- from any angle -- discuss the circumstances of his death. >> do you know that the center for constitutional rights and
the aclu tried to get permission to represent awlaki? and his father had asked them to do that. but they needed to get permission from the treasury department so that they could challenge his being on this targeted killing list. and the administration, the obama administration refused to let them represent him, to not even -- he couldn't even have the aclu representing him. >> well, i would send those questions, or take those questions to treasury or justice. i don't have anything on that for you. >> what do you think constitutional law professor barack obama would make of this? >> i think he spoke about it today. >> sorry, just one more time on this. can you just explain more broadly under what legal authority the u.s. government can kill an american citizen abroad? >> i think i've had that question. it's not a question, taken out of context, that i would have an answer to. generally speaking -- and i'm certainly not going to answer a
question like that in any way that relates to the events of today. i'm not going to talk about the circumstances of awlaki's death, and i'm not going to acknowledge or concede or accept premises embedded in questions. and you should take no response that i give here to have done that because i'm not talking about the circumstances. >> i mean, after 9/11, president bush gave the cia, and later the military, the authority to kill a u.s. citizen abroad if they were plotting attacks on the united states. and then, it is correct that president obama continued that -- yes? >> that's a question i would have to take, and i think would probably be best addressed to the justice department. >> okay. let me switch subjects then. does the president have any co-sponsors yet for his american jobs act? >> we are confident, as i said yesterday, that the senate will
take up the american jobs act. it has broad support from democrats in both houses, sweeping support in -- >> why don't they sign up as co-sponsors? >> you're talking congressional process, legislative process. the bill will be taken up. how and with whose names attached to it, i don't know. i refer you to the leadership in the senate. the important facts here are what's in the bill, why the things that are in the bill would be so beneficial to the american economy -- would help put teachers back to work, would put construction workers on the job rebuilding highways and bridges and schools. it would give tax cuts to everybody who gets a paycheck and give tax cuts to small businesses, tax incentives, additionally, to small businesses to hire or increase wages, a specific provision to hire veterans. these are all things that outside economists have said
would have a demonstrable and positive impact on the economy. and there is no higher priority right now for this president than to continue to push congress to take action on those important measures. >> is the president concerned that not even speaker pelosi has signed up as a co-sponsor for the bill -- >> no. >> -- and that senator durbin has raised doubts about whether a number of democrats would support it in the senate -- who've also been on the record saying they won't support it. >> a couple of things. i'm not aware of any democrat who doesn't support the provisions that go to creating jobs, reducing taxes and that sort of thing. and again, it has broad democratic support. i could go back and read you all the statements of support in the wake of the president's speech to the joint session. it also, as a matter of record, for those who consume public opinion data -- i think most of you do -- has broad public support across the political spectrum.
so all the provisions within it -- and in the past, the provisions within it have had both democratic and republican support. so we are confident that congress will move -- will act on it. we certainly hope that congress -- that the entire american jobs act will be passed into law -- i mean passed and signed into law by the president. now, as i've said in the past, if portions of it are sent to him that come directly from the american jobs act, if it's paid for in a way that is modeled after the principles the president has said he insists upon, then he would sign those. and then he would say, send me the rest of it -- because all of it is important. and we're at a moment where our economy needs this kind of action. so who is sponsoring it, the legislative minutia of this, the details of this are not, i think, particularly important.
the broader principle here is, and the need to pass it is. and i think the american people are not particularly concerned about which congressmen or congresswomen are signed up to it, but when washington is going to take action to help the economy and create jobs. >> but, jay, senator durbin is not just any rank-and-file senator. he's the number two in the senate. >> sure. >> he's a close ally of the president. when he says the president doesn't have the votes for the jobs bill right now, is the president going to stop saying pass the bill right now, since even his fellow democrats are saying they can't pass it now? >> well, i'm not sure that's quite what he said. and again, the vote is not tomorrow or today -- >> i asked him if he had the votes -- he said, "not at the moment. i don't think we do. but we can work on it." >> right. >> we don't have the votes. he said. >> you can name a post office without 60 votes these days.
that was meant to be an exaggeration. the president has made the point that these are provisions that have garnered republican support as well. we are making the case for why that support should be there this time. the american people needed and they want washington to take action. >> it sounds like republicans are taking one piece of it. when asked about how the president is paying for the jobs bill, about changing deductions for people making $250,000, or will look at the overall plan and decide what i like, what i do not like.
he is not offering his support for the way the president wants to pay for the jobs bill. >> he was distinguishing it, making clear that the interviewer understood that -- you pointed out that it was not the same as the buffet principle. he wants to look more deeply into the various provisions of the jobs act. he supports the need for what the americans to pay their fair share. it has been established in a variety of forms. >> i think he said he was going to look at it. >> the senate democrats are looking for other ways to pay for the jobs bill.
>> what i said as recently as yesterday was that we are hoping there are other -- we are open to other ways to pay for this that are fair. we are absolutely willing to work look at that. members of congress may have changes around the margins or different ideas, my point about the vast support for the provisions in the bill was about those provisions that go to stimulate growth and the decelerate hiring. -- and accelerate hiring. the present believed strongly that the provisions are fair and represent the kind of choices that we need to make as a country at a time when we have to ensure that we pay for something like this. we tighten our belts, everybody
is paying their fair share. you are not birding -- you're not unburdening one sector of the society. other ideas about how to pay for deficit reduction bills or job provisions reduction bills or or jobs provision to create havoc. they do have those problems within them. we think there is a better way to do it. it >> washington post reporting that secretary chu is taking responsibility for the restructuring of the solyndra loan. does is allow the president's full confidence? is there anyone here that things he is to blame for solyndra. >> he does have the president's full confidence. he is the head of that department. we have made clear it is the
department where career progressed -- where career professionals administered the program, and made the loan recommendations. there were numerous people involved to were career professionals and work on those kind of issues every day. >> can you explain to us how the u.s. confirmed is that? they said he had been dead before but found alive. any source from the u.s. government? >> i do not have an answer to that. i do not know. the u.s. coverage is 100% sure that he is dead. i do not have the specific, in terms of where that came from. there has been a report that kahn was also killed in the strike. do you have any information
about that? >> i do not have any information on anyone except for al-awlaki. i do not have the confirmation so i would not know where those others are getting it. i am just saying that i do not have it to give. >> what about the briefing on the question -- >> what i am saying is that we are not going to address circumstances of his death. >> you're saying what you can because you do not know the answers. >> that is true. in terms of notifications -- we will see. i will take that question about identification and where it came from. i do not have any details on that. >> on the buffet competition -- the one thing he talked about was the attacks on the ultra
rich. people to make more than $30 million per year who would be paying a special tax. >> you have got to look very carefully. i appreciate you clarifying this. there has been a lot of deliberate misrepresentation for political reasons but also misunderstanding. what he said was, and it absolutely fits the buffet role -- the beffett rule, if you make $5 million, and i hope you do, and it is all in wages, or $50 million if you're so lucky, then you are paying an effective tax rate that is at least as much as middle-class earners. if you're like warren buffett or someone making $1 million or some making 10 or 50 or $5 million, whatever the figure is,
you are paying a tax rate that is lower than a plumber or secretary or a lot of us here. that is worthy principle would apply. that is how warren buffett described it. >> [unintelligible] >> this is not a principle -- this is a principle that should guide overall tax reform structure. we have acknowledged, as i just that there are a lot of very affluent americans making millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in a portion of them are paying an effective tax rate that is at least as much as a middle-class wage earner. but there are certainly numerous very affluent americans who are not.
that is what thatbuffett -- the buffett rule was meant to apply to. because of the nature of the income, they could find them paying 16% on substantial income, whereas most folks are paying much more than that. >> complaints against a number of super pacts had started by white house officials. the complaints are to the irs to have them look at whether they are using their charitable pacts . does the president support an investigation like this? courts that report is new to me so i will have to take it. >> did he ever ask them to not go about this.
>> back early in >tenure here, i addressed this question, but i have not thought about it today. i will take it. >> does the killing of al- awlaki complicate -- >> know. our position has not changed. in the needs to keep his commitment as embedded in the gcc agreement that he signed to transfer power right away. we continue to have that position. >> you would say that this proves his point writ under his leadership, in have been a valuable ally to the united states in the counter-terrorism fight. how would you respond to that? >> our cooperation with yemen,
with civilian military intelligence counterparts in yemen, is not limited to one person. it has never been about one person. it has been about a partnership around the goal of dealing with a threat, both to the united states, to american allies, and to yemen and yemenis. that has continued throughout the unrest even though it has made it more difficult. it is one of the reasons why we need the president to abide by his commitment. it has continued throughout the arrests in several occasions before when yemen was being discussed. it will continue -- we will endeavor to continue a going forward. it does not change our position with regard to the president. >> separate from the al-awlaki matter, can you say your confirm that the president is able to designate individuals on a cia
turk or kill list? >> i cannot. i do not have an answer to that. i am able toything say about that, i will take your question. i'm not going to get into back door ways to try to discuss the circumstances. i do know what discussions have been had about that in the past. i can look at that. i want to make clear that in the -- that in doing that, i am not doing -- i am not discussing the circumstances her per -- here. >> i appreciate the opportunity to make clear here. there's been some accidental blogging accidentaltwee --
blogging and tweeting. the principle is that afro- americans should pay the same -- at least the same tax rate as middle american wage earners. that does not mean that if you are making over a certain figure, everyone would have a change in their tax rate. many are paying an effective tax rate that is at least as high as middle americans. as someone making $60,000 per year. there are many others who are paying an effective tax rate that is much lower because of the nature of their income. the principle is, as a look at tax reform, as we try to address all of the different loopholes and subsidies and aspects of a tax code that benefit some at the expense of others, that
principle should be applied. >> but you only have 50,000 people -- >> i do not know whether we have numbers we have put together on this. i know it is not an insubstantial number. it is the principle here. not only does warn bopper strongly agree with it, but most americans strongly agree with it. i am not sure if we have gathered figures about what we have estimated based on treasury department data. but we estimate the number of people would be impacted by the principle. it may be -- those numbers may not reflect our numbers. the principle is the principal. >> is it a lot higher taxed as high as 450,000? >> i do not know. we will get you the numbers. >> with al-awlaki, what role did the government play in targeting civilians? >> i am not going to get into
the circumstances of his death. i would simply say that it has been an objective of this administration and the prior one that we work to have the cooperation because of the threat that al qaeda in the arabian peninsula represented and continues to represent. it has been, through the unrest, it has been an issue. because of the need to continue the cooperation the on rest adversely affected that. it continues today. >> do you think the tax rate on millionaire ballplayers should be affected by their win percentage? >> i do not know about that. >> you could call it the crawford role. >> all i know is that having the
second largest payroll does not translate into victories. >> the press has been doing a lot of fundraising. we are going to write stories about how much money you have been raising. what has he cleaned out of the meetings that he has had and he has been reaching out to mall- goers. what does it mean to him to hear how things are going and his interaction with them? garcia's enjoy the opportunity to go out. it is part of what you have to do when you are running for office. i think the message that he has carried as an the same everywhere. witches -- which is, when he was
sworn into office, he made clear that this was not going to be easy. the challenges that face us were enormous. as it turned out, they were even more enormous than people realize that the time. in terms of economic challenges. we have made progress. but our work is not done. we have to continue to struggle and fight and do the things that need to be done to help the american people economically. to ensure that we are continuing to make investments in our future, infrastructure, innovation, that will enable america to dominate the 21st century economically the way it did in the 20th. the message that he has been bringing to his supporters in campaign events is very similar to the message that he is delivering in general about where he wants the country to go, the steps we need to take to get it there, the challenges we face, which remain substantial, and the need to keep working, to
keep pushing forward to achieve the goals he has set. >> the president was proud to say that grass-roots -- >> and next, republican presidential candidate and texas gov. rick perry holding a town hall meeting in new hampshire. this is his first shot -- his first town hall meeting since announcing his candidacy for president in august. new hampshire is currently in -- scheduled to hold its first in the nation primary. this event is just over 45 minutes. >> thank you, john, and thank
you gov. for coming. i do not know if you saw me drop some money in my pocket. it is just like what is happening in washington. i know how they must feel down in texas. it is hot. [laughter] i am going to invite the governor back to new hampshire this winter to go snowmobiling. i want to thank john foley for inviting me down. i appreciate that. and john stevens for his kind words. i would also like to take a second and see a show of hands of how many veterans we have in this audience today. let's give them a big hand, full experience -- folks. [applause] henke to all of our veterans for all that you do.
i am here tonight to ask, and i have asked rick perry, who has agreed to sign the johnson presidential pledge. i like to give some background about the alleged. new hampshire is a state that has no sales or income tax. i believe in big products because of my father. [applause] some 40 years ago he galvanized the pledge in new hampshire. he would promise the people, before they voted for him, that he would veto a sales or income tax. today, new hampshire is one of two states that does not have a sales or income tax. excuse me. the pledge is a promise to the people of the state of new hampshire that, before you vote for the individual, they have signed a alleged taking and
making a promise to you, the people. a number of weeks ago, i was holding a brand new granddaughter and i looked in her eyes and thought to myself, this granddaughter already has a 48-$50,000 debt for every man and woman and child. this next election, 2012, which is the most critical in our lifetime, off to be sure that we have a conservative republican in the white house, it is absolutely important. this pledge, which the governor will sign in a minute, lays out cutting taxes, cutting spending, cutting the size of government, protecting our borders, and becoming energy independent, and upholding the constitution. i believe everyone in this audience wants back.
i believe every person running for president should sign that. they have all been asked. you see the individuals who have signed. mitt romney, senator santorum, gov. hill. i think you gov. for coming to new hampshire to sign the pledge to. [applause] i forgot to tell the governor that my father campaign some 40 years ago. and i know things are big in texas. [applause] in but in new hampshire we have the biggest axe.
[laughter] >> and i know how to use it, sir. i want to say how great it is to be back in new hampshire. and thank you. [applause] i am proud to sign the thompson presidential pledge. it provides the conservative reform we need in that country. it is the reduction in taxes, the spending and the size of government we are seeing growing on an almost exponential basis. it is the commitment to secure our border. it is the commitment to make america energy in the pennant in eight years. and my solemn commitment to all old and protect this constitution of the united states. [applause] tom, i want to thank you.
i want to thank you as the offer the -- as the author of this pledge. it is a great honor to be with you, jim. a marine of some rewown. thank you for your service to this country and other men and women who are serving this country today. it is the greatest privilege of my life to know where the uniform of our country. [applause] in our country is in trouble. when one in six work eligible
americans cannot find a job, our country is in trouble. we are not talking about numbers here. we are talking about our fellow americans. neighbors, friends, relatives. in fact is, there is nothing ailing america that the rebirth of freedom cannot cure. [applause] i am going to bring that cost a dirty back by enlisting america's greatest economic advantage and that is freedom. freedom from too much government, freedom from too much spending, from too much borrowing, from too much regulation. imagine if you will and america -- an america where we can set our people free. employers who are free from regulation, once again able to
invest in the economy and create jobs. americans will be able to get back to work. stop worrying whether about -- to stop worrying about whether there will be able to meet the mortgage payment, put food on the table, put fuel in the gas tank. and families will be able to plan for the future. the key to prosperity is liberty. as the larger government grows, the smaller are our circle of freedoms. it is time to set america free again from the burden of big government. your father understood that well, tommy. freedom works. it has been working in my state for some time. as john shared with you, my home state, since june of 2009, 40% of all the jobs created in america were created there. our credit rating went up at the same time, i might add. [applause]
and i have governed in based on a few guiding principles. number one -- your dad loved this one -- do not spend all of the money. number two is having a tax burden that has as light a touch on that job creators as you could have. 3 -- a regulatory climate that is fair. number four, a legal system that does not allow for oversuing so that you can create jobs and. [applause] we cut our property taxes by one third, we cut our taxes on small businesses, we cut state spending for the first time since world war two. i was proud to sign the budget that said no, we can operate within our needs. we do not need to raise taxes just so some people can say, how you cannot live without in
government spending at this level. we are doing it. in my home state. since i became governor, we have created more than 1 million jobs in texas. the simple truth is, of freedom works. freedom has always worked. but sadly, washington has forgotten that fact. it is time to get america working again. we have got to cut the taxes for the families, employers. we have got to breeze of these federal relations. we have got to stop the generational theft that is going on with this monstrous debt. if you elect me president, i will promise you two things. number one, the first day of office, i will walk into the oval office and sign an executive to do away with obama care.
with a pen like this one. [applause] thank you. and while you are up, let me share you the second thing i'm going to do. i will go into that office every day in and try to make washington d.c. as inconsequential in your life as i can. [applause] i believe in this country. i believe in a purpose and promise. i believe our best days are yet lived. there are young people in this audience whose dress days are going to be ahead of them. their future is going to be better than ours. we are going to write history in the days ahead. that are some of the greatest exploit in america's history. with your help, we are going to get america working again, get this country moving forward, and i will say one more thing --
thank you for loving your country. enough to be here, to be engaged, and to get our country back and working again. god bless you. and thank you all for coming. [applause] i think we are going to do a few questions let me get rid of that because i might start sweating in a minute. john, i am going to let you moderate. >> are you ready? first question, from rove. -- front row. >> what about the tax on small businesses? and what would you do about that? >> we reduced our franchise tax
from 0.5% to 1%. that is the kind of message you send across the border. every businessman and woman knows something. if you have a regulatory climate that is unpredictable and burdensome on them, you have a tax structure or where they cannot keep more of what they work for. they are not going to risk their capital. the government's job is this -- the government never creates a job. the fact is, the government takes money from the private sector and spread it around here. we need to get back into understanding truly that the engine of this country is in small business. men and women who are willing to risk their capital. the way you build the confidence for those individuals is to create an environment, as
i said earlier, the government does not create jobs. the government can create an environment that is positive for job creation or they can put up barriers which are higher taxes, higher regulation, allowing a legal system that causes frivolous lawsuits to flourish. those are the things that we will do in washington d.c. lower the corporate tax rate, lower the personal tax rate, the idea that we have got $1.70 trillion offshore that is being generated by american companies but they will not bring it back into this country to invest or to create jobs because they tax it at 35%. that money will never come back. lower the taxes. there is a model for this working. in the last decade in texas, we have lowered our taxes, we have lowered our regulatory climate, we of put protections in our legal system. as a matter of fact, we just
passed loser pays in the state of texas last june. that is a powerful message. you are not going to spend your time at the courthouse. you're going to be out there doing was small businessmen and women do, and that is, when you are confident that you're not going to be overtaxed, overregulated, or over litigated in, you will hire people, expand your business, and that is the way this country can get back on track and get back on track in a hurry. you need to pull those regulations baghdad are going for that are killing jobs today. you need to get rid of obama care and lower the tax burden on americans. it is less simple. you need a president that is courageous enough to do it. i will do that area -- i will do that. [applause] [applause]