Thank you very much, Renee for that. And let me say that I'm very impressed with what you have been able to do, what your organization has been able to do today. And it in many ways mirrors the journey that I have had during the periods that I have been in public service during my, my professional career. I spent about half my time in public service and half of it doing other things independently as a writer, an author and a sole proprietor. But it’s been a great pleasure for me to have met Renee and to have worked with her. And actually I think we set something of an example in New Hampshire earlier this year when Renee sponsored a lunch for me and at that lunch in order to discuss the issues that were facing our country we had about half of the room were Republicans and half of the room were Democrats. And we talked about how to work together, it was one of my big missions as a government leader. How to work together and how to solve problems. And working with Renee and also having worked for six years with Joe Lieberman I was very grateful to an editorial that he wrote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in my home in Virginia talking about the types of things that we were able to accomplish during my, my term in the Senate. And breaking away from this paralysis and calcification that has affected our governmental process and actually getting things done. I know that this is the big issue that is being discussed today, problem solving how do you bring problem solving into the very complex world of getting things done in our governmental system. And the first thing I would say to you is that I not only have intentions in this area if I had the right support to become the next President of the United States, I have a record that I hope people will look at. And so what I would like to do in the few minutes that I have with you today is to talk about two examples, case studies if you would of the approaches that we took when I was in the Senate to actually get things done and move things forward. I’ve had fellow senators during my, my tenure who would come to the end of five or six years and say they weren’t even able to get an amendment that they had introduced to a vote on the Senate floor. I will take two cases here to show you the way that we were able to do this. The first is on the post 9/11 GI Bill, which I believe is the greatest educational program for our veterans in history. I started speaking about the need for a new GI Bill, a real GI Bill for the people who had served since 9/11 well before I even decided to run for the Senate in 2006. As Renee mentioned I come from a family that has a citizen soldier military tradition. My father served in World War II and in the Berlin Airlift. I grew up in the military. My son left college and enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Iraq War and was in Ramadi, Iraq. And we kept hearing over and over again this is the next greatest generation. And my thought having spent four years working on the Veteran’s Committee when I was just out of law school was that if you say this is the next greatest generation, why don’t we give them the same educational opportunities, the same shot at the future as the greatest generation had? Why don’t we give them an educational program that mirrors what the World War II generation had? They had their tuition paid for, they had their books bought, their fees were paid, and they got a monthly stipend. And it really changed the social fabric in terms of opportunity in this country. So after I was elected and before I was sworn into the Senate I sat down with legislative council. I had been a legislative council years before, and we wrote the post 9/11 GI Bill. I introduced it my first day in office, and then became the real challenge. You know, there were some people who were saying you got one day in the Senate. Why should we pass this comprehensive veterans educational program that hasn’t even generated out of the Veteran’s Committee itself, that’s coming out of your office? And then there were others quite frankly the Bush administration and some of my really good friends over the years like John McCain who were opposed to the idea. They were saying if you give that generous of a program to our veterans then they’re gonna want to get out of the military. It’s going to affect the retention at a time when we were needing people to stay in because of the commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent five years in the Pentagon, I worked in manpower a lot. My view of this was the other way around. If you can incentivize people coming into the military knowing that at the end of it they were going to have this kind of an educational opportunity you would actually expand the, the recruitment pools. It wouldn’t affect the, the retention pools. So we had a 16 month period where from our office we worked with the veterans groups closely, listening to them with the different portions in the legislation, taking their suggestions in order to, to improve it. And we also developed a leadership model in terms of a prototype if you would in terms of how you get things done in the United States Senate. I developed a four Senator group that we, we used in terms of talking to Republicans and Democrats. Senator John Warner, who was a former Marine and who had been Secretary of the Navy. I had actually served on his staff when I was a 25-year-old Marine in the Pentagon. John Warner, Chuck Hagel, Vietnam veteran Republican. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey on the Democratic side and myself. Frank Lautenberg was a World War II veteran. So we approached our fellow Senators as two Democrats, two Republicans, two World War II veterans, two Vietnam veterans, saying this is what these people need and deserve and have earned in their service. This was not an easy lift looking back on it it’s, it seems rather logical and in terms of its success it’s been phenomenal. We’ve had now I think more than a million post 9/11 veterans have been able to use the program. But we pushed it forward as a bipartisan group of veterans, working, working with our colleagues, making the point, holding press conferences, bringing in the groups who would be affected by it. And after 16 months we passed the most significant piece of veteran’s legislation since World War II. At a time when the Congress the Legislative Branch was pretty paralyzed quite frankly. So very, very proud of that and I think that is a leadership prototype that works, even in a paralyzed governmental system. The second issue was criminal justice reform, a completely different issue in terms of the philosophical challenges and the political challenges giving the true debate between left and right in the country about what to do with the different, different problems in our criminal justice system. I started speaking out on this when I was running for the Senate. I had spent time as a journalist in Japan looking at their criminal justice system. I had seen fairness of the systems and the military when I was, when I was a Marine. And we started collecting data. I started saying during my campaign in the Senate this needs to be fixed. And I actually had Democratic Party political consultants telling me to stop it. Saying you’re running in Virginia against an entrenched incumbent. You’re committing political suicide. But my view was put the issue in front of the people. Do the data, do the research, make the argument, take the hits, that’s what a leader is supposed to do. When I came to the Senate I was not on the Judiciary Committee. But we started working on criminal justice reform from our office as soon as I arrived in the Senate. We were able to get hearings from the on the Joint Economic Committee which I was a member of rather than a Judiciary Committee, and the hearings we focused on were what’s the impact of mass incarceration economically on a society and all the different ways it impacts it. What’s, what’s, how do you analyze drugs in America from point of origin to point of use and, and after use? The some of the consequences of hardcore drug use. We had great seminars, we had a session we did with George Mason University bringing people from both sides of the issue together in a way that Alan Merten, the President of George Mason came to the end of this to close down this conference we put together and he, he took the podium and he said I am amazed. I can’t get you people to stop talking, I’ve never seen anything like this. People from the different sides communicating and talking together the way that you have just done. We brought in the constituent groups the same way that we did with the GI Bill program. We brought people in from across the philosophical spectrum more than 100 of them directly into our, my personal Senate office not on a committee and we listened to them. And we got buy ins finally all across the political spectrum that this country needed. A national commission, 18 months, not one of these things that goes on forever to get the best minds of America together to come in and tell us how to fix this broken system that is putting so many people into prison at the same time we are not solving some of these problems that are keeping our neighborhoods actually feeling less secure. We wrote this proposal for a natural, national criminal justice commission. We got a buy in finally all the way from the National Sheriff’s Association, the International Associations of Chiefs of Police, all the way over to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Marijuana Project actually came on. I think it’s the only bill that I’ve ever seen that got to the Senate floor where we had a buy in from across the entire spectrum. We got it to the Senate floor during a time when the Republican Party was filibustering everything. They had just said they were gonna shut, shut the legislative system down. This was late 2011 after we had worked on this for ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10 four-and-a-half years. And it was a $14 million simple national commission which I still think we need. We got 57 votes, we needed 60. We had bipartisan support by the way. Orrin Hatch was a supporter, Lindsey Graham was a supporter. We had four Republicans co-sponsors on the, on the legislation but we lost. But there were two things that came out of the fact that we lost. Number one, we had succeeded in bringing this issue into the national debate in a way that it was not being discussed before. Instead of people saying to me or other Senators you’re committing suicide by talking about it they’re saying let’s talk about it, we need to talk about, including a lot of leading Republicans. And the other was I think the people who filibustered on this one were shamed. They were shamed by their own philosophical allies. The national review online editorialized that it was insane to have filibustered such a commonsense piece of legislation that was only gonna cost $14 million, like one helicopter. But those are the approaches that can be taken on issues that need to be resolved and the key in both of them I think if I were to make three or four points are get your facts straight, take the leadership role in terms of be willing to take the criticism and the hits at the beginning, build alliances, listen across the board, and get something sensible that people understand when you want to move forward toward a solution.
Renee Plummer: This is not, okay there we go. We’re gonna take a couple of questions from the audience. We need a...
Unidentified Male: Hi, Senator. First off, I would like to thank you for your service to this country in the armed forces in the Marine Corps and afterwards. Second of all, as a, as a fiscally conservative Democrat I’ve heard you described that same way. How does a fiscally conservative Democrat work on bringing balancing the budget, specifically if you could get into office you would have a debate coming up tomorrow night. How do you make a splash so that the rest of the country can hear what you have to say?
Well, I have a long series of positions that I’ve taken that I stay with. I'm getting a big bounce back on an echo by the way from the, from the audio in your room. Again, thank you, thank you for your question. And we have tomorrow night to hopefully be able to, to discuss a lot of these issues in a way that a pretty broad audience finally will be able to listen to the views that I’ve taken and my, my hopes for restoring the kind of strong, bipartisan solving of problems in this country. Which is what we, we desperately need as a national political system.
Unidentified Female: Thank you for taking the questions, and I apologize for the feedback. Before you came on air we had a very interesting forum on fixing politics, and we got quite a big applause for term limits. I think some of the things that bother the average voter here in New Hampshire is that the Congress have set themselves up as an elite class of American citizens. They get lifetime salary, they can participate in a lifetime healthcare, they do not have to pay Social Security, and yet they’re making decisions for us that they themselves don’t have to support. What would you do should you become President to limit the amount of time that Congress has and to take away some of these earned benefits? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. I would say first of all, I have a similar concern to one that you mentioned and that is actually starts off with how money has affected our political process and as a result it also affects motivations on both sides of the issue that you mentioned. People wanting to stay in and having to and sometimes compromise on their, on their views in order to raise money, and also what happens when people leave the system. With respect to term limits though, here’s a question I would have for the American people. The voters have the ultimate power when it comes to term limits. I mean, my own situation is that I have been in and out of public service by choice four different times in, in my professional career. I have, I feel the urge to serve. I feel the desire to serve my country, but at the same time I have never been in a position where I wanted to do this without being able to take a step back, live in the world that the political system and creates and do interesting things, by the way. I’ve, I would not trade the opportunities that I have had as a journalist and as a novelist with having just spent my entire life inside elective and public office. I was able to be the first American journalist to cover the American prisoners in Japanese prisons. I was a journalist in Beirut when the Marines were there in 1983. I was in Afghanistan as an embed in ’04. I’ve just been able to do some fascinating things with, with the other side of my life. And then after a while I feel compelled to come back in and, and put my oar in the water and try to keep our country great. So the voters have that power. When you’re looking at different candidates the question obviously is how someone can be elected when the financial systems right now seem so rigged towards simply keeping incumbents. And by the way, there are a lot of fine incumbents. I'm not saying throw everybody out. But the issue you raised is an important issue. And if you can’t, if you can’t find good people to run it’s very difficult to say okay six year, eight years is enough. I just don’t think we should do that as a, as a matter of law. We should do that as a matter of citizenship.
Unidentified Female: Thank you.
Renee Plummer: Thank you. Gentleman right here.
Patrick Sweeney: Thank you.
Renee Plummer: Can you give us your name and where you’re from, please?
Patrick Sweeney: Patrick Sweeney, Cleveland, Ohio. Senator, I'm one of those that’s disappointed you didn’t seek another term. I don’t know why you didn’t, but during the debate everybody’s talking about the debt and ending the debt, clarifying the debt. I want to know how the debt was occurred? From 2000 we had a $3 trillion surplus projected to be $6 trillion in 2015. And then it just evaporated and nobody wants to talk about how it evaporated. But now we’re up at $19 trillion debt? I just don’t understand how all of this happened and there’s no discussion about it. I know that’s not, I don’t want to put that burden on you but it ought to be discussed. You’re a candidate for President, I think it would be very helpful.
Well, there is a lot of discussion about it. In fact, the Senate and the Congress really spent months during the, the ’11, 2011, 2012 period discussing this at to a point where the economic system was in danger of being shut down and by votes on the national debt which really had reverberated through the international community. And the national debt has been an issue for a long time, we have an obligation to grow our economy, get a lot of money that is overseas right now held by corporations that don’t have the incentives to bring it back in and invest in our economy. And other ways to bring discipline into the federal budget process, but from the Reagan administration forward there have been it has been necessary to increase the national debt in order to fund the operations that are currently in play in the government. It’s definitely, it’s not an issue that I or anybody else I think can sit here and say I'm going to resolve it, but I think the policies that I am willing to put into place will work toward resolving it. And with respect to why I did not run for reelection I would go back to what I said in the previous question. And that is that I think it’s healthy for people to do public service for a while and then step back and reflect and regain philosophical independence and live in the, live in the world that politics creates. So I did it from the time I was a Marine, I did it after being a committee council in the Congress, I did it after spending four years in the Pentagon in the Reagan administration, and I did it after a term in the Senate. And remember a term in the Senate is six years. That’s a term-and-a-half of a Presidency. It’s not a short period of time and we did great things but I felt like it was good to step back.
Renee Plummer: Senator, I just have to say there’s a few people that have come up to me. They want you to come to New Hampshire. So you’ve got to come back. I know that you were supposed to come up and we had some problem with your flight getting in, but you have a lot of support here so people want to see you. We have another question.
Oliver Spencer: Thank you, Senator Webb. My name is Oliver Spencer and I'm from Concord, New Hampshire. I want to say we are very thankful you’re on the TV, but we very much would like you to come up here and show the entire state the Granite Staters what an amazing American you are and why you are by far the best Commander in Chief we could ever have. With that being said, I would like to tell you I did 24 years in the Marines, I retired about three years ago. And after retiring I decided to go back to school and use the 9/11 GI Bill to get my MBA at UNH. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I can tell you I did four tours, four tours in Iraq. I am as close to some of my classmates at UNH the business school as I was with my Marines I did in Iraq. That 9/11 Bill is so amazing and what you and Senator McCain did, and I know that was a lot fighting and compromising. I think that should be expanded to what I’ve heard from a lot of these college (inaudible) college debt to really broaden that. To broaden that so they can truly utilize that educational benefit, which is just so amazing for public service. Because we all know not everyone’s cut out to be in the military, certainly not the Marines. But there are a lot of folks who can serve in other capacities that would be fantastic, and they are serving in these capacities. And so let’s expand that. Let’s expand that and give them all the same benefits, maybe extend it a little more than four to six years of service before they get to use those, but again my experience with the 9/11 GI bill was absolutely amazing. I am not passing it off to my three kids. They’ve got to earn it themselves, but I want to thank you again for being here. But we’re ready for you here in New Hampshire.
Thank you very much. Thank you for that. I'm looking forward to getting back into New Hampshire and making many more visits. We did have a situation you know it’s again it’s a little different when we’re running out here on a campaign and we don’t have the kind of money that a lot of other campaigns do. We rely on, on people who can send us a little bit of money through the, through the Internet. So when you don’t have the kind of money you don’t have your own executive jet. I look in envy at Mr. Trump at least in that area of his existence. So we, we did have a situation in August where flights actually got cancelled, they weren’t delayed, cancelled on a really, really good trip that I was getting ready to make into New Hampshire. But I will be back. And I'm looking forward to meeting with those of you who would like to come and talk to us and listen more. And with your question specifically first let me say this. You did four pumps in Iraq and you earned that GI Bill. And it’s one of the great things in my life when I see the people who step forward to serve our country at a time like this and make the sacrifices that, that stay with you the rest of your lives. I know that about military service. I know something about the battlefield where I fought as a Marine in Vietnam. I, I'm so proud of my son who left school to go serve as 0311 infantry rifleman and was in Ramadi during those, those bad times. So that’s a special programs and it’s a program that was designed to assist those who have served in their transition back into civilian life and to show our gratefulness as a country for what you’ve done. And with respect to these other situations that you mentioned we need to get our arms around why college costs so much right now. That’s step number one. And we can certainly discuss the other issues that you raised and recommended. But again, thanks so much for your service and I’ll look forward to seeing you in New Hampshire.
Renee Plummer: Thank you. We have one more.
Brendon, last name unknown: How’s it going, Senator Webb? I'm Brendon. I serve right here in Manchester three blocks away at Beech Street Elementary. Service is something that I'm very passionate about, and with that said Presidents in the past from both parties have fought and actually passed so many different things to expand national service. So my question to you is if you are elected President will you continue their legacy?
I thank you for that, for that question. And if we look at our country right now and I’ve been saying this over and over again for a number of years. We have places in this country, people in this country who are forgotten. Who simply don’t fit into the normal matrix of how our economic decisions are made. And one of the best things that we can do, and whether it’s an area like West Baltimore that’s been so ravaged or the Appalachian Mountains where my dad’s family came out of. There are, there are people back there who are hurting, and they’re hurting because there’s no jobs. They’re hurting because the educational opportunities aren’t the same way, and for so many of them they have to leave the area that they love in order to even have a chance at success. And the question that you raised is one very good way that we can do something about those situations. And that is to get young people who are coming out of school. Have them make a commitment for a period of time and design some programs so we can get those who have been able to make it through the educational system back into these areas and help regenerate, regenerate, energize these communities. And if we can design that kind of a program it is a great way to have educational assistance and loan forgiveness that would go along with that, that sort of activity.
Renee Plummer: Well, I'm being told to make this the last question, but this is a veteran that wants to ask a question and I can’t say no. So, please, very quickly, sir?
Unidentified Male: Good afternoon, Skipper. I, too, am a retired Marine with a bachelor’s degree I got with my GI Bill. And I reinforce what the lieutenant said about our young people today with these horrendous college debts. My topic for you to use for ammunition against the folks you’re gonna be debating with tomorrow night they have completely devastated our Veteran’s Administration and it’s on their watch. And we need help in the Veteran’s Administration medical field both physical and psychological help. Thank you, sir.
Thank you. Thank you for your, for your service to our country as fellow Marine. And with respect to the VA I would say that I’ve been working on veterans issues for a very long time. I served as council on the House of Veterans Committee in 1977, 1981 after I had left the Marine Corps and finished law school. And I was very fortunate during that period to have been mentored by our World War II veterans who had, you know, the World War II veterans were the first ones who had programs like GI Bill and who had become experts in title 38 programs, which are the veteran’s programs. And I learned at their knee about the obligations in terms of veteran’s legislation and how the Veteran’s Administration should function. And it was a real struggle for me during my time in the Senate I was on the Veterans Committee to see the numbers grow particularly when it came to backlog on claims and with access to quality care which by the way I'm most of our VA hospitals once you get into the system I believe deliver quality care. But these are leadership problems, they are leadership issues, and the leadership often depends on the priorities of the people at the top. And the goals that they will communicate to those who are going to be running programs like this. And there’s very few things in my life that are closer to me than the dignity of military service, and you have my strong commitment that with respect to the veterans programs and the VA that they will not be ignored.
Q = Renee Plummer, Unidentified Male, Unidentified Female, Patrick Sweeney, Oliver Spencer, Brendon, last name unknown,
A = Jim Webb
U = Unidentified Speaker
(INAUDIBLE) = Areas that could not be heard due to background noise, tape/phone line quality, muffled speaking, etc.