How are you planning to deal with China as a rising power? Khanh Nguyen from Fountain Valley
The good news is that China is becoming much more a part of the mainstream. In its economic development and even in giving greater liberties to its people. But the urgent news is that China needs to play by all the rules that we are expected to play by, in terms of trade, protection of intellectual property rights and the decent treatment of workers. I am not as worried about China, though we have to be concerned about any nation that has the military and economic power that it does. I think we need to be more concerned from a standpoint of anxiety from nations led by radical and outspoken tyrants who openly issue threats to the United States and its people.
If you were president, do you think it is time to finally cut foreign aid out to allies whose population protests us and devote those dollars to the home front? It appears that for all our good intentions, the recipients abroad hate us even more and as they say, "Charity begins at Home." Terry I. Davis from Van Buren, Arkansas
Our first priority has to be to our own citizens to their safety and security. Most of the time foreign aid efforts represent a very small portion of expenditure, but it should be limited to purely humanitarian efforts. We should not be made to feel responsible for building the infrastructure of other nations when the infrastructure of our own nation is choking on congested traffic both on the roads and in the air as well as an antiquated system of roads, bridges, airports, water and sewage systems. I would be hesitant to say that we have spent too much time being concerned on what is going on abroad, because that does have an impact on us. But I think we have not spent enough time thinking about our own nation and its strength. And its strength not only being the military strength, buts its economic viability with the kind of infrastructure, education system, concern of the environment and education that gives us a strong platform for a stronger economy.
Americans are outraged at the conditions and the practices at Walter Reed and many of the VA hospitals nationwide. What policies would you establish to ensure that our wounded veterans receive the best medical and rehabilitation services through the Veterans Administration for the balance of their lifetimes? William G. Eustis from East Greenwich, RI
As president I would work towards a Soldiers Bill of Rights that would clearly spell out what any solider, sailor, marine or airman could and would expect for the honorable service they had rendered for their country. It is inconceivable that we would ask men and women to make promises to defend our freedom and then we would break our promises to the very ones that sacrifice the most to do so.
How would you strengthen U.S. borders while at the same time respecting the civil and human rights of immigrants to America? Martin Cheek from San Jose, California
There is no conflict between respecting the civil and human rights of an immigrant and having a very defined level of border security, which could include physical or electronic barriers. If that so then I should be offended that when I go into a buildingI have to sign inor when I attend many athletics eventsI have to go through magnetometeror when I go to airportsI have to go through numerous layers of security and prove who I am with a photo identification. We ask that of our own citizens, it is not unreasonable that we ask that of someone who is not a citizen. I am not sure what the current policy is. I think thatís the problem. We donít really have a coherent one.
Would you support federal funding of stem cell research using existing stem cell lines? Simon Voysey from Wellington
Existing stem cell lines, yes. What I donít believe in is creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it. We gain a great deal by medical research and the good news is that the politicization of the stem cell issue probably is not even necessary, because recent discovers have shown that stems cells from the umbilical cord may in fact be as useful as the embryonic stem cells that were previously created.
Also, where would you place the US relationship with Iran with respect to this "world war"? Mike Murphy from Mount Holly, NJ
The statements of Iranís leader are troubling. But we do need to engage in ongoing discussions. Because it is never wrong to have conversations. Itís only wrong to have negotiations with those who are unreasonable. We should see Iran as a nation who has a leader with which we donít agree, but respect that their are millions of people within Iran who do not share that same view towards the United States, as does its leader.
Do you believe we can grow our way out of the coming crisis in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare or do you think we will have to make true sacrifices for the solvency of our entire nation? Between tax increases and benefit reductions, where do you fall? Casey Willits from Fayetteville, AR
The real problem is that our system is upside down, particularly as it relates to things like Medicaid and Medicare. We do nothing to try to encourage the healthy behaviors that would actually control the costs. We put only focus on continuing to provide benefits irregardless of the personal choices people make. While I donít think we should penalize people for making unhealthy choices, we shouldnít reward it. But we should in fact create incentives and wards for those who make responsible and healthy decisions.
What is your analysis of the ongoing rebuilding effort in and around New Orleans? What changes, if any, would you make in that effort? In your opinion, what has been the greatest mistake made with regard to rebuilding? Ethan L. McWilliams from Fairbanks
The first mistake was in the matter in which we handled the disaster. And it was more about the way we handled the people than it was the way we handled the property. People were treated like boxes. It was unacceptable and repulsive that human beings especially fellow American citizens were treated without the dignity and respect that every American person should be entitled to. That created such a level of distrust that caused many of those from New Orleans to have no interest in returning, for fear of returning to what was their worse possible human nightmare. That has greatly slowed the ability of New Orleans to recover, because without a population it is difficult to build back the infrastructure and the service for a population, but without the services there is no reason that the population could or should go back.
What do you think has a greater impact on American families: abortion or globalization? Telvis Calhoun from Atlanta
I am not sure that one can separate the impact of decisions in that kind of contest but clearly abortion has had not only an impact on political tensions in this country, but in the fact that we have millions of fewer people that would have been born creates for us a net loss of persons that we have to operate our future.