Dodd Assails Edwards-Clinton Remarks On Limiting Debates

Saturday, July 14th 2007, 2:49 pm
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd on Saturday criticized rivals John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were overheard discussing among themselves their hope of limiting the number of Democrats in presidential debates.

The private exchange was picked up by several broadcasters on an open microphone after an NAACP forum in Detroit on Thursday. All the Democratic contenders took part in the program, including Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich.

``I'd remind them that the mike is always on,'' Dodd told reporters on Saturday after addressing a state convention of Utah Democrats.

``Celebrity and money are not going to decide this race,'' he said. ``People take some offense at it in these early primary and caucus states.''

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, and New York Senator Clinton had agreed that the debates would be more meaningful if there were only a handful of candidates.

``We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group,'' Edwards said, and Clinton agreed.

``Our guys should talk,'' Clinton said, complaining the format had ``trivialized'' the discussion.

Dodd is the third Democratic presidential candidate to visit Utah following Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who arrived Friday night for a state party fundraiser.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is expected to attend a fundraiser in Park City in August.

Utah is dominated by Republicans, but some wealthy Democratic donors can be found here and its central location in the West makes it important to presidential candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.

Dodd blasted rivals for offering voters little more than ``bumper sticker answers'' to important issues.

``My problem is you're insulting me and the American public when you give 30 seconds to talk about Darfur and Iraq,'' he said. Sudan's vast western Darfur region has been torn by ethnic conflict for four years, with more than 200,000 people killed and millions displaced.

In Utah on Friday, Richardson said voters should decide the election based on debates in which all the candidates can discuss issues unfiltered by big-money politics.