Campaign Buzz May 16, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Oregon & Nebraska GOP Primaries — Still does not have the 1144 Delegates needed for the Republican Presidential Nominaton

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Mitt Romney is shown speaking in Iowa Tuesday. | AP Photo

Romney edged closer Tuesday to clinching the GOP presidential nomination. | AP Photo

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS OREGON & NEBRASKA PRIMARIES — STILL DOES NOT HAVE THE 1144 NEEDED DELEGATES

Romney wins Oregon, Nebraska primaries: Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney won primary ballots in Oregon and Nebraska, partial results showed, moving him a step closer to winning his party’s formal White House nomination.
Romney won 73 percent of the vote in Oregon against 12.2 percent for Ron Paul, who suspended active campaigning this week, and 5.7 percent for Newt Gingrich, according to results from nearly two thirds of precincts.
In Nebraska the former Massachusetts governor had some 70.9 percent of votes compared to 9.9 percent for Paul and 5.2 percent for former House Speaker Gingrich, according to nearly complete results.
Even if he won all of Oregon’s 25 delegates and Nebraska’s 32 — from a non-binding poll — he would not be able to reach the 1,144 needed to clinch the Republican nomination…. – AFP, 5-16-12

  • Mitt Romney easily wins Nebraska, Oregon primaries: With almost nothing at stake, Mitt Romney easily won primary contests Tuesday in Nebraska and Oregon, edging closer to formally clinching the GOP presidential nomination.
    Taking more than 70 percent of the Nebraska vote with three-quarters of precincts reporting, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee won by nearly 60 percentage points over Rick Santorum, who ended his campaign a month ago. Ron Paul, who announced Monday that he would cease active campaigning in states yet to hold their primaries, nabbed just 9 percent.
    In Oregon, the Associated Press called the race for Romney with just over a quarter of precincts reporting in the vote-by-mail state. There, Romney led by a similar margin, nearly 60 percentage points over Paul…. – Politico, 5-16-12
  • Romney wins Nebraska, Oregon presidential primaries: Mitt Romney is adding two more victories to his win column. Nebraska and Oregon Republicans, as expected, have made clear their preference for the GOP nomination by choosing Romney in Tuesday’s presidential primaries…. – WaPo, 5-16-12
  • Romney wins Nebraska primary: Mitt Romney won the Nebraska Republican primary on Tuesday, adding to his delegate haul in his march toward the GOP presidential nomination. The Associated Press declared Romney the winner in Nebraska which, along with Oregon…. – MSNBC, 5-16-12

Campaign Buzz May 14, 2012: Ron Paul to Stop Actively Campaigning for GOP Nomination — Will Stay in Race & Amass Delegates

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in  2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: RON PAUL TO STOP CAMPAIGNING FOR GOP NOMINATION — WILL STAY IN RACE

Ron Paul to stop campaigning, but he won’t drop out: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas plans to stop actively campaigning in the Republican presidential race, but he will continue his efforts to win delegates around the country. Paul hopes his delegate share will allow him to play a key role in the Republican National Convention…. – WaPo, 5-14-12

  • Why Ron Paul’s 2012 effort may not really be over: The Ron Paul campaign won’t run ads in upcoming primaries, but Paul is still out to make his mark at the GOP’s August convention…. – CS Monitor, 5-14-12
  • Ron Paul scales back Republican presidential bid: Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said on Monday he was scaling back his White House bid and will no longer campaign actively in states that have yet to hold primary elections. Instead, Paul’s campaign will concentrate … Reuters, Chicago Tribune, 5-14-12
  • Paul ends active campaigning in GOP presidential primaries: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas announced Monday he would stop actively campaigning in Republican presidential primaries but also indicated he is not ready to throw in the towel on his presidential bid quite yet…. – USA Today, 5-14-12
  • Ron Paul effectively ending presidential campaign: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney’s lone remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, announced Monday that he would stop spending money on the party’s 11 remaining primaries, in effect suspending his campaign…. – LAT, 5-14-12
  • Ron Paul Admits He Will Not Be President: The libertarian congressman doesn’t want his supporters to stop crusading for liberty, but he needs them to recognize the fight for the nomination is over. Ron Paul announced Monday the Texas congressman will not campaign in the states … The Atlantic, 5-14-12
  • Don’t tell Paul’s supporters the primary is over: Don’t tell Ron Paul the Republican primary is over. He’s too busy mucking up Mitt Romney’s efforts to accumulate enough convention delegates to officially claim the GOP nomination for president…. – AP, 5-8-12

Campaign Headlines March 15, 2012: Final Republican Presidential debate in Oregon canceled after Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum drop out

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Final Republican debate canceled after Romney, Santorum drop out

Source: Washington Times, 3-15-12

Organizers on Thursday canceled the final debate of the Republican presidential campaign season, slated for Monday, after two of the GOP’s four candidates declined to participate.

The affair, which was sponsored by The Washington Times, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Republican Party, was to have taken place on Monday in Portland — and would have been the 21st debate of the primary.

But Mitt Romney, the field’s front-runner, said earlier this week he wouldn’t participate, and Rick Santorum, his chief opponent, couldn’t commit to the debate eitther…READ MORE

Campaign Headlines March 7, 2012: Mitt Romney wins 6 States in Super Tuesday GOP primaries but race continues Rick Santorum & Newt Gingrich vow to continue towards the nomination

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Romney wins 6 of 10 states on Super Tuesday but Santorum, Gingrich vow to fight on

Source: WaPo, 3-7-12

Video: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza discusses what the presidential Republican race looks like after Mitt Romney’s win in Ohio on Super Tuesday, and whether the former Massachusetts governor has the nomination sewn up.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each won Republican presidential primaries in multiple states on Tuesday night, with Romney narrowly edging his rival in the key state of Ohio after a battle that highlighted stubborn divisions in their party.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich won the primary in his home state of Georgia, once again reviving his campaign. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas did surprisingly well in a losing effort in Virginia, indicating that the tumultuous four-way GOP race is likely to rumble on for weeks.

Ohio Primary Results

Results as of 1:25 PM ET  |   0:00

Candidate Votes % Won
Mitt Romney 455,993 37.9%
Rick Santorum 445,690 37.1%
Newt Gingrich 175,352 14.6%
Ron Paul 111,129 9.3%
Other 13,848 1.1%

Romney beat Santorum by just one percentage point in Ohio, a state that is vital to Republican hopes in November’s general election. Romney had trailed badly there in recent weeks, but rebounded as a result of heavy TV advertising and repeated visits to the state. He also won four states where he faced little opposition: Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont and Idaho. In the Alaska caucuses, he won with 32.6 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent for Santorum, 24 percent for Paul and 14.2 percent for Gingrich.

Each victory helped Romney add to his lead in delegates, the tally that will ultimately determine the GOP’s nominee. But the former Massachusetts governor, who has struggled to capture the passion of Republican voters, acknowledged that it could be a struggle for him to clinch the nomination before the Republicans’ nominating convention….READ MORE

Campaign Buzz March 6-7, 2012: Super Tuesday GOP / Republican Presidential Primaries Results Recap — 10 States at Stake — Mitt Romney Wins 6, Rick Santorum wins 3, Newt Gingrich wins Georgia

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012


Mitt Romney greeted supporters in Massachusetts, one of the states he won on Tuesday night.

IN FOCUS: SUPER TUESDAY GOP / REPUBLICAN PRIMARY RESULTS

Super Tuesday represents the biggest day in the race for the Republican nomination so far, with 419 total delegates at stake in 10 states — more delegates than have been awarded in all of the previous nominating contests combined. – CBS News

 

  • Updates on Super Tuesday Races: Mitt Romney picked up early victories in the Republicans’ Super Tuesday primary contests, but Rick Santorum won in Tennessee and Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich took his home state of Georgia…. – NYT, 3-6-12Live blog: Romney wins six Super Tuesday states — Santorum wins three states: We’re live-blogging results from Super Tuesday, where voters in 10 states cast ballots in the GOP presidential race… – USA Today, 3-6-12

    Breaking News: Romney wins Alaska caucuses, AP reports: Mitt Romney won the Alaska Republican presidential caucuses on Tuesday, his sixth victory on Super Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. Ron Paul came in second.
    Earlier, Romney won a narrow victory in Ohio, beating Rick Santorum. Romney also added Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia and Idaho to his column on the 10-contest night…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

  • Romney takes 6 Super Tuesday states, Santorum nets 3: CBS News projects that Mitt Romney will win Ohio’s key primary contest Tuesday, after a neck-and-neck race with rival Rick Santorum to eke out a victory in the pivotal battleground state.
    With 96 percent reporting in Ohio, Romney has 38 percent support to Santorum’s 37 percent. Newt Gingrich is in third place with 15 percent and Ron Paul follows with 9 percent.
    Mitt Romney has also won primaries in Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as the Idaho caucuses. Rick Santorum won primaries in Tennessee and Oklahoma, and in the North Dakota caucuses. In Georgia, Gingrich clinched his first primary victory since South Carolina’s January 21 primary contest.
    Ron Paul did not win any contests on Tuesday, but he did finish second in four states: Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota and Virginia.
    The Associated Press reports that Romney also won Alaska’s Super Tuesday caucuses. According to the AP’s tally, Santorum came in a close second, followed by Ron Paul and then Newt Gingrich. The state’s 24 delegates are allocated proportionally…. – CBS News, 3-7-12Mitt Romney wins Ohio primary: Mitt Romney won Super Tuesday’s grand prize, the Ohio presidential primary, beating out Rick Santorum in a hard-fought battle for the Rust Belt state’s 66 delegates.
    The victory was Romney’s fifth of the night, and promised to give him the lion’s share of delegates overall after 10 states went to the polls Tuesday. The win should cement his status as the man to beat in the Republican presidential contest.
    Santorum’s victories of the night were Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee; Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Results in the final state that voted on Super Tuesday, Alaska, are due later this morning…. – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • AP, Networks Call Ohio for Romney: Mitt Romney appears to have won the Ohio primary by a razor-thin margin, according to the Associated Press and television networks, barely staving off an embarrassing loss at the hands of his chief rival, Rick Santorum.
    After trailing for much of the night, Mr. Romney moved into the lead in Ohio with a surge of support from the big cities of Cincinnati and Cleveland and their suburbs.
    As night turned to early morning, Mr. Romney extended his lead to more than 12,000 votes, leading the AP to finally call the race at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning…. – NYT, 3-7-12
  • Super Tuesday: Romney starts fast, Santorum hangs tough: Mitt Romney chalked up Super Tuesday wins in Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts, seeking to fasten his grip on the GOP nomination by dominating the single biggest day of balloting in the hard-fought … – LAT, 3-6-12Super Tuesday: Washington Post covers Republican primary results: … tweeters, columnists and bloggers to help readers make sense of Super Tuesday – the biggest single day in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. More than a half dozen reporters have spread out across the key primary and caucus … – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • Ohio primary results: Too close to call: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are headed toward an extremely close finish in the race for the ultimate Super Tuesday battleground, Ohio, after the two candidates divided up Republican primary votes and traded victories in states across the nation…. – WaPo, 3-6-12Mitt Romney takes Idaho, his fourth win of night: Mitt Romney has won the Idaho caucuses, his fourth victory of the night, AP reports.
    Romney was considered the clear favorite, thanks to the state’s heavy Mormon population as well as to the goodwill he earned across the Rocky Mountain region from his work running the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
    The 32 delegates in the state are likely to be awarded winner-takes-all.
    As of 11:45, the only two states that hadn’t picked a winner were Alaska, which didn’t expect results until early morning, and Ohio, which remained locked in a fierce battle between Romney and Rick Santorum. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Santorum claims third win in North Dakota: Rick Santorum has earned his third victory of the night in the North Dakota caucuses, according to the AP.
    Ron Paul had hoped to post his first win in the Republican presidential race with a strong grass-roots effort in the state, but was trailing Santorum in early returns, with Mitt Romney in third place.
    No winner has been declared in Idaho, Alaska or the battleground state of Ohio, where Santorum and Romney were locked in a battle that was still too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Oklahoma: Rick Santorum has won the Republican primary in Oklahoma, according to exit polls, his second victory of the night after Tennessee.
    Oklahoma is a key win over well-funded rival Mitt Romney, signaling that the GOP race is likely to extend long beyond this Super Tuesday. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Tennessee: Rick Santorum has won the Tennessee Republican primary, according to the AP, his first victory of the night.
    The race in this Super Tuesday’s most important battleground state — Ohio — remains too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins Massachusetts GOP primary: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Massachusetts, his third victory of this Super Tuesday in the state where he served as governor.
    Romney’s win in Massachusetts, where he has lived for 40 years, followed earlier victories in Virginia and Vermont.
    The only other candidate to win a state so far is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won his own home state of Georgia. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Vermont: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Vermont, according to the AP.
    Vermont is the second win of the night for the former Massachusetts governor after he claimed victory in Virginia…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Virginia: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Virginia, according to the AP.
    Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul were the only candidates on the ballot…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Exit polls: Gingrich wins home state of Georgia: Newt Gingrich has won the Georgia primary, taking his home state and winning his second state in the 2012 presidential campaign, according to exit polls.
    Gingrich’s win ends a losing streak that lasted a month and a half. His last and only win came in South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

  • Romney Appears the Ohio Winner; Santorum Strong: Mitt Romney appeared to pull off a narrow victory in Ohio on Super Tuesday but lost several other states to Rick Santorum, a split verdict that overshadowed Mr. Romney’s claim of collecting the most delegates and all but ensured another round of … – NYT, 3-7-12
  • Romney takes 5 of 10 Super Tuesday contests: Mitt Romney won five of 10 Super Tuesday contests including crucial Ohio, advancing his claim on the Republican presidential nomination without ending questions about the breadth of his appeal within the party…. – USA Today, 3-7-12
  • Super Tuesday: Romney edges Santorum in key Ohio battle: Mitt Romney has won a narrow victory over Rick Santorum in the marquee Super Tuesday battle of Ohio, according to a projection by the Associated Press. Ohio’s primary proved to be the tightest battle of the 2012 Republican … – LAT, 3-7-12
  • Santorum and Romney Split Victories: Mitt Romney extended his lead in delegates on Super Tuesday but voters failed to deliver a decisive victory that could have brought a swift end to the Republican presidential contest…. – WSJ, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday impossibly close for Romney, Santorum: Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have three states as they wait for results from Ohio to come in. With 91 percent of the Ohio votes tallied, Romney only has a 5000 vote lead out of the 1.1 million votes that have been counted…. – CS Monitor, 3-6-12
  • Romney adds to delegate lead with Super Tuesday wins; Gingrich, Santorum slip: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney padded his lead in the race for delegates Tuesday by winning Republican presidential primaries in Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum added delegates by winning … – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • GOP race takes toll on front-runner Romney: Super Tuesday confirmed anew that Mitt Romney remains the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, but his slow, unsteady march is coming at a steep price. As he advances toward victory in the primaries, he is losing ground in the … – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • Romney gains in GOP race, but Ohio still too close: Mitt Romney won five of 10 Super Tuesday contests including crucial Ohio, advancing his claim on the Republican presidential nomination without ending questions about the breadth of his appeal within the party…. – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Romney vows to clinch the nomination: Though there was no winner yet in the crucial state of Ohio, Mitt Romney took the stage in Boston on Tuesday night to claim his victories, including his home state of Massachusetts. “There are three states now tonight under our belt and … – LAT, 3-6-12
  • Romney and Santorum Locked in Ohio Battle With Much at Stake: Once again Ohio lived up to its reputation as a state of deeply divided political passions. Just a week ago, Rick Santorum had a comfortable lead in the polls here, but a victory by Mitt Romney in Michigan last week seemed to give … – NYT, 3-6-12
  • Santorum: We’re winning across the nation: With at least two Super Tuesday victories under his belt, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum boasted of his campaign’s wide geographical appeal while taking sharp aim at his main GOP rival Mitt Romney.
    “We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country,” Santorum said from Steubenville, Ohio.
    In Tennessee, with 1,733 of 2,141 precincts reporting, Santorum carried 37 percent of the vote, while Romney had 28 percent and Newt Gingrich took 24 percent.
    And with 1,778 of 1,961 precincts reporting in Oklahoma, Santorum is leading with 34 percent while Romney takes 28 percent and Gingrich 27 percent. Later in the evening, Santorum was declared the winner in the North Dakota caucuses…. – CBS News, 3-6-12
  • Newt Gingrich wins Georgia, but will it help?: A resurgent Newt Gingrich, fresh off a resounding win in his home state, touted “the power of large solutions and big ideas” during a victory speech at his primary night headquarters…. – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday: Newt Gingrich says he’s a survivor: Newt Gingrich, racking up a Super Tuesday win in the state where he launched his extraordinary political rise, predicted he would win the GOP nomination despite opposition from the nation’s elites because “people power” will trump … – LAT, 3-6-12

Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Super Tuesday GOP / Republican Presidential Primaries Results — 10 States at Stake — Mitt Romney Wins 4, Rick Santorum wins 3, Newt Gingrich wins Georgia — Ohio too close to call between Romney & Santorum

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: SUPER TUESDAY GOP / REPUBLICAN PRIMARY RESULTS

Super Tuesday represents the biggest day in the race for the Republican nomination so far, with 419 total delegates at stake in 10 states — more delegates than have been awarded in all of the previous nominating contests combined. – CBS News

Super Tuesday results by state: Alaska | Georgia | Idaho | Massachusetts | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Tennessee | Vermont | Virginia

  • Updates on Super Tuesday Races: Mitt Romney picked up early victories in the Republicans’ Super Tuesday primary contests, but Rick Santorum won in Tennessee and Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich took his home state of Georgia…. – NYT, 3-6-12Live blog: Romney wins four Super Tuesday states — Santorum wins three states: We’re live-blogging results from Super Tuesday, where voters in 10 states cast ballots in the GOP presidential race… – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday: Romney starts fast, Santorum hangs tough: Mitt Romney chalked up Super Tuesday wins in Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts, seeking to fasten his grip on the GOP nomination by dominating the single biggest day of balloting in the hard-fought … – LAT, 3-6-12Super Tuesday: Washington Post covers Republican primary results: … tweeters, columnists and bloggers to help readers make sense of Super Tuesday – the biggest single day in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. More than a half dozen reporters have spread out across the key primary and caucus … – WaPo, 3-6-12
  • Ohio primary results: Too close to call: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are headed toward an extremely close finish in the race for the ultimate Super Tuesday battleground, Ohio, after the two candidates divided up Republican primary votes and traded victories in states across the nation…. – WaPo, 3-6-12Mitt Romney takes Idaho, his fourth win of night: Mitt Romney has won the Idaho caucuses, his fourth victory of the night, AP reports.
    Romney was considered the clear favorite, thanks to the state’s heavy Mormon population as well as to the goodwill he earned across the Rocky Mountain region from his work running the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
    The 32 delegates in the state are likely to be awarded winner-takes-all.
    As of 11:45, the only two states that hadn’t picked a winner were Alaska, which didn’t expect results until early morning, and Ohio, which remained locked in a fierce battle between Romney and Rick Santorum. WaPo, 3-6-12
    Santorum claims third win in North Dakota: Rick Santorum has earned his third victory of the night in the North Dakota caucuses, according to the AP.
    Ron Paul had hoped to post his first win in the Republican presidential race with a strong grass-roots effort in the state, but was trailing Santorum in early returns, with Mitt Romney in third place.
    No winner has been declared in Idaho, Alaska or the battleground state of Ohio, where Santorum and Romney were locked in a battle that was still too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Oklahoma: Rick Santorum has won the Republican primary in Oklahoma, according to exit polls, his second victory of the night after Tennessee.
    Oklahoma is a key win over well-funded rival Mitt Romney, signaling that the GOP race is likely to extend long beyond this Super Tuesday. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Rick Santorum wins GOP primary in Tennessee: Rick Santorum has won the Tennessee Republican primary, according to the AP, his first victory of the night.
    The race in this Super Tuesday’s most important battleground state — Ohio — remains too close to call…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins Massachusetts GOP primary: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Massachusetts, his third victory of this Super Tuesday in the state where he served as governor.
    Romney’s win in Massachusetts, where he has lived for 40 years, followed earlier victories in Virginia and Vermont.
    The only other candidate to win a state so far is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won his own home state of Georgia. WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Vermont: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Vermont, according to the AP.
    Vermont is the second win of the night for the former Massachusetts governor after he claimed victory in Virginia…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Mitt Romney wins GOP primary in Virginia: Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary in Virginia, according to the AP.
    Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul were the only candidates on the ballot…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

    Exit polls: Gingrich wins home state of Georgia: Newt Gingrich has won the Georgia primary, taking his home state and winning his second state in the 2012 presidential campaign, according to exit polls.
    Gingrich’s win ends a losing streak that lasted a month and a half. His last and only win came in South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21…. – WaPo, 3-6-12

  • Santorum and Romney Split Victories: Mitt Romney extended his lead in delegates on Super Tuesday but voters failed to deliver a decisive victory that could have brought a swift end to the Republican presidential contest…. – WSJ, 3-6-12
  • Santorum: We’re winning across the nation: With at least two Super Tuesday victories under his belt, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum boasted of his campaign’s wide geographical appeal while taking sharp aim at his main GOP rival Mitt Romney.
    “We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country,” Santorum said from Steubenville, Ohio.
    In Tennessee, with 1,733 of 2,141 precincts reporting, Santorum carried 37 percent of the vote, while Romney had 28 percent and Newt Gingrich took 24 percent.
    And with 1,778 of 1,961 precincts reporting in Oklahoma, Santorum is leading with 34 percent while Romney takes 28 percent and Gingrich 27 percent. Later in the evening, Santorum was declared the winner in the North Dakota caucuses…. – CBS News, 3-6-12
  • Newt Gingrich wins Georgia, but will it help?: A resurgent Newt Gingrich, fresh off a resounding win in his home state, touted “the power of large solutions and big ideas” during a victory speech at his primary night headquarters…. – USA Today, 3-6-12
  • Super Tuesday: Newt Gingrich says he’s a survivor: Newt Gingrich, racking up a Super Tuesday win in the state where he launched his extraordinary political rise, predicted he would win the GOP nomination despite opposition from the nation’s elites because “people power” will trump … – LAT, 3-6-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz March 6, 2012: Ron Paul’s Super Tuesday Speech / Remarks

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Ron Paul: Super Tuesday speech (Transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-6-12

Ron Paul spoke in North Dakota on Tuesday night, March 6, as results were coming in from the Super Tuesday primaries.

Watch clips of his remarks here and read a transcript of his prepared remarks

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, DELIVERS REMARKS IN NORTH DAKOTA
[*]
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PAUL: … next year the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve by repealing the Federal Reserve Act. (APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed!

PAUL: But a lot has happened in the last four years. These problems have been going on for a long time. It’d be nice if we could blame one person or one administration, but it’s been going on a long time, so — so many young people here, I think you’re realizing you’re getting a bad rap for what you’re inheriting. You’d like a much better deal. And the deal — the better deal can be found in less government and only sending people to Washington who have actually read the Constitution and will obey the Constitution and take their oath of office seriously…

(APPLAUSE)

… which would be — which would do so many wonderful things for us. Take, for instance, if you’re tired of the wars — I hope you’re sick and tired of the wars that we’re involved in…

(APPLAUSE)

… what if we had the return to the Constitution. The founders made sure in the document in the Constitution that the wars would only occur not by the executive branch, but only by the people, through their representatives in Congress. That’s the way all wars should be declared. If necessary, they should be declared, won, and get them over with, and come home. That’s the way it was supposed to be done.

(APPLAUSE)

But since — since World War II, we have gone to war without a declaration. And for that reason, we essentially have not won one of those wars. It has added a lot of tragedy.

PAUL: Just in these past 10 years, these wars that we’re fighting in the Middle East, over 8,500 Americans have died, 44,000 have come back with serious injuries — and amputations and all kinds of problems — hundreds of thousands looking for help because of post- traumatic stress syndrome, at the same time, economically it’s been very damaging. It has added $4 trillion to our national debt. That is what you’re inheriting. This is the reason why it is so important, if you’re talking about peace and prosperity, you have to change the Constitution and have a lot less war and make a lot more sincere effort to promote the cause of peace.

(APPLAUSE)

But this has been going on for a long time, and both administrations have been doing this, and this is the reason that the message of liberty actually brings people together, because individuals see that the parties aren’t doing a very good job. You elect one party to cut the spending; they raise the debt and the spending, as well. Another party is supposed to do the job; they go in and nothing changes.

So if you look at the candidates today, there is very little difference, except for one.

(APPLAUSE)

The rest — the rest of the candidates support the status quo. Foreign policies never change. Monetary policy doesn’t change. There’s no challenge to the Federal Reserve system. And most of all, there’s no — no desire to protect personal liberty, personal privacy, protect us from the intrusiveness of the federal government, to protect your right to use — to use the Internet.

These are the kinds of things that are so important to so many people. And, unfortunately, that is not offered. I believe it is the offering up of a program that — that emphasizes personal liberty, the Constitution, sound monetary policy, and a sensible foreign policy is the reason the momentum is building and the reason why we’re getting such a great reception here in North Dakota.

Campaign Buzz March 3, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Washington State’s Nonbinding Caucuses Ahead of Super Tuesday

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS WASHINGTON STATE’S NONBINDING CAUCUSES AHEAD OF SUPER TUESDAY

Romney wins Republican caucuses in Washington: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won the Republican caucuses in Washington by a double-digit margin. The win is the fourth straight for Romney as the candidates approach the 10-state Super Tuesday contest next week.
Candidates Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are battling for second place with Newt Gingrich in a distant fourth… – WaPo, 3-3-12

Mitt Romney Wins Washington State Presidential Caucuses, A.P. Reports: Mitt Romney won Saturday’s nonbinding caucuses in Washington State, according to The Associated Press, handing him a symbolic victory in his quest for the Republican nomination as he heads into the critical Super Tuesday contests just three days away.
The vote was a nonbinding straw poll and has no bearing on the selection of the state’s 43 delegates. Of those, 40 are up for grabs, but they will not be picked until later…. – NYT, 3-3-12

 

  • Romney wins Washington caucuses: Mitt Romney rolled to a double-digit victory in Washington state’s Republican presidential caucuses Saturday night, his fourth campaign triumph in a row and a fresh show of strength in the run-up to 10 Super Tuesday contests in all … – USA Today, AP, 3-3-12
  • Romney Takes Washington Ahead of a Big Election Day: Mitt Romney won Saturday’s nonbinding caucuses in Washington State, handing him a symbolic victory in his quest for the Republican nomination as he heads into the critical “Super Tuesday” contests just three days away. The vote was a nonbinding straw … NYT, 3-3-12
  • Romney’s win in Washington state adds to delegate lead heading into Super Tuesday: Mitt Romney is adding to his lead in the race for convention delegates with his win in Washington state’s Republican presidential caucuses. Romney has won at least 12 delegates while Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have each won at least three…. – WaPo, 3-3-12
  • Romney projected winner of Washington state’s caucuses: Mitt Romney was projected as the winner of Washington state’s GOP presidential caucuses late Saturday, based on surveys by a consortium of television networks, giving him the prospect of a welcome … – LAT, 3-3-12
  • Washington caucuses offer GOP candidates another chance at delegates, but focus is on Ohio: Washington state was Saturday’s prize for the Republican presidential candidates, but they focused on delegate-rich Ohio, among the 10 states holding contests on Super Tuesday in what will be campaign’s biggest payday…. – WaPo, 3-3-12
  • Paul, Romney and Santorum see opportunity in Washington caucuses: Saturday’s Washington state Republican caucuses provide, in an admittedly limited way, a metaphor for the 2012 GOP primary campaign. Mitt Romney’s campaign organization: steady as she goes. Rick Santorum’s: flying by the seat of … – LAT, 3-3-12
  • Washington State caucuses could foreshadow Super Tuesday: The Republican presidential caucuses in Washington State are being held Saturday, three days before Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney is leading in polls, but Rick Santorum is strong there too…. – CS Monitor, 3-3-12
  • Santorum seeks a pre-Super Tuesday win in Washington caucuses: Rick Santorum left Ohio on Thursday to come to the Republican heartland of eastern Washington aiming to steal one more victory in advance of the multiple-state showdown on Super Tuesday. The people and the money are over in urban King … – LAT, 3-3-12
  • Washington GOP chair predicts Romney, Paul win in state’s caucuses: Washington state began its Republican presidential caucuses Saturday with 40 delegates up for grabs, and with the state’s GOP chairman predicting a win for either Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. The turnout required for a win can be bolstered by a … – CNN, 3-3-12

Campaign Buzz February 22, 2012: CNN Arizona Republican Debate — 20th GOP Debate — Rick Santortum Center Stage, Under Fire, on the Defensive Takes a Beating from Debate Winner Mitt Romney

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

The candidates debate in Mesa, Ariz. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

IN FOCUS: CNN ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE — 20TH GOP DEBATE — SANTORUM CENTER STAGE & UNDER FIRE — REMAINS ON DEFENSIVE FROM ROMNEY ATTACKS

  • Live Blog: Arizona Republican Presidential Debate: Rick Santorum is taking his turn as the principal opponent for Mitt Romney during a debate in Arizona Wednesday night hosted by CNN. Stay tuned for live updates, tweets and analysis of the best moments in real time…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Live blog: GOP candidates spar in Arizona debate: We’re live blogging the GOP presidential debate broadcast from Arizona, the final meeting of the candidates before Tuesday’s pivotal primaries in Arizona and Michigan…. – USA Today, 2-22-12Liveblogging CNN’s GOP debate in Arizona with Bloomberg Businessweek, Jeff Greenfield, Yahoo News & ABC News - Yahoo, ABC News, 2-22-12
  • FACT CHECK: 20th GOP debate was a trip down memory lane, featuring familiar factual stretches: Twenty Republican presidential debates later, the head-scratching claims kept coming. Did Mitt Romney really cut taxes as Massachusetts governor, as he asserted yet again? Or did he raise them by hundreds of millions of dollars… – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican Debate Fact Check: New York Times reporters take a closer look at some of the statements made by the Republican presidential candidates in Wednesday night’s debate…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Winners And Losers From Final GOP Debate: Maybe it was the fact that the candidates were forced to sit in an odd, uncomfortable configuration. Or, maybe it was that after twenty of these debates, these four candidates are just really tired of the routine…. – ABC News, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate in Arizona: 6 takeaways: Romney came out on top in the possible final debate of the primary season….
    That may have been all, folks.
    The 20th Republican debate came and went on CNN Wednesday night, a painfully long and often personally biting affair — and the last debate the four remaining GOP presidential hopefuls have committed to in the primary season….

    1. Rick Santorum didn’t get it done
    2. Mitt Romney won
    3. Santorum and Romney really don’t like each other
    4. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were basically non-factors
    5. Some issues will last long after the debate
    6. The likely season finale went out with a whimper, not a bang

    - Politico, 2-22-12

  • Republican debate: Mitt Romney v. Rick Santorum get personal in Arizona: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum tore into each other’s records on government spending during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential forum, quickly turning the crucial Arizona debate into a flurry of bitter charges and counter-charges on the size of … – Politico, 2-22-12
  • 2 Seek to Claim Control of Field at GOP Debate: Mitt Romney assailed the Congressional voting record of Rick Santorum and raised pointed questions about his background as a fiscal conservative in a fiercely combative debate on Wednesday, taking urgent steps to try to regain his lead in … – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Romney, Seeking Traction, Duels With Santorum: Mitt Romney challenged Rick Santorum’s credentials as a fiscal conservative in a fiercely combative debate on Wednesday, trying to redefine Mr. Santorum as part of the problem in Washington and regain his footing in the fight for the Republican Presidential nomination…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Republican presidential candidates debate in Arizona: The debate, sponsored by CNN and held at the Mesa Arts Center, is the 20th of the GOP primary race and perhaps the final showdown. It came as Santorum has been eroding Romney’s lead in several key states, including Arizona and Michigan…. – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Takeaways: A few notable moments from Wednesday’s GOP debate in Arizona: Notable moments from the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night in Mesa, Ariz. ___ SANTORUM UNDER FIRE = Rick Santorum’s first debate since surging to the top of polls might be one he’d like to forget. The former Pennsylvania senator took fire from all sides — even from an unsympathetic audience that twice booed him during answers…. – AP, Boston.com, 2-22-12
  • Santorum at center stage in Arizona Republican debate: Rivals heaped criticism on surprise front-runner Rick Santorum in a debate among US Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday, hoping to stall his surge at a pivotal period in the 2012 campaign…. – Reuters, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican debate review: Trying to stop the Santorum surge: For much of the time during Wednesday night’s CNN Republican debate, the candidates did their best to try and put the surging Rick Santorum on the defensive. Ron Paul called Santorum a “fake” when it comes to “being fiscally conservative … – Entertainment Weekly, 2-22-12
  • Santorum gets hit from all sides in debate: Nineteen debates later, it was finally Rick Santorum’s turn at center stage. His prize: Fire from both sides.
    Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney accused Santorum, the latest leader in national polls, of being a big spender who as a senator from Pennsylvania voted five times to raise the debt ceiling and to approve earmark spending. Texas Rep. Ron Paul called Santorum “a fake” and said he was running as a conservative after voting for big government programs like No Child Left Behind…. – USA Today, 2-22-12
  • Santorum May Be Winning By Not Losing: With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul, whose genial schtick about personal freedom seems beyond the reach, or maybe the comprehension, of his opponents, none of the Republican candidates in the CNN debate is particularly in their groove. Which may be good for Rick Santorum, who was due to take his turn as the night’s piñata in his first debate as a front-running candidate.
    Mitt Romney and CNN moderator John King have tried their best to shatter Santorum’s cool, and the former Pennsylvania senator has been roughed up on issues like earmarking and spending. But Romney looks tired, and defensive at times, and he is not giving Santorum the bruising that he gave Newt Gingrich in Florida.
    Santorum was helped by the focus, in the opening 45 minutes, on economic and fiscal issues. It allowed him to speak like a reasonable conservative, about debt and Social Security and the evil of the Wall St. bailout, without scaring independent voters with his pronounced views on faith, sex and reproductive freedom…. – National Journal, 2-22-12
  • Republican Debate: Newt Gingrich Rolls Over, Plays Dead: The three words to best capture Debate Number 20: Blah. Blah. Blah…. – Daily Beast, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate: Romney fights to win against surging Santorum: Mitt Romney used Wednesday’s Republican debate to go head-to-head with his leading challenger, Rick Santorum…. – AP, CS Monitor, 2-22-12
  • Santorum takes heavy fire in Arizona Republican debate: Rivals piled criticism on US presidential candidate Rick Santorum at a testy debate on Wednesday, attempting to blunt his surprise surge at a pivotal period in the Republican race. Looking to build on a late rise in polls…. – Reuters, 2-22-12
  • Republican candidates round on Santorum: Rick Santorum was attacked from all sides during a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, weathering the onslaught that comes with being suddenly at the front of the pack in the tumultuous nomination contest…. – Financial Times, 2-22-12
  • Gingrich is winner for 1 night: Newt Gingrich didn’t have a game-changing moment in Wednesday night’s Arizona debate. But the former House speaker’s newest approach to the Republican presidential race — staying above the fray, avoiding attacks and focusing… – Politico, 2-22-12
  • Rick Santorum on the defensive over earmarks, contraception in Arizona debate: Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), riding a surge of momentum in the polls, found himself on the defensive Wednesday night as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) slammed his record on earmarking and his conservative credentials at a Mesa, Arizona debate…. – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • GOP debate: A blow to Santorum’s appeal: Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate looked like something of an ordeal for Rick Santorum, the sudden but perhaps tenuous front-runner in the national polls. Mitt Romney accused Santorum (accurately) of voting to fund Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere”… – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Santorum makes zero mention of jobs in CNN debate: In total, the four GOP contenders mentioned the word “jobs” only 10 times over the span of two hours — and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) uttered the word a grand total of zero times. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Romney quickly attacks Santorum on spending in GOP debate: Mitt Romney quickly targeted Rick Santorum’s Washington rap sheet in tonight’s CNN debate, a clear effort to blunt his momentum with conservatives in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination…. – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Debate reveals dangers of earmark bashing: Earmarks have been a favorite talking point for this crop of GOP presidential candidates, but a discussion of the topic during Wednesday night’s debate revealed none of the candidates is quite as pure as they’d like to seem…. – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Santorum fights charges he’s a “fake” conservative: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday night fought back against charges from his GOP rivals that he’s a “fake” fiscal conservative, pointing to the ratings he received as a legislator from conservative groups and his plan to … – CBS News, 2-22-12
  • GOP debate: Romney says Obama undermined religious freedom: When the issue of contraception came up in tonight’s Republican debate, it offered the frontrunners an attempt to finesse their positions on social issues to address seeming weaknesses…. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-12
  • Romney and Santorum trade barbs over Santorum’s support of former Senate colleague Specter: Republicans Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are sparring over Santorum’s support for his former Senate colleague, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Romney and Santorum traded barbs Wednesday night in a nationally televised debate in Arizona … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • GOP candidates debate government loans to auto companies: Republican candidates for president had a spirited debate tonight over the government rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, with all four opposing it…. – Detroit Free Press, 2-22-12
  • Newt Gingrich Lost the Arizona Republican Debate: The two have sparred in past debates and many people expected that this debate would show Gingrich at his most pugnacious and aggressive…. – PolicyMic, 2-22-12
  • Republican Cast Returns From Hiatus, With No Encore Presentations on Horizon: After 20 debates, a long-running television series appears to be wrapping up…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Tonight’s GOP debate: Why are viewers suffering fatigue? Policy vs. personality: Even with more than a month since the last GOP presidential candidate debate, after nearly 20 debates, voters (and viewers) are still feeling a sense of fatigue coming into tonight’s Republican debate in Mesa, AZ–and there’s no … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate: What to watch for in Mesa: The Republican presidential contenders will square off in Mesa today in a high-stakes debate that promises to set the tone for a crucial stretch of the campaign through the Arizona and Michigan primaries and Super Tuesday…. – AZ Central.com, 2-21-12
  • Republican Cast Returns From Hiatus, With No Encore Presentations on Horizon: That was the position that political junkies found themselves in on Wednesday as CNN prepared to televise the 20th Republican presidential debate of the 2012 nomination race. There are no more debates on the conveyer belt – an abrupt change for a … – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican debate: What to watch for: It’s the last debate before Super Tuesday and perhaps the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race. And there’s a lot at stake…. – WaPo, 2-22-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz February 22, 2012: CNN Arizona Republican Debate Transcript– 20th GOP Debate — Santorum vs. Romney

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

The candidates debate in Mesa, Ariz. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

Source: CNN, 2-22-12

Full Transcript of CNN ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, 20:00-22:00

Aired February 22, 2012 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The presidential race has been won by Governor Ronald Reagan of California.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor Clinton is now President Bill Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Too close to call.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There it is, George W. Bush reelected. Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN’S JOHN KING, USA: Right now the Republican presidential candidates in their debate before a series of contests that could change everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In Arizona tonight, a grand showdown in a presidential contest that’s been all over the map.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You don’t like the state of the race right now, wait a couple of weeks.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has been like riding Space Mountain at Disneyland.

ANNOUNCER: The Republican race could take another turn right now. With the GOP candidate return to the debate stage.

Rick Santorum. The late contender. Says it’s a two-man duel now. And he’ll be the one left standing.

SANTORUM: I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.

ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney. The long-distance runner. Says every rival that’s threatened him has made him stronger.

ROMNEY: My conservatism is to the core.

ANNOUNCER: Newt Gingrich. The determined challenger. Vowing to compete, win or lose, until the last votes are cast.

GINGRICH: We intend to change Washington, not accommodate it.

ANNOUNCER: Ron Paul. The delegate hunter. Keeping his campaign going by picking and choosing his battles.

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the message that America needs at this particular time.

ANNOUNCER: The final four. In Arizona. A state rich in presidential campaign history. A frontline in the immigration wars. And the fight to bounce back from recession.

GINGRICH: We know how to help the American people create jobs.

ROMNEY: It’s been tough for middle-income families in America.

ANNOUNCER: Here in the West, they know a thing or two about fight to the finish. And this debate could change the landscape once again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, DEBATE MODERATOR, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from the Mesa, Arizona Arts Center just outside of Phoenix. This is the Arizona Republican presidential debate. Tonight, the four candidates in their final debate before 14 critical contests across the country, including the primary right here in Arizona on Tuesday. Welcome. I’m John King.

Arizona Republicans are here in our audience tonight. Some of them will have a chance to question the candidates. And crowds even gathering outside to watch it at a viewing party here in downtown Mesa. You can also take part in this debate. Send us your questions online on Twitter. Make sure to include the hashtag cnndebate on Facebook and Facebook.com/cnnpolitics, and of course on CNNpolitics.com.

It’s time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders. Joining us on stage, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

The former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

And the former senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE) And the Texas congressman, Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates for president of the United States.

Just before we came on the air tonight, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. We want to ask everyone now here in the hall to rise and at home as well, as we have the national anthem performed. It’s our honor tonight to welcome the Arizona State University Symphonic Chorale.

(MUSIC)

KING: Thank you. Our thanks to the Arizona State University Symphonic Chorale. That was fabulous.

Gentlemen, I want to ask you to take your seats. I’ll take a moment now to explain to you how our debate will work.

I’ll question the candidates, as well as we’ll also take some questions from members of our audience. I’ll follow up and guide tonight’s discussion.

Candidates, we’re going to try to make sure each of you get your fair amount of questions. And you’ll have a minute to answer and 30 seconds for rebuttal and follow-ups. And if you’re singled out for a particular criticism, I’ll make sure you get a chance to respond.

Now we’re going to have each of the candidates introduce themselves. And so we have more time to debate tonight, we’re going to ask them to keep it short.

Here’s an example. I’m John King from CNN. I’m honored to be your moderator tonight and I’m thrilled to be in a state that reminds us baseball season is just around the corner.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, we begin with you, sir.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Congressman Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas.

I am the defender of the Constitution. I’m the champion of liberty. This shows the roadmap to peace and prosperity.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Santorum.

And we have a lot of troubles around the world, as you see, the Middle East in flames, and what’s going on in this country with gas prices and the economy. And I’m here to talk about a positive solutions that confront this country that include everybody from the bottom up.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney.

And there was a time in this country when you knew that if you worked hard and went to school, and if you learned the values of America in your home, that you could count on having a secure future and a prosperous life. That was an American promise and it’s been broken by this president.

I want to restore America’s promise, and I’m going to do that –

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: That’s good enough. As George Costanza would say, when they’re applauding, stop. Right?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich.

And I’ve developed a program for American energy so no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again and so every American can look forward to $2.50 a gallon gasoline.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentlemen, it’s good to see you again.

Let’s get started on the important issues with a question from our audience.

Sir, please tell us who you are and state your question.

(UNKNOWN): My name is Gilbert Fidler (ph) from Gilbert, Arizona, and I’d like to ask this question to all the candidates if I could.

Since the first time in 65 years our national debt exceeds our gross national product, what are you going to do to bring down the debt?

KING: Thank you, sir.

Senator Santorum, let’s begin with you.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Gilbert.

I put together a specific plan that cuts $5 trillion over five years, that spends less money each year for the next four years that I’ll be president of the United States. So it’s not inflation- adjusted, it’s not baseline-budgeting. We’re actually going to shrink the actual size of the federal budget, and we’re going to do so by dealing with the real problem.

And here’s where I differentiate myself from everybody else, including, obviously, the president. I actually have experience on tackling the toughest problems that we have in this country, and that’s the growth of entitlement spending.

Obviously, the first thing we need to do is repeal Obamacare. That’s the one entitlement that we can get rid of.

(APPLAUSE)

And that’s a couple trillion dollars in spending over the next 10 years. But there’s bigger issues.

When I was born, less than 10 percent of the federal budget was entitlement spending. It’s now 60 percent of the budget.

Some people have suggested that defense spending is the problem. When I was born, defense spending was 60 percent of the budget. It’s now 17 percent. If you think defense spending is the problem, then you need a remedial math class to go back to.

Defense spending will not be cut under my administration, but we will go after all of the means-tested entitlement programs — Medicaid, food stamps, all of those programs — and do what we did with welfare.

We cut the welfare — we cut spending on welfare, froze it and then we block granted it to the states and gave them the flexibility to run that program they way they saw fit with two provisos. Number one, there would be a time limit on welfare and a work requirement. We were going to say that poverty is not a disability. That these programs need to be transitional in nature. We need to do the same thing with Medicaid. We need to do the same thing with — with food stamps. All of the other means tests of entitlement programs.

And unlike the Paul Ryan plan — I see I’m out of time, but unlike the Paul Ryan plan, we also will deal with Medicare and Social Security, not 10 years from now. But we need to start dealing with it now because our country is facing fiscal bankruptcy.

KING: Governor Romney, I’m wondering if that answer satisfied you? Just in recent days you said this, quote, “If you want a fiscal conservative, you can’t vote for Rick Santorum because he’s not.” Did he answer your questions there?

ROMNEY: Well I’m looking at his historic record, which voting for raising the debt ceiling five different times without voting for compensating cuts. Voting to keep in place Davis-Bacon, which cost about $100 billion over — over 10 years. A whole series of votes. Voting to fund Planned Parenthood, to expand the Department of Education. During his term in the Senate, spending grew by some 80 percent of the federal government. But I — but I want to respond to Gilbert’s question, which I think is a critical one.

And that is as you — as you look at this country, I’m a guy who has lived in the world of business. If you don’t balance your budget in business, you go out of business. So I’ve lived balancing budgets. I also served in the Olympics, balanced a budget there. And — and served in the states. And all four years I was governor, we balanced the budget. Here’s what I’d do at the federal level, I would divide all of the programs into three major places for opportunity to reduce costs.

Number one, I’m going to go through every single program and ask if we can afford it. And if not, I’m going to say, is this program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’m going to get rid of it. Number two, I’m going to take programs…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …I’m going to take programs that are important, but that could be better run at the state level and send them back to the states as a block grant and that included Medicaid and — and housing vouchers and food stamps. These programs for the poor, to be run more efficiently and can be run with less fraud and abuse at the state level. And then finally number three, with what’s left of government, I’m going to cut the employment by 10 percent. And I’m going to link the pay of government workers with the pay in the private sector. Government servants shouldn’t get paid more than the people who are paying taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator, the governor singled you out. Take a few seconds.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Well, the governor talks about raising the debt ceiling. There was a debt ceiling vote this summer and the governor was asked the question whether he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling ultimately and he said, yes. Because government has to pay their bills. We can’t default ultimately. What happened the — the 12 years I was in the United States Senate, we went from the debt to GDP ratio, which is now over 100 percent. When I came to the Senate it was 68 percent of GDP. When I left the Senate it was 64 percent of GDP.

So government as a size of the economy went down when I was in the United States Senate. Sure I had some votes. Look, I think we’ve all had votes that I look back on I — I wish I wouldn’t have voted — No Child Left Behind, you’re right, it lead to education spending. That’s why I’ve said that we need to cut and eliminate No Child Left Behind and — and education funding from the federal government, move it back to the local level where it belongs where parents and local communities can deal with that.

But if you look at my record on spending, on taking on entitlements, never having voted for an appropriation bill increase. You look at — at my record of never having raised taxes. Governor Romney raised $700 million in taxes and fees in Massachusetts. I never voted to raise taxes. Governor Romney even today suggested raising taxes on the top 1 percent, adopting the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. I’m not going to adopt that rhetoric. I’m going to represent 100 percent of Americans. We’re not raising taxes on anybody.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor, please quickly I want to bring the congressman and the speaker into the conversation, but respond.

ROMNEY: There were so many misrepresentations there, it’s going to take me a little while. Number one, I said today that we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent. So that’s number one. Number two, I said yes we should increase the debt ceiling in this last vote, but only if we have a cut, cap and balance provision put in place. Only in that case. And, therefore, I did not agree with the deal that was done in Washington. That was the wrong way to go.

And finally, Senator during your term in Congress, the years you’ve been there, government has doubled in size. You voted to raise the debt ceiling five times without compensating cuts in spending. In my view, we should not raise the debt ceiling again until we get compensating cuts in spending. A cut, cap and balance approach must be taken.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, join the conversation. Address Gilbert’s question and if you so choose, address some criticism you’ve received on this issue from this state’s senior Senator campaigning for governor Romney. He questioned your credentials on fiscal conservatism. He said when you were the speaker, earmarking became an art.

GINGRICH: Well when I was speaker, as I’m sure he remembers, we balanced the budget for four consecutive years, the only time in his lifetime. So I think that’s a good place to start with Gilbert’s question. We’re meeting tonight on the 280th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. You go back and look at the founding fathers, they’d have had very clear messages. Hamilton would have said you have to have jobs and economic growth to get back to a balanced budget. You’re never going to balance the budget on the back of a highly unemployed country. And so I would be committed, first of all, to a program of jobs and economic growth.

Second, the energy issue is enormous. The leading developer of North Dakota oil estimated recently that, if we would open up federal land and open up offshore, you would have $16 trillion to $18 trillion — not billion — trillion dollars in royalties to the federal government in the next generation, an enormous flow which would drive down prices to $2.50 a gallon, would help us balance the budget and would create millions of jobs.

Finally, I agree generally with the need to reform government. I think that, if we were prepared to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws, go to a modern management system, we could save a minimum of $500 billion a year with a better system. And if we then applied the tenth amendment, as Governor Rick Perry has agreed to head up a project on, I think we can return to the states an enormous share of the power that’s currently in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, you’ve questioned the conservative — fiscal conservative credentials of all these gentlemen but particularly this week Senator Santorum. You have a new television ad that labels him a fake. Why?

PAUL: Because he’s a fake.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I’m real, John. I’m real.

PAUL: Congratulations.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: No. I find it really fascinating that, when people are running for office, they’re really fiscally conservative. When they’re in office, they do something different. And then when they explain themselves, they say, “Oh, I want to repeal that.”

So the senator voted for No Child Left Behind, but now — he voted for it, but now he’s running on the effort to get rid of it. So I think the record is so bad, you know, with the politicians.

And, you know, nobody accuses me of not having voted for too much. They’re always accusing me for not voting for enough. And I’ve been running in office, in office off and on for a good many years, and over all those years, I’ve never voted for a budget deficit. I never voted to increase the national debt.

As a matter of fact, there’s only one appropriation bill I voted for, and that was for veterans. I assumed, from the 1970s on, that we were embarking on a very dangerous path, and we’re involved in that danger right now.

So this idea of being fiscally conservative now that we’re running for office and we’re going to repeal something that we did before, I mean, this — it loses credibility is what our problem is. So… (APPLAUSE) And — and the one thing that I think should annoy all Americans is the voting for foreign aid? I mean, just think there are foreign aid packages that are huge, and when the member votes for it, they don’t say, well, this money is going to A, B, C, because I love that country, but it’s the principle of the way the government works. You vote for foreign aid because, for some weird reason, it’s supposed to be good for America, but then it goes and helps all our enemies. That’s what I disapprove of.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, respond quickly.

SANTORUM: Ron, The Weekly Standard just did a review, looking at the National Taxpayers Union, I think, Citizens Against Government Waste, and they measured me up against the other 50 senators who were serving when I did and they said that I was the most fiscally conservative senator in the Congress in the — in the 12 years that I was there.

My — my ratings with the National Taxpayers Union were As or Bs. They were very high from the Citizens Against Government Waste. I got a hero award.

I was a leader, as you know, on taking on tough issues, which is the entitlement programs, not just welfare reform, but I also worked on Medicare reform and Medicaid reform and also was a leader on trying to deal with Social Security.

And I did that not representing one of the most conservative districts in the state of Texas but in the state of Pennsylvania, with the second largest per capita population of seniors in the country.

And I can tell you those seniors really cared about Social Security. Why? Because all my rich seniors moved to Florida and Arizona. And…

(LAUGHTER)

… and what’s left — what’s left in Pennsylvania is folks who relied on Social Security. And I was out there as a Republican senator, a conservative voting record, over a 90 percent conservative voting record from the American Conservative Union.

By the way, Ron, you ranked 145th in the bottom half of Republicans this year in a conservative voting record from that same organization.

We had a strong record in a tough state to be a conservative. If I can stand up in the state of Pennsylvania, which hasn’t elected a Republican president since 1988, and have a strong principled voting record on issues that were tough in my state, senior issues, imagine now, as president of the United States, with a Tea Party movement and a conservative — a riled-up conservative base, what we can accomplish in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman, quickly.

PAUL: You know, that’s always a cop-out when you compare yourself to the other members of Congress. The American people are sick and tired of the members of Congress. They get about a 9 percent rating.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But this whole thing about comparison of conservative votes, I think you make a very important point. I don’t rate what, at the top. If it’s spending or on taxes I’m at the very top because I vote for the least amount of spending and the least amount of taxes, which means that some of the conservative ratings — you have to realize sometimes conservatives want to spend money, too.

When it comes to overseas spending, you vote for the foreign aid. Conservatives are quite pleased with spending money overseas. But if you’re a strict fiscal conservative and a constitutionalist you don’t vote for that kind of stuff and so you can’t just go by the ratings.

KING: As you can see, this is a — it’s an important issue to the people in the audience. I think it’s one of the reasons this race has been so volatile. Voters are looking and they say which of these candidates can I trust? And each of you are trying to make your case to them.

As you try to do so, Governor Romney, you said recently that as governor you’re a severely conservative governor of Massachusetts. What did you mean by that?

ROMNEY: Well, severe, strict. I was, without question, a conservative governor in my state. We balanced the budget all four years I was in office. We cut taxes 19 times.

I enabled our state police to enforce illegal immigration laws so that people could be taken out of our state that were illegally. We drove our schools to have –

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — campaigned for and fought for English immersion in our school, and had that successfully implemented. My policies in Massachusetts were to — were conservative, and in a state, as Rick indicated, a state that was a relatively liberal state, I stood up and said I would stand on the side of life when the legislature passed a bill saying that life would not be defined not at conception but later.

I said no. When there was an effort to put in place embryo farming and cloning, I vetoed that. When the Catholic Church was attacked, saying, look we’re not going to allow you to continue to place children in homes where there’s a preference for a man and a woman being the mom and dad, I worked with the Catholic Church to put legislation in place to protect their right to exercise their religious conscience.

I have through my record as a governor demonstrated that kind of conservative belief. But also, look a step back and look at my record running the Olympics. Balanced the budget there, made it successful with the help of a terrific team.

Then look back into the business. You can’t be, I don’t believe, anything but a fiscal conservative and run a business, because if you don’t balance your budget, you go out of business.

KING: Mr. Speaker, as you know, often when deficit reduction –

(APPLAUSE)

KING: — when deficit reduction and economic growth are priorities at the same time, some people see a collision. Some people see a conflict. You’ve outlined your views on taxes. Governor Romney today outlined a tax plan that would cut the — put the top rate at 28 percent, eliminate capital gain taxes for incomes below $200,000, cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

Is that the right approach? And is it consistent — and it’s a tough one sometimes — with spurring economic growth at a time this state and other states are looking for jobs? But as you have Gilbert’s (ph) question, also looking to make sure the next president works on the deficit?

GINGRICH: Well, look, first of all, I think that Governor Romney today moved in the right direction, and I think that that’s a serious step towards trying to find — closer to supply side. I wouldn’t agree with him on capping capital gains cuts at $200,000, because I think that’s, frankly, economically destructive, and I don’t believe in class warfare.

And that’s a number below Obama’s class warfare number. So we can argue later about capital gains cuts.

But I think there’s a different question. Everybody talks about managing the current government. The current government is a disaster. I mean, we don’t — you know –

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — this is — it is — the reason I started with the idea that came out of Strong America Now to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws and go to a modern management system, is you change everything.

And the fact is, if we’re serious — and, in a funny kind of way, Ron and I are closer on the scale of change. We’d approach it slightly different, but I think you’ve got to start and say what would a modern system be like?

And a modern system would be — just take control of the border. It is utterly stupid to say that the United States government can’t control the border. It’s a failure of will, it’s a failure of enforcement.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: So let me just take that one example. Let’s assume you could, tomorrow morning, have a president who wanted to work with your governor, that instead of suing Arizona, helped Arizona, who actually worked with Arizona. Now –

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — what’s the fiscal reality three years from now in your emergency rooms, in your schools, in your prisons, of controlling the border? It’s a lot less expensive. You just took a major step towards a less expensive future. So I think it is possible to modernize the federal government and cut taxes and develop energy simultaneously. And the three lead you to Gilbert’s concern. Let’s get back to a balanced budget.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: The Speaker raises an important point about looking forward, and I hope we spend most of the night doing that. But as you know, there’s a lot of anger in the base of the party about some of the things that have happened in the past, and the Tea Party, especially.

Now, earmarks, the pork barrel spending, it’s a tiny slice of the budget. I think we all know that. But if you talk to a Tea Party activist, they think — an example, a gateway to corruption.

Senator, you have said there are good earmarks and bad earmarks. And you have talked about your earmarks in the past. Any that you specifically regret? And why have you criticized — why do you think the money that went to Governor Romney for security at the Olympics, why was that a bad earmark?

SANTORUM: I didn’t suggest it was a bad earmark. I voted for it and about half the money — a little over half the money that went to the Salt Lake games.

But Governor Romney asked for that earmark. That’s really the point here. He’s out there on television ads right now, unfortunately, attacking me for saying that I’m this great earmarker, when he not only asked for earmarks for the Salt Lake Olympics in the order of tens of millions of dollars, sought those earmarks and used them, and he did as the governor of Massachusetts, $300 million or $400 million. He said, I would be foolish if I didn’t go out and try to get federal dollars.

So the idea that somehow earmarks during the time that I was in Congress were this thing that drove up spending in Washington, D.C., if you actually look at it, as I said before, as a percentage of GDP, actually the deficits — the debt went down. What happened is there was abuse.

When abuse happened, I said we should stop the earmarking process. But I did say there were good earmarks and bad earmarks.

We wouldn’t have the V-22 Osprey, which was the most essential air platform for our Marines in particular in the war against the radical Islamists. We wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t for an earmark. That program would have been killed under George Bush 41. Dick Cheney, the Defense Department, wanted to kill that program, and many of us, including myself, stood up and made sure that was there.

Congress has a role to play when it comes to appropriating money, and sometimes the president and the administration doesn’t get it right. What happened was an abuse of the process.

When that abuse occurred, I stepped forward, as Jim DeMint did, who, by the way, was an earmarker, as almost everybody else in Congress was. Why? Because Congress has a role of allocating resources when they think the administration has it wrong.

I defended that at the time. I’m proud I defended it at the time, because I think they did make mistakes. I do believe there was abuse, and I said we should stop it, and as president I would oppose earmarks.

KING: Governor?

ROMNEY: I didn’t follow all of that, but I can tell you this — I would put a ban on earmarks. I think it opens the door to excessive spending, spending on projects that don’t need to be done.

I think there are a lot of projects that have been voted for. You voted to the “Bridge to Nowhere.” I think these earmarks, we’ve had it with them.

SANTORUM: Yes.

ROMNEY: If Congress wants to vote in favor of a bill, they should take that bill, bring it forward with committees, have people say — vote it up or down on the floor of the House or the Senate, have the president say yes or no, and move forward. But the earmark process is broken. There are thousands and thousands of earmarks, money being used inappropriately.

And I’ll tell you this — he mentioned coming to the Olympics, coming to the United States Congress, asking for support. No question about it. That’s the nature of what it is when you lead an organization or a state.

You come to Congress and you say, these are the things we need. In the history of the Olympic movement, the federal government has always provided the transportation and security. So we came to the federal government asking for help on transportation and security.

I was fighting for those things. Our games were successful. But while I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

KING: Quickly. (APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: It’s really interesting, Governor, because the process you just described of an open process where members of Congress put forth their suggestions on how to spend money, have them voted on individually, is exactly how the process worked. So what you just suggested as to how earmarks should work in the future is exactly how they worked in the past. So I suspect you would have supported earmarks if you were in the United States Senate.

ROMNEY: I’m sorry. The 6,000 earmarks that were put in place under the Speaker’s term, for instance, were oftentimes tagged on to other bills –

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be critical.

That was the process. There were thousands — I mean, we’ve had thousands and thousands of earmarks. They are typically tagged on to — bundled on to other bills.

OK. Go ahead, Mr. Speaker. Go ahead.

SANTORUM: Wait a second. You’re entitled to your opinions, Mitt. You’re not entitled to –

ROMNEY: I’ve heard that line before. I’ve heard that before, yes.

SANTORUM: — misrepresent the facts, and you’re misrepresenting the facts. You don’t know what you’re taking about.

What happened in the earmark process — what happens in the earmark process was that members of Congress would ask, formally, publicly request these things, put them on paper, and have them allocated, and have them voted on a committee, have them voted on, on the floor of the Senate.

Congressman Paul — Congressman…

ROMNEY: Attached to a bill? Attached to a bill?

SANTORUM: As part of the bill. Congressman Paul…

ROMNEY: And the president can’t veto it?

SANTORUM: He can veto the bill.

ROMNEY: The whole bill, but he can’t veto the earmark?

SANTORUM: Well, we tried to do that, by the way. I supported a line-item veto.

ROMNEY: That’s what I support. That’s what I support.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Hold on. Hold on.

Mitt, I agree with you. I support — I support the line-item veto. I voted for a line-item veto so we could do just that. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court struck it down. I would like to go back, as president, again, and give the president the authority to line-item veto.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is were they transparent? And the bottom line was, when I was in the United States Senate, there was transparency, and Congressman Paul, who is one of the most prolific earmarkers in the Congress today, is — would tell you…

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (OFF-MIKE).

SANTORUM: And I’m not — I’m not criticizing; I’m just saying that’s a fact, that…

(LAUGHTER)

… that he — he…

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: I think you need a chance to say a word.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Mr. Speaker, you were referenced by the governor, you first, then Congressman Paul.

Don’t worry. We’ll get to you, Congressman. I promise.

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: Now, look, let me just say flatly all of you need to think about this because this is one of those easy demagogic fights that gets you into a lot of trouble. If you have Barack Obama as president and you have a Republican House, you may want the House imposing certain things on the president.

Now, when I was speaker, for example…

(APPLAUSE)

… and we had a liberal Democrat in the White House — I actually want to reinforce what the governor said. I helped the Atlanta Olympics get the support they needed from the U.S. government to be successful. I thought it was totally appropriate to help the Atlanta Olympics. And I actually went to — to your former governor and sat down with the people originally planning the Winter Olympics and said, look, this is what we did; this is what you need to do.

I think it was totally appropriate for you to ask for what you got. I just think it’s, kind of, silly for you to then turn around and run an ad attacking somebody else for getting what you got and then claiming what you got wasn’t what they got because what you got was right and what they got was wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, answer Senator Santorum, please, sir.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I followed that and I…

(LAUGHTER)

You know, there’s reason for the confusion, because…

(LAUGHTER)

… because it’s all Congress’s fault. They’re all messed up and they don’t know what they’re doing in Congress is the real reason.

(APPLAUSE)

But this whole idea of earmarking — earmarking is designating how the money’s spent. What a lot of people don’t understand is if — if the Congress doesn’t say the way the money should be spent, it goes to the executive branch, and that’s the bad part. If you were actually cutting, it would make a difference. But you don’t want to give more power to the executive branch.

Even if I’m president, I don’t want more power over that — over that funding. That should be with the people and — and with the Congress. But earmarking — the reason we get into trouble is — is the irresponsibility of Congress.

Take your highway funds. We’re supposed to pay a user fee. If we pay our gasoline tax, we should get our fair share back. But what do they do? They take the highway funds and other of these trust funds and they spend this money overseas in these wars that we shouldn’t be fighting. And then when the highways need building, then you have to go and fight the political system and know who to deal with and maneuver and try to get some of your money back.

But if you say you’re against — against the earmarking and fuss and fume over, the answer is vote against the bill. That is what I do. I argue for the case of the responsibility being on the Congress, but it’s the responsibility of us who believe in fiscal conservatism to vote against the bill. We need to vote against the spending is what we need to do.

(APPLAUSE) KING: Let’s take another important economic question. This one comes to us from CNNPolitics.com, and you can see it in the audience up on the board here.

“Why was George W. Bush wrong in his efforts to save the auto industry and why was Barack Obama wrong to continue the effort?”

Senator Santorum, I want to go to you first with this question. You, like your friends on the stage tonight, opposed the auto bailout. Michigan votes on Tuesday, along with Arizona. We assume folks are watching there tonight. Address your answer to an auto worker who may believe strongly that he or she has that job tonight because of the help — the bailout?

SANTORUM: I would just say to them that I in principle oppose government coming in and bailing out a sector of the economy or an industry with government dollars and — and with government manipulation of that market, which is exactly what happened twice, in 2008 and 2009.

The first time it happened was the Wall Street bailout. On principle, I opposed the Wall Street bailout, even though I understand people — reasonable people could disagree. I felt that having the government come in in such a major way and have a huge influence over the direction of that industry, that that would be damaging to what I believe is the best way to resolve these types of problems, which lets the market work, constructive capitalism, as Governor Romney was talking about in his days at Bain Capital, and destructive capitalism.

And that means pain. I understand that. But it also means limited government and allowing markets to work because we believe they’re more efficient over time. I held the same consistent position when it came to the auto bailouts. I can say that with respect to Governor Romney, that was not the case. He supported the folks on Wall Street and bailed out Wall Street, was all for it. And then when it came to the auto workers, the folks in Detroit, he said, no. That to me is not a consistent, principled position. I had one. I believe in markets, not just when they’re convenient for me.

KING: Governor?

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Nice — nice try, but now let’s look at the facts. All right, first of all — first of all let’s go back to the auto industry and — and go back to 2000, I think it was 2008, President Bush was still in office and the three chief executive officers of the three major auto companies got in their private planes and flew to Washington and said, please write us a check. I think they wanted $50 billion. And I wrote an Op-Ed in the paper and I said, absolutely not. Do not write a check for $50 billion.

These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …and — and if they go through that managed bankruptcy and shed the excessive cost that’s been put on them by the UAW and by their own mismanagement, then if they need help coming out of bankruptcy, the government can provided guarantees and get them back on their feet. No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out. With regards to — to TARP it’s very simple, or — or the Wall Street. Look, I don’t want to save any Wall Street Banks.

I just don’t want (sic) make sure we lose all of our banks. And like — like President Bush at the time, I was concerned that if we didn’t do something, there were some pretty high risks that not just Wall Street banks, but all banks would collapse. And like many other people — many other economists, they were concerned that our entire currency system would go down. My view is this, we have to have industries that get in trouble, go through bankruptcy. Now, Senator you voted in favor of the bail out of the airline industry after 9/11.

I think that was the right thing to do. It was an emergency. You also voted for the bail out of the steel industry. I don’t think I agree with that one, but I do believe that the right course for the auto industry was to go through a managed bankruptcy process and then to get help getting out.

KING: Governor let me ask you…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: …you — you mentioned — you mentioned President Bush’s position on the Wall Street bail out. If you talk to people in the Bush administration at the time, they say they would have preferred the structured bankruptcy route that you talked about, but that there was no private capital available. That nobody would give the auto companies money and that their choice they say at the time, was to either give the government money or have them liquidate.

ROMNEY: Yeah, it was really interesting. Because, you know, I wrote my piece and I said look, these companies need to go through managed bankruptcy. And the head of the UAW said, we can’t go through managed bankruptcy. The industry will disappear if that happens. And the politicians, Barack Obama’s people, oh no, we can’t go through managed bankruptcy. Six months they wrote, I think it was $17 billion in checks to the auto companies. Then they finally realized I was right. They finally put them through managed bankruptcy. That was the time they needed the help to get out of managed bankruptcy.

Those monies they put in beforehand were — it was wasted money. And number two, because they put that money in, the president gave the companies to the UAW, they were part of the reason the companies were in trouble. Giving these companies to the UAW was wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK) KING: Mr. Speaker — one second.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: As — as Governor Romney well knows, that the American government shut down the airline industry after 9/11. And the government by it’s action stopped the airline industry from functioning and yes, as a result of government action, which I thought it was appropriate for government since we shut down the industry…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I agree with you.

SANTORUM: …after the events of 9/11.

ROMNEY: I agree.

SANTORUM: But government didn’t shut down the banks. They didn’t shut down the financial service industry. So when you compare those, it’s not apples to apples, Mitt and that’s not a fair comparison.

KING: Mr. Speaker, come in on the conversation. It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one. It’s a major American industry, in a time of trouble.

GINGRICH: That’s not a tough…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That’s not tough, you say.

GINGRICH: It’s not tough. First of all, there’s a huge amount of the American auto industry that was just fine. BMW in South Carolina was terrific. Mercedes in Alabama was doing just fine. Honda in Ohio was just fine. So the — Toyota was just fine. What we have is the United Auto Workers and a management system that had grown very, I think incapable of tough decisions because they were used to selling out to the United Auto Workers. And so they came in and said, oh we can’t change. And this president on behalf of the United Auto Workers said, you’re exactly right.

Now, the fact is, Chrysler is now Fiat. So when we talk about saving the American auto industry, let’s be clear what they were doing. I think that they would have been much better off to have gone through a managed bankruptcy, I agree with Governor Romney. I think it would have happened. I think what would have happened is the UAW would have lost all of their advantages and the result was, what you had I thought was an unprecedented violation of 200 years of bankruptcy law by Barack Obama to pay off the UAW at the expense of every bondholder. (APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, as you join the conversation, the criticism of President Obama here, but I also want you to address the state’s current Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who supports Mitt Romney, but that’s irrelevant to this point. He says, “The bailout actually was something that really worked.”

Is that Republican governor wrong?

PAUL: Well, you know, it’s interesting when they argue that case.

First, I don’t like the idea that you have good bailouts and bad bailouts. If bailouts are bad, they’re bad, and we shouldn’t be doing it.

But this argument about maybe one that works, you know, well, now that the bankruptcy or the bailing out of GM worked, I said that’s sort of like if a criminal goes out and robs a bank, and he’s successful, therefore you endorse what he did, because he’s successful. But you have to rob people, you have to distort the law.

The government is supposed to protect contracts. They’re not supposed to regulate contracts and they’re not supposed to undermine contracts. And that’s what we’ve been doing.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: In the housing bubble, we undermined contracts. And this is what we’re doing here. So you want to respect the contracts.

A lot of people will accuse me of advocating a free market, that there’s no regulations. Actually, the regulations are tougher, because you have to go through bankruptcy and you have to face up to this.

And it isn’t like General Motors would be destroyed. Newt made that point there, that there were good parts of General Motors. But politicians can’t figure this out. Then they serve the special interests, and then you have labor fighting big business.

I opt for the free market in defense of liberty. That’s what we need in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: All right.

We’re off to a good start, Gentlemen. We’re going to take our first break of the evening.

In a moment, our Republican presidential debate here in Arizona continues. A lot more ground to cover, including two issues that are dominating the discussion here in Arizona in recent days, immigration and faith. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to the Mesa Arts Center and the Arizona Republican Presidential debate. Let’s get right back to questioning the four contenders for the Republican nomination. We take a question now from cnnpolitics.com. You can see it up on the screen here.

Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why? As you can see — it’s a — it’s a very popular question in the audience, as we can see. Look, we’re not going to spend a ton of time on this but it is — please.

GINGRICH: Can I just make a point?

KING: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys are giving you some feedback here, John.

KING: I see that. I see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they’re making it very clear.

GINGRICH: No, I think — look, I think there’s — I want to make two — I want to make two quick point, John.

The first is there is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes. That’s legitimate.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Sure is.

GINGRICH: But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let’s be clear here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: John, what’s happened — and you recall back in the debate that we had George Stephanopoulos talking out about birth control, we wondered why in the world did contraception — and it’s like, why is he going there? Well, we found out when Barack Obama continued his attack on religious conscience.

I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama. Most recently, of course –

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — most recently requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.

And he retried to retreat from that but he retreated in a way that was not appropriate, because these insurance companies now have to provide these same things and obviously the Catholic Church will end up paying for them.

But don’t forget the decision just before this, where he said the government — not a church, but the government should have the right to determine who a church’s ministers are for the purposes of determining whether they’re exempt from EEOC or from workforce laws or labor laws.

He said the government should make that choice. That went all the way to the Supreme Court. There are a few liberals on the Supreme Court. They voted 9-0 against President Obama. His position –

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — his position — his position on religious tolerance, on religious conscience is clear, and it’s one of the reasons the people in this country are saying we want to have a president who will stand up and fight for the rights under our Constitution, our first right, which is for freedom of religion.

KING: So let’s focus the time — let’s focus the time we spend on this on the role of the president and your personal views and question the role of government.

And Senator Santorum, this has come up — yes, it has come up because of the president’s decision in the campaign. It’s also come up because of some of the things you have said on the campaign trail. When you were campaigning in Iowa, you told an evangelical blog, if elected, you will talk about what, quote, “no president has talked about before — the dangers of contraception.” Why?

SANTORUM: What I was talking about is we have a society — Charles Murray just wrote a book about this and it’s on the front page of “The New York Times” two days ago, which is the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active.

What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all — a host of other things when children have children.

And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. And, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of “The New York Times”, they’re talking about the same thing. The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically? It’s five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine.

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things.

And you know what? Here’s the difference.

The left gets all upset. “Oh, look at him talking about these things.” You know, here’s the difference between me and the left, and they don’t get this. Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.

That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: As an OB doctor, I’ve dealt with birth control pills and contraception for a long time. This is a consequences of the fact the government has control of medical care and medical insurance, and then we fight over how we dictate how this should be distributed, sort of like in schools. Once the government takes over the schools, especially at the federal level, then there’s no right position, and you have to argue which prayer, are you allowed to pray, and you get into all the details.

The problem is the government is getting involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in, especially at the federal level.

(APPLAUSE)

But sort of along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don’t see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don’t blame the pills.

I think it’s sort of like the argument — conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don’t kill, criminals kill.

(APPLAUSE)

So, in a way, it’s the morality of society that we have to deal with. The pill is there and, you know, it contributes, maybe, but the pills can’t be blamed for the immorality of our society.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor, please.

ROMNEY: John, you know, I think as Rick has just said, this isn’t an argument about contraceptives, this is a discussion about, are we going to have a nation which preserves the foundation of the nation, which is the family, or are we not? And Rick is absolutely right.

When you have 40 percent of kids being born out of wedlock, and among certain ethnic groups the vast majority being born out of wedlock, you ask yourself, how are we going to have a society in the future? Because these kids are raised in poverty in many cases, they’re in abusive settings. The likelihood of them being able to finish high school or college drops dramatically in single-family homes. And we haven’t been willing to talk about this.

And when we have programs that say we’re going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that. We have to have a president who’s willing to say that the best opportunity an individual can give to their unborn child is an opportunity to be born in a home with a mother and a father. And I think –

(APPLAUSE)

KING: It’s an issue on which all of you have criticism on the Obama administration, it’s an issue on which some of you have also criticized each other.

Governor Romney, both Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have said during your tenure as governor, you required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

And Mr. Speaker, you compared the president to President Obama, saying he infringed on Catholics’ rights.

Governor, did you do that?

ROMNEY: No, absolutely not. Of course not.

There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their report. There was no such requirement.

Likewise, in Massachusetts health care bill, there’s a provision in Massachusetts general laws that says people don’t have to have coverage for contraceptives or other type of medical devices which are contrary to their religious teachings. Churches also don’t have to provide that to entities which are either the church themselves or entities they control. So we have provisions that make sure that something of that nature does not occur.

That’s why when I worked closely with the leaders of the Catholic Church, I met with the cardinal a number of times, and with his emissaries. We talked about the issues we were concerned about.

We battled, for instance, to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business. The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state — half the adoptions — they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn’t support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis.

Absolutely extraordinary. We have to have individuals that will stand up for religious conscience, and I did and I will again as president.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, the reports we got were quite clear that the public health department was prepared to give a waiver to Catholic hospitals about a morning-after abortion pill, and that the governor’s office issued explicit instructions saying that they believed it wasn’t possible under Massachusetts law to give them that waiver. Now, that was the newspaper reports that came out. That’s something that both Senator Santorum and I have raised before. But I want to go a step further, because this makes a point that Ron Paul has been making for a generation and that people need to take very seriously.

When you have government as the central provider of services, you inevitably move towards tyranny, because the government has the power of force.

(APPLAUSE)

You inevitably — and I think this is true whether it’s Romneycare or Obamacare or any other government centralized system — you inevitably move towards the coercion of the state and the state saying, “If you don’t do what we, the politicians, have defined, you will be punished either financially or you will be punished in some other way like going to jail.”

And that’s why we are, I think, at an enormous crossroads in this country. And I think the fact is, for almost all of us who have been at this for any length of time, we’re now looking at an abyss that forces you to change what you may once have thought — and I suspect all four of us are much more worried today about the power of the state than we would have been — with the possible exception of Congressman Paul — than we would have been at any point in the last 25 years.

PAUL: John…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman, please.

PAUL: … have a quick follow-up?

(APPLAUSE) You know, we talk about the morning-after pill. Actually, the morning-after pill is nothing more than a birth control pill, so if birth control pills are on the market, the morning-after pill — so if you’re going to legalize birth control pills, you really — you can’t separate the two. They’re all basically the same, hormonally.

But once again, the question is, if you voted for Planned Parenthood like the senator has, you voted for birth control pills. And you literally, because funds are fungible, you literally vote for abortions because Planned Parenthood gets the money — “Oh, I’ll buy birth control pills,” but then they have the money left over to do the abortion.

So that’s why you have to have a pretty strong resistance of voting for these bunches of bills put together. Planned Parenthood should get nothing, let alone designate how they spend.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: As Congressman Paul knows, I opposed Title X funding. I’ve always opposed Title X funding, but it’s included in a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things, including…

(BOOING)

… the funding for the National Institutes of Health, the funding for Health and Human Services and a whole bunch of other departments. It’s a multi-billion-dollar bill.

What I did, because Title X was always pushed through, I did something that no one else did. Congressman Paul didn’t. I said, well, if you’re going to have Title X funding, then we’re going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs, so at least we’ll have an opportunity to provide programs that actually work in — in keeping children from being sexually active instead of facilitating children from being sexually active. And I pushed Title XX to — to accomplish that goal.

So while, yes, I — I admit I voted for large appropriation bills and there were things in there I didn’t like, things in there I did, but when it came to this issue, I proactively stepped forward and said that we need to do something at least to counterbalance it, A; B, I would say that I’ve always been very public that, as president of the United States, I will defund Planned Parenthood; I will not sign any appropriation bill that funds Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Senator (sic), go ahead. PAUL: John, this demonstrates the problem that I’m talking about. There’s always an excuse to do this. Now…

(APPLAUSE)

… Title XX — I don’t know whether you inferred that I would support Title XX for abstinence. No, it would cost money as a program. It’s not a program of the federal government to get involved in our lives this way. If you want laws like that, maybe the state, but…

(APPLAUSE)

… the federal government shouldn’t even be having — spending money on abstinence. That’s way too much more. I don’t see that in the Constitution any…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Just a — just a brief comment. Senator, I just saw a YouTube clip of you being interviewed where you said that you personally opposed contraceptives but that you — you said that you voted for Title X. You…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: But you used that as an argument, saying this is something I did proactively. You didn’t say this is something I was opposed to; it wasn’t something I would have done. You said this — you said this in a positive light, “I voted for Title X.”

(LAUGHTER)

SANTORUM: I think it’s — I think I was making it clear that, while I have a personal more objection to it; even though I don’t support it, that I voted for bills that included it. And I made it very clear in subsequent interviews that I don’t — I don’t support that…

(BOOING)

… I’ve never supported it, and — and have — and on an individual basis have voted against it. That’s why I proposed Title XX to counterbalance it.

So I — you know, Governor Romney, I can just say that — that, you know, we were talking about this issue before of, you know, religious conscience and protections. But this is — the whole reason this issue is alive is because of the bill that you drafted in Massachusetts, Romneycare, which was the model for Obamacare and the government takeover of health care.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second.

SANTORUM: And there was a study…

ROMNEY: Wait a second.

SANTORUM: There was a study that just came out about 10 days ago, two weeks ago, that listed 15 ways in which Romneycare was the model for Obamacare, everything from individual mandates, everything from — from fines. Yours is different. You required businesses over 10 employees; Barack — President Obama’s is over 50 employees.

But there — there’s a — and even the drafter of your bill, when they were working on Obama’s bill, said in fact it was the model. So here we have, as Newt said, the real fundamental issue here is government coercion and government coercion when you give governments the right to be able to take your responsibility to provide for your own health and — and — and care, and give it to the government.

That’s what Governor Romney did in Massachusetts. It would be a very — very, let say it would be a difficult task for someone who had the model for Obama Care, which is the biggest issue in this race of government in control of your lives, to be the nominee of our party. It would take that issue completely off…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Governor — Governor, take 30 seconds to respond and then I want to move the conversation on.

ROMNEY: Much longer than 30 seconds.

KING: I hope not.

ROMNEY: That’s a — that’s a long — that’s a long — that’s a long answer. First of all, let’s not forget that four years ago, well after Romney Care was put in place, four years ago, you not only endorsed me, you and Laura Ingram, and said and this is the guy who is really conservative and we can trust him. Let’s not forget you said, that number one.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Number two…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …number two, under the tenth amendment, states have the right to do things that they think are in their best interest. I know you — you agree with that. But let’s — let’s point this out, our bill was 70 pages. His bill is 2700 pages. There’s a lot in that 2,700 pages I don’t agree with and let me tell you, if I’m president of the United States, I will repeal Obama Care for a lot of reasons. One, I don’t want to spend another trillion dollars. We don’t have that kind of money, it’s the wrong way to go. Number two, I don’t believe the federal government should cut Medicare by some $500 billion.

Number three, I don’t think the federal government should raise taxes by $500 billion and, therefore, I will repeat Obama Care. And let me — let me — let me mention one more — the reason we have Obama Care — the reason we have Obama Care is because the Senator you supported over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, the pro- choice Senator of Pennsylvania that you supported and endorsed in a race over Pat Toomey, he voted for Obama Care. If you had not supported him, if we had said, no to Arlen Specter, we would not have Obama Care. So don’t look at me. Take a look in the mirror.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator please, quickly?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: So, okay Governor, let’s — let’s get this straight. First off number one, you funded Romney Care through federal tax dollars through Medicaid. I know it well, it’s called disproportionate share provider tax. About $400 million that you got from the federal taxpayers to underwrite Romney Care to make sure you didn’t have to raise taxes right away. But of course you had to. Ask your governor, of the $8 billion of tax increases he had to put in place.

Yes governor, you balanced the budget for four years. You have a constitutional requirement to balance the budget for four years. No great shakes. I’m all for — I’d like to see it federally. But don’t go around bragging about something you have to do. Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years, does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: The bottom line is, what you did was you used federal dollars to fund the government takeover of health care in Massachusetts, used it as — and — and Barack Obama…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …Arlen Specter.

SANTORUM: Well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: But — and then Barack Obama used it as a model for taking over this health care system in America. Why I supported Arlen Specter, number one because — because Arlen Specter was a — a Senator who was going to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee at a time when the most important issue that was coming up in the next session of Congress was two to three Supreme Court nominees that were going to be available. And one, and maybe two of them, or maybe all three were going to be out of the conservative block. And Arlen Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we had a conversation.

He asked me to support him. I said will you support the president’s nominees? We had a 51/49 majority in the Senate. He said I’ll support the president’s nominees as chairman. Every nominee Arlen Specter supported from the time he — he took on Judge Forks and saved Justice Thomas. Every nominee he supported, passed. Why? Because it gave Democrats cover to vote for it and it gave Republican moderates cover to vote for it.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: And just — no because he wouldn’t have been able to give the moderate Republicans and the conservative Democrats the — the leeway to then support that nominee, which is exactly what Arlen Specter did. He defended Roberts, defended Alito. We have a 5/4 majority on the court that struck down that case that you just talked about and is there as a guardian of liberty. And I did the right thing for our country.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …Arlen Specter…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …supporting Arlen Specter — supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, that was a — that was a very tortuous route…

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Just about as tortuous as…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let’s move the conversation along — let’s move the conversation along and take a question from a voter down here in our audience. All right, Sir identify yourself and ask your question please?

QUESTION: Gentleman my name is Jerry Lott (ph) and I’m from Key Man, Arizona. It seems that Arizona has come under federal attack just for wanting to secure its southern border. What will you and your administrations do to fix the situation? To secure our border and to protect the American people?

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, I want to go to you first on this one. You’re from a border state. As you answer Gary’s question, a recent federal analysis says the cost of secure fencing, which they have a good deal of the border along this state, would cost about $3 million per mile. Is that a good investment? Money well spent?

PAUL: Probably not, but we can do a better job, and the best way to do it is forget about the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and deal with our borders, put our resources on this border. This is what we need. But we need to change the rules. We reward illegal immigration. They get benefits, Texas hospitals, and, you know, schools are going bankrupt.

The restraints on the states, and Obama’s restraints on the states to deal with it. Why is it if an illegal comes across the border and they go on private property, why isn’t that trespassing? And why don’t you have the right to stop it? So but there should be no mandates from the federal government about what you must do under the 9th and 10th. There would be essentially none.

But the federal government does have a responsibility for these borders. And I just hate to see all these resources — I think that we should have much more immigration service on the border to make it easier — it’s hard to even get to visit this country. We’re losing a lot of visitors and workers that could come to this country because we have an inefficient immigration service.

And then that invites the illegal. We have to deal — we can’t endorse the illegal, but the program today endorses the illegal problems. And a weak economy is always detrimental, too, because of the welfare state. We have welfare at home and some jobs go begging, we have jobs going begging in this country in the midst of the recession, has to do with the economy.

You can’t ignore the economy. But also the welfare state, allowing immigrants to come over and then get the benefits — if you subsidize something, you get more of. So there’s a lot we can do and should do and certainly this president is not doing a very good job.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, the fence has been a point of contention in the race. And one of your high-profile supporters, a gentleman who’s been up here during this campaign, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, is here tonight. He said this: if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets really good.

You signed a pledge to construct a double fence. Why is Governor Perry wrong?

GINGRICH: He’s not wrong. They’d have to have two 35-foot ladders because it’s a double fence.

(LAUGHTER)

Look, the fact is I helped Duncan Hunter pass the first fence bill in San Diego when I was Speaker of the House. San Diego and Tijuana are the most densely populated border. It turned out it worked. It worked dramatically. Duncan and I would be glad to testify. He’s former chairman of the national — of the Defense Committee — how much it worked.

However, it stopped. It stopped in part because there was a wetlands. It turned out none of the illegal immigrants cared about wetlands policy. Then you had to go and build around the wetlands, which we did. The further we have gone with the fence, the fewer the people have broken into California.

Now, the thing that’s fascinating, though, John, is you quoted a government study of how much it would cost. That’s my earlier point. If you modernize the federal government so it’s competent, you could probably do it for 10 percent of the cost of that study.

The fact is –

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — what I would do, I would — I have — I have a commitment at newt.org, I would — to finish the job by January 1, 2014, I would initiate a bill that would waive all federal regulations, requirement and studies.

I would ask Governor Brewer here, I would ask Governor Martinez, Governor Brown, and Governor Perry to become the co-leaders in their state. We would apply as many resources as are needed to be done by January 1 of 2014, including, if necessary — there are 23,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel in the D.C. area.

I’m prepared to move up to half of them to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This is a doable thing.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney, the border security is part of the equation, what to do about whether it’s 8 million or 11 million illegal immigrants in the country now is another part of the equation. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s with us tonight from Maricopa County — he’s in the audience — he told me –

(APPLAUSE)

KING: — he told me this week here in Mesa — these are his words — “it’s called political garbage, if you will, to not arrest illegals already in this country.”

You’ve talked to the governor about self-deportation, if businesses do their job, asking for the right documents, the people will leave. What about arresting? Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates?

ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally.

And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent. So going back to the question that was asked, the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn’t doing.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will drop those lawsuits on day one. I’ll also complete the fence. I’ll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. And I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E- Verify. And if an employer hires someone that has not gone through E- Verify, they’re going to get sanctioned just like they do for not paying their taxes.

You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It’s time we finally did it.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, we had the conversation about the border and the fence. Governor Romney talks about E-Verify, making sure business is doing their part of the equation.

What about the individual? You said in our last debate employers should be sanctioned, as Governor Romney just said, if they hire illegal immigrants. About a quarter of all workers in private households are undocumented.

What about the homeowner who hires somebody as a household cleaning worker, as a nanny, perhaps? Does that person — if you’re going to be consistent, have enforcement across the board, should that person be sanctioned?

SANTORUM: I’m not going to require homeowners to do E-Verify. I think that’s one step too far. But I think what we need to do is to give law enforcement the opportunity to do what they’re doing here in Arizona and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing before he ran into some issues with the federal government, which is to allow folks to enforce the law here in this country, to allow people who are breaking the law or suspicious of breaking the law to be able to be detained and deported if they’re found here in this country illegally, as well as those who are trying to seek employment.

This is enforcing not just upon the employer, but on those who are here illegally and trying to do things that are against the law, like seeking employment here.

KING: It’s a tough policy question, obviously, and this state has been part of the driving force. It also becomes — especially for four gentlemen who would like to be the next president of the United States, it’s a difficult political question in the sense that the Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in our country.

And some Republicans — some Republicans — Marco Rubio, for example, the senator from Florida that all of you have complimented, said — could be a leading force in your administration if you’re elected — he said this recently. He says he worries that some of the rhetoric used by Republican politicians on this issue has been harsh, intolerable, inexcusable.

Mr. Speaker, is he right? GINGRICH: I don’t know who he’s referring to, so I’m not going to comment in general on a statement. Is there somebody somewhere who’s done that? Sure.

Was it also intolerable for President Obama to go to El Paso and make a totally demagogic speech in which he fundamentally — no.

(APPLAUSE)

The great failure here — I voted in 1986 for the bill which was supposed to solve all this, which Ronald Reagan solved — signed. And in Reagan’s diary, he says, I signed this bill because we have to get control of the border and we have to have an employer-sanctioned program with a guest worker program.

Now, all of us who voted for that bill got shortchanged on everything we were supposed to get. President Bush couldn’t get it through. President Obama can’t get it through.

I believe you cannot pass a single large comprehensive bill, the 2,700-page kind of bill you described. I think you’ve got to go one step at a time.

The first step is to control the border. I don’t believe anybody who’s here illegally — and I talked last night, for example, with folks who are of Hispanic background from Nogales who are in the import-export business dealing with Mexico every day. They don’t want a border that’s closed, they want a border that’s controlled, that has easy access for legality and impossible access for illegality. And that’s the model that I think you can talk about in my community of any ethnic background in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: All right, Gentlemen. We’re going to take another quick break.

Our Arizona Republican presidential debate will continue in a moment, but here’s a question. One of these men could be president just 11 months from now. How would they deal with threats from Iran and North Korea?

Plus, a great question sent to us at CNNPolitics.com. Define yourself using one word, Gentlemen, and one word only.

Can the candidates keep it that short? Stick around and find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That was a good exercise. Let’s move our conversation now –

(UNKNOWN): It is.

KING: Let’s move our conversation now to the important responsibilities one of you gentlemen could have in just 11 months as the commander-in-chief of the United States.

And Governor Romney, I want to ask you first, 11 months from now, if you’re successful, you would be our commander-in-chief. The Pentagon recently announced plans to open up 14,000 new jobs to women, putting them closer and close to the front lines of combat. Senator Santorum says he sees a lot of things wrong with this.

What do you think?

ROMNEY: I would look to the people who are serving in the military to give the best assessment of where women can serve. We’ve had over 100 women lose their lives in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was with Governor Bob McDonnell. His daughter has served as a platoon leader in Afghanistan. He said that she doesn’t get emotional when she faces risk, he’s the one that gets emotional as she faces that kind of risk. And I believe women have the capacity to serve in our military in positions of significance and responsibility, as we do throughout our society.

(APPLAUSE)

I do think that the key decisions that are being made by this administration, by President Obama, however, related to our military are seriously awry. This is a president who is shrinking our Navy, shrinking our Air Force, wants to shrink our active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000, is cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion dollars.

The world is more dangerous. It is not safer.

North Korea is going through transition. The Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter.

Syria is in flux. And, of course, Pakistan, with 100 nuclear weapons or more, represents a potential threat. Northern Mexico is a real danger area.

I mean, looking around the world, you have Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. I mean, we face a very dangerous world. The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active-duty personnel, and to strengthen America’s military.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: I want to get to some of those hotspots Governor Romney just mentioned, but Speaker Gingrich, on the question of a more prominent role for women, good idea or bad idea?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think it’s a misleading question in the modern era. You live in a world of total warfare. Anybody serving our country in uniform virtually anywhere in the world could be in danger at virtually any minute. A truck driver can get blown up by a bomb as readily as the infantrymen. So I would say that you ought to ask the combat leaders what they think is an appropriate step, as opposed to the social engineers of the Obama administration.

(APPLAUSE)

But everybody needs to understand — and by the way, we live in an age when we have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own cities. So everybody who serves in the fire department, in the police department, not just the first responders, but our National Guard, whoever is going to respond, all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country. And we need to understand that’s the context in which we’re going to have to move forward in understanding the nature of modern combat.

I think this is a very sober period, and I believe this is the most dangerous president on national security grounds in American history.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The problem is the character of our wars. And I don’t like to think of people in groups. Individuals have rights, not groups. You don’t have women’s rights or men’s rights.

And we still have draft legislation. What I fear is the draft coming back because we’re getting way over-involved. And the draft — we keep registering our 18-year-olds. So when the draft comes, we’re going to be registering young women, and because of this they’re going to be equal.

Now, the wars we fight aren’t defensive wars, they’re offensive wars. We’re involved in way too much.

They’re undeclared, they’re not declared by the Congress, and so we’re in wars that shouldn’t be involved. So I don’t want even the men to be over there. I don’t want women being killed, but I don’t want the men being killed in these wars.

(APPLAUSE)

But because now we have accepted now for 10 years that we’re allowed to start war, we call pre-emptive war, preventive war. Well, that’s an aggressive war.

I believe in the Christian just war theory that you have to morally justify the wars in defense. Now, if we’re defending our country — and we need to defend, believe me — with men and women will be in combat and defending our country, and that’s the way it should be. But when it’s an offensive war, going where we shouldn’t be, that’s quite a bit different. So it’s the foreign policy that needs to be examined.

KING: Senator?

SANTORUM: I actually agree with the comments made by the two gentlemen to my left, that there are different roles of women in combat. They are on the front line right now. Their combat zone is, as Newt said, everywhere, unfortunately, in that environment.

My concern that I expressed, I didn’t say it was wrong. I said I had concerns about certain roles with respect to — and particularly in infantry.

I still have those concerns, but I would defer to at least hearing the recommendations of those involved. But I think we have civilian control of the military, and these are things that should be decided not just by the generals, but we should not have social engineering, as I think we’ve seen from this president. We should have sober minds looking at what is in fact the best proper — proper roles for everybody in combat.

KING: Let’s continue the conversation about the commander in chief question. We have a question from our audience, Sir?

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Ken Taylor (ph) from Wickenberg, Arizona and my question to all the candidates is, how do you plan on dealing with the growing nuclear threat in Iran?

KING: It’s a pressing question at the moment. Mr. Speaker, let’s go to you first on this one. I want to ask you in the context of the president’s and this country’s highest ranking military officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey told CNN this last week, quote, “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and would not achieve Israel’s long term objectives.” If you win this election, General Dempsey would still be — would then be your chairman of the joint chiefs.

If the prime minister of Israel called you, said he wanted to go forward and questioned, Sir do you agree — Mr. President do you agree with your chairman of the joint chiefs? Would you say, yes, Mr. Prime Minister, please stand down? Or would you give Israel the green light?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all this is two different questions. General Dempsey went on to say that he thought Iran was a rational actor. I can’t imagine why he would say that. And I just cannot imagine why he would have said it. The fact is, this is a dictator, Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn’t believe the Holocaust existed. This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East. I’m inclined to believe dictators. Now I — I think that it’s dangerous not to.

(APPLAUSE) GINGRICH: If — if an Israeli prime minister, haunted by the history of the Holocaust, recognizing that three nuclear weapons is a holocaust in Israel, if an Israeli prime minister calls me and says, I believe in the defense of my country. This goes back to a point that Congressman Paul raised that we probably disagree on. I do believe there are moments when you preempt. If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: But often…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: The American people often don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world until they have to, but this is an issue, this confrontation with Iran that is partly responsible for what we have seen daily at the gas pump. Prices going up and going up and going up. So I want — Governor Romney come into the conversation, we’ll continue it with everyone at the table. As we have this showdown, confrontation, call it what you will with Iran. Should our leadership, including the current president of the United States and the four gentleman here with me tonight, be prepared to look the American people in the eye and say — and I want to hear everybody’s plans, over the long run I think I can bring down the price of gasoline, or I can’t if that’s your plan.

But at the moment, we need to have a conversation about how as long as this continues, the prices are likely to keep going up.

ROMNEY: Look, the — the price of gasoline pales in comparison to the idea of Ahmadinejad with nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad having fissile material that he can give to Hezbollah and Hamas and that they can bring into Latin America and potentially bring across the border into the United States to let off dirty bombs here. I mean — or — or more sophisticated bombs here, this — we simply cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weaponry. And — and — and this president has a lot of failures. It’s hard — it’s hard to think of — economically his failures, his — his policies in a whole host of areas have been troubling.

But nothing in my view is as serious a failure as his failure to deal with Iran appropriately. This president — this president should have put in place crippling sanctions against Iran, he did not. He decided to give Russia — he decided to give Russia their number one foreign policy objective, removal of our missile defense sites from Eastern Europe and got nothing in return. He could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not. When dissident voices took to the street in Iran to protest a stolen election there, instead of standing with them, he bowed to the election. This is a president…

(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: …who has made it clear through his administration in almost every communication we’ve had so far, that he does not want Israel to take action. That he opposes military action. This is a president who should have instead communicated to Iran that we are prepared, that we are considering military options. They’re not just on the table. They are in our hand. We must now allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. If they do, the world changes. America will be at risk. And some day, nuclear weaponry will be used. If I am president, that will not happen. If we reelect Barack Obama, it will happen.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, please?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I agree with Governor Romney’s comment. I think they are absolutely right on and well spoken. I would say that if you’re looking for a president to be elected in this country that will send that very clear message to Iran as to the seriousness of the American public to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon, there would be no better candidate than me because I have been on the trail of Iran and trying to advocate for stopping them getting a nuclear weapon for about eight years now.

I was the author of a bill back in 2008 that talked about sanctions on a nuclear program that our intelligence community said didn’t exist and had the President of the United States, president bush oppose me for two years.

And, by the way, so did Joe Biden on the floor of the Senate, and Barack Obama. I always say if you want to know what foreign policy position to take, find out what Joe Biden’s position is and take the opposite opinion and you’ll be right 100 percent of the time.

But they opposed me. He actively opposed me. We did pass that bill eventually at the end of 2006, and it was to fund the pro- democracy movement, $100 million a year. Here’s what I said — we need to get this — these pro-American Iranians who are there, who want freedom, want democracy, and want somebody to help them and support them.

Well, we put — we put some money out there and guess what? Barack Obama cut it when he came into office. And when the Green Revolution rose, the pro-democracy prose, we had nothing. We had no connection, no correlation and we did absolutely nothing to help them.

In the meantime, when the radicals in Egypt and the radicals in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood, when they rise against either a feckless leader or a friend of ours in Egypt, the president is more than happy to help them out.

When they’re going up against a dangerous theocratic regime that wants to wipe out the state of Israel, that wants to dominate the radical Islamic world and take on the great Satan, the United States, we do nothing. That is a president that must go. And you want a leader who will take them on? I’ll do that.

KING: Congressman Paul, all three of your rivals here make a passionate case that — all three of them make a passionate case that this is a vital U.S. national security interest. But you disagree.

PAUL: I disagree because we don’t know if they have a weapon. As a matter of fact, there’s no evidence that they have it. There is no evidence. Israel claims they do not have it and our government doesn’t. I don’t want them to get a weapon. But I think what we’re doing is encouraging them to have a weapon because they feel threatened. If you look at a map of — if you look at a map of Iran, we have 45 bases around their country, plus our submarines.

The Iranians can’t possibly attack anybody. And we’re worrying about the possibility of one nuclear weapon. Now, just think about the Cold War. The Soviets had 30,000 of them. And we talked to them. The Soviets killed 100 million people and the Chinese, and we worked our way out of it.

And if you want to worry about nuclear weapons, worry about the nuclear weapons that were left over from the Soviet Union. They’re still floating around. They don’t have them all detailed. So we’re ready to go to war. I say going to war rapidly like this is risky and it’s reckless.

Now, if they are so determined to go to war, the only thing I plead with you for, if this is the case, is do it properly. Ask the people and ask the Congress for a declaration of war. This is war and people are going to die. And you have got to get a declaration of war.

And just to go and start fighting — but the sanctions are already backfiring. And all that we do is literally doing the opposite. When we’ve been — were attacked, we all came together. When we attacked the — when we — when we put them under attack, they get together and it neutralizes that. They rally around their leaders.

So what we’re doing is literally enhancing their power. Think of the sanctions we dealt with Castro. Fifty years and Castro is still there. It doesn’t work. So I would say a different approach. We need to at least — we talked — we talked to the Soviets during the Cuban crisis. We at least can talk to somebody who does not — we do not have proof that he has a weapon. Why go to war so carelessly?

KING: Let’s stay on this theme. We have a question from cnnpolitics.com, a question — you can see it up on the screen here. In regards to Syria, should the United States intervene and should we arm the rebellion?

Senator Santorum, let me start with you on this one. The American people have watched these videos that started months ago and has accelerated in recent days. What is the role for the United States today?

SANTORUM: Syria is a puppet state of Iran. They are a threat not just to Israel, but they have been a complete destabilizing force within Lebanon, which is another problem for Israel and Hezbollah. They are a country that we can do no worse than the leadership in Syria today, which is not the case, and some of the other countries that we readily got ourselves involved in.

So it’s sort of remarkable to me we would have — here again, it’s — I think it’s the timidness (sic) of this president in dealing with the Iranian threat, because Syria and Iran is an axis. And the president — while he couldn’t reach out deliberately to Iran but did reach out immediately to Syria and established an embassy there. And the only reason he removed that embassy was because it was threatened of being — of being overtaken, not because he was objecting to what was going on in Syria.

This president has — has obviously a very big problem in standing up to the Iranians in any form. If this would have been any other country, given what was going on and the mass murders that we’re seeing there, this president would have quickly and — joined the international community, which is calling for his ouster and the stop of this, but he’s not. He’s not. Because he’s afraid to stand up to Iran.

He opposed the sanctions in Iran against the — against the central banks until his own party finally said, “You’re killing us. Please support these sanctions.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a president who isn’t going to stop them. He isn’t going to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon. We need a new president or we are going to have a cataclysmic situation with a — a power that is the most prolific proliferator of terror in the world that will be able to do so with impunity because they will have a nuclear weapon to protect — protect them for whatever they do. It has to be stopped, and this president is not in a position to do that.

KING: And the question of Syria…

(APPLAUSE)

… Mr. Speaker, then Governor Romney, if you were president today, what would you do differently from this president tomorrow?

GINGRICH: Well, the first thing I’d do, across the board for the entire region, is create a very dramatic American energy policy of opening up federal lands and opening up offshore drilling, replacing the EPA.

(APPLAUSE)

We — the Iranians have been practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz, which has one out of every five barrels of oil in the world going through it. We have enough energy in the United States that we would be the largest producer of oil in the world by the end of this decade. We would be capable of saying to the Middle East, “We frankly don’t care what you do. The Chinese have a big problem because you ain’t going to have any oil.”

(APPLAUSE)

But we would not have to be directly engaged. That’s a very different question.

But, first of all, you’ve got to set the stage, I think, here to not be afraid of what might happen in the region.

Second, we clearly should have our allies — this is an old- fashioned word — we have have our allies covertly helping destroy the Assad regime. There are plenty of Arab-speaking groups that would be quite happy. There are lots of weapons available in the Middle East.

And I agree with — with Senator Santorum’s point. This is an administration which, as long as you’re America’s enemy, you’re safe.

You know, the only people you’ve got to worry about is if you’re an American ally.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor?

ROMNEY: I agree with both these gentlemen. It’s very interesting that you’re seeing, on the Republican platform, a very strong commitment to say we’re going to say no to Iran. It’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

And — and Rick is absolutely right. Syria is their key ally. It’s their only ally in the Arab world. It is also their route to the sea. Syria provides a — a shadow over Lebanon. Syria is providing the armament of Hezbollah in Lebanon that, of course, threatens Israel, our friend and ally.

We have very bad news that’s come from the Middle East over the past several months, a lot of it in part because of the feckless leadership of our president.

But one little piece of good news, and that is the key ally of Iran, Syria, is — has a leader that’s in real trouble. And we ought to grab a hold of that like it’s the best thing we’ve ever seen.

There’s things that are — we’re having a hard time getting our hands around, like, what’s happening in Egypt. But in Syria, with Assad in trouble, we need to communicate to the Alawites, his friends, his ethnic group, to say, look, you have a future if you’ll abandon that guy Assad.

We need to work with — with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, you guys provide the kind of weaponry that’s needed to help the rebels inside Syria. This is a critical time for us.

If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back. And we could, at that point, with crippling sanctions and a very clear statement that military action is an action that will be taken if they pursue nuclear weaponry, that could change the course of world history.

KING: Let’s try to get another question.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: John? KING: Congressman, quickly, please?

PAUL: No, I get a minute to go quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I — I’ve tried the moral argument. I’ve tried the constitutional argument on these issues. And they don’t — they don’t go so well. But there — there’s an economic argument, as well.

As a matter of fact, Al Qaida has had a plan to bog us down in the Middle East and bankrupt this country. That’s exactly what they’re doing. We’ve spent $4 trillion of debt in the last 10 years being bogged down in the Middle East.

The neoconservatives who now want us to be in Syria, want us to go to Iran, have another war, and we don’t have the money. We’re already — today gasoline hit $6 a gallon in Florida. And we don’t have the money.

So I don’t believe I’m going to get the conversion on the moral and the constitutional arguments in the near future. But I’ll tell you what, I’m going to win this argument for economic reasons. Just remember, when the Soviets left, they left not because we had to fight them. They left because they bankrupted this country and we better wake up, because that is what we’re doing here. We’re destroying our currency and we have a financial crisis on our hands.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Let’s take another question from our audience, please.

Identify yourself and ask your question.

(UNKNOWN): I’m Marsha Crossen (ph) from Scottsdale, Arizona.

What is your stand on education reform and the No Child Left Behind Act?

KING: This came up a bit earlier in the debate. Some of you mentioned it in a general way.

Senator Santorum, to you first. Specifically, what do you do about No Child Left Behind today if you’re president?

SANTORUM: Well, you know what? I supported No Child Left Behind. I supported it. It was the principal priority of President Bush to try to take on a failing education system and try to impose some sort of testing regime that would be able to quantify how well we’re doing with respect to education.

I have to admit, I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake.

(BOOING) You know, politics is a team sport, folks. And sometimes you’ve got to rally together and do something. And in this case, you know, I thought testing was — and finding out how bad the problem was wasn’t a bad idea.

What was a bad idea was all the money that was put out there, and that, in fact, was a huge problem. I admit the mistake and I will not make that mistake again. You have someone who is committed.

Look, I’m a home schooling father of seven. I know the importance of customized education for our children. I know the importance of parental control of education.

(APPLAUSE)

I know the importance of local control of education. And having gone through that experience of the federal government involvement, not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the state — to the local and into the community.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney, when you were governor, you had to deal with this law. So weigh in. And as you do, it’s designed, like it or not, to help the public school system, which has struggled. Senator Santorum, just the other day, called public schools in this country factories.

ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to comment on that unless you’d like to.

With regards to your question, I came into a state where Republicans and Democrats had worked to — before I got there to make some very important changes. They said that they were going to test our kids every year.

They said to graduate from high school, you’re going to have to pass an exam in English and math. I was the first governor that had to enforce that provision.

There were a lot of people that said, oh, no, no, no. Let people graduate even if they can’t pass that exam. I enforced it. We fought it. It was hard to do.

We added more school choice. My legislature tried to say no more charter schools. I vetoed that, we overturned that.

With school choice, testing our kids, giving our best teachers opportunities for advancement, these kinds of principles drove our schools to be pretty successful. As a matter of fact, there are four measures on which the federal government looks at schools state by state, and my state’s number one of all 50 stays in all four of those measures, fourth-and-eighth-graders in English and math. Those principles, testing our kids, excellent curriculum, superb teachers, and school choice, those are the answers to help our schools.

And with regards to No Child Left Behind, the right answer there — President Bush stood up and said, you know what? The teachers unions don’t want school choice, I want school choice to see who’s succeeding and failing.

He was right to fight for that. There are things that should be changed in the law, but we have to stand up to the federal teachers unions and put the kids first and the unions behind.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, on that point, this is a conversation about what is the proper role of the federal government in the education issue? To the point the governor just raised about teachers unions, you have complimented President Obama to a degree on that issue, saying he had some courage to stand up to the teachers union. You went on tour with Al Sharpton and this president’s education secretary in support of the multibillion-dollar Race to the Top program that essentially — I think they used stimulus money for it, but incentives to states, to schools that perform, and that enact reforms.

GINGRICH: What we did is we went around, including Tucson, in this state, and we talked about the importance of charter schools, which was the one area where I thought the president did in fact show some courage, being willing to go into Philadelphia or into Baltimore or in a variety of places and advocate — we were in Montgomery, Alabama, for example — and say charter schools are an important step in the right direction.

There are two things wrong with the president’s approach. And the reason I would, frankly, dramatically shrink the Federal Department of Education down to doing nothing but research, return all the power under the Tenth Amendment back to the states.

And I agree with Rick’s point. I would urge the states, then, to return most of that power back to the local communities, and I’d urge the local communities the turn most of the power back to the parents. And I think the fact is –

(APPLAUSE)

We have bought — we bought over the last 50 years three huge mistakes. We bought the mistake that the teachers unions actually cared about the kids. It’s increasingly clear they care about protecting bad teachers.

And if you look at L.A. Unified, it is almost criminal what we do to the poorest children in America, entrapping them into places. No Nation Left Behind said if a foreign power did this to our children, we’d declare it an act of war because they’re doing so much damage. The second thing we bought into was the — the whole school of education theory that you don’t have to learn, you have to learn about how you would learn.

So when you finish learning about how you would learn, you have self esteem because you’re told you have self esteem, even if you can’t read the words self esteem. And the…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: …and the third thing we bought, which Rick eluded to, which is really important. We bought this notion that you could have Carnegie units and you could have state standards and you could have a curriculum everybody — every child is unique. Every teach is unique. Teaching is a missionary vocation. When you bureaucratize it, you kill it. We need a fundamental re-thinking from the ground up.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Newt — Newt’s going in the right direction, but not far enough.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: The Constitution is very, very clear. There is no authority for the federal government to be involved in education.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: There’s no — no prohibition in the Constitution for the states to be involved in education. That’s not a bad position and we can sort things out. But once — once again the Senators for — was for No Child Left Behind, but now he’s running for president, now he’s running to repeal No Child Left Behind once again. But — and he calls it a team sport. He has to go along to get along and that’s the way the team plays. But that’s what the problem is with Washington. That’s what’s been going on for so long.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So, I don’t accept that form of government. I understand it. That is the way it works. You were with the majority. You were the Whip and you organized and got these votes all passed. But I think the obligation of all of us should be the oath of office. We should take — and it shouldn’t be the oath to the party. I’m sorry about that, but it isn’t the oath to the party, it’s the oath to our office.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: To obey the law and the law is the Constitution.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentleman, thank you. One more break. When we come back, the final question of what could be the final Republican debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back to the Mesa Art Center, our Arizona Republican presidential debate, the four contenders on stage tonight.

Gentlemen, our time is short, so one last question.

Nine states have voted so far. We talked a bit earlier about the volatility in the race. The people of Arizona vote Tuesday. Michigan, on Tuesday. Wyoming and Washington State, then Super Tuesday, beyond that. Fourteen states over the next 10 days or so.

Republican voters are clearly having a hard time.

I want to close with this question: Help the voters who still have questions about you. What is the biggest misconception about you in the public debate right now?

Congressman Paul, we’ll start with you, sir.

PAUL: I would say the perpetuation of the myth by the media that I can’t win.

(APPLAUSE)

And the total ignoring some statistics that show it to be the opposite. Just recently, there was a poll in Iowa, and it matched all the four of us up against Obama. And guess what? I did the very best.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So I would say that is been the biggest myth. But let me tell you, though, public perception is one thing, but when you go around and talk to the American people and we have our rallies, that misconception isn’t there. And I think that’s the biggest misconception that I have to deal with.

KING: Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: I think that the fact is that the American public are really desperate to find somebody who can solve real problems. I think that’s why it’s been going up and down and why you have got all sorts of different folks as front-runners.

And all I can say is that my background of having actually worked with President Reagan, then having been Speaker, if there was one thing I wish the American people could know about me, it would be the amount of work it took to get to welfare reform, a balanced budget, a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, and that you’ve got to have somebody who can actually get it done in Washington, not just describe it on the campaign trail.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: We’ve got to restore America’s promise in this country where people know that with hard work and education, that they’re going to be secure and prosperous and that their kids will have a brighter future than they’ve had. For that to happen, we’re going to have to have dramatic fundamental change in Washington, D.C., we’re going to have to create more jobs, have less debt, and shrink the size of the government.

I’m the only person in this race –

KING: Is there a misconception about you? The question is a misconception.

ROMNEY: You know, you get to ask the questions want, I get to give the answers I want. Fair enough?

(APPLAUSE)

And I believe that there’s a whole question about, what do we need as the person that should be president? What is their position on this issue? Who can be the toughest going after Obama?

What we really need, in my opinion, is to say who can lead the country through the kind of fundamental change we have in front of us? And we have people here who all different backgrounds.

I spent 25 years in the private sector. I worked in business. I worked in helping turn around the Olympics. I worked in helping lead a state.

I believe that kind of background and skill is what is essential to restore the American promise. If people think there’s something else in my background that that is more important, they don’t want to vote for me, that’s their right, but I believe I have the passion, the commitment and the skill to turn America around, and I believe that’s what’s needed.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I think the thing I hear I have heard from the very beginning, can you defeat Barack Obama? And if you want to look at the people on the stage, we’re going to be running against the president who is going to have the national media behind him, he’s going to have more money, a lot more money, because he isn’t having to spend a penny in the primary. So he’s going to outspend whoever it is. He’s going to have the national media on his side.

Maybe you want a candidate who is not going to be able to win an election by beating the tar out of his opponent, spending four or five to one in order to win an election in a state, but actually can run a campaign based on issues and ideas and a vision that’s positive for America, to be able to be outspent and yet cut through because you have a strong vision, you have principles and convictions that is going to convince the American public that you’re on their side in making a big difference in our country and keeping us safe and prosperous. So we’re looking for someone — I think people, they’re looking for someone who can do a lot with a little — run a campaign on a shoestring and win a bunch of states and rise in the polls. You’re looking for someone who can take what’s going on in Washington and look at what went on in my campaign and see someone who can do a lot with a little.

That’s what we need in Washington, not just after the election, but we’re going to need to have that before the election, and I’m the best person, from a state which is a key swing state, from a region of the country which is going to decide this election, right across the Rust Belt of America. We’ve got the programs; we’ve got the plan, and we can win and defeat Barack Obama and govern this country conservatively.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentlemen, I want to thank you. I want to thank all of our candidates tonight. We also want to thank our partner tonight, the Republican Party of Arizona, and we’d like to thank our hosts here at the Mesa Arts Center, a beautiful venue here.

Campaign Buzz February 11, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Maine Caucuses by a Narrow Margin Over Ron Paul — Ends Losing Streak

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS MAINE CAUCUSES BY A NARROW MARGIN OVER RON PAUL

Romney wins support of Maine caucus-goers: Mitt Romney won the support of those attending Republican presidential caucuses Saturday in Maine, a key victory the former Massachusetts governor hopes will help him regain momentum after defeats in three nominating contests.

Romney won 39 percent of the votes of those who took part in a presidential poll at Maine caucus sites; Ron Paul took 36 percent of the vote, while former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum captured 18 percent…. – WaPo, 2-11-12

  • After Three Losses, Romney Edges Past Paul in Maine: Mitt Romney averted embarrassment on Saturday when he was declared the winner of a presidential straw poll in Maine’s nonbinding caucuses. He won 39 percent of the vote, barely edging out Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the only other Republican … – NYT, 2-11-12
  • Romney wins Maine caucuses by slim margin: Mitt Romney narrowly won Maine’s Republican caucuses, state party officials announced Saturday, providing his campaign with a much-needed boost after three straight losses earlier this week…. – AP, USA Today, 2-11-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Maine caucuses straw poll: He narrowly defeats Ron Paul, boosting his campaign after losses to Rick Santorum in three Republican nominating contests earlier in the week. Mitt Romney talks to a supporter at a caucus in Portland, Me. Though Romney won the caucus straw poll…. – LAT, 2-11-12
  • Maine caucus win gives Romney new momentum: Winning the Maine caucuses gives Mitt Romney a burst of momentum he hopes will carry him until the next major primaries in Arizona and Michigan, then Super Tuesday when 10 states hold elections…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-12
  • How Maine Helps Romney: There are essentially three ways in which the outcome of a caucus or primary helps us to understand who will eventually win the party nomination. The first way is the most literal: delegates are awarded, potentially bringing a candidate…. – NYT, 2-11-12
  • Romney adds to delegate lead after narrow victory in Maine caucuses: Mitt Romney added to his lead in the race for delegates Saturday with a narrow victory in the Maine Republican presidential caucuses. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won 11 delegates and Texas Rep. Ron Paul won 10, according to … – WaPo, 2-11-12
  • Mitt Romney bounces back, wins Maine caucus straw poll: Reversing his embarrassing string of setbacks earlier this week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in the straw poll tied to Maine’s multiday caucuses Saturday…. – LAT, 2-11-12
  • Disappointment, optimism at Ron Paul headquarters in Maine: The moment Ron Paul’s narrow loss to Mitt Romney in the municipal caucuses here was announced on the TV screens Saturday night, supporters of the Texas congressman angrily greeted the news with booing, jeers…. – WaPo, 2-11-12
  • Maine sets up clash between Romney and Paul, who still steer clear of assailing each other: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul rarely even acknowledge each other in the Republican presidential race, focusing their attention and attacks on rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum instead. That curious detente is being tested in Maine’s … – WaPo, 2-10-12

Campaign Buzz February 7, 2012: Rick Santorum Sweeps GOP Missouri, Minnesota & Colorado Primaries & Caucuses Claims Victory for Conservatism — Puts Conservative Support for Mitt Romney for the Republican Presidential Nomination in Question

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012


Dilip Vishwanat for The New York Times
Rick Santorum addressed his supporters with his wife, Karen, at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Mo., on Tuesday night. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: RICK SANTORUM SWEEPS MISSOURI, MINNESOTA & COLORADO PRIMARIES & CAUCUSES QUESTIONING CONSERVATIVE SUPPORT OF MITT ROMNEY FOR THE GOP’S PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION

Caucus Results
10:05 AM ET 2:00

Minnesota »
Candidate Votes Pct.
Santorum 21,436 44.8%
Paul 13,030 27.2
Romney 8,096 16.9
Gingrich 5,134 10.7
95% reporting
Colorado »
Santorum 26,372 40.2%
Romney 22,875 34.9
Gingrich 8,394 12.8
Paul 7,713 11.8
100% reporting

The Missouri primary is nonbinding and has no effect on delegates.

Santorum Upsets G.O.P. Race With Three Victories: Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, raising fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support…. – NYT, 2-8-12 Full Results and Recap

Jubilant Santorum wins Minn., challenges in Colo.: A resurgent Rick Santorum won Minnesota’s Republican presidential caucuses with ease Tuesday night and challenged Mitt Romney in Colorado, raising fresh questions about the front-runner’s appeal among the ardent conservatives at the core of the party’s political base.
Santorum triumphed, as well, in a nonbinding Missouri primary that was worth bragging rights but no delegates…. – AP, 2-7-12

Rick Santorum wins Colorado caucuses to claim clean sweep: Rick Santorum had a breakthrough night Tuesday, winning GOP presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials…. – Read more at:

AP: Rick Santorum wins Minnesota GOP caucuses: Victory is former Pennsylvania senator’s second of the night, coming after a win in Missouri’s non-binding primary…. – WaPo, 2-7-12

AP declares Rick Santorum winner in Missouri: Missouri’s primary awards no delegates, but the victory gives a boost to the former Pennsylvania senator’s efforts to slow Mitt Romney’s march to the Republican presidential nomination. Newt Gingrich did not compete in Missouri…. – WaPo, 2-7-12

Rick Santorum Wins Minnesota Republican Caucus: Rick Santorum has won Minnesota’s Republican caucus, giving him a second big win on Tuesday night and adding to the headache for Mitt Romney and his hopes of quickly wrapping up the Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Santorum’s victory in Minnesota — a state that Mr. Romney won easily in 2008 — came shortly after he was declared the easy victor in Missouri, where he trounced his rivals in the Republican primary.
He is also leading in early returns in Colorado’s Republican caucus…. – NYT, 2-7-12

“Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota.” — Rick Santorum

“This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Sen. Santorum, but I expect to become the nominee with your help.” — Mitt Romney

  • Live blog: Santorum wins Missouri primary: We’re live-blogging the results from GOP presidential contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. Rick Santorum has scored the first victory of the night with a win in Missouri. He’s battling with Mitt Romney in Minnesota … – USA Today, 2-7-12
  • Live: Santorum proclaims victory for ‘conservatism’: Rick Santorum scored two victories Tuesday night in the GOP presidential race, easily defeating Mitt Romney in Missouri and Ron Paul in Minnesota. In Colorado, a state that will be among those hotly contested in the general … – USA Today, 2-7-12
  • After 3-state sweep, Santorum ready for Romney: Fresh from his three-state sweep, a confident Rick Santorum said he is prepared for an onslaught from Mitt Romney as he tries to make his case that he’s the best conservative to take on President Obama…. – USA Today, 2-8-12
  • In Santorum’s Sweep, Sign of GOP Unease With Romney: Rick Santorum’s sweep of Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s three Republican presidential contests sets the stage for a new and bitter round of intraparty acrimony as Mr. Romney once again faces a surging conservative challenge to his claim on the party’s nomination… – NYT, 2-8-12
  • Voters in Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri choose Santorum: The Republican presidential candidates made last-minute campaign stops before the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary. Tuesday was a breakthrough night for Rick Santorum, who swept all three states…. – WaPo, 2-8-12
  • Santorum sweep slows Romney’s drive: Rick Santorum shook up the race for the Republican presidential nomination by sweeping three contests yesterday, casting doubt on front-runner Mitt Romney’s hold over the party’s core voters…. – Bloomberg, 2-8-12
  • What went wrong for Mitt Romney in Colorado?: Mitt Romney downplayed expectations going into Tuesday night, and it was predicted he could lose to Rick Santorum in Minnesota and Missouri. But his loss in Colorado was a shocker…. – CS Monitor, 2-8-12
  • Another Twist for GOP as Santorum Fares Well: His candidacy all but dismissed just days ago, Rick Santorum won the Minnesota caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, raising fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support. Mr. Santorum was also running … – NYT, 2-7-12
  • Voter turnout slides in GOP contests: Rick Santorum may have scored a political hat trick Tuesday night, but voter turnout was down in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. That continues a trend that began in Florida and occurred again in Nevada…. – USA Today, 2-8-12
  • Santorum victories in Missouri, Minnesota bolster his case: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who says he’s on a clear path to the Republican presidential nomination, hit a speed bump Tuesday night as rival Rick Santorum scored easy victories in the Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary… – USA Today, 2-7-12
  • Santorum rips Obama, Romney in victory speech: After being declared the winner in both the Missouri presidential primary and Minnesota’s caucuses, Santorum addressed a cheering crowd in St. Charles, Mo., branding himself as the best candidate to take on President Obama in the fall … – LAT, 2-7-12
  • Rick Santorum triumphant as election takes another unpredictable swing: Rick Santorum has been declared the winner in Minnesota and Missouri – by wide margins – and could yet upset Mitt Romney in Colorado. But bigger contests lie ahead…. – CS Monitor, 2-7-12
  • Facing a sweep, humbled Romney congratulates Santorum: It was a grim election night party for Mitt Romney. First came word that he lost Missouri. Next came news of his defeat in Minnesota. With early returns showing the potential for a third loss in Colorado, Romney declined to wait for … – LAT, 2-7-12
  • Colorado looks like a solid purple state for fall election: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s ability to attract thousands to his stump speeches here may make it look as if Colorado is destined to return to a red state in 2012, but Republicans and Democrats here … – USA Today, 2-7-12
  • Santorum declared winner in Missouri: Rick Santorum had a breakthrough night on Tuesday by winning the Missouri primary and making strong showings in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, breathing life into his struggling campaign and slowing Mitt Romney’s march to the Republican … – WaPo, 2-7-12
  • Missouri’s meaningless primary? Not anymore: The Missouri primary is the only so-called “beauty contest” in the Republican presidential race this year. But it might be remembered as where things got a little ugly for Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum’s win in the meaningless Show Me State primary on … – WaPo, 2-7-12
  • Santorum deals Romney a setback by winning Missouri: Rick Santorum dealt Mitt Romney a setback Tuesday night, winning the presidential primary in Missouri as Republicans in three states voted on a day that could produce a shift in the momentum of the 2012 race…. – LAT, 2-7-12
  • Rick Santorum wins Missouri ‘beauty contest’: Rick Santorum won Missouri’s presidential primary Tuesday, according to an Associated Press projection, but the only thing he can claim as a result is some newfound momentum. Because of a scheduling dispute within the state … – LAT, 2-7-12
  • Santorum wins Missouri primary, getting bragging rights but no delegates for GOP Nomination: Rick Santorum has won the Missouri Republican primary, a nonbinding election that carries bragging rights but does not award any delegates in the race for the presidential nomination. Missouri will pick its delegates at caucuses … – WaPo, 2-7-12
  • In Minnesota, Santorum ahead in early returns in statewide GOP caucuses for President: With 9 percent of Minnesota’s precincts reporting, former Sen. Rick Santorum is jumping to a lead, with 44 percent support, hoping to extinguish front-runner Mitt Romney’s modest winning streak and launch a comeback of his own…. – WaPo, 2-7-12
  • Voters in Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri head to the polls: The Republican presidential candidates made last-minute campaign stops before the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary. Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) poses for a photo as he visits a caucus site in Coon … – WaPo, 2-7-12
  • Campaign 2012: Santorum at center stage as three states vote: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who says he’s on a clear path to the Republican presidential nomination, braced for a speed bump Tuesday night amid signs of strength by rival Rick Santorum in two of the three states … – USA Today, 2-7-12

Campaign Buzz February 4, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Decisive Victory in Nevada GOP Republican Presidential Caucuses

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012


Josh Haner/The New York Times

Mitt Romney celebrated his victory in Las Vegas on Saturday. More Photos »
Nevada Caucus Results »
11:35 PM ET 2:00

County Leaders
Size of Lead
Candidate Votes Percent
Mitt-romney_38 Mitt Romney 6,455 42.2%
Newt-gingrich_38 Newt Gingrich 4,016 26.3
Ron-paul_38 Ron Paul 2,813 18.4
Rick-santorum_38 Rick Santorum 2,012 13.2
Full Results » 41% reporting

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS DECISIVE VICTORY IN NEVADA GOP REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUSES

Mitt Romney Wins Decisively in Nevada Caucuses: Mitt Romney scored a sweeping victory in Nevada today with a broad coalition of voters that included groups that he has struggled to win in previous contests, including very conservative voters, strong Tea Party supporters and evangelicals.
The victory extends the momentum Mr. Romney received from his commanding victory in Florida last Tuesday, and pushes forward his march toward the Republican nomination.
Mr. Romney’s rivals largely conceded the state before the results were known, with some leaving Nevada to campaign in Colorado and Minnesota. Mr. Romney, who won Nevada in 2008, had never given up the lead in polls here…. – NYT, 2-4-12

Romney wins Nevada Republican presidential caucuses: Mitt Romney won the Nevada Republican caucuses Saturday night, according to the Associated Press, giving the former Massachusetts governor his second consecutive victory of the year as he tightened his claim to dominant front-runner status in what had been a turbulent Republican presidential race.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul were battling for second place, while former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was running fourth…. – WaPo, 2-4-12

Live Coverage of the Nevada Caucuses: The Times’s political unit is on the ground in Nevada with the candidates to provide live updates and analysis from the trail…. – NYT, 2-4-12

“This is not the first time you’ve given me your vote of confidence, and this time I’m going to take it to the White House. This week he’s been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President.

He’s celebrating that it’s at 8.3. That’s still above the emergency line of 8 percent. And, by the way, he doesn’t get credit for things getting better. I’m delighted things are getting better. But the people who deserve credit for making things better are people like Tom [owner of the metal fabrication plant] who build a place like this and employ people in this great state.

Wow, what a beautiful place you live in, with the mountains right there — extraordinary place to see. Actually, this is kind of beautiful, too. This is the look of jobs, you know that? And American competitiveness.

In tough times, we look for the words of someone like Thomas Paine who is purported to have said, ‘lead, follow or get out of the way.’ We elected this president to lead, he chose to follow, now it’s time for him to get out of the way.” — Mitt Romney

  • Romney Draws Nevada Victory With Broad GOP Support: Mitt Romney won handily in the Nevada caucuses with the help of groups he has struggled to persuade before, including strong Tea Party supporters and very conservative voters…. – NYT, 2-4-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Nevada GOP caucuses: Mitt Romney, solidly back in the frontrunner’s seat, swept to victory in Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses Saturday. By Justin Sullivan, Getty Images Mitt Romney arrives at his election party at the … – USA Today, 2-4-12
  • Mitt Romney cruises to victory in Nevada caucuses: Mitt Romney romped to a commanding victory Saturday in Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses, posting a second consecutive win and laying an impressive marker in a battleground state both parties will vigorously contest in … – LAT, 2-4-12
  • Big margins from conservatives, Mormons are key for Romney in his Nevada GOP: Mitt Romney rode his best performance yet among conservatives and overwhelming backing from Mormons to his emphatic victory Saturday in Nevada’s Republican presidential contest, according to preliminary results of a poll of voters entering … – WaPo, 2-4-12
  • Romney declares victory in Nevada, cements front-runner status in GOP: Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has declared victory in Nevada’s caucuses. He thanked Nevada voters for their confidence in him and vowed to take it all the way to the White House. Romney’s decisive win comes four days … – WaPo, 2-4-12
  • While Romney roars, Santorum hopes for race reset: With the GOP caucuses in Nevada shaping up tonight as the fourth straight defeat for Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator took his “faith, family and freedom” tour to Colorado, where he asked conservatives to “reset this … – LAT, 2-4-12
  • Romney takes strong lead in Nevada GOP primary _ would be second in a row for: Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney jumped to a strong lead in the Nevada caucuses Saturday night, reaching for a second straight campaign victory over a field of rivals suddenly struggling to keep pace…. – WaPo, 2-4-12
  • Reaction to candidates, voting processes at Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses: Reaction from people participating Saturday in Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses in which Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum competed: ___ “Voting is very important. I consider you almost a second-class citizen if you don’t … – WaPo, 2-4-12

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (Win McNamee – Getty Images)

Campaign Buzz January 31, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Republican GOP Florida Primary by a Wide Margin Over Newt Gingrich

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012


Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Mitt Romney speaking to supporters after winning the Florida primary on Tuesday night.

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS GOP FLORIDA PRIMARY BY A WIDE MARGIN OVER NEWT GINGRICH

Florida Primary Results »

Candidate Votes Percent
Mitt-romney_38 Mitt Romney 734,256 46.7%
Newt-gingrich_38 Newt Gingrich 499,272 31.7
Rick-santorum_38 Rick Santorum 209,336 13.3
Ron-paul_38 Ron Paul 109,748 7.0
Others_38 Others 20,792 1.3
Full Results » 89% reporting

Live Coverage of the Florida Primary: Dispatches from New York Times reporters in Florida and elsewhere…. – NYT, 1-31-12

Romney Wins Big in Florida Primary: The commanding win offered a forceful response to the questions that were raised about Mitt Romney’s candidacy…. – NYT, 1-31-12

Mitt Romney wins Florida primary: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Florida primary as voting finished Tuesday evening, a victory expected to cement his status as the Republican front-runner.
Voters picked Romney over former House speaker Newt Gingrich as the best positioned to take on President Obama in November.
With just over 50 percent of the precincts reporting, Romney was leading with 47 percent of the vote, followed by Gingrich with 31 percent, Rick Santorum with 13 percent and Ron Paul with 7 percent…. – WaPo, 1-31-12

Romney Wins Florida Primary, Regaining Momentum: Mitt Romney has won the Florida primary after aggressively beating back a challenge from Newt Gingrich and regaining momentum on his relentless march toward the Republican presidential nomination.
Interviews with voters as they exited the polls in Florida allow The New York Times to project that Mr. Romney will win the state by a wide margin over Mr. Gingrich, who will come in second. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum will finish the night behind the two leaders.
The campaign now shifts immediately to Nevada, which will hold its caucuses on Saturday. Mr. Gingrich has vowed to continue his battle against a man he calls “a Massachusetts moderate.” And Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul have already left Florida to begin campaigning in the upcoming states…. – NYT, 1-31-12

  • Romney wins Florida primary: Mitt Romney rode a massive wave of TV ads to win Florida’s Republican presidential primary Tuesday, regaining his status as the party’s front-runner and easily outdistancing Newt Gingrich and … – USA Today, 1-31-12
  • Romney claims decisive victory in Florida: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney claimed a decisive victory in the Florida primary Tuesday, as a conservative electorate chose Romney s the best positioned to take on President Obama in November over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich…. – WaPo, 1-31-12
  • Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich in first Florida returns in GOP primary race: With the first handful of precincts counted, Mitt Romney has jumped to an early lead in Florida’s Republican presidential primary, the biggest test so far in an increasingly negative race against Newt Gingrich. Early returns show Romney … – WaPo, 1-31-12
  • Analysis: With Florida victory, Romney shows he’s no soft, slow-footed target: Mitt Romney’s resounding win in the Florida GOP primary is a warning shot to any Democrats who think the former Massachusetts governor will be a soft target. Romney and his advisers showed dexterity, smarts and toughness in retooling his … – WaPo, 1-31-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz January 26, 2012: CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/01/26/us/20120127_DEBATE_337-slide-37CU/20120127_DEBATE_337-slide-37CU-hpMedium.jpg

Full Transcript of CNN FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Aired January 26, 2012 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: From the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, this is the Florida Republican presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, the four Republican candidates are here to tell us why they’re the most qualified to take on President Barack Obama. I’m Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We also want to thank our co-sponsors, the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network.

Members of the Florida Republican party are here in the audience with us and some of them will have a chance to question the candidates.

In addition, our sister network CNN in Espanol is standing by in Miami with members of the Hispanic Leadership Network who will also have a chance to question the candidates. Viewers can send us questions online. On Twitter, make sure to include the hash tag #CNNdebate; on Facebook at Facebook.com/CNNpolitics; and, of course, on CNNpolitics.com.

It’s now time to welcome the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

(APPLAUSE)

Joining us on stage, Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

And the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates for president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for our national anthem, performed by the University of North Florida Chamber Singers.

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

Candidates, please take your podiums while I tell you more about how this debate will work tonight.

I’ll be the moderator. And as I mentioned, our partners from the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network will also ask questions. I’ll follow up and try to guide the discussion.

Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer, 30 seconds for follow ups and rebuttals. And I’ll certainly make sure you get time to respond if you’re singled out for criticism.

Now let’s have the candidates introduce themselves to Florida voters.

Please keep it short. Here is an example: I’m Wolf Blitzer and I’m thrilled to be here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Senator Santorum, let’s begin with you.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Santorum, and I’m thrilled to be here on the campus of North Florida.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And I’m especially thrilled because I’m here with a North Florida resident who lives right down the beach from Jacksonville, my mom, who is 93 years old, who is with me here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I better just stop right there.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich, from the neighboring state of Georgia. I’m delighted to be in Jacksonville, which will be the site of the next nuclear aircraft carrier battle group.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney, and I’m pleased to be here with my wife and my oldest son Tagg Romney. We’re the parents of five sons, five daughters-in-law, 16 grandkids. And it’s great to be back in Jacksonville.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATEA: I’m Ron Paul. I’m a congressman from Texas, 12 terms.

I am the champion of a sound monetary system, a gold standard, as it is under the Constitution, and a foreign policy based on strength which rejects the notion that we should be the policemen of the world and that we should be a nation builder.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Let’s start with a question from the audience.

(UNKNOWN): Hello.

Can you tell me what specific actions you’ll take to address the costly consequences of illegal immigration while preserving the rights of those who seek to immigrate legally?

BLITZER: All right.

Senator Santorum, let’s take that question. But also, in the course of that question, express your opinion on what we heard from Governor Romney, that self-deportation, or illegal immigrants leaving the country voluntarily, is a possible solution.

SANTORUM: Well, the possible solution is — I actually agree with Governor Romney. The bottom line is that we need to enforce the laws in this country.

We are a country of laws. People come to this country. My grandfather came to this country because he wanted to come to a country that respected him. And a country that respects you is a country that lives by the laws that they have. And the first act when they come to this country, is to disobey a law, it’s not a particularly welcome way to enter this country. What I’ve said is from the very beginning, that we — we have to have a country that not only do you respect the law when you come here, but you respect the law when you stay here.

And people who have come to this country illegally have broken the law repeatedly. If you’re here, unless you’re here on a trust fund, you’ve been working illegally. You’ve probably stolen someone’s Social Security number, illegally. And so it’s not just one thing that you’ve done wrong, you’ve done a lot of things wrong. And as a result of that, I believe that people should no — should not be able to stay here.

And so I think we need to enforce the law at the border, secure the border. Secondly, we need to have employer enforcement, which means E-verify and then we need to have not only employers sanctioned, but we have to have people who are found who are working here illegally, they need to be deported. That is again the principle of having a rule of law and living by it. I am very much in favor of immigration. I’m not someone — my dad came to this country and I’m someone who believes that — that we need immigration. We are not replacing ourselves.

We have — we need not only immigration for — to keep our population going, but we need immigration because immigrants bring a vitality and a love of this country that is — infuses this country with — with great energy. And so, I support legal immigration, but we need to enforce the law and in fact, if you don’t create an opportunity for people to work, they will leave because they can’t afford to stay here.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you’ve suggested that self- deportation as advocated by Governor Romney is in your words, “An Obama level fantasy.” Why?

GINGRICH: Well look, I think that first of all, you should control the border, which I have pledged to do by January 1, 2014. You should fix legal immigration in terms of visas so people can come and go easily — more easily than doing it illegally. You should also make deportation easier so when you deport people who shouldn’t be here. The 13 gang members, for example. It should be very quick and very clear.

You should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they minimize fraud, which the federal government won’t do. And you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate it. I actually agree that self-deportation will occur if you’re single. If you’ve only been here a short time. And there are millions of people who faced with that, would go back home, file for a guest worker program and might or might not come back.

The one group I singled out, were people who have been here a very long time who are married, who may well have children and grandchildren. And I would just suggest that grandmothers or grandfathers aren’t likely to self-deport. And then you’ve got a question. I — I offered a proposal, a citizen panel to review whether or not somebody who had been here a very long time, who had family and who had an American family willing to sponsor them, should be allowed to get residency, but not citizenship so that they would be able to stay within the law, but would not have any chance of becoming a citizen, unless they went back home. I don’t think grandmothers and grandfathers will self-deport.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, the few times and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that — that program could work?

ROMNEY: Well, you’ve just heard the last two speakers also indicate that they support the concept of self-deportation. It’s very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they’re able to work here and then you have an E-verify system that’s effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it’s been counterfeited, then those employers would be severely sanctioned.

If you do that, people who have come here illegally won’t be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport. I don’t think anyone is interested in going around and rounding up people around the country and deporting 11 million Americans — or, excuse me 11 million illegal immigrants into America. Now, let’s look at — and — and I know people said, but isn’t that unfair to those 11 million that are here and have lived their lives here and perhaps raised children here? But I think it’s important to remember, that there are three groups of people that are of concern to us.

One are those that have come here illegally, 11 million. The second is the group of people who are brought over by coyotes and who are in many cases abused by virtue of coming into this country illegally. And the third, are the four to five million people who are waiting at home in their own nations trying to get here legally. They have family members here asking them to come here. Grandparents and uncles and aunts. Those are the people we have a responsibility for. And the second group as well, those that are abused. We — we’re concerned about them.

Let’s focus our attention on how to make legal immigration work and stop illegal immigration.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Paul — sorry, excuse me, Congressman Paul you’re from Texas. The state with the longest border with Mexico. Is this a viable option, what we just heard?

PAUL: Well, I’d talk about it, but I don’t see it as being very practical. I think it’s a much bigger problem.

You can’t deal with immigration without dealing with the economy. The weaker the economy, the more resentment there is when illegals come in. If you have a healthy, vibrant economy, it’s not a problem; we’re usually looking for workers.

Even under today’s circumstances, a lot of businesses are looking for workers and they don’t have them. They’re not as well-trained here.

But also, the way we’re handling our borders is actually hurting our economy because the businesspeople — you know, visitors have a hard time coming in. I mean, we don’t have a well-managed border. So I think we need more resources and I think most of the other candidates would agree we need more resources. But where are the resources going to come from?

I have a suggestion. I think we spend way too much time worrying about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Use some of those resources on our own border.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you had an ad, but you pulled it this week, in which you described Governor Romney as the most anti- immigrant candidate. Why did you do that?

GINGRICH: Why did we describe him that way?

Because, in the original conversations about deportation, the position I took, which he attacked pretty ferociously, was that grandmothers and grandfathers aren’t going to be successfully deported. We’re not — we as a nation are not going to walk into some family — and by the way, they’re going to end up in a church, which will declare them a sanctuary. We’re not going to walk in there and grab a grandmother out and then kick them out.

We’re not going — and I think you have to be realistic in your indignation. I want to control the border. I want English to be the official language of government. I want us to have a lot of changes.

(APPLAUSE)

I am prepared to be very tough and very bold, but I’m also prepared to be realistic, because I’ve actually had to pass legislation in Washington and I don’t believe an unrealistic promise is going to get through, but I do believe, if there’s some level of humanity for people who have been here a long time, we can pass legislation that will decisively reduce illegality, decisively control the border and will once again mean the people who are in America are here legally.

BLITZER: I just want to make sure I understand. Is he still the most anti-immigrant candidate?

GINGRICH: I think, of the four of us, yes.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Governor.

ROMNEY: That’s simply unexcusable. That’s inexcusable. And, actually, Senator Marco Rubio came to my defense and said that ad was inexcusable and inflammatory and inappropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I’m not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife’s father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I’m anti-immigrant is repulsive.

Don’t use a term like that. You can say we disagree on certain policies, but to say that enforcing the U.S. law to protect our borders, to welcome people here legally, to expand legal immigration, as I have proved, that that’s somehow anti anti-immigrant is simply the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has characterized American politics too long.

And I’m glad that Marco Rubio called you out on it. I’m glad you withdrew it. I think you should apologize for it, and I think you should recognize that having differences of opinions on issues does not justify labeling people with highly charged epithets.

GINGRICH: I’ll tell you what…

(APPLAUSE)

I’ll give you an opportunity to self-describe. You tell me what language you would use to describe somebody who thinks that deporting a grandmother or a grandfather from their family — just tell me the language. I’m perfectly happy for you to explain what language you’d use.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, I think I described following the law as it exists in this country, which is to say, I’m not going around and rounding people up and deporting them.

What I said was, people who come here legally get a work permit. People who do not come here legally do not get a work permit. Those who don’t get work will tend, over time, to self-deport.

I’m not going to go find grandmothers and take them out of their homes and deport them. Those are your words, not my words. And to use that rhetoric suggests to people that somehow, if you’re not willing to keep people here who violated the law, that you’re anti- immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am pro-immigrant. I want people to come to America with skill and vitality and vibrance. I want them to come legally. There are grandmothers that live on the other side of the border that are waiting to come here legally. I want them to come here, too, not just those that are already here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, so we have gone — we’ve gone from your Washington attack when I first proposed this and you said it was outrageous; it would be a magnet to you’re accepting the fact that, you know, a family is going to take care of their grandmother or their grandfather.

The idea that you are going to push them out in some form by simply saying they can’t go get a job — I think the grandmother is still going to be here. All I want to do is to allow the grandmother to be here legally with some rights to have residency but not citizenship, so that he or she can finish their life with dignity within the law.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: You know, our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. Our problem is — all right.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It’s school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It’s people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.

And the real concern is the people who want to come here legally. Let’s let legal immigrants come here. Let’s stop illegal immigration.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The rhetoric on immigration, Governor, has been intense, as you well know, as all four of you know, and anyone who watches television knows. You had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto.”

What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry. I don’t get to see all the TV ads. Did he say that?

BLITZER: Did you say that?

GINGRICH: No. What I said was, we want everybody to learn English because we don’t — and I didn’t use the word “Spanish.” We do not want anyone trapped in a situation where they cannot get a commercial job, they cannot rise, and virtually every parent of every ethnic group — and by the way, they are 94 languages spoken at the Miami-Dade College — 94 languages. And that’s why I think English should be the official language of government, and that’s why I think every young American should learn English.

And my point was, no one should be trapped in a linguistics situation where they can’t go out and get a job and they can’t go out and work. So I would say as much as Governor Romney doesn’t particularly like my use of language, I found his use of language and his deliberate distortion equally offensive.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I’d like — I doubt that’s my ad, but we’ll take a look and find out. There are a bunch of ads out there that are being organized by other people.

But I think our position on English in our schools and in our nation is the same, which I believe English should be the official language of the United States, as it is. I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English.

So, when I was governor, I fought for — actually, before I was governor, I fought for, during my election and thereafter, a program to have English immersion in our schools so our kids could learn in English. I think we agree on this, which is, you know what? Kids in this country should learn English so they can have all the jobs and all the opportunity of people who are here.

BLITZER: I want to bring Congressman Paul and Senator Santorum into this. But let’s take this question from Miami.

CNN en Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez has a guest there.

LOPEZ: Hola, Wolf.

We’re at the viewing party for the Hispanic Leadership Network, and it really is a party. They are holding their yearly conference, a meeting of Hispanic Republican leaders. And I’m joined by Raquel Rodriguez. She’s an attorney in Miami. She practices business and international law, and she has a question for the candidates.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, good evening.

The U.S. has been largely away in its foreign and trade policy with Latin America. In the meantime, Iran and China have been increasing their influence over an involvement in Latin America through the leftist and left-leaning governments.

What would each of you do as president to more deeply engage in Latin America and, importantly, to support the governments and the political parties that support democracy and free markets?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, I think free trade is the answer. Free trade is an answer to a lot of conflicts around the world, so I’m always promoting free trade. And you might add Cuba, too. I think we would be a lot better off with Cuba, trading with Cuba.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So, I think the more you can do to promote this free trade, the better off we’ll be. But as far as us having an obligation, a military or a financial obligation to go down and dictate to them what government they should have, I don’t like that idea.

I would work with the people and encourage free trade, and try to set a standard here where countries in Central America or South America or any place in the world would want to emulate us and set the standards that we have. Unfortunately, sometimes we slip up on our standards and we go around the world and we try to force ourselves on others.

I don’t think the nations in South America and Central America necessarily want us to come down there and dictate which government they should have. And yet, I believe with friendship and trade, you can have a lot of influence, and I strongly believe that it’s time we have friendship and trade with Cuba.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, are you with Congressman Paul?

SANTORUM: No, I’m not with Congressman Paul and I’m not with Barack Obama on this issue.

Our policy in Central and South America under this administration has been abysmal. The way we have treated, in particular, countries like Honduras, Honduras, which stood up for the rule of law, which threw out a would-be dictator who was using the Chavez playbook from Venezuela in order to try to run for re-election in Honduras, and the United States government, instead of standing behind the — the people in the parliament, the people in the Supreme Court, who tried to enforce the constitution of Honduras — instead of siding with them, the Democrats, President Obama sided with two other people in South America — excuse me — Central America and South America. Chavez and Castro and Obama sided against the people of Honduras.

This is a consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the Marxists, siding with those who don’t support democracy, not standing up for our friends in Colombia, not standing up for our friends who want to engage and support America, who want to be great trading partners and great allies for our country, to be able to form that kind of bond that is so essential in our own hemisphere.

The European Union understood how important it was for diverse people to be able to come together in an economic unit. We only — not only have to come together as an economic unit, but the threat of terrorism, the threat of Iran now in Venezuela and in other places, and Cuba and in Nicaragua, the threat of radical Islam growing in that region — is it important for — it’s absolutely important for us to have a president who understands that threat and understands the solution is closer ties. I will visit that area of the world, repeatedly, to solidify those ties when I become president.

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

… quickly respond.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: The — the senator mentioned standing up for some of these nations, but he doesn’t define it, but standing up for nations like this usually means that we impose ourselves, go and pick the dictators, undermine certain governments, also sending them a lot of money.

It doesn’t work. Most of the time, this backfires. They resent us. We can achieve what he wants in a much different way than us using the bully attitude that you will do it our way. This is the…

(APPLAUSE)

This is not a benefit to us. And besides, where do you get the troops and where are you going to get the money? Because you’re talking about force. And I — I know of a much better way than using force to get along with people.

SANTORUM: I don’t know where…

(APPLAUSE)

I don’t know what answer Congressman Paul was listening to. He obviously wasn’t listening to my answer. (APPLAUSE)

What I talked about is building strong economic relationships, strong national security relationships. No one’s talking about force. Nobody’s talking about going into Cuba or going into Venezuela. It’s talking about the other countries in the region, which are being influenced greatly by those countries, that are tending and moving toward those militant socialists, instead of the United States.

Why? Because we’ve ignored them. You’ve got a president of the United States that held a Colombian free trade agreement — Colombia, who’s out there on the front lines, working with us against the narco- terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America. And what did we do?

For political — domestic political purposes, the president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years. We cannot do that to our friends in South America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, we’re going to — we’re going to come back to this.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to come back to Cuba, as well. But stand by for that.

We did double-check, just now, Governor, that ad that we talked about, where I quoted you as saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” — we just double-checked. It was one of your ads. It’s running here in Florida in — on the radio. And at the end you say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this ad.”

So it is — it is here.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Let me ask — let me ask a question.

Let me ask the speaker a question. Did you say what the ad says or not? I don’t know.

GINGRICH: It’s taken totally out of context.

ROMNEY: Oh, OK, he said it.

GINGRICH: I did not — no. I did not say it about Spanish. I said, in general, about all languages. We are better for children to learn English in general, period.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Let’s take a look at what he said. (APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We have a very important subject, housing. Not only here in Florida, foreclosures really, really bad, but all over the country. And a lot of people are wondering if the federal government contributed to the housing collapse in recent years.

We got a question that came in to us and — let me put it up there and I’ll read it to you. “How would you phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Does the private mortgage industry need additional regulation?” — that from William Schmidt.

Let me start with Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: Well, I think you know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a big part of why we have the housing crisis in the nation that we have. And we’ve had this discussion before.

Speaker Gingrich was hired by Freddie Mac to promote them, to — to influence other people throughout Washington, encouraging them to — not to dismantle these two entities. I think that was an enormous mistake. I think, instead, we should have had a whistle-blower and not horn-tooter.

He should have stood up and said, look, these things are a disaster; this is a crisis. He should have been anxiously telling the American people that these entities were causing a housing bubble that would cause a collapse that we’ve seen here in Florida and around the country. And are they a problem today? Absolutely. They’re offering mortgages, again to people who can’t possibly repay them. We’re creating another housing bubble, which will hurt the American people.

The right course for our — for our housing industry is to get people back to work so they can buy homes again. We have 9.9 percent unemployment in Florida. It’s unthinkable, 18 percent real unemployment here. Get people back to work. We’ll get people into homes. Get the foreclosures out of the system. Let people get into homes, rent properties if necessary and get America’s housing industry growing again.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Let me start by saying, Florida is one of the two or three most hard hit states on foreclosures. How many of you know somebody who has had a house foreclosed? Just raise your hand. Raise your hand.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Okay. The governor has cheerfully — the governor has cheerfully attacking me inaccurately and he knows it. The contracts we released from Freddie Mac said I would do no consulting, wrote in, no — I mean no lobbying, none. But this is a more interesting story. We began digging in after Monday night because frankly I’d had about enough of this. We discovered to our shock, Governor Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made a million dollars off of selling some of that. Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians.

So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments? And let’s be clear about that.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: First of all, my investments are not made by me. My investments for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee. Secondly, the investments that they’ve made, we’ve learned about this as we made our financial disclosure, have been in mutual funds and bonds. I don’t own stock in either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There are bonds that the investor has held through mutual funds. And Mr. Speaker, I know that sounds like an enormous revelation, but have you checked your own investments? You also have investments through mutual funds that also invest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Let me — let me — I’ve got more time. Let me — let me — let me just — let me just continue. There’s a big difference between buying like U.S. savings bonds and getting a return. That’s a — that’s not taking money out of the United States, that’s loaning money to the United States. And what my trustee did, is he loaned money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and — and they got paid interest of course, just like if you buy U.S. savings bonds. But what the speaker did, was to work as a spokesman to promote Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To protect them from those people that wanted to take them down.

He got paid $1.6 million to do that. He said his first contract indicated there would be no lobbying. But his second contract didn’t have that prescription taken out of it. And so you have to ask yourself why is that? What he was doing was clearly promoting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in this case Freddie Mac to the tune of $1.6 million. That is one of the reasons we’re in the trouble we’re in.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, you’ll notice that the governor wasn’t aware of the ad he was running. He’s not aware of the investments that were being made in his name.

ROMNEY: Of course, I can’t it’s a blind trust.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: …compare my investments with his is like comparing a tiny mouse with a giant elephant. The fact — the fact is…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: …that there is a very substantial question. You didn’t give any instructions to — to say, gee, let’s not do this or let’s not do that? You’re very quick to draw the widest possible exaggeration. The fact is, the only time I ever spoke to the Congress about this issue was in July of 2008. The New York Times reported it. I told the Republicans in the House, vote no. Do not give them any money. They need to be reformed. And in answer to the question earlier, I would break each of them up into five or six separate units.

And over a five year period, I would wean them from all federal sponsorship because we need to get away from this gigantic systems.

BLITZER: Let me bring Congressman Paul, then Senator Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: A follow up question to you both specifically. It seems they both acknowledge they both made money from Fannie and Freddie. Should they return that money?

PAUL: That — that subject really doesn’t interest me a whole lot.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But the question does. The — the question is, what are we going to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It should have been auctioned off right after the crash came. It would have been cleansed by now.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: It should have been sold.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But maybe it’s my physician background, but I think an ounce of prevention is what we ought to talk about so we can quit doing this. But we know how the bubble came about. It was excessive credit, interest rates held too low, too long, the Federal Reserve responsible for that.

Community Reinvestment Act, which is Affirmative Action telling banks they have to make these risky loans. And at the same time, there was a line of credit which allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to, you know, make more money. And it was — it was assumed that they would always be protected.

Now, you can’t argue. I’ve talked a long time about cutting off that credit from the Fed. I was trying to prevent this stuff.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Also, I opposed the Community Reinvestment Act, as well as I had legislation in 10 years before the bust came to remove that line of credit to the Treasury.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, I would just say, in answer to the question, that as I mentioned last debate, in 2006, I went out and authored a letter with 24 other senators asking for major reform of Freddie and Fannie, warning of a meltdown and a bubble in the housing market. I stood out, I stood tall, and tried to get a reform, and we couldn’t do it. The reform we’d need is to gradually decrease the amount of mortgage that can be financed by Freddie — or underwritten by Freddie and Fannie over time, keep reducing that until we get rid of Fannie and Freddie.

The bigger issue here is, these two gentlemen, who are out distracting from the most important issues we have been playing petty personal politics, can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies — and that’s not the worst thing in the world — and that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because worked hard and he’s going out and working hard? And you guys should that alone and focus on the issues.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We’re going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to discuss. Coming up, the debate questions go to space, the final frontier.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We’re continuing the debate here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Let’s get to the issue of transparency, because voters out there, they want to know as much about you four gentlemen as possible before they vote.

Tax returns — let me bring this to Speaker Gingrich.

Earlier this week, you said Governor Romney, after he released his taxes, you said that you were satisfied with the level of transparency of his personal finances when it comes to this. And I just want to reiterate and ask you, are you satisfied right now with the level of transparency as far as his personal finances?

GINGRICH: Wolf, you and I have a great relationship, it goes back a long way. I’m with him. This is a nonsense question.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Look, how about if the four of us agree for the rest of the evening, we’ll actually talk about issues that relate to governing America?

BLITZER: But, Mr. Speaker, you made an issue of this, this week, when you said that, “He lives in a world of Swiss bank and Cayman Island bank accounts.” I didn’t say that. You did.

GINGRICH: I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.

BLITZER: But if you make a serious accusation against Governor Romney like that, you need to explain that.

GINGRICH: I simply suggested –

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: You want to try again? I mean –

ROMNEY: Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: OK. All right.

Given that standard, Mitt, I did say I thought it was unusual. And I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account. I’d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.

ROMNEY: OK. I will. I will. I’ll say it again.

I have a trustee that manages my investments in a blind trust. That was so that I would avoid any conflicts of interest. That trustee indicated last week, when he was asked about this, he said that he wanted to diversify the investments that I had. And for awhile he had money in a Swiss account, reported in the U.S., full taxes paid on it, U.S. taxes.

There’s nothing wrong with that. And I know that there may be some who try to make a deal of that, as you have publicly. But look, I think it’s important for people to make sure that we don’t castigate individuals who have been successful and try and, by innuendo, suggest there’s something wrong with being successful and having investments and having a return on those investments.

Speaker, you’ve indicated that somehow I don’t earn that money. I have earned the money that I have. I didn’t inherit it.

I take risks. I make investments. Those investments lead to jobs being created in America.

I’m proud of being successful. I’m proud of being in the free enterprise system that creates jobs for other people. I’m not going to run from that.

I’m proud of the taxes I pay. My taxes, plus my charitable contributions, this year, 2011, will be about 40 percent.

So, look, let’s put behind this idea of attacking me because of my investments or my money, and let’s get Republicans to say, you know what? What you’ve accomplished in your life shouldn’t be seen as a detriment, it should be seen as an asset to help America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, I’m ready to move on, if you are.

GINGRICH: What?

BLITZER: I said I’m ready to move on to the next subject if you are.

GINGRICH: I’m happy to. I’m happy to simply say, you know, it would be nice if you had the same standard for other people that you would like applied to you and didn’t enter into personal attacks about personal activities about which you are factually wrong. So I would be glad to have a truce with you, but it’s a two-way truce.

(BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I’m happy on any occasion to describe the things that I believe with regards to the Speaker’s background. We’ll probably get a chance to do that as time goes on.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, explain why you think the money that he made over these many years, recent years, under your tax — hold on. Mr. Speaker, under your tax plan — we’re talking about taxes right now. This is substance. Under your proposed tax plan, he would pay zero taxes. Explain that.

GINGRICH: Well, it would depend on whether the particular kind of payments he made were counted under that plan as capital gains or whether they were counted as regular income. But even as regular income, he would pay about the same. And I’ve said this.

This is where I’m the opposite of Obama. I believe we need to have somebody who fights for hardworking taxpayers.

My interest is in reducing everybody’s tax here to 15 percent, not trying to raise his to the Obama level. So I proposed an alternative flat tax –

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: You know, I have proposed an alternative flat tax that people could fill out where you could either keep the current system — this is what they do in Hong Kong — keep the current system with all of its deductions and all its paperwork, or you’d have a single page — I earned this amount, I have this number of dependents, here is 15 percent. My goal is to shrink the government to fit the revenue, not to raise the revenue to catch up with the government.

And I’d be happy…

(APPLAUSE)

Let me just say, I’d — I would be happy to have the Mitt Romney flat tax for every American to pay at that rate, and I haven’t complained about the rate he pays.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, most of the polls, almost all of the polls, want the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes in order to balance the budget. Why are they wrong, in your opinion?

SANTORUM: Because we need to have as much money funneling through this economy as possible. And the people who make those investments are people who have resources and wealth, and we want them to deploy that wealth in the most productive way possible.

And when you increase tax rates and you make things much more expensive to do — in other words, the rate of return is not as profitable, then they tend to do things like investing in — in nontaxable instruments and other things that don’t employ people.

And so what I believe is we need to reduce taxes. I don’t — look, I’m honest. I don’t reduce the higher — top rate as much as these other folks do. I take the Reagan approach. Ronald Reagan had a 28 percent top rate. If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it’s good enough for me. And that’s what we put the top rate as.

(APPLAUSE)

And — and we have a bottom rate of 10 percent. I believe in a differential. I don’t believe in a flat tax. I believe in a simplified tax code with five deductions and — and focus on simplify, creating two rates.

I disagree with Newt also on this. I don’t believe in a zero capital gains tax rate. I don’t think you need to get to zero to make sure that there’s an efficient deployment of capital and investment.

I think, if you get to zero, then, in fact, guys like Mitt Romney, who, again, I give him — I wish I made as much money as Mitt Romney, but…

(APPLAUSE)

But — you know, but he wouldn’t probably pay much at all in taxes. And I think that, as long as the tax is not one that deters a proper investment to be able to deploy capital and to get jobs created, then lower rates are better than zero when it comes to the issue of capital gains.

BLITZER: Are you with Ronald Reagan as far as the tax rates, as Senator Santorum has suggested, Congressman Paul?

PAUL: No, he taxed too much. My goal is to get rid of the 16th amendment. And the only way you can do that…

(APPLAUSE)

The only way you can do that is not run a welfare system and a warfare system in policing the world.

But I do want to address this subject about taxing the rich. That is not a solution. But I understand and really empathize with the people who talk about the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Because there’s a characteristic about what happens when you destroy a currency. There is a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. And this has been going on for 40 years. So the middle class is shrinking. They are getting poorer and they’re losing their jobs and they’re losing their houses. But Wall Street isn’t getting poorer. And they are the ones who are getting the bailout.

So we have to address the bailout and the system that favors a certain group over another group. If you don’t have sound money and if you have a welfare state, no matter whether the welfare state is designed to help the poor, you know, the welfare system helps the wealthy.

And there has been this transfer of wealth. So, if we could stop all of these transfers to the wealthy class, but the solution isn’t to tax the wealthy. If you give an honest product and customers buy that product, you deserve to keep that money and earn that money. But there’s a big difference between those who earn money and those who rip us off through the government and the monetary system.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you’re a physician. You’re 76 years old. You would be the oldest president of the United States if you were elected. Are you prepared to release your medical records so voters out there know what your health is?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Oh, obviously, because it’s about one page, if even that long. But…

(LAUGHTER)

But I’m willing to…

(APPLAUSE)

I’m willing to challenge any of these gentlemen up here to a 25- mile bike ride any time of the day in the heat of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know — you know, that subject has come up and sometimes in fun but sometimes not in fun. But, you know, there are laws against age discrimination, so if you push this too much, you better be careful.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: I raise the question because you remember, four years ago, the same question came up with John McCain and he released his records, finally. I remember our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent hours reviewing those records.

So let me go down and ask all of you. Are you ready to release your medical records?

ROMNEY: Happy to do so.

GINGRICH: I’m happy to. And I also want to attest I’m confident that Dr. Paul is quite ready to serve if he’s elected. Watching him campaign, he’s in great shape.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, we have another question from the audience. I’ll look forward to seeing your medical records.

(LAUGHTER)

Go ahead.

Let’s take a question right now. Please introduce yourself, as well.

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Matthew Bathel (ph). My question is, what would your plan be for the future of manned space flight and the future of NASA?

BLITZER: All right, let me go to Governor Romney on this one. An important issue, especially here in Florida where a lot of people have lost their jobs as a result of the decline of the space program. Yesterday Speaker Gingrich outlined a — a pretty long plan on what to do about it and he said that by the end of his second term, if he were elected president, there would be a permanent base on the moon. Good idea?

ROMNEY: That’s an enormous expense. And right now I want to be spending money here. Of course the space coast has been badly hurt and I believe in a very vibrant and strong space program. To define the mission for our space program, I’d like to bring in the — the top professors that relate to space areas and physics, the top people from industry. Because I want to make sure what we’re doing in space translates into commercial products. I want to bring in our top military experts on space needs.

And — and finally of course, the — the people from — the administration if I had an administration. I’d like to come together and talk about different options and the cost. I’d like corporate America as well as the defense network and others that could come together in a — in a part — in, if you will, a partnership basis to create a plan that will keep our space program thriving and growing. I — I believe in a manned space program. I’d like to see whether they believe in the same thing.

I’m not — I’m not looking for a — a colony on the moon. I think the cost of that would be in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions. I’d rather be rebuilding housing here in the U.S.

BLITZER: We have a question. I want to speaker to weigh in as well.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: This question is related from — we got it from Twitter. Speaker Gingrich, how do you plan to create a base on the moon while keeping taxes down in eight years?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: I think, look it’s a great question. You start with the question, do you really believe NASA in it’s current form is the most effective way of leveraging investment in space? We now have a bureaucracy sitting there, which has managed to mismanage the program so well that in fact we have no lift vehicle. So you almost have to wonder, what does the Washington office of NASA do? Does it sit around and think space?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Does it contemplate that some day we could have a rocket? My point in the speech I made yesterday, which is on CSPAN and I’d love to have all of you look at it. It’s based on having looked at space issues since the late 1950′s when missiles and rockets was a separate magazine. And working with NASA and others. I believe by the use of prizes, by the use of incentives, by opening up the space port so that it’s available on a ready basis for commercial fight, by using commonsense for example the Atlas-V could easily be fixed into a man capable vehicle so you didn’t have to rely on — on a Russian launch or a Chinese launch.

There are many things you can do to leverage accelerating the development of space. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000.00 prize. If we had a handful of serious prizes, you’d see an extraordinary number of people out there trying to get to the moon first in order to have billed (ph) that. And I’d like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I — I believe America’s a frontier nation and obviously the frontier that — that we’re talking about is — is the next one, which is space. And that we need to inspire. One of the big problems we have in our country today is that young people are not getting involved in math and science and not dreaming big dreams. So NASA or the space program where space is important, NASA is one component that — our — our space defense is another area. I think both of — both of which are very, very important. I agree that we need to bring good minds in the private sector much more involved in NASA than the government bureaucracy that we have. But let’s just be honest, we run a $1.2 trillion deficit right now. We’re — we’re borrowing 40-cents of every dollar. And to go out there and promise new programs and big ideas, that’s a great thing to maybe get votes, but it’s not a responsible thing when you have to go out and say that we have to start cutting programs, not talking about how to — how to — how to grow them.

We’re going to cut programs. We’re going to spend — under my administration, we’re going to spend less money every year — every year. Year, to year, to year the federal government amount of spending will go down for four years until we get a balanced budget. And you can’t do that by — by — by grand schemes. Whether it’s the space program or frankly whether it’s the Speaker’s Social Security program, which will create a brand-new Social Security entitlement. Those are things that sound good and maybe make big promises to people, but we’ve got to be responsible in the way we allocate our resources.

BLITZER: We’re going to get to that in a moment, but…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, Texas, the space program very important there as well. Where do you stand on this?

PAUL: Well, I don’t think we should go to the moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But I went — I went into the Air Force in 1962 and studied aerospace medicine. Actually had a daydream about maybe becoming the first physician to go into space. That — that didn’t occur, but I see space — the amount of money we spend on space, the only part that I would vote for is for national defense purposes. Not to explore the moon and go to Mars. I think that’s fantastic. That’s — I love those ideas. But I also don’t like the idea of building government business partnerships. If we had a healthy economy and had more Bill Gateses and more Warren Buffetts, the money would be there. It should be privatized, and the people who work in the industry, if you had that, there would be jobs in aerospace.

And I just think that we don’t need a bigger, a newer program, when you think of the people — I mean, health care or something else deserves a lot more priority than going to the moon. So, I would be very reluctant, but space technology should be followed up to some degree for national defense purposes, but not just for the fun of it and, you know, for — you know, for scientific –

BLITZER: We’re going to leave this subject, but before we do, I want Speaker Gingrich to clarify what you said yesterday in that major speech you delivered on space. You said that you would support a lunar colony or a lunar base, and that if 13,000 Americans were living there, they would be able to apply for U.S. statehood from the moon.

GINGRICH: I was meeting Rick’s desire for grandiose ideas. But –

BLITZER: That’s a pretty grandiose idea.

GINGRICH: But let me make just two points about this.

It is really important to go back and look at what John F. Kennedy said in May of 1961 when he said, “We will go to the moon in this decade.” No American had orbited the Earth. The technology didn’t exist.

And a generation of young people went into science and engineering and technology, and they were tremendously excited. And they had a future.

I actually agree with Dr. Paul. The program I envision would probably end up being 90 percent private sector, but it would be based on a desire to change the government rules and change the government regulations, to get NASA out of the business of trying to run rockets, and to create a system where it’s easy for private sector people to be engaged.

I want to see us move from one launch occasionally to six or seven launches a day because so many private enterprises walk up and say, we’re prepared to go do it. But I’ll tell you, I do not want to be the country that having gotten to the moon first, turned around and said, it doesn’t really matter, let the Chinese dominate space, what do we care? I think that is a path of national decline, and I am for America being a great country, not a country in decline.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We’re going to move on, but go ahead, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, “You’re fired.”

The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it’s not a good idea. And we have seen in politics — we’ve seen politicians — and Newt, you’ve been part of this — go from state to state and promise exactly what that state wants to hear. The Speaker comes here to Florida, wants to spend untold amount of money having a colony on the moon. I know it’s very exciting on the Space Coast.

In South Carolina, it was a new interstate highway, and dredging the port in Charleston. In New Hampshire, it was burying a power line coming in from Canada and building a new VHA hospital in New Hampshire so that people don’t have to go to Boston.

Look, this idea of going state to state and promising what people want to hear, promising billions, hundreds of billions of dollars to make people happy, that’s what got us into the trouble we’re in now. We’ve got to say no to this kind of spending.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I want to make two points.

First, I thought we were a country where one of the purposes of candidates going around was to actually learn about the states they campaigned in and actually be responsive to the needs of the states they campaign in. For example, the port of Jacksonville is going to have to be expanded because the Panama Canal is being widened, and I think that’s useful thing for a president to know. I think it’s important for presidents to know about local things.

Second — and at the other end of the state, the Everglades Restoration Project has to be completed, and it’s the federal government which has failed.

But, second, in response to what Rick said, when we balanced the budget with the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, and ultimately had four consecutive balanced budgets, we doubled the size of the National Institutes of Health because we set priorities. It is possible to do the right things in the right order to make this a bigger, richer, more exciting country.

You don’t just have to be cheap everywhere. You can actually have priorities to get things done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We’re going to move on.

But go ahead, Ron Paul.

PAUL: I want to make a quick comment, because Newt’s mentioned this quite a few times about balancing the budget for four times. I went back and looked at the record.

The budget was — the national debt during those four years actually went up about a trillion dollars. What he’s talking about is, he doesn’t count the money he takes out of Social Security.

So, Reagan nor you had a truly balanced budget because the national debt goes up, and that’s what we pay the interest on. So I think you’ve stretched that a little bit more than you should have.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Go ahead and respond. And then Senator Santorum.

GINGRICH: No, I…

BLITZER: You want to respond to Congressman Paul?

GINGRICH: No, I would just say — I would just say, under the system that was used, we were $405 billion (inaudible)…

(BOOING)

I agree with Ron — but let me finish. I actually agree with you, and I propose that we take Social Security off budget so no president can ever again get threaten, as Obama did in August, that he would not send the check out, and you could set Social Security back up as a free-standing trust fund. It does have enough money and you could in fact pay the checks without regard to politics in Washington.

BLITZER: Go ahead, quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Well, look, we just listened to the president of the United States the other night completely ignore the biggest problem facing this country when it comes to our financial health. We’ve been downgraded as a — as a — as a country and the president of the United States completely ignored any of the heavy work, the hard work in being honest with the American public about what we have to do to get our fiscal house in order.

And I think that’s the point I would make here. Going around and promising a whole bunch of new ideas and new projects and big ideas — that was fine. And maybe we need it; we can do that. I supported the doubling of the National Institutes of Health. But we didn’t have a $1.2 trillion deficit. We didn’t — we weren’t at over — we are now going to reach $16 trillion, which is more than our whole GDP. We were not in that situation 20, 15 years ago.

We are in a different world. We need leaders who are going to be honest with the people of this country, of the problems we have, and have bold solutions to make that happen. I’ll do that.

BLITZER: Let’s continue on this subject.

(APPLAUSE)

But let’s take a question from the audience.

Go ahead. Stand up and please introduce yourself.

QUESTION: My name is Lynn Frazier and I live here in Jacksonville. And for the Republican presidential candidates, my question is, I’m currently unemployed and I found myself unemployed for the first time in 10 years and unable to afford health care benefits.

What type of hope can you promise me and others in my position?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s ask Congressman Paul.

PAUL: Well, it’s a tragedy because this is a consequence of the government being involved in medicine since 1965.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a whole lot, but my dad had a small insurance, but medical care costs weren’t that much. And you should have an opportunity — medical care insurance should be given to you as an individual, so if you’re employed or not employed, you have — you just take care of that and you keep it up. When you lose a job, sometimes you lose your insurance.

But the cost is so high. When you pump money into something, like housing, cost — prices go up. If you pump money into education, the cost of education goes up. When the government gets involved in medicine, you don’t get better care; you get — cost goes up and it distorts the economy and leads to a crisis.

But your medical care should go with you. You should get total deduction on it. It would be so much less expensive. It doesn’t solve every single problem, but you’re — you’re suffering from the consequence of way too much government and the cost going up because government has inflated the cost and we have a government-created recession, and that is a consequence of the business cycle.

BLITZER: Speaker — Speaker Gingrich, what should Lynn do?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, look, the first — she actually put her finger on two different problems. The largest challenge of this country is to get the economy growing so she can have a job so it’s easy for her to have insurance.

We — we need — and the president did nothing about this the other night. In fact, his proposal on taxes would make the economy worse.

We need to have a program which would start with, frankly, repealing Obamacare, repealing Dodd-Frank, repealing Sarbanes-Oxley.

(APPLAUSE)

And we need to give her a chance at a job.

Second, we need real health reform, not the Obama style, but we need health reform that allows her to buy in. And Dr. Paul is right. She ought to get the same tax break whether she buys personally or whether she buys through a economy.

She should also be able to buy into an association so that she’s buying with lots of other people so it’s not single insurance, which is the most expensive kind.

But you combine those two, reforming the insurance system and getting the economy growing again so people are back at work, you cure an awful lot of America’s problems with those two steps, and you put her back in a position where she’s in charge of her life; she’s not dependent on Barack Obama to take care of her.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: That plan work for you, Governor? ROMNEY: Actually, what both these gentlemen said is pretty much spot-on. And I’d — and I’ll add a couple of things.

One, I want to underscore something both of them said, and that is, right now in America, if you have insurance, you most likely got it through your employer. And the reason is, your employer gets a deduction for you when they buy the insurance for you.

That means that, if you change jobs, you’ve got to get a new insurance company, most likely. And if you become unemployed, you lose your insurance.

That doesn’t make sense. And if an individual wants to own their own insurance, they’re not part of a big group, and so as a result they get a very high rate.

What we should do is allow individuals to own their own insurance and have the same tax treatment as companies get. You do that and people like this young woman would be able to own her insurance. The rates would be substantial lower for her buying it individually than if she had to buy it individually today.

Secondly, getting people to work. This president has failed the American people.

He got up there and gave a speech last night. It was like Groundhog Day all over again. He said the same things and the same results we’re seeing today. People are not working.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And we know what it takes to put people back to work. He said some of those things last night — lowering corporate taxes, lowering regulations, opening up all of the above in energy, cracking down on China. He just doesn’t do any of those things, and if I’m president, I will do those things and I’ll get you back to work.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: All three of these folks sound great and I agree with them. I would just add that health savings account, which I introduced 20 years ago with John Kasich, is really the fundamental reform of getting consumers back involved in the health care system.

The problem with the answers from Congressman Gingrich and Governor Romney is that, well, they didn’t always say what they’re saying. Governor Romney was the author of Romneycare, which is a top- down government-run health care system which, read an article today, has 15 different items directly in common with Obamacare, everything from the increase in the Medicaid program, not just that government is going to mandate you buy something that’s a condition of breathing, mandate that you buy an insurance policy, something that Governor Romney agreed to at the state level, something Congressman Gingrich for 20 years advocated, that the federal government can force each and every person to enter into a private contract. Something that everyone now, at least up on this stage, says is radically unconstitutional, Congressman Gingrich supported for 20 years.

Governor Romney supported it in the state, a state that is a — pretty much a model for what Obamacare is going to look like — the highest health care costs in the country, 27 percent above the average, average waiting time — 94 percent of the people in Massachusetts are now insured, but there was just a survey that came out and said one in four don’t get the care they need because of the high cost. So, you have a card, you’re covered, but you can’t get care.

This is the top-down model that both of these gentlemen say they’re now against, but they’ve been for, and it does not provide the contrast we need with Barack Obama if we’re going to take on that most important issue. We cannot give the issue of health care away in this election. It is too foundational for us to win this election.

BLITZER: A quick rebuttal from Speaker Gingrich and then Governor Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, in my case, I think Rick is lumping us together rather more than is accurate.

If you go to healthtransformation.net, I founded the Center for Health Transformation. I wrote a book in 2002 called “Saving Lives and Saving Money.” It calls for you and your doctor and your pharmacist and your hospital have a relationship. I believe in something like patient power.

I didn’t advocate federal mandates. I talked about it at a state level, finding a way — which included an escape clause that people didn’t have to buy it — finding a way to try to have people have insurance, particularly for wealthy people who are simply free-riding on local hospitals. But the fact is, it was a personal system, dramatically different than either Romneycare or the version Rick just discussed.

BLITZER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: The system that we put in place in our state was something we worked out with the labor community, the health care community, business, and the citizens of the nation. We came together, it was voted by a 200-person legislature. Only two voted no.

Our system has a lot of flaws, a lot of things I’d do differently. It has a lot of benefits. The people of the state like it by about three to one.

We consider it very different than Obamacare. If I were president, day one I will take action to repeal Obamacare. It’s bad medicine. It’s bad economy. I’ll repeal it.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And I believe the people — I believe the people of each state should be able to craft programs that they feel are best for their people. I think ours is working pretty well. If I were governor, it would work a heck of a lot better.

BLITZER: All right.

And very quickly, go ahead.

SANTORUM: What Governor Romney just said is that government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in Massachusetts and he supports it. Now, think about what that means –

ROMNEY: That’s not what I said.

SANTORUM: — going up against Barack Obama, who you are going to claim, well, top-down government-run medicine on the federal level doesn’t work and we should repeal it. And he’s going to say, wait a minute, Governor. You just said that top-down government-run medicine in Massachusetts works well.

Folks, we can’t give this issue away in this election. It is about fundamental freedom. Whether the United States government or even a state government — you have Amendment 1 (ph) here offered by Scott Pleitgen (ph), who, by the way, endorsed me today, and it’s going to be on your ballot as to whether there should be a government mandate here in Florida.

According to Governor Romney, that’s OK. If the state does it, that’s OK. If the state wants to enforce it, that’s OK. Those are not the clear contrasts we need if we’re going to defeat Barack Obama and a –

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Very quickly.

ROMNEY: Rick, I make enough mistakes in what I say, not for you to add more mistakes to what I say. I didn’t say I’m in favor of top- down government-run health care, 92 percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes for them. They own the same private insurance they had before.

And for the 8 percent of people who didn’t have insurance, we said to them, if you can afford insurance, buy it yourself, any one of the plans out there, you can choose any plan. There’s no government plan.

And if you don’t want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn’t have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility.

Either get the insurance or help pay for your care. And that was the conclusion that we reached.

SANTORUM: Does everybody in Massachusetts have a requirement to buy health care?

ROMNEY: Everyone has a requirement to either buy it or pay the state for the cost of providing them free care. Because the idea of people getting something for free when they could afford to care for themselves is something that we decided in our state was not a good idea.

SANTORUM: So, in Massachusetts…

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Just so I understand this, in Massachusetts, everybody is mandated as a condition of breathing in Massachusetts, to buy health insurance, and if you don’t, and if you don’t, you have to pay a fine.

What has happened in Massachusetts is that people are now paying the fine because health insurance is so expensive. And you have a pre-existing condition clause in yours, just like Barack Obama.

So what is happening in Massachusetts, the people that Governor Romney said he wanted to go after, the people that were free-riding, free ridership has gone up five-fold in Massachusetts. Five times the rate it was before. Why? Because…

ROMNEY: That’s total, complete…

SANTORUM: I’ll be happy to give you the study. Five times the rate it has gone up. Why? Because people are ready to pay a cheaper fine and then be able to sign up to insurance, which are now guaranteed under “Romney-care,” than pay high cost insurance, which is what has happened as a result of “Romney-care.”

ROMNEY: First of all, it’s not worth getting angry about. Secondly, the…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Secondly, 98 percent of the people have insurance. And so the idea that more people are free-riding the system is simply impossible. Half of those people got insurance on their own. Others got help in buying the insurance.

Look, I know you don’t like the plan that we had. I don’t like the Obama plan. His plan cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn’t, of course, touch anything like that. He raises taxes by $500 billion. We didn’t do that.

He wasn’t interested in the 8 percent of the people that were uninsured. He was concerned about the 100 percent of the people of the country. “Obama-care” takes over health care for the American people.

If I’m president of the United States, I will stop it. And in debating Barack Obama, I will be able to show that I have passion and concern for the people in this country that need health care, like this young woman who asked the question.

But I will be able to point out that what he did was wrong. It was bad medicine, it’s bad for the economy, and I will repeal it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s move on, let’s move on.

SANTORUM: Wolf, what Governor Romney said is just factually incorrect. Your mandate is no different than Barack Obama’s mandate. It is the same mandate. He takes over…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. All right.

SANTORUM: You take over 100 percent, just like he takes over 100 percent, requires the mandate. The same fines that you put in place in Massachusetts are fines that he puts in place in the federal level. Same programs.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, who is right?

PAUL: I think they’re all wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: I think this — this is a typical result of when you get government involved, because all you are arguing about is which form of government you want. They have way too much confidence in government sorting this out.

So, I would say there’s a much better way. And that is allow the people to make their decisions and not get the government involved. You know, it has only been…

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: When I started medicine, there was no Medicare or Medicaid. And nobody was out in the streets without it. Now, now people are suffering, all the complaints going on. So the government isn’t our solution.

So, I’m not too happy with this type of debate, trying to blame one versus the other, so, but — most likely we’re going to continue to have this problem unless we straighten out the economy. And that means…

BLITZER: I’ll give you 30 seconds, Mr. Speaker. PAUL: … cut the spending. And they talk about these new programs and all, but how many of the other candidates are willing to cut anything? I’m willing to cut $1 trillion out of the first year.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right.

GINGRICH: Well, I just want to say that I actually think if you look at what Ron Paul’s background is as a doctor, and you look at medicine in the early ’60s, and you look at how communities solved problems, it was a fundamentally more flexible and less expensive system.

And there’s a lot to be said for rethinking from the ground up, the entire approach to health care.

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami. We have another question.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: CNN Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez is standing by. Go ahead?

LOPEZ: Yes, Wolf, our question now comes from Jennifer Coryn (ph) she is a — the Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, our cosponsor and she is the spouse of a Marine Corps Gunnery Sargent and I believe, Jennifer, your question has to do with the future?

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you very much and good evening. We have many qualified, Hispanic leaders. Which of our Hispanic leaders would you consider to serve in your cabinet?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM:: Well, I mean I hate to throw one to Florida, but obviously your Senator Marco Rubio is a pretty impressive guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I think that there are a number, and I think for example of — of when you think cabinet, I think for example of Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico. You know, at the cabinet level I think of somebody like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I actually thought about Marco Rubio on a slightly more dignified and central role, then being in the cabinet, but that’s another conversation.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: We — we are blessed — we’re blessed to have an enormous number of highly qualified Hispanic-Americans in the Republican Party and leadership right now. Brian Sandoval, the governor of — of Nevada. You mentioned Susana Martinez in New Mexico. I — both of the Diaz-Belart brothers, one retired from Congress, the other currently there. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mel Martinez is back in the private sector. Who knows, he could be pulled back. Of course, Senator Marco Rubio a — a terrific Hispanic- American. I — I’m sure I’m missing many, many others, but we have a — a remarkable — Carlos Gutierrez, formerly secretary of Commerce.

These individuals can for membership in our — in our cabinet, I believe. And — and potentially as the — as the speaker indicates, other positions as well.

PAUL: I — I — I don’t have one particular name that I’m going to bring up, but my litmus test would be to get individuals, Hispanic or otherwise to understand monetary policy and understand the system. But also the Hispanic community is especially attuned to the foreign policy of non-intervention. They — they are more opposed to war than other communities, so I would think there’s plenty in the Hispanic community that could give me good advice and an understanding of why a non-intervention foreign policy is very attractive to the Hispanic people.

BLITZER: All right, gentleman stand by. Much more to discuss. I want to take a short break. We have many more topics to include — including this, we’ll get into this a little bit, what would your wife — why would your wife make the best first lady. I’ll ask these four candidates. Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I’m Wolf Blitzer.

We’re here in Jacksonville for CNN’s Florida Republican presidential debate. Many of you are watching online, commenting on Twitter, Facebook, at CNN.com. We have many more questions for the candidates, including one that hits close to home.

Stand by to find out why each man on this stage thinks his wife would be the best first lady.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Want to get right back to the rest of the debate, but first, on a lighter subject, I want to ask each of these gentlemen why they think their wife would make a great first lady.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, she’s been my wife for 54 years. And we’re going to have an anniversary on February 1st.

BLITZER: Congratulations.

PAUL: So — but she’s the mother of five of our children, and she’s a grandmother of 18 grandchildren, does an excellent job. And she’s also the author of a very famous cookbook, “The Ron Paul Cookbook.”

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: I’ve got to take a little bit more time, a little more seriousness.

My — nothing wrong with what you said — I’m sorry.

My wife is also a mom, as I pointed out early on, but in some respects, she is a real champion and a fighter. She was diagnosed in 1998 with Multiple Sclerosis, and more recently with breast cancer. She has battled both successfully. And as first lady, she will be able to reach out to people who are also struggling and suffering and will be someone who shows compassion and care.

And she’s also had a passion all of her adult life on helping people in troubled situations, young women in particular, understand the importance of getting married before they have babies and encouraging people to create families to raise kids in.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Let me say, first of all, having gotten to know them, I think all three of the wives represented here would be terrific first ladies. Callista and I have gotten to know all three of them, and we think they’d be fabulous people. So I would rather just to talk about why I like Callista, and why I’d like her to be first lady, but she’s not necessarily in any way better. These are wonderful people, and they would be wonderful first ladies.

But Callista brings a couple of things. One is a tremendous artistic focus. She’s done a video in music education, why it really matters. She’s a pianist by background, plays the French horn in a community band, sings in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She really cares about the arts and would bring a really strong feeling for music education and for art, and why it matters to people as part of their education.

She’s also very patriotic about American exceptionalism. She’s had a best-selling “New York Times” book, children’s book, and has really reached out to young people to get them to understand America.

And she’s helped produce and host seven movies now, so she would bring an entire, I think, artistic flavor.

But — and I, obviously, would be thrilled to be able to hang out with her at the White House. So it would be good.

BLITZER: And I suspect you would be.

Unfortunately, Senator Santorum, your wife is not here tonight.

SANTORUM: Yeah, she’s not. She’s — she’s doing what she does incredibly well, which is to be a mother to our seven children. And she is — she’s my hero. She’s someone who has been, you know, well- educated. She was a neo-natal intensive care nurse for nine years at one of the most advanced nurseries in the — in the country.

She went on to, because she saw all these ethical challenges there, so she went on and got a law degree so she could — she could deal with those in the — in the legal world.

And then when she got married, she gave that up; she walked away and walked into something that she felt called to do, which was to be a mom and to be a wife.

And we’ve — we’ve had eight children. We are blessed to be raising seven. We’ve been through a lot together, losing a child, having a child with a disability that we have now, our little Bella.

And the — the amount of love for these special kids is just palpable in her.

She wrote a book about our son that we lost called “Letters to Gabriel,” about that ordeal that we went through. That book, that little book has saved countless — I don’t — we know of at least hundreds of lives that were saved because people read that book and realized that the child they we’re carrying had the dignity to be love and nurtured irrespective of what malady may have — may have befallen that baby in the womb. And so many children were born and are alive today because of that book.

She’s also written a book on manners. That’s something that I — I — we have seven children, so we know that kids are not born good. And…

(LAUGHTER)

… and so manners is very important in our house. And she wrote a storybook because there were all sorts of how-to books on manners but there was no storybook, teaching manners through, well, how Christ taught us, through stories. And — and that’s what she did. And that book has hopefully somewhat civilized some children around this country.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Very nice.

All right, let’s get back to the debate — the debate now.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Romney, you criticized Speaker Gingrich for not being as close to Ronald Reagan as he says he was. When you ran for the Senate, you said you were, quote, “You weren’t trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”

So the question is, do you think you can claim the Reagan mantle more than Speaker Gingrich? ROMNEY: Oh, of course not. No, I — I was — at the time Ronald Reagan was — was president, I was just getting started. I went through school, came out of school, got my first job, worked my way up in a consulting company, and then, after awhile, started a business of my own. I was looking at politics from afar and learning as time went on.

I didn’t get involved in politics early in my life. I instead spent my time building a business. And then later, as my business had been successful and we’d been involved in some turnaround situations, some businesses in trouble that we were able to help — not all worked out as we’d hoped, but a number did — I got asked to go off and help get the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 on track and put aside my business and went — went to Utah. And it was perhaps the greatest professional experience of my life, going there and spending three years helping getting those games on track.

I — I happen to believe the Olympics is one of the great showcases of the — of the human spirit that exists in the media world. And it was very successful. And then — and then, after that, I was asked by some friends to come back and run for governor, did that. And that’s when I became terribly politically involved.

And in that involvement, I learned a lot of lessons. Being governor taught me a lot of things. I became more conservative, by the way, as I was governor, and found the importance of lowering taxes, making it easier for businesses to grow, the importance of driving schools to be the best in the country. Those are the things I did.

And so I’m not suggesting — the speaker was a congressman at the time Ronald Reagan was president, so he — he, of course, was closer to the Ronald Reagan era than I.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, you’ve heard the criticism lately that you weren’t necessarily as close to the president as you suggest?

GINGRICH: Well, it’s increasingly interesting to watch the Romney attack machine coordinate things. And all of a sudden, today, there are like four different articles by four different people that randomly show up.

The fact is, I’m thrilled that Michael Reagan has endorsed me and will be campaigning with me here in Florida. I remember very fondly, in 1995, when we were at the Goldwater Institute and Nancy Reagan said, you know, “Barry gave Ronnie the torch, and now Ronny’s passing the torch to Newt and his team in Congress. So I think it’s reasonable to say, and I think the governor said it fairly, I am vastly closer to Reagan. In that period the governor was an independent business person. In ’92 he was donating to the Democrats for Congress and voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary. In ’94 running against Teddy Kennedy, he said flatly, I don’t want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era, I was an independent.

So there’s a pretty wide gap. Now, he’s more mature. He’s more conservative, I accept that. I think it’s a good thing. But those of us who were in the trenches fighting in the ’80′s, it would be nice to be recognized for what we actually did and not to have orchestrated attacks to try to distort the history of that period.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, you can respond please.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Just a — just a short clarification. I — I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot. And — and in my state of Massachusetts, you could register as an independent and go vote in which — either primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took. And so I — I’m…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …I have voted — I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican on the ballot. With regards to the Speaker’s involvement in the Reagan years, he can speak for himself. The Reagan Diaries and the other histories that were written at that time can lay that out as well. I — I — I think, I think what he said speaks for itself and I’m proud of the things I was able to accomplish.

BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience. Go ahead. Please stand up and give us your name?

QUESTION: Hi, my name is George Miatus (ph), I live here in Jacksonville and when I was 3-years-old I was very blessed that my parents brought me here from Cuba. They brought me here so that I could be raised in freedom and in liberty. President Obama has recently announced that he is liberalizing trade and travel policies. What would be your position as president toward the island of Cuba?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I would oppose it. I’ve been 100 percent in support of the Cuban people and their right to have a free Cuba and the United States should stand on the side of the Cuban people against these despots who are not just reigning terror, continuing reign of terror in Cuba. But now have their — their — their puppet, Chavez in — in Venezuela and Noriega and Morales and it keeps — it keeps like a cancer growing. So the idea that a president of the United States would take the heart of the cancer that is in Central and South America, and begin to reward behavior that has spread this cancer because of our dilly-dallying and our inattentiveness to the problems in Central and South America.

Now, we’re going to reward the secret police. We’re going to (inaudible) president of Venezuela as they are in Cuba. We’re going to reward this type of thuggery, this type of Marxism in our region. We’re going to reward a country that is now working with these other countries to harbor and bring in Iran and the terrorist — the Jihadist’s who want to set up missile sites and to set up training camps. And so we’re going to reward this behavior by opening up and liberalizing. This is the exact wrong message at the exact wrong time.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: …you said the U.S. should talk to everyone. Imagine you’re in the Oval Office, you speak to Raul Castro. What would you say to him?

PAUL: Well, I’d ask him what he called about, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: What was the purpose of his call? No, I would ask him what can — what can we do to improve relations? Because I wouldn’t see them as likely to attack us. When I was drafted in October of ’62, that was a different world. I mean there were nuclear weapons in Cuba. That was a different story. But — but today to — not to talk to them and take the call and see what you can work out, helps — helps Castro. It hurts the people, the dissidents, the people who want to overthrow him have always had to be, you know, nationalistic and unified behind the leader.

So as well intended as these sanctions are, they almost inevitably backfire and they help the dictators and hurt the people.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So it’s time to change. The Cold — the Cold War — the Cold War is over. They’re not going to invade us and I just think that a better relationship and trade relationship, so many people — I think — I’ve noticed already since I’ve been talking about this issue the last four of five years, I think the people have changed their mind. It’s very — the American people are getting much more open. Not nearly as frightened. And people — I don’t think they see a Jihadist under the bed every night…

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: …and we have to worry about that. I think there’s — I — I worry about overreaction, over concern and lack of ability to talk to them when they call you.

BLITZER: I want both of you to weigh in, Governor Romney first?

ROMNEY: Two — two major flaws with President Obama’s foreign policy.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well what about Ron Paul’s policy?

ROMNEY: Well, I’m talking about President Obama right now. We can get back to Ron Paul in a moment.

(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: First of all, I think the president has largely ignored Latin America, Cuba in particular, Venezuela, and other nations. I think we have to change that dramatically.

I think we have to have economic initiatives to build trade throughout Latin America, particularly with Colombia and Panama, now part of free trade agreements. I want more of that throughout Latin America. But that’s the first flaw, ignoring Latin America.

And number two is reaching out with accommodations to some of the world’s worst actors, whether it was Putin in Russia, giving him what he wanted, or Castro, saying we’re going to let you have remittances coming from the U.S. to fund your future, or relaxed trade restrictions. Throughout the world, with Ahmadinejad opening an open hand, tyrants look for weakness to take advantage. That’s the wrong course.

The right course for Cuba is to continue to honor Helms-Burton. And if I’m president of the United States, I will use every resource we have, short of invasion and military action, Congressman Paul. I’ll use every resource we can to make sure that when Fidel Castro finally leaves this planet, that we are able to help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom.

They want it. It’s a God-given right. And it is our responsibility to help share the gift of freedom with people throughout the world that are seeking it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Are you open — Mr. Speaker, are you open to improving relations with Cuba?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start with where the governor correctly pointed out. I was very proud as Speaker to be able to make sure that the Helms-Burton Act passed, and I’m delighted that Congressman Dan Burton is here tonight and is campaigning with me, because it was a very important step towards isolating the Castro regime.

I think it’s amazing that Barack Obama is worried about an Arab Spring, he’s worried about Tunisia, he’s worried about Libya, he’s worried about Egypt, he’s worried about Syria, and he cannot bring himself to look south and imagine a Cuban Spring. And I would argue that we should have, as a stated explicit policy, that we want to facilitate the transition from the dictatorship to freedom. We want to bring together every non-military asset we have, exactly as President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher and Pope John Paul II did in Poland and in Eastern Europe.

They broke up the Soviet empire without a general war by using a wide range of things, one of which is just psychological, saying to the next generation of people in Cuba, the dictatorship is not going to survive. You need to bet to moving to freedom in order to have prosperity in Cuba, and we will help you get to that freedom.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience.

Please give us your name and tell us where you are from.

(UNKNOWN): Abraham Hassel (ph) from Jacksonville, Florida.

How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian-American Republican, I’m here to tell you we do exist.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s ask Governor Romney, first of all.

What would you say to Abraham?

ROMNEY: Well, the reason that there’s not peace between the Palestinians and Israel is because there is — in the leadership of the Palestinian people are Hamas and others who think like Hamas, who have as their intent the elimination of Israel. And whether it’s in school books that teach how to kill Jews, or whether it’s in the political discourse that is spoken either from Fatah or from Hamas, there is a belief that the Jewish people do not have a right to have a Jewish state.

There are some people who say, should we have a two-state solution? And the Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It’s the Palestinians who don’t want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel.

And I believe America must say — and the best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, we stand with our friend Israel. We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.

This president went before the United Nations and castigated Israel for building settlements. He said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip. This president threw –

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I think he threw Israel under the bus with regards to defining the ’67 borders as a starting point of negotiations. I think he disrespected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I think he has time and time again shown distance from Israel, and that has created, in my view, a greater sense of aggression on the part of the Palestinians. I will stand with our friend, Israel.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you got into a little hot water when you said the Palestinians were an invented people. GINGRICH: It was technically an invention of the late 1970s, and it was clearly so. Prior to that, they were Arabs. Many of them were either Syrian, Lebanese, or Egyptian, or Jordanian.

There are a couple of simple things here. There were 11 rockets fired into Israel in November. Now, imagine in Duvall County that 11 rockets hit from your neighbor. How many of you would be for a peace process and how many of you would say, you know, that looks like an act of war.

You have leadership unequivocally, and Governor Romney is exactly right, the leadership of Hamas says, not a single Jew will remain. We aren’t having a peace negotiation then. This is war by another form.

My goal for the Palestinian people would be to live in peace, to live in prosperity, to have the dignity of a state, to have freedom. and they can achieve it any morning they are prepared to say Israel has a right to exist, we give up the right to return, and we recognize that we’re going to live side-by-side, now let’s work together to create mutual prosperity.

And you could in five years dramatically improve the quality of life of every Palestinian. But the political leadership would never tolerate that. And that’s why we’re in a continuous state of war where Obama undermines the Israelis.

On the first day that I’m president, if I do become president, I will sign an executive order directing the State Department to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send the signal we’re with Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami. Let’s take another question from Miami. Juan Carlos, go ahead?

LOPEZ: Thank you, Wolf. I’m joined now by Elizabeth Cuevas- Neunder. She is the CEO and founder of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Florida. She is based out of Tampa.

And I’m pretty sure, Elizabeth, your question has to do with the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

ELIZABETH CUEVAS-NEUNDER, FOUNDER/CEO, PUERTO RICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN FLORIDA: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). Good evening. (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). I am bilingual, proud of it. My question to the candidates, we have 4 million Puerto Ricans in the United States, voters, 3.8 in Puerto Rico.

We have been treated as second class citizen and just now our governor’s name was not mentioned as a V.P. possibility, a great governor. My question to you is, where do you stand for Puerto Rico to become a state? And secondly, how do you — where do you stand on domestic trade between Florida and Puerto Rico, between Tampa Bay and Ponce ports which have been neglected? Thank you. BLITZER: All right. Senator Santorum, let’s throw that question to you. The question about, do you support Puerto Rico potentially as the 51st state?

SANTORUM: Well, first, I will give a shout-out to Governor Luis Fortuno, who is a good friend of mine, and someone — I know him and his family, we have known each other for many years, we actually used to go to church together.

And so I spoke to Luis this week. And I’ve been to Puerto Rico many times. And actually, when I was a United States senator, we did a lot of work with Puerto Rico. Because of my relationship with many friends down there, I was made aware of problems, for example, in the Medicaid program.

We went down and we actually passed things to help with reimbursement rates, which were deplorably low in Puerto Rico. We also worked on hurricane relief and a whole lost of other things as a result of my relationship with many Puerto Ricans in Pennsylvania, and developed those relationships on the island.

I believe that — I believe in self-determination. That, you know, the Puerto Rican people should have the opportunity to be able to be able to speak on this. I have supported that. I don’t take a position one way or the other on statehood, commonwealth, independence, that’s for the people of Puerto Rico to decide.

But I also supported a lot of things to help the Puerto Rican economy. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, and the poverty, the unemployment rates simply are — are simply not something that we as Americans should allow to occur in our country.

And we need to make sure that there are pro-growth, supply side economics to make sure that Puerto Rico can be successful as an economy on that island, and I believe they can. And under my administration, that’s something that I would work towards.

BLITZER: I’ll take that as a maybe. Statehood, not statehood.

SANTORUM: No, I take no position on that. That’s — I would — I’ve supported, you know, the opportunity for them to make that decision.

BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience here. Go ahead, please. What is your name?

SUZANNE BASS, JACKSONVILLE RESIDENT: Suzanne Bass, I’m an attorney in Jacksonville. Welcome to the great city of Jacksonville.

My question, how would your religious beliefs, if you’re elected, impact the decisions that you make in the office of the presidency?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, my religious beliefs wouldn’t affect it. My religious beliefs affect my character in the way I treat people and the way I live. The only thing it would affect…

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: The only thing that would affect me in the way I operate as a president or a congressman is my oath of office and my promises that I’ve made to the people.

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: Ron Paul makes very good point. I concur with that. I would also seek the guidance of — of providence in making critical decisions.

And of course, ours is a nation which is based upon Judeo- Christian values and ethics. Our law is based upon those values and ethics. And in some cases, our law doesn’t encompass — encompass all of the issues that we face around the world.

The conviction that the founders, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, were writing a document that was not just temporary and not just for one small locale but really something which described the relationship between God and man — that’s something which I think a president would carry in his heart.

So when they said, for instance, that the creator had “endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I would seek to assure that those principles and values remain in America and that we help share them with other people in the world, not by conquering them, but by helping them through our trade, through our various forms of soft power, to help bring people the joy and — and — and opportunity that exists in this great land.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I would say that there are three ways in which religion would affect me.

The first is, I agree with Governor Romney. I think anyone who is president is faced with decisions so enormous that they should go to God. They should seek guidance. Because these are decisions beyond the ability of mere mortals to truly decide without some sense of what it is we should be doing.

I would say, second, that we have a real obligation to recognize that, if you’re truly faithful, it’s not just an hour on Sundays or Saturdays or Fridays. It’s in fact something that should suffuse your life, to be a part of who you are. And in that sense, it is inextricably tied in with how you behave.

But I would say, third, one of the reasons I am running is there has been an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country, largely by…

(APPLAUSE)

… largely by a secular elite and the academic news media and judicial areas. And I frankly believe it’s important to have some leadership that stands up and says, enough; we are truly guaranteed the right of religious freedom, not religious suppression by the state.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator?

SANTORUM: Faith is a very, very important part of my life, but it’s a very, very important part of this country. The foundational documents of our country — everybody talks about the Constitution, very, very important. But the Constitution is the “how” of America. It’s the operator’s manual.

The “why” of America, who we are as a people, is in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The Constitution is there to do one thing: protect God-given rights. That’s what makes America different than every other country in the world. No other country in the world has its rights — rights based in God-given rights, not government-given rights.

And so when you say, well, faith has nothing to do with it, faith has everything to do with it. If rights come…

(APPLAUSE)

If our president believes that rights come to us from the state, everything government gives you, it can take away. The role of the government is to protect rights that cannot be taken away.

And so the answer to that question is, I believe in faith and reason and approaching the problems of this country but understand where those rights come from, who we are as Americans and the foundational principles by which we have changed the world.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

We have one more break to take, but we have a lot more to discuss. Don’t go too far away. Coming up, the final debate question before Florida votes.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. We’re in the last few minutes of the last question to these four presidential candidates before the Florida primary on Tuesday in this debate format. Here is the question, and it involves the president of the United States. I want you to tell voters who are watching or are here on this campus right now why you are the one person on this stage that is most likely to beat Barack Obama.

Congressman?

PAUL: Well, you know, so far, we have some pretty good evidence that I’ll do quite well and have a better chance than the rest to beat him, because if you do a national poll, I do very, very well against Obama. But one of the reasons is, is that the freedom message in the Constitution is very appealing to everybody in all political beliefs because it includes free markets, which conservatives endorse, but it also protects civil liberties, the way people run their lives.

If it is a God-given life, and it’s your life, you should have the right to run your life as you so choose as long as you don’t harm other people. This means a lot more tolerance that some would like to give. So that brings people in who are concerned about civil liberties, and all of a sudden, my position undermines Obama completely and totally because the foreign policy is different.

He promises to end the wars, but the wars expand. A constitutional foreign policy will end the wars. And if you want somebody to talk about peace and prosperity, it has to be somebody who understands money and a foreign policy and free markets.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney, why are you the one person on this stage most likely to beat President Obama?

ROMNEY: The people of America recognize that this is a critical time. This is not just an average election.

This is a time where we’re going to decide whether America will remain the great hope of the 21st century, whether this will be an American century, or, instead, whether we’ll continue to go down a path to become more and more like Europe, a social welfare state. That’s where we’re headed.

Our economy is becoming weaker. The foundation of our future economy is being eroded. Government has become too large. We’re headed in a very dangerous direction.

I believe to get America back on track, we’re going to have to have dramatic, fundamental, extraordinary change in Washington to be able to allow our private sector to once again reemerge competitively, to scale back the size of government and to maintain our strength abroad in our military capacities.

I believe that, to change Washington in such a dramatic way, you cannot do it by people who have been there their entire careers.

I believe, if you just elect the same people to change chairs in Washington, not much happen. I think, if you want to change Washington, you’re going to have to bring someone in who has been on the outside.

I have lived in the private sector. I know how it works. I’ve competed with businesses around the world. I know how to win.

I know what it takes to keep America strong. I know how to work in government. I’ve had experience for — four years, rather, working as the governor of Massachusetts.

I will use the experience of my life to get America right. And I will be able to convince the American people that someone with my experience is very different than Barack Obama. And that experience is how I’ll beat him.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker…

(APPLAUSE)

… why are you the one person on this stage most likely to beat President Obama?

GINGRICH: You know, I have participated in the two largest Republican sweeps in modern time, 1980, in the Reagan campaign, and 1994, with the Contract with America, which had the largest one-party increase in American history, 9 million extra votes.

I believe that what we need this fall is a big-choice election that goes to the heart of who we are. I’m running more than anything for my two grandchildren, Maggie and Robert. I’d like them to be able to look back 50 years from now and say that what we did, what we the American people did, the choice we made in 2012 to unleash the American people, to rebuild our country based on the core values, to pose for the American people a simple choice: Do you want freedom and independence and a paycheck and a job, or do you want dependence and big government and food stamps and a lack of future?

And I believe, if we have a big election with truly historic big choices, that we can defeat Barack Obama by a huge margin. But it won’t be by running just as a Republican. It will be an American campaign open to every American who prefers a paycheck to food stamps, who prefers the Declaration of Independence to Saul Alinsky and who prefers a strong national security to trying to appease our enemies.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator?

(APPLAUSE)

I’ll repeat the question for you. Why do you think you’re the best, most qualified person on this stage to beat President Obama?

SANTORUM: I agree with the previous two speakers that this is a big election. This is an election about fundamental freedom. It’s about who America is going to be. Are we a country that’s going to be built great from the bottom up, as our founders intended, or from the top down?

I just think I’m a lot better than the previous two speakers to be able to make that case to the American people. I’m not for a top- down government-run health care system. I wasn’t for the Wall Street bailouts like these two gentlemen were.

Governor Romney talks about the private sector and how he’s going to bring private sector. When the private sector was in trouble, he voted for government to come in and take over the private sector and be able to — and to bail them out.

Cap-and-trade — both of them bought into the global warming hoax, bought into the cap-and-trade, top-down control of our energy and manufacturing sector.

If you look at President Obama’s speech the other night, what did he lead with? He lead with manufacturing. He led with manufacturing why? Because the base of his party, the ones that are always the ones — not the base — the swing vote in his party, the ones that Ronald Reagan was able to get — we call them Reagan Democrats up in Pennsylvania. Those are the blue-collar working people of America who know that this president has left them behind. He has a plan for them, and it’s more dependency, not work, not opportunity.

So he went out and tried to make a play for manufacturing. That’s been the center point of my campaign. The center point of my campaign is to be able to win the industrial heartland, get those Reagan Democrats back, talking about manufacturing, talking about building that ladder of success all the way down so people can climb all the way up.

That’s why I’m the best person to be able to go out and win the states that are necessary to win this presidency and govern with the mandate that Newt just talked about.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

And thank you to the four presidential candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

I also want to thank our partners in this debate, the Republican Party of Florida, the Hispanic Leadership Network. Thank you very much to them.

(APPLAUSE)

We’d also like to thank our hosts here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

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