Full Text Political Transcripts January 8, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Lifting Sanctions on Iran

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on Iran

Source: WH, 1-17-16

The Cabinet Room

10:48 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  This is a good day, because, once again, we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy.

As I said in my State of the Union address, ensuring the security of the United States and the safety of our people demands a smart, patient and disciplined approach to the world.  That includes our diplomacy with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  For decades, our differences with Iran meant that our governments almost never spoke to each other.  Ultimately, that did not advance America’s interests.  Over the years, Iran moved closer and closer to having the ability to build a nuclear weapon.  But from Presidents Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the United States has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries.  And as President, I decided that a strong, confident America could advance our national security by engaging directly with the Iranian government.

We’ve seen the results.  Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.  The region, the United States, and the world will be more secure.  As I’ve said many times, the nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran.  But still, engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis, for the first time in decades, has created a unique opportunity — a window — to try to resolve important issues.  And today, I can report progress on a number of fronts.

First, yesterday marked a milestone in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Iran has now fulfilled key commitments under the nuclear deal.  And I want to take a moment to explain why this is so important.

Over more than a decade, Iran had moved ahead with its nuclear program, and, before the deal, it had installed nearly 20,000 centrifuges that can enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.  Today, Iran has removed two-thirds of those machines.  Before the deal, Iran was steadily increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium — enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs.  Today, more than 98 percent of that stockpile has been shipped out of Iran — meaning Iran now doesn’t have enough material for even one bomb. Before, Iran was nearing completion of a new reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb.  Today, the core of that reactor has been pulled out and filled with concrete so it cannot be used again.

Before the deal, the world had relatively little visibility into Iran’s nuclear program.  Today, international inspectors are on the ground, and Iran is being subjected to the most comprehensive, intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.  Inspectors will monitor Iran’s key nuclear facilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  For decades to come, inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain.  In other words, if Iran tries to cheat — if they try to build a bomb covertly — we will catch them.

So the bottom line is this.  Whereas Iran was steadily expanding its nuclear program, we have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb.  Whereas it would have taken Iran two to three months to break out with enough material to rush to a bomb, we’ve now extended that breakout time to a year — and with the world’s unprecedented inspections and access to Iran’s program, we’ll know if Iran ever tries to break out.

Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen.  And perhaps most important of all, we’ve achieved this historic progress through diplomacy, without resorting to another war in the Middle East.

I want to also point out that by working with Iran on this nuclear deal, we were better able to address other issues.  When our sailors in the Persian Gulf accidentally strayed into Iranian waters that could have sparked a major international incident.  Some folks here in Washington rushed to declare that it was the start of another hostage crisis.  Instead, we worked directly with the Iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours.

This brings me to a second major development — several Americans unjustly detained by Iran are finally coming home.  In some cases, these Americans faced years of continued detention.  And I’ve met with some of their families.  I’ve seen their anguish, how they ache for their sons and husbands.  I gave these families my word — I made a vow — that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones.  And we have been tireless.  On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans.  I did so myself, in my conversation with President Rouhani.  After the nuclear deal was completed, the discussions between our governments accelerated.  Yesterday, these families finally got the news that they have been waiting for.

Jason Rezaian is coming home.  A courageous journalist for The Washington Post, who wrote about the daily lives and hopes of the Iranian people, he’s been held for a year and a half.  He embodies the brave spirit that gives life to the freedom of the press.  Jason has already been reunited with his wife and mom.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is coming home.  Held for three and half years, his unyielding faith has inspired people around the world in the global fight to uphold freedom of religion.  Now, Pastor Abedini will return to his church and community in Idaho.

Amir Hekmati is coming home.  A former sergeant in the Marine Corps, he’s been held for four and a half years.  Today, his parents and sisters are giving thanks in Michigan.

Two other Americans unjustly detained by Iran have also been released — Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari and Matthew Trevithick, an Iranian — who was in Iran as a student.  Their cases were largely unknown to the world.  But when Americans are freed and reunited with their families, that’s something that we can all celebrate.

So I want to thank my national security team — especially Secretary Kerry; Susan Rice, my National Security Advisor; Brett McGurk; Avril Haines; Ben Rhodes — our whole team worked tirelessly to bring our Americans home, to get this work done.  And I want to thank the Swiss government, which represents our interests in Iran, for their critical assistance.

And meanwhile, Iran has agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson — missing from Iran for more than eight years.  Even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob.  Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family, and we will not rest until their family is whole again.

In a reciprocal humanitarian gesture, six Iranian–Americans and one Iranian serving sentences or awaiting trial in the United States are being granted clemency.  These individuals were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.  They’re civilians, and their release is a one-time gesture to Iran given the unique opportunity offered by this moment and the larger circumstances at play.  And it reflects our willingness to engage with Iran to advance our mutual interests, even as we ensure the national security of the United States.

So, nuclear deal implemented.  American families reunited.  The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades.  Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we’ve worked through a international tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries.  The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government.  Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought.

For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran.  So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out.  With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.

Of course, even as we implement the nuclear deal and welcome our Americans home, we recognize that there remain profound differences between the United States and Iran.  We remain steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilizing behavior elsewhere, including its threats against Israel and our Gulf partners, and its support for violent proxies in places like Syria and Yemen.  We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism, and for its ballistic missile program.  And we will continue to enforce these sanctions, vigorously.  Iran’s recent missile test, for example, was a violation of its international obligations.  And as a result, the United States is imposing sanctions on individuals and companies working to advance Iran’s ballistic missile program.  And we are going to remain vigilant about it.  We’re not going to waver in the defense of our security or that of our allies and partners.

But I do want to once again speak directly to the Iranian people.  Yours is a great civilization, with a vibrant culture that has so much to contribute to the world — in commerce, and in science and the arts.  For decades, your government’s threats and actions to destabilize your region have isolated Iran from much of the world.  And now our governments are talking with one another.  Following the nuclear deal, you — especially young Iranians — have the opportunity to begin building new ties with the world.  We have a rare chance to pursue a new path — a different, better future that delivers progress for both our peoples and the wider world.  That’s the opportunity before the Iranian people.  We need to take advantage of that.

And to my fellow Americans, today, we’re united in welcoming home sons and husbands and brothers who, in lonely prison cells, have endured an absolute nightmare.  But they never gave in and they never gave up.  At long last, they can stand tall and breathe deep the fresh air of freedom.

As a nation, we face real challenges, around the world and here at home.  Many of them will not be resolved quickly or easily.  But today’s progress — Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program — these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience.  America can do — and has done — big things when we work together.  We can leave this world and make it safer and more secure for our children and our grandchildren for generations to come.

I want to thank once again Secretary Kerry; our entire national security team, led by Susan Rice.  I’m grateful for all the assistance that we received from our allies and partners.  And I am hopeful that this signals the opportunity at least for Iran to work more cooperatively with nations around the world to advance their interests and the interests of people who are looking for peace and security for their families.

Thank you so much.  God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

                          END             11:03 A.M. EST

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 January 17, 2016: NBC News/YouTube Fourth Democratic Debate in Charleston, SC Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Full Text of the Fourth Democratic Debate in Charleston

Source: Time, 1-17-16

Fourth Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Sunday night.

Participants: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley

Hosted by NBC News and YouTube

Moderated by anchor Lester Holt.

LESTER HOLT: Good evening and welcome to the NBC News/YouTube Democratic candidates debate. After all the campaigning soon Americans will have their say with the first votes of the 2016 campaign just 15 days away in Iowa. And New Hampshire, not far behind. Tonight will be the final opportunity to see these candidates face to face before the voting begins. Our purpose here tonight is to highlight and examine the differences among the three Democratic candidates. So let’s get started. Please welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Governor Martin O’Malley. Lester Holt: Well welcome to all of you, hope you’re excited, we’re excited. We want to thank our host, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. I’m joined by my colleague, Andrea Mitchell tonight. The rules are simple. 60 seconds for answers, 30 seconds for follow-ups or rebuttals. I know you’ll all keep exactly the time so our job should be pretty easy here tonight. We’ll also have questions from the YouTube community throughout the debate. This is a critical point in the race. You’ve been defining your differences with each other especially vigorously in the last week on the campaign trail. We’re here to facilitate this conversation on behalf of the voters so that they know exactly where you stand as you face off tonight. Let’s have a great debate. We’ll begin with 45 second opening statements from each candidate starting with Secretary Clinton.

 

HILLARY CLINTON: Well good evening. And I want to thank the Congressional Black Caucus institute and the people of Charleston for hosting us here on the eve of Martin Luther King Day tomorrow. You know, I remember well when my youth minister took me to hear Dr. King. I was a teenager and his moral clarity the message that he conveyed that evening really stayed with me and helped to set me on a path to service. I also remember that he spent the last day of his life in Memphis fighting for dignity and higher pay for working people, and that is our fight still. We have to get the economy working and incomes rising for everyone including those who have been left out and left behind. We have to keep our communities and our country safe. We need a president who can do all aspects of the job. I understand that this is the hardest job in the world. I’m prepared and ready to take it on, and I hope to earn your support to be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and the next president of the United States.

 

HOLT: Thank you. Senator Sanders, your opening statement sir.

 

BERNIE SANDERS: As we honor the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it’s important not only that we remember what he stood for, but that we pledge to continue his vision to transform our country. And as we look out at our country today, what the American people understand is we have an economy that’s rigged. That ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, 47 million people living in poverty, and almost all of the income and wealth going to the top one percent. And then, to make a bad situation worse, we have a corrupt campaign finance system where millionaires and billionaires are spending extraordinary amounts of money to buy elections. This campaign is about a political revolution to not only elect the president, but to transform this country.

 

HOLT: Senator, thank you. And Governor O’Malley, your opening statement tonight.

 

MARTIN O’MALLEY: Thank you. My name is Martin O’Malley and I was born the year Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. And I want to thank the people of South Carolina not only for hosting our debate here tonight, but also for what you taught all of us in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Mother Emmanuel Church. You taught us in fact, in keeping with Dr. King’s teaching, that love would have the final word when you took down the Confederate flag from your state house, let go of the past, and move forward. Eight years ago you brought forward a new leader in Barack Obama to save our country from the second Great Depression, and that’s what he’s done. Our country is doing better, we’re creating jobs again. But in order to make good on the promise of equal opportunity and equal justice under the law we have urgent work to do and the voices of anger and fear and division that we’ve heard coming off the Republican presidential podiums are pretty loud. We need new leadership. We need to come together as a people and build on the good things that President Obama has done. That’s why I’m running for president. I need your help, I ask for your vote, and I look forward to moving our country forward once again. Thank you.

 

HOLT: Governor, thank you. Alright to our first question now. The first question I’ll be addressing to all the candidates. President Obama came to office determined to swing for the fences on health care reform. Voters want to know how you would define your presidency, how you would think big. So complete this sentence: In my first 100 days in office, my top three priorities will be: fill in the blank. Senator Sanders.

 

SANDERS: Well, that’s what our campaign is about. It is thinking big. It is understanding that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we should have health care for every man, woman, and child as a right. That we should raise the minimum wage to at least 15 dollars an hour, that we have got to create millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. So what my first days are about is bringing American together to end the decline of the middle class, to tell the wealthiest people in this country that yes they are gonna start paying their fair share of taxes, and that we are going to have a government that works for all of us and not just big campaign contributors.

 

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, same question. My first 100 days in office, my top 3 priorities will be:

 

CLINTON: I would work quickly to present to the congress my plans for creating more good jobs and manufacturing infrastructure, clean and renewable energy, raising the minimum wage, and guaranteeing finally equal pay for women’s work. I would also, I would also be presenting my plans to build on the Affordable Care Act and to improve it by decreasing the out of pocket costs by putting a cap on prescription drug costs, by looking for ways that we can put the prescription drug business and the health insurance company business on a more stable platform that doesn’t take too much money out of the pockets of hard working Americans. And third, I would be working in every way that I knew to bring our country together. We do have too much division, too much mean spiritedness. There’s a lot we have to do on immigration reform, on voting rights, on campaign finance reform, but we need to do it together. That’s how we’ll have the kind of country for the 21st century that we know will guarantee our children and grandchildren the kind of future they deserve.

 

LESTER HOLT:

09:08:55:00 Governor O’Malley, same question.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:08:58:00 Thank you. First of all, I would lay out an agenda to make wages go up again for all Americans rather than down. Equal pay for equal work. Making it easier rather than harder for people to join labor unions and bargain collectively for better wages. Getting 11 million of our neighbors out of the underground shadow economy by passing comprehensive immigration reform. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour however we can, wherever we can.

 

09:09:23:00 Secondly, I believe the greatest business opportunity to come to the United States of America in 100 years is climate change. And I put forward a plan to move us to a 100% clean electric energy grid by 2050 and create five million jobs along the way. (CHEERING) Thank you.

LESTER HOLT:

09:09:42:00 So you’ve all–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:09:43:00 I’m sorry, that was second, Lester. And third and finally, we need a new agenda for America’s cities. We have not had a new agenda for America’s cities since Jimmy Carter. (APPLAUSE) We need a new agenda for America’s cities that will invest in the talents and the skills of our people, that will invest in CBBG, transportation, infrastructure and transit options and make our cities the leading edge in this move to a redesigned built, clean, green energy future that will employ our people.

LESTER HOLT:

09:10:08:00 All right. Governor, thank you. (APPLAUSE) You’ve all laid out large visions and we’re gonna cover a lot of the ground you talked about as we continue in the evening. The last couple of weeks of this campaign have featured some of the sharpest exchanges in the race. Let’s start with one of ’em, the issue of guns. Senator Sanders, last week Secretary Clinton called you, quote, a pretty reliable vote for the gun lobby. Right before the debate you change your position on immunity from lawsuits for gun manufacturers. Can you tell us why?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:10:36:00 Well, I think Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous. I have a D minus voting record from the N.R.A. I was in 1988– there were three candidates running for Congress in the state of Vermont. I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military style assault weapons.

 

09:11:01:00 I have supported from day one an instant background check to make certain that people who should not have guns do not have guns. And that includes people with criminal backgrounds, people who are mentally unstable. I support what President Obama is doing in terms of trying to close the gun show loopholes.

 

09:11:23:00 And I think it should be a federal crime if people act (UNINTEL). We have seen in this city a horrendous tragedy of a crazed person praying with people and then coming out and shooting nine people. This should not be a political issue. What we should be doing is working together. And, by the way, as a senator from a rural state that has virtually no gun control I believe that I am in an excellent position to bring people together to–

LESTER HOLT:

09:11:53:00 Senator–

09:11:53:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:11:54:00 –provide a sensible–

09:11:56:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:11:57:00 –you didn’t answer the question that you did change your (CHEERING) position on immunity for gun manufacturers–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:12:00:00 What I–

LESTER HOLT:

09:12:01:00 –so can you– can you answer the–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:12:01:00 –what I have said–

09:12:03:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:12:04:00 –is that the m– gun manufacturers liability bill had some good provisions. Among other things we prohibited ammunition that would have killed cops who had protection on. We had child safety protection– on guns in that legislation. And what we also said is a small mom and pop gun shop who sells a gun legally to somebody should not be held libel if somebody does s– something terrible with that gun.

LESTER HOLT:

09:12:35:00 So.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:12:36:00 What I would say is that I would relook at it. We are gonna relook at it. And I will support stronger (?) provisions.

LESTER HOLT:

09:12:41:00 Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond to Senator Sanders?

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:12:43:00 Yes. Look, I– I have made it clear based on Senator Sanders’ own record that he– has voted with the N.R.A., with the gun lobby numerous times. He voted against the Brady bill five times. He voted for what we call the Charleston loophole.

 

09:13:02:00 He voted for immunity from gun makers and sellers which the N.R.A. said was the most important piece of gun legislation in 20 years. He voted to let guns go onto Amtrak, guns go into national parks. He voted against doing research to figure out how we can save lives.

 

09:13:22:00 Let’s not forget what this is about. Ninety people a day die from gun violence in our country. That’s 33,000 people a year. One of the most horrific examples, not a block from here, where we had nine people murdered. Now I am pleased to hear that Senator Sanders has reversed his position on immunity.

 

09:13:48:00 And I look forward to him joining with those members of Congress who have already introduced legislation. There is no other industry in America that was given the total pass that the gun makers and dealers–

LESTER HOLT:

09:14:02:00 And that– and that’s the–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:14:01:00 –were. And that needs to be reversed.

LESTER HOLT:

09:14:04:00 –all right. Governor O’Malley, (APPLAUSE) you signed tough gun control measures as governor or Maryland. And there are a lot of Democrats in the audience here in South Carolina who own guns. This conversation might be worrying many of them. They may be hearing, “You wanna take my guns.” What would you say to them?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:14:20:00 This is what I would say, Lester, look, the– I’ve listened to Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders go back and forth on which of them has the most inconsistent record on gun safety legislation. And– (APPLAUSE) and I would have to agree with both of them.

 

09:14:34:00 They’ve both been inconsistent when it comes (LAUGHTER) to this issue. I’m the– I’m the one candidate on this stage that actually brought people together to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation. This is very personal to me being from Baltimore. I will never forget one occasion visiting– little boy in Johns Hopkins hospital. He was gettin’ a birthday haircut at the age of three when drug dealers turned that barber shop into a shooting gallery.

 

09:14:58:00 And that boy’s head was pierced with a bullet. And I remember visiting him. It did not kill him. I remember visiting him and his mother in Johns Hopkins Hospital. And his diapers with tubes running in and out of his head, same age as my little boy.

 

09:15:11:00 So after the slaughter of the kids in Connecticut, Lester, we brought people together. We did pass in our state comprehensive gun safety legislation. It did have a ban on combat assault weapons, (APPLAUSE) universal background checks. And you know what, we did not interrupt a single person’s hunting season. I’ve never met a self-respecting deer hunter that needed an AR15 to down a deer. And so (CHEERING) we’re able to actually do these (UNINTEL).

LESTER HOLT:

09:15:34:00 All right, governor, thank you. Secretary Clinton, this is a community that has suffered a lot of heartache in the last year. Of course as you mentioned, the– the church shootings. We won’t forget the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back while running from police. We understand that a jury will decide whether that police officer was justified. But it played straight to the fears of many African-American men that their lives are cheap. Is that perception or in your view is it reality?

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:16:04:00 Well, sadly it’s reality. And it has been heartbreaking and incredibly outraging to see the constant stories of young men like Walter Scott, as you said, who have been killed– by police officers. There needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.

 

09:16:35:00 And that requires a very (CHEERING) clear agenda for retraining police officers, looking at ways to end racial profiling, finding more ways to really bring the disparities that stalk our country into high relief. One out of three African-American men may well end up going to prison.

 

09:17:02:00 That’s the statistic. I want people here to think what we would be doing if it was one out of three white men. And very often the black (CHEERING) men are arrested, convicted and incarcerated for offenses that do not lead to the same results for white men. So we have a very serious problem that we can no longer ignore.

LESTER HOLT:

09:17:23:00 And your time is up. I– Senator Sanders, my next question is–

09:17:27:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:17:27:00 –actually my next question–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:17:26:00 Let– let me–

LESTER HOLT:

09:17:28:00 –was for you.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:17:27:00 –respond to what the secretary said. We have a criminal justice system which is broken. Who in America is satisfied that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth including China, disproportionately African-American and Latino?

 

09:17:45:00 Who is satisfied (APPLAUSE) that 51% of African-American young people are either unemployed or underemployed? Who is satisfied that millions of people have police records for possessing marijuana when the CEOs of Wall Street companies who destroyed our (CHEERING) country have no police records?

LESTER HOLT:

09:18:09:00 Senator– Senator Sanders–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:18:10:00 We need to take– we need to take a very hard look–

09:18:17:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:18:16:00 Sen– Senator Sanders–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:18:18:00 –at our criminal justice system, investing in jobs and education–

09:18:20:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:18:22:00 –not in jail and–

LESTER HOLT:

09:18:23:00 Just over a week–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:18:22:00 –incarceration.

LESTER HOLT:

09:18:25:00 –just over a week ago the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Secretary Clinton, not you. He said that choosing her over you was not a hard decision. In fact, our polling shows she’s beating you more than two to one among minority voters. How could you be the nominee if you don’t have that support?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:18:39:00 Well, let me talk about polling. The secretary– (LAUGHTER) as Sectary Clinton well knows when this campaign began she was 50 points ahead of me. We were all up 3% points. Guess what? In Iowa, New Hampshire the race is very, very close. Maybe we’re ahead (CHEERING) (UNINTEL). In terms of polling, guess what? We are running ahead of Secretary Clinton in terms of taking on my good friend, Donald Trump, beating her by 19 points in New Hampshire, 13 points in the last national poll that I saw.

 

09:19:18:00 To answer your question, when the African-American community becomes familiar with my Congressional record and with our agenda and with our views on the economy and criminal justice just as the general population has become more supportive so will the African-American community, so will the Latino community. We have the momentum. We’re on a path to a victory.

LESTER HOLT:

09:19:43:00 Let’s gonna–

09:19:43:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:19:44:00 –governor I’m gonna come to you (CHEERING) in a second. But Google searches for the words Black Lives Matter surpass Civil Rights Movement last year. And here in South Carolina Black Lives Matter was the number one trending political issue. Governor O’Malley, your campaign and your record is Governor of Maryland and before that the Mayor of Baltimore.

 

09:19:59:00 Last year of course Baltimore was rocked by violent unrest in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray. And right from the start of your campaign you’ve been dogged by those who blame your tough on crime, so-called zero tolerance policies as mayor for contributing to that unrest. What responsibility do you bear?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:20:18:00 Well, let’s talk about this, when I ran for mayor in 1999, Lester, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we were burying over 300 young, poor black men every single year. And that’s why I ran because, yes, black lives matter.

 

09:20:34:00 And we did a number of things. We weren’t able to make our city immune from setbacks as the Freddie Gray– unrest and– and tragic death showed. But we were able to save a lot of lives doing things that actually worked to improve police and community relations.

 

09:20:49:00 The truth of the matter is we create a civilian review board. And all– many of these things are in the new agenda for criminal justice reform that I’ve put forward. We created a– civilian review board, gave them their own detectives. We required the reporting of discourtesy– use of excessive for– force, lethal force. I repealed– the possession of marijuana as a– as a crime in our state. I drove our incarceration rate down to 20-year lows and drove violent crime down to 30-year lows and became the first governor south of the Mason Dixon line to repeal the death penalty. I feel a responsibility every day to find things (APPLAUSE) that work.

LESTER HOLT:

09:21:25:00 All right.

09:21:26:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:21:26:00 And do more (UNINTEL) criminal justice system.

LESTER HOLT:

09:21:26:00 Let’s talk more– let’s– let’s talk more about policing and the criminal justice system. Senator Sanders, a few times tonight we’re gonna hear from some of the most prominent voices on YouTube starting with Franchesca Ramsey who tackles racial stereotypes through her videos. Let’s watch.

FRANCHESCA RAMSEY (ON VIDEO):

09:21:40:00 Hey, I’m Franchesca Ramsey. I believe there’s a huge conflict of interest when local prosecutors investigate cases of police violence within their own communities. For example, last month the officers involved in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice weren’t indicted. How would your presidency ensure that incidents of police violence are investigated and prosecuted fairly?

LESTER HOLT:

09:22:01:00 Senator Sanders?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:22:02:00 Apologize for not hearing– all of that– question.

LESTER HOLT:

09:22:06:00 Would you like me to read it back to you?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:22:06:00 Yeah.

LESTER HOLT:

09:22:07:00 Prosecutors– I believe there’s a huge conflict of interest when local prosecutors investigate cases of police violence within their communities. Most recently we saw this with the non-indictment of the officers involved in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:22:23:00 Right.

LESTER HOLT:

09:22:24:00 How would your presidency–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:22:24:00 So.

LESTER HOLT:

09:22:25:00 –ensure incidents of police violence are investigated and prosecuted fairly?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:22:29:00 Absolutely. This is a responsibility for the U.S. justice department to get involved. Whenever anybody in this country is killed while in police customer they should automatically trigger a U.S. attorney general’s investigation. (CHEERING) Second of all, and I think as a mayor who worked very closely and well with police officers, the vast majority of ’em are honest, hardworking people trying to do a difficult job.

 

09:23:00:00 But let us be clear, if a police officer breaks the law, like any public official, that officer must be held accountable. (CHEERING) And thirdly, we have got to demilitarize our police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. We’ve gotta move to a community police– police (UNINTEL). And fourthly we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their (CHEERING) diversity.

LESTER HOLT:

09:23:30:00 Secretary Clinton, this question is for you. Tonight parts of America are in the grip of a deadly heroin epidemic spanning race and class, hitting small towns and cities alike. It’s become a major issue in this race in a lotta places where you’ve been campaigning. Despite an estimated $1 trillion spent, many say the war on drugs has failed. So what would you do?

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:23:52:00 Well, Lester, you’re right. Everywhere I go to campaign I’m meeting families who are affected by– the drug problem that mostly is opioids and heroin now. And lives are being lost and children are being orphaned. And I’ve met a lot of grandparents who are now taking care of grandchildren.

 

09:24:12:00 So I have tried to come out with a comprehensive approach that number one does tell the states we will work with you from the federal government putting more money, about $1 billion a year, to help states have a different approach to dealing with this epidemic.

 

09:24:29:00 The policing needs to change. Police officers must be equipped with the antidote to a heroin overdose or an opioid overdose known as Narcan. They should be able to administer it, so should fire-fighters and others. We have to move away from treating the use of drugs as a crime and instead move it to where it belongs, as a health issue. And we need to divert more people from the criminal justice system into drug courts, into treatment and recovery.

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:01:00 And that’s time.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:25:03:00 So this is the kind of approach that we should take in dealing with what is now–

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:06:00 Senator– Senator–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:25:07:00 –a growing epidemic.

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:09:00 –Sanders, would you like to respond?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:25:09:00 You know, (APPLAUSE) I agree– I agree with everything– the secretary– said. But let me just add this, there is a responsibility on the part of the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies who are producing all of these drugs and not (APPLAUSE) looking at the consequence of it.

 

09:25:27:00 And second of all when we talk about addiction being the disease the secretary is right. What that means is we need a revolution in this country in terms of mental health treatment. People should be able to get the treatment that they need when they need it, not two months from now which is why I believe in universal health–

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:50:00 And that’s–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:25:50:00 –care with a special–

09:25:50:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:51:00 –and that’s– I will be getting to all that coming up but we’re gonna–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:25:53:00 –Lester, just ten seconds.

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:54:00 –take a break. We need to take–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:25:55:00 Just ten seconds.

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:55:00 –a break. And when we come back–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:25:56:00 All of the thing–

LESTER HOLT:

09:25:58:00 –anger brewing in America.

09:26:10:00 (MUSIC)

09:26:17:00 (BREAK IN TAPE)

09:30:04:00 (MUSIC)

LESTER HOLT:

09:30:08:00 Welcome back to (UNINTEL) turned into another area where there’s been fierce disagreement, that would be health care. Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, you both mentioned it in your 100 day priorities. Let’s turn to my colleague, Andrea Mitchell, now to lead that questioning.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:30:22:00 Thank you, Lester. Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders favors what he calls Medicare for all. Now you’ve said that what he is proposing would tear up Obamacare and replace it. Secretary Clinton, is it really fair to say that Bernie Sanders wants to kill Obamacare?

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:30:39:00 Well, Andrea, I am absolutely committed to universal health care. I’ve worked on this for a long time. People may remember that– I took on the health insurance– industry back in the ’90s. And I didn’t quit until we got the children’s health insurance program that insures eight million kids.

 

09:30:57:00 And I certainly respect Senator Sanders’ intentions. But when you’re talking about health care the details really mattel– matter. And therefore we have been raising questions about the nine bills that he introduced over 20 years– as to how they would work and what would be the impact on people’s health care. He didn’t like that. His campaign– didn’t like it either. And tonight he’s come out with a new health care plan. And again we need to get into the details. But here’s what I believe. The Democratic party in the United States worked since Harry Truman to get the Affordable Care Act passed. We finally have a path to universal health care.

 

09:31:37:00 We’ve accomplished so much already. I do not want to see the Republicans repeal it. And I don’t wanna see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend (APPLAUSE) and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:31:54:00 Okay.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:31:55:00 Senator Sanders?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:31:57:00 Secretary– Secretary Clinton didn’t answer your question. (LAUGHTER) Because what her campaign was saying Bernie Sanders who has fought for universal health care for my entire life– he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the children’s health insurance program.

 

09:32:15:00 That is nonsense. What a Medicare for all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right. Now the truth is that (APPLAUSE) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people. I’m on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I made the Affordable Care Act along with Jim Clyburn a better pr– piece of legislation. I voted for it.

 

09:32:46:00 But right now what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off. And here’s the important point, we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country. My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by 5,000 bucks. That’s the vision we need to take.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:33:19:00 Well, Senator Sanders–

09:33:20:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:33:20:00 –if I can– (CHEERING) you know, I– I– I have to say I’m not sure whether we’re talking about the plan you just introduced tonight or we’re talking about the plan you introduced nine times in the Congress. But the fact is (APPLAUSE) we have the Affordable Care Act.

 

09:33:36:00 That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic party (CHEERING) and of our country. And we have already seen 19 million Americans get insurance. We have seen the end of pre-existing conditions keeping people from getting insurance. We have seen women no longer paying more for our insurance than men. And we have seen young people up to the age of 26 being able to stay on their parents’ policy.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:34:05:00 Well, that’s–

09:34:06:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:34:04:00 Now there are things we can do to improve it. But to tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate I think is the wrong direction.

09:34:18:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:34:19:00 I have to talk about something that’s absolutely–

09:34:20:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:34:21:00 I have–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:34:20:00 No one’s tearing this up. We’re gonna go forward. But what the secretary neglected to mention, not just the 29 million still have no health insurance, that even more are under insured with huge copayments and deductibles. Tell me why we are spending over three times more than the British who guarantee health care to all of their people? 50% more than the French, more than the Canadians.

 

09:34:44:00 The vision from FDR and Harry Truman was health care for all people as a right in a cost-effective way. We’re not gonna tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicare–

09:35:01:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:35:00:00 Andrea–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:35:00:00 –for all.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:35:01:00 –Andrea– Andrea–

09:35:02:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:35:02:00 –instead of– (CHEERING) Andrea, I think instead of attacking one another on health care we should be talking about the things that are actually working. In our state we have moved to an all-payer system. With the Affordable Care Act we now have moved all of our acute care hospitals that driver of cost at the center away from fee for service and actually to pay we pay them based on how well they keep patients out of the hospital. How well they keep their patients. That’s the future. We need to build on the Affordable Care Act, do the things that work and reduce costs and increase access.

09:35:36:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:35:36:00 And that’s exactly what we are able to do based on the foundation of the Affordable Care Act. What Governor O’Malley just said is one of the models that we will be looking at to make sure we do get costs down. We do limit a lot of the unnecessary cost that we still have in the system.

 

09:35:56:00 But with all due respect, to start over again with a whole new debate is something that I think would set us back. The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act and thank goodness President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare (CHEERING) for the American people.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:17:00 You know–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:18:00 Senator Sanders let me ask you this though–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:20:00 –yeah.

LESTER HOLT:

09:36:20:00 –you talked about Medicare for all. And tonight you’ve released a very detailed plan–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:24:00 Not all that detailed–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:25:00 –just two–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:25:00 –just–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:27:00 –hours before the debate. You did.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:28:00 –well–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:29:00 But let me ask you about Vermont because Vermont– you tried in the state of Vermont. And Vermont walked away from this kind of idea of– of Medicare for all, single payer, because they concluded it require major tax increases–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:40:00 –well, that– you– you might want–

09:36:41:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:42:00 –and by some estimates it would double the budget. If you couldn’t–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:44:00 –Andrea, let me just say this–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:44:00 –sell it in Vermont, Senator–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:46:00 –let me just say that you might–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

09:36:47:00 –how can you sell it to the country?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:36:48:00 –ask the governor of the state of Vermont why he could not do it. I’m not the governor. I’m the senator from the state of Vermont. But second of all– (APPLAUSE) second of all here is what the real point is. In terms of all of the issues you’ve raised, the good questions you’ve raised, you know what it all comes down to? Do you know why we can’t do what every other country– major country on earth is doing? It’s because we have a campaign finance system that is corrupt.

 

09:37:15:00 We have super packs. We have the pharmaceutical industry pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign contributions and lobbying and the private (NOISE) insurance companies as well. What this is really about is not the rational way to go forward. It’s Medicare for all. It is whether we have the guts to stand up to the private insurance companies and all of their money and the pharmaceutical industry. That’s what this debate should be about. (CHEERING)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:37:42:00 Well, a– as someone who– as someone who has a– a little bit of experience standing up to the health insurance industry that (CHEERING) spent, you know, many, many millions of dollars attacking me and probably will so again because of what I believe we can do, building on the Affordable Care Act, I think it’s important to point out that there are a lot of reasons we have the health care system we have today.

 

09:38:09:00 I know how much money influences the political decision making. That’s why I’m for huge campaign finance reform. However, we started a system that had private health insurance. And even during the Affordable Care Act debate there was an opportunity to vote for what was called the public option.

 

09:38:27:00 In other words, people could buy into Medicare. And even when the Democrats were in care of the Congress we couldn’t get the votes for that. So what I’m saying is really simple, this has been the fight of the Democratic party for decades. We have the Affordable Care Act. Let’s make it work. Let’s take the models that states are doing. We now have driven costs down to the lowest they’ve been in 50 years. Now we’ve gotta get individual costs down. That’s what I’m planning to do.

LESTER HOLT:

09:38:59:00 And that’s time. We’re gonna take a turn now. Secretary Clinton, in his final State of the Union address President Obama said his biggest– regret was his inability to bring the country together. If President Obama couldn’t do it, how will you?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:39:11:00 Great question.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:39:12:00 Well, I think it’s an important– point the president made in his State of the Union. And here’s what I would say. I will go anywhere to meet with anyone at any time to find common ground. That’s what I did as a first lady when I worked with both Democrats and Republicans to get the children’s health insurance program.

 

09:39:27:00 When I worked with (UNINTEL) one of the most– partisan of Republicans to reform the adoption and foster care system, what I did working in the Senate where I crossed the aisle often. Working even with the senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, to get tri-care for national guardsmen and women. And it’s what I did as secretary of state on numerous compassions. And most particularly rounding up 2/3 votes in order to pass a treaty that lowered the nuclear weapons in both Russia and the United States. So I know it’s hard. But I also know you’ve gotta work at it every single day.

 

09:40:07:00 I look out here I see a lot of my friends from the Congress. And I know that they work at it every single day because maybe you can only find a little sliver of common ground to cooperate with somebody from the other party. But who knows? If you’re successful there maybe you can build even more–

LESTER HOLT:

09:40:24:00 And that’s time.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:40:25:00 –that’s what I will do.

LESTER HOLT:

09:40:25:00 Senator Sanders response? (CHEERING)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:40:32:00 A couple of years ago when we understood that veterans were not getting the quality care they needed in a timely manner I worked with folks like John McCain and others to pass the most comprehensive veterans’ health care legislation in modern history.

 

09:40:47:00 But let me rephrase your question because I think if– in all due respect, your question, in all due respect, (LAUGHTER) you’re missing the main point. And the main point in the Congress, it’s not that Republicans and Democrats hate each other. That’s a mythology from the media. The real issue is that Congress is owned by big money and refuses to do what the American people want them to do. (CHEERING) The real issue is that on– the real issue is that in area after area, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, the American people want it. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating le– 13 million jobs, the American people want it. Pay equity for women, the American people want it. Demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, the American people–

LESTER HOLT:

09:41:39:00 That’s–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:41:40:00 –want it.

LESTER HOLT:

09:41:41:00 –that’s time. But let me–

09:41:41:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:41:42:00 We have gotta make Congress respond to the needs of the people, not to–

09:41:47:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:41:45:00 Senator Sanders, let me continue. You call yourself a (CHEERING) Democratic socialist.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:41:51:00 I do.

LESTER HOLT:

09:41:51:00 And throughout your career in politics you’ve been (LAUGHTER) critical of the Democratic party. Even saying in a book you wrote, quote “There wasn’t a hell of a big difference between the two major parties.” How will you when a general–

09:42:00:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:42:01:00 –how will you win a general election labeling yourself a Democratic socialist?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:42:05:00 –because when I believe– what I was just saying. The Democratic party needs major reform. To those of you in South Carolina, you know what, in Mississippi, we need a 50 state strategy so that people (APPLAUSE) in South Carolina and Mississippi can get the resources that they need instead of being dependent on super packs. What we need is to be dependent on small, individual campaign contributors. We need an agenda that speaks to the needs of working families and low-income people, not wealthy campaign contributors.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:42:42:00 Yeah, but senator, you can–

09:42:43:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:42:44:00 –we need to expand– we need to expand what the input into the Democratic party. I am very proud that in this campaign we have seen an enormous amount of excitement from young people, from working people. We have received more individual contributions than any candidate in the history of this country up to this point. (CHEERING)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:43:02:00 Yeah, but senator, you never came–

09:43:05:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:43:06:00 –to campaign for Vincent Sheheen when he was running for governor. In fact, neither of you came to campaign for Vincent Sheheen when he was running for governor. We can talk all we want about wanting (CLAPPING) to build a stronger Democratic party.

 

09:43:14:00 But, Lester, the question you answered, there’s no laughing matter. The most recurring question I get when I stand on the chair all across (UNINTEL) and talk with my neighbors is, “How are you going to heal the divisions and the wounds in our country?”

 

09:43:29:00 This is the biggest challenge we face as a people. All my life I brought people together over– over deep divides and– and very old wounds. And that’s what we need now in a new leader. We cannot keep s– talking past each other, declaring all Republicans our enemies or the war is all about being against millionaires or billionaires or it’s all against American Muslims or all against immigrants. Look, it’s Frederick Douglas said, “We are one. Our cause is one. And we must help each other if we’re going to succeed–”

LESTER HOLT:

09:43:53:00 And that is– that is–

09:43:55:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:43:56:00 –and that– (CHEERING)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:43:56:00 And I respectfully disagree–

LESTER HOLT:

09:43:57:00 –Secretary Clinton, my next question is for you.

09:44:00:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:43:59:00 I respectfully disagree with– with my c– my friend over here. And that is you are right. All of us have denounced Trump, attempt to divide this country, the anti-Latino rhetoric, the racist rhetoric, the anti-Muslim rhetoric. But where I disagree with you, Governor O’Malley is I do believe we have to deal with the fundamental issues of a handful of billionaires–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:44:23:00 I agree with that.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:44:25:00 –who control the economic and political life of this country.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:44:27:00 I agree.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:44:28:00 Nothing real will– get– happen unless we have a political revolution–

LESTER HOLT:

09:44:31:00 And– and–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:44:32:00 –where millions of people–

LESTER HOLT:

09:44:33:00 –and we’re gonna–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:44:33:00 –finally stand up.

LESTER HOLT:

09:44:36:00 –we’re gonna get into that coming up. But Secretary Clinton, (APPLAUSE) here’s another question from YouTube. It’s from a young video blogger who has over five million subscribers. He has a question about the importance of younger voters.

CONNOR FRANTA:

09:44:45:00 Hi, I’m Connor Franta. I’m 23 and my audience is around the same age. Getting my generation’s vote should be a priority for any presidential candidate. Now I know Senator Sanders is pretty popular among my peers. But what I wanna know is how are all of you planning on engaging us further in this election?

LESTER HOLT:

09:45:03:00 Secretary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:45:03:00 Well, thanks for the question. And– congratulations on five million viewers on YouTube. That’s quite an accomplishment. Look, this election is mostly about the future. And therefore it is of greatest urgency for young people.

 

09:45:21:00 I’ve laid out my ideas about what we can do to make college affordable, how we can help people pay off their student debts and save thousands of dollars, how we can create more good jobs. Because a lot of the young people that I talk with are pretty disappointed about the economic prospects they feel they’re facing. So making community college free, making it possible to attend a public college or university with debt-free tuition.

 

09:45:49:00 Looking for ways to protect our rights, especially from the concerted Republican assault on voting rights, on women’s rights, on gay rights, on civil rights, on workers’ rights. And I know how much young people value their independence, their autonomy and their rights. So I think this is an election where we have to pull young people and older people together to have a strategy about how we’re going to encourage even more Americans to vote. Because it is absolutely clear–

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:22:00 That– that–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:46:24:00 –to me that turning–

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:24:00 –that’s time but–

09:46:26:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:46:25:00 –over our White House to the Republicans–

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:27:00 Secretary–

09:46:26:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:46:27:00 –would be bad for everybody, especially young people.

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:31:00 –a quick follow-up, a 30-second follow-up, (APPLAUSE) why is Senator Sanders beating you two to one among younger voters?

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:46:36:00 I– I– look, I have the greatest respect for Senator Sanders and– for his supporters. And I’m gonna keep working as hard as I can– to reach as many people of all ages– about what I will do, what the experience and the ideas that I have that I will bring to the White House. And I hope to have their support when I’m the Democratic nominee.

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:56:00 All right, we’re gonna–

09:46:55:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:46:56:00 –we’re gonna take a break. When we come back, (CHEERING) big bank, big business and big differences among the three candidates on the American economy. We’ll be right back.

09:47:08:00 (MUSIC)

LESTER HOLT:

09:51:18:00 Welcome back from Charleston. Let’s turn now to the economy. Senator Sanders, you released a tough new ad last week in which without mentioning Secretary Clinton by name, you talk about two Democratic vision for regulating Wall Street. Quote, “One says it’s okay to take millions from big banks and tell them what to do. My plan, break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share.” What do you see as the difference between what you would do about the banks and what Secretary Clinton would do?

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:51:47:00 Well, the first difference is, I don’t take money from big banks. I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. What I would do– (APPLAUSE) what I would do is understand that when you have three out of the four largest banks today bigger than they were when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail, when you have the six largest financial institutions having assets of 60% of the G.D.P. of America, it is very clear to me what you have to do.

 

09:52:22:00 You gotta bring back the 21st century Glass-Steagall legislation and you gotta break up these huge financial institutions. They have too much economic power and they have too much financial power over our entire economy. If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, the old Republican trust buster, what he would say is, “These guys are too powerful. Break them up.” I believe that’s what the American people want to see. That’s my view. (APPLAUSE)

LESTER HOLT:

09:52:52:00 Secretary Clinton, help the voter understand the daylight between the two of you here.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:52:57:00 Well, there’s no daylight on the basic– premise that there should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too powerful to jail. We agree on that. But where we disagree is the comments that Senator Sanders has made that don’t just affect me. I can take that. But he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street.

 

09:53:24:00 And President Obama has led our country out of the great recession. Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing. He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama. Now, I personally believe that President Obama’s work to push through the Dodd-Frank– (AUDIENCE REACTION) the Dodd-Frank bill and then to sign it was one of the most important regulatory schemes we’ve had since the 1930s. So I’m gonna defend (APPLAUSE) Dodd-Frank and I’m gonna defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, (CHEERING) taking on the financial industry, and getting results.

LESTER HOLT:

09:54:09:00 Senator Sanders, your response–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:54:09:00 Okay, first of all, set the record right. In 2006 when I ran for the Senate, Senator Barack Obama was kids enough to campaign for me. 2008, I did my best to see that he was elected. And in 2012, I worked as hard as I could to see that he was reelected. You know, I– our friends, we work together on many issues, we have some differences of opinion.

 

09:54:32:00 But here is the issue. Secretary touched on it. Can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals? So it’s easy to say, “Well, I’m gonna do this and do that.” But I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street. I am very proud. I do not have a super PAC. I do not want Wall Street’s money. I’ll rely on the middle class and working families for my campaign contributions–

09:55:09:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:55:10:00 –that’s time. Governor O’Malley, I– I have a question for you– (APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:55:11:00 Well, you know, I think that– I think then, if Senator Sanders followed up on this–

LESTER HOLT:

09:55:15:00 First, 30-second response.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:55:17:00 Your– your profusion of comments about your feelings towards President Obama– are a little strange, given what you said about him in 2011. But look, I have a plan that most commentators have said is tougher more effective, and more comprehensive.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:55:35:00 That’s not true.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:55:36:00 It builds on the Dodd-Frank– (AUDIENCE REACTION) yes it is. It builds on the Dodd-Frank regulatory–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:55:41:00 It’s just not true.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:55:42:00 –schemes. But it goes much further.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:55:44:00 Oh come on.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:55:45:00 Because both the governor and the senator have focused only on the big banks. Lehman Brothers, AIG, the shadow banking sector, were as big a problem in what caused the Great Recession. I go after them, and I can tell you that the hedge fund billionaires who are running ads against me right now, and Karl Rove, who started running an ad against me right now, funded by money from the financial services sector, sure think I’m the one they don’t want to be up against–

LESTER HOLT:

09:56:14:00 Governor– Governor O’Malley.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:56:15:00 Yeah, thank you. (CHEERING) (APPLAUSE) Yeah, Le– Lester, what Secretary Clinton just said is actually not true. What– (APPLAUSE) I have put forward a plan that would actually put cops back on the beat of Wall Street. I have put forward a plan that was heralded as very comprehensive and realistic.

 

09:56:36:00 Look, if– if a bank robber robs a bank, and all you do is slap ’em on the wrist, he’s just gonna keep robbing banks again. The same thing is true with people in suits. Secretary Clinton, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. But for you to say there’s no daylight on this between the three of us, is also not true. I support reinstituting a modern version of Glass-Steagall that would include going after the shadow banks, requiring capital requirements that would force them to– no longer put us on the hook for these sorts of things.

 

09:57:05:00 In prior debates, I’ve heard you even bring up– I mean, fir– now you p– bring up President Obama here in South Carolina, in defense of the fact of your cozy relationship with Wall Street. In an earlier debate, I heard you bring up even the 911, 9/11 victims to defend it. The truth of the matter is, Secretary Clinton, you did not go as far in reining in Wall Street as I would. And the fact of the matter is, the people of America deserve to have a president that’s on their side, protecting the main street economy from excesses on Wall Street and–

09:57:33:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

09:57:34:00 Secretary Clinton, your 30-second response.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:57:35:00 Yes, well– (CHEERING) (APPLAUSE) first of all– first of all, Paul Krugman, Barney Frank, others, have all endorsed my plan. Secondly, we have Dodd-Frank. It gives us the authority already to break up big banks that pose–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:57:52:00 And we’ve never used it.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:57:53:00 –that pose a risk to the financial sector. I wanna go further and add to that. And, you know, Governor, you have raised money on Wall Street. You raised a lotta money on Wall Street when you were the head of the Democrat Governor’s Association. And you were–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:58:09:00 Yeah, but I haven’t gotten a penny this year. Would somebody please go up–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:11:00 Well–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:58:12:00 –to MartinOMalley.com– (CHEERING) go into MartinOMalley.com, send me your checks. They’re not getting– zero.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:19:00 Well, the– yeah, well–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:58:20:00 So what do you–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:20:00 So– but the point is that if– if we’re going to be–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:58:22:00 The point being–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:22:00 –serious about this, and not just try to score political points–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:26:00 Right.

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:27:00 –we should know what’s in Dodd-Frank.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:28:00 Right, let’s ta–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:29:00 And what’s in Dodd-Frank already gives the president–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:30:00 Oh, let’s not score political points–

09:58:30:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:32:00 –the authority to give regulators–

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:32:00 Let me give you an example of how–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:58:34:00 –to make those decisions.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:35:00 –corrupt– (CHEERING) how corrupt the system is. (APPLAUSE) Goldman Sachs recently fined $5 billion. Goldman Sachs has given this country two secretaries of Treasury, one on the Republicans, one on the Democrats.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:58:53:00 Yeah.

BERNIE SANDERS:

09:58:54:00 The leader of Goldman Sachs is a billionaire who comes to congress and tells us we should cut social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Secretary Clinton, and you’re not the only one, so I don’t mean to just point the finger at you. You’ve received over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year. I find it very strange that a major financial institution that pays $5 billion in fines for breaking the law, not one of their executives is prosecuted while kids who smoke marijuana (CHEERING) get a jail sentence.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

09:59:32:00 Andrea–

HILLARY CLINTON:

09:59:33:00 Well, it’s– l– the last point on this is Senator Sanders, you’re the only one on this stage that voted to deregulate the financial market in 2000, to take the cops off the street, to use Governor O’Malley’s phrase, to make the S.E.C. and the communities– the Commodities– Futures Trading Commission, no longer able to regulate swaps and derivatives, which were one of the main cause of the collapse in ’08. So there’s plenty–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:00:05:00 If you want to– (APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:00:06:00 –there’s plenty of problems that we all have to face together. And I– the final thing I would say, we’re at least having a feverish debate about reining in Wall Street–

LESTER HOLT:

10:00:15:00 Senator Sanders–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:00:15:00 –the Republicans wanna give them–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:00:16:00 Okay.

10:00:17:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:00:17:00 –more power and repeal–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:00:18:00 Any–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:00:19:00 –Dodd-Frank. That’s what we need to stop–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:00:21:00 Anyone who wants to check (APPLAUSE) my record– (CHEERING) anyone who wants to check my record in taking on Wall Street, in fighting against the deregulation of Wall Street, when Wall Street put billions of dollars in lobbying, in campaign contributions, to get the government off their backs, they got the government off their backs. Turns out that they were crooks, and they destroyed our economy. I think it’s time to put the government back on their backs.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:00:56:00 Senator Sanders– (APPLAUSE) Senator Sanders, we’ve talked a lot about things you want to do. You want free education for everyone, you want the federal minimum wage–

10:01:05:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:01:06:00 –raised to $15 an hour, (LAUGHTER) you want to expand social security benefits–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:01:09:00 Yeah, right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:01:11:00 You’re very specific about what you want. But let’s talk about how to pay for all this–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:01:14:00 Good.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:01:15:00 You have now said that you would raise taxes today, two hours or so ago, you said you would raise taxes to pay for your healthcare plan. You haven’t been specific about how to pay for the other things.

10:01:25:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:01:25:00 Would you tell us tonight?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:01:26:00 Good. You’re right. I want to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, create 13 million jobs. We do that by doing away with the absurd loopholes that now allows major profitable corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands and not in some years pay a nickel in taxes. Yes, I do. I plead guilty. I want every kid in this c– country, who has the ability, to be able to go to a public college or university tuition-free.

 

10:01:55:00 And by the way, I want to substantially lower student debt interest rates in this country as well. How do I pay for it? (APPLAUSE) I pay for it through a (UNINTEL) tax on Wall Street speculation. This country and the middle class bailed out Wall Street. Now it is Wall Street’s time to help the middle class. In fact–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:02:15:00 Andrea–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:02:15:00 –we have documented, (APPLAUSE) unlike Secretary Clinton, I have documented exactly how I would pay for our ambitious agenda.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:02:24:00 Andrea, I’m the only person on this stage–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:02:24:00 Secretary– secretary Clinton, he mentioned–

10:02:26:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:02:26:00 –so Secretary Clinton, you want to respond?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:02:28:00 Well, I have– actually documented– every way that I’m going to pay for what I’m doing– because I think the American public deserves to know. And you can go to my website and actually see that. But there are serious questions about how we’re going to pay for what we want to see our country do.

 

10:02:48:00 And I’m the only candidate standing here tonight who has said I will not raise taxes on the middle class. I want to raise incomes, not taxes. And I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure that the wealthy pay for debt-free tuition, for childcare, for paid family leave, to help us bring down student debt, we’re going to refinance that student debt, saving kids thousands of dollars. Yeah, and that will also come out of some of the pockets of–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:03:19:00 Okay–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:03:19:00 –people in the financial services industry–

10:03:20:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:03:21:00 –but Senator Sanders, let me–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:03:22:00 But I will tell you exactly how I pay for everything I propose–

10:03:24:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:03:27:00 Here is the major point–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:03:27:00 Senator Sanders, let me ask you a question about taxes–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:03:29:00 Yeah.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:03:29:00 –because the most (UNINTEL) political (LAUGHTER) issue in–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:03:32:00 I got you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:03:33:00 –in the last month was taxes. Now, in your healthcare plan, the plan you released tonight, you would not only raise taxes on the wealthy, the details you released indicate you would raise taxes on the middle class also. Is that correct?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:03:45:00 What is correct, and I am disappointed that Secretary Clinton’s campaign has made this criticism. It’s a Republican criticism. Secretary Clinton does know a lot about healthcare. And she understands, I believe, that a Medicaid-for-all-single-payer program, will substantially lower the cost of healthcare for middle class families.

 

10:04:08:00 So what we have got to acknowledge, and I hope the secretary does, is we are doing away with private health insurance premiums. So instead of paying $10,000 to Blue Cross or Blue Shield, yes, some middle class families would be paying slightly more in taxes. But the result would be that that middle class family would be saving some $5,000 in healthcare costs. A little bit more in taxes, do away with private health insurance premiums. It’s a pretty good deal. (APPLAUSE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:04:39:00 Senator–

10:04:39:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:04:40:00 –Senator, let me just follow up on that, because–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:04:41:00 Yeah.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:04:42:00 –on Meet the Press, on December 20th, you said that you would only raise taxes on the middle class to pay for family leave. And having said that, now you say you’re gonna raise middle class taxes to pay for healthcare as well. Is that breaking your word?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:04:55:00 No. It is not breaking my word. When you are– it’s one thing to say, “I’m raising taxes.” It’s another thing to say that we are doing away with private health insurance premiums. So if I save you $10,000 in private health insurance, and you pay a little bit more in taxes in total, there are huge savings in what your family is spending.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:05:17:00 Senator, I’m the only person on this stage that’s actually balanced a budget every year for 15 years.

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:05:22:00 I was mayor for eight years, I did that as well–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:05:24:00 Okay, so that was eight years. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. And Senator, but I actually did it during a budget downtime, during a recession. And– and Andrea– I had to make more cuts than any governor in the state of Maryland. But we invested more in infrastructure, more in transportation. We made our public schools number one in America five years in a w– row. And went four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

 

10:05:46:00 The things that we need to do in our country, like debt-free college in the next five years, like making univer– like making national service a universal operation in order to cut youth employment in half in the next three years, all of these things can be done if we eliminate one entitlement we can no longer afford as a nation.

 

10:06:04:00 And that is the entitlement that the super wealthy among us, those making more than a million dollars, feel that they are entitled to paying a much, much lower marginal tax rate than what’s usual for the better part of these 80 years. And if we tax– earnings from investments on money, namely capital gains at the same rate that we tax earnings from sweat and hard work and toil, we can make the investments we need to make to make our country better. (CHEERING)

LESTER HOLT:

10:06:28:00 We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here. Many Democratic voters are passionate about the need to do something to combat the threat of climate change, including the theme of scientists from YouTube’s Minute Earth channel, here’s their take.

LESTER HOLT:

10:06:42:00 Hello from Minute Earth. Fossil fuels have long kept our cars moving and our light bulbs lit. But we now know that burning these fuels are really just heat-trapping gasses that are warming the planet, causing seas to rise and contributing to extreme weather events, like South Carolina’s devastating flooding last year.

10:06:57:00 Fighting human-caused climate change means giving up our global addiction to fossil fuels and (UNINTEL) the bulk of the world’s energy supply to alternative sources. Some countries have acted decisively to make this transition. But here at home, we still get a whopping 82% of our energy from coal, oil, and natural gas. In the U.S., political gridlock, pressure from industry lobbyists, and insufficient R&D have made an already tough battle against climate change even tougher.

LESTER HOLT:

10:07:21:00 Senator Sanders, Americans love their SUVs, which spiked in sales last year as gas prices plummeted. How do you convince Americans that the problem of climate change is so urgent that they need to change their behavior?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:07:33:00 I think we already are. Younger generation understands it instinctively. I was home in Burlington, Vermont on Christmas Eve. The temperature was 65°. People in Vermont know what’s goin’ on. People who did ice fishing, where their ice is no longer there on the lake understand what’s going on. I’m on both the Environmental and Energy Committees.

10:07:53:00 The debate is over. Climate change is real. It is already causing major problems. And if we do not act boldly and decisively, a bad situation will become worse. It is amazing to me, and I think we’ll have agreement on this up here, that we have a major party called the Republican Party that is so owned by the fossil fuel industry, and their campaign contributions, that they don’t even have the courage, the decency to listen to the scientists.

10:08:25:00 It is beyond my comprehension (APPLAUSE) how we can elect the president of the United States, somebody like Trump, who believes that climate change is a hoax, invented by the Chinese. (LAUGHTER) Bottom line is, we need to be bold and decisive, we can create millions of jobs. We must, for the sake of our kids and grandchildren, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy–

10:08:53:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:08:54:00 I’ve got the most comprehensive legislation in the Senate to do that. And as president, I will fight to make that happen–

LESTER HOLT:

10:09:00:00 Governor O’Malley, 30 seconds–

10:09:01:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:09:02:00 Thank you. (APPLAUSE) Lester, on this stage tonight, this Democratic stage, where we actually believe in science, (LAUGHTER) I would like to challenge and invite my colleagues here on this stage to join me in putting forward a plan to move us to a 100% clean, electric energy grid by 2050. It can be done with solar, with wind, (APPLAUSE) with new technologies, with green buildings.

10:09:27:00 This can happen. But in all– President Obama made us more energy independent. But– but in all of the above strategy didn’t land us on the moon. We need American ingenuity and we need to reach this goal by 2050 for the sake of our kids–

LESTER HOLT:

10:09:40:00 That’s time. We’re gonna take a break–

10:09:42:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:09:42:00 When we return, (APPLAUSE) the late-breaking development regarding Iran. (MUSIC) The threat of ISIS now more real than ever on U.S. soil. Americans in fear, and hearing few good answers. We’ll be right back. (LONG PAUSE) (MUSIC) Charleston, Andrea Mitchell has questions now for the candidates, starting with Iran.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:16:12:00 Thank you, Lester. Senator Sanders, the nuclear deal is now in force. Iran is getting us billions of dollars. Several Americans who have been held are now gonna be heading home. The president said today is a good day. It’s a good day for diplomacy. Is it time now to restore diplomatic relations for the first time since 1979, and actually reopen a U.S. embassy in Tehran?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:16:36:00 I think what we have got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations– with Iran, understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with. Their support for terrorism– the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from some of their leadership is something that is not acceptable.

10:17:00:00 On the other hand, the fact that we managed to reach an agreement, something that I very strongly supported, that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that we did that without going to war, and that I believe we’re seeing a thaw in our relationships with Iran is a very positive step. So if your question is, do I want to see that relationship become more positive in the future? Yes.

10:17:27:00 Can I tell you that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should. But I think the goal has got to be, as we have done with Cuba, to move in warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:17:41:00 Your response, Secretary Clinton? (CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:17:44:00 Well, I’m very proud– of the– Iran nuclear agreement. I was– very pleased to be part of– what the president put into action when he took office. I was responsibility for getting those sanctions imposed, which put the pressure on Iran that brought them to the negotiating table, which resulted in this agreement.

10:18:06:00 And so they have been, so far, following their requirements under the agreement. But I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly– toward any know normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreements. And then we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and elsewhere.

10:18:39:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:18:39:00 You– you mentioned Syria, let me ask you about Syria, all of you. Let’s turn to Syria, the civil war that has been raging there. Are there any circumstances in which you could see deploying significant numbers of ground forces in Syria? Not just special forces, special operators, but significant ground forces to combat ISIS in a direct combat role? Let me start with you, Secretary Clinton (UNINTEL).

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:19:00:00 Absolutely not. I have a three-point plan that does not include American ground forces. It includes the United States leading an air coalition, which is what we are doing. Supporting fighters on the ground, the Iraqi Army, which is beginning to show more ability, the Sunni fighters– that we are now helping to reconstitute, and Kurdish fighters on both sides of the border.

10:19:25:00 I think we also have to try to disrupt their supply chain of foreign fighters and foreign money. And we do have to contest them in online space. So I’m very committed to both going after ISIS, but also supporting what Secretary Kerry is doing to try to move on a political, diplomatic course to try to begin to slow down and hopefully end the carnage in Syria, which is the root of so many of the problems that we see in the region and beyond.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:19:57:00 Senator Sanders– (APPLAUSE)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:19:58:00 This is–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:19:58:00 –ground forces? Yes or no?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:20:00:00 As everybody here knows, this is an incredibly complicated and difficult issue. And I applaud, I know President Obama’s been gettin’ a lotta criticism on this. I think he is doing the right thing. What the nightmare is, which many of my Republican colleagues appear to want, is to not have learned the lesson of Iraq. To get American young men and women involved in perpetual warfare, in the quagmire of Syria and the Middle East would be an unmitigated disaster that as president, I will do everything in my power to avoid.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:20:38:00 Andrea–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:20:39:00 We should– (APPLAUSE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:20:39:00 Governor O’Malley?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:20:40:00 We should learn– we should learn from King Abdullah of Jordan, one of the few heroes in a very unheroic place. And what Abdullah said, is this is a war for the soul of Islam. And that Muslim troops should be on the ground with our support and the support of other major countries. That is how we destroy ISIS, not with American troops in perpetual warfare.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:21:09:00 Governor O’Malley?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:21:09:00 Thank you. (APPLAUSE) Andrea, governors have led us to victory in two world wars by doing what America does best. And that is by joining forces with others, by acting in coalitions. And I believe that President Obama’s doing the right thing in this case. We need to learn the lessons from the past.

10:21:28:00 We do need to provide the special– special ops advisors. We n– do need to provide the technical support that over the long term, we need to develop new alliances. We need a much more proactive national security strategy that reduces these threats before they rise to the level where it feels like we need to pull for a division of marines.

10:21:45:00 And I also want to add– one other thing here. I appreciate the fact that in our debate, we don’t use the term you hear Republicans throwin’ around, tryin’ to look all bravado and macho, sending other kids tr– kids into– combat. They keep using the term “boots on the ground.” A woman in Burlington, Iowa said to me, “Governor, when you’re with your colleagues, please don’t refer to my son, who has served two du– du– tours of duty in Iraq as a pair of ‘boots on the ground.’” We need to be mindful (APPLAUSE) of the– (UNINTEL PHRASE).

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:22:15:00 I have a question– I have a question for Senator Sanders. Did the policies of the Obama administration, in which Secretary Clinton of course was a part, create a vacuum in Iraq and Syria that helped ISIS grow?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:22:29:00 No. I think the vacuum was created– by the disastrous war in Iraq. Which I vigorously opposed. Not only did I vote against it, I helped lead the opposition. And what happened there is yeah, it’s easy to get rid of a two-bit dictator like Saddam Hussein, but there wasn’t the kind of thought as to what happens the day after you get him, and what kind of political vacuum occurs, and who rises up?

10:22:59:00 Ca– groups like ISIS. So I think that President Obama made a promise to the American people when he ran. And he said, “You know what, I’m gonna do my best to bring American troops home.” And I supported what he did. Our job is to train and provide military support for Muslim countries in the area who are prepared to take on ISIS.

10:23:23:00 And one point that I wanna make here that is not made very often. You have incredibly wealthy countries in that region. Countries like Saudi Arabia, countries like Qatar. Qatar happens to be the largest– wealthiest country per capita in the world. They have got to start putting in some skin in the game and not just ask the United States (APPLAUSE) to do it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:23:46:00 Senator– Secretary Clinton, I wanna talk to you about red lines. Because former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a recent interview that President Obama’s decisions to stand down on planned missile strikes against Damascus, after Assad had used chemical weapons, hurt the president’s credibility. Should the president have stuck to his red line once he drew it?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:24:09:00 Look, I– I think that the president’s decision– to go after the chemical weapons, once there was a potential opportunity to build on when the Russians– opened that door, resulted in a very positive outcome. We were able to get the chemical weapons out. I know from my own experience– as secretary of State– that we were deeply worried about Assad’s forces using chemical weapons, because it would have had not only an horrific effect on people in Syria, but it could very well have affected the surrounding states– Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey. So getting those chemical weapons out was a big–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:24:54:00 But should he–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:24:54:00 –big deal. But–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:24:54:00 Should he have stuck to his guns–

10:24:56:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:24:57:00 Well, but– but look–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:24:57:00 –or did it hurt U.S. credibility?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:24:58:00 I– I think as commander in chief, you’ve got to constantly be evaluating the decisions you have to make. I know a little bit about this, having spent many hours in the situation room, advising President Obama. And I wanna just add to something that Senator Sanders said. The United States had a very big interest in trying to help stabilize the region.

10:25:23:00 If there is any blame to be spread around, it starts with the prime minister of Iraq, who sectarianized his military, se– setting Shia against Sunni. It is amplified by Assad, who has waged one of the bloodiest, most terrible attacks on his own people, 250,000 plus dead, millions fleeing, causing this vacuum that has been filled, unfortunately, by terrorist groups– including ISIS.

10:25:54:00 So I think we are in the midst of great turmoil in this region. We have a proxy conflict going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran. You know, one of the– criticisms I’ve had of– Senator Sanders is his suggestion that, you know, Iranian troops be used to try to end the war in Syria and go after ISIS–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:26:14:00 Your– your ti– your time is up, Secretary–

10:26:15:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:16:00 –let me just–

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:26:16:00 Which I don’t think would be a good idea–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:17:00 Okay, but let me–

10:26:18:00 (OVERTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:26:18:00 –but overall, a lot of the forces at work in the region–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:21:00 All right.

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:26:22:00 –are ones that we cannot–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:23:00 Okay.

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:26:24:00 –directly influence, but we can–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:27:00 All right, let me suggest–

10:26:27:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:26:31:00 Senator Sanders? (APPLAUSE)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:26:33:00 Where– where Secretary Clinton and I think– I– I agree with most of– of– of what she said. But where I think we do have an honest– disagreement is that in the incredible quagmire of Syria, where it’s hard to know who’s fighting who, and if you give arms to this guy, it may end up in ISIS’s hands the next day. We all know that.

10:26:53:00 And we all know, no argument, the secretary is absolutely right. Assad is a butcher of his own people, a man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting. But I think in terms of pr– our priorities in the region, our first priority– priority must be the destruction of ISIS.

10:27:14:00 Our second priority must be getting rid of Assad through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia. But the immediate task is to bring all interests together, who want to destroy ISIS, including Russia, including Iran, including our Muslim allies, to make that the major priority.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:27:36:00 But in all of that, Senator and Secretary, I think we’re leaving out something very important here. And that is that we still don’t have the human intelligence, overt, in terms of diplomatic intelligence, or covert, to understand even what the heck happens as the secondary and tertiary effects of some of these things. (COUGH)

10:27:55:00 We are walking through this– this region, Andrea, without the human intelligence that we need. And we need to make a renewed investment as a country into bringing up a new generation of foreign service officers and bringing up a new generation of business people, and then actually understanding and having relationships in these places so we have a better sense of what the heck happens after a dictator topples and can take action to prevent another safe haven and another iteration of terror.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:28:23:00 Your time is up.

LESTER HOLT:

10:28:24:00 Yes–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:28:25:00 Lester?

LESTER HOLT:

10:28:25:00 –as (APPLAUSE) Senator Sanders mentioned– Russia a moment ago. Secretary Clinton, you famously handed Russia’s foreign minister a reset button in 2009. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea– fomented a war in Ukraine, provided weapons that downed an airliner, and launched operations, as we just d– discussed, to support Assad in Syria. As president, would you hand Vladimir Putin a reset button?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:28:48:00 Well, I’d depend for what I got for it. And I can tell you what we got– in the first term. We got a new start treaty to reduce nuclear weapons– between the United States and Russia. We got permission to resupply our troops in Afghanistan by traveling across– Russia. We got Russia to sign on– to our sanctions against Iran, and other– very important– commitments.

10:29:15:00 So look, in diplomacy, you are always trying to see how you can figure out the interests of the other, to see if there isn’t some way you can advance your security and your values. When Putin came back in the fall of 2011– it was very clear he came back with a mission. And I began speaking out as soon as that happened, because there were some fraudulent elections held, and Russians poured out into the streets to demand their freedom. And he cracked down, and in fact, accused me of fomenting it. So we now know that he has a mixed– record, to say the least, and we have to figure out how to deal with him. We–

LESTER HOLT:

10:29:59:00 What’s your relationship with him?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:30:01:00 Well, my relationship with him– (LAUGH) it’s– it’s– it’s interesting. It’s– (LAUGHTER) it’s one I think of– respect. We’ve had some very tough dealings with one another. And– I know that he’s someone that you have to continually stand up to. Because like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can, unless you do.

10:30:32:00 And we need to get the Europeans to be more willing to stand up. I was pleased they put sanctions on after Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and the downing of the airliner. But we’ve got to be more united in preventing Putin from taking a more aggressive stance in Europe and the Middle East.

LESTER HOLT:

10:30:49:00 We wanna turn right now (APPLAUSE) to the issue of balancing national security concerns with the privacy rights of Americans. That bring us to YouTube and this question.

MARQUES BROWNLEE:

10:31:00:00 Hi, my name is Marques Brownlee, and I’ve been making YouTube videos about electronics and gadgets for the past seven years. I think America’s future success is tied to getting all kinds of tech right. Tech companies are responsible for the encryption technology to protect personal data. But the government wants a back door into that information. So do you think it’s possible to find common ground? And where do you stand on privacy versus security?

LESTER HOLT:

10:31:20:00 So Governor O’Malley?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:31:21:00 Thank you. I believe whether it’s a back door or front door, that the– that the American principle of law should still hold. That our federal government should have to get a warrant whether they wanna come through your back door or your front door. (APPLAUSE) And I also agree, Lester, with– with Benjamin Franklin, who said, “No people should ever give up their privacy or their freedoms in a promise for security.”

10:31:42:00 So– well, we’re a collaborative people. We need collaborative leadership here, with Silicon Valley, and other bright people in my own state of– of Maryland, around M.S.A. that can actually figure this out. But there are certain immutable principles that– will not become– antique things in our country so long as we defend our country and its values and its freedoms.

10:32:02:00 And one of the things is our– our right to be secure in our homes and our right to expect that our federal government should have to get a warrant. I also wanna say that while we’ve made some progress on the– patriot act, I do believe that we need an adversarial port system there. We need a public advocate, we need to develop jurisprudence so that we can develop a body of law that protects the privacy of Americans in the information and digital age.

LESTER HOLT:

10:32:26:00 That’s time. You have all talked about– what you would do fighting ISIS over there. But we’ve been hit in this country by home-grown terrorists, from Chattanooga, to San Bernardino– the recent shooting of a police officer in Philadelphia. How are you gonna fight lone wolves here, Senator Sanders–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:32:42:00 Okay, Lester, year in and year out, I was the leader of the U.S.–

10:32:44:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:32:45:00 –Senator Sanders, I wasn’t clear. I apologize.

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:32:47:00 Okay. I just wanted to add– in the previous question– I voted against the USA Patriot Act for many of the reasons that Governor O’Malley mentioned. But it is not only the government that we have to worry about, it is private corporations. You would all be amazed, or maybe not, about the amount of information private companies and the government have in terms of the websites that you access, the products that you buy, where you are this very moment. And it is very clear to me that public policy has not caught up with the explosion of technology. So yes, we have to work with Silicon Valley to make sure that we do not allow ISIS to translate information–

LESTER HOLT:

10:33:32:00 But in terms of lone wolves– the threat, how do you deal with it–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:33:36:00 Right, what we have got to do there is, among other things, as I was just saying, have Silicon Valley help us to make sure that information being transmitted through the internet, or in other ways– by ISIS, is in fact, discovered. But I do believe we can do that without violating the constitutional and privacy rights of the American people.

LESTER HOLT:

10:34:00:00 We have to go to–

10:34:00:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:34:01:00 We have to go to a break, but when we come back, let me get to some of the burning questions these candidates have yet to answer–

10:34:06:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:34:07:00 –to talk about.

10:38:08:00 (MUSIC)

LESTER HOLT:

10:38:15:00 And welcome back to Charleston. As we were going to a break S– Secretary Clinton I– I cut you off. I– I’ll give you 30 seconds to respond on the issue of– lone wolves.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:38:22:00 Can I get 30 seconds too? (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING)

LESTER HOLT:

10:38:33:00 Secretary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:38:36:00 Well, I– I wanted to– say– and I’ll do it quickly, I was very pleased that– leaders of President Obama’s– administration went out to Silicon Valley last week and began exactly this conversation about what we can do consistent with privacy and security.

10:38:52:00 We need better intelligence cooperation. We need to be sure that we’re getting the best intelligence that we can from friends and allies around the world. And then we’ve gotta recognize our first line of defense against lone wolf attacks is among Muslim Americans. And it is not only shameful, it is dangerous for the kinds of comments you’re hearing from the Republican side. We need to be reaching out and unifying our country against (CHEERING) terrorist attacks and lone wolves and working with Muslim Americans.

10:39:23:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:39:23:00 Andrea has a follow-up.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:39:25:00 Just– just a quick follow-up–

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:39:26:00 Andrea– Andrea–

10:39:28:00 (OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:39:27:00 –for Secretary Clinton, just– just a moment, governor.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:39:29:00 –my 30 seconds?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:39:30:00 But– but– Secretary Clinton you said that the leaders from the intelligence community went to Silicon Valley. They were flatly turned down. They got nowhere.

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:39:38:00 That is not what I’ve heard. Let me leave it at that.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:39:40:00 Andrea, I need to talk about homeland security and preparedness. Ever since the attacks of September 11th, 30 seconds, ever since the attacks of September 11th my colleagues, Democratic and Republican mayors, Democratic and Republican governors made me their leader on homeland scrutiny and preparedness.

10:39:53:00 Here in the homeland unlike combating ISIL abroad we’re almost like it’s– your body’s immune system. It’s able to protect your body against bad bugs not necessarily ’cause it outnumbers ’em but it’s better connected. The fusion centers, the– bio-surveillance systems, better prepared first responders.

10:40:11:00 But there’s another front in this battle and it is this. That’s the political front. And if Donald Trump wants to start a registry in our country of people by faith he can start with me. And I will sign up as one who is totally opposed to his fascist appeals that wants to vilify American Muslims. That can do more damage to our democracy than any s– thing–

10:40:33:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:40:34:00 All right, that’s time. And we do– we (CHEERING) do have to move on. Secretary Clinton, this is the first time–

10:40:38:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:40:39:00 –that–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:40:40:00 Can I just get a very brief response. Very brief.

LESTER HOLT:

10:40:41:00 –thir– third seconds, Senator.

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:40:44:00 Okay. One– and– and I agree with what the secretary said and– and what Governor O’Malley said. But here’s an issue that we also should talk about. We have $600 billion military budget. It is a budget larger than the next eight countries.

10:40:59:00 Unfortunately much of that budget continues to fight the old Cold War with the Soviet Union. Very little of that budget– less than 10% actually goes into fighting ISIS and international terrorism. We need to be thinkin’ hard about making fundamental changes in the priorities of the defense department.

LESTER HOLT:

10:41:25:00 All right, Secretary Clinton, (APPLAUSE) this is the first time that a spouse of a former president could be elected president. You have said that President Clinton would advise you on economic issues. But be specific if you can. Are you talking about– a kitchen table role on economics or will he have a real policy role?

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:41:43:00 Well, I– it’ll start at the kitchen table. We’ll see how it goes from there. (LAUGHTER) And I– (CHEERING) I’m gonna have the very best advisors that I can possibly have. And when it comes to the economy– and what was accomplished under my husband’s leadership in the 90s, especially when it came to raising income for everybody and lifting more people out of poverty than any time in recent history you bet I’m gonna ask for his ideas, I’m gonna ask for his advice.

10:42:18:00 And I’m gonna use him as– a good will– emissary to go around the country to find the best ideas we’ve got. Because I do believe, as he said, everything that’s wrong with America has been solved somewhere in America. We just have to do more of it and we have to reach out, especially in the poor communities and communities of color to give more people their own chance to get ahead.

LESTER HOLT:

10:42:41:00 Senator Sanders, a 30 second response (CHEERING) here.

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:42:49:00 Great ideas. Governor O’Malley, Secretary Clinton. But here’s the truth, if you have an administration stacked with Wall Street appointees it ain’t gonna accomplish very much. So here’s a promise that I make, I mentioned a moment ago how corrupt the system is. Goldman Sachs paying a $5 billion fine gives this country in recent history a Republican secretary of treasury, a Democratic secretary of treasury. Here’s a promise, if elected president Goldman Sachs is not gonna have– bring forth a secretary of treasury for a Sanders’ administration.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:43:29:00 (CHEERING) Senator Sanders, let me ask you a question, you called Bill Clinton’s past transgressions, quote, totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable. Senator, do you regret saying that?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:43:43:00 I was asked a question, you know, one of the things, Andrea, and I– that– that question annoys me. I cannot (LAUGHTER) walk down the street– Secretary Clinton knows this– without being told how much I have to attack Secretary Clinton. Wanna get me on the front pages of the paper, I make some vicious attack. I have avoided doing that, trying to run an issue oriented campaign. (CHEERING) I was–

10:44:11:00 (OVERTALK)

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:44:12:00 –asked a question.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:44:14:00 You didn’t have to answer it that way though. Why–

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:44:13:00 Well–

ANDREA MITCHELL:

10:44:14:00 –did you?

BERNIE SANDERS:

10:44:15:00 –then if I don’t answer it then there’s another front page. So yes. (LAUGHTER) And I mean this seriously. You know that. We’ve been through this. Yes, his behavior was deplorable. Have I ever once said a word about that issue? No I have not. I’m gonna debate Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley on the issues facing the American people. Not Bill Clinton’s personal (CHEERING) views (?).

LESTER HOLT:

10:44:38:00 We will take a break. We’ll continue from Charleston right after this. (LAUGHTER)

10:44:43:00 (MUSIC)

10:44:52:00 (BREAK IN TAPE)

10:48:54:00 (MUSIC)

LESTER HOLT:

10:49:00:00 Welcome back, everybody. Finally before we go tonight we set up here to understand points of differences between you. We believe we– we’ve learned a lot here. But before we leave, is there anything that you really wanted to say tonight that you haven’t gotten a chance to say? And we’ll start with Governor O’Malley. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING) Didn’t see that coming–

10:49:29:00 (OVERTALK)

LESTER HOLT:

10:49:30:00 –did you?

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:49:30:00 You know what, we’re gonna have to get 20 minutes to do it. So (LAUGHTER) look I believe there–

10:49:34:00 (OVERTALK)

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:49:35:00 –are many issues, so what– 60 seconds for this?

LESTER HOLT:

10:49:35:00 Sixty seconds. We’d appreciate it.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:49:38:00 There are so many issues that– that we haven’t been able to discuss here. We have not fully discussed immigration reform and the deplorable number of immigrant detention camps that our nation’s now maintaining. We haven’t discussed the shameful treatment that the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans, are being treated with by these hedge funds that are working (UNINTEL). (APPLAUSE)

10:50:00:00 We haven’t discussed the fact that in our own hemisphere we have the danger of nation state failures because of drug traffickers in– in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador. I guess the bottom line is this, look, we are– a great people when we act at home and abroad.

10:50:15:00 Based on the beliefs that unite us, our belief in the dignity of every person, our belief in our own common good. There is no challenge that is too great for us to overcome provided we bring forward in these divided times new leadership that can heal our divides here at home and bring our principles into alignment abroad. We’re on the threshold of a new era of American progress. And I believe we have only need to join forces together and cross that threshold into a new era of American prosperity.

LESTER HOLT:

10:50:40:00 And that’s time.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:50:42:00 Thanks a lot. (CHEERING)

LESTER HOLT:

10:50:44:00 Secretary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON:

10:50:50:00 Well, Lester, I– I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what’s happening in Flint, Michigan. And I think every (CHEERING) single American should be outraged. We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways and majority African-American has been drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water.

10:51:15:00 And the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care. He had request for help but he basically stonewalled. I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it there would’ve been action. So I sent my top campaign aide down there to talk to the– mayor of Flint to see what I could do to help.

10:51:39:00 And I issued a statement about what we needed to do. And then I went on a TV show and said it was outrageous that the governor hadn’t acted. And within two hours he had. I wanna be a president takes care of the big (CHEERING) problems and the problems that are affecting the people of our country every day.

LESTER HOLT:

10:51:58:00 Thank you. Senator Sanders.

MARTIN O’MALLEY:

10:52:04:00 Well, Secretary Clinton was right. And what I did which I think is also right is demanded the resignation of the governor. A man who acts that irresponsibly (APPLAUSE) should not stay in power. Now we are a great nation. And we’ve heard a lotta great ideas here tonight.

10:52:22:00 But let’s be honest and let’s be truthful. Very little is going to be done to transform our economy and to create the kind of middle class we need unless we end a corrupt campaign finance system which is undermining American democracy. (CHEERING) We have gotta get rid of super pack. We have got to get rid of citizens united.

10:52:55:00 And what we have got to do is create a political revolution which revitalizes American democracy, which brings millions of young people and working people into the political process. To say loudly and clearly that the government of the United States of America belongs to all of us and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.

LESTER HOLT:

10:53:20:00 All right, well, thank you. (CHEERING) And thanks to all of you for being here tonight, shedding light on some of the differences– as Americans get ready to vote. I also wanna thank the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and certainly my friend and colleague, Andrea Mitchell. This has been great. It’s been a great, spirited conversation a new– American people appreciate it. Let me turn it over to my friend, Chuck Todd, now.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 January 14, 2016: The Fox Business Network Sixth Republican Debate in Charleston Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Full Transcript of the Sixth Republican Debate in Charleston

Source: Time, 1-14-16

 

Hosted by Fox Business Network in Charleston, South Carolina

Participants: New York businessman Donald Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former New York Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Moderators: Fox Business Network anchors Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo.

CAVUTO: It is 9:00 p.m. here at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in South Carolina. Welcome to the sixth Republican presidential <debate> of the 2016 campaign, here on the Fox Business Network.

CAVUTO: I’m Neil Cavuto, alongside my friend and co-moderator Maria Bartiromo.

BARTIROMO: Tonight we are working with Facebook to ask the candidates the questions voters want answered. And according to Facebook, the U.S. election has dominated the global conversation, with 131 million people talking about the 2016 race. That makes it the number one issue talked about on Facebook last year worldwide.

CAVUTO: Now, the seven candidates on the stage tonight were selected based on their standing in six national polls, as well as polls in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, those standings determining the position on the stage of the candidates tonight. And here they are.

Businessman Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

Texas senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

Florida senator Marco Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

And Ohio governor John Kasich.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Tonight’s rules are simple: up to 90 seconds for each answer, one minute for each follow-up response. And if a candidate goes over the allotted time, you’ll hear this.

(BELL RINGS) So let’s get started. Candidates, jobs and growth — two of the biggest issues facing the country right now. In his State of the Union address earlier this week, the president said, quote, “we have the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”

And according to our Facebook research, jobs is one of the biggest issues resonating across the country, including here in South Carolina. The president is touting 14 million new jobs and an unemployment rate cut in half.

The president said that anyone who claims America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. Senator Cruz, what do you see that he doesn’t?

CRUZ: Well, Maria, thank you for that question, and let me say thank you to the state of South Carolina for welcoming us.

Let me start — I want to get to the substance of the question on jobs, but I want to start with something. Today, many of us picked up our newspapers, and we were horrified to see the sight of 10 American sailors on their knees, with their hands on their heads.

In that State of the Union, President Obama didn’t so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama’s preparing to send $100 billion or more to the Ayatollah Khamenei. And I’ll tell you, it was heartbreaking.

But the good news is the next commander-in-chief is standing on this stage.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, on to your substantive question. The president tried to paint a rosy picture of jobs. And you know, he’s right. If you’re a Washington lobbyist, if you make your money in and around Washington, things are doing great. The millionaires and billionaires are doing great under Obama. But we have the lowest percentage of Americans working today of any year since 1977. Median wages have stagnated. And the Obama-Clinton economy has left behind the working men and women of this country.

The reason all of us are here is we believe we should be fighting for the working men and women of this country, and not Washington, D.C.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Kasich, we are not even two weeks into this stock trading year, but (inaudible) investors already lost $1.6 trillion in market value. That makes it the worst start to a new year ever. Many worry that things will get even worse, and that banks and financial stocks are particularly vulnerable.

Now, if this escalates, like it did back when Barack Obama first assumed the presidency, what actions would you take if this same thing happens all over again just as, in this example, you are taking over the presidency?

KASICH: Look, it takes three things basically to grow jobs. And I’ve done it when I was in Washington when we had a balanced budget; had four years of balanced budgets; paid down a half-trillion of debt. And our economy was growing like crazy. It’s the same thing that I did in Ohio. It’s a simple formula: common sense regulations, which is why I think we should freeze all federal regulations for one year, except for health and safety. It requires tax cuts, because that sends a message to the job creators that things are headed the right way. And if you tax cuts — if you cut taxes for corporations, and you cut taxes for individuals, you’re going to make things move, particularly the corporate tax, which is the highest, of course, in the — in the world.

But in addition to that, we have to have fiscal discipline. We have to show that we can march to a balanced budget. And when you do that, when you’re in a position of managing regulations; when you reduce taxes; and when you have fiscal discipline, you see the job creators begin to get very comfortable with the fact that they can invest.

Right now, you don’t have the — you have taxes that are too high. You have regulations — I mean, come on, they’re affecting everybody here, particularly our small businesses. They are — they’re in a position where they’re smothering people. And I mean, are you kidding me? We’re nowhere close to a balanced budget or fiscal discipline.

Those three things put together are going to give confidence to job creators and you will begin to see wages rise. You will begin to see jobs created in a robust economy. And how do I know it? Because I’ve done it. I did it as the chairman of the Budget Committee, working with Senator Domenici. And I’ve done it in the state of Ohio as the chief executive.

Our wages are growing faster than the national average. We’re running surpluses. And we can take that message and that formula to Washington to lift every single American to a better life.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: We know that recent global events have many people worried — Iran detaining American sailors, forcing them to apologize; North Korea and its nuclear ambitions; an aggressive China; and a Middle East that continues to deteriorate, not to mention ISIS is getting stronger.

Governor Christie, sometimes it seems the world is on fire. Where and when should a president use military action to restore order?

CHRISTIE: Well, Maria, I’m glad to have heard from you in the summary of that question about what’s going on in the world. Because Tuesday night, I watched story time with Barack Obama. And I’ve got to tell you, it sounded like everything in the world was going amazing, you know?

(APPLAUSE)

The fact is, there’s a number of things that the next president is going to have to do to clean up this mess. The first thing is we have to strengthen our alliances around the world. And the best way to do that is to start talking to our allies again and having them be able to count on our word.

CHRISTIE: Lots of people will say lots of different things about me in this campaign and others, but the one thing they’ve never said about me is that I’m misunderstood. And so when we talk to our allies and we give them our word, in a Christie administration, they know we’re going to keep it.

Next, we have to talk to our adversaries, and we have to make sure they understand the limits of our patience. And this president, given what Ted said right at the beginning, he’s absolutely right. It’s a — it’s absolutely disgraceful that Secretary Kerry and others said in their response to what’s going on in Iran that this was a good thing; it showed how the relationship was getting better.

The president doesn’t understand — and by the way, neither does Secretary Clinton — and here’s my warning to everybody out in the audience tonight. If you’re worried about the world being on fire, you’re worried about how we’re going to use our military, you’re worried about strengthening our military and you’re worried most of all about keeping your homes and your families safe and secure, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama’s leadership.

I will not do that. If I’m the nominee, she won’t get within 10 miles of the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Just to be clear Governor, where and when would you use military action?

CHRISTIE: MIlitary action, Maria, would be used when it was absolutely necessary to protect American lives and protect American interests around the world. We are not the world’s policeman, but we need to stand up and be ready.

And the problem, Maria, is that the military is not ready, either. We need to rebuild our military, and this president has let it diminish to a point where tinpot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our Navy ships. It is disgraceful, and in a Christie administration, they would know much, much better than to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Bush, the president just told the nation two nights ago that America is back and that the idea that our enemies are getting stronger or that this country is getting weaker, well, it’s just rhetoric and hot air. Now other Democrats go even further, sir, saying Republicans even suggesting such comments actually embolden our enemies. I guess they would include you. What do you say?

BUSH: Well first of all, the idea that somehow we’re better off today than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States is totally an alternative universe. The simple fact is that the world has been torn asunder.

Think about it. With grandiose language, the president talks about red lines and nothing to follow it up; talks about ISIS being the JV team, they form a caliphate the size of Indiana with 35 (thousand) to 40,000 battle-tested terrorists. He’s missing the whole point, that America’s leadership in the world is required for peace and stability.

In the crowd today is Major General James Livingston, who’s the co-chairman of my campaign here in South Carolina, a Medal of Honor recipient.

(APPLAUSE)

I’ve learned from him that what we need to achieve is peace through strength, which means we need to rebuild the military. In this administration, every weapon system has been gutted, in this administration, the force levels are going down to a level where we can’t even project force. Our friends no longer think we have their back and our enemies no longer fear us, and we’re in a much difficult — we’re in a much different position than we should be.

And for the life of me, I have no understanding why the president thinks that everything is going well. Terrorism is on the run, China, Russia is advancing their agenda at warp speed, and we pull back.

As president of the United States, I will be a commander in chief that will have the back of the military. We will rebuild the military to make sure that it is a solid force, not to be the world’s policeman, but to make sure that in a peaceful world, people know that the United States is there to take care of our own national interests and take care of our allies.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: So I take it from that you do not agree with the president.

BUSH: No. And worse — worse yet, to be honest with you, Hillary Clinton would be a national security disaster.

Think about it. She wants to continue down the path of Iran, Benghazi, the Russian reset, Dodd-Frank, all the things that have — that have gone wrong in this country, she would be a national security mess. And that is wrong.

And you know what? Here’s the problem. If she gets elected, she’s under investigation with the FBI right now. If she gets elected, her first 100 days, instead of setting an agenda, she might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse. We need to stop that. (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, the president says that ISIS doesn’t threaten our national existence like a Germany or a Japan back in World War II, that the terror group is nothing more than twisted souls plotting attacks in their garages.

But House Homeland Security Committee recently said that over 1,000 ongoing investigations of homegrown extremism in 50 states. So how do you define the threat? Germany then or dangerous nut cases now?

RUBIO: Yeah, I would go, first of all, one step further in this description of Hillary Clinton. She wouldn’t just be a disaster, Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being commander in chief of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Someone who cannot handle intelligence information appropriately cannot be commander in chief and someone who lies to the families of those four victims in Benghazi can never be president of the United States. Ever.

(APPLAUSE)

On the issue of Barack Obama, Barack Obama does not believe that America is a great global power. Barack Obama believes that America is a arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size. And that’s how you get a foreign policy where we cut deals with our enemies like Iran and we betray our allies like Israel and we gut our military and we go around the world like he has done on 10 separate occasions and apologized for America.

He doesn’t understand the threat in ISIS. He consistently underestimates it but I do not. There is a war against ISIS, not just against ISIS but against radical jihadists terrorists, and it is a war that they win or we win.

When I’m president of the United States, we are going to win this war on ISIS. The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where we are, the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them. And if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we are going to find out everything they know.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Senator.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, the president says he does not want to treat ISIS as a foreign army, but ISIS is neither a country nor a government. How do you attack a network that does not respect national borders?

CARSON: Well, I’m very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when that time came.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I find it really quite fascinating some of the president’s proclamations. The fact of the matter is he doesn’t realize that we now live in the 21st century, and that war is very different than it used to be before. Not armies massively marching on each other and air forces, but now we have dirty bombs and we have cyber attacks and we have people who will be attacking our electrical grid. And, you know, we have a whole variety of things that they can do and they can do these things simultaneously. And we have enemies who are obtaining nuclear weapons that they can explode in our exoatmosphere and destroy our electric grid.

I mean, just think about a scenario like that. They explode the bomb, we have an electromagnetic pulse. They hit us with a cyberattack simultaneously and dirty bombs. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue at that point? He needs to recognize that those kinds of things are in fact an existential threat to us.

But here’s the real key. We have the world’s best military, even though he’s done everything he can to diminish it. And the fact of the matter is if we give them a mission and we don’t tie their hands behind their back, they can get it accomplished.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump, at the State of the Union, the president pointed to a guest who was a Syrian refugee you might recall whose wife and daughter and other family members were killed in an air attack. Now he fled that country seeking asylum here, ultimately ended up in Detroit where he’s now trying to start a new life.

The president says that that doctor is the real face of these refugees and not the one that you and some of your colleagues on this stage are painting; that you prefer the face of fear and terror and that you would refuse to let in anyone into this country seeking legitimate asylum. How do you answer that?

TRUMP: It’s not fear and terror, it’s reality. You just have to look today at Indonesia, bombings all over.

(APPLAUSE)

You look at California, you look, frankly, at Paris where there’s a — the strictest no-gun policy of any city anywhere in the world, and you see what happens: 130 people dead with many to follow. They’re very, very badly wounded. They will — some will follow. And you look around, and you see what’s happening, and this is not the case when he introduced the doctor — very nice, everything perfect but that is not representative of what you have in that line of migration.

That could be the great Trojan Horse. It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction. When I look at the migration, I looked at the line, I said it actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men, young and people are looking at that and they’re saying what’s going on?

TRUMP: You look at the kind of damage that two people that two people that got married, they were radicalized — they got married, they killed 15 people in actually 15 — going to be probably 16 but you look at that and you take a look — a good strong look and that’s what we have. We are nineteen trillion dollars — our country’s a mess and we can’t let all these people come into our country and break our borders. We can’t do it.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, the New York Times is reporting that you failed to properly disclose a million dollars in loans from Goldman Sachs and CitiBank. During your senate race, your campaign said, “it was inadvertent.” A million dollars is inadvertent?

CRUZ: Well Maria, thank you for passing on that hit piece in the front page of the New York Times. You know the nice thing about the mainstream media, they don’t hide their views. The New York Times a few weeks back had a columnist who wrote a column saying, “Anybody But Cruz.” Had that actually — that same columnist wrote a column comparing me to an evil demonic spirit from the move, “It Follows” that jumps apparently from body to body possessing people.

So you know the New York Times and I don’t have exactly have the warmest of relationships. Now in terms of their really stunning hit piece, what they mentioned is when I was running for senate — unlike Hillary Clinton, I don’t have masses of money in the bank, hundreds of millions of dollars. When I was running for senate just about every lobbyist, just about all of the establishment opposed me in the senate race in Texas and my opponent in that race was worth over 200 million dollars. He put a 25 million dollar check up from his own pocket to fund that campaign and my wife Heidi and I, we ended up investing everything we owned.

We took a loan against our assets to invest it in that campaign to defend ourselves against those attacks. And the entire New York times attack — is that I disclosed that loan on one filing with the United States Senate, that was a public filing. But it was not on a second filing with FDIC and yes, I made a paperwork error disclosing it on one piece of paper instead of the other. But if that’s the best the New York Times has got, they better go back to the well.

BARTIROMO: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right. Welcome back to the Republican presidential <debate>, right here in North Charleston, South Carolina. Let’s get right back to the questions. And I’ll start with you, Senator Cruz.

Now you are, of course, a strict constitutionalist — no one would doubt that. And as you know, the U.S. Constitution says only natural-born citizens are eligible for the office of president of the United States. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Now, you were born…

(LAUGHTER)

… you were born in Canada to an American mother. So you were and are considered an American citizen. But that fellow next to you, Donald Trump — and others — have said that being born in Canada means you are not natural-born, and that has raised questions about your eligibility.

Do you want to try to close this topic once and for all tonight?

CRUZ: Well, Neil, I’m glad we’re focusing on the important topics of the evening.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

You know, back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed.

(LAUGHTER)

But the poll numbers have.

(APPLAUSE)

And I recognize — I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.

If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president.

If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.

At the end of the day, the legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on — some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil.

Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN): Not me.

CRUZ: Because — because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized. Now, Donald…

TRUMP: But I was born here.

CRUZ: … on the issue — on the issue of citizenship, Donald…

TRUMP: (inaudible). Big difference.

CRUZ: … on the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.

TRUMP: OK, good. Because it wouldn’t work.

CRUZ: You’re an American, as is everybody else on this stage, and I would suggest we focus on who’s best prepared to be commander- in-chief, because that’s the most important question facing the country.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump…

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: … that you raised it because of his rising poll numbers.

TRUMP: … first of all, let me just tell you something — and you know, because you just saw the numbers yourself — NBC Wall Street Journal just came out with a poll — headline: Trump way up, Cruz going down. I mean, so don’t — so you can’t — you can’t…

(BOOING)

… they don’t like the Wall Street Journal. They don’t like NBC, but I like the poll.

(LAUGHTER)

And frankly, it just came out, and in Iowa now, as you know, Ted, in the last three polls, I’m beating you. So — you know, you shouldn’t misrepresent how well you’re doing with the polls.

(APPLAUSE)

You don’t have to say that. In fact, I was all for you until you started doing that, because that’s a misrepresentation, number one.

TRUMP: Number two, this isn’t me saying it. I don’t care. I think I’m going to win fair and square (inaudible) to win this way. Thank you.

Lawrence Tribe and (inaudible) from Harvard — of Harvard, said that there is a serious question as to whether or not Ted can do this. OK? There are other attorneys that feel, and very, very fine constitutional attorneys, that feel that because he was not born on the land, he cannot run for office.

Here’s the problem. We’re running. We’re running. He does great. I win. I choose him as my vice presidential candidate, and the Democrats sue because we can’t take him along for the ride. I don’t like that. OK?

(LAUGHTER)

The fact is — and if for some reason he beats the rest of the field, he beats the rest of the field (inaudible). See, they don’t like that. They don’t like that.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

No, they don’t like he beats the rest of the field, because they want me.

(LAUGHTER)

But — if for some reason, Neil, he beats the rest of the field, I already know the Democrats are going to be bringing a suit. You have a big lawsuit over your head while you’re running. And if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office? So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment, let the courts decide. And you shouldn’t have mentioned the polls because I would have been much…

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Why are you saying this now — right now? Why are you raising this issue now?

TRUMP: Because now he’s going a little bit better. No, I didn’t care (inaudible). It’s true. No, it’s true. Hey look, he never had a chance. Now, he’s doing better. He’s got probably a four or five percent chance.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Neil…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The fact is, there is a big overhang. There’s a big question mark on your head. And you can’t do that to the party. You really can’t. You can’t do that to the party. You have to have certainty. Even if it was a one percent chance, and it’s far greater than one percent because (inaudible).

I mean, you have great constitutional lawyers that say you can’t run. If there was a — and you know I’m not bringing a suit. I promise. But the Democrats are going to bring a lawsuit, and you have to have certainty. You can’t have a question. I can agree with you or not, but you can’t have a question over your head.

CAVUTO: Senator, do you want to respond?

CRUZ: Well, listen, I’ve spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court. And I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.

TRUMP: You don’t have to. Take it from Lawrence Tribe.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Take it from your professors…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: The chances of any litigation proceeding and succeeding on this are zero. And Mr. Trump is very focused…

TRUMP: He’s wrong. He’s wrong.

CRUZ: … on Larry Tribe. Let me tell you who Larry Tribe is. He’s a left-wing judicial activist, Harvard Law professor who was Al Gore’s lawyer in Bush versus Gore. He’s a major Hillary Clinton supporter. And there’s a reason why Hillary’s supporters are echoing Donald’s attacks on me, because Hillary…

TRUMP: He is not the only one.

CRUZ: … wants to face Donald Trump in the general election.

TRUMP: There are many lawyers.

CRUZ: And I’ll tell you what, Donald, you — you very kindly just a moment ago offered me the V.P. slot.

(LAUGHTER) I’ll tell you what. If this all works out, I’m happy to consider naming you as V.P. So if you happen to be right, you could get the top job at the end of the day.

TRUMP: No — no…

(LAUGHTER)

… I think if it doesn’t…

(APPLAUSE)

I like that. I like it. I’d consider it. But I think I’ll go back to building buildings if it doesn’t work out.

CRUZ: Actually, I’d love to get you to build a wall.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I have a feeling it’s going to work out, actually.

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Let me (inaudible). I was invoked in that question, so let me just say — in that answer — let me say, the real question here, I hate to interrupt this episode of Court TV.

(LAUGHTER)

But the real — but I think we have to get back to what this election has to be about. OK? Listen, we — this is the greatest country in the history of mankind. But in 2008, we elected a president that didn’t want to fix America. He wants to change America. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the Constitution. He undermines it. We elected a president that is weakening America on the global stage. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the free enterprise system.

This election has to be about reversing all of that damage. That’s why I’m running for office because when I become president of the United States, on my first day in office we are going to repeal every single one of his unconstitutional executive orders. When I’m president of the United States we are getting rid of Obamacare and we are rebuilding our military. And when I’m president, we’re not just going to have a president that gives a State of the Union and says America is the greatest country in the world. When I’m president, we’re going to have a president that acts like it.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, senator.

BARTIROMO: Mr. Trump, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in her response to the State of the Union address

(APPLAUSE)

BARITROMO: appeared to choose sides within the party, saying Republicans should resist, quote, “the siren call of the angriest voices”. She confirmed, she was referring to you among others. Was she out of line? And, how would a President Trump unite the party?

TRUMP: Okay. First of all, Nikki this afternoon said I’m a friend of hers. Actually a close friend. And wherever you are sitting Nikki, I’m a friend. We’re friends. That’s good.

(LAUGHTER)

But she did say there was anger. And I could say, oh, I’m not angry. I’m very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger. Our military is a disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Our healthcare is a horror show. Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it and replace it. We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry. And I say that to Nikki. So when Nikki said that, I wasn’t offended. She said the truth.

One of your colleagues interviewed me. And said, well, she said you were angry and I said to myself, huh, she’s right. I’m not fighting that. I didn’t find it offensive at all. I’m angry because our country is a mess.

(APPLAUSE)

BARITROMO: But what are you going to do about it?

CAVUTO: Marco Rubio. I’m sorry, it’s the time constraints. You and Governor Christie have been exchanging some fairly nasty words of late, and I will allow the governor to respond as well.

The governor went so far to say, you won’t be able to slime your way to the White House. He’s referring to a series of ads done by a PAC, speaking on your behalf, that say quote,”One high tax, Common Core, liberal, energy-loving, Obamacare, Medicaid-expanding president is enough. You think you went too far on that and do you want to apologize to the governor?

RUBIO: You know, as I said already twice in this <debate>, we have a very serious problem in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: We have a president of the United States that is undermining this country’s security and expanding the role of…

CAVUTO: That is not my question.

RUBIO: Well, I am going to answer your question, Neil. He is — this president is undermining the constitutional basis of this government. This president is undermining our military. He is undermining our standing in the world. I like Chris Christie, but we can not afford to have a president of the United States that supports Common Core.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: We can not afford to have a president of the United States that supports gun control. This president, this president is more interested in funding — less interested in funding the military, than he is in funding planned — he’s more interested in funding Planned Parenthood than he is in funding the military.

Chris Christie wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. All I’m saying is our next president has to be someone that undoes the damage Barack Obama has done to this country. It can not be someone that agrees with his agenda.

Because the damage he has done to America is extraordinary. Let me tell you, if we don’t get this election right, there may be no turning back for America. We’re on the verge of being the first generation of Americans that leave our children worse off than ourselves.

So I just truly, with all my heart belief, I like everybody on the stage. No one is a socialist. No one here is under FBI investigation. So we have a good group of people.

CAVUTO: Is he a liberal?

RUBIO: Our next president…

CAVUTO: Is he a liberal?

RUBIO: Unfortunately, Governor Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood. Our next president, and our Republican nominee can not be someone who supports those positions.

CAVUTO: Governor?

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: I stood on the stage and watched Marco in rather indignantly, look at Governor Bush and say, someone told you that because we’re running for the same office, that criticizing me will get you to that office.

It appears that the same someone who has been whispering in old Marco’s ear too.

(LAUGHTER)

So the indignation that you carry on, some of the stuff, you have to also own then. So let’s set the facts straight. First of all, I didn’t support Sonia Sotomayor. Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.

Third, if you look at my record as governor of New Jersey, I have vetoed a 50-caliber rifle ban. I have vetoed a reduction this clip size. I vetoed a statewide I.D. system for gun owners and I pardoned, six out-of-state folks who came through our state and were arrested for owning a gun legally in another state so they never have to face charges.

And on Common Core, Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey. So listen, this is the difference between being a governor and a senator. See when you’re a senator, what you get to do is just talk and talk and talk. And you talk so much that nobody can ever keep up with what you’re saying is accurate or not.

When you’re a governor, you’re held accountable for everything you do. And the people of New Jersey, I’ve seen it.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: And the last piece is this. I like Marco too, and two years ago, he called me a conservative reformer that New Jersey needed. That was before he was running against me. Now that he is, he’s changed his tune.

I’m never going to change my tune. I like Marco Rubio. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, and he would be a heck of a lot better president than Hillary Rodham Clinton would ever be.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Neil, my name was mentioned here. Neil, my name was mentioned as well.

Here’s the deal, Chris is totally right. He’s been a good governor, and he’s a heck of a lot better than his predecessor that would have bankrupted New Jersey.

Everybody on this stage is better than Hillary Clinton. And I think the focus ought to be on making sure that we leave this nomination process, as wild and woolly as it’s going to be — this is not being bad.

These attack ads are going to be part of life. Everybody just needs to get used to it. Everybody’s record’s going to be scrutinized, and at the end of the day we need to unite behind the winner so we can defeat Hillary Clinton, because she is a disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

Our country rise up again, but we need to have a compelling conservative agenda that we present to the American people in a way that doesn’t disparage people, that unites us around our common purpose.

And so everybody needs to discount some of the things you’re going to hear in these ads, and discount the — the back-and-forth here, because every person here is better than Hillary Clinton.

CARSON: Neil, I was mentioned too.

CAVUTO: You were?

CARSON: Yeah, he said everybody. (LAUGHTER)

And — and I just want to take this opportunity to say, you know, in the 2012 election, you know, we — and when I say we, Republicans — tore themselves apart.

You know, we have to stop this because, you know, if we manage to damage ourselves, and we lose the next election, and a progressive gets in there and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, this nation is over as we know it. And we got to look at the big picture here.

BARTIROMO: Governor Kasich…

(APPLAUSE)

… Governor Kasich, Hillary Clinton is getting some serious competition from Senator Bernie Sanders. He’s now at 41 percent in the latest CBS/New York Times poll. Vice President Biden sang his praises, saying Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real, and he has credibility on it.

So what does it say about our country that a candidate who is a self-avowed socialist and who doesn’t think a 90 percent tax rate is too high could be the Democratic nominee?

KASICH: Well, if that’s the case, we’re going to win every state, if Bernie Sanders is the nominee. That’s not even an issue. But look…

(APPLAUSE)

… and I know Bernie, and I can promise you he’s not going to be president of the United States. So here’s this — the situation, I think, Maria.

And this is what we have to — I — I’ve got to tell you, when wages don’t rise — and they haven’t for a lot of families for a number of years — it’s very, very difficult for them.

Part of the reason why it hasn’t risen because sometimes we’re not giving people the skills they need. Sometimes it’s because the Federal Reserve kept interest rates so low that the wealthy were able to invest in — in strong assets like the stock market when everybody else was left behind.

People are upset about it. I’ll tell you what else they’re upset about: you’re 50 or 51 years old, and some kid walks in and tells you you’re out of work, and you don’t know where to go and where to turn. Do we have answer for that? We do. There are ways to retrain the 50 and 51-year-olds, because they’ve got great value.

I’ll tell you what else people are concerned about. Their kids come out of college, they have high debt and they can’t get a good job. We got to do a lot about the high cost of high — higher education, but we’ve got to make sure we’re training people for jobs that exist, that are good jobs that can pay.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me tell you that, in this country — in this country, people are concerned about their economic future. They’re very concerned about it. And they wonder whether somebody is getting something to — keeping them from getting it.

That’s not the America that I’ve ever known. My father used to say, “Johnny, we never — we don’t hate the rich. We just want to be the rich.” And we just got to make sure that every American has the tools, in K-through-12 and in vocational education, in higher education.

And we got to fight like crazy so people can think the American dream still exists, because it does, with rising wages, with full employment and with everybody in America — and I mean everybody in America — having an opportunity to realize the American dream of having a better life than their mother and their father.

I’m president — look, I’ve done it once. I’ve done it once in Washington, with great jobs and lower taxes. The economy was really booming.

And now in Ohio, with the same formula, wages higher than the — than the national average. A growth of 385,000 jobs.

(BELL RINGS)

It’s not that hard. Just know where you want to go, stick to your guts. Get it done, because our — our children and grandchildren are counting on us to get it done. And, folks, we will. You count on it.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, one of the other candidates on this stage has brought Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions. Is that a legitimate topic in this election? And what do you think of the notion that Hillary Clinton is an enabler of sexual misconduct?

CARSON: Well, there’s not question that we should be able to look at past president whether they’re married to somebody who’s running for president or not in terms of their past behavior and what it means. But you know, here’s the real issue, is this America anymore? Do we still have standards? Do we still have values and principles?

You know, you look at what’s going on, you see all the divisiveness and the hatred that goes on in our society. You know, we have a war on virtual everything — race wars, gender wars, income wars, religious wars, age wars. Every war you can imaging, we have people at each other’s throat and our strength is actually in our unity.

You know, you go to the internet, you start reading an article and you go to the comments section — you cannot go five comments down before people are calling each all manner of names. Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that. And wherever it came from we need to start once again recognizing that there is such a thing as right and wrong. And let’s not let the secular progressives drive that out of us.

The majority of people in American actually have values and principles and they believe in the very things that made America great. They’ve been beaten into submission. It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe in.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Well, we are not done. Coming up, one of the top things people are talking about on Facebook, guns. And you can join us live us on this stage in the conversation during this commercial break right from home. You can go to Facebook.com/(inaudible). We will be streaming live and talking about how we think the <debate> is going so far.

CAVUTO: We’re back in a moment in Charleston, South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debates, right here in North Charleston. Let’s get right back to the questions.

Governor Bush, gun rights, one of the top issues seen on Facebook with close to 3 million people talking about it in the past month. Right here in Charleston, Dylann Roof, who has been accused of killing nine people in a nearby church, reportedly had not passed his background check when he got his gun. What is the harm in tightening standards for not only who buys guns, but those who sell them?

BUSH: First of all, I’d like to recognize Governor Haley for her incredible leadership in the aftermath of the —

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The Emanuel AME church killings. And I also want to recognize the people in that church that showed the grace of God and the grace of forgiveness and the mercy that they showed.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I don’t know if any of us could have done what they did, one after another, within 48 hours of that tragedy taking place. Look, here’s the deal, in this particular case, the FBI made a mistake. The law itself requires a background check, but that didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain within the time that they were supposed to do.

We don’t need to add new rules, we need to make sure the FBI does its job. Because that person should not have gotten a gun, should not — would not have passed a background check. The first impulse of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to take rights away from law- abiding citizens.

That’s what they do, whether it’s the San Bernardino attack or if it’s these tragedies that take place, I think we need to focus on what the bigger issue is. It isn’t law-abiding gun owners.

Look, I have an A plus rating in the NRA and we also have a reduction in gun violence because in Florida, if you commit a crime with a gun, you’re going away. You’re going away for a long, long while.

And that’s what we should focus on is the violence in our communities. Target the efforts for people that are committing crimes with guns, and if you do that, and get it right, you’re going to be much better off than creating a political argument where there’s a big divide.

The other issue is mental health. That’s a serious issue that we could work on. Republicans and Democrats alike believe this.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The president’s first impulse is do this by executive order, power he doesn’t have. Why not go to Congress and in a bipartisan way, begin to deal with the process of mental health issues so that people that are spiraling out of control because of mental health challenges don’t have access to guns.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Trump, are there any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America?

TRUMP: No. I am a 2nd amendment person. If we had guns in California on the other side where the bullets went in the different direction, you wouldn’t have 14 or 15 people dead right now.

If even in Paris, if they had guns on the other side, going in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t have 130 people plus dead. So the answer is no and what Jeb said is absolutely correct.

We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We’re closing hospitals, we’re closing wards, we’re closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what’s causing it. The guns don’t pull the trigger. It’s the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We have to protect our 2nd amendment and you cannot do this and certainly what Barack Obama was doing with the executive order. He doesn’t want to get people together, the old-fashioned way, where you get Congress. You get the Congress, you get the Senate, you get together, you do legislation. He just writes out an executive order. Not supposed to happen that way.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you sir.

XXX where you get Congress.

TRUMP: You get the Congress. You get the Senate. You get together. You do legislation. He just writes out an order, executive order. It’s not supposed to happen that way.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, you said that President Obama wants to take people’s guns away. Yet under his presidency, gun sales have more than doubled. That doesn’t sound like a White House unfriendly to gun owners.

RUBIO: That sounds like people are afraid the president’s going to take their guns away.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, the Second Amendment is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a constitutional right of every American to be able to protect themselves and their families. I am convinced that if this president could confiscate every gun in America, he would. I am convinced that this president, if he could get rid of the Second Amendment, he would. I am convinced because I see how he works with his attorney general, not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

I have seen him appoint people to our courts not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

Here’s my second problem. None of these instances that the president points to as the reason why he’s doing these things would have been preventive. You know why? Because criminals don’t buy their guns from a gun show. They don’t buy their guns from a collector. And they don’t buy their guns from a gun store. They get — they steal them. They get them on the black market.

And let me tell you, ISIS and terrorists do not get their guns from a gun show. These…

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

… his answer — you name it. If there’s an act of violence in America, his immediate answer before he even knows the facts is gun control. Here’s a fact. We are in a war against ISIS. They are trying to attack us here in America. They attacked us in Philadelphia last week. They attacked us in San Bernardino two weeks ago. And the last line standing between them and our families might be us and a gun.

When I’m president of the United States, we are defending the Second Amendment, not undermining it the way Barack Obama does.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: But what fact can you point to, Senator — what fact can you point to that the president would take away everyone’s gun? You don’t think that’s (inaudible)?

RUBIO: About every two weeks, he holds a press conference talking about how he can’t wait to restrict people’s access to guns. He has never defended…

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: I’ll give you a fact. Well, let me tell you this. Do you remember when he ran for president of the United States, and he was a candidate, and he went and said, “These Americans with traditional values, they are bitter people, and they cling to their guns and to their religion.” That tells you right away where he was headed on all of this.

This president every chance he has ever gotten has tried to undermine the Second Amendment.

(APPLAUSE)

He doesn’t meet — here’s the difference. When he meets with the attorney general in the White House, it’s not “how can we protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.” It’s “give me options on how I can make it harder for law-abiding people to buy guns.” That will never happen when I am president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Christie, you, too, have criticized the president’s recent executive action on gun control, saying it’s unconstitutional, another step to bypass Congress. But hasn’t your own position on guns evolved, sir? The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that you signed several laws to regulate the possession of firearms, and that you argued back in August 2013, and I quote, “These common sense measures will strengthen New Jersey’s already tough gun laws.”

So isn’t that kind of what the president wants to do now?

CHRISTIE: No, absolutely not. The president wants to do things without working with his Congress, without working with the legislature, and without getting the consent of the American people. And the fact is that that’s not a democracy. That’s a dictatorship. And we need to very, very concerned about that.

See, here’s the thing. I don’t think the founders put the Second Amendment as number two by accident. I don’t think they dropped all the amendments into a hat and picked them out of a hat. I think they made the Second Amendment the second amendment because they thought it was just that important.

The fact is in New Jersey, what we have done is to make it easier now to get a conceal and carry permit. We have made it easier to do that, not harder. And the way we’ve done it properly through regulatory action, not buy signing unconstitutional executive orders. This guy is a petulant child. That’s what he is. I mean, you know…

(APPLAUSE)

… the fact is, Neil, let’s think about — let’s think about — and I want to maybe — I hope the president is watching tonight, because here’s what I’d like to tell him.

Mr. President, we’re not against you. We’re against your policies. When you became president, you had a Democratic Congress and a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate. You had only 21 Republican governors in this country. And now after seven years of your policies, we have the biggest majority we’ve had since the 1920s in the House; a Republican majority in the Senate; and 31 out of 50 Republican governors.

The American people have rejected your agenda and now you’re trying to go around it. That’s not right. It’s not constitutional. And we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: So what is the answer, Senator Cruz, to stop mass shootings and violent crime, up in 30 cities across the country?

CRUZ: The answer is simple. Your prosecute criminals. You target the bad guys. You know, a minute ago, Neil asked: What has President Obama do — done to illustrate that he wants to go after guns?

Well, he appointed Eric Holder as attorney general. Eric Holder said he viewed his mission as brainwashing the American people against guns. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, someone who has been a radical against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

He launched Fast and Furious, illegally selling guns to Mexican drug lords that were then used to shoot law enforcement officials. And I’ll tell you what Hillary Clinton has said: Hillary Clinton says she agrees with the dissenters — the Supreme Court dissenters in the Heller case.

There were four dissenters, and they said that they believe the Second Amendment protects no individual right to keep and bear arms whatsoever, which means, if their view prevailed and the next president’s going to get one, two, three, maybe four Supreme Court justices, the court will rule that not a single person in this room has any right under the Second Amendment and the government could confiscate your guns.

And I’ll note that California senator — Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said, if she could say to Mr. America and Mrs. America, “give me your guns, I’m rounding them up,” she would.

And let me make a final point on this. Listen, in any Republican primary, everyone is going to say they support the Second Amendment. Unless you are clinically insane…

(LAUGHTER)

… that’s what you say in a primary. But the voters are savvier than that. They recognize that people’s actions don’t always match their words. I’ve got a proven record fighting to defend the Second Amendment.

There’s a reason Gun Owners of America has endorsed me in this race. There’s a reason the NRA gave me their Carter Knight Freedom Fund award…

(BELL RINGS) … and there’s a reason, when Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer came after our right to keep and bear arms, that I led the opposition, along with millions of Americans — we defeated that gun control legislation.

And I would note the other individuals on this stage were nowhere to be found in that fight.

BARTIROMO: Senator…

(APPLAUSE)

… let me follow up and switch gears.

Senator Cruz, you suggested Mr. Trump, quote, “embodies New York values.” Could you explain what you mean by that?

CRUZ: You know, I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: I am from New York. I don’t.

CRUZ: What — what — you’re from New York? So you might not.

(LAUGHTER)

But I promise you, in the state of South Carolina, they do.

(APPLAUSE)

And listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.

And — and I would note indeed, the reason I said that is I was asked — my friend Donald has taken to it as (ph) advance playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, and I was asked what I thought of that.

And I said, “well, if he wanted to play a song, maybe he could play, ‘New York, New York’?” And — and — you know, the concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out.

Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now.

And his explanation — he said, “look, I’m from New York, that’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values, but this is what we believe in New York.” And so that was his explanation.

And — and I guess I can — can frame it another way. Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: Are you sure about that?

CAVUTO: Maria…

TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand.

(APPLAUSE)

And just so — if I could, because he insulted a lot of people. I’ve had more calls on that statement that Ted made — New York is a great place. It’s got great people, it’s got loving people, wonderful people.

When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two one hundred…

(APPLAUSE)

… you had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death — nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air.

TRUMP: And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor bush, for the third time in as many months, the Iranians have provoked us, detaining us, as we’ve been discussing, with these 10 Navy sailors Tehran had said strayed into their waters. The sailors were released, but only after shown on video apologizing for the incident. This occurring only weeks after Iran fired multiple rockets within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and then continued to test medium range missiles.

Now you’ve claimed that such actions indicate Tehran has little to fear from a President Obama. I wonder, sir, what would change if they continued doing this sort of thing under a President Jeb Bush?

BUSH: Well, first of all, under President Jeb Bush, we would restore the strength of the military. Last week, Secretary Carter announced that the Navy’s going to be cut again. It’s now half the size of what it was prior to Operation Desert Storm.

The deployments are too high for the military personnel. We don’t have procurement being done for refreshing the equipment. The B-52 is still operational as the long range bomber; it was inaugurated in the age of Harry Truman. The planes are older than the pilots. We’re gutting our military, and so the Iranians and the Chinese and the Russians and many other countries look at the United States not as serious as we once were.

We have to eliminate the sequester, rebuild our military in a way that makes it clear that we’re back in the game.

Secondly, as it relates to Iran, we need to confront their ambitions across the board. We should reimpose sanctions, they’ve already violated sanctions after this agreement was signed by testing medium-range missiles.

Thirdly, we need to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send a serious signal that we’re back in the game with Israel —

(APPLAUSE)

… and sign an agreement that makes sure that the world knows that they will have technological superiority.

We need to get back in the game as it relates to our Arab nations. The rest of the world is moving away from us towards other alliances because we are weak. This president and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all have made it harder for the next president to act, but he must act to confront the ambitions of Iran. We can get back in the game to restore order and security for our own country.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Governor. Governor Kasich, while everyone has been focusing on Iran’s provocations, I’m wondering what you make of what Saudi Arabia has been doing and its recent moves in the region, including its execution of a well-known Shi’ite cleric and its move to dramatically increase oil production, some say in an effort to drive down oil prices and force a lot of U.S. oil producers out of business.

Sure enough, oil prices have tumbled. One brokerage house is predicting a third or more of American oil producers and those heavily invested in fracking will go bankrupt, and soon Saudi Arabia and OPEC will be back in the driver’s seat.

U.S. energy player Harold Hamrie similarly told me with friends like these, who needs enemies? Do you agree?

KASICH: Well, let me — let me first of all talk a little bit about my experience. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years, and by the way, one of the members of that committee was Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina. Let em also tell you…

(APPLAUSE)

… that after the 9/11 attacks, Secretary Rumsfeld invited me to the Pentagon with a meeting of the former secretaries of Defense. And in that meeting, I suggested we had a problem with technology, and that I wanted to take people from Silicon Valley into the Pentagon to solve our most significant problems. So I not only had the opportunity to go through the Cold War struggles in Central America, and even after 9/11 to be involved.

With Saudi Arabia and oil production, first of all, it’s so critical for us to be energy independent, and we’re getting there because of fracking and we ought to explore because, see, energy independence gives us leverage and flexibility, and secondly, if you want to bring jobs back to the United States of America in industry, low prices make the difference.

We’re seeing it in my state and we’ll see it in this country. And that’s why we must make sure we continue to frack.

In terms of Saudi Arabia, look, my biggest problem with them is they’re funding radical clerics through their madrasses. That is a bad deal and an evil situation, and presidents have looked the other way. And I was going to tell you, whether I’m president or not, we better make it clear to the Saudis that we’re going to support you, we’re in relation with you just like we were in the first Gulf War, but you’ve got to knock off the funding and teaching of radical clerics who are the very people who try to destroy us and will turn around and destroy them.

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: So look, in foreign policy — in foreign policy, it’s strength, but you’ve got to be cool. You’ve got to have a clear vision of where you want to go. And I’m going to tell you, that it — I’m going to suggest to you here tonight, that you can’t do on the job training.

I’ve seen so much of it – a Soviet Union, the coming down of a wall, the issues that we saw around the world in Central America, the potential spread of communism, and 9/11 and Gulf War. You see what the Saudi’s — deliver them a strong message but at the end of the day we have to keep our cool because most of the time they’re going right with us. And they must be part of our coalition to destroy ISIS and I believe we can get that done.

Thank you.

CAVUTO: Thank you John.

BARTIROMO: There’s much more ahead including the fight against ISIS. More from Charleston, South Carolina when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: We welcome back to the Republican Presidential <Debate>, right back to the questions.

Candidates, the man who made fighting ISIS the cornerstone of his campaign, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham is out the race but he joins us tonight in the audience.

(APPLAUSE)

He says, “the air-strike now in their 16th month have been ineffective.” Dr. Carson …

CARSON: Wait a minute, who in their 16th month?

BARTIROMO: The air-strikes.

CARSON: OK.

BARTIROMO: Now in their 16th month are ineffective. Dr. Carson, do you think Senator Graham is right in wanting to send 20,000 troops — ground troops to Iraq and Syria to take out ISIS?

CARSON: Well, there’s no question that ISIS is a very serious problem, and I don’t believe that this administration recognizes how serious it is.

I think we need to do a lot more than we’re doing. Recognize that the caliphate is what gives them the legitimacy to go out on a jihadist mission, so we need to take that away from them.

The way to take that away from them is to talk to our military officials and ask them, “what do you need in order to accomplish this goal?”

Our decision is, then, do we give them what we need. I say, yes, not only do we give them what they need, but we don’t tie their hands behind their backs so that they can go ahead and get the job done.

In addition to that…

(APPLAUSE)

… in addition to that, we go ahead and we take the oil from them, their source of revenue. You know, some of these — these engagement rules that the administration has — “we’re not going to bomb a tanker that’s coming out of there because there might be a person in it” — give me a break.

Just tell them that, you put people in there, we’re going to bomb them. So don’t put people in there if you don’t want them bombed. You know, that’s so simple.

(APPLAUSE)

And then we need to shut down — we need to shut down their mechanisms of funding and attack their command-and-control centers. Why should we let their people be sitting there smoking their cigars, sitting in their comfortable chairs in Raqqa?

We know (ph) to go ahead and shut off the supply routes, and send in our special ops at 2:00 a.m. and attack them everywhere they go. They should be running all the time, then they won’t have time to plan attacks against us.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir. Senator Graham has also said that the U.S. will find Arab support for its coalition if it removes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And I quote, “The now king of Saudi Arabia told us, ‘you can have our army, you just got to deal with Assad.’

“The emir of Qatar said, ‘I’ll pay for the operation, but they are not going to fight ISIS and let Damascus fall into the hands of the Iranians. Assad has to go.’”

Governor Christie, how important is it to remove Assad from power and how would you do it?

CHRISTIE: Maria, you look at what this president and his secretary of state, Secretary of State Clinton, has done to get us in this spot. You think about it — this is the president who said, along with his secretary of state — drew a red line in Syria, said, if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, that we’re going to attack.

He used chemical weapons, he’s killed, now, over a quarter of a million of his own people, and this president has done nothing. In fact, he’s done worse than nothing.

This president — and, by the way, Secretary Clinton, who called Assad a reformer — she called Assad a reformer. Now, the fact is, what this president has done is invited Russia to play an even bigger role, bring in Vladimir Putin to negotiate getting those chemical weapons back from Assad, yet what do we have today?

We have the Russians and the Iranians working together, not to fight ISIS, but to prop up Assad. The fact of the matter is we’re not going to have peace — we are not going to have peace in Syria. We’re not going to be able to rebuild it unless we put a no-fly zone there, make it safe for those folks so we don’t have to be talking about Syrian refugees anymore.

The Syrians should stay in Syria. They shouldn’t be going to Europe. And here’s the last piece…

(APPLAUSE)

… you’re not going to have peace in Syria with Assad in charge. You’re simply not. And so Senator Graham is right about this.

And if we want to try to rebuild the coalition, as Governor Kasich was saying before, then what we better do is to get to the Arab countries that believe that ISIS is a threat, not only to them, but to us and to world peace, and bring them together.

And believe me, Assad is not worth it. And if you’re going to leave this to Hillary Clinton, the person who gave us this foreign policy, the architect of it, and you’re going to give her another four years, that’s why I’m speaking out as strongly as I am about that.

Hillary Clinton cannot be president. It will lead to even greater war in this world. And remember this, after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had nearly 8 years, we have fewer democracies in the world than we had when they started.

That makes the world less peaceful, less safe. In my administration, we will help to make sure we bring people together in the Middle East, and we will fight ISIS and defeat them.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Trump — Mr. Trump, your comments about banning Muslims from entering the country created a firestorm. According to Facebook, it was the most-talked-about moment online of your entire campaign, with more than 10 million people talking about the issue.

Is there anything you’ve heard that makes you want to rethink this position?

TRUMP: No.

(LAUGHTER)

No.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, we have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that’s not going to have the kind of problems that we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the — with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world.

TRUMP: I just left Indonesia — bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.

We have to find out what’s going on. I said temporarily. I didn’t say permanently. I said temporarily. And I have many great Muslim friends. And some of them, I will say, not all, have called me and said, “Donald, thank you very much; you’re exposing an unbelievable problem and we have to get to the bottom of it.”

And unlike President Obama, where he refuses even to use the term of what’s going on, he can’t use the term for whatever reason. And if you can’t use the term, you’re never going to solve the problem. My Muslim friends, some, said, “thank you very much; we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

But we have a serious problem. And we can’t be the stupid country any more. We’re laughed at all over the world.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Donald, Donald — can I — I hope you reconsider this, because this policy is a policy that makes it impossible to build the coalition necessary to take out ISIS. The Kurds are our strongest allies. They’re Muslim. You’re not going to even allow them to come to our country?

The other Arab countries have a role to play in this. We cannot be the world’s policeman. We can’t do this unilaterally. We have to do this in unison with the Arab world. And sending that signal makes it impossible for us to be serious about taking out ISIS and restoring democracy in Syria.

(APPLAUSE)

So I hope you’ll reconsider. I hope you’ll reconsider. The better way of dealing with this — the better way of dealing with this is recognizing that there are people in, you know, the — Islamic terrorists inside, embedded in refugee populations.

What we ought to do is tighten up our efforts to deal with the entry visa program so that a citizen from Europe, it’s harder if they’ve been traveling to Syria or traveling to these other places where there is Islamic terrorism, make it harder — make the screening take place.

We don’t have to have refugees come to our country, but all Muslims, seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace and security?

CAVUTO: But you said — you said that he made those comments and they represented him being unhinged after he made them.

BUSH: Yeah, they are unhinged.

CAVUTO: Well — well, after he made them…

(APPLAUSE)

… his poll numbers went up eight points in South Carolina. Now — now, wait…

TRUMP: Eleven points, to be exact.

CAVUTO: Are you — are you saying — are you saying that all those people who agree with Mr. Trump are unhinged?

BUSH: No, not at all, absolutely not. I can see why people are angry and scared, because this president has created a condition where our national security has weakened dramatically. I totally get that. But we’re running for the presidency of the United States here. This isn’t — this isn’t, you know, a different kind of job. You have to lead. You cannot make rash statements and expect the rest of the world to respond as though, well, it’s just politics.

Every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength. And so it was (inaudible) his statement, which is why I’m asking him to consider changing his views.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I want security for this country. OK?

(APPLAUSE)

I want security. I’m tired of seeing what’s going on, between the border where the people flow over; people come in; they live; they shoot. I want security for this country. We have a serious problem with, as you know, with radical Islam. We have a tremendous problem. It’s not only a problem here. It’s a problem all over the world.

I want to find out why those two young people — those two horrible young people in California when they shot the 14 people, killed them — people they knew, people that held the wedding reception for them. I want to find out — many people saw pipe bombs and all sorts of things all over their apartment. Why weren’t they vigilant? Why didn’t they call? Why didn’t they call the police?

And by the way, the police are the most mistreated people in this country. I will tell you that.

(APPLAUSE)

The most mistreated people. In fact, we need to — wait a minute — we need vigilance. We have to find out — many people knew about what was going on. Why didn’t they turn those two people in so that you wouldn’t have had all the death?

There’s something going on and it’s bad. And I’m saying we have to get to the bottom of it. That’s all I’m saying. We need security.

BARTIROMO: We — we want to hear from all of you on this. According to Pew Research, the U.S. admits more than 100,000 Muslim immigrants every single year on a permanent lifetime basis. I want to ask the rest of you to comment on this. Do you agree that we should pause Muslim immigration until we get a better handle on our homeland security situation, as Mr. Trump has said?

Beginning with you, Governor Kasich.

KASICH: I — I’ve been for pausing on admitting the Syrian refugees. And the reasons why I’ve done is I don’t believe we have a good process of being able to vet them. But you know, we don’t want to put everybody in the same category.

KASICH: And I’ll go back to something that had been mentioned just a few minutes ago. If we’re going to have a coalition, we’re going to have to have a coalition not just of people in the western part of the world, our European allies, but we need the Saudis, we need the Egyptians, we need the Jordanians, we need the Gulf states. We need Jordan.

We need all of them to be part of exactly what the first George Bush put together in the first Gulf War.

(BELL RINGS)

It was a coalition made up of Arabs and Americans and westerners and we’re going to need it again. And if we try to put everybody in the same — call everybody the same thing, we can’t do it. And that’s just not acceptable.

But I think a pause on Syrian refugees has been exactly right for all the governors that have called for it, and also, of course, for me as the governor of Ohio.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir, we want to hear from the rest of you,

Governor Christie, your take.

CHRISTIE: Now Maria, listen. I said right from the beginning that we should take no Syrian refugees of any kind. And the reason I said that is because the FBI director told the American people, told Congress, that he could not guarantee he could vet them and it would be safe. That’s the end of the conversation.

I can tell you, after spending seven years as a former federal prosecutor, right after 9/11, dealing with this issue. Here’s the way you need to deal with it. You can’t just ban all Muslims. You have to ban radical Islamic jihadists. You have to ban the people who are trying to hurt us.

The only way to figure that out is to go back to getting the intelligence community the funding and the tools that it needs to be able to keep America safe.

(BELL RINGS)

And this summer, we didn’t do that. We took it away from the NSA, it was a bad decision by the president. Bad by those in the Senate who voted for it and if I’m president, we’ll make our intelligence community strong, and won’t have to keep everybody out, we’re just going to keep the bad folk out and make sure they don’t harm us.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio, where do you stand?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, let’s understand why we are even having this <debate> and why Donald tapped in to some of that anger that’s out there about this whole issue. Because this president has consistently underestimated the threat of ISIS.

If you listen to the State of the Union the other night, he described them as a bunch of guys with long beards on the back of a pickup truck. They are much more than that. This is a group of people that enslaves women and sells them, sells them as brides.

This is a group of people that burns people in cages, that is conducting genocide against Christians and Yazidis and others in the region. This is not some small scale group.

They are radicalizing people in the United States, they are conducting attacks around the world. So you know what needs to happen, it’s a very simple equation, and it’s going to happen when I’m president. If we do not know who you are, and we do not know why you are coming when I am president, you are not getting into the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, where do you stand? Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: You know I understand why Donald made the comments he did and I understand why Americans are feeling frustrated and scared and angry when we have a president who refuses to acknowledge the threat we face and even worse, who acts as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.

I think what we need is a commander in chief who is focused like a laser on keeping this country safe and on defeating radical Islamic terrorism. What should we do? First, we should pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, legislation I’ve introduced that says if an American goes and joins ISIS and wages jihad against America, that you forfeit your citizenship and you can not come in on a passport.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And secondly, we should pass the legislation that I’ve introduced…

(BELL RINGS)

… that suspends all refugees from nations that ISIS or Al Qaida controls significant territory. Just last week, we see saw two Iraqi refugees vetted using the same process the president says will work, that were arrested for being alleged ISIS terrorists.

If I’m elected president, we will not let in refugees from countries controlled by ISIS or Al Qaida. When it comes to ISIS, we will not weaken them, we will not degrade them, we will utterly and completely destroy ISIS

(APPLAUSE).

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, where do you stand? Do you agree with Mr. Trump?

CARSON: Well, first of all, recognize it is a substantial problem. But like all of our problems, there isn’t a single one that can’t be solved with common sense if you remove the ego and the politics. And clearly, what we need to do is get a group of experts together, including people from other countries, some of our friends from Israel, who have had experience screening these people and come up with new guidelines for immigration, and for visas, for people who are coming into this country.

That is the thing that obviously makes sense, we can do that. And as far as the Syrians are concerned, Al-Hasakah province, perfect place. They have infrastructure. All we need to do is protect them, they will be in their own country.

And that is what they told me when I was in Jordan in November. Let’s listen to them and let’s not listen to our politicians.

BARTIROMO: So, to be clear, the both of you do not agree with Mr. Trump?

BUSH: So, are we going to ban Muslims from India, from Indonesia, from countries that are strong allies — that we need to build better relationships with? Of course not. What we need to do is destroy ISIS.

I laid out a plan at the Citadel to do just that and it starts with creating a “No Fly Zone” and “Safe Zones” to make sure refugees are there. We need to lead a force, a Sunni led force inside of Syria. We need to embed with — with the Iraqi military. We need to arm the Kurds the directly. We need to re-establish the relationships with the Sunnis.

We need the lawyers(ph) off the back of the war fighters. That’s how you solve the problem. You don’t solve it by big talk where you’re banning all Muslims and making it harder for us to build the kind of coalition for us to be successful.

BARTIROMO: Thank you governor.

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump, sometimes maybe in the heat of the campaign, you say things and you have to dial them back. Last week, the New York Times editorial board quoted as saying that you would oppose, “up to 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods.”

TRUMP: That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they are always wrong.

CAVUTO: Well…

TRUMP: They were wrong.

CAVUTO: You never said because they provided that…

TRUMP: No, I said, ” I would use — ” they were asking me what to do about North Korea. China, they don’t like to tell us but they have total control — just about, of North Korea. They can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to but they taunt us.

They say, ” well, we don’t really have control.” Without China, North Korea doesn’t even eat. China is ripping us on trade. They’re devaluing their currency and they’re killing our companies. Thousands of thousands — you look at the number of companies and the number in terms of manufacturing of plans that we’ve lost — 50,000 because of China.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: So they’ve never said to put a tariff on their…

TRUMP: We’ve lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. What I said then was, “we have very unfair trade with China. We’re going to have a trade deficit of 505 billion dollars this year with China.” A lot of that is because they devalue their currency.

What I said to the New York Times, is that, “we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount — where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.” That we should get.

What I’m saying is this, I’m saying that we do it but if they don’t start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don’t lose all of these millions of jobs that we’re losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. Who the hell has to lose 505 billion dollars a year?

CAVUTO: I’m sorry, you lost me.

TRUMP: It’s not that complicated actually.

CAVUTO: Then I apologize. Then I want to understand, if you don’t want a 45 percent tariff, say that wasn’t the figure, would you be open — are you open to slapping a higher tariff on Chinese goods of any sort to go back at them?

TRUMP: OK, just so you understand — I know so much about trading about with China. Carl Icahn today as you know endorsed. Many businessmen want to endorse me.

CAVUTO: I know…

TRUMP: Carl said, “no, no — ” but he’s somebody — these are the kind of people that we should use to negotiate and not the China people that we have who are political hacks who don’t know what they’re doing and we have problems like this. If these are the kinds of people — we should use our best and our finest.

Now, on that tariff — here’s what I’m saying, China — they send their goods and we don’t tax it — they do whatever they want to do. They do whatever what they do, OK. When we do business with China, they tax us. You don’t know it, they tax us.

I have many friends that deal with China. They can’t — when they order the product and when they finally get the product it is taxed. If you looking at what happened with Boeing and if you look at what happened with so many companies that deal — so we don’t have an equal playing field. I’m saying, absolutely, we don’t have to continue to lose 505 billion dollars as a trade deficit for the privilege of dealing with China.

I’m a free trader. I believe in it but we have to be smart and we have to use smart people to negotiate. I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I sell tens’ of millions of (inaudible).

I love China. I love the Chinese people but they laugh themselves, they can’t believe how stupid the American leadership is.

CAVUTO: So you’re open to a tariff?

TRUMP: I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can’t deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don’t it. It’s not fair trade.

KASICH: Neil, Neil — can I say one thing about this. I’m a free trader. I support NAFTA. I believe in the PTT because it’s important those countries in Asia are interfacing against China. And we do need China — Donald’s right about North Korea.

I mean the fact is, is that they need to put the pressure on and frankly we need to intercepts ships coming out of North Korea so they don’t proliferate all these dangerous materials. But what he’s touching — talking about, I think has got merit. And I’ll allow putting that tariff or whatever he’s saying here…

TRUMP: I’m happy to have him tonight…

(LAUGHTER)

KASICH: For too long — no, for too long, what happens is somebody dumps their product in our country and take our people’s jobs, and then we go to an international court and it takes them like a year or two to figure out whether they were cheating us. And guess what? The worker’s out of a job.

So when they — be found against that country that’s selling products in here lower than the cost of what it takes to produce them, then what do we tell the worker? Oh, well, you know, it just didn’t work out for you.

I think we should be for free trade but I think fair trade. And when countries violate trade agreements or dump product in this country, we need — we need to stand up against those countries that do that without making them into an enemy.

And I want to just suggest to you. How do I know this? Because so many people in my family worked in steel mills, and they didn’t work with a white collar, they worked in a blue collar. And the fact is those jobs are critical, they’re hard working members of the middle class and they need to be paid attention to because they’re Americans and they carry the load. So let’s demand open trade but fair trade in this country. That’s what I think we need to do.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: All right.

RUBIO: But on this point, if I may add something on this point. We are all frustrated with what China is doing. I think we need to be very careful with tariffs, and here’s why.

China doesn’t pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there’s a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to price to the consumer.

So I think the better approach, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves against China economically is to make our economy stronger, which means reversing course from all the damage Barack Obama is doing to this economy.

It begins with tax reform. Let’s not have the most expensive business tax rate in the world. Let’s allow companies to immediately expense.

(APPLAUSE)

It continues with regulatory reform. Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the Employment Prevention Agency, the EPA, and all of the rules they continue to impose on our economy and hurting us.

How about Obamacare, a certified job killer? It needs to be repealed and replaced. And we need to bring our debt under control, make our economy stronger. That is the way to deal with China at the end of the day.

TRUMP: Neil, the problem…

BARTIROMO: We’re getting…

TRUMP: … with what Marco is saying is that it takes too long, they’re sucking us dry and it takes too long. It would just — you absolutely have to get involved with China, they are taking so much of what we have in terms of jobs in terms of money. We just can’t do it any longer.

CAVUTO: He is right. If you put a tariff on a good, it’s Americans who pay.

BUSH: Absolutely.

TRUMP: You looking at me?

BUSH: Yeah.

BARTIROMO: Prices go higher for…

TRUMP: Can I tell you what? It will never happen because they’ll let their currency go up. They’re never going to let it happen.

Japan, the same thing. They are devaluing — it’s so impossible for — you look at Caterpillar Tractor and what’s happening with Caterpillar and Kamatsu (ph). Kamatsu (ph) is a tractor company in Japan. Friends of mine are ordering Kamatsu (ph) tractors now because they’ve de-valued the yen to such an extent that you can’t buy a Caterpillar tractor. And we’re letting them get away with it and we can’t let them get away with it.

And that’s why we have to use Carl (ph) and we have to use our great businesspeople and not political hacks to negotiate with these guys.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Here’s — apart from the — apart from the higher prices on consumers and people are living paycheck to paycheck, apart from that, there will be retaliation.

BARTIROMO: Yeah.

BUSH: So they soybean sales from Iowa, entire soybean production goes — the equivalent of it goes to China. Or how about Boeing right here within a mile? Do you think that the Chinese, if they had a 45 percent tariff imposed on all their imports wouldn’t retaliate and start buying Airbus? Of course, they would. This would be devastating for the economy. We need someone with a steady hand being president of the United States.

BARTIROMO: Real quick, Senator — go ahead, Senator Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

And then we have to get to tax reform.

TRUMP: And we don’t need a weak person being president of the United State, OK? Because that’s what we’d get if it were Jeb — I tell you what, we don’t need that.

AUDIENCE: Boo.

TRUMP: We don’t need that. That’s essentially what we have now, and we don’t need that. And that’s why we’re in the trouble that we’re in now. And by the way, Jeb you mentioned Boeing, take a look. They order planes, they make Boeing build their plant in China. They don’t want them made here. They want those planes made in China.

BUSH: They’re a mile away from here.

TRUMP: That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Governor Bush. Thank you, Mr. Trump. Very briefly.

BUSH: My name was mentioned. My name was mentioned here. The simple fact is that the plane that’s being build here is being sold to China. You can — if you — you flew in with your 767, didn’t you? Right there, right next to the plant.

TRUMP: No, the new planes. I’m not talking about now, I’m talking about in the future they’re building massive plants in China because China does not want Boeing building their planes here, they want them built in China, because China happens to be smart the way they do it, not the way we do it.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Mr. Trump.

BUSH: When you head back to airport tonight, go check and see what the…

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Mr. Trmup. Thank you, Governor.

TRUMP: I’ll check for you.

BUSH: Check it out.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: Senator briefly.

CRUZ: Thanks for coming back to me, Maria. Both Donald and Jeb have good points, and there is a middle ground. Donald is right that China is running over President Obama like he is a child, President Obama is not protecting American workers and we are getting hammered.

CRUZ: You know, I sat down with the senior leadership of John Deere. They discussed how — how hard it is to sell tractors in China, because all the regulatory barriers. They’re protectionist.

But Jeb is also right that, if we just impose a tariff, they’ll put reciprocal tariffs, which will hurt Iowa farmers and South Carolina producers and 20 percent of the American jobs that depend on exports.

So the way you do it is you pass a tax plan like the tax plan I’ve introduced: a simple flat tax, 10 percent for individuals, and a 16 percent business flat tax, you abolish the IRS…

(APPLAUSE)

… and here’s the critical point, Maria — the business flat tax enables us to abolish the corporate income tax, the death tax, the Obamacare taxes, the payroll taxes, and they’re border-adjustable, so every export pays no taxes whatsoever.

It’s tax-free — a huge advantage for our farmers and ranchers and manufacturers — and every import pays the 16 percent business flat tax. It’s like a tariff, but here’s the difference: if we impose a tariff, China responds.

The business flat tax, they already impose their taxes on us, so there’s no reciprocal…

(BELL RINGS)

… tariffs that come against us. It puts us on a level, even playing field, which brings jobs here at home…

(UNKNOWN): Maria…

CRUZ: … and as president, I’m going to fight for the working men and women.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: We’ve got to get to tax reform, gentlemen. We’ve got to get to tax reform, and we’ve got to get to the…

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, but I want to talk about taxes.

BARTIROMO: … we’ve got to get to the national debt as well. Coming up next, the growing national debt, the war on crime, tax reform. More from North Charleston, South Carolina, when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back to the Republican presidential <debate> here in North Charleston. Right back to the questions.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Christie, we have spoken much about cutting spending, given the $19 trillion debt. But according to one report, America needs $3.6 trillion in infrastructure spending by 2020.

Here in South Carolina, 11 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient, costing drivers a billion dollars a year in auto repairs. What is your plan to fix the ailing roads and bridges without breaking the bank?

CHRISTIE: Well, I’m glad you asked that, Maria. Here’s — here’s our plan. We’ve all been talking about tax reforms tonight, and paying for infrastructure is caught right up in tax reform.

If you reform the corporate tax system in this country, which, as was mentioned before, is the highest rate in the world — and we double tax, as you know.

And what that’s led to over $2 trillion of American companies’ monies that are being kept offshore, because they don’t want to pay the second tax. And who can blame them? They pay tax once overseas. They don’t want to pay 35 percent tax on the way back.

So beside reforming that tax code, bringing it down to 25 percent and eliminating those special-interest loopholes that the lobbyists and the lawyers and the accountants have given — bring that rate down to 25 percent, but also, a one-time repatriation of that money.

Bring the money — the $2 trillion — back to the United States. We’ll tax it, that one time, at 8.75 percent, because 35 percent of zero is zero, but 8.75 percent of $2 trillion is a lot of money. And I would then dedicate that money to rebuilding infrastructure here in this country.

It would not necessitate us raising any taxes. It would bring the money back into the United States to help build jobs by American companies and get our economy moving again, and growing as a higher rate, and it would rebuild those roads and bridges and tunnels that you were talking about. And — and — and the last piece of this, Maria, is this. You know, the fact is that this president has penalized corporations in America. He’s penalized — and doesn’t understand. In fact, what that hurts is hurt hardworking taxpayers.

You’ve seen middle-class wages go backwards $3,700 during the Obama administration. That’s wrong for hardworking taxpayers in this country. We’d rebuild infrastructure that would also create jobs in this country, and we’d work with the states to do it the right way, to do it more efficiently and more effectively.

And remember this — I’m credible on this for this reason: Americans for Tax Reform says that I’ve vetoed more tax increases than any governor in American history. We don’t need to raise taxes to get this done.

We need to make the government run smarter and better, and reform this corporate tax system, bring that money back to the United States to build jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, and we need to use it also to protect our grid from terrorists.

All of those things are important, and all those things would happen in a Christie administration.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir. Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… it is true U.S. companies have $2 trillion in cash sitting overseas right now. That could be used for investment and jobs in America.

Also, several companies right now are pursuing mergers to move their corporate headquarters abroad, and take advantage of much lower taxes. What will you do to stop the flow of companies building cash away from America, and those leaving America altogether?

CARSON: Well, I would suggest a fair tax system, and that’s what we have proposed. A flat tax for everybody — no exemptions, no deductions, no shelters, because some people have a better capability of taking advantage of those than others.

You know, and then the other thing we have to do is stop spending so much money. You know, I — my — my mother taught me this. You know, she only had a third-grade education, but — you know, she knew how to stretch a dollar.

I mean, she would drive a car until it wouldn’t make a sound, and then gather up all her coins and buy a new car. In fact, if my mother were secretary of treasury, we would not be in a deficit situation. But…

(LAUGHTER)

… you know, the — the — the fact of the matter is — you know, if we fix the taxation system, make it absolutely fair, and get rid of the incredible regulations — because every regulation is a tax, it’s a — on goods and services. And it’s the most regressive tax there is.

You know, when you go into the store and buy a box of laundry detergent, and the price has up — you know, 50 cents because of regulations, a poor person notices that. A rich person does not. Middle class may notice it when they get to the cash register.

And everything is costing more money, and we are killing our — our — our people like this. And Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will say it’s those evil rich people.

It’s not the evil rich people. It’s the evil government that is — that is putting all these regulations on us so that we can’t survive.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

Senator Rubio…

TRUMP: Maria — Maria, what you were talking about just now is called corporate inversion. It’s one of the biggest problems our country has. Right now, corporations, by the thousands, are thinking of leaving our country with the jobs — leave them behind.

TRUMP: They’re leaving because of taxes, but they are also leaving because they can’t get their money back and everybody agrees, Democrats and Republicans, that is should come back in. But they can’t get along. They can’t even make a deal.

Here is the case, they both agree, they can’t make a deal. We have to do something. Corporate inversion is one of the biggest problems we have. So many companies are going to leave our country.

BARTIROMO: Which is why we raised it.

Senator Rubio?

Thank you, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: One of the biggest fiscal challenges is our entitlement programs, particularly Social Security and Medicare. What policies will you put forward to make sure these programs are more financially secure?

RUBIO: Well, first let me address the tax issue because it’s related to the entitlement issue and I want to thank you for holding a substantive debates where we can have debates about these key issues on taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Here is the one thing I’m not going to do. I’m not going to have something that Ted described in his tax plan. It’s called the value added tax. And it’s a tax you find in many companies in Europe.

Where basically, businesses now will have to pay a tax, both on the money they make, but they also have to pay taxes on the money that they pay their employees.

And that’s why they have it in Europe, because it is a way to blindfolded the people, that’s what Ronald Reagan said. Ronald Regan opposed the value tax because he said it was a way to blindfold the people, so the true cost of government was not there there for them.

Now, you can support one now that’s very low. But what is to prevent a future liberal president or a liberal Congress from coming back and not just raising the income tax, but also raising that VAT tax, and that vat tax is really bad for seniors. Because seniors, if they are retired, are no longer earning an income from a job. And therefore, they don’t get the income tax break, but their prices are going to be higher, because the vat tax is embedded in both the prices that business that are charging and in the wages they pay their employees.

When I am president of the United States, I’m going to side with Ronald Regan on this and not Nancy Pelosi and we are not having a vat tax.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator.

CRUZ: Maria, I assume that I can respond to that.

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, yes. You were meant to. Yes, of course.

CRUZ: Well, Marco has been floating this attack for a few weeks now, but the problem is, the business flat tax in my proposal is not a vat. A vat is imposed as a sales tax when you buy a good.

This is a business flat tax. It is imposed on business and a critical piece that Marco seems to be missing is that this 16 percent business flat tax enables us to eliminate the corporate income tax. It goes away. It enables us to eliminate the death tax.

If you’re a farmer, if you’re a rancher, if you are small business owner, the death tax is gone. We eliminate the payroll tax, we eliminate the Obamacare taxes. And listen, there is a real difference between Marco’s tax plan and mine.

Mine gives every American a simple, flat tax of 10 percent. Marco’s top tax rate is 35 percent. My tax plan enables you to fill out your taxes on a postcard so we can abolish the IRS. Marco leaves the IRS code in with all of the complexity. We need to break the Washington cartel, and the only way to do it is to end all the subsidies and all…

(BELL RINGS)

… the mandates and have a simple flat tax. The final observation, invoked Ronald Reagan. I would note that Art Laffer, Ronald Reagan’s chief economic adviser, has written publicly, that my simple flat tax is the best tax plan of any of the individuals on this stage cause it produces economic growth, it raises wages and it helps everyone from the very poorest to the very richest.

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: But that’s not an accurate description of the plan. Because, first of all, you may rename the IRS but you are not going to abolishes the IRS, because there has to be some agency that’s going to collect your vat tax. Someone’s going to be collecting this tax.

In fact, Ronald Reagan’s treasury, when Ronald Reagan’s treasury looked at the vat tax, you know what they found? That they were going to have to hire 20,000 new IRS agencies to collect it.

The second point, it does not eliminate the corporate tax or the payroll tax. Businesses will now have to pay 16 percent on the money they make. They will also have to pay 16 percent on the money they pay their employees.

So there are people watching tonight in business. If you are now hit on a 60 percent tax on both your income and on the wages you pay your employees, where are you going to get that money from? You’re going to get it by paying your employees less and charging your customers more, that is a tax, the difference is, you don’t see it on the bill.

And that’s why Ronald Reagan said that it was a blindfold. You blindfold the American people so that they cannot see the true cost of government. Now 16 percent is what the rate Ted wants it at. But what happens if, God forbid, the next Barack Obama takes over, and the next Nancy Pelosi, and the next Harry Reid…

(BELL RINGS)

and they decide, we’re going to raise it to 30 percent, plus we’re going to raise the income tax to 30 percent. Now, you’ve got Europe.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator. I have to get to a question for Mr. Trump.

CRUZ: Maria…

BARTIROMO: Yes.

CRUZ: Maria, I’d just like to say…

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Maria, I’d like to interrupt this <debate> on the floor of the Senate to actually answer the question you asked, which was on entitlements. Do you remember that, everybody? This was a question on entitlements.

And the reason — and the reason…

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: … no, you already had your chance, Marco, and you blew it. Here’s the thing.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: The fact is, the reason why…

RUBIO: If you’ll answer the (inaudible) core question.

CHRISTIE: … the fact is — the fact is the reason why that no one wants to answer entitlements up here is because it’s hard. It’s a hard problem. And I’m the only one up on this stage who back in April put forward a detailed entitlement reform plan that will save over $1 trillion, save Social Security, save Medicare, and avoid this — avoid what Hillary Rodham Clinton will do to you.

Because what she will do is come in and she will raise Social Security taxes. Bernie Sanders has already said it. And she is just one or two more poll drops down from even moving further left than she’s moved already to get to the left of Bernie on this.

We have seniors out there who are scared to death because this Congress — this one that we have right now, just stole $150 billion from the Social Security retirement fund to give it to the Social Security disability fund. A Republican Congress did that.

And the fact is it was wrong. And they consorted with Barack Obama to steal from Social Security. We need to reform Social Security. Mine is the only plan that saves over $1 trillion and that’s why I’m answering your question.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE) CARSON: Can I just add one very quick thing? And I just want to say, you know, last week we released our tax plan. And multiple reputable journals, including The Wall Street Journal, said ours is the best. Just want to get that out there, just saying.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

Coming up, how would the candidates protect America, and another terror attack, if we were to see it. But first, you can join us live on stage during the commercial break right from home. Go to facebook.com/foxbusiness. We’ll be streaming live and answering your questions during this break next.

More from South Carolina coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Trump, your net worth is in the multi-billions of dollars and have an ongoing thriving hotel and real estate business. Are you planning on putting your assets in a blind trust should you become president? With such vast wealth, how difficult will it be for you to disentangle yourself from your business and your money and prioritize America’s interest first?

TRUMP: Well, it’s an interesting question because I’m very proud of my company. As you too know, I know I built a very great company. But if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts.

I want to use that same up here, whatever it may be to make America rich again and to make America great again. I have Ivanka, and Eric and Don sitting there. Run the company kids, have a good time. I’m going to do it for America.

So I would — I would be willing to do that.

BARTIROMO: So you’ll put your assets in a blind trust?

TRUMP: I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. If that’s a blind trust, I don’t know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives and I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country, anything.

BARTIROMO: Thank you sir.

TRUMP: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Governor Christie, going back to your U.S. Attorney days, you had been praised by both parties as certainly a tough law and order guy. So I wonder what you make of recent statistics that showed violent crimes that have been spiking sometimes by double digit ratings in 30 cities across the country. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said, “most local law enforcement officials feel abandoned by Washington.” Former NYC Police Chief Ray Kelly, says that, “police are being less proactive because they’re being overly scrutinized and second guessed and they’re afraid of being sued or thrown in jail.”

What would you do as president to address this?

CHRISTIE: Well, first off, let’s face it, the FBI director James Comey was a friend of mine who I worked with as U.S. Attorney of New Jersey. He was the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. He said, “there’s a chill wind blowing through law enforcement in this country.” Here’s why, the president of the United States and both his attorney’s general, they give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal, not to the police officers.

That’s the truth of the matter and you see it every time with this president. Every time he’s got a chance, going all the way back to — remember that Great Beer Summit he had after he messed up that time. This is a guy who just believes that law enforcement are the bad guys.

Now, I for seven years was the U.S. Attorney of New Jersey. I worked hard with not only federal agents but with police officers and here’s the problem, sanctuary cities is part of the problem in this country. That’s where crime is happening in these cities where they don’t enforce the immigration laws. And this president turns his back — this president doesn’t enforce the marijuana laws in this country because he doesn’t agree with them.

And he allows states to go ahead and do whatever they want on a substance that’s illegal. This president allows lawlessness throughout this country. Here’s what I would do Neil, I would appoint an Attorney General and I would have one very brief conversation with that Attorney General. I’d say, “General, enforce the law against everyone justly, fairly, and aggressively. Make our streets safe again. Make our police officers proud of what they do but more important than that, let them know how proud we are of them.”

We do that, this country would be safe and secure again not only from criminals but from the terrorist who threaten us as well. I’m the only person on this stage who’s done that and we will get it done as President of the United States.

CAVUTO: Thank you governor.

Governor Kasich, as someone has to deal with controversial police shootings in your own state, what do you make of Chicago’s move recently to sort of retrain police? Maybe make them not so quick to use their guns?

KASICH: Well, I created a task force well over a year ago and the purpose was to bring law enforcement, community people, clergy and the person that I named as one of the co-chair was a lady by the name of Nina Turner, a former State Senator, a liberal Democrat. She actually ran against one of my friends and our head of public safety.

KASICH: And they say down as a group trying to make sure that we can begin to heal some of these problems that we see between community and police.

KASICH: And they came back with 23 recommendations. One of them is a statewide use of deadly force. And it is now being put into place everyplace across the state of Ohio. Secondly, a policy on recruiting and hiring, and then more resources for — for training.

But let me also tell you, one of the issues has got to be the integration of both community and police. Community has to understand that that police officer wants to get home at night, and not — not to lose their life. Their family is waiting for them.

At the same time, law enforcement understands there are people in the community who not only think that the system doesn’t work for them, but works against them.

See, in Ohio, we’ve had some controversial decisions. But the leaders have come forward to realize that protest is fine, but violence is wrong. And it has been a remarkable situation in our state. And as president of the United States, it’s all about communication, folks. It’s all about getting people to listen to one another’s problems.

And when you do that, you will be amazed at how much progress you can make, and how much healing we can have. Because, folks, at the end of the day, the country needs healed. I’ve heard a lot of hot rhetoric here tonight, but I’ve got to tell you, as somebody that actually passed a budget; that paid down a half-a-trillion dollars of our national debt, you can’t do it alone. You’ve got to bring people together. You’ve got to give people hope.

And together, we can solve these problems that hurt us and heal America. And that is what’s so critical for our neighborhoods, our families, our children, and our grandchildren.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Governor.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio?

(APPLAUSE)

Under current law, the U.S. is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green cardholders by another 10 million over 10 years.

Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, this is an issue that’s been debated now for 30 years. And for 30 years, the issue of immigration has been about someone who’s in this country, maybe they’re here illegally, but they’re looking for a job. This issue is not about that anymore.

First and foremost, this issue has to be now more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here’s why. There is a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system. And not just green cards. They’re looking — they’re recruiting people that enter this country as doctors and engineers and even fiances. They understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border.

They’re looking — they’re looking to manipulate our — the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States. So whether it’s green cards or any other form of entry into America, when I’m president if we do not know who you are or why you are coming, you are not going to get into the United States of America.

BARTIROMO: So your thinking has changed?

RUBIO: The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally. They have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us.

The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost, with an eye on ISIS. Because they’re recruiting people to enter this country as engineers, posing as doctors, posing as refugees. We know this for a fact. They’ve contacted the trafficking networks in the Western Hemisphere to get people in through the southern border. And they got a killer in San Bernardino in posing as a fiance.

This issue now has to be about stopping ISIS entering the United States, and when I’m president we will.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: But Maria, radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida. We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah. We had Iran putting operatives in South America and Central America. It’s the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, because it was clear then, like it’s clear now, that border security is national security.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: It is also the case that that Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, one of the things it did is it expanded Barack Obama’s power to let in Syrian refugees. It enabled him — the president to certify them en masse without mandating meaningful background checks.

I think that’s a mistake. That’s why I’ve been leading the fight to stop it. And I would note the Senate just a few weeks ago voted to suspend refugees from Middle Eastern countries. I voted yes to suspend that. Marco voted on the other side. So you don’t get to say we need to secure the borders, and at the same time try to give Barack Obama more authority to allow Middle Eastern refugees coming in, when the head of the FBI tells us they cannot vet them to determine if they are ISIS terrorists.

RUBIO: Maria, let me clear something up here. This is an interesting point when you talk about immigration.

RUBIO: Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you’re against it. You used to support a 500 percent increase in the number of guest workers, now you say that you’re against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you’re against it. You used to say that you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say that you are against it.

And by the way, it’s not just on immigration, you used to support TPA, now you say you’re against it. I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance because they told you it would help you in Iowa, and last week, we all saw you flip your vote on ethanol in Iowa for the same reason.

(APPLAUSE)

That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation. When I am president, I will work consistently every single day to keep this country safe, not call Edward Snowden, as you did, a great public servant. Edward Snowden is a traitor. And if I am president and we get our hands on him, he is standing trial for treason.

(APPLAUSE)

And one more point, one more point. Every single time that there has been a Defense bill in the Senate, three people team up to vote against it. Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. In fact, the only budget you have ever voted for, Ted, in your entire time in the Senate is a budget from Rand Paul that brags about how it cuts defense.

Here’s the bottom line, and I’ll close with this. If I’m president of the United States and Congress tries to cut the military, I will veto that in a millisecond.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: There’s — look, there’s —

CAVUTO: Gentlemen, gentlemen —

CRUZ: I’m going to get a response to that, Neil. There’s no way he launches 11 attack —

CAVUTO: Very quick, very quick. CRUZ: I’m going to — he had no fewer than 11 attacks there. I appreciate your dumping your (inaudible) research folder on the <debate> stage.

RUBIO: No, it’s your record.

CRUZL But I will say —

CAVUTO: Do you think they like each other?

CRUZ: — at least half of the things Marco said are flat-out false. They’re absolutely false.

AUDIENCE: Boo.

CRUZ: So let’s start — let’s start with immigration. Let’s start with immigration and have a little bit of clarity. Marco stood with Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama on amnesty. I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King. Marco stood today, standing on this stage Marco supports legalization and citizenship for 12 million illegals. I opposed and oppose legalization and citizenship.

And by the way, the attack he keeps throwing out on the military budget, Marco knows full well I voted for his amendment to increase military spending to $697 billion. What he said, and he said it in the last <debate>, it’s simply not true. And as president, I will rebuild the military and keep this country safe.

CAVUTO: All right, gentlemen, we’ve got to stop. I know you are very passionate about that.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Bush, fears have gripped this country obviously, and you touched on it earlier since the San Bernardino attacks. Since our last <debate>, the national conversation has changed, according to Facebook data as well.

Now this first graphic shows the issues that were most talked about right before those attacks and now after: the issues of Islam, homeland security and ISIS now loom very large. The FBI says Islamic radicals are using social media to communicate and that it needs better access to communication. Now the CEO of Apple, Governor, Tim Cook said unless served with a warrant private communication is private, period. Do you agree, or would you try to convince him otherwise?

BUSH: I would try to convince him otherwise, but this last back and forth between two senators — back bench senators, you know, explains why we have the mess in Washington, D.C. We need a president that will fix our immigration laws and stick with it, not bend with the wind.

The simple fact is one of the ways, Maria, to solve the problem you described is narrow the number of people coming by family petitioning to what every other country has so that we have the best and the brightest that come to our country. We need to control the border, we need to do all of this in a comprehensive way, not just going back and forth and talking about stuff —

CAVUTO: Would you answer this question?

BUSH: Oh, I’ll talk about that, too. But you haven’t asked me a question in a while, Neil, so I thought I’d get that off my chest if you don’t mind.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Fair enough. So Tim Cook — so Tim Cook says he’s going to keep it private.

BUSH: I got that. And the problem today is there’s no confidence in Washington, D.C. There needs to be more than one meeting, there needs to complete dialogue with the large technology companies. They understand that there’s a national security risk. We ought to give them a little bit of a liability release so that they share data amongst themselves and share data with the federal government, they’re not fearful of a lawsuit.

We need to make sure that we keep the country safe. This is the first priority. The cybersecurity challenges that we face, this administration failed us completely, completely. Not just the hacking of OPM, but that is — that is just shameful. 23 million files in the hands of the Chinese? So it’s not just the government — the private sector companies, it’s also our own government that needs to raise the level of our game.

We should put the NSA in charge of the civilian side of this as well. That expertise needs to spread all across the government and there needs to be much more cooperation with our private sector.

CAVUTO: But if Tim cook is telling you no, Mr. President.

BUSH: You’ve got to keep asking. You’ve got to keep asking because this is a hugely important issue. If you can encrypt messages, ISIS can, over these platforms, and we have no ability to have a cooperative relationship —

CAVUTO: Do you ask or do you order?

BUSH: Well, if the law would change, yeah. But I think there has to be recognition that if we — if we are too punitive, then you’ll go to other — other technology companies outside the United States. And what we want to do is to control this.

We also want to dominate this from a commercial side. So there’s a lot of balanced interests. But the president leads in this regard. That’s what we need. We need leadership, someone who has a backbone and sticks with things, rather than just talks about them as though anything matters when you’re talking about amendments that don’t even actually are part of a bill that ever passed.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: When we come right back, closing statements. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Candidates, it is time for your closing statements. You get 60 seconds each.

Governor John Kasich, we begin with you.

KASICH: You know, in our country, there are a lot of people who feel as though they just don’t have the power. You know, they feel like if they don’t have a lobbyist, if they’re not wealthy, that somehow they don’t get to play.

But all of my career, you know, having been raised in — by a mailman father whose father was a coal miner, who died of black lung and was losing his eyesight; or a mother whose mother could barely speak English. You see, all of my career, I’ve fought about giving voice to the people that I grew up with and voice to the people that elected me.

Whether it’s welfare reform and getting something back for the hard-earned taxpayers; whether it’s engaging in Pentagon reform and taking on the big contractors that were charging thousands of dollars for hammers and screw drivers and ripping us off; or whether it’s taking on the special interests in the nursing home industry in Ohio, so that mom and dad can have the ability to stay in their own home, rather than being forced into a nursing home.

KASICH: Look, that’s who I stand up for. That’s who’s in my mind

(BELL RINGS)

And if you really want to believe that you can get your voice back, I will tell you, as I have all my career, I will continue to fight for you, because you’re the ones that built this country, and will carry it into the future. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Who can you count on to keep us safer, stronger and freer? Results count, and as governor, I pushed Florida up to the top in terms of jobs, income and small business growth.

Detailed plans count, and I believe that the plan I’ve laid out to destroy ISIS before the tragedies of San Bernardino and Paris are the right ones.

Credibility counts. There’ll be people here that will talk about what they’re going to do. I’ve done it. I ask for your support to build, together, a safer and stronger America.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Governor Chris Christie?

CHRISTIE: Maria, Neil, thank you for a great <debate> tonight.

When I think about the folks who are out there at home tonight watching, and I think about what they had to watch this week — the spectacle they had to watch on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the president of the United States, who talked a fantasy land about the way they’re feeling.

They know that this country is not respected around the world anymore. They know that this country is pushing the middle class, the hardworking taxpayers, backwards, and they saw a president who doesn’t understand their pain, and doesn’t have any plan for getting away from it.

I love this country. It’s the most exceptional country the world has ever known. We need someone to fight for the people. We need a fighter for this country again.

I’ve lived my whole life fighting — fighting for things that I believe in, fighting for justice and to protect people from crime and terrorism, fighting to stand up for folks who have not had enough and need an opportunity to get more, and to stand up and fight against the special interests.

But here’s the best way that we’re going to make America much more exceptional: it is to make sure we put someone on that stage in September who will fight Hillary Clinton and make sure she never, ever gets in the White House again.

I am the man who can bring us together to do that, and I ask for your vote.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Dr. Ben Carson?

CARSON: You know, in recent travels around this country, I’ve encountered so many Americans who are discouraged and angry as they watch our freedom, our security and the American dream slipping away under an unresponsive government that is populated by bureaucrats and special interest groups.

We’re not going to solve this problem with traditional politics. The only way we’re going to solve this problem is with we, the people. And I ask you to join me in truth and honesty and integrity. Bencarson.com — we will heal, inspire and revive America for our children.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Marco Rubio?

RUBIO: You know, 200 years ago, America was founded on this powerful principle that our rights don’t come from government. Our rights come from God.

That’s why we embraced free enterprise, and it made us the most prosperous people in the history of the world. That’s why we embraced individual liberty, and we became the freest people ever, and the result was the American miracle.

But now as I travel the country, people say what I feel. This country is changing. It feels different. We feel like we’re being left behind and left out.

And the reason is simple: because in 2008, we elected as president someone who wasn’t interested in fixing America. We elected someone as president who wants to change America, who wants to make it more like the rest of the world.

And so he undermines the Constitution, and he undermines free enterprise by expanding government, and he betrays our allies and cuts deals with our enemies and guts our military. And that’s why 2016 is a turning point in our history. If we elect Hillary Clinton, the next four years will be worse than the last eight, and our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a diminished country.

But if we elect the right person — if you elect me — we will turn this country around, we will reclaim the American dream and this nation will be stronger and greater than it has ever been.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Ted Cruz?

CRUZ: “13 Hours” — tomorrow morning, a new movie will debut about the incredible bravery of the men fighting for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians that abandoned them. I want to speak to all our fighting men and women.

I want to speak to all the moms and dads whose sons and daughters are fighting for this country, and the incredible sense of betrayal when you have a commander-in-chief who will not even speak the name of our enemy, radical Islamic terrorism, when you have a commander-in- chief who sends $150 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, who’s responsible for murdering hundreds of our servicemen and women.

I want to speak to all of those maddened by political correctness, where Hillary Clinton apologizes for saying all lives matter. This will end. It will end on January 2017.

And if I am elected president, to every soldier and sailor and airman and marine, and to every police officer and firefighter and first responder who risk their lives to keep us safe, I will have your back.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Donald Trump?

TRUMP: I stood yesterday with 75 construction workers. They’re tough, they’re strong, they’re great people. Half of them had tears pouring down their face. They were watching the humiliation of our young ten sailors, sitting on the floor with their knees in a begging position, their hands up.

And Iranian wise guys having guns to their heads. It was a terrible sight. A terrible sight. And the only reason we got them back is because we owed them with a stupid deal, $150 billion. If I’m president, there won’t be stupid deals anymore.

We will make America great again. We will win on everything we do. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Candidates, thank you.

CAVUTO: Gentlemen, thank you all. All of you. That wraps up our <debate. We went a little bit over here. But we wanted to make sure everyone was able to say their due. He’s upset. All right. Thank you for joining us. Much more to come in the Spin Room ahead.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 January 14, 2016: Fox Business Network sixth undercard Republican debate transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Fox Business undercard Republican debate transcript

Source: WaPo, 1-14-16

Hosted by Fox Business Network in North Charleston, South Carolina

Participants: CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Moderators: Trish Regan and Sandra Smith

TRISH REGAN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, the president said that our economy is strong. He cited the significant decline we’ve seen in unemployment rate and the millions of jobs that have been created.

What is your assessment of the economy right now? And I would like to hear from all of you on this one, beginning with Ms. Fiorina.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you. Good evening. If I may begin by saying how honored I am to be standing here with two former Iowa Caucus winners.

Governor, Senator.

And how honored I am to be talking with all of you. You know, I’m not a political insider. I haven’t spent my lifetime running for office. The truth is I have had and been blessed by a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things in my life.

And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: I’m standing here because I think we have to restore a citizen government in this country. I think we have to end crony capitalism. The crony capitalism that starts with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

You know, Hillary Clinton sits inside government and rakes in millions, handing out access and favors. And Donald Trump sits outside government and rakes in billions buying people like Hillary Clinton.

The state of our economy is not strong. We have record numbers of men out of work. We have record numbers of women living in poverty. We have young people who no longer believe that the American dream applies to them.

We have working families whose wages have stagnated for decades, all while the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected get more connected.

Citizens, it’s time to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDRA SMITH, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: Governor Huckabee, same question to you. Where do you see the country right now?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish I saw the country in the same place that the president presented it to be the other night in the State of the Union. He talked about how great the economy was doing. And I guess for the people he hangs out with, it’s probably doing great.

But the president should’ve stood in the line at the layaway counter at Walmart just before Christmas. He would have heard a very different story about the economy of America.

HUCKABEE: I wish I could introduce him the lady who cleans the building where our campaign headquarters is located in Little Rock. Her name is Kathleen (ph). She works all day at a local hospital cleaning, and then she goes to the building where a bank, and our headquarters, and other offices are she spends another seven hours. She works 15 hours a day.

I guarantee you she’s not working 15 hours a day because she loves scrubbing toilets, and sweeping floors. She’s working that many hours because that’s what it takes for her to make it work.

And, she’s not alone. There are people all over this country who are working like that. Many of them working two jobs — and they used to have one job, and that would take care of them. But, because of wage stagnation, which we’ve had for 40 years, because the fact that they’re punished for working harder if they work that many hours. The government gets more of their second shift than they do.

And, as a result there are a lot of people who are hurting today. I wish the President knew more of them. He might make a change in the economy and the way he’s managing it.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you Governor Huckabee. Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, all he has to do is listen to the Democratic debate and find out how bad the economy is. All they do is complain about the hollowing out of the middle of America, and how America is struggling so badly, and have to make these radical changes in Washington.

But they’ve been in control for the last seven years, and what have we seen? The most important jobs, I believe, in this country are the ones that fill the middle. For the 74% of Americans who don’t have a college degree between the age of 25 and 65 are manufacturing jobs. Your governor, and your legislature, and your team here have done an amazing job of bringing manufacturing jobs back to South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANTORUM: Right here. Right here in Charleston, right down in the street in Boeing (ph). You’ve done a great job, and what’s happened? You’ve grown this economy, you’ve strengthened the center of your state, the middle. That’s because you know that if you’re really going to create wealth and opportunity, you got to get jobs, and good paying jobs for everybody.

And, so what’s happened? Two million jobs, manufacturing jobs, have left this country because of Barack Obama. Regulations, EPA, workplace regulations, things driving people off-shore all because of his number one priority, global climate change.

Well, let me tell you this, Mr. President. For every dollar of GDP, China creates five times as much pollution as we do here. You want to — lower global climate change, bring those jobs back to America and let American workers do that job with less pollution.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Senator Santorum. Thank you, candidates.

Moving to the world stage. The middle east is on the brink of chaos. Iran continues to provoke the United States, North Korea claims it’s tested a hydrogen bomb, and Afghanistan is in danger of falling back into Taliban hands. Critics of the administration say it’s all due to lack of U.S. leadership.

To you, Mrs. Fiorina, how do you see America’s role in the world today?

FIORINA: America must lead because when we do not lead, when this exceptional nation does not lead, the world is more dangerous and a more tragic place.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, they all refuse to lead. Worse, they refuse to respond when this nation is provoked. Hillary Clinton famously asked what difference does it make how four Americans died in Benghazi?

Mrs. Clinton, here’s what difference it makes. When you do not stand up and say the truth, that this was a purposeful terrorist attack, when you do not say the United States of America will retaliate for that attack, terrorists assume it’s open season.

We have refused to respond to every provocation. The President wouldn’t even mention the fact that Iran had taken two Navy boats and our sailors — hostage. He didn’t mention the fact that they violated the Geneva convention. He didn’t respond to the fact that Iran launched two ballistic missile just a short time ago, in direct violation of a deal they had just signed. We didn’t respond to the fact that North Korea attacked Sony Pictures.

When we refuse to respond over, and over to provocation and bad behavior, we will get more provocation and bad behavior. I know most of our allies personally. I have met many of our adversaries. I know our military and our intelligence capability, and I know this. When we will not stand with our allies, when we will not respond to our adversaries, when we do not lead in the world the world is a dangerous and tragic place. I will be a Commander in Chief who will lead.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Well, since we’ve been talking about the Middle East, Senator Santorum, conflicts between Saudi Arabia and Iran have certainly escalated, amid accusations that Saudi Arabia bombed the Iranian Embassy in Yemen after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked.

As we confront an increasingly unstable Middle East, how will you, as president, navigate this administration’s promises to Iran while standing by our historic allies in the region?

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the historic promises that we have made to — to Iran in this agreement need to be torn up on the first day in office of the next president.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And let me tell you why, because Iran has already torn it up. Iran has not approved the agreement that President Obama has said that they have approved. They have approved a different agreement in their parliament.

The fact of the matter is they have violated this agreement. Carly just mentioned some of those violations.

They have launched ballistic missiles, tested them, in clear violation.

And here’s the pathetic part. The president announced that they were going to impose sanctions. And then President Rouhani went on Twitter and said there would be retaliation.

And what did we do?

We backed down.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are 50 some Citadel cadets in this audience tonight.

(APPLAUSE) SANTORUM: I would ask them to stand up if they will. And here’s what I want to tell each and every one of them, as you stand. Here’s what I want to tell them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Whether it’s you’re watching that movie this weekend that just came out when we abandoned our men and women in Benghazi, or whether it’s we treat Iran, that gave courtesies to our sailors, as they made them record a hostage video, let me tell you this, if you choose to serve this country, I will have your back. I will not let America be trampled upon anymore by these radical jihadists.

REGAN: Thank you, Senator Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Governor Huckabee, in Afghanistan, the Taliban is strengthening. Attacks are on the rise and thousands more civilians have been wounded or killed. Much of the Taliban surge can be attributed to the withdrawal of U.S. forces there.

You have expressed skepticism with the war there, saying you see no end game in sight.

What, then, is your solution to the growing conflict there?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AK), FORMER GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me put that in context. When I went to Afghanistan, I saw a land that looked like the land of the Flintstones. It was desolate. It was barren. It was primitive.

And it’s been that way for thousands of years. They want to take the world back to be just like that.

We don’t.

We need to make a clear goal as to why we want to be anywhere in the Middle East, and I’ll tell you why we want to be and need to be, is to destroy radical Islam and everything that threatens civilization. It’s not just a threat…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: — to Israel or to America, it’s a threat to every civilized person on this Earth. And we need to be equipping not only the Kurds in Iraq, we need to be making sure that those who are willing to fight radical Muslims will do it, but we need to never ever spend a drop of American blood unless there is a clearly defined goal and we can’t make sure we win unless we have a military that’s the strongest in the history of mankind.

We’ve got to rebuild our navy. It’s the smallest navy we’ve had since 1915, when my grandfather got on a destroyer in World War I when he was in the U.S. Navy. We’ve got young men in Air Force B-52s, one in particular, he’s flying a B-52 that his father flew in the ’80s and his grandfather flew in the ’50s. Those planes are older than me.

We’ve got to have a military that the world is afraid of, use it sparingly, but when we do, the whole world will know that America is on their tail and they will be on their tail on the ground, never ever to rise up again.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, if I could just follow-up with that.

Do we need to be in Afghanistan?

HUCKABEE: Only if there is a concerted effort to destroy the advance of radical Islamists who are against us. As far as what are we going to make it look like. Frankly, I don’t know what we can make it look like. You can’t create for other people a desire for freedom and democracy.

And frankly, that is not the role of the United States. The role of the United States military is not to build schools, it is not to build bridges, it is not to go around and pass out food packets.

It is to kill and destroy our enemy and make America safe and that is the purpose we should be there if we’re going to be there.

REGAN: Thank you Governor Huckabee.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, nearly 600 women say they were attacked in a German city on New Year’s Eve by men of Arab or North African descent and 45 percent of those alleged attacks were sexual assaults. Twenty-two of those 32 men arrested so far are asylum-seekers. Are you worried about similar problems in the United States?

FIORINA: Of course I’m worried about similar problems in the United States. We can not allow refugees to enter this country unless we can adequately vet them and we know we can’t. Therefore we should stop allowing refugees into this country.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And by the way, we do not need to be lectured about why we’re angry and frustrated and fearful because we’ve had an illegal immigration problem in this country for 25 years.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And we have every right to be frustrated about the fact that politicians stand up in election after election after election and promise us to fix the problem and yet, it has never been fixed.

I offer leadership that understands that actions speak louder than words, that results count. We must secure our border. We must fix our broken immigration system. We must enforce a pro-American immigration system that serves our interests, not the rest of the world. I understand what it takes to translate goals into results and that is what I will do as president of the United States. Of course, we should be worried, for heavens sakes.

This administration has now told us they don’t know who has overstayed a visa. This administration has told us they don’t even bother to check Facebook or Twitter to find out who’s pledging allegiance to jihadis. We can do better than this, citizens. We need to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: I want to stay with you on this. The world shares a common enemy right now in the way of ISIS. Russia, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, we all agree ISIS is a threat and it must be stopped.

During World War II, the world partnered with Joseph Stalin, who was arguably one of the most formidable — despicable figures of the 20th century. But they partnered with him to fight the Nazis.

Today, everyone seems to agree we need some kind of coalition to fight ISIS. Do you agree with that? And if so, would your coalition include possibly, Russia and Iran?

FIORINA: We need to be very clear-eyed now about who are our allies and who are our adversaries. In the fight against ISIS, Saudi Arabia is our ally. Iran is our adversary. And despite Donald trump’s bromance with Vladmir Putin, Vladmir Putin and Russia are our adversary. We can not…

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: We can not outsource leadership in the Middle East to Iran and Russia. We must stand and lead. The Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Saudis, Egyptians, Bahrainis (sic), the Emirates, the Kurds. I know virtually all of these nations and their leaders. And they have asked us for very specific kinds of support: bombs, material, arms, intelligence.

We are not providing any of it today. I will provide all of it. We have allies who will stand up and help us deny ISIS territory, which is what we must do to defeat them. We must deny them territory. They will help us do this. And yes, we need a coalition.

But only in the United States of America can lead such a coalition. I will lead it. But we must be clear-eyed through this fight. Iran is our adversary. Russia is our adversary. We can never outsource our leadership. Only the United States of America can lead to defeat ISIS. I will.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, thank you.

SMITH: All right, thank you, candidates. We’re just getting started. Jobs, Homeland Security, gun rights, all those issues are coming up straight ahead. We’re live from North Charleston and the Republican Presidential Debate. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Welcome back, everyone, to the Republican presidential debate. On to the next round of questions — Sandra.

SMITH: All right, let’s get started. Senator Santorum, to you first. President Obama has urged technology leaders to make it hard for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice. Hillary Clinton says social media companies can help by swiftly shutting down terrorist accounts.

The companies say that they’re already working with law enforcement and any proposed legislation would do more harm than good. Should companies like Facebook and Twitter be required by law to more actively — be more actively engaged in fighting terror?

SANTORUM: I would just say that if we were doing a better job within the government, we wouldn’t need the private sector to do the things that we’re asking them to do.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I’ve had a little experience in this in the private sector myself. And what I found was a government with layers and layers of bureaucracy, of people who had some technical expertise but they had no authority, number one.

And one of the things I found out about in the bureaucracy is if a lot of people have authority, nobody has authority, number one. And number two, that if you don’t do anything, you don’t get fired.

It’s only when you do something and something goes wrong, you get fired. So they do nothing. And that’s what is happening in our Defense Department right now. We have a capability that they’re trying to develop to play defense.

We have a lot of technologists that are very skilled. And they’re trying to figure out how to play defense. But what we don’t have is we don’t have folks who are thinking about offense.

We don’t have war-fighters. We have technologists. Technologists are not war-fighters. Technologists are thinking, how do I protect cyber-security, how do I secure, how do I protect?

SANTORUM: And we need to have a much more dynamic, how do we — how do we go after them?

How do we respond?

And we need leadership that’s willing to make sure that when someone attacks us — and ladies and gentlemen, they’re attacking us as we speak. They’re attacking us all day every day, not just the government, but they’re attacking private sector companies all day every day.

They have to learn that we’re going to pay — they’re going to pay a price when they do so.

And then right now, just like in every other aspect of our national security, people who attack us are not paying a price. We need a leader who will make sure that they know when they mess with America, they’re going to pay a price.

SMITH: Senator, would you — would you require anything of those companies like Facebook and Twitter if you were president?

SANTORUM: Look, Facebook and Twitter can teach us things. We can cooperate with them. We can share ideas and information. But this is a — and this is a very dicey area for the government to go in and require the industry to do its job.

It needs to develop that capability. We need to be — have responsible dialogue, but I don’t think requirements are the order of the day.

SMITH: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, the president has just issued an executive order to expand the gun laws and background checks. And none of you on stage agree with this.

But recent polls show the majority of Americans are in favor of universal background checks.

(BOOS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in this room.

REGAN: It’s the poll data.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: And we all believe the polling data all the time, don’t we?

REGAN: So tell me…

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: — why, in your view, is the president’s proposal a problem?

FIORINA: Oh, it’s a problem for so many reasons.

First of all, it is yet another lawless executive order. You see, he doesn’t like the fact that Congress has rejected his ideas twice on a bipartisan basis, so he’s decided he just gets to override them.

Sorry, Mr. President, not the way “The Constitution” works.

Secondly…

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: — secondly, he basically admitted in that speech that he hasn’t been paying much attention to enforcing the laws we have. He said, gee, we need a few more FBI agents. That would have helped, perhaps, stop a tragedy here in South Carolina with Dylann Roof, a guy who clearly never should have been sold a gun.

In other words, Mr. President, you’re right, we need to enforce the laws we have. Let’s enforce the laws we have. There are criminals running around with guns who shouldn’t have them. We don’t prosecute any of them. Less than 1 percent.

But I want to go back to the technology issue for a moment, if I may, as well, because in this regard, I disagree with Senator Santorum. Look, I come from the technology industry and I can tell you there is one thing that bureaucracies don’t know how to do. They do not know how to innovate.

We have come seven generations of technology since 2011. We have bureaucracies that are incapable of bringing in that innovation.

So, yes, there are some very specific things that we should ask the private sector to help us with, including making sure we have the latest and greatest in algorithms to search through all these databases so that we find terrorists before they attack us, not after it’s too late.

And, finally, when a president who understands technology in the Oval Office. Mrs. Clinton, actually, you cannot wipe a server with a towel.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, you’ve said that was when you were CEO of HP, you actually worked with the government.

FIORINA: Yes, and see…

REGAN: — to try and combat some of these terrorist threats.

FIORINA: As CEO of Hewlett Packard…

REGAN: What did you do?

FIORINA: As CEO of Hewlett Packard, I was asked very specifically for some very real help. The help I was asked to provide, this is now public information. So I am not revealing what — something that was — was classified.

We had a very large shipment of equipment, software and hardware, headed to a retail outlet. And I was called by the head of the NSA, who had an urgent need for that capability, to begin laying out a program to track terrorists.

We turned that truck around on a highway and it was escorted to the headquarters in San Jose.

In World War II, our government went to the private sector and said, help us do things that we cannot do.

The private sector has capabilities that the government does not have. There are some legal authorities that are required.

The Sony attack could have been detected and repelled, had legal authorities been passed in Congress allowing private networks and public networks to work together.

Those legal authorities have not yet been passed.

Yes, I was asked to help.

(RINGS BELL)

FIORINA: I know the technology industry. They will help again. But they must be asked by a president who understands what they have.

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: All right, Governor Huckabee, you called President Obama’s executive orders on gun control unconstitutional and completely insane.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: (LAUGHING) Yes, I did.

SMITH: You even told gun store owners to ignore the President’s orders.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Yet, innocent people are dying from gun violence in cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Charleston everyday. Is there anything that can be done at the federal level to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals?

HUCKABEE: Well, why don’t we start by making sure the Justice Department never does an idiotic program like Fast and Furious where the U.S. Government put guns…

(CHEERING)

HUCKABEE: …in the hands of Mexican drug lords…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …and end up killing one of our border agents. You know, they want to talk about law abiding citizens, I just find it amazing the President keeps saying the gun show loophole. There is no gun show loophole. I promise you I’ve been to more gun shows than President Obama.

SMITH: (LAUGHING)

HUCKABEE: And, I’ve bought more weapons at them, and you fill out forms. The President also says things that it’s easier to get a gun now than it is to grow trees. Again, I purchase guns, and I can assure you that it is much more difficult to purchase a firearm than it is to get the ingredients of a salad at the supermarket.

What the President keeps pushing are ideas that have never worked. Ideas that would not have stopped San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Aurora, and at some point you wonder if you keep retrying things that don’t work, maybe we should just see if we could resell all those used lottery tickets that didn’t work real well because that’s the logic of just keep doing the same thing, but something that has failed. Of course, we want to stop gun violence, but the one common thing that has happened in most mass shootings is that they happened in gun- free zones where people who would have been law abiding citizens, who could have stood up and at least tried to stop it and we’re not allowed to under the law.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, an American in San Bernardino murdered 14 people while terrorists with Belgian and French passports murdered 130 people. Were facing a threat within our borders, and from outside the United States. Those European terrorists, they could have come here at any time given that we have a visa waiver program that enables people to travel back and forth. It exists within those countries, and 36 others.

In countries around the world, including many in Europe, cannot ensure that their citizens are not jihadists, why are we waiving the visa requirement at all?

HUCKABEE: Well, we shouldn’t be and that’s one of the reasons that I think there a lot of voices in our country who are saying it’s time to relook (ph) at the visa program. The European Union is a failure, it’s not allowed for even the economic goals that they were trying to achieve.

But, what we’re not seeing is that it’s making Europe less safe, and it’s proven not to be exactly what they all thought it was going to be.

Our first and foremost responsibility in this country, and the first responsibility of the President of the United States is protect America, and protect Americans. We have a President who seems to be more interested in protecting the reputation and image of Islam than he is protecting us. And, I want to be very clear…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …that this President.

(CHEERING)

HUCKABEE: Makes comments like he did the other night, that we have to be so careful because we don’t want to offend Muslims. He needs to read his own FBI crime stats from last year which would show him that of the hate crimes in the country, over 5,500, about 1,100 were religious hate crimes. And, of those, 58% were directed toward Jews. Only 16% directed toward Muslims.

Maybe what the President should have talked about the other night is how we ought to be more careful in the anti-semitic comments that are going toward American Jews than toward Muslims because by three times as many…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …they’re being targeted for religious hate crime.

REGAN: If you get the visa waiver program, does that shut down international commerce?

HUCKABEE: It does not shut down international commerce, but it may slow it down. And, you don’t want to slowdown commerce that is making us safer. It’s worth it. This lady who came and joined with the San Bernardino killer had passed three background checks, and that’s why a lot of Americans didn’t buy it when the President said we’ll bring in Syrian refugees, but don’t worry we’ll check them out.

We have a lot of confidence in a president who told us that we could keep our doctor, we could keep our health insurance, and cost us less, and now the latest is if you like your gun you can keep it too, and frankly, we don’t buy it. We don’t believe it. He’s lost his credibility, and his inept…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …inability to work with Congress and pass legislation has led him to do what I never even imagined doing as a governor, and that’s just going and doing it my own way.

HUCKABEE: That’s why we elect a president, is to lead, is to be able to shepherd things through. And if I can do it with a 90 percent Democrat legislature in Arkansas, there is no excuse for any president not being able to lead in Washington if he knows what the heck he is doing when he gets there.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

SMITH: Senator Santorum, many of our military leaders believe America’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to a terrorist attack. This is the power in our homes, the water we drink, the Internet and phone systems by which we stay connected.

If attacked, these essential services that underpin American society could come to a grinding halt. Do you have a specific plan to protect us from this type of attack?

SANTORUM: Well, the most devastating attack that could occur is an electromagnetic pulse attack, and that would be an attack that would be triggered by a nuclear explosion in the upper atmosphere of our country.

The best way to stop that from happening is to make sure that those who contemplating and actually war-gaming and talking about using it, Iran, doesn’t get a nuclear weapon so they can’t explode that device.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And the president of the United States has put Iran on a path to a nuclear weapon. And we have done nothing to do anything to harden our grid. There is actually a bill in Congress that would put money forward to try to put redundancy and harden our electric grid so it could actually survive an EMP.

An EMP is a devastating explosion that sends a pulse that knocks out all electric, everything, everything that is connected to any kind — that is wired, that has a circuit board gets fried out. Everything is gone. Cars stop. Planes fall out of the sky.

This is a devastating attack. And this president has done nothing, number one, to take the most probable person to — probable country to launch an attack and stop them, and has done nothing to try to defend us, particularly our electric grid. The bottom line is, I put the original sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program when I was in the United States Senate. I’ve been fighting for 12 years with one thing in mind, that we must stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And…

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Because they’re different than every other country. They do not want a nuclear weapon to defend themselves. They want a nuclear weapon to have theological ends to bring about their mahdi so they can control the world. And that is the most serious threat facing this country right now.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Senator Santorum, I want to stay with you on this, moving to jobs and the economy. In his State of the Union Address the other night, President Obama touted his record on jobs, citing more than 14 million new jobs and boasted of nearly 900,000 manufacturing jobs added in the past six years.

Do you dispute his track record of creating jobs?

SANTORUM: Well, the numbers just don’t add up. I mean, they have not added manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country, 2 million of them. The bottom line is that this president has done more to take jobs away from the hard-working people who are struggling the most.

And that’s folks who are, as I said, the 74 percent of Americans who don’t have a college degree. And they’re out there talking about, well, we’re going to provide free college for everybody. Well, who is going to pay for it? The 74 percent that don’t have a college degree.

They’re not — nobody is focused. Let’s just be honest, nobody is focused on the people who are struggling the most in America today. We talk about immigration. Talk about the president’s immigration plan. He wants to bring in more and more people into this country. Let people who are here illegally stay in this country.

Almost all of the people who are here illegally, and most of the people who came here legally over the last 20 years, they’re working in wage-earning jobs. That is why wages have flat-lined.

And we have unfortunately two political parties with most of the candidates in this field for some form of amnesty, some form of allowing people to stay here even though they’re here illegally and for increasing levels of legal immigration.

I’m someone who believes that we need to be the party that stands for the American worker. And when we say we need to send people back, I mean we send people back.

And let me just make one point. I was in Storm Lake, Iowa, the other day, near a Tyson’s plant, 91 percent of the kids that go to the elementary school there are minority kids. And they said, well, what are you going to do with all of these people, their families, they’ve lived here for a long time?

I said, I’m going to give them a gift. I’m going to give them a gift of being able to help the country they were born in.

SANTORUM: And I’m going to export America, the education they were able to see. They learned English language. They learned about capitalism. They learned about democracy. You want to stop flow of immigrants?

Let’s send six million Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Savadorians…

(BELL RINGS)

… back into their country, so they can start a renaissance in their country so they won’t be coming over here anymore.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Senator Santorum, thank you.

SMITH: Governor Huckabee, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said the greatest threat to our security is our national debt.

Our national debt is now on pace to top $19 trillion. Yet, you as well as Ms. Fiorina have laid forward no plan to reform entitlements. How can you say you’re going to pay down our country’s debt without cutting Social Security or Medicare?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, let’s just remember that Social Security is not the government’s money, it belongs to the people who had it taken out of their checks involuntarily their entire working lives.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: For the government to say, well it is fault of working people that we have a Social Security problem, no. It is the fault of a government that used those people’s money for something other than protecting those people’s accounts. So let’s not blame them and punish them.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: But here is a fact, and I sometimes hear Republicans say well, we’re going to have to cut this and extend the age. You know what I think a lot of times when I hear people say, well, let’s make people work to their 70. That sounds great for white-collar people who sat at a desk most of their lives. You ever talk to somebody that stood on concrete floor for the first 40 years of their working life? Do you think they can stand another five years or 10 years, many of them will retired virtually crippled because they worked hard. And we’re going to punish them some more? I don’t think so. Here’s the fact.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCAKBEE: Four percent economic growth, we fully fund Social Security and Medicare. Our problem is not that Social Security is just too generous to seniors. It isn’t. Our problem is that our politicians have not created the kind of policies that would bring economic growth.

And I still support strongly that we get rid of the 77,000 pages of the monstrous tax code…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: … pass the fair tax, supercharge this economy with the rocket fuel that happens with the consumption tax and we don’t have to cut Social Security to any senior who has worked their lifetime for it.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

SMITH: OK. We’re going to continue this conversation. We’re taking a quick break and then coming up, the candidates’ plans for strengthening the middle class. We’re live in North Charleston with the Republican Presidential Debate. We’ll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

REGAN: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate live from North Charleston.

We want to jump right back in.

Sandra is kicking it off.

SMITH: All right, thanks, Trish.

Well, let’s get started with Ms. Fiorina.

Today, the middle class represents about 50 percent of the U.S. population, down from about 61 percent back in 1971. That’s according to Pew Research. The same research revealed a widening income gap in America. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

What will you do to strengthen a middle class that is no longer the majority?

FIORINA: For decades, the professional political class in both parties has been talking about the middle class. For decades, Republicans in particular have been talking about reducing the size and scope of government, spending less money, reducing the complexity.

And yet, for 40 years, the government has gotten bigger and more expensive.

We now have a 75,000 plus page tax code, although politicians have run for office for decades promising reform. And all the while, middle class incomes have stagnated.

You see, when government gets bigger and bigger, more powerful, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class gets squeezed.

We need to understand who the job creators are in this country, because we need more jobs to grow the middle class and to grow the wages of the middle class.

Who creates jobs?

Small businesses, new businesses, family-owned businesses. (APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: They create two thirds of the new jobs in this country and they employ half the people.

I started out typing for a nine person real estate firm. My husband Frank started out driving a tow truck for a family-owned auto body shop. And we are crushing small businesses and destroying the middle class.

So here’s my blueprint to take back America. Let us first actually reform the tax code from 73,000 pages down to three. There’s a 20-year-old plan to do exactly that.

And then let us begin piece by piece to focus on every single dollar the government spends, so that we will spend less overall and still have enough for our priorities. And that requires the government to budget the way you do at home — examine every dollar, cut any dollar, move any dollar. The fancy term for that is zero- based budgeting, but I call it common sense.

Citizens, we’ve got to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, you know it used to be you could graduate from high school and get a pretty good job at the local factory, enough to take care of your family and yourself. Those days seem to be gone. It’s pretty hard to do that nowadays.

Businesses are increasingly turning to automation to increase their productivity levels. It’s happening right here, in fact, at the Boeing factory in North Charleston.

The president says automation threatens workers’ ability to get higher wages.

Do you agree with that?

And if so, do you have a solution?

HUCKABEE: Let me go back to the reason so many people are having a hard time getting ahead. The tax system punishes them.

Think about this. If you work really hard and you start moving up the economic ladder, you get bumped into a different tax bracket. So the government thinks it deserves more of your hard work than you do.

And it’s one of the reasons that no matter how many different reforms you have to a tax on people’s productivity, you’re still taxing their work, their savings. You’re taxing their capital gains, inheritance, dividends, you’re taxing everything that produces something.

And it’s way I really believe it’s time to do something bold, not something minute. This is no time for a tap of the hammer, a twist of the screwdriver. It’s time for something big. That’s why the fair tax transforms our economy.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And we don’t punish workers. It’s the only way we’re going to get middle class people moving ahead again, because the harder they work, the more they keep. No payroll tax deducted from their checks. They get their entire paycheck.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And, one of the most important parts, it’s built on the common sense with which we raised our kids, and trained dogs. You reward behavior you want more of. And, you punish behavior you want less of. That’s how I raise kids, it’s how I trained our dogs, and folks, it’s not that difficult.

We now punish the behavior we say we want more of by taxing it, and we reward the behavior that we say we want less of, so if you make a good investment, we punish you with a tax. If you make a bad investment you can write that off and the rest of the taxpayers will help subsidize you, and bail you out.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you very much, Governor Huckabee.

Senator Santorum, 40% of babies born today are born to single moms. That’s twice as high as reported back in 1980, and it’s 11 times as high as in 1940. Studies show that children are always better off economically, most often — and emotionally, with two parents in a household. From a policy perspective, should the government be doing anything to encourage family formation?

SANTORUM: You know, we’ve had this debate about the economy, and we haven’t talked the one issue now increasingly even the right, and even the are coming to agreement. I’ve run around doing 300 town hall meetings talking about a book written by a liberal Harvard sociologist, not a normal thing for me to be talking about, but I now name Robert Putnam who wrote a book called, “Our Kids”.

And, he wrote this book, I think, ostensibly to support the Democratic argument that the middle of America’s hollowing out, and income gap is widening, and rich are getting richer. When he studied all the information as to what was going on, he realized that the biggest reason that we’re seeing the hollowing out of the middle of America is the breakdown of the American family.

The reality is that if you’re a single parent — a child of a single parent, and you grew up in a single parent family neighborhood, you went to that single parent family school, the chance of you ever, ever reaching the top 20% of income earners is 3% in America. At least — I don’t know about you, but that’s not good enough. And, we have been too politically correct in this country because we don’t want to offend anybody to fight for the lives of our children. (APPLAUSE)

You want — You want to be shocked? You read the first few chapters of Mr. — Dr. Putnam’ book. He talks about Port Clinton, Ohio and growing up there in the 1950’s, and how poor kids actually survived and did well, even though they were poor and disadvantaged. But, then he goes to the towns today and these kids are failing, and failing miserably. They don’t even have a shot, and we won’t even have the courage to have leadership at the federal level — not with legislation, but the most powerful tool a president have, the bully pulpit to encourage each and everyone of you, churches and businesses, and educators, and community leaders to let’s have a national campaign to rebuild the American family, and give every child its birthright which is a Mom and a Dad who loves them.

That will change this economy.

(CHEERING & APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you, Senator.

We’re not finished yet. More Republican Presidential Debate in North Charleston after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: Welcome back, it’s time for the closing statements. Candidates will each get one minute, starting with Senator Santorum.

Thank you very much, I want to thank the people of Charleston, which has become a little bit of a second home to me, because I am very privileged to have two young men who go to the Citadel here and they’re here tonight, my son John and my son Daniel.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Ladies and gentlemen, America is frustrated and angry and looking for someone who’s a fighter, but I also think they’re looking for someone who’s a winner. Somebody who can go out there and take on the establishment and make a difference. And take on someone who’s going to be the person who’s going to be between a Republican holding the presidency and that’s Hillary Clinton.

And there’s one person on this stage, one person in the race who’s done it and done it repeatedly. I’ve taken on Hillary Clinton on the issues you care about. Partial-birth abortion.

Go and google Rick Santorum and Hillary Clinton and there you’ll see a five-minute debate. I’ll let you decide who won the debate. I’ll tell you who won, because we passed the bill and I know I’m out of time but I’m going to take some of Rand Paul’s time here for a second.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: If you’re looking for someone who fought Hillary Clinton on Iran’s sanctions, she was one of four who voted — who’s deciding vote who voted against Iran’s sanctions, so we didn’t get it in place as earlier as we should have.

I’ve fought battles against her. In 1994, I ran against the Clinton machine. James Carville and Paul Begala, ran the race against me when I took on the author of Hillary care.

And each one of those battles, I won. You want a fighter, you want a winner, I’d appreciate your vote. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Senator Santorum. Governor Mike Huckabee.

HUCAKBEE: Well, Rick, I’m pretty sure I did also fight the Clinton machine because every election I was ever in in Arkansas, I assure you, they were behind it, helping finance and campaign for every opponent.

And I share with you the understanding that it’s going to be a tough battle. But I spent the first half of my adult life in the private and nonprofit sector, raising a family, understanding how tough it is for people to make it.

And that first half of my life is what led me to believe that America needs a different kind of leadership, not people who spent their whole life running from one office to the next, and living off the government dime. And I got involved because I got sick of what I saw.

I also believe that there’s got to be some leadership that not only addresses the monetary and military issues of this country, but the moral issues of this country. At the end of every political speech, most of us say, God bless America.

But how can he do that when we continue to slaughter 4,000 babies a day?

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And I want to be the president that treats every person, including the unborn, as a person. And protect them under the 5th and 14th amendments of the constitution. I close with this word from a gentleman in East Texas named Butel Lucre (ph). He’s 100 years old and I met him down in East Texas.

HUCKABEE: And he said this to me. “I sure wish, Mike, we had the days when The Ten Commandments were in all of our capitals and in every school, and we prayed again.

You know, he may be 100 years old, but I believe some of those old ideas to get this country back where we unapologetically get on our knees before we get on our feet might be the best solutions we’ve ever sought as a country.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And I ask for your support and your vote.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Governor.

REGAN: Carly Fiorina?

FIORINA: My husband Frank, that I mentioned, I love spending time with. He’s down there. He was real excited the other day because in New Hampshire, he was introduced as my eye candy.

(LAUGHTER)

FIORINA: You know, everybody out there watching knows this. You cannot wait to see the debate between me and Hillary Clinton. You would pay to see that fight.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And that’s because you know I will win. And that’s important. We’ve got to start by beating Hillary Clinton.

All of my life, I have been told to sit down and be quiet. Settle. Settle. Don’t challenge the system.

That’s what the American people are being told now and we have been told that for way too long — sit down and be quiet about our God, about our guns, about the abortion industry, settle for illegal immigration that’s been a problem for decades, as so many of our problems have festered for decades. Accept a system of government and politics that no longer works for us.

I will not sit down and be quiet. And neither will you.

So I ask you to stand with me, fight with me, vote for me, citizens. It is time to take our future back, time to take our politics back. It is time to take our government back. Citizens, it is time. We must take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you to all the candidates.

(CROSSTALK)

REGAN: That does it, everyone for the first debate right here in North Charleston.

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2016: Nikki Haley’s Republican response to State of the Union address Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Republican response to State of the Union address Transcript

Source: CNN, 1-12-16

Transcript of Nikki Haley’s Republican response to the 2016 State of the Union address. As prepared for delivery.

“Good evening.

“I’m Nikki Haley, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.

“I’m speaking tonight from Columbia, our state’s capital city. Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.

“In just a minute, I’m going to talk about a vision of a brighter American future. But first I want to say a few words about President Obama, who just gave his final State of the Union address.

“Barack Obama’s election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.

“Unfortunately, the President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.

“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.

“Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it.

“Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight.

“At the outset, I’ll say this: you’ve paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you’re not naive.

“Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.

“A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn’t serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again. A frustration with promises made and never kept.

“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.

“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.

“And then we need to fix it.

“The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn’t gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.

“For me, that starts right where it always has: I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.

“Growing up in the rural south, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.

“My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.

“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

“At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

“We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

“I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.

“This past summer, South Carolina was dealt a tragic blow. On an otherwise ordinary Wednesdayevening in June, at the historic Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, twelve faithful men and women, young and old, went to Bible study.

“That night, someone new joined them. He didn’t look like them, didn’t act like them, didn’t sound like them. They didn’t throw him out. They didn’t call the police. Instead, they pulled up a chair and prayed with him. For an hour.

“We lost nine incredible souls that night.

“What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about.

“Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.

“We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.

“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.

“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.

“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.

“Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t have strong disagreements. We will. And as we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs.

“If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we’d put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.

“We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.

“We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.

“We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.

“We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.

“We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.

“We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.

“And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.

“We have big decisions to make. Our country is being tested.

“But we’ve been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.

“Our forefathers paved the way for us.

“Let’s take their values, and their strengths, and rededicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes to keep America the greatest country in the history of man. And woman.

“Thank you, good night, and God bless.”

Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2016: President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address

Source: WH, 1-12-16

The White House is once again making the full text of the State of the Union widely available online. The text, as prepared for delivery, is also available on Medium and Facebook notes, continuing efforts to meet people where they are and make the speech as accessible as possible. Through these digital platforms, people can follow along with the speech as they watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, share their favorite lines, and provide feedback.

WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union.  And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter.  I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.

I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low.  Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families.  So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead.  Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients.  And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing.  Fixing a broken immigration system.  Protecting our kids from gun violence.  Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage.  All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.

But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year.  I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond.

I want to focus on our future.

We live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world.  It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families.  It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away.  It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality.  And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.

America has been through big changes before – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights.  Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control.  And each time, we overcame those fears.  We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.”  Instead we thought anew, and acted anew.  We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people.  And because we did – because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril – we emerged stronger and better than before.

What was true then can be true now.  Our unique strengths as a nation – our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of law – these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.

In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible.  It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations.  It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.

But such progress is not inevitable.  It is the result of choices we make together.  And we face such choices right now.  Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people?  Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer – regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.

First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us – especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.  More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s; an unemployment rate cut in half.  Our auto industry just had its best year ever.  Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.  And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.

Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.  What is true – and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious – is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and haven’t let up.  Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated.  Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition.  As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise.  Companies have less loyalty to their communities.  And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.

All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing.  It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to.  And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.

For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody.  We’ve made progress.  But we need to make more.  And despite all the political arguments we’ve had these past few years, there are some areas where Americans broadly agree.

We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job.  The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering.  In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.

And we have to make college affordable for every American.  Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red.  We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income.  Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college.  Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.

Of course, a great education isn’t all we need in this new economy.  We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security.  After all, it’s not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber.  For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher.  Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain.  But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build.

That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them.  And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today.  That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about.  It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage.  Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far.  Health care inflation has slowed.  And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.

Now, I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care anytime soon.  But there should be other ways both parties can improve economic security.  Say a hardworking American loses his job – we shouldn’t just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him.  If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills.  And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him.  That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everyone.

I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty.  America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids.

But there are other areas where it’s been more difficult to find agreement over the last seven years – namely what role the government should play in making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations.  And here, the American people have a choice to make.

I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy.  I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut.  But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered.  Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.  Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.  It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts.  In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less.  The rules should work for them.  And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.

In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative.  This brings me to the second big question we have to answer as a country:  how do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?

Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.  We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget.  We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.

That spirit of discovery is in our DNA.  We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver.  We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride.  We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world.  And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.

We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online.  We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.

But we can do so much more.  Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer.  Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade.  Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done.  And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control.  For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.

Medical research is critical.  We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.

Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it.  You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record – until 2015 turned out even hotter – why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?

Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history.  Here are the results.  In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.  On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal – in jobs that pay better than average.  We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy – something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support.  Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.

Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy.  Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future – especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels.  That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.  That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.

None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo.  But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve – that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.

Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world.  And that’s why the third big question we have to answer is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air.  Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker.  The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth.  Period.  It’s not even close.  We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.  Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world.  No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin.  Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.

As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower.  In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states.  The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia.  Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition.  Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria – states they see slipping away from their orbit.  And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

It’s up to us to help remake that system.  And that means we have to set priorities.

Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks.  Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage.  They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.

But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.  Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped.  But they do not threaten our national existence.  That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.  We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions.  We just need to call them what they are – killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.

That’s exactly what we are doing.  For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology.  With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons.  We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.

If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL.  Take a vote.  But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them.  If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden.  Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell.  When you come after Americans, we go after you.  It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.

Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world – in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia.  Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees.  The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians.  That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis.  That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us.  It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq – and we should have learned it by now.

Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power.  It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.

That’s our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.

That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.

That’s how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa.  Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic.

That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia.  It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs.  With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do.  You want to show our strength in this century?  Approve this agreement.  Give us the tools to enforce it.

Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America.  That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere?  Recognize that the Cold War is over.  Lift the embargo.

American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world – except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling.  Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right.  It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity.  When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change – that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children.  When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon.  When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores.  Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria – something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.

That’s strength.  That’s leadership.  And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example.  That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo:  it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.

That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.  This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong.  The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.  His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”  When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer.  That’s not telling it like it is.  It’s just wrong.  It diminishes us in the eyes of the world.  It makes it harder to achieve our goals.  And it betrays who we are as a country.

“We the People.”  Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together.  That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight.

The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach.  But it will only happen if we work together.  It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.

It will only happen if we fix our politics.

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.  This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests.  That’s one of our strengths, too.  Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens.  It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic.  Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us.  Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention.  Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now.  It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.  There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.

But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task – or any President’s – alone.  There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected.  I know; you’ve told me.  And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.

We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.  We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections – and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution.  We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now.  And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.

But I can’t do these things on my own.  Changes in our political process – in not just who gets elected but how they get elected – that will only happen when the American people demand it.  It will depend on you.  That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.

What I’m asking for is hard.  It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter.  But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future.  Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure.  As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.

We can’t afford to go down that path.  It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen.  To vote.  To speak out.  To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.  To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.

It won’t be easy.  Our brand of democracy is hard.  But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen – inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far.  Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.  Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word – voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.

They’re out there, those voices.  They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours.  I see you.  I know you’re there.  You’re the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future.  Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.

I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.

I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.

I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting over – and the business owner who gives him that second chance.  The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.

I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him ‘til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.

It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.

I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to; the new citizen who casts his for the first time; the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count, because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.

That’s the America I know.  That’s the country we love.   Clear-eyed.  Big-hearted.  Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.  That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future.  Because of you.  I believe in you.  That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

###

Full Text Political Transcripts January 8, 2016: President Barack Obama vetoes GOP Congress’ ObamaCare repeal the Reconciliation Act

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Veto Message from the President — H.R. 3762

Source: WH, 1-8-16

TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 3762, which provides for reconciliation pursuant to section 2002 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016, herein referred to as the Reconciliation Act.  This legislation would not only repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.  The Affordable Care Act includes a set of fairer rules and stronger consumer protections that have made health care coverage more affordable, more attainable, and more patient centered.  And it is working.  About 17.6 million Americans have gained health care coverage as the law’s coverage provisions have taken effect.  The Nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever, and demand for Marketplace coverage during December 2015 was at an all-time high.  Health care costs are lower than expected when the law was passed, and health care quality is higher — with improvements in patient safety saving an estimated 87,000 lives.  Health care has changed for the better, setting this country on a smarter, stronger course.

The Reconciliation Act would reverse that course.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million after 2017.  The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that this reduction in health care coverage could mean, each year, more than 900,000 fewer people getting all their needed care, more than 1.2 million additional people having trouble paying other bills due to higher medical costs, and potentially more than 10,000 additional deaths.  This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve.  Reliable health care coverage  would no longer be a right for everyone:  it would return to being a privilege for a few.

The legislation’s implications extend far beyond those who would become uninsured.  For example, about 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages.  And it would cause the cost of health coverage for people buying it on their own to skyrocket.

The Reconciliation Act would also effectively defund Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood uses both Federal and non-federal funds to provide a range of important preventive care and health services, including health screenings, vaccinations, and check-ups to millions of men and women who visit their health centers annually.  Longstanding Federal policy already prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.  By eliminating Federal Medicaid funding for a major provider of health care, H.R. 3762 would limit access to health care for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals.

Republicans in the Congress have attempted to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act over 50 times.  Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs.  Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto.

Full Text Political Transcripts January 7, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at CNN “Guns In America” Town Hall

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at CNN “Guns In America” Town Hall

Source: WH, 1-7-16

George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia

8:00 P.M. EST

MR. COOPER: Good evening from George Mason University here in Fairfax, Virginia.  We are here tonight to talk about one of the most divisive issues in America today — guns.  Their protection is enshrined in the Constitution, in the Second Amendment, and gun ownership is an integral part of American history and culture.

There are some 30,000 gun deaths in America each year.  Two-thirds of them are suicides; one-third of them are homicides.  So the question we want to confront tonight is how you find a balance between protecting the rights of American citizens who want to own guns, but preventing guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

We brought together people here tonight who represent really all sides of the issue — gun owners, gun sellers, people who have survived shootings or lost loved ones.  Some here believe that having more guns makes us all safer, and believe the right to bear arms defines us, preserves us from tyranny and cannot be compromised in any way.  Others here tonight believe just as passionately that more needs to be done to limit the sale of firearms.  And we respect all of their views, and we want to hear from as many as we can tonight in the hour ahead.

One voice you will not hear from tonight is the National Rifle Association.  They’re the nation’s largest, most influential and powerful gun rights group.  We invited them to be here — I think their office is just a couple miles away.  They declined to take part.  Some of their members are here tonight, though.  We’re very thankful for that.  And so are representatives from the National Firearms Retailers Association.

This town hall is not something the White House dreamed up or that the White House organized.  CNN approached the White House shortly after the San Bernardino terror attack with this idea.  And we’re pleased that they agreed to participate and pleased to welcome tonight the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.

MR. COOPER:  Hello, Mr. President.  Welcome.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great to see you.

MR. COOPER:  Good to see you.  Let me start.  Have you ever owned a gun?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have never owned a gun.  Now, up at Camp David, we’ve got some skeet shooting, so on a fairly regular basis, we get a 12-gauge and — I’m not making any claims about my marksmanship.

MR. COOPER:  Before you were President, did you ever feel a desire to get a gun, feel the need to get a gun?

THE PRESIDENT:  I grew up mostly in Hawaii, and other than hunting for wild pig — which they do once in a while — there’s not the popularity of hunting and sportsmanship with guns as much as there are in other parts of the country.

MR. COOPER:  I mean, I ask the question because there’s a lot of people out there who don’t trust you, obviously, on the issue of guns.  You keep saying you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns.  But there’s a lot of people out there tonight watching who don’t believe you.  There are a lot of people in this room who, frankly, don’t believe you.  And it’s not just that you don’t really have personal experience having owned a gun, but that things you’ve said:  Support for Australia’s tough anti-gun policies.  They banned semi-automatic assault rifles.  They banned even shotguns in Australia.  You’ve praised their policies over and over.

Back in 2008, you said — you talked about “bitter Americans clinging to their guns.”  Even now, these executive actions have caused a lot of concern among a lot of people.  What can you say to somebody tonight to convince them that you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns and you’re not coming for their guns?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, Anderson, I think it’s useful to keep in mind I’ve been now President for over seven years and gun sales don’t seem to have suffered during that time.

MR. COOPER:  If anything, actually —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ve gone up.  I’ve been very good for gun manufacturers.  More importantly — I’ll tell you a story that I think indicates how I see the issue.

Back in 2007-2008, when I was campaigning, I’d leave Chicago, a city which is wonderful, I couldn’t be prouder of my city, but where every week there’s a story about a young person getting shot.  Some are gang members and it’s turf battles.  Sometimes it’s innocent victims.

MR. COOPER:  Fifty-five people have been shot in Chicago in the last seven days.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sometimes it’s happened just a few blocks from my house, and I live in a reasonably good neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

So that’s one image — talking to families who’ve gone through the pain of losing somebody because of violence in Chicago — gun violence.

Michelle and I are then campaigning out in Iowa, and we’re going to farms and we’re going to counties.  And at one point, Michelle turned to me and she said, you know, if I was living in a farmhouse, where the sheriff’s department is pretty far away, and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I’d want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure that I was protected and my family was protected.  And she was absolutely right.

And so part of the reason I think that this ends up being such a difficult issue is because people occupy different realities.  There are a whole bunch of law-abiding citizens who have grown up hunting with their dad, or going to the shooting range, and are responsible gun owners.  And then there’s the reality that there are neighborhoods around the country where it is easier for a 12 or 13-year-old to purchase a gun — and cheaper — than it is for them to get a book.

MR. COOPER:  But what you’re proposing, what you proposed this week, the executive actions, the other things, are they really going to be effective?  And I ask this because the vast majority of felons out there — I mean, we can all agree criminals should not get guns; we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  The vast majority of criminals get their guns from — either illegally or from family or friends.  So background checks is not something that’s going to affect them, is it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, but that’s not exactly accurate.  Look, first of all, it’s important for everybody to understand what I’ve proposed and what I haven’t proposed.  What I’ve said consistently throughout my presidency is I respect the Second Amendment; I respect the right to bear arms; I respect people who want a gun for self-protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship.  But all of us can agree that it makes sense to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who would try to do others harm, or to do themselves harm.

Because every year we’re losing 30,000 people to gun violence.  Two-thirds of those are actually suicides.  Hundreds of kids under the age of 18 are being shot or shooting themselves, often by accident — many of them under the age of five.  And so if we can combine gun safety with sensible background checks and some other steps, we’re not going to eliminate gun violence, but we will lessen it.  And if we take that number from 30,000 down to, let’s say, 28,000, that’s 2,000 families who don’t have to go through what the families at Newtown or San Bernardino or Charleston went through.

And so what we’ve proposed is that if you have a background check system that has a bunch of big loopholes, which is why a lot of criminals and people who shouldn’t have guns are able to get guns —

Q    But they’re not buying them at gun shows — only 1 percent of criminals are buying them at gun shows.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, but this is what happens.  Let’s go back to the city of Chicago that has strong gun control laws.  And oftentimes the NRA will point to that as an example and say, see, these things don’t work.  Well, the problem is, is that about 30, 40 percent of those guns are coming from Indiana, across the border, where there are much laxer laws.  And so folks will go to a gun show and purchase a whole bunch of firearms, put them in a van, drive up into Mike Pfleger’s neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, where his parish is, open up the trunk, and those things are for sale.

Now, technically, you could say those folks bought them illegally, but it was facilitated by the fact that what used to be a small exception that said collectors and hobbyists don’t need to go through a background check has become this massive industry where people who are doing business are, in fact, saying that they’re not in the business of selling guns, but are.

And all we’re saying here is, is that we want to put everybody on notice that the definition of doing business — which means you have to register, and it means you have to run a background check — is if you are making a profit and repeatedly selling guns, then you should have to follow the same rules as every other gun dealer.  And what that means —

MR. COOPER:  There are a lot of people who believe that’s not specific enough because there’s a lot of fathers and sons who sell guns every now and then and at gun shows.  Are they going to have to now start doing background checks?  Are they going to start to have to register?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, what the Justice Department has done is provided a whole range of very specific examples.  And what we ultimately need I believe is for Congress to set up a system that is efficient, that doesn’t inconvenience the lawful gun seller or purchaser, but that makes sure that we’re doing the best background check possible.

And the fact, Anderson, that the system may not catch every single person, or there may be a circumstance where somebody doesn’t think that they have to register and do, and that may cause some red tape and bureaucracy for them, which — or inconvenience — has to be weighed against the fact that we may be able to save a whole bunch of families from the grief that some of the people in this audience have had to go through.

And keep in mind, for the gun owners who are in attendance here, my suspicion is, is that you all had to go through a background check and it didn’t prevent you from getting a weapon. And the notion that you should have to do that but there are a whole bunch of folks who are less responsible than you who don’t have to do it doesn’t make much sense.

So why we should resist this — keep in mind that, historically, the NRA was in favor of background checks.  Historically, many in the Republican Party were in favor of background checks.  And what’s changed is not that my proposals are particularly radical.  What’s changed is we’ve suddenly created an atmosphere in which I put out a proposal like background checks or, after Sandy Hook, was calling on Congress, along with people like Gabby Giffords, who herself was a victim of gun violence — we put out a proposal that is common sense, modest, does not claim to solve every problem, is respectful of the Second Amendment, and the way it is described is that we’re trying to take away everybody’s guns.

And part of the reason I welcomed this opportunity by CNN to have a good discussion and debate about it is because our position is consistently mischaracterized.  And, by the way, there’s a reason why the NRA is not here.  They’re just down the street, and since this is the main reason they exist, you’d think that they’d be prepared to have a debate with the President.

MR. COOPER:  They haven’t been to the White House for years.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, no, no — we’ve invited them.  We’ve invited them.

MR. COOPER:  So, right now, tonight, you’re saying you would be —

THE PRESIDENT:  We have invited them repeatedly.  But if you listen to the rhetoric, it is so over the top and so over-heated, and, most importantly, is not acknowledging the fact that there’s no other consumer item that we purchase —

Q    So is that an open invitation that —

THE PRESIDENT:  Hold on a second.  Let me finish this point, Cooper.  There’s nothing else in our lives that we purchase where we don’t try to make it a little safer if we can.  Traffic fatalities have gone down drastically during my lifetime.  And part of it is technology, and part of it is the National Highway Safety Administration does research and they figure out, you know what, seatbelts really work.  And then we passed some laws to make sure seatbelts are fastened.  Airbags make a lot of sense; let’s try those out.  Toys — we say, you know what, we find out that kids are swallowing toys all the time, let’s make sure that the toys aren’t so small that they swallow them if they’re for toddlers or infants.  Medicine — kids can’t open aspirin caps.

Now, the notion that we would not apply the same basic principles to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own just to try to make them safer, or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to take away guns, that contradicts what we do to try to create a better life for Americans in every other area of our lives.

MR. COOPER:  And just so I’m clear, tonight you’re saying you would welcome to meet with the NRA?

THE PRESIDENT:  Anderson, I’ve said this repeatedly — I’m happy to meet with them.  I’m happy to talk to them.  But the conversation has to be based on facts and truth and what we’re actually proposing, not some imaginary fiction in which Obama is trying to take away your guns.

The reason, by the way, that gun sales spike not just before I propose something — every time there is a mass shooting, gun sales spike.  And part of the reason is, is that the NRA has convinced many of its members that somebody is going come grab your guns — which is, by the way, really profitable for the gun manufacturers.  It’s a great advertising mechanism, but it’s not necessary.  There’s enough of a market out there for people who want protection, who are sportsmen, who wants to go hunting with their kids.  And we can make it safer.

MR. COOPER:  I want to open this up to people in our audience.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

MR. COOPER:  People have traveled far.  I want you to meet Taya Kyle.  She’s the widow of Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL, author of “American Sniper.”  Taya wrote a book, “American Life: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal.”

Taya, we’re happy you’re here.  What do you want to ask the President?

Q    I appreciate you taking the time to come here.  And I think that your message of hope is something I agree with, and I think it’s great.  And I think that by creating new laws you do give people hope.  The thing is that the laws that we create don’t stop these horrific things from happening, right?  And that’s a very tough pill to swallow.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.

Q    We want to think that we can make a law and people will follow it.  But by the very nature of their crime, they’re not following it.  By the very nature of looking at the people who hurt our loved ones here, I don’t know that any of them would have been stopped by the background check.  And yet — I crave that desire for hope, too.  And so I think, part of it, we have to recognize that we cannot outlaw murder, because the people who are murdering are — they’re breaking the law, but they also don’t have a moral code that we have.  And so they could do the same amount of damage with a pipe bomb.  The problem is that they want to murder.

And I’m wondering why it wouldn’t be a better use of our time to give people hope in a different way, to say, you know what, we — well, first of all, actually, let me back up to that. Because with the laws, I know that at least the last I heard, the federal prosecution of gun crimes was like 40 percent.  And what I mean by that is that there are people lying on these forms already, and we’re not prosecuting them.  So there’s an issue there, right?  But instead, if we can give people hope and say that also during this time, while you’ve been President, we are at the lowest murder rate in our country — all-time low of murders.  We’re at an all-time high of gun ownership, right?  I’m not necessarily saying that the two are correlated, but what I’m saying is that we’re at an all-time low for a murder rate.  That’s a big deal.

And yet, I think most of us in this country feel like it could happen at any moment.  It could happen to any of us at any time, at a moment’s notice.  When you talk about the NRA, and after a mass shooting that gun sales go up, I would argue that it’s not necessarily that I think somebody is going to come take my gun from me, but I want the hope, and the hope that I have the right to protect myself, that I don’t end up to be one of these families; that I have the freedom to carry whatever weapon I feel I need, just like your wife said on that farm.  The sheriff is not going to get to my house, either.  And I understand that background checks aren’t necessarily going to stop me from getting a gun, but I also know that they wouldn’t have stopped any of the people here in this room from killing.  And so it seems like almost a false sense of hope.

So why not celebrate where we are?  I guess that’s my real question — is celebrate that we’re good people, and 99.9 percent of us are never going to kill anyone.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me make a couple of points.  First of all, thanks to your husband for his service, and thank you for your service, because of extraordinary heroism that he and your family have shown in protecting all of us.  And I’m very grateful for that.

Number two, what you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don’t celebrate enough.  The fact of the matter is, is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time.  And you wouldn’t always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago.

Now, I’d challenge the notion that the reason for that is because there’s more gun ownership, because if you look at where are the areas with the highest gun ownership, those are the places, in some cases, where the crime rate hasn’t dropped down that much.  And the places where there’s pretty stiff restrictions on gun ownership, in some of those places the crime has dropped really quickly.  So I’m not sure that there’s a one-to-one correlation there.

But I think the most important point I want to make is that you will be able to purchase a firearm.  Some criminals will get their hands on firearms even if there’s a background check.  Somebody may lie on a form.  Somebody will intend to commit a crime but they don’t have a record that shows up on the background check system.

But in the same way that we don’t eliminate all traffic accidents, but over the course of 20 years, traffic accidents get lower — there’s still tragedies, there’s still drunk drivers, there’s still people who don’t wear their seatbelts — but over time, that violence was reduced, and so families are spared.  That’s the same thing that we can do with gun ownership.

There is a way for us to set up a system where you, a responsible gun owner, who I’m assuming, given your husband and your family, is a much better marksman than I am, can have a firearm to protect yourself, but where it is much harder for somebody to fill up a car with guns and sell them to 13-year-old kids on the streets.  And that is I think what we’re trying to do.

What we’re also trying to do is make the database more effective — so that’s part of the proposal — which, by the way, will convenience you when you go to the store, because if we can set up a 24/7 background check system, then that means that it’s less likely that things slip through the cracks or it’s more difficult for you to get your background check completed.

And we’re also trying to close a loophole that has been developing over the last decade where now people are using cut-out trusts and shell corporations to purchase the most dangerous weapons — sawed-off shotguns, automatic weapons, silencers — and don’t have to go through background checks at all.  And we don’t know whether — are these sales going to drug traffickers? We don’t know who’s purchasing them right now.  And so what we’re saying is, you know what, that is something that we’ve got to do something about.

The same thing is true with Internet sales, where one study has shown that one out of 30 persons who are purchasing weapons over the Internet turn out to have a felony record.  And that’s not something you want to see.

MR. COOPER:  I think one question a lot of people have about you is do you believe the fundamental notion that a good guy with a gun or a good woman with a gun is an important bulwark against a bad person with a gun?  And before you answer, I want you to meet Kimberly Corban.  Kimberly was a college student in Colorado in 2006 — Kimberly is right over there.  She was raped by a man who broke into her apartment.  She testified for three hours in the trial against him.  Her attacker was sentenced to 24-years-to-life in prison.  And I know that attack, Kimberly, changed your view of handguns.  What’s your question for the President?

Q    Absolutely.  As a survivor of rape and now a mother to two small children, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing, and being able to carry that wherever me and my family are, it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point.  I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids.  So why can’t your administration see that these restrictions that you’re putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Kimberly, first of all, obviously, your story is horrific.  The strength you’ve shown in telling your story and being here tonight is remarkable.  And so I’m really proud of you for that.

I just want to repeat that there’s nothing that we’ve proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm. And now, you may be referring to issues like concealed carry, but those tend to be state-by-state decisions, and we’re not making any proposals with respect to what states are doing.  They can make their own decisions there.  So there really is no — nothing that we’re proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.

There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence.  And I’m not sure we can resolve that.  People argue it both sides.  What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise.  And what is also true is there’s always the possibility that that firearm in a home leads to a tragic accident.  We can debate that, round or flat.

But for now, what I just want to focus on is that you certainly would like to make it a little harder for that assailant to have also had a gun.  You certainly would want to make sure that if he gets released, that he now can’t do what he did to you to somebody else.  And it’s going to be easier for us to prevent him from getting a gun if there’s a strong background system in place — background check system in place.

And so if you look at the statistics, there’s no doubt that there are times where somebody who has a weapon has been able to protect themselves and scare off an intruder or an assailant.  But what is more often the case is that they may not have been able to protect themselves but they end up the victim of the weapon that they purchased themselves.  And that’s something that can be debated.  In the meantime, all I’m focused on is making sure that a terrible crime like yours that was committed is not made easier because somebody can go on the Internet and just buy whatever weapon they want without us finding out whether they’re a criminal or not.

MR. COOPER:  Kimberly, thank you for being here.  I appreciate it.

You talked about Chicago, and there’s a lot of folks from Chicago here tonight.  I want you to meet — or I want everybody to meet, because I know you’ve met her before, Cleo Pendleton.  She’s sitting over there.  And I should point out — I think I said it earlier — 55 shootings in Chicago in just the past seven days.  Cleo Pendleton, her daughter, Hadiya, performed at your second inauguration.  She was shot to death a little more than a week later.  She was 15 years old.  She was an honor student, a majorette.  And you being here tonight honors her, so thank you very much for being here.  What’s your question to the President?

Q    Well, I want to say thank you, first of all, for making it more difficult for guns to get in the hands of those that shouldn’t have them.  Thank you for the action you took on Tuesday.  But I want to ask a question — how can we stop the trafficking of guns from states with looser gun laws into states with tougher gun laws?  Because I believe that’s the case often in Chicago, and possibly the source of the gun that shot and murdered my daughter.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, it’s great to see you again.  And part of the reason that we do this is because when you meet parents of wonderful young people and they tell their stories, at least for me, I think of Malia and I think of Sasha and I think of my nieces and I think of my nephews.  And the pain that any of us go through with a loss like that is extraordinary. And I couldn’t be prouder of the families who are here representing both sides but who’ve been affected in those ways.

If we are able to set up a strong background check system — and my proposal, by the way, includes hiring — having the FBI hire a couple hundred more people to help process background checks, because they’re big numbers, you’re talking about 20 million checks that are getting done every year — hiring 200,000 — or 200 more ATF agents to be able to go after unscrupulous gun dealers, then that will apply across the country.

And so, some states may have laws that allow for conceal-and -carry; some states may not.  There’s still going to be differences.  But what will at least be consistent across the country is that it’s a little bit harder to get a gun.

Now, we can’t guarantee that criminals are not going to have ways of getting guns.  But, for example, it may be a little more difficult and a little more expensive, and the laws of supply and demand mean that if something is harder to get and it’s a little more expensive to get, then fewer people get them.  And that, in and of itself, could make a difference.

So if somebody is a straw purchaser — and what that means is they don’t intend the guns for themselves, they intend to resell them to somebody else — they go to a gun show in Indiana, where right now they don’t have to do a background check, load up a van, and open up that van and sell them to kids in gangs in Chicago — if now that person has to go through a background check, they’ve got to register, ATF has the capacity then to find out if and when a gun is used in a crime in Chicago where that gun had come from.  And now you know here’s somebody who seems to be willing to sell a gun to a 15-year-old who had a known record.

MR. COOPER:  But you’re only going to be asking people to get a license and do background checks if they give out business cards, if they’re selling weapons that are in the original packaging.  Somebody just walking around a gun show selling a weapon is not necessarily going to have to register.

THE PRESIDENT:  No — look, there’s going to be a case-by-case evaluation:  Are they on an ongoing basis making a profit and are they repeatedly selling firearms.

MR. COOPER:  I want you to meet Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona.  He’s a Republican running for Congress.  After the recent terror attacks, Sheriff, I know you’ve been telling citizens to arm themselves to protect their families.  What’s your question to the President?

Q    Well, first, deputies’ slow response time has been mentioned a couple times.  I want to be clear that my deputies have a very fast emergency response —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sure that’s true.

Q    Yes.  Mr. President, you’ve said you’ve been thwarted by — frustrated by Congress.  As a sheriff, I oftentimes get frustrated.  But I don’t make the laws and I’ve sworn an oath to enforce the law, to uphold the Constitution, the same oath you’ve taken.  And the talk and why we’re here is all these mass shootings, and yet you’ve said in your executive action it wouldn’t have solved even one of these or the terrorist attack —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say that it wouldn’t solve one.

Q    Well, looking at the information, what would it have solved?  Now, knowing —

MR. COOPER:  None of the recent mass shootings, I should point out, none of the guns were purchased from an unlicensed dealer.

Q    Correct.  And that’s what I’m speaking to — the executive action that you mentioned earlier.  Aspirin, toys, or cars, they’re not written about in the Constitution.  I want to know — and I think all of us really want to get to the solution, and you said don’t talk past each other — what would you have done to prevent these mass shootings and the terrorist attack?  And how do we get those with mental illness and criminals — that’s the real problem here — how are we going to get them to follow the laws?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, appreciate your service.  Good luck on your race.  You sure you want to go to Congress?

Q    I don’t want to talk about —

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  I’m sure that’s true.  That will hurt you.  And I’m sure it’s a Republican district.  (Laughter.)

Look, crime is always going to be with us.  So I think it’s really important for us not to suggest that if we can’t solve every crime, we shouldn’t try to solve any crimes.  (Applause.)

And the problem when we talk about that guns don’t kill people; people kill people, or it’s primarily a mental health problem, or it’s a criminal and evil problem and that’s what we have to get at — all of us are interested in fighting crime.  I’m very proud of the fact that violent crime rates have continued to go down during the course of my presidency.  I’ve got an Attorney General, an FBI that works very closely with local law enforcement in busting up crime rings all the time.  That’s a huge priority to us.  And we’re probably providing grants to your department to help go after criminals.

The challenge we have is that in many instances, you don’t know ahead of time who’s going to be the criminal.  It’s not as if criminals walk around with a label saying, “I’m a criminal.”  And, by the way, the young man who killed those kids in Newtown, he didn’t have a criminal record, and so we didn’t know ahead of time, necessarily, that he was going to do something like that. But he was able to have access to an arsenal that allowed him in very short order to kill an entire classroom of small children.  And so the question then becomes, are there ways for us — since we can’t identify that person all the time, are there ways for us to make it less lethal when something like that happens?

And I mentioned this during my speech at the White House a couple of days ago.  Right around the time of Newtown, in China, a guy who was obviously similarly deranged had a knife and started attacking a bunch of schoolchildren.  About the same number were cut or stabbed by this guy.  But most of them survived.  And the reason was because he wasn’t yielding a semi-automatic.

So the main point I think that I want to make here is that everybody here is in favor of going after criminals, locking them up, making sure that we’re creating an environment where kids don’t turn into criminals and providing the support that they need.  Those are all important things.  Nobody is saying we need to be going soft on criminals.

What we do have to make sure of is that we don’t make it so easy for them to have access to deadly weapons.  In neighborhoods like Chicago — I keep on using Chicago — this is all across the country.  You go into any neighborhood, it used to be that parents would see some kids messing around on the corner and they’d say, “Yo” — even if they weren’t the parent of those children — “go back inside, stop doing that.”  And over time, it was a lot harder to discipline somebody else’s kid and have the community maintain order, or talk to police officers if somebody is doing something wrong, because now somebody is worried about getting shot.

And if we can create an environment that’s just a little bit safer in those communities, that will help.  And if it doesn’t infringe on your Second Amendment rights, and it doesn’t infringe on your Second Amendment rights, and you’re still able to get a firearm for your protection, why wouldn’t we want to do that?

MR. COOPER:  We’ve got to take a break.  (Applause.)  We’re going to take a quick break.  Our live town hall conversation, “Guns in America,” with President Barack Obama continues right after this.

* * * *

MR. COOPER:  And welcome back.  We’re live at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, continuing our live town hall conversation with President Barack Obama, “Guns In America,” talking to voices from all sides of the issue, including the President.

You made your announcement just the other day in a very obviously emotional ceremony at the White House.  And I want to play just a moment from it for those who haven’t seen it.

(Video is shown.)

I think a lot of people were surprised by that moment.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was, too, actually.  I visited Newtown two days after what happened, so it was still very raw.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Secret Service cry on duty.  And it wasn’t just the parents.  You had siblings — 10-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 3-year-olds, who, in some cases, didn’t even understand that their brother or sister weren’t going to be coming home.  And I’ve said this before — it continues to haunt me.  It was one of the worst days of my presidency.

But, look, I want to emphasize that there are a lot of tragedies that happen out there as a consequence of the victims of crime.  There are police officers who are out there laying down their lives to protect us every single day.  And tears are appropriate for them, as well, and I visit with those families, as well — victims of terrorism, soldiers coming home.

There’s a lot of heartache out there.  And I don’t suggest that this is the only kind of heartache we should be working on. I spent a lot of time and a lot of hours — in fact, a lot more hours than I spend on this — trying to prevent terrorist attacks.  I spend a lot of time and a lot of hours trying to make sure that we’re continuing to reduce our crime rate.

There are a whole bunch of other answers that are just as important when it comes to making sure that the streets of places like Chicago and Baltimore are safer.  Making sure kids get a good early childhood education.  Making sure that we’re teaching conflict resolution that doesn’t involve violence.  Making sure that faith communities are able to reach out to young people and intervene in timely ways.

So this is not a recipe for solving every problem.  Again, I just want to emphasize that the goal here is just to make progress.  And it’s interesting, as I enter into my last year as President, I could not be prouder of the work that we’ve done. But it also makes you really humble, because you realize that change takes a long time and a lot of the work you do is just to incrementally make things better so that, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, the crime rate has gone down.

That’s not just because of my administration.  That’s the groundwork that was laid by a bunch of good work by law enforcement and others for years, across administrations, on a bipartisan basis.

The same is true with traffic safety.  The same is true with advances in medicine.  The same can be true with this if we stop exaggerating or mischaracterizing the positions of either side and we just come up with some sensible areas that people agree with.  Background checks are an example:  The majority of gun owners agree with this.

MR. COOPER:  You talk about faith communities.  Father Michael Pfleger is here.  I know you know him well.  He’s a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago.  For those who don’t know, his church is St. Sabina on the South Side of Chicago.  I was there about a month ago.  It was a great honor to be there.

Father, you’ve given a lot of eulogies for a lot of kids in your community.  Far too many over the 40 years that you have been there.  What your question for the President?

Q    Mr. President, first of all, thank you for your courage and your passion, and keep pushing.  I happen to be from one of those cities where violence is not going down.  Not only, as Anderson mentioned, the 55 shot, there’s been 11 killed in seven days in Chicago.  And one of the main reasons for that is the easy access to guns.  It’s easier to get a gun in my neighborhood than it is a computer.  And the reality is, is because many of those guns have been bought legally.  And I understand why people are pushing against you, because I understand it’s a business and it’s about a business, and so if we cut back the easy access to guns, less money for gun manufacturers, less money for the gun lobby.  I understand the business of it.  But that business is causing blood and the kids that are dying in Chicago.  And for many years, nobody even cared about Chicago because the violence is primarily black and brown.

The reality is that I don’t understand why we can’t title guns just like cars.  If I have a car and I give it to you, Mr. President, and I don’t transfer a title and you’re in an accident, it’s on me.  We don’t take cars away by putting titles on them.  Why can’t we do that with guns and every gun in America?  So if somebody who’s buying 200 guns, selling them on the streets, if they can’t transfer those titles, then they’re going to be held responsible for the guns that they sell.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Father Mike, first of all, for those of you who don’t know him, has been working since before I moved to Chicago, and I was a 23-year-old when I first met him.  And somehow I aged and he didn’t.  (Laughter.)

MR. COOPER:  Your gray hair is not going back, I can tell you from experience.

THE PRESIDENT:  He was always the best-looking priest in Chicago.  (Laughter.)  But Father Pfleger has done heroic work at St. Sabina Parish.

Issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it.  And part of it is, is people’s concern that that becomes a prelude to taking people’s guns away.  I mean, part of the challenge in this is that the gun debate gets wrapped up in broader debates about whether the federal government is oppressive.  And there are conspiracy theories floating around the Internet these days all the time.  We did a military exercise in Texas, and a whole bunch of folks were sure that this was the start of martial law, and were suggesting maybe don’t cooperate with the United States Army in an effort to prepare so that if they get deployed overseas, they can handle it.  But that’s how difficult sometimes these debates are.

But I want to pick up on some things where I think there should be consensus.  One of those areas that I talked about at the speech, part of the proposal is developing smart gun technology.  Now, this is an interesting example.  I don’t exactly understand this, and maybe there will be somebody in the audience who explains it to me.  Back in 1997, the CEO of Colt said we can design, or are starting to develop guns where you can only use it if you’ve got a chip, where you wear a band or a bracelet, and that then protects your 2-year-old or 3-year-old from picking up the gun and using it.  And a boycott was called against him, and they had to back off of developing that technology.  The same with Smith & Wesson.  They were in the process of developing similar technology, and they were attacked by the NRA as “surrendering.”

Now, to me, this does not make sense.  If you are a gun owner, I would think that you would at least want a choice so that if you wanted to purchase a firearm that could only be used by you — in part to avoid accidents in your home, in part to make sure that if it’s stolen, it’s not used by a criminal, in part, if there’s an intruder, you pull the gun but somehow it gets wrested away from you, that gun can’t be turned on you and used on you — I would think there might be a market for that.  You could sell that gun.

Now, I’m not saying that necessarily would be the only gun that’s available, but it seems to me that that would be something that in any other area, in any other product, any other commercial venture, there would be some research and development on that because that’s a promising technology.

It has not been developed primarily because it’s been blocked by either the NRA, which is funded by gun manufacturers, or other reasons.  In part, what we proposed was, you know what, we’re going to do some of the research.  We’ll work with the private sector.  (Applause.)  We’ll figure out whether or not this technology can be developed — (applause) — and then give everybody a choice in terms of the kind of firearm that they want to purchase — because I think that there will, in fact, be a market for that.  And over time, that’s an example of how we could reduce some of the preventable gun deaths that are out there.

MR. COOPER:  I want to bring in somebody who actually knows a lot about selling guns.  I want you to meet Kris Jacob.  He’s vice president of the American Firearms Retailers Association.  He’s the owner of the Bullseye Indoor Shooting Range and gun store in San Rafael, California.  Kris, it’s great to have you here.  First of all, how is business under President Obama?  Because everything I read says gun sales have been going up.  Every time he talks about guns, gun sales go up.

Q    It’s been busy.  And certainly I think that shows, as Taya said earlier, that there’s a very serious concern in this country about personal security.  And the sheriff is right — they do everything they possibly can to make sure they get there as quickly as they possibly can.  And my question is actually focused around law enforcement, as well.  There’s 53,000 licensed gun dealers in the United States who stand behind the counter and say no to people all day.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure that people who have a criminal past, people who are mentally ill or are having a bad day don’t get possession of firearms.  So we assist law enforcement all the time in the process of making sure that those things don’t change hands inside our commercial market if they shouldn’t.  It’s a very serious responsibility for us, and as a group, we take it very seriously.

My question is around the executive order related to the investigators, the inspectors, the adding of 200 inspectors who are more on the auditing and record-keeping side.  Why not add 200 ATF agents on the law enforcement side to keep the criminals and the bad guys out of the stores in the first place?  I mean, the problem seems to me to be — you mentioned dealers who are less responsible than others, and certainly it’s possible that those folks are out there, but if we can enforce the laws that already exist, the tens of thousands of gun laws that are on the books right now, it might create a very significant deterrent in just getting those people in the stores.

MR. COOPER:  Let me also point out the number of ATF agents during your administration has actually declined.  So even if you hired 200 more —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, but not because of my budget.

MR. COOPER:  But even if you hired 200 more, it will get it to what it was right before you took office.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  Well, look, first of all, there are a whole bunch of responsible gun dealers out there.  And my hope would be that those gun dealers would support making sure that everybody is following the same rules that they are.  That’s number one.

Number two is we’re not writing a new law.  Only Congress can do that.  This is about enforcing existing laws, and closing what has grown into a massive loophole where a huge percentage of guns — many of whom end up being traced to crime — are not going through the responsible gun dealers, but are going through irresponsible folks who are not registered as doing business.  And the whole goal here is to clarify and to put on notice that if you’re a business, even if you don’t have bricks and mortar, then you’re supposed to register, you’re supposed to conduct background checks.  So the issue is not where you do it, it’s what you’re doing.  And that should not be something that threatens responsible gun dealers across the country.

In terms of the ATF, it is absolutely true that the ATF budget has been shrank because — has been shrunk — it’s a little late — (laughter) — you knew what I meant — (laughter) — and part of it is because the politicizing of this issue.  So many in the Republican Congress feel as if the ATF is not their friend, but their enemy.  Part of the story I was telling —

MR. COOPER:  You said this issue should be politicized, though.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, but what I mean by that, Anderson, is, is that they have been portrayed as trying to take people’s guns away as opposed to trying to make sure that the laws are enforced.  And one of the most frustrating things that I hear is when people say — who are opposed to any further laws — why don’t you just enforce the laws that are on the books, and those very same members of Congress then cut ATF budgets to make it impossible to enforce the law.  (Applause.)

And by the way, the ATF is a law enforcement agency working under the FBI that is doing enormous work in going after criminals and drug cartels, and have a pretty dangerous job.  So it’s not as if doing background checks or auditing gun sales is all that they’re doing.

Part of my proposal is also developing better technologies so that we can do tracing of shells when a crime is committed in order to figure out who exactly are the perpetrators of the crime and where did they obtain the weapon.  So there’s a whole bunch of other elements to this that are going to be important.  But my hope is, is that responsible gun dealers like yourself and your organization are going to be supportive of this proposal, because it should actually help push away unscrupulous dealers and that means more customers for you guys.

MR. COOPER:  I want to bring in Mark Kelly.  As you know, a former astronaut, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who we’re proud to say is here tonight.  Five years ago this week in Tucson, Arizona, Congresswoman Giffords was shot.  Six others were killed.  Captain, your question?

Q    Well, thank you for being here, Mr. President.  As you know, Gabby and I are both gun owners.  We take gun ownership very seriously and really think about the voices of responsible gun owners in this debate.  But I want to follow up to something Father Pfleger said and your answer to his question, and it’s about expanded background checks.  Often, what you hear in the debate of expanding background checks to more gun sales — and, as you know, Gabby and I are 100 percent behind the concept of somebody getting a background check before buying a gun — but when we testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, we heard not only from the gun lobby but from United States senators that expanding background checks will — not may — will lead to a registry, which will lead to confiscation, which will lead to a tyrannical government.

So I would like you to explain, with 350 million guns in 65 million places, households, from Key West to Alaska — 350 million objects in 65 million places — if the federal government wanted to confiscate those objects, how would they do that?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, first of all, every time I see Gabby, I’m just so thrilled because I visited her in the hospital, and, as I mentioned I think in the speech in the White House, as we left the hospital then to go to a memorial service, we got word that Gabby had opened her eyes for the first time.  And we did not think that she was going to be here, and she is.  And Mark has just been extraordinary.  And, by the way, Mark’s twin brother is up in space right now and is breaking the record for the longest continuous orbiting of the planet, which is pretty impressive stuff.

What I think Mark is alluding to is what I said earlier — this notion of a conspiracy out there, and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government.  Now, there’s a long history of that.  That’s in our DNA.  The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority.

MR. COOPER:  But let me just jump in — is it fair to call it a conspiracy?  I mean, there’s a lot of people who really believe this deeply — that they just don’t trust you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, Cooper, yes it is fair to call it a conspiracy.  What are you saying?  (Applause.)  Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody’s guns away so that we can impose martial law —

MR. COOPER:  Not everybody, but there is certainly a lot of people —

THE PRESIDENT:  — is a conspiracy?  Yes, that is a conspiracy.  I would hope that you would agree with that.  (Applause.)  Is that controversial except on some websites around the country?

MR. COOPER:  There are certainly a lot of people who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to get — go further and further and further down this road.

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, I mean, I’m only going to be here for another year.  I don’t know — when would I have started on this enterprise, right?  (Laughter.)

I come from the state of Illinois, which — we’ve been talking about Chicago, but downstate Illinois is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago.  And everybody hunts down there and a lot of folks own guns.  And so this is not, like, alien territory to me.  I’ve got a lot of friends like Mark who are hunters.  I just came back from Alaska, where I ate a moose that had just been shot — and it was pretty good.

So, yes, it is a false notion that I believe is circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together among people of goodwill to develop common-sense rules that will make us safer while preserving the Second Amendment.

And the notion that we can’t agree on some things while not agreeing on others and the reason for that is because, well, the President secretly wants to X would mean that we’d be paralyzed about doing everything.  I mean, maybe when I proposed to make sure that unsafe drugs are taken off the market that, secretly, I’m trying to control the entire drug industry, or take people’s drugs away.  But probably not.  What’s more likely is I just want to make sure that people are not dying by taking bad drugs.

MR. COOPER:  You wrote an op-ed that just got published.  A lot of people probably have not read it yet.  One of the things you say in it is that you are not going to campaign for, vote for any candidate, regardless of what party they’re in, if they do not support common-sense gun reform.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  I meant what I said.  And the reason I said that is this.  The majority of people in this country are a lot more sensible than what you see in Washington, and the reason that Washington doesn’t work well in part is because the loudest, shrillest voices, the least compromising, the most powerful or those with the most money have the most influence.

And the way Washington changes is when people vote.  And the way we break the deadlock on this issue is when Congress does not have just a stranglehold on this debate — or, excuse me — the NRA does not have a stranglehold on Congress in this debate — (applause) — but it is balanced by a whole bunch of folks — gun owners, law enforcement, the majority of the American people — when their voices are heard, then things get done.

The proposals that we’ve put forward are a version — a lawful, more narrow version — of what was proposed by Joe Manchin and Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican and a Democrat, both of whom get straight-A scores from the NRA.  And somehow, after Newtown, that did not pass the Senate.  The majority of senators wanted it, but 90 percent of Republicans voted against it.  And I’ll be honest with you, 90 percent of those senators didn’t disagree with the proposal, but they were fearful that it was going to affect them during the election.

So all I’m saying is, is that this debate will not change and get balanced out so that lawful gun owners and their Second Amendment rights are protected, but we’re also creating a pathway towards a safer set of communities — it’s not going to change until those who are concerned about violence are not as focused and disciplined during election time as those who are.  And I’m going to throw my shoulders behind folks who want to actually solve problems instead of just getting a high score from an interest group.  (Applause.)

MR. COOPER:  We have time for one more question.  And we talked about Chicago a little bit.  We haven’t really heard from young people tonight — no offense to those who have spoken.  (Laughter.)  I’m in the same category as you all.  Sorry, Father.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re a kid.

MR. COOPER:  There’s a lot of kids, as you know, growing up in Chicago, fearful of walking to school, fearful of coming home from school.  A lot of kids have been killed on buses.  There’s a lot of moms of kids who have been killed in the streets of Chicago.  And I want you to meet Trey Bosley.  He’s 18 years old. He’s a high school student.  And his brother Terrell was shot and killed nearly 10 years ago while he was helping a friend in a church parking lot.  Terrell would have turned 28 years old on this Tuesday.  What’s your question, Trey?

Q    As you said, I lost my brother a few years ago — well, 10 years ago.  And I’ve also lost a countless amount of family members and friends to gun violence, as well.  And just growing up as a young black teen in Chicago, where you’re surrounded by not only just gun violence but police brutality, as well, most of aren’t thinking of our life on a long-term scale.  Most of us are either thinking day to day, hour to hour — for some, even minute to minute.  I want to thank you for your stand against gun violence for not only the victims of gun violence, but those on the verge of being victims of gun violence.  And my question to you is, what is your advice to those youth growing up surrounded by poverty and gun violence?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, Trey, I couldn’t be prouder of you.  And I know — is that your momma next to you?  I know she’s proud of you right now.  So good job, Mom.

When I see you, Terrell, I think I about my own —

MR. COOPER:  Trey.

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me — Trey.  When I see you, I think about my own youth, because I wasn’t that different from you.  Probably not as articulate and maybe more of a goof-off.  But the main difference was I lived in a more forgiving environment.  If I screwed up, I wasn’t at risk of getting shot.  I’d get a second chance.  There were a bunch of folks who were looking out for me, and there weren’t a lot of guns on the streets.  And that’s how all kids should be growing up, wherever they live.

My advice to you is to continue to be an outstanding role model for the young ones who are coming up behind you.  Keep listening to your mom.  Work hard and get an education.  Understand that high school and whatever peer pressure or restrictions you’re under right now won’t matter by the time you’re a full adult, and what matters is your future.  But what I also want to say to you is, is that you’re really important to the future of this country.

And I think it is critical in this debate to understand that it’s not just inner-city kids who are at risk in these situations.  Out of the 30,000 deaths due to gun violence, about two-thirds of them are actually suicides.  That’s part of the reason why we are investing more heavily also in mental health under my proposal.

But while the majority of victims of gun homicide are black or Hispanic, the overwhelming majority of suicides by young people are white.  And those, too, are tragedies.  Those, too, are preventable.  I’m the father of two outstanding young women, but being a teenager is tough.  And we all remember the times where you get confused, you’re angry, and then the next thing you know, if you have access to a firearm what kind of bad decisions you might make.  So those are deaths we also want to prevent.

Accidental shootings are also deaths we want to prevent.  And we’re not going to prevent all of them.  But we can do better.  We’re not going to, through this initiative alone, solve all the problems of inner-city crime.  Some of that, as I said, has to do with investing in these communities and making sure there’s good education and jobs and opportunity — (applause) — and great parents, and moral responsibility, and ethical behavior, and instilling that in our kids — that’s going to be important.

So this is not a proposal to solve every problem.  It’s a modest way of us getting started on improving the prospects of young men and young women like you, the same way we try to improve every other aspect of our lives.  That’s all it is.

And if we get started — as I said before, it used to be people didn’t wear seatbelts, didn’t have airbags.  It takes 20, 30 years, but you look and then you realize all these amazing lives of young people like this who are contributing to our society because we came together in a practical way, looking at evidence, looking at data, and figured out how can we make that work better.

Right now, Congress prohibits us even studying through the Center for Disease Control ways in which we could reduce gun violence.  That’s how crazy this thing has become.  Let’s at least figure out what works.  And some of the proposals that I’m making may turn out are not as effective as others.  But at least let’s figure it out, let’s try some things.  Let’s not just assume that — every few weeks there’s a mass shooting that gets publicity, every few months there’s one that gets national publicity, every day there are a whole bunch of folks shot on streets around the country that we don’t even hear about.  That is not something that we can be satisfied with.

And part of my faith and hope in America is just that — not that we achieve a perfect union, but that we get better.  And we can do better than we’re doing right now if we come together.  (Applause.)

Thank you.

MR. COOPER:  Mr. President, thank you very much for your time.

THE PRESIDENT:  Appreciate it very much.

                             END           9:13 P.M. EST

History Buzz January 6, 2016: American Historical Association 2016 Annual Meeting Program

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

2016 Annual Meeting

Locations and Hours

 AHA Headquarters/Staff Office and Information Desk

Hilton Atlanta, Salon West

 January 7, 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
January 8, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 8:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Registration

Hilton Atlanta, Salon West

 January 7, 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
January 8, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall

Hilton Atlanta, Galleria Exhibit Hall

January 8, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Job Center

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Marquis Ballroom

January 7, 12:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 8, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
 Internet Center

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Marquis Ballroom

January 7, 12:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 8, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
 AHA Information Desk at the  Marriott

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Imperial Foyer

January 7, 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 8, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 8:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
 Quiet Room

Hilton Atlanta, Room 207
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Room M 108

January 7, 12:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 8, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Nursing Mothers’ Room

Hilton Atlanta, Room 308

January 7, 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
January 8, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 9, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
January 10, 8:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

Full Text Political Transcripts January 5, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Statement Announcing Gun Control Executive Actions

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform

Source: WH, 1-5-16

East Room

11:43 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.

Mark, I want to thank you for your introduction.  I still remember the first time we met, the time we spent together, and the conversation we had about Daniel.  And that changed me that day.  And my hope, earnestly, has been that it would change the country.

Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.  It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last.  Fort Hood.  Binghamton.  Aurora.  Oak Creek.  Newtown.  The Navy Yard.  Santa Barbara.  Charleston.  San Bernardino.  Too many.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Too many.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Too many.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Too many.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks to a great medical team and the love of her husband, Mark, my dear friend and colleague, Gabby Giffords, survived.  She’s here with us today, with her wonderful mom.  (Applause.)  Thanks to a great medical team, her wonderful husband, Mark — who, by the way, the last time I met with Mark  — this is just a small aside — you may know Mark’s twin brother is in outer space.  (Laughter.)  He came to the office, and I said, how often are you talking to him?  And he says, well, I usually talk to him every day, but the call was coming in right before the meeting so I think I may have not answered his call — (laughter) — which made me feel kind of bad.  (Laughter.)    That’s a long-distance call.  (Laughter.)  So I told him if his brother, Scott, is calling today, that he should take it.  (Laughter.)  Turn the ringer on.  (Laughter.)

I was there with Gabby when she was still in the hospital, and we didn’t think necessarily at that point that she was going to survive.  And that visit right before a memorial — about an hour later Gabby first opened her eyes.  And I remember talking to mom about that.  But I know the pain that she and her family have endured these past five years, and the rehabilitation and the work and the effort to recover from shattering injuries.

And then I think of all the Americans who aren’t as fortunate.  Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns — 30,000.  Suicides.  Domestic violence.  Gang shootouts.  Accidents.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children.  Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learned to live without the love of their life.

A number of those people are here today.  They can tell you some stories.  In this room right here, there are a lot of stories.  There’s a lot of heartache.  There’s a lot of resilience, there’s a lot of strength, but there’s also a lot of pain.  And this is just a small sample.

The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people.  We are not inherently more prone to violence.  But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency.  It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries.  It’s not even close.  And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.

And instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates — despite the fact that there’s a general consensus in America about what needs to be done.  That’s part of the reason why, on Thursday, I’m going to hold a town hall meeting in Virginia on gun violence.  Because my goal here is to bring good people on both sides of this issue together for an open discussion.

I’m not on the ballot again.  I’m not looking to score some points.  I think we can disagree without impugning other people’s motives or without being disagreeable.  We don’t need to be talking past one another.  But we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it.  In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the “fierce urgency of now.”  Because people are dying.  And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice.

That’s why we’re here today.  Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.  (Applause.)  To prove that the vast majority of Americans, even if our voices aren’t always the loudest or most extreme, care enough about a little boy like Daniel to come together and take common-sense steps to save lives and protect more of our children.

Now, I want to be absolutely clear at the start — and I’ve said this over and over again, this also becomes routine, there is a ritual about this whole thing that I have to do — I believe in the Second Amendment.  It’s there written on the paper.  It guarantees a right to bear arms.  No matter how many times people try to twist my words around — I taught constitutional law, I know a little about this — (applause) — I get it.  But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.

I mean, think about it.  We all believe in the First Amendment, the guarantee of free speech, but we accept that you can’t yell “fire” in a theater.  We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people.  We cherish our right to privacy, but we accept that you have to go through metal detectors before being allowed to board a plane. It’s not because people like doing that, but we understand that that’s part of the price of living in a civilized society.

And what’s often ignored in this debate is that a majority of gun owners actually agree.  A majority of gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking feud from inflicting harm on a massive scale.

Today, background checks are required at gun stores.  If a father wants to teach his daughter how to hunt, he can walk into a gun store, get a background check, purchase his weapon safely and responsibly.  This is not seen as an infringement on the Second Amendment.  Contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents have suggested, this hasn’t been the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation.  Contrary to claims of some presidential candidates, apparently, before this meeting, this is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns.  You pass a background check; you purchase a firearm.

The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules.  A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked.  A recent study found that about one in 30 people looking to buy guns on one website had criminal records — one out of 30 had a criminal record.  We’re talking about individuals convicted of serious crimes — aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery, illegal gun possession.  People with lengthy criminal histories buying deadly weapons all too easily.  And this was just one website within the span of a few months.

So we’ve created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check.  That doesn’t make sense.  Everybody should have to abide by the same rules.  Most Americans and gun owners agree.  And that’s what we tried to change three years ago, after 26 Americans -– including 20 children -– were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Two United States Senators -– Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our Second Amendment rights, both with “A” grades from the NRA –- that’s hard to get  — worked together in good faith, consulting with folks like our Vice President, who has been a champion on this for a long time, to write a common-sense compromise bill that would have required virtually everyone who buys a gun to get a background check.  That was it.  Pretty common-sense stuff.  Ninety percent of Americans supported that idea.  Ninety percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea.  But it failed because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against that idea.

How did this become such a partisan issue?  Republican President George W. Bush once said, “I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”  Senator John McCain introduced a bipartisan measure to address the gun show loophole, saying, “We need this amendment because criminals and terrorists have exploited and are exploiting this very obvious loophole in our gun safety laws.”  Even the NRA used to support expanded background checks.  And by the way, most of its members still do.  Most Republican voters still do.

How did we get here?  How did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people’s guns?

Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying.  I reject that thinking.  (Applause.)  We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world.  But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.

Some of you may recall, at the same time that Sandy Hook happened, a disturbed person in China took a knife and tried to kill — with a knife — a bunch of children in China.  But most of them survived because he didn’t have access to a powerful weapon.  We maybe can’t save everybody, but we could save some.  Just as we don’t prevent all traffic accidents but we take steps to try to reduce traffic accidents.

As Ronald Reagan once said, if mandatory background checks could save more lives, “it would be well worth making it the law of the land.”  The bill before Congress three years ago met that test.  Unfortunately, too many senators failed theirs.  (Applause.)

In fact, we know that background checks make a difference.  After Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks and gun safety courses, gun deaths decreased by 40 percent — 40 percent.  (Applause.)  Meanwhile, since Missouri repealed a law requiring comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, gun deaths have increased to almost 50 percent higher than the national average.  One study found, unsurprisingly, that criminals in Missouri now have easier access to guns.

And the evidence tells us that in states that require background checks, law-abiding Americans don’t find it any harder to purchase guns whatsoever.  Their guns have not been confiscated.  Their rights have not been infringed.

And that’s just the information we have access to.  With more research, we could further improve gun safety.  Just as with more research, we’ve reduced traffic fatalities enormously over the last 30 years.  We do research when cars, food, medicine, even toys harm people so that we make them safer.  And you know what — research, science — those are good things.  They work.  (Laughter and applause.)  They do.

But think about this.  When it comes to an inherently deadly weapon — nobody argues that guns are potentially deadly — weapons that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year, Congress actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence; made it harder to collect data and facts and develop strategies to reduce gun violence.  Even after San Bernardino, they’ve refused to make it harder for terror suspects who can’t get on a plane to buy semi-automatic weapons.  That’s not right.  That can’t be right.

So the gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage.  (Applause.)  We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom.  (Applause.)

Now, I want to be clear.  Congress still needs to act.  The folks in this room will not rest until Congress does.  (Applause.)  Because once Congress gets on board with common-sense gun safety measures we can reduce gun violence a whole lot more.  But we also can’t wait.  Until we have a Congress that’s in line with the majority of Americans, there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives -– actions that protect our rights and our kids.

After Sandy Hook, Joe and I worked together with our teams and we put forward a whole series of executive actions to try to tighten up the existing rules and systems that we had in place.  But today, we want to take it a step further.  So let me outline what we’re going to be doing.

Number one, anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions.  (Applause.)  It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it over the Internet or at a gun show.  It’s not where you do it, but what you do.

We’re also expanding background checks to cover violent criminals who try to buy some of the most dangerous firearms by hiding behind trusts and corporations and various cutouts.

We’re also taking steps to make the background check system more efficient.  Under the guidance of Jim Comey and the FBI, our Deputy Director Tom Brandon at ATF, we’re going to hire more folks to process applications faster, and we’re going to bring an outdated background check system into the 21st century.  (Applause.)

And these steps will actually lead to a smoother process for law-abiding gun owners, a smoother process for responsible gun dealers, a stronger process for protecting the people from — the public from dangerous people.  So that’s number one.

Number two, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure the smart and effective enforcement of gun safety laws that are already on the books, which means we’re going to add 200 more ATF agents and investigators.  We’re going to require firearms dealers to report more lost or stolen guns on a timely basis. We’re working with advocates to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence, where too often — (applause) — where too often, people are not getting the protection that they need.

Number three, we’re going to do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help that they need.  (Applause.)  High-profile mass shootings tend to shine a light on those few mentally unstable people who inflict harm on others.  But the truth is, is that nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides.  So a lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves.

That’s why we made sure that the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — (laughter and applause) — that law made sure that treatment for mental health was covered the same as treatment for any other illness.  And that’s why we’re going to invest $500 million to expand access to treatment across the country.  (Applause.)

It’s also why we’re going to ensure that federal mental health records are submitted to the background check system, and remove barriers that prevent states from reporting relevant information.  If we can continue to de-stigmatize mental health issues, get folks proper care, and fill gaps in the background check system, then we can spare more families the pain of losing a loved one to suicide.

And for those in Congress who so often rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avoiding action on guns, here’s your chance to support these efforts.  Put your money where your mouth is.  (Applause.)

Number four, we’re going to boost gun safety technology.  Today, many gun injuries and deaths are the result of legal guns that were stolen or misused or discharged accidentally.  In 2013 alone, more than 500 people lost their lives to gun accidents –- and that includes 30 children younger than five years old.  In the greatest, most technologically advanced nation on Earth, there is no reason for this.  We need to develop new technologies that make guns safer.  If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?  (Applause.)  If there’s an app that can help us find a missing tablet — which happens to me often the older I get — (laughter) — if we can do it for your iPad, there’s no reason we can’t do it with a stolen gun.  If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can’t pull a trigger on a gun.  (Applause.)  Right?

So we’re going to advance research.  We’re going to work with the private sector to update firearms technology.

And some gun retailers are already stepping up by refusing to finalize a purchase without a complete background check, or by refraining from selling semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines.  And I hope that more retailers and more manufacturers join them — because they should care as much as anybody about a product that now kills almost as many Americans as car accidents.

I make this point because none of us can do this alone.  I think Mark made that point earlier.  All of us should be able to work together to find a balance that declares the rest of our rights are also important — Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well. And we have to be able to balance them.  Because our right to worship freely and safely –- that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina.  (Applause.)  And that was denied Jews in Kansas City.  And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek.  (Applause.)  They had rights, too.  (Applause.)

Our right to peaceful assembly -– that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette.  Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -– those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown.  First-graders.  And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad.  And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.  (Applause.)

So all of us need to demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.  All of us need to stand up and protect its citizens.  All of us need to demand governors and legislatures and businesses do their part to make our communities safer.  We need the wide majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens and feel like your views are not being properly represented to join with us to demand something better.  (Applause.)

And we need voters who want safer gun laws, and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way, to remember come election time.  (Applause.)

I mean, some of this is just simple math.  Yes, the gun lobby is loud and it is organized in defense of making it effortless for guns to be available for anybody, any time.  Well, you know what, the rest of us, we all have to be just as passionate.  We have to be just as organized in defense of our kids.  This is not that complicated.  The reason Congress blocks laws is because they want to win elections.  And if you make it hard for them to win an election if they block those laws, they’ll change course, I promise you.  (Applause.)

And, yes, it will be hard, and it won’t happen overnight.  It won’t happen during this Congress.  It won’t happen during my presidency.  But a lot of things don’t happen overnight.  A woman’s right to vote didn’t happen overnight.  The liberation of African Americans didn’t happen overnight.  LGBT rights — that was decades’ worth of work.  So just because it’s hard, that’s no excuse not to try.

And if you have any doubt as to why you should feel that “fierce urgency of now,” think about what happened three weeks ago.  Zaevion Dobson was a sophomore at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He played football; beloved by his classmates and his teachers.  His own mayor called him one of their city’s success stories.  The week before Christmas, he headed to a friend’s house to play video games.  He wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He hadn’t made a bad decision.  He was exactly where any other kid would be.  Your kid.  My kids. And then gunmen started firing.  And Zaevion — who was in high school, hadn’t even gotten started in life — dove on top of three girls to shield them from the bullets.  And he was shot in the head.  And the girls were spared.  He gave his life to save theirs –- an act of heroism a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old.  “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

We are not asked to do what Zaevion Dobson did.  We’re not asked to have shoulders that big; a heart that strong; reactions that quick.  I’m not asking people to have that same level of courage, or sacrifice, or love.  But if we love our kids and care about their prospects, and if we love this country and care about its future, then we can find the courage to vote.  We can find the courage to get mobilized and organized.  We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do.

That’s what we’re doing today.  And tomorrow, we should do more.  And we should do more the day after that.  And if we do, we’ll leave behind a nation that’s stronger than the one we inherited and worthy of the sacrifice of a young man like Zaevion.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  Thank you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END

12:20 P.M. EST

 

Full Text Political Transcripts January 4, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Recommendations on Gun Safety

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Recommendations on Gun Safety

 

Source: WH, 1-4-16

Oval Office

2:42 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy New Year, everybody.  Before the New Year, I mentioned that I had given the charge to my Attorney General, FBI Director, Deputy Director at the ATF, and personnel at my White House to work together to see what more we could do to prevent a scourge of gun violence in this country.

I think everybody here is all too familiar with the statistics.  We have tens of thousands of people every single year who are killed by guns.  We have suicides that are committed by firearms at a rate that far exceeds other countries.  We have a frequency of mass shootings that far exceeds other countries in frequency.

And although it is my strong belief that for us to get our complete arm around the problem Congress needs to act, what I asked my team to do is to see what more we could do to strengthen our enforcement and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands to make sure that criminals, people who are mentally unstable, those who could pose a danger to themselves or others are less likely to get them.

And I’ve just received back a report from Attorney General Lynch, Director Comey, as well as Deputy Director Brandon about some of the ideas and initiatives that they think can make a difference.  And the good news is, is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they’re also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe.

So over the next several days, we’ll be rolling out these initiatives.  We’ll be making sure that people have a very clear understanding of what can make a difference and what we can do.  And although we have to be very clear that this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, it’s not going to prevent every mass shooting, it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal, it will potentially save lives and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they’ve suffered as a consequence of a firearm getting in the hands of the wrong people.

I’m also confident that the recommendations that are being made by my team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms.  And we’ve been very careful recognizing that, although we have a strong tradition of gun ownership in this country, that even though it’s who possess firearms for hunting, for self-protection, and for other legitimate reasons, I want to make sure that the wrong people don’t have them for the wrong reasons.

So I want to say how much I appreciate the outstanding work that the team has done.  Many of you worked over the holidays to get this set of recommendations to me.  And I’m looking forward to speaking to the American people over the next several days in more detail about it.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END

2:46 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 23, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Persecuted Christians at Christmas

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on Persecuted Christians at Christmas

Source: WH, 12-23-15

During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing.  Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution.

In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL.

We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations.  As the old Christmas carol reminds us:

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 19, 2015: Third Democratic Debate in New Hampshire Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Third Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

Source: Time, 12-19-15

Three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination met to debate for the third time Saturday night.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley debated at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. The moderators were David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News.

Here is a complete transcript of the debate.

ANNOUNCER: The race is tight, couldn’t be closer, between Hillary and Bernie right here in New Hampshire. And now, in just moments, with so much on the line, they face each other and the country, live from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Democratic debate.

Here again, David Muir and Martha Raddatz.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: And we do say good evening to you from New Hampshire tonight. Over the next two hours, we’re going to have a chance to take a measure of the candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

It, of course, is the most important thing we do as a democracy: Choosing a president, the individual who will lead us through peace and prosperity, through war and conflict.

RADDATZ: They have all answered many questions in the past few months, but much has changed in the world since they last debated five weeks ago. And this is the last debate of the year. In less than two months, voters in this state will go to the polls.

MUIR: So please welcome the candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Secretary Hillary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Governor Martin O’Malley…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: … and Senator Bernie Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: And good evening to you all. The rules for tonight are very basic and have been agreed to by all three campaigns in advance. Candidates can take up to a minute-and-a-half to respond directly to a question. For a rebuttal, for a follow-up, 45 seconds will be allowed. There are green, yellow, and red lights that each candidate will see to signal when time is running out and when they’re supposed to be finished with their answers.

MUIR: We will be tackling many critical issues right here tonight, and we begin with opening statements, in alphabetical order, and Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, thank you. And I’m delighted to be here in New Hampshire for this debate.

You know, the American president has to both keep our families safe and make the economy grow in a way that helps everyone, not just those at the top. That’s the job. I have a strategy to combat and defeat ISIS without getting us involved in another ground war, and I have plans to raise incomes and deal with a lot of the problems that keep families up at night.

I’m very clear that we have a distinct difference between those of us on this stage tonight and all of our Republican counterparts. From my perspective, we have to prevent the Republicans from rolling back the progress that we’ve made. They would repeal the Affordable Care Act, not improve it. They would give more tax breaks to the super-wealthy and corporations, not to the middle class. And they would, despite all their tough talk about terrorism, continue to let people who are on the no-fly list buy guns.

So we have a lot of work to do in this campaign to make it clear where we stand in the Democratic Party, what we will do for our country, and I look forward to this evening’s discussion of real issues that face the American people.

Thank you.

RADDATZ: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Martha, thank you. Tonight we have a different debate than the debates that we have been allowed to have so far, because tonight is different because of this reason, that in the course of this presidential campaign America has again been attacked by jihadi terrorists, American lives taken from us. So, yes, we must talk about our ideas to move our economy forward, but the first job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of the United States.

I visited with a number of our neighbors in Northern Virginia at a mosque last Friday. And as I looked out there at the eyes of our neighbors, I also looked in the eyes of veterans. I looked into the eyes of Boy Scouts. I looked into the eyes of moms and dads who would do anything in their power to protect our country’s values and our freedoms.

O’MALLEY: What our nation needs right now is to realize that, while we face a terrible danger, we also face a different sort of political danger. And that is the danger that democracies find themselves susceptible to when unscrupulous leaders try to turn us upon each other. What our country needs right now is new leadership that will bring us together around the values that unite us and the freedoms that we share as Americans.

We will rise to challenge of ISIL and we will rise together to the challenges that we face in our economy. But we will only do so if we hold true to the values and the freedoms that unite us, which means we must never surrender them to terrorists, must never surrender our Americans values to racist, must never surrender to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.

We are a better country than this. Our enduring symbol is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty. And America’s best days are in front of us if we move forward together.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Good evening.

I am running for president of the United States because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. I’m running for president because our economy is rigged because working people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of new wealth and income being created is going to the top one percent. I’m running for president because I’m going to create an economy that works for working families not just billionaires.

I’m running for president because we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt, where billionaires are spending hundreds of millionaires of dollars to buy candidates who will represent their interests rather than the middle class and working families. I’m running because we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy; one that takes on Isis, one that destroys ISIS, but one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East but rather works around a major coalition of wealthy and powerful nations supporting Muslim troops on the ground. That’s the kind of coalition we need and that’s the kind of coalition I will put together.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders thank you and thank you all.

We do have a lot of important issues to get here tonight and we want to address the controversy of the last 24 hours right off the top because we heard some of the most heated rhetoric of the campaign so far between two of the campaigns on this stage tonight.

Senator Sanders, you fired a campaign staffer you have sued the Democratic National Committee; all of this after your campaign acknowledge that some of your staffers quote, “irresponsibly accessed data from another campaign.” The Clinton campaign called this a very egregious breech of data of ethics and said, quote, “our data was stolen.”

Did they overstate this or were your staffers essentially stealing part of the Clinton playbook?

SANDERS: David, let me give you a little bit of background here.

The DNC has hired vendors. On two occasions, there were breeches in information two months ago. Our staff found information on our computers from the Clinton campaign. And when our staffers said, “whoa, what’s going here?” They went to the DNC quietly.

They went to the vendor and said, “hey, something is wrong,” and that was quietly dealt with. None of that information was looked at. Our staffer at that point did exactly the right thing.

A few days ago a similar incident happened. There was a breach because the DNC vendor screwed up, information came to our campaign. In this case, our staff did the wrong thing — they looked a that information. As soon as we learned that they looked at that information – we fired that person. We are now doing an independent internal investigation to see who else was involved.

Thirdly, what I have a really problem, and as you mentioned – this is a problem, I recognize it as a problem. But what the DNC did arbitrarily without discussing it with us is shut off our access to our information crippling our campaign. That is an egregious act. I’m glad that late last night, that was resolved.

SANDERS: Fourthly, I work — look forward to working with Secretary Clinton for an investigation, an independent investigation, about all of the breaches that have occurred from day one in this campaign, because I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign. Don’t know that.

But we need an independent investigation, and I hope Secretary Clinton will agree with me for the need of that.

Last point. When we saw the breach two months, we didn’t go running to the media and make a big deal about it. And it bothers me very much that, rather than working on this issue to resolve it, it has become many press releases from the Clinton campaign later.

MUIR: But Senator, you do mention the DNC — the vender. But you said of your staff that they did the wrong thing.

SANDERS: Absolutely.

MUIR: So, does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes, I apologize.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Not only — not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton — and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one — I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, he has apologized. How do your react?

CLINTON: I very much appreciate that comment, Bernie. It really is important that we go forward on this.

I know that you now have your data back, and that there has been an agreement for an independent inquiry into what did happen.

Obviously, we were distressed when we learned of it, because we have worked very hard — I said in the beginning of this campaign, we want to reach as many voters as possible, and we have tens of thousands of volunteers doing that, and entering data all the time to keep up with what people are telling us.

And so, now that, I think, you know, we have resolved your data, we have agreed on an independent inquiry, we should move on. Because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this.

(APPLAUSE)

I think they’re more interested in what we have to say about all the big issues facing us.

O’MALLEY: Yeah, David, look, for crying out loud, our country has been attacked, we have pressing issues involving how we’re going to adapt to this changing era of warfare.

Our economy — people are working harder and being left behind. You want to know why things don’t get done in Washington? Because for the last 24 hours, with those issues being so urgent to people as they tune in tonight, wondering how they’re even be able to buy presents for their kids.

Instead, we’re listening to the bickering back and forth. Maybe that is normal politics in Washington, but that is not the politics of higher purpose that people expect from our party.

We need to address our security issues, we need to address the economic issues around the kitchen table. And if people want a more high-minded politics and want to move our country forward, go on to martinomalley.com and help my campaign move our country forward.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR (?): All three candidates are weighing in.

SANDERS: Let me agree with Governor O’Malley and let me agree with Secretary Clinton. You know, we had this incident before, Secretary, with your famous e-mails. Right?

And what I said and I think what Governor O’Malley is saying, and I hope you say, is when the middle class of this country is disappearing, when we have massive income and wealth inequality, when we’re the only major country on earth not guaranteeing health care to all people, all the issues that the governor talked about, the secretary talked about, those are the issues. Media notwithstanding.

Those are the issues that the American people want discussed. I hope those are the issues we’ll discuss.

MUIR: Good let’s move on — Senator Sanders, let’s move on right to some of those issues.

(APPLAUSE)

It is just six days before Christmas, as we all know in this country. It’s typically a joyful time, as it is this year, as well. But it’s also an anxious time. President Obama has acknowledged that what we saw in San Bernardino was an act of terrorism. But we remember the president said, right before Thanksgiving, there is no known specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland.

We now know that this couple had assembled an arsenal. They were not on law enforcement’s radar. They were completely undetected. So as we approach another holiday, with the president again saying, late this week, no credible threat, Secretary Clinton, how confident should the American people be, that there aren’t others like that couple right now in the U.S. going undetected?

And what would you do as president to find them?

CLINTON: Well, first, the most important job of being president is obviously to keep our country safe and to keep the families of America safe.

I have a plan that I’ve put forward to go after ISIS. Not to contain them, but to defeat them. And it has three parts. First, to go after them and deprive them of the territory they occupy now in both Syria and Iraq.

CLINTON: Secondly, to go after and dismantle their global network of terrorism. And thirdly, to do more to keep us safe. Under each of those three parts of my plan, I have very specific recommendations about what to do.

Obviously, in the first, we do have to have a — an American-led air campaign, we have to have Arab and Kurdish troops on the ground. Secondly, we’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.

And then, most importantly, here at home, I think there are three things that we have to get right. We have to do the best possible job of sharing intelligence and information. That now includes the internet, because we have seen that ISIS is a very effective recruiter, propagandist and inciter and celebrator of violence.

That means we have to work more closely with our great tech companies. They can’t see the government as an adversary, we can’t see them as obstructionists. We’ve got to figure out how we can do more to understand who is saying what and what they’re planning.

And we must work more closely with Muslim-American communities. Just like Martin, I met with a group of Muslim-Americans this past week to hear from them about what they’re doing to try to stop radicalization. They will be our early warning signal. That’s why we need to work with them, not demonize them, as the Republicans have been doing.

O’MALLEY: David, I am the very first…

MUIR: (inaudible) thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I am the very first post-9/11 mayor and the very first post-9/11 governor. I understand, from the ground up, that when attacks like San Bernardino happen, when attacks like the attacks of 9/11 happen, that when people call 911, the first people to show up are the local first responders.

Many of the things Secretary Clinton said are absolutely true, but they underscore a lack of investment that we have, as a nation, failed to make over these last 15 years in intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis, intelligence sharing. Not only in theater, in Syria and Iraq and other places where we embalk (ph) ourselves in toppling dictators without having any idea what comes next, but here in the homeland, as we protect people from this threat of the lone wolves and these changing tactics and strategies.

I believe that what’s happened here is that the president had us on the right course, but it’s a lack of battle tempo. We have to increase the battle tempo, we have to bring a modern way of getting things done and forcing the sharing of information and do a much better job of acting on it in order to prevent these sorts of attacks in the future.

MUIR: And we’re going to break down these issues tonight, but I do want to go to Senator Sanders because the concern going into Christmas is significant, as you know. A new ABC News poll shows 77 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in the government’s ability to prevent a lone wolf attack. How would you specifically find would-be terrorist who are going undetected?

SANDERS: I’m one of the 77 percent. I think this is a very difficult issue. Let me agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. Let me tell you what I think we have got to do. I think it’s a two-pronged issue.

Number one, our goal is to crush and destroy ISIS. What is the best way to do it? Well, I think there are some differences of opinion here, perhaps between the secretary and myself. I voted against the war in Iraq because I thought unilateral military action would not produce the results that were necessary and would lead to the kind of unraveling and instability that we saw in the Middle East.

I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations. I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.

And Abdullah said something recently, very important. He said, “Yes, international terrorism is by definition an international issue, but it is primarily an issue of the Muslim nations who are fighting for the soul of Islam. We the Muslims should lead the effort on the ground.” And I believe he is absolutely right.

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, you all emphasized gun control. But our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, is the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?

CLINTON: Well, I think you have to look at both the terrorism challenge that we face abroad and certainly at home and the role that guns play in delivering the violence that stalks us. Clearly, we have to have a very specific set of actions to take. You know, when Senator Sanders talks about a coalition, I agree with him about that. We’ve got to build a coalition abroad. We also have to build a coalition at home. Abroad, we need a coalition that is going to take on ISIS. I know how hard that is. I know it isn’t something you just hope people will do and I’ve worked on that…

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, can we stick to gun control?

CLINTON: Yes, I’m getting…

RADDATZ: Are they wrong?

CLINTON: … I’m getting to that. Because I think if you only think about the coalition abroad you’re missing the main point, which is we need a coalition here at home. Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence, arming more people to do what I think is not the appropriate response to terrorism.

I think what is…

(APPLAUSE)

Is creating much deeper, closer relations and, yes, coalitions within our own country. The first line of defense against radicalization is in Muslim-American community. People who we should be welcoming and working with.

I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the United States and literally around the world that there is a “clash of civilizations,” that there is some kind of Western plot or even “war against Islam,” which then I believe fans the flames of radicalization.

So guns have to be looked at as its own problem, but we also have to figure out how we’re going to deal with the radicalization here in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders — wait just a moment, please, Governor O’Malley.

Senator Sanders, we’ve seen those long lines of people buying guns in record numbers after the Paris attacks. Would you discourage people from buying a gun?

SANDERS: It’s a country in which people choose to buy guns. I think half of the — more than half of the people in my own state of Vermont, my guess here in New Hampshire, are gun owners. That’s the right of people.

But this is what I do believe. I believe that when we have some 300 million guns in this country, I believe that when we have seen these horrific mass killings, not only in San Bernardino, but in Colorado and movie theaters in Colorado, I think we have got to bring together the vast majority of the people who do in fact believe in sensible gun safety regulations.

For example, talking about polls, a poll recently came out, overwhelming majority of the American people say we should strengthen the instant background check. Who denies that it is crazy…

(APPLAUSE)

Who denies that it is crazy to allow people to own guns who are criminals or are mentally unstable? We’ve got to eliminate the gun show loophole. In my view, we have got to see that weapons designed by the military to kill people are not in the hands of civilians.

I think there is a consensus.

(APPLAUSE)

I think — I’m not going to say that everybody is in agreement. It’s a divided country on guns. But there is a broad consensus on sensible gun safety regulations that I, coming from a state that has virtually no gun control, will do my best to bring together.

O’MALLEY: Martha, if I may…

RADDATZ: Thank you, Senator Sanders.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: I think we’re going to go on…

O’MALLEY: Excuse me, no.

MUIR: Governor, we have to abide the rules here, we’ll call on you here shortly, but…

O’MALLEY: I am the only person on this stage who has actually…

MUIR: But I do want pick up on something…

O’MALLEY: … passed comprehensive gun safety legislation with a ban on combat assault weapons, David.

And, look, there are profound differences…

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill. Senator Sanders voted to give immunity to gun dealers. And Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.

Secretary Clinton changes her position on this every election year, it seems, having one position in 2000 and then campaigning against President Obama and saying we don’t need federal standards.

Look, what we need on this issue is not more polls. We need more principle. When ISIL does training videos that say the easiest way to get a combat assault weapon in the United States of America is at a gun show, then we should all be waking up. We need comprehensive gun safety legislation and a ban on assault weapons.

RADDATZ: Governor, now — and let me stay with gun control for a minute, then. You talk about assault weapons. Even if you were able to ban the purchase of assault weapons tomorrow, Americans already own an estimated 7 to 10 million semi-automatic rifles.

Would you make it illegal to own those weapons, force people to turn them in? And if not, how would banning the sales really make a difference?

O’MALLEY: Because, Martha, it would prevent people like the guy that just got charged yesterday perhaps from being able to buy combat assault weapons. You know, we are the only nation, only developed nation on the planet…

RADDATZ: But, again, I’m not talking about buying. Would you have them confiscated? The ones that are already here?

O’MALLEY: No, Martha, I would not. And that’s not what we did in Maryland. But you know what we did in Maryland? We overcame the NRA’s objections. We overcame all of the crowds that were coming down there.

We did our own rallies. And at least if we enact these laws in a prospective way, we can address a major vulnerability in our country. ISIL videos, ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to buy a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show.

And it’s because of the flip-flopping, political approach of Washington that both of my two colleagues on this stage have represented there for the last forty years.

SANDERS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s calm down a little bit, Martin.

CLINTON: Yes, let’s tell the truth, Martin.

O’MALLEY: I am telling the truth.

SANDERS: First of all, let’s have some rules here, commentators.

MUIR: We will.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: All right.

MUIR: But let me just establish that for you, senator. Really quickly governor, we are going to call on you tonight and it’s very clear you have a lot to say but please wait until you’re called upon. And senator, he invoked your record and I’ll let you respond.

SANDERS: He sure did.

MUIR: I’ll let you respond.

CLINTON: He invoked mine as well.

MUIR: And you will get some to as well.

SANDERS: Sure did. All right. First off, we can do all the great speeches we want but you’re not going to succeed unless there is a consensus. In 1988, just to set the record straight governor, I ran for the U.S. House. We have one House member from Vermont, three candidates in the race. One candidate said, you know what, I don’t think it’s a great idea that we sell automatic weapons in this country that are used by the military to kill people very rapidly.

Gun people said, there were three candidates in the race, you vote for one of the others, but not Bernie Sanders. I lost that election by three percentage points. Quite likely, for that reason. So please, do not explain to me, coming from a state where democratic governors and republican governors have supported virtually no gun control.

(CROSSTALK)

Excuse me. Do not tell me that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people, in voting to ban assault weapons, voting for instant background checks, voting to end the gun show loop hole and now we’re in a position to create a consensus in America on gun safety.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you. I want to move on here. Secretary Clinton, you brought up Donald Trump a short time ago.

CLINTON: I do and this is an important issue and I know we’ll get to a lot of other critical ones as well. I actually agree with Governor O’Malley about the need for common sense gun safety measures. And I applaud his record in Maryland. I just wish he wouldn’t misrepresent mine. I have been for the Brady bill, I have been against assault weapons.

I have voted not to give gun makers and sellers immunity. And I also know that — and I’m glad to see this — Senator Sanders has really moved in face of the facts about what we’re confronting in our country. I know that he has said in the two previous that he wants to take on this immunity issue because we need to send a strong message to the gun manufacturers, to the sellers, to the gun lobby.

And I would hope, Senator Sanders, that you would join the Democrats who are trying to close the Charleston loophole, that you would sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to remove the absolute immunity. We need to move on this consensus that exists in the country. It’s no longer enough just to say the vast majority of Americans want common sense gun safety measures including gun owners.

We need, and only the three of us will do this, nobody on the Republican side will even admit there’s a problem. And in whatever way the three of us can we need to move this agenda forward and begin to deal with the gun lobby and the intimidation that they present.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, thank you. We’re going to move on from guns here and go back to something you mentioned a short time ago. You brought up Donald Trump first here this evening. We’ve now seen the polling done well after his proposed ban on Muslims coming to America. Thirty-six percent of Americans, more than a third, agree with him.

You have weighed in already on Donald Trump. You’ve weighed in on the proposed ban. But what would you say to the millions of Americans watching tonight who agree with him? Are they wrong?

CLINTON: Well I think a lot of people are understandably reacting out of fear and anxiety about what they’re seeing. First what they saw in Paris, now what they have seen in San Bernardino. And Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make think there are easy answers to very complex questions.

So what I would say is, number one, we need to be united against the threats that we face. We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what happens and reporting it if it’s suspicious, reporting what you hear. Making sure that Muslim Americans don’t feel left out or marginalized at the very moment when we need their help.

CLINTON: You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we’re in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

Senator Sanders, I did want to ask you about a neighbor in San Bernardino who reportedly witnessed packages being delivered to that couple’s home, that it set off red flags, but they didn’t report it because they were afraid to profile. What would you say to Americans afraid to profile? Is it ever acceptable?

SANDERS: Well, the answer is, obviously, if you see suspicious activity, you report it. That’s kind of a no-brainer. You know, somebody is loading guns and ammunition into a house, I think it’s a good idea to call 911. Do it.

(LAUGHTER)

MUIR: But I’m asking about — I’m asking about profiling. Because a lot of people are afraid of that.

SANDERS: But I want to talk — I want to talk about something else, because Secretary Clinton I think made some interesting and good points. What you have now is a very dangerous moment in American history.

The secretary is right: Our people are fearful. They are anxious on a number of levels. They are anxious about international terrorism and the possibility of another attack on America. We all understand that.

But you know what else they’re anxious about? They’re anxious about the fact that they are working incredibly long hours, they’re worried about their kids, and they’re seeing all the new income and wealth — virtually all of it — going to the top 1 percent. And they’re looking around them, and they’re looking at Washington, and they’re saying the rich are getting much richer, I’m getting poorer, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do for my kids?

And somebody like a Trump comes along and says, “I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists, we’ve got to hate the Mexicans. Those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims, because all of the Muslims are terrorists. We’ve got to hate the Muslims.” Meanwhile, the rich get richer.

So what I say to those people who go to Donald Trump’s rallies, understand: He thinks a low minimum wage in America is a good idea. He thinks low wages are a good idea.

I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let’s create an America that works for all of us, not the handful on top.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

RADDATZ: I want to move to another…

O’MALLEY: Martha, may I — Martha, may I…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: No, no, not yet, Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: Can I share this quick story?

RADDATZ: No, not yet, Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: Oh. All right.

RADDATZ: I’ll come to you when we call on you. Thank you very much.

O’MALLEY: When you come back to me, I’ll share that story.

RADDATZ: You’ll be happy. I’ll let — I’ll let you talk then.

Secretary Clinton, I want to talk about a new terrorist tool used in the Paris attacks, encryption. FBI Director James Comey says terrorists can hold secret communications which law enforcement cannot get to, even with a court order.

You’ve talked a lot about bringing tech leaders and government officials together, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said removing encryption tools from our products altogether would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data. So would you force him to give law enforcement a key to encrypted technology by making it law? CLINTON: I would not want to go to that point. I would hope that, given the extraordinary capacities that the tech community has and the legitimate needs and questions from law enforcement, that there could be a Manhattan-like project, something that would bring the government and the tech communities together to see they’re not adversaries, they’ve got to be partners.

It doesn’t do anybody any good if terrorists can move toward encrypted communication that no law enforcement agency can break into before or after. There must be some way. I don’t know enough about the technology, Martha, to be able to say what it is, but I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts.

And maybe the back door is the wrong door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. But I also understand, when a law enforcement official charged with the responsibility of preventing attacks — to go back to our early questions, how do we prevent attacks — well, if we can’t know what someone is planning, we are going to have to rely on the neighbor or, you know, the member of the mosque or the teacher, somebody to see something.

CLINTON: I just think there’s got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out. Otherwise, law enforcement is blind — blind before, blind during, and, unfortunately, in many instances, blind after.

So we always have to balance liberty and security, privacy and safety, but I know that law enforcement needs the tools to keep us safe. And that’s what i hope, there can be some understanding and cooperation to achieve.

RADDATZ: And Governor O’Malley, where do you draw the line between national security and personal security?

O’MALLEY: I believe that we should never give up our privacy; never should give up our freedoms in exchange for a promise of security. We need to figure this out together. We need a collaborative approach. We need new leadership.

The way that things work in the modern era is actually to gather people around the table and figure these things out. The federal government should have to get warrants. That’s not some sort of passe you know, antique sort of principle that safeguards our freedoms.

But at the same time with new technologies I believe that the people creating these projects — I mean these products also have an obligation to come together with law enforcement to figure these things out; true to our American principles and values.

My friend Kashif, who is a doctor in Maryland; back to this issue of our danger as a democracy of turning against ourselves. He was putting his 10 and 12-year-old boys to bed the other night. And he is a proud American Muslim. And one of his little boys said to him, “Dad, what happens if Donald Trump wins and we have to move out of our homes?” These are very, very real issues. this is a clear and present danger in our politics within.

We need to speak to what unites us as a people; freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of expression. And we should never be convinced to give up those freedoms in exchange for a promise of greater security; especially from someone as untried and as incompetent as Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Thank you, Governor O’Malley.

MUIR: Martha, we’re going to turn now to refugees coming to America. And on the subject of refugees, more than half of all Americans now say they oppose taking in refugees from Syria and across the Middle East.

Secretary Clinton, you have said that it would undermine who we are as Americans, shutting our doors. But New Hampshire’s governor, where we are right here tonight, a democrat and a supporter of yours, is among more than 30 governors who are now concerned. Governor Maggie Hassan says, “we should halt acceptance of Syrian refugees until U.S. authorities can assure the vetting process, halt Syrian refugees.” Is she wrong?

CLINTON: Well, I agree that we have to have the toughest screening and vetting…

MUIR: But a halt?

CLINTON: I don’t think a halt is necessary. What we have to do is put all of our resources through the Department of Homeland Security, through the State Department, through our intelligence agencies, and we have to have an increased vetting and screening. Now, this takes, David, 18 months to 24 months, two years.

So I know it’s not going to happen overnight and everything that can be done should be done. But the process should move forward while we are also taking on ISIS, putting together the kind of strategy that I’ve advocated for, and making sure that the vetting and the screening is as tough as possible. Because I do believe that we have a history and a tradition, that is part of our values system and we don’t want to sacrifice our values.

We don’t want to make it seem as though we are turning into a nation of fear instead of a nation of resolve. So I want us to have a very tough screening process but I want that process to go forward. And if at the end of 18 months, 24 months there are people who have been cleared, and I would prioritize widows, and orphans, and the elderly, people who may have relatives, families, or have nowhere else to go. I would prioritize them.

And that would I think give the American public a bit more of a sense of security about who is being processed and who might end up coming as refugees.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, obviously you were governor yourself at one time. What would you say to New Hampshire’s governor tonight? Is she wrong on this?

O’MALLEY: No, what I would say is this is look, I was the first of the three of us to call for America to accept the 65,000 refugees we were asked to accept. And if this humanitarian crisis increases, we should accept more.

MUIR: So the idea of a halt or a pause?

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: David, there are wider vulnerabilities than when it comes to refugees. I met recently with some members of the Chaldean Christian communities and the wait times are a year, 18 months, 24 months. There is a pretty excruciating process that refugees go through. We need to invest more in terms of the other sort of visas and the other sort of waivers.

O’MALLEY: What these Chaldean families told me was that their families in Syria, when ISIS moves into their town, they actually paint a red cross across the door and mark their homes for demolition, and that tells the family you’d better get out now. The sort of genocide and brutality that the victims are suffering, these are not the perpetrators.

We need to be the nation whose enduring symbol is the Statue of Liberty, and we need to act like the great country we are, according to our values.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, we’re going to move on. We’re going to move on.

SANDERS: Excuse me. May I have a chance to respond to this issue?

RADDATZ: We’re going to move on to the fight against ISIS. You’re the one who told us we have to follow the rules and break it off.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Yeah, but the rule includes equal — got it. All right.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: OK. Let’s keep going. Thank you.

SANDERS: All right. Let’s keep going. OK.

RADDATZ: Thank you. I do want to move to the fight against ISIS.

SANDERS: Yeah.

RADDATZ: For the people of New Hampshire, the brutality of ISIS is personal. James Foley grew up here. The first hostage, a journalist, brutally executed last year. You’ve all said ISIS is a ruthless enemy and must be stopped. Al Qaida as well.

Senator Sanders, you voted to send U.S. ground forces to fight in the coalition to help destroy Al Qaida in Afghanistan. Can you then explain you why don’t support sending U.S. combat troops to join a coalition to fight ISIS?

SANDERS: And I also voted and helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, which will go down in history as one of the worst foreign blunders — foreign policy blunders in the history of our country.

I voted against the first Gulf War, which set the stage, I believe, for the second Iraq war. And what I believe right now, and I believe this is terribly important, is the United States of America cannot succeed, or be thought of as the policeman of the world, that when there’s an international crisis all over the world, in France and in the U.K. Or — hey, just call up the American military and the American taxpayers, they’re going to send the troops.

And if they have to be in the Middle East for 20 or 30 years no problem.

RADDATZ: But why Al Qaida, why not ISIS?

SANDERS: I have a problem with that, Martha. What I believe has got to happen is there must be an international coalition, including Russia, a well-coordinated effort.

But I agree, as I mentioned a moment ago, with King Abdullah. This is a war for the soul of Islam. The troops on the ground should not be American troops. They should be Muslim troops. I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have got to step up to the plate, have got to contribute the money that we need, and the troops that we need, to destroy ISIS with American support.

RADDATZ: The administration has tried that over and over again. If it doesn’t work and this threat is so great, what’s your plan B?

SANDERS: My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS.

To tell Qatar, that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.

We’ve already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we’re already in ground combat on frequent trips I’ve made there.

So, are you fooling Americans when you say, we’re not putting American combat troops back into Syria or Iraq?

CLINTON: No. Not at all. I think that what we’re facing with ISIS is especially complicated. It was a different situation in Afghanistan. We were attacked from Afghanistan. Al Qaida was based in Afghanistan. We went after those who had attacked us.

What’s happening in Syria and Iraq is that, because of the failures in the region, including the failure of the prior government in Baghdad, led by Maliki, there has been a resurgence of Sunni activities, as exemplified by ISIS. And we have to support Sunni-Arab and Kurdish forces against ISIS, because I believe it would be not only a strategic mistake for the United States to put ground combat troops in, as opposed to special operators, as opposed to trainers, because that is exactly what ISIS wants.

They’ve advertised that. They want American troops back in the Middle East. They want American soldiers on the ground fighting them, giving them many more targets, and giving them a great recruiting opportunity.

CLINTON: So, I think it’s absolutely wrong policy for us to be even imagining we’re going end up putting tens of thousands of American troops into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS.

And we do have to form a coalition. I know how hard that is. I have formed them. I put together a coalition, including Arabs, with respect to Libya and a coalition to put sanctions onto Iran. And you have to really work hard at it.

And the final thing I would say, bringing Donald Trump back into it, if you’re going to put together a coalition in the region to take on the threat of ISIS you don’t want to alienate the very countries and people you need to be part of the coalition. And so that is part of the reason why this is so difficult.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want — I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn’t expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.

Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

CLINTON: Well, I just think you’re asking a question with a false choice. I believe if we lead an air coalition, which we are now in the position of doing and intensify it, if we continue to build back up the Iraqi army, which has had some recent success in Ramadi, as you know, if we get back talking to the tribal sheiks in Anbar to try to rebuild those relationships, which were very successful, in going after Al Qaida in Iraq, if we get the Turks to pay more attention to ISIS than they’re paying to the Kurds, if we do put together the kind of coalition with the specific tasks that I am outlining, I think we can be successful in destroying ISIS.

So that’s what I’m focused on, that’s what I’ve outlined and that’s what I would do as president.

RADDATZ: Governor O’Malley.

(APPLAUSE) You’ve emphasized the need for more human intelligence on the ground. What is it our intelligence community is not doing now that needs to be done?

O’MALLEY: Well, we have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I’m talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I’m also talking about diplomatic intelligence. I mean, we’ve seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region of nation-state failures, and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.

So what I would say is not only do we need to be thinking in military terms, but we do our military a disservice when we don’t greatly dial up the investment that we are making in diplomacy and human intelligence and when we fail to dial up properly, the role of sustainable development in all of this. As president, I would make the administrator of USAID an actual cabinet member. We have to act in a much more whole of government approach, as General Dempsey said.

And I do believe, and I would disagree somewhat with one of my colleagues, this is a genocidal threat. They have now created a safe haven in the vacuum that we allowed to be partly and because of our blunders, to be created to be created in the areas of Syria and Iraq. We cannot allow safe havens, and as a leader of moral nations around this Earth, we need to come up with new alliances and new ways to prepare for these new sorts of threats, because Martha, this will not be the last region where nation-states fail.

And you’ve seen a little bit of this emerging in the — in the African Union and the things that they have done to better stabilize Somalia. We need to pay attention here in Central America as well. So this is the new type of threats that we’re facing and we need to lead as a nation in confronting it and putting together new alliances and new coalitions.

CLINTON: Well, I just want to quickly add…

RADDATZ: Thank you.

CLINTON: Martha, that — you know, one of the reasons why I have advocated for a no-fly zone is in order to create those safe refuges within Syria, to try to protect people on the ground both from Assad’s forces, who are continuing to drop barrel bombs, and from ISIS. And of course, it has to be de-conflicted with the Russians, who are also flying in that space.

I’m hoping that because of the very recent announcement of the agreement at the Security Council, which embodies actually an agreement that I negotiated back in Geneva in June of 2012, we’re going to get a diplomatic effort in Syria to begin to try to make a transition. A no-fly zone would prevent the outflow of refugees and give us a chance to have some safe spaces.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?

CLINTON: I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting air space. We know…

RADDATZ: But isn’t that a decision you should make now, whether…

CLINTON: No, I don’t think so. I am advocating…

RADDATZ: … if you’re advocating this?

CLINTON: I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.

Now that Russia has joined us in the Security Council, has adopted an agreement that we hashed out a long day in Geneva three years ago, now I think we can have those conversations. The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: I want to take this to Senator — I’m going to take this to Senator Sanders next, because I think there…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.

But I think — and I say this with due respect — that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we’re not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily — and maybe slowly — toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That’s the secondary issue.

CLINTON: That is exactly…

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

CLINTON: That is exactly what I just said and what I just described.

MUIR: Yeah, but, Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: And that is important, because now we have a U.N. Security Council that will enable us to do that. And, you know, with all due respect, Senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gadhafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.

All of these are very difficult issues. I know that; I’ve been dealing with them for a long time. And, of course, we have to continue to do what is necessary when someone like Gadhafi, a despot with American blood on his hands, is overturned. But I’ll tell you what would have happened, if we had not joined with our European partners and our Arab partners to assist the people in Libya, you would be looking at Syria. Now the Libyans are turning their attention to try to dislodge ISIS from its foothold and begin to try to move together to have a unified nation.

SANDERS: I was not the secretary of state…

MUIR: Senator Sanders, Senator Sanders, hold on. One moment, please. I’m going to ask the secretary here, because there does appear to be some daylight here between the policies, at least in respect to when you take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Right now or do you wait? Do you tackle ISIS first?

You have said, Secretary Clinton, that you come to the conclusion that we have to proceed on both fronts at once. We heard from the senator just this week that we must put aside the issue of how quickly we get rid of Assad and come together with countries, including Russia and Iran, to destroy ISIS first. Is he wrong?

CLINTON: I think we’re missing the point here. We are doing both at the same time.

MUIR: But that’s what he’s saying, we should put that aside for now and go after ISIS. CLINTON: Well, I don’t agree with that, because we will not get the support on the ground in Syria to dislodge ISIS if the fighters there who are not associated with ISIS, but whose principal goal is getting rid of Assad, don’t believe there is a political, diplomatic channel that is ongoing. We now have that. We have the U.N. Security Council adopting a resolution that lays out a transition path. It’s very important we operate on both at the same time.

And let me just say a word about coalition-building, because I’ve heard Senator Sanders say this. I know how hard it is to build coalitions. I think it would be a grave mistake to ask for any more Iranian troops inside Syria. That is like asking the arsonist to come and pour more gas on the fire.

The Iranians getting more of a presence in Syria, linking with Hezbollah, their proxy in Lebanon, would threaten Israel and would make it more difficult for us to move on a path to have a transition that at some point would deal with Assad’s future.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I happen to think…

O’MALLEY: I’d like to offer a…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: She says we have to proceed on both fronts at once.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton is right. This is a complicated issue. I don’t think anyone has a magical solution.

But this is what I do believe. Yes, of course Assad is a terrible dictator. But I think we have got to get our foreign policies and priorities right. The immediate — it is not Assad who is attacking the United States. It is ISIS. And ISIS is attacking France and attacking Russian airliners.

The major priority, right now, in terms of our foreign and military policy should be the destruction of ISIS.

(APPLAUSE)

And I think — and I think we bring together that broad coalition, including Russia, to help us destroy ISIS. And work on a timetable to get rid of Assad, hopefully through Democratic elections. First priority, destroy ISIS.

MUIR: Senator sanders, thank you.

O’MALLEY: May I offer a different generation’s perspective on this?

MUIR: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: During the Cold War — during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we’re still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.

I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn’t know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying — as if it’s our job to say, Assad must go.

We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

MUIR: But — you criticized — you criticized Secretary Clinton for what came next. What’s your proposal for what comes after Assad?

O’MALLEY: I believe that we need to focus on destroying ISIL. That is the clear and present danger. And I believe that we can springboard off of this new U.N. resolution, and we should create, as Secretary Clinton indicated, and I agree with that, that there should be a political process.

But we shouldn’t be the ones declaring that Assad must go. Where did it ever say in the Constitution, where is it written that it’s the job of the United States of America or its secretary of State to determine when dictators have to go?

We have a role to play in this world. But it is not the world — the role of traveling the world looking for new monsters to destroy.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: David…

CLINTON: Since he has been making all kinds of comments.

(LAUGHTER)

I think it’s fair to say, Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians. The reason we are in the mess we’re in, that ISIS has the territory it has, is because of Assad.

I advocated arming the moderate opposition back in the day when I was still secretary of State, because I worried we would end up exactly where we are now.

And so, when we look at these complex problems, I wish it could be either/or. I wish we could say yes, let’s go destroy ISIS and let’s let Assad continue to destroy Syria, which creates more terrorists, more extremists by the minute.

No. We now finally are where we need to be. We have a strategy and a commitment to go after ISIS, which is a danger to us as well as the region… SANDERS (?): Secretary…

CLINTON: And we finally have a U.N. Security Council Resolution bringing the world together to go after a political transition in Syria.

SANDERS: Could I just say — just say this…

CLINTON: If the United States does not lead, there is not another leader. There is a vacuum.

SANDERS: Can I just say this…

CLINTON: And we have to lead, if we’re going to be successful.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders, please. Go ahead.

Senator Sanders, a last word on this.

SANDERS: Of course the United States must lead. But the United States is not the policeman of the world. The United States must not be involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. The United States, at the same time, cannot successfully fight Assad and ISIS.

ISIS, now, is the major priority. Let’s get rid of Assad later. Let’s have a Democratic Syria. But the first task is to bring countries together to destroy ISIS.

MUIR: Senator Sanders, thank you. When we come back here tonight, the other major issues of this election: jobs, the economy, health care.

Which candidates will make the best case for the middle class, as our coverage of the Democratic debate, here in New Hampshire, continues right after this on ABC.

ANNOUNCER: ABC News coverage of the New Hampshire Democratic debate will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight. As you can see, we have a packed audience here in New Hampshire and we’re going to continue. We’ve already had a spirited conversation here at the top of the broadcast about ISIS, about the concerns of terror here on the homefront and as we await Secretary Clinton backstage, we’re going to begin on the economy.

We want to turn to the American jobs, wages and raises in this country. And we believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute. But in the mean time we want to start with this eye-opening number. And Senator Sanders, this question goes to you first, anyway.

In 1995, the median American household income was $52,600 in today’s money. This year, it’s $53,600. That’s 20 more years on the job with just a 2 percent raise. In a similar time-frame, raises for CEOs went up more than 200 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Sorry.

MUIR: We’re going to continue here, and Secretary, you’ll get a chance on this too.

But as I pointed out the CEO pay, 200 percent of their time — for that family of just 2 percent. You’ve all said, “you would raise the minimum wage.” But Senator Sanders what else – speak to that household tonight. 20 years, just a 2 percent raise, how as president would you get them a raise right away?

SANDERS: First of all, we recognize that we have a rigged economy, as you’ve indicated. Middle class in this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing; are we better of today then we were when Bush left office? Absolutely. But as you’ve indicated for millions of American workers, people in New Hampshire — all over America, they’re working longer hours for lower wages deeply worried about their kids. So what do we do?

First statement is, we tell the billionaire class, “they cannot have it all.” For a start, they’re going to start to pay their fair share of taxes. Second of all what we do, is you raise the minimum wage to living wage, 15 bucks an hour over the next several years. Next thing we do, pay equity for women workers. Women should not be making 79 cents on the dollar compared to that.

Next thing that we do, real unemployment — official unemployment, 5 percent, real employment 10 percent, youth unemployment, off the charts. We rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, our roads our bridges, our rail systems, we create 13 million jobs with a trillion-dollar investment.

Furthermore, in a competitive global economy, it is imperative that we have the best educated workforce in the world. That is why I’m going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation to make certain that public colleges and universities in America are tuition free.

MUIR: Senator Sanders, thank you.

Governor O’Malley, what would propose that would be different, how would you get the middle class a raise and without waiting another 20 years for another 2 percent.

O’MALLEY: Look these are the things that we did in own state through the recession. We actually passed a living wage. We raised the minimum wage. We actually raised it to the highest goals of any state in the nation also in minority and women participant goals because we understood that the way you reinvigorate and make fair market American capitalism work, is to make the choices and the investments that include more people more full in the economic success of your state.

All through the recession, we defended the highest median income in America and the second highest median income for African American families. How? By actually doing more for education. We increased education funding by 37 percent.

We were the only state in American that went four years in a row without a penny increase in college tuition. We invested more in our infrastructure and we squared our shoulders to the great business opportunity of this era and that is moving our economy to a 100 percent clean electric energy future. We created 2,000 new jobs in the solar industry and we fought every single day to adopt more inclusive economic practices.

O’MALLEY: So David, the conclusion of all of those things is this; they weren’t hopes, they weren’t dreams, they weren’t amorphous goals out there. We actually took action to do these things and as president, I have put forward 15 strategic goals that will make wages go up again for all American families. Universal national service is an option for every kid in America to cut youth employment.

And I’m the only candidate on this stage to put forward a new agenda for America’s cities so we can employ more people in the heart of great American cities and get them back to work.

MUIR: Governor, thank you. Secretary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

As you were walking in, I was talking about the median American household getting a two percent raise over the last 20 years, that CEO pay in that same time frame has gone up 200 percent. So for those families watching tonight, how do you get them a raise if you’re president?

CLINTON: Well, I’ve been talking to a lot of these families, and this is such an outrage, both because it’s bad for our economy, we’re a 70 percent consumption economy, people need to feel optimistic and confident, they need to believe their hard work is going to be rewarded, and it’s bad for our democracy. It’s absolutely the case that if people feel that the game is rigged, that has consequences.

I think it’s great standing up here with the senator and the governor talking about these issues, because you’re not going to hear anything like this from any of the Republicans who are running for president.

(APPLAUSE)

They don’t want to raise the minimum wage, they don’t want to do anything to increase incomes. At the center of my economic policy is raising incomes, because people haven’t been able to get ahead, and the cost of everything, from college tuition to prescription drugs, has gone up.

Of course we have to raise the minimum wage. Of course we have to do more to incentivize profit sharing, like we see with Market Basket right here in New Hampshire and New England, where all of the employees get a chance to share in the profits.

(APPLAUSE)

And we’ve got to do more on equal pay for equal work. That means pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so we have transparency about how much people are making. That’s the way to get women’s wages up, and that’s good for them and good for their families and good for our communities.

(APPLAUSE)

And there is a lot we can do in college affordability. I have debt-free tuition plans, free community college plans, getting student debt down. I also am very committed to getting the price of drugs down. And there’s a lot. You can go to my website…

MUIR: Secretary…

CLINTON: … hillaryclinton.com, and read about it. But I guess the final thing that — that I would say is this is the kind of debate we need to take to the Republicans in the fall.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: This is the election…

MUIR: We’re going to — we’re going to…

CLINTON: … issues they have to respond to.

MUIR: And we’re going to talk about college education in a moment. But Secretary Clinton, I did want to ask you, the last time you ran for president, Fortune Magazine put you on its cover with the headline Business Loves Hillary, pointing out your support for many CEOs in corporate America. I’m curious, eight years later, should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

Look, I have said I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful. I want to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which they have not been doing. I want the Buffett Rule to be in effect, where millionaires have to pay 30 percent tax rates instead of 10 percent to nothing in some cases. I want to make sure we rein in the excessive use of political power to feather the nest and support the super wealthy.

But I also want to create jobs and I want to be a partner with the private sector. I’m particularly keen on creating jobs in small business. My dad was a small businessman, a really small business. I want to do more to help incentivize and create more small businesses. So if — if people who are in the private sector know what I stand for, it’s what I fought for as a senator, it’s what I will do as president, and they want to be part of once again building our economy so it works for everybody, more power to them, because they are the kind of business leaders who understand that if we don’t get the American economy moving and growing, we’re not going to recognize our country and we’re not going to give our kids the same opportunities that we had.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you. Senator Sanders…

(APPLAUSE)

I want to stay on this and ask you how big a role does corporate America play in a healthy economy and will corporate America love a President Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won’t.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

So Hillary and I have a difference. The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They ain’t going to like me and Wall Street is going to like me even less.

(APPLAUSE)

And the reason for that is we’ve got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. When you have six financial institutions in this country that issue two-thirds of the credit cards and one-third of the mortgages, when three out of four of them are larger today than when we bailed them out because they are too big to fail, we’ve got to re- establish Glass-Steagall, we have got to break the large financial institutions up.

SANDERS: So I don’t think…

(APPLAUSE)

… having said that, I don’t think I’m going to get a whole lot of campaign contributions from Wall Street. I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t want campaign contributions from corporate America.

And let me be clear: While there are some great corporations creating jobs and trying to do the right thing, in my view — and I say this very seriously — the greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans. We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of billionaires, and I will fight and lead to make that happen.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. I want to…

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: Governor, let me just ask you, though, because it is an important question, how important a role do you think corporate America plays in a healthy economy here in the U.S.?

O’MALLEY: Look, I look at our economy as an ecosystem. And the fact of the matter is that the more fully people participate, the more our workers earn, the more they will spend, the more our economy will grow. And most heads of businesses — large, medium and small — understand that.

But there is a better way forward than either of those offered by my two opponents here on this stage. We’re not going to fix what ails our economy, we’re not going to make wages go up for everyone by either trying to replace American capitalism with socialism — which, by the way, the rest of the world is moving away from — nor will we fix it by submitting to sort of Wall Street-directed crony capitalism.

And for my part, I have demonstrated the ability to have the backbone to take on Wall Street in ways that Secretary Clinton never, ever has. In fact, in the last debate, very shamefully, she tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.

I believe that the way forward for our country is to actually reinvigorate our antitrust department with the directive to promote fair competition. There’s mergers that are happening in every aspect of our country that is bad for competition and it’s bad for — for upward mobility of wages.

And the worst type of concentration, Secretary Clinton, is the concentration of the big banks, the big six banks that you went to and spoke to and told them, oh, you weren’t responsible for the crash, not by a long shot.

And that’s why today you still cannot support, as I do, breaking up the big banks and making sure that we pass a modern-day Glass- Steagall, like we had in late 1999, before it was repealed and led to the crash, where so many millions of families lost their jobs and their homes. And I was on the front lines of that, looking into the eyes of my neighbors…

CLINTON: OK…

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: I do want to ask you, Secretary Clinton. Let me just ask you…

CLINTON: Let me respond…

MUIR: We did — we did — Secretary Clinton, let me just ask you…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Under the rules, I have been — I have been invoked, David, so let me respond very quickly. Number one…

MUIR: And in particular…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Number one, there are currently two hedge fund billionaires running ads against me here in New Hampshire. They started in Iowa. Now, you’d have to ask yourself, why are they running ads against me? And the answer is: Because they know I will go right after them, that I will not let their agenda be America’s agenda.

Secondly, I think it’s important to point out that about 3 percent of my donations come from people in the finance and investment world. You can go to opensecrets.org and check that. I have more donations from students and teachers than I do from people associated with Wall Street.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, number three — and let me say this — when Governor O’Malley was heading the Democratic Governors Association, he had no trouble at all going to Wall Street to raise money to run campaigns for Democratic governors. And he also had no trouble appointing an investment banker to be in charge of his consumer protection bureau when he was governor.

So, you know, again, the difference between us and the Republicans is night and day. And there is only one person on this stage who voted to take away authority from the SEC and the Commodities Future Trading Commission that they could no longer regulate what are called swaps and derivatives, which actually contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and that was Senator Sanders.

So if we’re going to be talking like this, we can — and maybe we can score some political points — but the fact is: Every one of us stands for the kind of economy that will work better for every American. And if that means taking on Wall Street, I have a plan that is tough and comprehensive and praised by a lot of folks who say it goes further than what both Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley are proposing.

SANDERS: Let me just — let me just…

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, thank you.

SANDERS: Let me just jump in. My name was invoked.

MUIR: Senator?

SANDERS: So with that invocation, let me say a few words.

(LAUGHTER)

Secretary Clinton, I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t get any money from Wall Street. You have gotten a whole lot of money over the years from Wall Street. But most importantly, when you look at what happened in the 1990s, go to berniesanders.com. I’ll advertise my Web site as well.

(LAUGHTER)

And what you’ll find is that I led — helped lead the effort as a member of the House financial committee against Alan Greenspan, against a guy named Bill Clinton, maybe you know him, maybe you don’t.

(LAUGHTER)

Against the Republican leadership, who all thought it would be a great idea to merge investor banks and commercial banks and large insurance companies. What a brilliant idea that would be.

Go to YouTube. Find out what I said to Greenspan. At the end of the day, if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, and the governor makes a good point about trade, anti-trade, anti-monopoly activities.

Wall Street today has too much political power. It has too much economic power. To get deregulated — listen to this, they spent $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions over a 10-year period.

MUIR: Senator Sanders…

SANDERS: Wall Street is a threat to the economy. They’ve got to be broken up.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Thank you, Senator. RADDATZ: And we’re going to move on to health care.

Secretary Clinton, the Department of Health and Human Services says more than 17 million Americans who are not insured now have health coverage because of Obamacare. But for Americans who already had health insurance the cost has gone up 27 percent in the last five years while deductibles are up 67 percent, health care costs are rising faster than many Americans can manage.

What’s broken in Obamacare that needs to be fixed right now? And what would you do to fix it?

CLINTON: Well, I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches that you just referenced.

Number one, we do have more people who have access to health care. We have ended the terrible situation that people with pre- existing conditions were faced with where they couldn’t find at any affordable price health care.

Women are not charged more than men any longer for our health insurance. And we keep young people on our policies until they turn 26.

(APPLAUSE)

Those are all really positive developments. But out-of-pocket costs have gone up too much and prescription drug costs have gone through the roof. And so what I have proposed, number one, is a $5,000 tax credit to help people who have very large out-of-pocket costs be able to afford those.

Number two, I want Medicare to be able to negotiate for lower drug prices just like they negotiate with other countries’ health systems.

(APPLAUSE)

We end up paying the highest prices in the world. And I want us to be absolutely clear about making sure the insurance companies in the private employer policy arena as well as in the Affordable Care exchanges are properly regulated so that we are not being gamed.

And I think that’s an important point to make because I’m going through and analyzing the points you were making, Martha. We don’t have enough competition and we don’t have enough oversight of what the insurance companies are charging everybody right now.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: But you did say those were glitches.

CLINTON: Yes.

RADDATZ: Just glitches?

CLINTON: Well, they’re glitches because…

RADDATZ: Twenty-seven percent in the last five years, deductibles up 67 percent?

CLINTON: It is. Because part of this is the startup challenges that this system is facing. We have fought, as Democrats, for decades to get a health care plan. I know. I’ve got the scars to show from the effort back in the early ’90s.

We want to build on it and fix it. And I’m confident we can do that. And it will have effects in the private market. And one of the reasons in some states why the percentage cost has gone up so much is because governors there would not extend Medicaid.

And so people are still going to get health care, thankfully, in emergency rooms, in hospitals. Those costs are then added to the overall cost, which does increase the insurance premiums for people in the private system.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, I want you to respond to what she was saying, but you’re instead calling for single-payer health care.

SANDERS: Yes, exactly, exactly.

RADDATZ: You note people won’t have to pay deductibles or premiums but they will have to pay new taxes. Can you tell us specifically how much people will be expected to pay?

SANDERS: Yes, well, roughly. Let me say this. As a member of the Health Education Committee that helped write the Affordable Care Act, much of what Secretary Clinton said about what we have done, among other things, ending the obscenity of this pre-existing situation is a step forward.

Seventeen more million more people have health care. It is a step forward. A step forward.

But this is what we also have to say. Not only are deductibles rising, 29 million Americans still have no health insurance and millions of people can’t afford to go to the doctor. Major crisis and primary health care. Here is the bottom line. Why is it that the United States of America today is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right?

Why is it…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Why is it that we are — why is it that we spend almost three times per capita as to what they spend in the U.K., 50 percent more than what they pay in France, countries that guarantee health care to all of their people and in many cases, have better health care outcomes. Bottom line.

This ties into campaign finance reform. The insurance companies, the drug companies are bribing the United States Congress. We need to pass a Medicare for all single payer system. It will lower the cost of health care for a middle-class family by thousands of dollars a year.

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, you didn’t really tell us specifically how much people will be expected to pay…

SANDERS: But they will not be paying, Martha, any private insurance. So it’s unfair to say in total…

RADDATZ: But you can’t tell us this specifically, even if you were…

SANDERS: I can tell you that adding up the fact you’re not paying any private insurance, businesses are not paying any private insurance. The average middle-class family will be saving thousands of dollars a year. RADDATZ: OK. Let’s go to talk about the high cost of college education and for that we turn to the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, right here at Saint Anselm college, Neil Levesque.

Neil?

LEVESQUE: Here to New Hampshire again. As you know, this auditorium is filled with many Saint Anselm college students. They know the outstanding student debt right now in America is $1.3 trillion. That private education costs have gone up in the last decade 26 percent, and 40 percent for public education.

So knowing that, we know you want to make public education more affordable but how do you really lower the cost? Senator Sanders, you mentioned a few minutes ago that you want free tuition for public colleges.

SANDERS: And universities.

LEVESQUE: How does that really lower the cost other than just shifting the cost to taxpayers?

SANDERS: Well, Neil, I think we’ve got to work on a two-pronged approach. And your point is absolutely well taken. The cost of college education is escalating a lot faster than the cost of inflation. There are a lot of factors involved in that.

And that is that we have some colleges and universities that are spending a huge amount of money on fancy dormitories and on giant football stadiums. Maybe we should focus on quality education with well-paid faculty members. But…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And I understand in many universities a heck of a lot of vice presidents who earn a big salary. But, bottom line is this is the year 2015. If we are going to be competitive in the global economy we need the best educated workforce.

It is insane to my mind, hundreds of thousands of young people today, bright qualified people, cannot go to college because they cannot afford — their families cannot afford to send them. Millions coming out of school as you indicated, deeply in debt. What do we do?

My proposal is to put a speculation tax on wall street, raise very substantial sums of money, not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, but also substantially lower interest rates on student debt. You have families out there paying 6 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent on student debt, refinance their homes at 3 percent.

What sense is that? So I think we need radical changes in the funding of higher education. We should look at college today the way high school was looked at 60 years ago. All young people who have the ability should be able to get a college education. (APPLAUSE)

LEVESQUE: Governor O’Malley, how do you propose — Governor O’Malley, how do you propose lowering some of these costs associated with higher education?

O’MALLEY: Yes, this one falls under the category of, I have actually done this. As a governor we actually made the greater investments so that we could go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

My plan actually goes further than Senator Sanders because a big chunk of the cost is actually room and board and books and fees. So as a nation we need to increase what we invest in Pell grants. Yes, we need to make it easier for parents to refinance.

O’MALLEY: But states need to do more as well. And I propose a block grant program that will keep the states in the game as well. I believe that all of our kids should go into an income-based repayment plan.

I’m joined tonight by two daughters, Tara and Grace. My oldest daughter’s a teacher. Man (ph), their mother’s here as well. We were proud of them on graduation day, weren’t we, Katie? And we’re going to be proud every month for the rest of our lives.

I mean, we had to borrow so much money to send them to college and were not the only ones. There’re families all across America who aren’t able to contribute to our economy because of this crushing student loan. I also propose that we can pay for this with a tax on high volume trades and we need to because my dad came to college after World War II on a G.I. Bill.

But today, we’re the only nation on the planet that’s saddling our kids with a lifetime of bills. That’s a drag on the economy. It’s one of the key investments we need to make. I was flattered that Secretary Clinton two months later borrowed so many of my proposals to incorporate into hers. And in our party, unlike the Republican party, we actually believe that the more our people learn, the more they will earn and higher education should be a right for every kid.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Right.

MCELVEEN: Secretary Clinton, how does your plan differentiate from your opponents?

CLINTON: Well, I have what I call the new college compact. Because I think everybody has to have some skin in this game, you know.

Number one, States have been dis-investing in higher education. In fact, I think New Hampshire, in state tuition for public colleges and universities, is among the highest if not the highest in the country. So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere; into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education. So under my compact, the federal government will match money that the states begin to put back in to the higher education system.

Secondly, I don’t believe in free tuition for everybody. I believe we should focus on middle-class families, working families, and poor kids who have the ambition and the talent to go to college and get ahead. So I have proposed debt free tuition, which I think is affordable and I would move a lot of the Pell Grant and other aid into the arena where it could be used for living expense. So I put all of this together, again, on my website and I’ve gotten such a good response.

But I want to quickly say, one of the areas that Senator Sanders touched on in talking about education and certainly talking about health care is his commitment to really changing the systems. Free college, a single payer system for health, and it’s been estimated were looking at 18 to $20 trillion, about a 40 percent in the federal budget.

And I have looked at his proposed plans for health care for example, and it really does transfer every bit of our health care system including private health care, to the states to have the states run. And I think we’ve got to be really thoughtful about how we’re going to afford what we proposed, which is why everything that I have proposed I will tell you exactly how I’m going to pay for it; including college.

MCELVEEN: Thank you Secretary Clinton, thank you.

SANDERS: May I respond to the critique on the …

MCELVEEN: Back to you David.

MUIR: We’re going to get right into this Senator but I want to ask about taxes next. This is included.

SANDERS: I would just…

MUIR: She was asking about that…

SANDERS: But Secretary Clinton is wrong.

As you know, because I know you know a lot about health care. You know that the United States per capita pays far and away more than other country. And it is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that, we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer than on the Secretary’s Clinton proposal.

CLINTON: Well, the only thing – the only thing I can go on Senator Sanders…

MUIR: Are we back on health care – Secretary Clinton hold one moment. Senator Sanders…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Your proposal is to go and send the health care system to the state.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, please.

CLINTON: And my analysis is, that you are going to get more taxes out of middle class families. I’m the only person…

MUIR: So let’s ask about it.

Secretary Clinton, let’s turn to the taxes.

CLINTON: … saying, no middle class tax raises. That’s off the table…

MUIR: This is where we are going next, we are going next to taxes here…

SANDERS: Now, this is getting to be fun.

MUIR: This is fun.

(APPLAUSE)

This is democracy at work.

Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about your tax plan because from the crushing cost of college education, the next question most families have; is will my taxes go up under the next president? You have said it’s your goal not to raise taxes on families making under $200,000 a year a goal. But can you say that’s a promise as you stand here tonight?

CLINTON: That is a pledge that I’m making. I made it when I ran in 2008.

MUIR: A promise?

CLINTON: Yes, and it was the same one that President Obama made. Because I don’t think we should be imposing new big programs that are going to raise middle class families’ taxes.

We just heard that most families haven’t had a wage increase since 2001. Since, you know, the end of the last Clinton administration when incomes did go up for everybody. And we’ve got to get back to where people can save money again, where they can invest in their families, and I don’t think a middle-class tax should be part of anybody’s plan right now.

SANDERS: Let me respond to…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: Let me respond to…

MUIR: Please.

SANDERS: Number one, most important economic reality of today is that over the last 30 years, there has been a transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent who are seeing a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

Now, when Secretary Clinton says, “I’m not going raise taxes on the middle class,” let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave.

What the legislation is is $1.61 a week. Now, you can say that’s a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months paid family and medical leave for the working families of this country. I think, Secretary Clinton, $1.61 a week is a pretty good invest.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. Let me bring in Governor O’Malley…

CLINTON: Senator, I have been — I have been fighting for paid…

MUIR: You’ve heard…

CLINTON: … family leave for a very long time…

MUIR: Secretary Clinton.

SANDERS: David, thank you.

CLINTON: I have a way to pay for it that actually makes the wealthiest pay for it…

SANDERS: Then (inaudible)…

CLINTON: … not everybody else.

SANDERS: Every (inaudible) Democrat and senator in support of this proposal introduced by your good friend and my good friend, Kirsten Gillibrand, Rosa DeLauro, got ears (ph) to legislation out there that will finally provide family and medical leave.

MUIR: Thank you. I want to bring in Governor O’Malley on this. We heard the promise from Secretary Clinton because people want to know about their taxes, will they go up. She has now promised here tonight not to raise them on families making $250,000 or less. Can you make that same promise if you’re elected?

O’MALLEY: No, I’ve never made a promise like that. But unlike either of these two fine people, I’ve actually balanced a budget every single year. I was one — I was the only — one of only seven states that had a AAA bond rating. By the time I left, the average tax burden on Maryland families was the same as when I started.

But I did pass a more progressive income tax and asked the highest-earning people to pay another 14 percent. David, look, this is the big — I agree, by the way, that we should have paid family leave. And I agree with Senator Sanders on that. And just like Social Security and unlike the Republicans, I think we should actually expand Social Security and increase average monthly benefits.

But look, there’s one big entitlement we can no longer afford as a country, and that is the entitlement that the super wealthy among us, those earning more than a million dollars, feel that they’re entitled to pay lower income tax rates and a far lower preferred income tax rate when it comes to capital gains.

If we were to raise the marginal rate to 45 percent for people earning more than a million dollars and if we tax capital gains essentially the same we do earnings from hard work and sweat and toil, you could generate $800 billion over the next ten years and that would do so much good for affordable college, debt-free college, cutting youth unemployment in half, investing in our cities again.

So the things I have done in office are the things that actually invest in growing our economy and making wages go up. That’s the issue that we need to tackle as Americans, and we can do it and we know how.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you. A spirited debate on taxes. And there will be more with the Democratic debate in New Hampshire, when we come back right here on ABC. More in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight to New Hampshire. The Democratic debate continues here on ABC.

And Secretary Clinton, we want to turn to race, now, in America. There is a real concern in this country from Black Lives Matter and from other community groups that we’re just now seeing, with smartphones and cell phones, what many have been dealing with for years when they come in contact with police.

But you also have many in law enforcement who now say there has been a so-called Ferguson effect, police holding back because they’re afraid of backlash.

MUIR: In fact, the FBI director is calling it a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement. So, if elected president, how would you bridge the divide between the two?

CLINTON: Well, David, I think this is one of the most important challenges facing not just our next president but our country. We have systemic racism and injustice and inequities in our country and in particular, in our justice system that must be addressed and must be ended.

I feel very strongly that we have to reform our criminal justice system and we have to find ways to try to bring law enforcement together again with the communities that they are sworn to protect. Trust has been totally lost in a lot of places.

At the same time, we know that in many parts of our country police officers are bridging those divides and they’re acting heroically. The young officer who was killed responding to the Planned Parenthood murders. The officer who told the victims of the San Bernardino killings that he would take a bullet before them.

So I think that we need to build on the work of the policing commissioner that President Obama impaneled. We need to get a bipartisan commitment to work together on this.

And we need to hear the voices of those men and women and boys and girls who feel like strangers in their own country and do whatever is necessary to not only deal with the immediate problems within the criminal justice system, but more opportunities, more jobs, better education so that we can begin to rebuild that very valuable asset known as trust.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, how would you bridge the divide?

O’MALLEY: There is no issue in American public policy that I have worked on more day in and day out than this painful issue of policing, of law enforcement, criminal justice and race in America.

When I ran in 1999, David, for mayor of Baltimore, our city by that year had become the most addicted, violent, and abandoned in America. But we came together. I brought people together over some very deep racial divides. And we were able to put our city on the path for the biggest reduction in crime of any major city in America over the next ten years.

As governor, we continued to work together. We reduced violent crime to 30-year lows. But get this. We also reduced incarceration rates to 20-year lows. So it is possible actually, to find the things that actually work, that we did, increasing drug treatment, using big data to better protect the lives of young people, cut juvenile crime in half, and it’s also possible to improve how we police our police.

But there wasn’t a single day as mayor of Baltimore that I wasn’t asked whether I was delivering on the promise I made to police the police. We reported excessive force, discourtesy, use of lethal force. In fact, drove down to three of the four lowest years on record police use of lethal force.

As a nation, we have to embrace this moment and make our departments more open, more transparent, and more accountable. Just as we require every major department, every county to report its major crimes, we should require police departments to report their discourtesy, brutality, excessive force.

There’s so much work that can be done, so much we’ve learned to do better. We need to do it now as a nation. This is our time and our opportunity to do that.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: And Senator Sanders, when you hear the FBI director calling it a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement, does that concern you as well when you —

SANDERS: Well, this whole issue concerns me. And I agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. But let’s be clear. Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

We are spending $80 billion a year locking up our fellow Americans. I think, and this is not easy, but I think we need to make wage a major effort, to come together as a country and end institutional racism. We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean?

Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime.

SANDERS: That is why we need to make…

(APPLAUSE)

That is why we need to make police — and I speak as a former mayor. I was a mayor for eight years, worked very closely with a great police department. And what we did is try to move that department toward community policing, so that the police officers become part of the community and not, as we see, in some cities an oppressive force.

We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve in terms of diversity. We need to end minimal sentencing. We need, basically, to pledge that we’re going to invest in this country, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you. We want to turn now to an issue.

This next issue has destroyed so many families across the country, and in particular right here in New Hampshire, heroin. And there’s a stunning new figure out. A recent poll — 48 percent here, in this state alone, say they know someone who has abused heroin.

We’re going to turn tonight to Dan Tuohy of the New Hampshire Union Leader who has this question.

QUESTION: New Hampshire has been hard hit by the heroin epidemic, and we’re on track to have twice as many overdose deaths this year as in 2013.

What specifically would you do to address this crisis?

MUIR: Senator Sanders, I’m going to take this to you first because you’ve seen what’s happened with heroin right on the border in your own state.

SANDERS: Yes. Look, this is a tragedy for New Hampshire. It is a tragedy for my state of Vermont. It is a tragedy all over this country. The number of heroin deaths are growing very, very significantly.

What do we do? Well, for a start, this may seem like a radical idea, but I think we have got to tell the medical profession and doctors who are prescribing opiates and the pharmaceutical industry that they have got to start getting their act together, we cannot have this huge number of opiates out there throughout this country, where young people are taking them, getting hooked, and then going to heroin.

Second of all, and the reason I believe in a health care for all program, we need to understand that addiction is a disease, not a criminal activity.

(APPLAUSE)

And that means — and that means radically changing the way we deal with mental health and addiction issues. When somebody is addicted and seeking help, they should not have to wait three, four months in order to get that help. They should be able to walk in the door tomorrow and get a variety of treatments that work for them.

So those are some of the areas that I think we’ve got to move on.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: You know, on my very first visit to New Hampshire in this campaign, I was in Keene, and I was asked what are you going to do about the heroin epidemic? And all over New Hampshire, I met grandmothers who are raising children because they lost the father or the mother to an overdose. I met young people who are desperately trying to get clean and have nowhere to go, because there are not enough facilities.

So this is a major epidemic, and it has hit New Hampshire and Vermont particularly hard. I’ve had had two town halls, one in Keene, one in Laconia, dedicated exclusively to talking about what we can do. And I’ve heard some great ideas about how law enforcement is changing its behavior, how the recovery community is reaching out.

And I was proud to get the endorsement of Mayor Walsh of Boston, who has made his struggle with alcoholism a real clarion call for action in this arena.

So, I’ve laid out a five-point plan about what we can do together. I would like the federal government to offer $10 billion over ten years to work with states, and I really applaud Governor Hassan for taking up this challenge and working with the legislature here to come up with a plan.

We need to do more on the prescribing end of it. There are too many opioids being prescribed, and that leads directly now to heroin addiction. And we need to change the way we do law enforcement, and of course, we need more programs and facilities, so when somebody is ready to get help, there’s a place for them to go.

And every law enforcement should carry the antidote to overdose, Naloxone, so that they can save lives that are on the brink of expiring.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you. O’MALLEY: And you know, I actually know a great deal about this issue. And I have a dear friend, played music with him for years, remember when his — when he came home with his baby girl, and now she’s no longer with us, because of addiction and overdose.

The last time in New Hampshire, I had to take a break shortly after landing and call home and comfort a friend whose mother had died of an overdose.

O’MALLEY: Drugs have taken far too many of our citizens. It’s a huge public health challenge. In our own city, I mentioned before, we had become the most addicted city in America.

But together, every single year, I expanded drug treatment funding within our city and then I expanded it in our state, and we were saving lives every single year doing the things that work, intervening earlier, understanding the continuum of care that’s required until we got hit like every other state in the state — in the United States, especially in New Hampshire and in the northeast with this opioid addiction, the over-prescribing.

I agree, we need better — we need to rein in the over- prescribing, but I have put forward on my — in my plan a $12 billion federal investment. We have to invest in the local partnerships, and the best place to intervene, the best indicator of when a person is actually on the verge of killing themselves because of an addiction, is at the hospital. That very first time they show up with a near miss, we should be intervening there. That’s what I said to my own public health people. What would we do if this were ebola? How would we act?

So many more Americans have been killed by the combination of heroin and these highly addictive pain pills, and yet, we refuse to act. There are thing that can be done. Go on to my website. My plan is there. It’s one of 15 strategic goals I’ve set out to make our country a better place by cutting these sort of deaths in half in the next five years.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you.

Martha?

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want to circle back to something that your opponents here have brought up. Libya is falling apart. The country is a haven for ISIS and jihadists with an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there today. You advocated for that 2011 intervention and called it smart power at its best. And yet, even President Obama said the U.S. should have done more to fill the leadership vacuum left behind. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed elections?

CLINTON: Well, first, let’s remember why we became part of a coalition to stop Gadhafi from committing massacres against his people. The United States was asked to support the Europeans and the Arab partners that we had and we did a lot of due diligence about whether we should or not, and eventually, yes, I recommended and the president decided that we would support the action to protect civilians on the ground and that led to the overthrow of Gadhafi.

I think that what Libya then did by having a full free election, which elected moderates, was an indication of their crying need and desire to get on the right path. Now, the whole region has been rendered unstable, in part because of the aftermath of the Arab Spring, in part because of the very effective outreach and propagandizing that ISIS and other terrorist groups do.

But what we’re seeing happening in Libya right now is that there has been a fragile agreement to put aside the differences that exist among Libyans themselves to try to dislodge ISIS from Sirte, the home town of Gadhafi, and to begin to try to create a national government.

You know, this is not easy work. We did a lot to help. We did as much as we could because the Libyans themselves had very strong feelings about what they wished to accept. But we’re always looking for ways about what more we can do to try to give people a chance to be successful.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want to go back. That — government lacked institutions and experience. It had been a family business for 40 years. On the security side, we offered only a modest training effort and a very limited arms buy-back program. Let me ask you the question again. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed those elections?

CLINTON: Martha, we offered a lot more than they were willing to take. We offered a lot more. We also got rid of their chemical weapons, which was a big help, and we also went after a lot of the shoulder-fired missiles to round them up. You know, we can’t — if we’re not going to send American troops, which there was never any idea of doing that, then to try to send trainers, to try to send experts, is something we offered, Europeans offered, the U.N. offered, and there wasn’t a lot of responsiveness at first.

I think a lot of the Libyans who had been forced out of their country by Gadhafi who came back to try to be part of a new government, believed they knew what to do and it turned out that they were no match for some of the militaristic forces inside that country. But I’m not giving up on Libya and I don’t think anybody should. We’ve been at this a couple of years.

RADDATZ: But were mistakes made?

CLINTON: Well, there’s always a retrospective to say what mistakes were made. But I know that we offered a lot of help and I know it was difficult for the Libyans to accept help. What we could have done if they had said yes would have been a lot more than what we were able to have done.

SANDERS: But what…

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.

The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.

So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I’m not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.

O’MALLEY: Martha — I would just repeat that —

CLINTON: Well, I would just repeat that.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Wait a minute. I think it’s only fair to put on the record, Senator Sanders voted in the Senate for a resolution calling for ending the Gadhafi regime and asking that the U.N. be brought in, either a congressional vote or a U.N. Security Council vote. We got a U.N. Security council vote.

Now, I understand that this is very difficult. And I’m not standing here today and saying that Libya is as far along as Tunisia. We saw what happened in Egypt. I cautioned about a quick overthrow of Mubarak, and we now are back with basically an army dictatorship.

This is a part of the world where the United States has tried to play two different approaches. One, work with the tough men, the dictators, for our own benefit and promote democracy. That’s a hard road to walk. But I think it’s the right road for us to try to travel.

O’MALLEY: And Martha…

RADDATZ: Quick Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: … and in this case, we probably let our lust for regime toppling get ahead of the practical considerations for stability in that region. And I believe that one of the big failings in that region is a lack of human intelligence. We have not made the investments that we need to make to understand and to have relationships with future leaders that are coming up.

That’s what Chris Stevens was trying to do. But without the tools, without the support that was needed to that. And now what we have is a whole stretch now, of the coast of Libya, 100 miles, 150 miles, that has now become potentially the next safe haven for ISIL. They go back and forth between Syria and this region. We have to stop contributing to the creation of vacuums that allow safe havens to develop.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much. Thank you. We’re going to move on here. Governor O’Malley, thank you very much for that. And we’re going to make a very sharp turn as we wrap things up here.

Secretary Clinton, first ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse. But they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor. I know you think you know where I’m going here.

You have said that Bill Clinton is a great host and loves giving tours but may opt out of picking flower arrangements if you’re elected. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a president’s spouse?

CLINTON: Well, the role has been defined by each person who’s held it. And I am very grateful for all my predecessors and my successors because each of them not only did what she could to support her husband and our country but often chose to work on important issues that were of particular concern.

Obviously, Mrs. Obama has been a terrific leader when it comes to young people’s health, particularly nutrition and exercise. And I think has had a big impact. So whoever is part of the family of a president has an extraordinary privilege of not only having a front row seat on history but making her or maybe his contribution.

And with respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that. But I will certainly turn to him as prior presidents have for special missions, for advice, and in particular, how we’re going to get the economy working again for everybody, which he knows a little bit about.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: I do want to follow up here for each of you. And a similar line of questioning. Senator Sanders, your wife Jane shares an office at your campaign headquarters in Burlington. We’ve seen the pictures, the desks right next to each other. Would she have a desk close by in the west wing?

SANDERS: Given the fact that she’s a lot smarter than me, yes, she would.

(LAUGHTER)

And let me, by the way, take this moment to congratulate Hillary Clinton, who I thought not only did an outstanding job as our first lady, but redefined what that role could be.

So, I thank you very much for that.

(LAUGHTER)

My wife, Jane, has been — way back when before I knew her, a foster parent. Many, many kids came into her home and received the kind of love that they desperately needed. And she turned around many lives.

She is the best parent and grandmother that I know. She has devoted her life, when I was mayor of the city of Burlington, actually when I first met her, we started a youth office, which started a after-school programs for kids, started a child care center, started a youth newspaper. We got the kids involved in a whole lot of issues.

She led that effort. So I think, at a time when so many of our kids are desperately looking for constructive activity, where too many of our kids are hanging around on street corners, potentially getting into trouble, I think we need a forceful advocate for the children, for teenagers, for the little children, to deal with the dysfunctional child care system, and I think my wife would do a great job in helping me accomplish those goals.

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

Governor O’Malley — Governor O’Malley, you have talked about your wife, Katie, here tonight. She’s a district court judge. And the question for you is, would she have to give that up as first lady, or will she share an office in the west wing as well? O’MALLEY: Well, that would be totally up to her. I mean, Katie has never been a person who let her husband’s professional choices get in the way of following her dreams.

And I think she got that from her mother, actually.

(APPLAUSE)

The — and I readily admit that she is a far more accomplished lawyer than I was ever able to become, before I took my detour. She is a district court judge in Maryland. She puts in a full day there. We’ve raised four terrific kids. And yet, when she was first lady of the state, not only would she go to work every day and sit there through a lot of sad and gut-wrenching cases, but then she’d put in additional time being an advocate against domestic violence.

Maryland made great strides on that because of her advocacy, and her understanding of how the court process works. She was an advocate against bullying and implementing anti-bullying things. So Katie O’Malley will do whatever Katie O’Malley wants to do, regardless of her husband’s success in getting elected president.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you, (inaudible).

O’MALLEY: Thank you.

MUIR: Governor, thank you. We’ll be back with much more from New Hampshire. The Democratic debate continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight. It’s been an evening of lively discussion among the candidates and it’s time for closing statements. We began in alphabetical order, so we’ll reverse the order at the end and begin with you, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Well, thank you very much for hosting this debate, and let me applaud my colleagues up here. Because I think frankly, maybe I’m wrong, but on our worst day, I think we have a lot more to offer the American people than the right wing’s extremists.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: My father came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, which sparked my interest in the need for immigration reform because I know what it’s like to be the son of an immigrant.

We grew up in a three-and-a-half-room, rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn, New York. My mother’s dream — and she died very young, but my mother’s dream for her whole life was to be able to get out of that rent-controlled apartment and own a home of her own. She never lived to see that.

SANDERS: But what my parents did accomplish is they were able to send both of their sons to college. We were the first in the family. So I know something about economic anxiety and living in a family does not have sufficient income.

And that is why I am pledged, if elected president of the United States, to bring about a political revolution where millions of people begin to stand up and finally say enough is enough, this great country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Governor O’Malley?

Martha, thank you. I want to thank all of the people who have tuned in tonight. I want to thank the great people of New Hampshire, where despite all of the cynicism about big money and big banks taking over our politics, here in New Hampshire, the individual matters.

You know, my wife Katie and I have four terrific kids, and like you, there’s probably nothing we wouldn’t do to give them a future that’s safer, that’s healthier, where they have more opportunity than our parents and grandparents gave to us. Tonight, what you listened to was a healthy exchange of ideas about how we’d do that, that which we have always proven, the capacity to do better than any nation in the world, to take actions that include more of our people more fully in the economic, social and political life of our country.

When you listened to the Republican debate the other night, you heard a lot of anger and you had a lot of fear. Well, they can have their anger and they can have their fear, but anger and fear never built America. We build our country by adopting wage and labor policies, including comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway of citizenship for all. We do it by investing in our country, by investing in infrastructure, by investing in the skills and the talents of our people with debt-free college, and we can do it again.

And we also create a better future for our kids when we square our shoulders to the great challenges of our times, whether it’s terror trying to undermine our values or Republican presidential candidates trying to get us to surrender our freedoms and our values in the face of this threat.

The other big challenge we have is climate change. The greatest business opportunity to come to the United States of America in 100 years. We need to embrace this. I have put forward a plan that does this, that moves us to 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050. Join this campaign for the future. New leadership is what our country needs to move us out of these divided and polarized times. Thank you.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: On January 20th, 2017, the next president of the United States will walk into the White House. If, heaven forbid, that next president is a Republican, I think it’s pretty clear we know what will happen. A lot of the rights that have been won over years, from women’s rights to voter rights to gay rights to worker rights, will be at risk.

Social Security, which Republicans call a Ponzi scheme, may face privatization. Our vets may see the V.A. hospital that needs to be improved and made better for them turned over to privatization. Planned Parenthood will be defunded. The list goes on because the differences are so stark.

You know, everybody says every election’s important, and there’s truth to that. This is a watershed election. I know how important it is that we have a Democrat succeed President Obama in the White House. And I will do all that I can in this campaign to reach out and explain what I stand for and what I will do as president.

You know, I became a grandmother 15 months ago, and so I spent a lot of time thinking about my granddaughter’s future. But as president, I will spend even more time thinking about the futures of all the kids and the grandchildren in this country because I want to make sure every single child has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. If you will join me in this campaign, we will make that a mission. Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Thank you to the candidates tonight. Thank you to the audience here in New Hampshire here at St. Anselm. And thank you to the audience at home. We wish all of you at home a happy and safe holiday week ahead and we wish all the candidates a happy and safe holiday with your families.

Full Text Political Transcripts December 18, 2015: President Barack Obama’s end-of-year news conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Transcript: President Obama’s end-of-year news conference

Source: WaPo, 12-18-15

President Obama held his final news conference of the year before leaving for two weeks of vacation in his home state of Hawaii on Friday, fielding questions on terrorism and national security as he sought to highlight some of his domestic and foreign policy achievements over the past year.

Here is the full text of his remarks.

OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Clearly, this is not the most important event that’s taking place in the White House today. There is a screening of Star Wars for Gold Star families and children coming up. So I’ll try to be relatively succinct. Let me say a few words about the year behind us and the year ahead and then I’ll take a few questions. As I look back on this year, the one thing I see is that so much of our steady persistent work over the years is paying off for the American people in big, tangible ways. Our early actions to rescue the economy set the stage for the longest streak of private sector job growth on record, with 13.7 million new jobs in that time. The unemployment rate has been cut in half, down to 5 percent. And most importantly, wages grew faster than at any time since the recovery began.

OBAMA: So over the course of this year, a lot of the decisions that we made early on have paid off. Years of steady implementation of the Affordable Care Act helped to drive the rate of the uninsured in America below 10 percent for 10 percent for the first time since records were kept on that. Health care prices have grown at their lowest level in five decades. Seventeen million more Americans have gained coverage, and we now know that 6 million people have signed up through healthcare.gov for coverage beginning on January, 1st — 600,000 on Tuesday alone.

New customers are up one-third over last year, and the more who sign up, the stronger the system becomes. And that’s good news for every American who no longer has to worry about being just one illness or accident away from financial hardship.

On climate, our early investment in clean energy ignited a clean energy industry boom. Our actions to help reduce our carbon emissions brought China to the table and last week in Paris nearly 200 nations forged a historic agreement that was only possible because of American leadership. Around the world, from reaching the deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, to re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, to concluding a landmark trade agreement that will make sure that American workers and American businesses are operating on a level playing field and that we, rather than China or other countries, are setting the rules for global trade. We have shone what is possible when America leads.

And after decades of dedicated advocacy, marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states.

So I just want to point out I said at the beginning of this year that interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter, and we are only halfway through.

I do want to thank Congress for ending the year on a high note. I got to sign an education bill that is going to fix some of the challenges that we had with No Child Left Behind, and promises to invest more in high-quality early childhood education.

OBAMA: We signed a transportation bill that, although not as robust as I think we need, still allows states and local governments to plan and actually get moving putting people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges. We got Ex-Im Bank back to work supporting American exports.

And today they passed a bipartisan budget deal. I’m not wild about everything in it. I’m sure that’s true for everybody. But it is a budget that, as I insisted, invests in our military and our middle class without ideological provisions that would have weakened Wall Street reform or rules on big polluters. It’s part of an agreement that will permanently extend tax credits to 24 million working families. It includes some long-sought wins like strengthening America’s leadership at the IMF.
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And because it eliminates the possibility of a shutdown for the first nine months of next year, Congress and I have a long way to get important things done on behalf of the American people.

Now there’s still a lot of work to do. For example, there’s still a lot more that Congress can do to promote job growth and increase wages in this country. I still want to work with Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system.

And earlier today I commuted the sentences of 95 men and women who had served their debt to society, and another step forward in upholding our ideals of justice and fairness.

And of course, our most important job is to keep Americans safe. I’ve had a lot to say about that this week, but let me reiterate. The United States continues to lead a global coalition in our mission to destroy ISIL. ISIL’s already lost about 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq, and it’s losing territory in Syria.

As we keep up the pressure, our air campaign will continue to hit ISIL harder than ever, taking out their leaders, their commanders and their forces. We’re stepping up our support for partners on the ground as they push ISIL back. Our men and women in uniform are carrying out their mission with a trademark professionalism and courage. And this holiday season all of us are united in our gratitude for their service, and we are thankful to their families as well because they serve alongside those who are actually deployed.

Squeezing ISIL’s heart at its core in Syria and Iraq will make it harder for them to pump their terror and propaganda to the rest of the world. At the same time, as we know from San Bernardino, where I’ll visit with families later today, we have to remain vigilant here at home. Our counter-terrorism, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement communities are working 24/7 to protect our homeland. And all of us can do our part by staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that is suspicious, by refusing to be terrorized, and staying united as one American family.

In short for all the very real progress America’s made over the past seven years, we still have some unfinished business. And I plan on doing everything I can with every minute of every day that I have left as president to deliver on behalf of the American people.

Since taking this office, I have never been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now. And in 2016 I’m going to leave it out all on the field.

So with that, let me take some questions.

I’ll start with Roberta Ranton (ph) on Reuters.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you’re going to California today. And as you said earlier this week, you told the nation that there’s no specific or credible threat of a similar attack, but how is it really possible to know? I mean, aren’t similar plots going to be just as hard to detect beforehand? And some lawmakers are saying that your government should review the social media of all people applying for visas to come to this country. What do you think of that idea? Should that be mandatory?

OBAMA: Well, Roberta, you’re absolutely right that it is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife, in this case, because despite the incredible vigilance of all of our law enforcement, homeland security, et cetera, it’s not that different from us trying to detect the next mass shooter. You don’t always see it. They’re not always communicating publicly, and if you’re not catching what they say publicly, then it becomes a challenge.

We are continuing to work at every level, to make sure that there’s no slip between information-sharing among agencies.

OBAMA: We’re continuing to strengthen our information sharing with foreign countries, and because in part of the tragedy in Paris, I think you’re seeing much greater cooperation from our European partners on these issues.

But this is a different kind of challenge than the sort that we had with an organization like Al Qaida, that involved highly trained operatives who were working as cells or as a network.

Here, essentially, you have ISIL trying to encourage or induce somebody who may be prey to this kind of propaganda, and it becomes more difficult to — to see.

It does mean that they are less likely to be able to carry out large, complex attacks, but as we saw in San Bernardino, obviously, you can still do enormous damage.

The issue of reviewing social media for those who are obtaining visas, I think, may have gotten garbled a little bit, because there may be — it’s important to distinguish between posts that are public — social media on a Facebook page — versus private communications through various social media or apps.

And our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring public posts, and that is part of the visa review process, that — that people are investigating what individuals have said publicly, and questioned about any statements that they maybe made.

But if you have a private communication between two individuals, that’s harder to discern, by definition. And one of the things we’ll be doing is engaging with the high-tech community to find out how we can, in an appropriate way, do a better job, if we have a lead, to be able to track a suspected terrorist.

But we’re gonna have to recognize that no government is gonna have the capacity to read every single person’s texts or e-mails or social media. If — if it’s not posted publicly, then there are gonna be feasibility issues that are — that are probably insurmountable at some level.

And, you know, it raises questions about our values. I mean, keep in mind it was only a couple years ago where we were having a major debate about whether the government was becoming too much like Big Brother. And, overall, I think we have struck the right balance in protecting civil liberties and making sure that U.S. citizens’ privacy is preserved, that we are making sure that there’s oversight to what our intelligence agencies do.

But, you know, we’re going to have to continue to balance our needs for security with people’s legitimate concerns about privacy. And because the Internet is global and communications systems are global, you know, the values that we apply here often times are ones that folks who are trying to come into the country are also benefiting from, because they’re using the same technologies.

But this is precisely why we’re working very hard to bring law enforcement, intelligence and high-tech companies together, because we’re gonna have to really review what we can do, both technically as well as consistent with our laws and values, in order to try to discern more rapidly some of the potential threats that may be out there.

OK. David Jackson.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a Gitmo question. Congress has made it pretty clear that they are just (ph) not gonna let you transfer prisoners to the United States for trial. But some people think you already have the executive authority to transfer those prisoners and — and close Gitmo itself next year.

My question is, do you believe you have that authority, and are you willing to exercise it to close that (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, we have been working systematically, another example of persistence, in reducing the population. We have a review process for those who are eligible for transfer. We locate (ph), in countries that have accepted some of these detainees, they monitor them, and it’s been determined that they can be transferred.

And my expectation is, by the early (ph) — by early next year, we should have reduced that population below 100. And we will continue — continue to steadily chip away at the numbers in Guantanamo.

There’s gonna come to a point where we have an irreducible population — people who pose a significant threat, but for various reasons, it’s difficult for us to try them in an Article III court.

Some of those folks are going through the military commission process. But there’s going to be a challenge there. Now, at that stage, I’m presenting a plan to Congress about how we can close Guantanamo.

I’m not going to automatically assume that Congress says no. I’m not being coy, David. I think it’s fair to say that there’s gonna be significant resistance from some quarters, to that.

But I think we can make a very strong argument that it doesn’t make sense for us to be spending an extra $100 million, $200 million, $300 million, $500 million, $1 billion, to have a — a secure setting for 50, 60, 70 people.

And we will wait until Congress has said definitively no to a well thought out plan with numbers attached to it, before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here. I think it’s far preferable if I can get stuff done with Congress.

QUESTION: It’s an election year. You know they’re not gonna do it (ph). (inaudible) on your own?

OBAMA: David, as — as I said — you know, and I think you’ve seen me, on a whole bunch of issues, like immigration, I’m not gonna — I’m not gonna be forward-leaning on what I can do without Congress before I’ve tested what I can do with Congress.

And every once in a while, they’ll surprise you, and — and this may be one of those places, because we can make a really strong argument Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for Jihadi recruitment. You know, to Roberta’s (ph) question earlier about how do they propagandize and convince somebody here in the United States, who may not have a criminal record or a history of terrorist activity, to start shooting, this is part of what they feed. This notion of a gross injustice, that America’s not living up to its professed ideals.

We know that. We see the — the Internet traffic. We see how Guantanamo has been used to create this mythology that America is at war with Islam. And — you know, for us to close it is part of our counterterrorism strategy that is supported by our military, our diplomatic and our intelligence teams.

So when you combine that with the fact that it’s really expensive, and that we are — you know, essentially, at this point, detaining a handful of people, and each person is costing several million dollars to detain, when there are more efficient ways of doing it, you know, I think we can make a strong argument.

I — I — I’m — but I’ll take — you know, I’ll take your point, that it’ll be an uphill battle. Every battle I’ve had with Congress over the last five years have been — has been uphill, and — but we keep on surprising you by actually getting some stuff done.

QUESTION: (inaudible) on an immigration bill (ph)?

OBAMA: Sometimes — sometimes that may prove necessary, but — you know, we try not to get out ahead of ourselves on that.

Julie Pace.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Wanted to ask you about the broader challenges in the Middle East.

OBAMA: Yeah.

QUESTION: Who (ph) of the Republicans who are running for president have argued that the Mid-East and the United States would be safer if you hadn’t (ph) had regime changes, places (ph) like Iraq, Libya, and Egypt.

And having gone through the experience of the Arab Spring and the aftermath, I wonder what you now see of (ph) the U.S. role in the Middle East in terms of trying to push dictators out of power.

Would you advise future presidents to call for authoritarian leaders to step down, as you did? And just specifically on Syria, at this point, is it your expectation that Bashar Assad’s presidency will outlast yours?

OBAMA: You know, there’s been a lot of revisionist history, sometimes by the same people, making different arguments depending on the situation. So maybe it’s useful just for us to go back over some of these issues.

We did not depose Hosni Mubarak. Millions of Egyptians did because of their dissatisfaction with the corruption and authoritarianism of the regime. We had a working relationship with Mubarak. We didn’t trigger the Arab Spring, and the notion that somehow the U.S. was in a position to pull the strings on a country that is the largest in the Arab world, I think is — is mistaken.

What is true is that at the point at which the choice becomes mowing down millions of people or trying to find some transition, we believed and I would still argue that it was more sensible for us to find a peaceful transition to the Egyptian situation.

With respect to Libya, Libya is sort of an alternative version of Syria in some ways, because by the time the international coalition interceded in Syria, chaos had already broken out. You already had the makings of a civil war. You had a dictator who was threatening and was in a position to carry out the wholesale slaughter of large numbers of people. And we worked under U.N. mandate with a coalition of folks in order to try to avert a big humanitarian catastrophe that would not have good for us.

Those who now argue in retrospect, we should have left Gadhafi in there, seem to forget that he had already lost legitimacy and control of his country and we could have — instead of what we have in Libya now, we could have had another Syria in Libya now. The — the problem with Libya was the fact that there was a failure on the part of the entire international community, and I think that the United States has some accountability for not moving swiftly enough and underestimating the need to rebuild government there quickly, and as a consequence, you now have a very bad situation.

As far as Syria goes, I think it is entirely right and proper for the United States of America to speak out on behalf of its (ph) values. And when you have an authoritarian leader that is killing hundreds of thousands of his own people, the notion that we would just stand by and say nothing is contrary to who we are, and that does not serve our interests, because at that point, us being in collusion with that kind of governance would make us even more of a target for terrorist activity, would…

QUESTION: Do you think that government (ph) can help try to stop (inaudible)?

OBAMA: But — but the reason that Assad has been a problem in Syria is because that is a majority Sunni country and he had lost the space that he had early on to execute an inclusive transition — peaceful transition. He chose instead to slaughter people and once that happened, the idea that a minority population there could somehow crush tens of millions of people who oppose him is not feasible. It’s not plausible. Even if you were being cold-eyed and hard-heartened about the human toll there, it just wouldn’t happen.

OBAMA: And as a consequence, our view has been that you cannot bring peace to Syria, you cannot get an end to the civil war unless you have a government that has — it is recognized as legitimate by a majority of that country. It will not happen, and this is the argument that I have had repeatedly with Mr. Putin. Dating five years ago, at which time his suggestion, as I gather some Republicans are now suggesting, was, “You know, Assad’s not so bad, let him just be as brutal and repressive as he can, but at least he’ll keep order.” I said, “Look. The problem is that the history of trying to keep order when a large majority of the country has turned against you is not good.”

And five years later, I was right. So we now have an opportunity — and John Kerry is meeting as we speak with Syria and Turkey and Iran and the Gulf countries and other parties who are interested, we now have an opportunity not to turn back the clock, it’s going to be difficult to completely overcome the devastation that’s happened in Syria already, but to find a political transition that maintains the Syrian state, that recognizes a bunch of stakeholders inside of Syria and hopefully to initiate a cease-fire that won’t be perfect, but allows all the parties to turn on what should be our number one focus, and that is destroying Daesh and its allies in the region.

And that is going to be a difficult process, it’s going to be a pain staking process, but there is no shortcut to that. And that’s not based on some idealism on my part, that’s our hard-headed calculation about what’s going to be required to get the job done.

QUESTION: Do you think that Assad, though, could remain in power a year from now?

OBAMA: I think that Assad is going to have to leave in order for the country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a nonsectarian way. He has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country.

Now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge creating a political transition that allows those who are aligned with Assad right now, allows the Russians, allows the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected and minorities, that minorities like the Alawites (ph) are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day, I think that’s going to be very important as well.

And that’s what make this so difficult. You know, sadly, had Assad made a decision earlier that he was not more important personally than his entire country, that kind of political transition would have been much easier. It’s a lot harder now.

But John Kerry has been doing excellent work in moving that process forward and I do think that you’ve seen from the Russians a recognition that after a couple months, they’re not really moving the needle that much in this fight of sizable deployment inside of Syria. And of course, that’s what I suggested would happen, because there’s only so much bombing you can do when an entire country is outraged and believes that its ruler doesn’t represent them.

Sheryl (ph) Bowl (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to ask about the surprise (ph) in Congress. Specifically, what are your top legislative priorities for next year? And how has the new speaker, Paul Ryan, changed the dynamic with you and Capitol Hill? And can you be more ambitious next year doing things like maybe completing the Transatlantic Trade Partnership or even getting tax reform?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, it’s important to give some credit where credit is due. John Boehner did a favor to all of us, including now Speaker Ryan, by working with us to agree on a top line budget framework. That was the basis for subsequent negotiations. He was able to do that because he was going out the door, and was then given, I think, a little more room to maneuver than he previously had.

Having said that, I also want to give Speaker Ryan credit. I called both him and Mitch McConnell, as well as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for the orderly way in which they actually negotiated a budget, the way Congress is historically and typically supposed to work. I think (ph) we’ve gotten kind of used to last-minute crises and shutdown threats and so forth. And this — this is a messy process that doesn’t satisfy everybody completely, but it’s more typical of American democracy, and I think that Speaker Ryan deserves a role in that.

I will say that, in his interactions with me, he has been professional, he has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do. I think it’s a good working relationship.

We recognize that we disagree on a whole bunch of other stuff, and have fundamentally different visions for where we want to move the country, but, perhaps because even before he was elected he had worked on Capitol Hill, I think he is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works.

So kudos to him, as well as all the leaders and appropriators who were involved in this process. Now, just want to repeat, because sometimes we take for granted what’s happened.

I said early on in this process that I wasn’t going to sign a budget that — that did not relieve sequester, this artificial austerity that was making it difficult to invest in things like education and our military. And I said I would not accept a lot of ideological riders that were attached to a big budget deal.

And we met our goals. And because of some terrific negotiations by the Democrats up on Capitol Hill, and I think some pretty good work by our legislative staffs here, we’re gonna be able to fund environmental protection, we’re gonna be able to make sure that we’re investing in things like early childhood education and making college more affordable.

We’re going to be able to implement the clean power plant rule. We’re going to be able to continue to invest in clean energy that spurs on innovation. We’re going to be able to make sure that our military gets the equipment and the training that it needs to be effective in fighting ISIL and other threats around the world.

So it was a — it was a good win. And there are some things in there that I don’t like, but that’s the nature of legislation and — and compromise. And I think the system worked. That gives me some optimism that, next year, on a narrow set of issues, we can get some more work done.

As David said, it’s an election year, and obviously, a lot of the legislative process is going to be skewed by people looking over their shoulders, worrying about primaries, trying to position themselves relative to the presidential candidates. So that makes it harder.

But I think there are going to be a handful of areas where we can make real progress. One of them, you already mentioned, Trans-Pacific Partnership, which now has been out, Congress has had a chance to review, and it meets the bar that I set.

It is consistent with what I promised, which is the most pro- labor, pro-environment, progressive trade deal in history, that eliminates just about every tariff on American manufacturing goods in countries that up until this point have charged a tax, essentially, on anything that American workers and American businesses sell in these areas.

It brings those taxes down to zero on basically all of American manufactured products. A huge win for agriculture, because now — you know, the people of Japan are going to be in a better position to enjoy American beef and American pork, which, up until this point, even though we’re much more efficient producers, has have been tagged with a tax that makes — you know, our products uncompetitive in Japanese markets.

So this is a big deal, and I think Speaker Ryan would like to try to get it done. And there are both proponents and opponents of this in both Democratic and Republican parties, and so it’s gonna be an interesting situation where we’re going to have to stitch together the same kind of bipartisan effort, in order for us to get it done.

A second area that I think is possible is criminal justice reform. There has been sincere, serious negotiations and efforts by Democrats and Republicans to create a criminal justice system that is more fair, more even handed, more proportionate and is smarter about how we reduce crime. And I have really been impressed by the dedication of a core group of Democrats and Republicans. Some of them the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans coming together saying this is the right thing to do. We’ve got a good bill in the Senate that passed with bipartisan support out of committee. My hope is that that gets to the floor. And that we can pair it up with a good bill out of the House. And then this is an area where potentially can see us save money, reduce recidivism, you know, make sure people who make a mistake on nonviolent crimes have to pay the price. Have to serve time, but are released in a — in a reasonable fashion. That they have more support so they’re less likely to go back into the criminal system, subsequently.

And that’s an area where we may be able to make a big difference. So those are just two examples. We’ll keep on looking for a number of examples like that. And — and wherever there’s an opportunity, I’m going to take it.

Phillip Grub (ph). Phillip Grub (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned climate change already. And at the time of the signing of the deal in Paris you said it was potentially a turning point for the the world. But this was a deal that was — that is not a legally binding document and you bypassed Congress pretty much completely.

Are you worried at this point that a Republican president who might take over for you in the White House could stop the deal in its tracks entirely, and considering that possibility, are you more interested in campaigning for a Democrat nominee considering that danger?

OBAMA: I think it’s fair I was going to be campaigning for a Democratic nominee even without that danger. And I am very confident that we’re going to have a terrific Democratic nominee and — whose phone is that, guys? Come on, now. Somebody. You recognize your ring, don’t be embarrassed. Just turn it off. There you go. OK. Can I still here it?

All right, I think it’s off now.

I think we will have a strong Democratic nominee. I think that nominee will win. I think I will have a Democratic successor and I will campaign very hard to make that happy for a whole variety of reasons because they’re far more likely to share my fundamental vision about where America should go.

But having said that, what I think people should also feel good about is that the agreement struck in Paris, although not legally binding when it comes to the targets that had been set does create this architecture in which all around the world countries are saying this is where we’re going.

We’re going to be chasing after this clean energy future. This is how we’re going to meet our goals. We’re going to double down on solar power. We’re going to double down on wind power. We’re going to invest more heavily in biofuels. We’re going to figure out battery technologies.

And what you saw in this budget, which I think was really significant, was an extension of the solar tax credits and wind tax credits that we had helped to really boost early on in my administration and that it resulted in wind power increasing threefold, solar power increasing by twentyfold. Those tax credits are now going to be extended for five to seven years and as a consequence, that combination of market signals means that the private sector is going to start investing much more heavily. They know this is coming. And it’s not just coming here. It’s coming around the world.

You now have a global marketplace for clean energy that is stable and accelerating over the course of the next decade. That then creates a different dynamic that is independent of what Congress does, but also helps to shape what Congress does. Because the more people that are now getting jobs in solar installation and production, the more that you have companies who are seeing how American innovation can sell products in clean energy all across the Asia Pacific and in Europe and in Africa. Suddenly, there’s a big monetary incentive to getting this right.

And that’s been the history of environmental progress in this country and now we’ve exported it around the world. Every time we have made a decision, you know what, we’re going to have clean air. The predictions were, everything would fall apart. And low and behold, turns out that American innovation makes getting clean air a lot less expensive than people expected and it happens a lot faster than expected.

When we made a decision that we were going to double fuel efficiency standards on cars, everybody said, I’m just going to ruin the American auto industry. The American auto industry has been booming over the last couple years.

Acid rain. When George H.W. Bush instituted a system to charge for the emissions that were causing acid rain, everybody said, well you can’t do that, that’s going to ruin business and it turned out that it was smoother, faster, quicker, better.

And acid rain — folks who were born, I don’t know — some of you reporters are getting younger or I’m getting older, you may not remember it but that was a big deal and now most folks don’t even remember it anymore because it got solved. And there’s no reason why the same won’t happen here.

Now, do I think there’s going to be a lot of noise and campaigning next year about how we’re going to stop Paris in its tracks? There will probably be a lot of noise about that. Do I actually think two years from now, three years from now, even Republican members of Congress are going to look at it and say that’s a smart thing to do? I don’t think they will.

Keep in mind that right now the American Republican party is the only major party that I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. I mean, it’s an outlier. Many of the key signatories to this deal, the architects of this deal, come from center-right governments. Even the far right parties in many of these countries. They may not like immigrants for example, but they admit, yes, the science tells us that we have to do something about climate change. So my sense is that this is something that may be an advantage in terms of short-term politics in the Republican primary. It’s not something that is going to be a winner for Republicans long- term.

QUESTION: You mentioned American leadership. But is it embarrassing to you that the other party denies climate change?

OBAMA: No, because first of all, I’m not a member of that party. Second of all, it didn’t stop us from being the key leader in getting this done. I mean, this is something that I have been working on now for five, six years. When I went to Copenhagen, I essentially engaged in 24 hours of diplomacy to salvage from a pretty chaotic process, the basic principle that all countries had to participate.

We couldn’t have a rigid division between developed countries and developing countries when it came to solving this problem. That was the initial foundation for us. Then working with other countries, culminating in the joint announcement with China, bringing in India, bringing in Brazil and the other big, emerging countries, working with the Europeans in getting this done.

This would not have happened without American leadership. And by the way, the same is true for the Iran nuclear deal. The same is true for the Trans-Pacific partnership. The same is true for stamping out Ebola, something you guys may recall from last year, which was the potential end of the world.

You know, at each juncture, what we have said is that American strength and American exceptionalism is not just a matter of us bombing somebody. More often, it’s a matter of us convening, setting the agenda, pointing other nations in a direction that’s good for everybody and good for U.S. interests.

Engaging in painstaking diplomacy, leading by example and sometimes, the results don’t come overnight, they don’t come the following day, but they come. And this year, what you really saw was that steady, persistent leadership on many initiatives that I began when I first came into office.

Alright.

QUESTION: Mr. President?

OBAMA: I’ve got April Ryan (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. President, I want to ask you something about criminal justice — on that subject and also something on Secretary Kerry (ph). Your administration contends (ph) the United States is five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the global jail population. What legislation are you supporting that significantly cuts mass incarceration in this country? And going back to the Assad (ph) issue, does Assad have to go to defeat ISIS? OBAMA: Well, we’re going to defeat ISIS, and we’re going to do so by systemically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure. We’re going to do so in partnership with forces on the ground that sometimes are spotty, sometimes need capacity building, need our assistance, need our training, but we’re seeing steadily progress in many of these areas. And so they’re going to be on the run.

Now, they are going to continue to be dangerous, so — so let me just be very clear, because whenever I say that we have made progress in squeezing the territory that they control or made real end roads against them, what people will say is, well, if something happens around the world, then obviously that must not be true.

But in any battle, in any fight, even as you make progress, there’s still dangers involved. And ISIL’s capacity both to infiltrate Western countries with people who have travel to Syria or travel to Iraq and the savviness of their social media, their ability to recruit disaffected individuals who may be French or British or even U.S. citizens, will continue to make them dangerous for some time. But — but — but we will systemically go after them.

Now, in order for us to stamp them out thoroughly, we have to eliminate lawless areas in which they cannot still roam. So we can — we can disable them, we can dismantle much of their infrastructure, greatly reduce the threat that they pose to the United States, our allies and our neighbors, but in the same way that Al Qaida is pinned down and has much more difficulty carrying out any significant attacks because of how we have systemically dismantled them, they still pose a threat.

There are still operatives who are interested in carrying out terrorist attacks because they still operate in areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan or more prominently right now in Yemen that are hard to reach. Our — our long-term goal has to be able to stabilize these areas so that they don’t have any safe haven, and in order for us to do that in Syria, there has to be an end to the civil war. There has to be an actual government that has a police capacity and a structure in these areas that currently aren’t governed.

And it is my firm belief and the belief of the experts in this administration that so long as Assad is there, we cannot achieve that kind of stability inside of Syria, and, you know, I — I think the history over the last several years indicates as much. So that’s going to continue to be a top priority for us, moving aggressively on the military track and not letting ISIL take a breath and pounding away at them with our special forces and our airstrikes and the training and advising of partners that can go after them. But we also have to keep very aggressive on this diplomatic track in order for us to bring countries together. All right?

Everybody? On criminal justice reform? I — I answered the question. I’m hopeful.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) OBAMA: Right. In April (ph), what I said was is that I strongly support the Senate legislation that’s already been put forward. I’m hopeful that the House can come up with legislation that follows the same principles, which is to make sure that we’re doing sentencing reform, but we’re also doing a better job in terms of reducing recidivism and providing support for ex-offenders. And if we can get those two bills together in a conference, then I’m somewhat optimistic that we’re gonna be able to make a difference.

Now keep in mind, April (ph), when you use the term mass incarceration, statistically the overwhelming majority of people who are incarcerated are in state prisons and state facilities for state crimes. We can only focus on federal law and federal crimes. And so there’s still going to be a large population of individuals who are incarcerated even for nonviolent drug crimes because this is a trend that started in the late ’80s and ’90s and accelerated at the state levels.

But if we can show at the federal level that we can be smart on crime, more cost effective, more just, more proportionate, then we can set a trend for other states to follow as well. And that’s our hope.

This is not going to be something that’s reversed overnight. So just to go back to my general principle, April (ph), it took 20 years for us to get to the point we are now. And only 20 years probably before we reverse — we reverse some of these major trends.

OK, everybody, I gotta get to Star Wars. Thank you. Thank you, guys.

Appreciate you. Thank you. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 15, 2015: Fifth Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Fifth CNN Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada

Source: Time, 12-15-15

Nine candidates for the Republican nomination faced off in Las Vegas Tuesday night for a primetime debate on CNN, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Here’s a complete transcript of the event, courtesy of CNN.

BLITZER: Welcome to the CNN-Facebook Republican presidential debate here at the Venetian Las Vegas.

We have a very enthusiastic audience. Everyone is here. They’re looking forward to a serious and spirited discussion about the security of this nation.

I’m Wolf Blitzer, your moderator tonight. This debate is airing on CNN networks here in the United States and around the world, and on the Salem Radio Network. The nine leading candidates, they are here. Let’s welcome them right now.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

Businessman and real estate developer Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

Retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

And Ohio Governor John Kasich.

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

(APPLAUSE)

This is the final Republican debate before the election year begins, and we’re taking a moment for the photographs of the candidates together on the stage. Now, everyone, please rise for the national anthem sung by Ayla Brown.

(NATIONAL ANTHEM)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I know everyone is eager to get started. So, candidates, please take your places while I explain the ground rules for tonight.

As moderator, I’ll guide the discussion, and I’ll be joined in the questioning by Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt and CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash. We also asked Republicans and independents nationwide to share their questions for the candidates. We teamed up with Facebook to send a campaign camper across the country over the past several weeks.

Thousands of people stepped inside and recorded their questions on video. Millions more have weighed in on Facebook. Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have a minute and 15 seconds to answer and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you’re singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know that we have timing lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up. And as the candidates requested, a bell will sound like this. We know you are all eager to jump in and debate these important issues, so, please, wait until you’re called on.

These nine Republicans are positioned on stage based on their ranking in the recent polls, so let’s begin right now. I’d like to invite each candidate to introduce himself or herself to our audience. You’ll have one minute.

First to you, Senator Paul.

PAUL: The question is, how do we keep America safe from terrorism? Trump says we ought to close that Internet thing. The question really is, what does he mean by that? Like they do in North Korea? Like they do in China?

Rubio says we should collect all Americans’ records all of the time. The Constitution says otherwise. I think they’re both wrong. I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them. I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won. Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground — the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground.

As commander-in-chief, I will do whatever it takes to defend America. But in defending America, we cannot lose what America stands for. Today is the Bill of Rights’ anniversary. I hope we will remember that and cherish that in the fight on terrorism.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Thank you, Wolf. Just last weekend, just last week, a friend asked one of my daughters, “Do you like politics?” And my daughter said, “No, I don’t. And the reason I don’t like it is because there’s too much fighting, too much yelling. It’s so loud, I don’t like it.” You know, I turned to my friend and I said, “You know, she’s really on to something.”

And when we think about our country and the big issues that we face in this country; creating jobs, making sure people can keep their jobs, the need for rising wages, whether our children when they graduate from college can find a job, protecting the homeland, destroying ISIS, rebuilding defense. These are all the things that we need to focus on but we’ll never get there if we’re divided. We’ll never get there if republicans and democrats just fight with one another.

Frankly, we are republicans and they’re democrats but before all of that, we’re Americans. And I believe we need to unify in so many ways to rebuild our country, to strengthen our country, to rebuild our defense, and for America to secure it’s place it world; for us, for our children, and for the next generation.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Thank you Wolf.

America has been betrayed. We’ve been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years. Think about just what’s happened today. The second largest school district in America in Los Angeles closed based on a threat. Think about the effect that, that’s going to have on those children when they go back to school tomorrow wondering filled with anxiety to whether they’re really going to be safe.

Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound. Think about the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.

What is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton done to this country? That the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people. I will tell you this, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I’ve fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina?

FIORINA: Like all of you I’m angry. I’m angry at what’s happening to our nation. Citizens, it’s time to take our country back.

Bombastic insults wont take it back. Political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little, won’t take it back. All of our problems can be solved. All of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation.

I have been tested. I have beaten breast cancer. I have buried a child. I started as a secretary. I fought my way to the top of corporate America while being called every B word in the book. I fought my way into this election and on to this debate stage while all the political insiders and the pundits told, “it couldn’t be done.”

I’ve been told, “no,: all my life. And all my life, I’ve refused to accept no as an answer. Citizens, it is time to take our country back from the political class, from the media, from the liberal elite. It can be done, it must be done, join me and we will get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Our freedom is under attack. Our economy is under water. The leading democrat is under investigation. And America is under the gun to lead the free world to protect our civilized way of life.

Serious times require strong leadership, that’s what at stake right now. Regarding national security, we need to restore the defense cuts of Barack Obama to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us. Regarding economic security, we need to take power and money away from Washington D.C. and empower American families so that they can rise up again.

Look, America still is an exceptional country. We love to lead and we love to win. And we do it, when we take on any challenge and when we take – we support our friends.

As president, I will keep you and our country safe, secure, and free.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Thank you Wolf.

It’s really amazing to be back in Las Vegas. I spent six years as a child growing not far from where we stand tonight. I use to sit on the porch of our home and listen to my grandfather tell stories as he smoked one of three daily cigars.

One of the things my grandfather instilled in me, was that I was really blessed because I was a citizen of the greatest country in the history of our mankind. But there have always been people in American politics that wanted America to be more like the rest of the world. And In 2008, one of them was elected president of this country and the result has been a disaster.

Today you have millions of Americans that feel left out and out of place in their own country, struggling to live paycheck to paycheck, called bigots because they hold on to traditional values.

And around the world, America’s influence has declined while this president has destroyed our military, our allies no longer trust us, and our adversaries no longer respect us. And that is why this election is so important.

That is why I’m running for president. And that’s why I’m going to ask you for your vote tonight. If you elect me president, we will have a president that believes America is the greatest country in the world and we will have a president that acts like it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Thank you, Wolf.

America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name. The men and women on this stage, every one of us, is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS.

We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth. Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees.

We will keep America safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: Thank you, Wolf.

Please join me for a moment of silence and remembrance of the San Bernardino victims. Thank you. You know, our country since its inception has been at war, every 15 or 20 years. But the war that we are fighting now against radical Islamist jihadists is one that we must win. Our very existence is dependent upon that.

You know, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, I frequently faced life and death situations, and had to come up with the right diagnosis, the right plan, and execute that plan frequently with other colleagues.

Right now, the United States of America is the patient. And the patient is in critical condition and will not be cured by political correctness and will not be cured by timidity.

And I am asking the Congress, which represents the people, to declare a war on ISIS so that we can begin the process of excising that cancer and begin the healing process, and bring peace, prosperity, and safety back to America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

I began this journey six months ago. My total focus was on building up our military, building up our strength, building up our borders, making sure that China, Japan, Mexico, both at the border and in trade, no longer takes advantage of our country.

Certainly would never have made that horrible, disgusting, absolutely incompetent deal with Iran where they get $150 billion. They’re a terrorist nation. But I began it talking about other things.

And those things are things that I’m very good at and maybe that’s why I’m center stage. People saw it. People liked it. People respected it.

A month ago things changed. Radical Islamic terrorism came into effect even more so than it has been in the past. People like what I say. People respect what I say. And we’ve opened up a very big discussion that needed to be opened up.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Since you last debated, Americans have witnessed terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The FBI director says the country now faces the greatest terror threat since 9/11. You all have different approaches to keeping the country safe. And that will be the focus of tonight’s debate.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, as you mentioned in your opening statement, part of your strategy is to focus in on America’s borders. To keep the country safe, you say you want to temporarily ban non-American Muslims from coming to the United States; ban refugees fleeing ISIS from coming here; deport 11 million people; and wall off America’s southern border. Is the best way to make America great again to isolate it from much of the rest of the world?

TRUMP: We are not talking about isolation. We’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion. We’re talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall. People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not pour through that wall.

As far as other people like in the migration, where they’re going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them? I don’t think so, Wolf. They’re not coming to this country. And if I’m president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They’re going. They’re gone.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, you called Mr. Trump “unhinged” when he proposed banning non-American Muslims from the United States. Why is that unhinged?

BUSH: Well, first of all, we need to destroy ISIS in the caliphate. That’s — that should be our objective. The refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS there, which means we need to have a no-fly zone, safe zones there for refugees and to build a military force.

We need to embed our forces — our troops inside the Iraqi military. We need to arm directly the Kurds. And all of that has to be done in concert with the Arab nations. And if we’re going to ban all Muslims, how are we going to get them to be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS?

The Kurds are the greatest fighting force and our strongest allies. They’re Muslim. Look, this is not a serious proposal. In fact, it will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time when we need to reengage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS.

So Donald, you know, is great at — at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president. He would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our country safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares. And frankly, I’m the most solid person up here. I built a tremendous company and all I want to do is make America great again.

I don’t want our country to be taken away from us, and that’s what’s happening. The policies that we’ve suffered under other presidents have been a disaster for our country. We want to make America great again. And Jeb, in all fairness, he doesn’t believe that.

BUSH: Look, he mentioned me. I can bring — I can talk. This is — this is the problem. Banning all Muslims will make it harder for us to do exactly what we need to do, which is to destroy ISIS. We need a strategy. We need to get the lawyers off the back of the warfighters. Right now under President Obama, we’ve created this — this standard that is so high that it’s impossible to be successful in fighting ISIS.

We need to engage with the Arab world to make this happen. It is not a serious proposal to say that — to the people that you’re asking for their support that they can’t even come to the country to even engage in a dialogue with us. That’s not a serious proposal. We need a serious leader to deal with this. And I believe I’m that guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Rubio — I’m going to go to Senator Rubio and get his thoughts.

You have said banning Muslims is unconstitutional. But according to a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, a majority of Republicans support Mr. Trump’s idea. Why are they wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I understand why they feel that way, because this president hasn’t kept us safe. The problem is we had an attack in San Bernardino. And we were paying attention to the most important issue we have faced in a decade since 9/11, and then all the talk was about this proposal, which isn’t going to happen.

But this is what’s important to do is we must deal frontally with this threat of radical Islamists, especially from ISIS. This is the most sophisticated terror group that has ever threatened the world or the United States of America. They are actively recruiting Americans. The attacker in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. He was a health inspector; had a newborn child and left all that behind to kill 14 people.

We also understand that this is a group that’s growing in its governance of territory. It’s not just Iraq and Syria. They are now a predominant group in Libya. They are beginning to pop up in Afghanistan. They are increasingly involved now in attacks in Yemen. They have Jordan in their sights.

This group needs to be confronted with serious proposals. And this is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe. He spoke the other night to the American people to reassure us. I wish he hadn’t spoken at all. He made things worse. Because what he basically said was we are going to keep doing what we’re doing now, and what we are doing now is not working.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, you have a question.

HEWITT: Senator Cruz, you’ve said you disagree with Mr. Trump’s policy. I don’t want a cage match; you’ve tweeted you don’t want a cage match. But Republican primary voters deserve to know, with the kind of specificity and responsiveness you delivered in your nine Supreme Court arguments, how you disagree with Mr. Trump. Would you spell that out with us?

CRUZ: Well, listen, Hugh, everyone understands why Donald has suggested what he has. We’re looking at a president who’s engaged in this double-speak where he doesn’t call radical Islamic terrorism by its name. Indeed, he gives a speech after the San Bernardino attack where his approach is to try to go after the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens rather than to keep us safe.

And even worse, President Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing bringing tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to this country when the head of the FBI has told Congress they cannot vet those refugees.

I understand why Donald made that proposal. I introduced legislation in the Senate that I believe is more narrowly focused at the actual threat, which is radical Islamic terrorism, and what my legislation would do is suspend all refugees for three years from countries where ISIS or Al Qaida control substantial territory.

HEWITT: So you’re saying you disagree because he’s too broad and you have a narrower focus? Why do you disagree with him?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I’m reminded of what FDR’s grandfather said. He said, “All horse-thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse-thieves.”

(LAUGHTER)

In this instance, there are millions of peaceful Muslims across the world, in countries like India, where there is not the problems we are seeing in nations that are controlled — have territory controlled by Al Qaida or ISIS, and we should direct at the problem, focus on the problem, and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. It’s not a war on a faith; it’s a war on a political and theocratic ideology that seeks to murder us.

HEWITT: Carly Fiorina… (APPLAUSE)

… this is the Christmas dinner debate. This will be the debate that Americans talk about at Christmas. And thus far, in the first 10 minutes, we haven’t heard a lot about Ronald Reagan’s city on a hill. We’ve heard a lot about keeping Americans out or keeping Americans safe and everyone else out. Is this what you want the party to stand for?

FIORINA: What I think we need to stand for are solutions. I offer myself as a leader to the people of this country because I think they’re looking for solutions, not lawyers arguing over laws or entertainers throwing out sound bites that draw media attention. We need to solve the problem.

To solve the problem, we need to do something here at home and something over there in their caliphate. We need to deny them territory.

But here at home, we need to do two fundamental things. Number one, we need to recognize that technology has moved on. The Patriot Act was signed in 2001, roughly. The iPhone was invented in 2007. The iPad was invented in 2011. Snapchat and Twitter, all the rest of it, have been around just for several years. Technology has moved on, and the terrorists have moved on with it.

Let me tell you a story. Soon after 9/11, I got a phone call from the NSA. They needed help. I gave them help. I stopped a truckload of equipment. I had it turned around. It was escorted by the NSA into headquarters. We need the private sector’s help, because government is not innovating. Technology is running ahead by leaps and bound. The private sector will help, just as I helped after 9/11. But they must be engaged, and they must be asked. I will ask them. I know them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, Americans are clearly more afraid today than at any time since 9/11. As you mentioned in your opening statement, today in Los Angeles, 650 schoolchildren didn’t go to — 650,000 schoolchildren didn’t go to school because of an e-mail threat, this two weeks after an attack killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Is this the new normal? And if so, what steps would you take as president of the United States to ensure that fear does not paralyze America?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, unfortunately, it’s the new normal under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The fact is that if you listen to Hillary Clinton the other day, what she said to the American people was, as regards to ISIS, my strategy would be just about the same as the president’s.

Just about the same as the president’s? We have people across this country who are scared to death. Because I could tell you this, as a former federal prosecutor, if a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, California, is now a target for terrorists, that means everywhere in America is a target for these terrorists.

Now, I spent seven years of my life in the immediate aftermath of September 11th doing this work, working with the Patriot Act, working with our law enforcement, working with the surveillance community to make sure that we keep America safe.

What we need to do, Wolf, is restore those tools that have been taken away by the president and others, restore those tools to the NSA and to our entire surveillance and law enforcement community.

We need a president who is going to understand what actionable intelligence looks like and act on it. And we need a president and a cabinet who understands that the first and most important priority of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of Americans.

As someone who has done it, I will make sure it gets done again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, one of the killers in San Bernardino was an American who was not on anyone’s watch list. How are you going to find that radicalized person and stop another such attack?

KASICH: Well, first of all, Wolf, I said last February that we needed to have people on the ground, troops on the ground in a coalition similar to what we had in the first Gulf War.

I remember when the Egyptian ambassador to the United States stood in the Rose Garden and pledged Arab commitment to removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Before we came out here tonight, I am told that the Saudis have organized 34 countries who want to join in the battle against terrorism.

First and foremost, we need to go and destroy ISIS. And we need to do this with our Arab friends and our friends in Europe.

And when I see they have a climate conference over in Paris, they should have been talking about destroying ISIS because they are involved in virtually every country, you know, across this world.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, you destroy ISIS in a coalition. You get joint intelligence with our European friends. And then here at home, there are things called the Joint Terrorism Task Force, headed by the FBI, and made up of local law enforcement, including state police.

They need the tools. And the tools involve encryption where we cannot hear what they’re even planning. And when we see red flags, a father, a mother, a neighbor who says we have got a problem here, then we have to give law enforcement the ability to listen so they can disrupt these terrorist attacks before they occur.

We can do this, but we’ve got to get moving. Pay me now or pay me a lot more later. This is the direction we need to go.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dana Bash, you have the next question.

BASH: A crucial question is how to balance surveillance with privacy and keeping Americans safe.

Senator Cruz, you voted for a bill that President Obama signed into law just this past June that made it harder for the government to access Americans’ phone records. In light of the San Bernardino attack, was your vote a mistake?

CRUZ: Well, Dana, the premise of your question is not accurate. I’m very proud to have joined with conservatives in both the Senate and the House to reform how we target bad guys.

And what the USA Freedom Act did is it did two things. Number one, it ended the federal government’s bulk collection of phone metadata of millions of law-abiding citizens.

But number two in the second half of it that is critical. It strengthened the tools of national security and law enforcement to go after terrorists. It gave us greater tools and we are seeing those tools work right now in San Bernardino.

And in particular, what it did is the prior program only covered a relatively narrow slice of phone calls. When you had a terrorist, you could only search a relatively narrow slice of numbers, primarily land lines.

The USA Freedom Act expands that so now we have cell phones, now we have Internet phones, now we have the phones that terrorists are likely to use and the focus of law enforcement is on targeting the bad guys.

You know what the Obama administration keeps getting wrong is whenever anything bad happens they focus on law-abiding citizens instead of focusing on the bad guys.

We need to focus on radical Islamic terrorists and we need to stop them before they carry out acts of terror.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz is right there was bipartisan support for that. But you voted against it. So, is Senator Cruz wrong?

RUBIO: He is and so are those that voted for it. There were some that voted for it because they wanted to keep it alive and they were afraid the whole program would expire.

Here’s the world we live in. This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its ability, for example, to radicalize American citizens, in its inability to exploit loopholes in our legal immigration system, in its ability to capture and hold territory in the Middle East, as I outlined earlier, in multiple countries.

This is not just the most capable, it is the most sophisticated terror threat we have ever faced. We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that took we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I would note that Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true. You know, Mark Levin wrote a column last week that says that the attack ads his Super PAC is running that are saying the same thing, that they are knowingly false and they are, in fact, Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.

And the reason is simple. What he knows is that the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists. The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that’s the case.

RUBIO: Dana, may I interject here?

BASH: Senator — Senator — Senator Rubio, please respond.

RUBIO: Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.

This bill did, however, take away a valuable tool that allowed the National Security Agency and other law — and other intelligence agencies to quickly and rapidly access phone records and match them up with other phone records to see who terrorists have been calling. Because I promise you, the next time there is attack on — an attack on this country, the first thing people are going to want to know is, why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it? And the answer better not be because we didn’t have access to records or information that would have allowed us to identify these killers before they attacked.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I know this is — this has been a very big issue for you. You hear many of your colleagues are calling for increased surveillance by law enforcement. You call that hogwash. Why is that hogwash?

PAUL: You know, I think Marco gets it completely wrong. We are not any safer through the bulk collection of all Americans’ records. In fact, I think we’re less safe. We get so distracted by all of the information, we’re not spending enough time getting specific immigration — specific information on terrorists.

The other thing is, is the one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, that might have stopped 9/11 would have been stricter controls on those who came here. And Marco has opposed at every point increased security — border security for those who come to our country.

On his Gang of Eight bill, he would have liberalized immigration, but he did not — and he steadfastly opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students.

Last week, I introduced another bill saying we need more security, we need more scrutiny. Once again, Marco opposed this. So Marco can’t have it both ways. He thinks he wants to be this, “Oh, I’m great and strong on national defense.” But he’s the weakest of all the candidates on immigration. He is the one for an open border that is leaving us defenseless. If we want to defend the country, we have to defend against who’s coming in, and Marco is — has more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: I want to thank Rand for another 30 seconds, because, number one, what he’s pointing to is a bill last week that — amendment that he voted for that only 10 people voted for. You know why? Because it’s not focused on terrorists. It would have banned anyone from coming here. Someone from Taiwan would not have been able to come here as a tourist.

Number two, this program, this metadata program is actually more strict than what a regular law enforcement agency has now. If a regular law enforcement agency wants your phone records, all they have to do is issue a subpoena. But now the intelligence agency is not able to quickly gather records and look at them to see who these terrorists are calling. And the terrorists that attacked us in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. And I bet you we wish we would have had access to five years of his records so we could see who he was working with…

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Governor Christie, Governor Christie…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Governor Christie, I’ll come to you in a minute. Go ahead, Senator Paul.

PAUL: If I was mentioned in the question, can I respond? BASH: Go ahead, please.

PAUL: Marco still misunderstands the immigration issue. What I put forward was an amendment that would have temporarily halted immigration from high-risk terrorist countries, but would have started it up, but I wanted them to go through Global Entry, which is a program where we do background checks.

The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny, and to defend the country, you have to defend the border.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about immigration in a while. But, Governor Christie, just listening to this…

RUBIO: Do I get another 30 seconds? He mentioned me.

BASH: Listening to this, you talked — you heard Senator Paul, Senator Cruz talk about how important it is to protect Americans’ privacy, even in a time of grave danger. Why — what’s wrong with that?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I want to talk to the audience at home for a second. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate. I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position.

The fact is, for seven years, I had to make these decisions after 9/11, make a decision about how to proceed forward with an investigation or how to pull back, whether you use certain actionable intelligence or whether not to. And yet they continue to debate about this bill and in the subcommittee and what — nobody in America cares about that.

CHRISTIE: What they care about is, are we going to have a president who actually knows what they’re doing to make these decisions? And for the seven years afterwards, New Jersey was threatened like no other region in this country and what we did was we took action within the constitution to make sure that law enforcement had all the information they needed.

We prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world and stopped Fort Dix from being attacked by six American radicalized Muslims from a Mosque in New Jersey because we worked with the Muslim American community to get intelligence and we used the Patriot Act to get other intelligence to make sure we did those cases. This is the difference between actually been a federal prosecutor, actually doing something, and not just spending your life as one of hundred debating it.

Let’s talk about how we do this, not about which bill, which one these guys like more. The American people don’t care about that.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dr. Carson, you’re in favor of monitoring mosques and schools where there is anti-America sentiment, what do you consider anti- America?

CARSON: First of all, let me just complain a little bit. This is the first time I’ve spoken and several people have had multiple questions so please try to pay attention to that. Now, as far as monitoring is concerned, what my point is, we need to make sure that any place – I don’t care whether it’s a mosque, a school, a supermarket, a theater, you know it doesn’t matter. If there are a lot of people getting there and engaging in radicalizing activities then we need to be suspicious of it.

We have to get rid of all this PC stuff. And people are worried about if somebody’s going to say that I’m Islamophobic or what have you. This is craziness because we are at war. That’s why I asked congress, go ahead and declare the war .

We need to be on a war footing. We need to understand that our nation is in grave danger. You know, what the Muslim Brotherhood said in the explanatory memorandum that was discovered during the Holy Land Foundation Trial was that, “they will take advantage of our PC attitude to get us. :”

We have to be better than this. We have to be smarter than they are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, who was right in that little debate that we just heard between Senator Rubio and Senator Paul?

CARSON: I think you have to ask them about that. I don’t want to get in between them. Let them fight.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a sec, we have a lot more to come and everybody’s going to have their full opportunity.

Governor Bush, six days after 9/11 your brother visited a mosque and said quote, “Islam is peace.” The conversation tonight is about banning Muslims and surveillance of mosques, are President Bush’s words still relevant in today’s Republican party?

BUSH: They are reverent if we want to destroy ISIS. If we want to destroy radical Islamic terrors, we can’t disassociate ourselves from peace loving Muslims. If we expect to do this on our own, we will fail but if we do it in unison with people who are also are at risk and threatened by Islamic Radical terrorism, we’ll be far more successful.

Look, the FBI has the tools necessary un-American activities in our country. It goes on, we shouldn’t even be talking about it, to be honest with you out in the public. Of course they have those capabilities and we should make sure that we give the FBI, the NSA, our intelligence communities, all the resources they need to keep us safe.

But the main thing we should be focused on is the strategy to destroy ISIS. And I laid out a plan that the Reagan Library before the tragedy of Paris, and before San Bernardino to do just that. It requires leadership, it’s not filing an amendment and call it a success.

It is developing a strategy, leading the world, funding it to make sure that we have a military that’s second to none, and doing the job and making sure that we destroy ISIS there. That’s how you keep America safe.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you pointed out you were a CEO in Silicon Valley on 9/11. Companies there, they say they won’t help the FBI now crack encrypted communication from ISIS, should they be forced to.

FIORINA: You know, listening to this conversation, let me just say, we have a lot of argument about laws but none of it solves the problem. Let’s examine what happened, why did we miss the Tsarnaev brothers, why did we miss the San Bernardino couple? It wasn’t because we had stopped collected metadata it was because, I think, as someone who comes from the technology world, we were using the wrong algorithms.

This is a place where the private sector could be helpful because the government is woefully behind the technology curve. But secondly, the bureaucratic processes that have been in place since 9/11 are woefully inadequate as well. What do we now know? That DHS vets people by going into databases of known or suspected terrorists.

FIORINA: And yet, we also know that ISIS is recruiting who are not in those databases. So of course, we’re going to miss them. And then we now learn that DHS says, “No, we can’t check their social media.”

For heaven’s sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can’t do it. The bureaucratic procedures are so far behind. Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt. And that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous.

It is why we need a different kind of leadership in the White House that understands how to get bureaucracies competent again.

BLITZER: But my question was: Should these Silicon Valley companies be forced to cooperate with the FBI?

FIORINA: They do not need to be forced. They need to be asked to bring the best and brightest, the most recent technology to the table. I was asked as a CEO. I complied happily. And they will as well. But they have not been asked. That’s why it cost billions of dollars to build an Obama website that failed because the private sector wasn’t asked.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, you recently suggested closing that Internet up, those were your words, as a way to stop ISIS from recruiting online. Are you referring to closing down actual portions of the Internet? Some say that would put the U.S. in line with China and North Korea.

TRUMP: Well, look, this is so easy to answer. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea. What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing.

You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want. I don’t want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth and watching the media talking about how they’re masterminds — these are masterminds. They shouldn’t be using the word “mastermind.” These are thugs. These are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint. But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then on second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. And we can do that if we use our good people.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me follow up, Mr. Trump.

So, are you open to closing parts of the Internet?

TRUMP: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, is shutting down any part of the Internet a good idea?

KASICH: No, I don’t think it is. And I want to go back to two other issues. One is the metadata. We know we have to hold this data for a longer period of time. And, you know, in a lot of ways, Chris is right. Look, what a president has to do is take a position. We don’t want to err on the side of having less. We want to err on the side of having more. That’s good for our families.

In addition to that, Wolf, there is a big problem. It’s called encryption. And the people in San Bernardino were communicating with people who the FBI had been watching. But because their phone was encrypted, because the intelligence officials could not see who they were talking to, it was lost.

We have to solve the encryption problem. It is not easy. A president of the United States, again, has to bring people together, have a position. We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate to disrupt. That’s what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this and so does the president to keep us safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

The fight against radical Islamic terrorists and ISIS has been called the war of our time. So let’s talk about how each of you, as commander in chief, would fight this war and win it.

Senator Cruz, you have said you would, quote, “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” testing whether, quote, “sand can glow in the dark.” Does that mean leveling the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria where there are hundreds of thousands of civilians?

CRUZ: What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective, in the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.

Right now, Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. It is photo op foreign policy. We need to use overwhelming air power. We need to be arming the Kurds. We need to be fighting and killing ISIS where they are.

And let me go back to the earlier discussion a minute ago. It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks. It is political correctness. We didn’t monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist because the Obama DHS thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it.

The Tsarnaev brothers, the elder brother made a public call to jihad and the Obama administration didn’t target it. Nidal Hasan communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, a known radical cleric, asked about waging jihad against his fellow soldiers. The problem is because of political correctness, the Obama administration, like a lot of folks here, want to search everyone’s cell phones and e-mails and not focus on the bad guys. And political correctness is killing people.

BLITZER: Thank you. To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians, yes or no?

CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed — and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.

To make it — listen, ISIS is gaining strength because the perception is that they’re winning. And President Obama fuels that perception. That will change when militants across the globe see that when you join ISIS that you are giving up your life, you are signing your death warrant, and we need a president who is focused on defeating every single ISIS terrorist and protecting the homeland, which should be the first priority.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

Senator Rubio, you’ve been critical of Senator Cruz’s strategy. You say his voting record doesn’t match his rhetoric. Why?

RUBIO: Well, let me begin by saying that we have to understand who ISIS is. ISIS is a radical Sunni group. They cannot just be defeated through air strikes. Air strikes are a key component of defeating them, but they must be defeated on the ground by a ground force. And that ground force must be primarily made up of Sunni Arabs themselves, Sunni Arabs that reject them ideologically and confront them militarily.

We will have to embed additional American special operators alongside them to help them with training, to help them conduct special missions, and to help improve the air strikes. The air strikes are important, but we need to have an air force capable of it. And because of the budget cuts we are facing in this country, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force we have ever had. We have to reverse those cuts, in addition to the cuts to our Navy and in addition to the cuts to our Army, as well.

And beyond that, I would say we must win the information war against ISIS. Every war we have ever been involved in has had a propaganda informational aspect to it. ISIS is winning the propaganda war. They are recruiting people, including Americans, to join them, with the promise that they are joining this great apocalyptic movement that is going to defeat the West. We have to show what life is really like in ISIS territory, and we have to show them why ISIS is not invincible, by going out and conducting these attacks and publicizing them to those who they recruit.

BLITZER: Because I asked the question, Senator, because you said this. You said he, referring to Senator Cruz, voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up, and I assume that if he voted against it, he would veto it as president. That’s the bill that funds our troops.

RUBIO: That is accurate. Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops. It also, by the way, funds the Iron Dome and other important programs. And I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president.

He has also supported, by the way, a budget that is called the containment budget. And it is a budget that would radically reduce the amount of money we spend on our military. You can’t carpet bomb ISIS if you don’t have planes and bombs to attack them with. And if we continue those cuts that we’re doing now, not to mention additional cuts, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force this country has ever had, and that leaves us less safe.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, Marco has continued these attacks, and he knows they’re not true. Yes, it is true that I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, because when I campaigned in Texas I told voters in Texas that I would oppose the federal government having the authority to detain U.S. citizens permanently with no due process. I have repeatedly supported an effort to take that out of that bill, and I honored that campaign commitment.

CRUZ: But more broadly, you know, the notion Marco is suggesting, that somehow — he also has tossed more than a few insults this direction — let’s be absolutely clear. ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe than I will be.

We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys. And one of the problems with Marco’s foreign policy is he has far too often supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama undermining governments in the Middle East that have helped radical Islamic terrorists.

We need to focus on killing the bad guys, not getting stuck in Middle Eastern civil wars that don’t keep America safe.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Yes, let me — three points of distinction. The first is, if you’re an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda rights. You’re going to be treated as an enemy combatant, a member of an army attacking this country.

(APPLAUSE)

Number two, we do need our defense capabilities. It is a fact that the cuts we are facing today and the cuts that Senator Cruz would have supported would leave us with an even smaller Air Force and a smaller Navy than the one we are going to be left with.

And the final point that I would make is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s strategy is to lead from behind. It sounds like what he is outlining is not to lead at all. We cannot continue to outsource foreign policy. We must lead. We are the most powerful nation in the world. We need to begin to act like it, again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We are going to have much more on this…

PAUL: Wolf…

BLITZER: We’re going to have much more on this. But I want to move now back to Mr. Trump.

PAUL: Wolf, this legislation…

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. PAUL: This legislation on indefinite detention…

BLITZER: We have a lot…

PAUL: … I think deserves a little more attention.

BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss. I want to move to Mr. Trump right now. We have a question on this war against ISIS and how you would fight and win this war. Here’s the question from Facebook. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH JACOB, COLLEGE STUDENT: I’m Josh Jacob from Georgia Tech. Recently Donald Trump mentioned we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law.

So my question is, how would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: We have to be much tougher. We have to be much stronger than we’ve been. We have people that know what is going on. You take a look at just the attack in California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on.

They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.

They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television. I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Donald, this has got…

BLITZER: Governor Bush. Governor Bush.

BUSH: This is another example of the lack of seriousness. Look, this is — this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS.

But the idea that that is a solution to this is just — is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this. Look, two months ago Donald Trump said that ISIS was not our fight. Just two months ago he said that Hillary Clinton would be a great negotiator with Iran. And he gets his foreign policy experience from the shows.

That is not a serious kind of candidate. We need someone that thinks this through. That can lead our country to safety and security.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Look, the problem is we need toughness. Honestly, I think Jeb is a very nice person. He’s a very nice person. But we need tough people. We need toughness. We need intelligence and we need tough.

Jeb said when they come across the southern border they come as an act of love.

BUSH: You said on September 30th that ISIS was not a factor.

TRUMP: Am I talking or are you talking, Jeb?

BUSH: I’m talking right now. I’m talking.

TRUMP: You can go back. You’re not talking. You interrupted me.

BUSH: September 30th you said…

TRUMP: Are you going to apologize, Jeb? No. Am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Just one at a time, go ahead…

TRUMP: Excuse me, am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: So…

BUSH: A little of your own medicine there, Donald.

TRUMP: … again…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, please.

TRUMP: I know you’re trying to build up your energy, Jeb, but it’s not working very well.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: One at a time.

TRUMP: Look, look, look. We need a toughness. We need strength. We’re not respected, you know, as a nation anymore. We don’t have that level of respect that we need. And if we don’t get it back fast, we’re just going to go weaker, weaker and just disintegrate.

We can’t allow that to happen. We need strength. We don’t have it. When Jeb comes out and he talks about the border, and I saw it and I was witness to it, and so was everyone else, and I was standing there, “they come across as an act of love,” he’s saying the same thing right now with radical Islam.

And we can’t have that in our country. It just won’t work. We need strength.

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.

(APPLAUSE)

And I do have the strength. Leadership, leadership is not about attacking people and disparaging people. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy to deal with the threat of our time.

BUSH: And I laid out that strategy before the attacks in Paris and before the attacks in San Bernardino. And it is the way forward. We need to increase our military spending. We need to deal with a no- fly zone in Syria, a safe zone. We need to focus on building a military that is second-to-none…

BLITZER: Thank you.

BUSH: … so that we can destroy Islamic terrorism.

TRUMP: With Jeb’s attitude, we will never be great again, that I can tell you. We will never be great again.

BLITZER: All right. Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash, Hugh, go ahead with the next question.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… you mentioned in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric neurologist surgeon…

CARSON: Neurosurgeon.

HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.

Sometimes you — I sound like him.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, later on, you know, they really realize what’s going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like…

CARSON: You got it. You got it.

HEWITT: That is what war — can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?

CARSON: Ruthless is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are, and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, you said ISIS grew stronger because of the hawks in your party. Do you really think that Republicans have fueled the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake. When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake. I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk.

I’d like to also go back to, though, another question, which is, is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you’re going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It’s no small feat.

If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: So, they can kill us, but we can’t kill them? That’s what you’re saying. And as far as the Internet is concerned, we’re not talking about closing the Internet. I’m talking about parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, where ISIS is, spotting it.

Now, you could close it. What I like even better than that is getting our smartest and getting our best to infiltrate their Internet, so that we know exactly where they’re going, exactly where they’re going to be. I like that better.

(APPLAUSE)

But we have to — who would be — I just can’t imagine somebody booing. These are people that want to kill us, folks, and you’re — you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I want to go back to my initial question, which is you saying that ISIS grew stronger because of hawks in your party. And do you think your own party, the people who you’re describing, are responsible for the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that if you believe in regime change, you’re mistaken. In 2013, we put 600 tons of weapons — us, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — into the war against Assad. By pushing Assad back, we did create a safe space.

We had people coming to our Foreign Relations Committee and saying, “Oh, we need to arm the allies of Al Qaida.” They are still saying this. It is a crazy notion. This is the biggest debate we should be having tonight is is regime change a good idea; has it been a good idea.

There are still people — the majority on the stage, they want to topple Assad. And then there will be chaos, and I think ISIS will then be in charge of Syria.

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about regime change in a bit.

But Governor Kasich, would you like to respond to Senator Paul?

KASICH: Yeah, let me — let me just suggest to everybody, and I hear — last February, I said we needed to have people on the ground in a coalition with Europe and our allies. This is not going to get done just by working with the Sunnis. And it is not going to get done if we just embed a few people.

We have to go massively, like we did in the first Gulf War where we destroyed Saddam’s ability to take Kuwait. We need to have a coalition that will stand for nothing less than the total destruction of ISIS and we have to be the leader. We can’t wait for anybody else. I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years and we must lead, or the job won’t get done, unfortunately, for our country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Rubio? Let’s continue this conversation. This is a critically important issue.

FIORINA: I hope at some point you’re going to ask me my strategy.

BLITZER: We will get to — we have a lot of time, Ms. Fiorina.

I want to get to Senator Rubio right now. Let’s talk about, one of the aspects of your strategy, you say the only way to defeat ISIS is with ground forces made up primarily of Sunni-Arab forces. Those Arab nations, though, as you well know, they’ve conducted less than five percent of the airstrikes and actually none since August. What makes you think they are willing to fight on the ground if they’re not even willing to fight from the air?

RUBIO: Well, they most certainly will have to be worked on to provide more than what they are doing now. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s one — one major reason why they have not been willing to be a broader part of the coalition, and that is they have lost complete trust and confidence in this president. This president cut a deal with their moral enemy, the Shia, in Iran. And this is the reason why they no longer trust this president and are willing to work alongside them.

But they have as much invested in this as we do. In fact, more so, for it is the king of Saudi Arabia they want to behead first. It’s the king of Jordan that they want to dethrone. It’s the — they want to go into Egypt the way they’ve already gone into Libya.

And on another point that we need to talk about, Assad is one of the main reasons why ISIS even exists to begin with. Assad is a puppet of Iran. And he has been so brutal toward the Sunni within Syria that he created the space that led to the people of Syria themselves to stand up and try to overthrow him. That led to the chaos which allowed ISIS to come in and take advantage of that situation and grow more powerful.

And the fact that this president led from behind meant there were no alternative groups on the ground to be empowered, leaving ISIS with the prime operating space they needed to become the force they have now become.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Stand by.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, the former defense secretary, Bob Gates, says the chances of getting Sunni-Arab forces on the ground to get the job done, his words, “chances very remote.” What’s your strategy?

FIORINA: Well, first I’ll just point out that talking tough is not the same as being strong. And to wage war, we need a commander in chief who has made tough calls in tough times and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who’ve never made an executive decision in their life.

One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.

We must have Sunni-Arabs involved in this coalition. We must commit leadership, strength, support and resolve. I’ll just add that Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something talked about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Christie, what’s your strategy?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, you sit up here and you listen to this stuff, and you think that so many of these people have had so much to do in this national debate, they talk like they were bystanders. You know, we talk about our military being degraded over time, and yet we’ve had folks on this stage who’ve been a part of Congress who have participated in sequester; who participated in the degrading of this military over time.

And that’s why I think people get so frustrated with Washington, D.C. now. That’s why they’re so angry with the — the electorate is so angry with everybody who is involved in government in Washington, D.C. Because if you listen to the folks up here, you think that they weren’t even there; they had nothing to do with this.

CHRISTIE: This is a difference between being a governor and being in a legislature. See, because when something doesn’t work in New Jersey, they look at me, say: “Why didn’t it get done? Why didn’t you do it?” You have to be responsible and accountable.

And so on ISIS, let’s be clear, the president needs to be a force that is trusted in the world. On this I agree with Marco. You know, this president is not trusted.

If you’re the King of Jordan, if you’re a part of the royal family in Saudi Arabia and he’s made this deal with Iran which gives them $150 billion to wage a war and try to extend their empire across the Middle East, why would you want to do it now?

But I will tell you this, when I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, “You have a friend again sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,” he’ll change his mind.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what is your strategy?

CARSON: First of all, I’ve been talking about this for over a year. We have to destroy their caliphate because that gives them legitimacy to go ahead with the global Jihad. We have to take their energy because they are — ISIS is the richest terrorist organization there is. We have to take their oil, shut down all of the mechanisms whereby they can disperse money because they go after disaffected individuals from all over the place, and they’re able to pay them. That makes a difference.

As far as the command centers are concerned in Raqqa and to a lesser degree Mosul, cut those off. Do the same kind of thing that we did with Sinjar a few weeks ago, working with our embedded special forces with the Kurds, shut off the supply route, soften them up, then we go in with specials ops followed by our air force to take them over. Those are things that work.

But also, you know, this whole concept of boots on the ground, you know, we’ve got a phobia about boots on the ground. If our military experts say, we need boots on the ground, we should put boots on the ground and recognize that there will be boots on the ground and they’ll be over here, and they’ll be their boots if we don’t get out of there now.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Everyone stand by. We’re only just beginning. Coming up, which candidates on this stage tonight want to move foreign policy in a dramatically new direction?

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate here at the Venetian, Las Vegas.

The war against ISIS will pose many new challenges for the next commander-in-chief. The last two presidents pursued a Middle East policy that supported toppling dictators to try to promote democracy.

Senator Cruz, you have said the world would be safer today if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya, and Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt. So would it be your policy to preserve dictatorships, rather than promoting democracy in the Middle East?

CRUZ: Wolf, I believe in a America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans — have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe.

So let’s go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them. The result of that — and we were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.

Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization.

And we need to learn from history. These same leaders — Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans — want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. Gadhafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us — at least Gadhafi and Mubarak — in fighting radical Islamic terrorists.

And if we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And the approach, instead of being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CRUZ: … we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to take control of new countries.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Rubio, you supported the removal of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Now that country is in turmoil, as ISIS is clearly growing there. Senator Cruz says you haven’t learned your lesson. Do you have any regrets for supporting President Obama’s intervention in Libya?

RUBIO: To begin with, Moammar Gadhafi and the revolt against Gadhafi was not started by the United States. It was started by the Libyan people. And the reason why I argued we needed to get involved is because he was going to go one way or the other. And my argument then was proven true, and that is, the longer that civil war took, the more militias would be formed and the more unstable the country would be after the fact.

As far as Moammar Gadhafi is concerned, by the way, Moammar Gadhafi is the man that killed those Americans over Lockerbie, Scotland. Moammar Gadhafi is also the man that bombed that cafe in Berlin and killed those Marines. And you want to know why Moammar Gadhafi started cooperating on his nuclear program? Because we got rid of Saddam Hussein. And so he got scared that he would be next, and that’s why he started cooperating.

Look, we will have to work around the world with less than ideal governments. The government in Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, but we will have to work with them. The government in Jordan is not perfect, but we will have to work with them. But anti-American dictators like Assad, who help Hezbollah, who helped get those IEDs into Iraq, if they go, I will not shed a tear.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, it’s more than not shedding a tear. It’s actively getting involved to topple a government. And we keep hearing from President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Washington Republicans that they’re searching for these mythical moderate rebels. It’s like a purple unicorn. They never exist. These moderate rebels end up being jihadists.

And I’ll tell you whose view on Assad is the same as mine. It’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel doesn’t have a dog in that fight because Assad is a puppet of Iran, a Shia radical Islamic terrorist, but at the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t want to see Syria governed by ISIS. And we need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Standby. Everybody standby for a moment. Governor Kasich, go ahead.

KASICH: I don’t understand this thing about Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go.

KASICH: And there are moderates there. There are moderates in Syria who we should be supporting. I do not support a civil war. I don’t want to be policeman of the world. But we can’t back off of this. And let me tell you, at the end, the Saudis have agreed to put together a coalition inside of Syria to stabilize that country.

BLITZER: Thank you.

KASICH: He must go. It will be a blow to Iran and Russia.

BLITZER: We’re going to talk about Assad in a moment.

Mr. Trump, are Americans safer with dictators running the world in the Middle East?

TRUMP: In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.

It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: That is exactly what President Obama said. I’m amazed to hear that from a republican presidential candidate. But let’s just start with, who got it wrong? Who really got it wrong?

Hillary Clinton has gotten every foreign policy challenge wrong. Hitting the reset button with Vladimir Putin – recall that she called Bashar Al-Assad a positive reformer and then she opened an embassy and then later she said, over, and over, and over again, “Bashar Al-Assad must go.” Although she wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. Recall that Hillary Clinton was all for toppling Gadhafi then didn’t listen to her own people on the ground. And then of course, when she lied about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, she invited more terrorist attacks.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Well, there’s nothing to respond to. Well, people feel differently. I mean, the fact is Benghazi was a disaster because of Libya, everything just fell into place. It could not have been worse.

What do we have now? We have nothing. We’ve spent $3 trillion and probably much more – I have no idea what we’ve spent. Thousands and thousands of lives, we have nothing. Wounded warriors all over the place who I love, we have nothing for it.

And by the way – and Ben said incorrectly – and I’m not saying this as a knock – he’s one of finest men. You’re not going to find a finer men.

But I’ve been talking about oil for three years. I’ve been saying,, “take the oil, take the oil.” I didn’t say, “just bomb it,” I said,” take it and use it and distribute it so that the wounded warriors -” People, I’ve been saying this now for many years.

BLITZER: All right.

TRUMP: Now, all of a sudden everybody’s saying, “take the oil.” It wasn’t so fashionable to take the oil six months ago. I’ve been saying it for years.

BLITZER: Thank you.

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going into Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East…

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going out of Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East better off with dictators?

CARSON: No one is ever better off with dictators but there comes a time you know, when you’re on an airplane, they always say, “in case of an emergency oxygen masks will drop down. Put yours on first and then administer help to your neighbor.” We need oxygen right now.

And we need to start thinking about the needs of the American people before we go and solve everybody else’s problems. The fact of the matter is, is that the Middle East has been in turmoil for thousands of years. For us to think that we’re going to in there and fix that with a couple of little bombs and a few little decorations is relatively foolish.

FIORINA: We actually…

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: I think we’re focusing a whole…

BLITZER: Hold on Governor Bush., here’s the question. You said, “getting rid of Saddam Hussein in your words was a pretty good deal.” In light of what has happened in Iraq, do you still feel that way?

BUSH: I do. I think the lesson’s learned are that we have to have to have a strategy to get and a strategy to get out. Which means, that you create a stable situation.

This president and this is what the focus ought to be, it’s not the differences between us, it’s Barack Obama does not believe America’s leadership in the world is a force for good. He does not believe that our strength is a place where security can take place. He leads from behind. He creates an environment that now we’re creating the most unstable situation we’ve had since the World War II era.

The focus ought to be on the single fact that Hillary Clinton wants to double down on a failed foreign policy and we need to be united to defeat that because we’re going to be in a place that is far less secure than it is today. Don’t you all agree?

BLITZER: Senator Paul, was getting rid of Saddam Hussein a pretty good deal?

PAUL: These are the fundamental questions of our time, these foreign policy questions, whether or not regime change is a good idea or a bad idea. I don’t think because I think the regime change was a bad idea it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea.

There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war. What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want.

They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.

Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hugh.

CRUZ: The question of whether we should toppling dictatorships is asking the wrong question. We should be defeating our enemies. So the problem with defeating…

BLITZER: Senator, Senator, we’re going to get to you. Wait your turn. We have two hours of debate. We’ll have plenty of time. Let Hugh ask his question.

CRUZ: Well, but let me explain, the focus should be…

BLITZER: Senator, please.

CRUZ: … on defeating our enemies. So, for example…

BLITZER: Senator… CRUZ: … a regime we should change is Iran…

BLITZER: You’ll have plenty of opportunity.

Hugh, go ahead.

CRUZ: … because Iran has declared war on us. But we shouldn’t be toppling regimes…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: … that are fighting radical Islamic terrorists that are helping…

BLITZER: These are the rules all of you agreed to.

Hugh, go ahead with your question.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump, we are talking about the most important thing, that’s why it’s heated. And it’s, you are OK with Mr. Assad staying in power, but you are also in favor of winning.

If he stays in power, Iran is winning, Hezbollah is winning. Iran is winning in Yemen. They are winning everywhere. If they are winning how can we be winning?

TRUMP: I think Assad is a bad guy, a very bad guy, all right? Lots of people killed. I think we are backing people we have no idea who they are. The rebels, we call them the rebels, the patriotic rebels. We have no idea. A lot of people think, Hugh, that they are ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t be fighting ISIS and fighting Assad. Assad is fighting ISIS. He is fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting now ISIS. And Iran is fighting ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t go — and I watched Lindsey Graham, he said, I have been here for 10 years fighting. Well, he will be there with that thinking for another 50 years. He won’t be able to solve the problem.

We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting — you’re fighting a lot of different groups.

But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time.

HEWITT: Governor Christie, is he right? Because if we step back, Iran goes nuclear. Is Donald Trump right?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think we have to focus, Hugh, on exactly what the priorities are. And to me, what I’ve always said is that the president has set up an awful situation through his deal with Iran, because what his deal with Iran has done is empower them and enrich them. And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here. ISIS is created and formed because of the abuse that Assad and his Iranian sponsors have rained down on the Sunnis in Syria.

And so when we empower Iran, this is why this president — and when Hillary Clinton says her theory against ISIS will be just about the same as the president, then get ready for more unrest and more murder and more violence in the Middle East.

We need to focus our attention on Iran, because if you miss Iran, you are not going to get ISIS. The two are inextricably connected because one causes the other.

HEWITT: Senator Paul, let me ask you, you heard Governor Kasich say Assad must go. Do you agree?

PAUL: No, I think it’s a huge mistake. I think regime change in Syria, and this is what — I’ve been saying this for several years now. In 2013 when we first went in, I said, you are going to give arms to the allies of al Qaida, to radical jihadists? That’s crazy.

But the other thing I said is the great irony is you will be back fighting against your own weapons. Had Assad been bombed when he used chemical weapons two years ago, ISIS would be in charge of all of Syria now.

We have to have a more realistic foreign policy and not a utopian one where we say, oh, we’re going to spread freedom and democracy, and everybody in the Middle East is going to love us. They are not going to love us.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: The foreign policy, you have to know how to pick and choose. There’s no way, if Saddam had not had weapons of mass destruction, I would have gone, because I don’t believe that the U.S. should be involved directly in civil wars.

I opposed the U.S. involvement in Lebanon. We ended up having to withdraw our marines after our barracks were blown up.

There is a difference between Iraq, where you have Sunni, Shia, and Kurds put together after the First World War by the Western powers. It doesn’t work. It needs to break up into three parts.

KASICH: And for the Russians, frankly, it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose. They’ve gotten away with too much in this world and we need to stand up against them, not just there, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.

BLITZER: Let’s continue with Russia right now. We have another question from Facebook. Listen and watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Ashley Tofil. Ms. Fiorina, in November, you said that you would not talk to Vladimir Putin after you were elected because you would be communicating from a position of weakness. Do you believe that it is feasible to not communicate with another world leader? And do you think that that also is a sign of weakness?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you know, U.S. and Russian warplanes are flying all over Syria right now. With so many lives on the line, is this a good time for the United States not to talk to Putin?

FIORINA: I didn’t say I would cut off all communication with Putin. What I said was as president of the United States, now is not the time to talk with him. Reagan walked away at Reykjavik. There is a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for talk. And there is a time and a place for action.

I know Vladimir Putin. He respects strength. He lied to our president’s face; didn’t both to tell him about warplanes and troops going into Syria. We need to speak to him from a position of strength. So as commander in chief, I will not speak to him until we’ve set up that no-fly zone; until we’ve gathered our Sunni-Arab allies and begun to deny ISIS territory; until I’ve called the supreme leader of Iran and told him new deal — new deal. We the United States of America are going to cut off the money flow, which we can do; which we don’t need anyone’s permission or collaboration to do.

And I will not speak to him personally until we’ve rebuilt the 6th Fleet a little bit right under his nose; rebuilt the missile defense program in Poland right under his nose; and conducted a few military exercises in the Baltic states.

And let us remember one other thing. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for the growth of ISIS because they precipitously withdrew from Iraq in 2011 against the advice of every single general and for political expediency. It’s not these people up here. It’s Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

Governor Christie, if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone over Syria and a Russian plane encroached, invaded that no-fly zone, would you be prepared to shoot down that Russian plane and risk war with Russia?

CHRISTIE: Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means.

(APPLAUSE)

See, maybe — maybe because I’m from New Jersey, I just have this kind of plain language hangup. But I would make very clear — I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. But I’d say to him, “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Paul — Senator Paul, I want you to respond to what we just heard from Governor Christie. If there was a no-fly zone, you say that potentially could lead to World War III. Why?

PAUL: Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate. You know, here’s…

(APPLAUSE)

… the thing. My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, “Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.” Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.

And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone, and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.

This is something — this type of judgment, you know, it’s having that kind of judgment; who you would appoint and how you’re going to conduct affairs, that is incredibly important.

I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends; they don’t want to — you know, they want to (inaudible) a Democrat.

So I think we need to be very careful.

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Well, Wolf, I’ll tell you what reckless is. What reckless is is calling Assad a reformer. What reckless is allowing Russia to come into Crimea and Ukraine. What reckless is is inviting Russia into Syria to team with Iran. That is reckless. And the reckless people are the folks in the White House right now. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the reckless people.

CHRISTIE: And if you think that a no-fly zone is a reckless policy, you’re welcome to your opinion. But how is it working so far? As we have 250,000 Syrians murdered, slaughtered; millions running around the world, running for their lives. It’s not working. We need to try something else. And that is not reckless.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, let’s go back — Hugh and Dana?

HEWITT: Governor Bush, a commander-in-chief question. You’ve said that Mr. Trump is not qualified to be president because he’s not qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin. Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?

BUSH: Because I — first of all, I know what I don’t know. I know what I don’t know. I would seek out, as I have, the best advice that exists. I won’t get my information from the shows. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one.

(LAUGHTER)

I will seek out the best advice, and I will create a strategy and I will persuade the American people what the role of America should be. I’ve laid out a policy of rebuilding our military.

All of the talk that we’re seeing here — most of which I agree on, frankly — requires a much stronger military. We now have a lack of readiness that is quite scary. We have planes that were — that Harry Truman inaugurated, the B-52. We have — the Navy has been gutted and decimated. The readiness of the Marines is way down.

If we’re serious about America’s leadership in the world, then we need to make sure that we have the back of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Radio is here listening to this today. I hope they know that if I’m president, I’ll be a commander-in-chief, not an agitator- in-chief or a divider-in-chief, that I will lead this country in a way that will create greater security and greater safety.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: I think it’s very sad that CNN leads Jeb Bush, Governor Bush, down a road by starting off virtually all the questions, “Mr. Trump this, Mister” — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched the first debate, and the first long number of questions were, “Mr. Trump said this, Mr. Trump said that. Mr. Trump” — these poor guys — although, I must tell you, Santorum, good guy. Governor Huckabee, good guy. They were very nice, and I respect them greatly. But I thought it was very unfair that virtually the entire early portion of the debate was Trump this, Trump that, in order to get ratings, I guess. In order to get ratings, I guess.

HEWITT: But, Mr. Trump, it’s not CNN — I was on CNN last night…

TRUMP: I just think it’s very — excuse me.

HEWITT: … watching…

TRUMP: Excuse me. I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: But it wasn’t — it wasn’t CNN. It was me. I watched you last night for 16 minutes. It’s not CNN.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: It’s not CNN. It’s America’s watching you.

TRUMP: OK, fine.

HEWITT: It’s America’s watching.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: So I was — I was — I was mentioned, so I can bring up something, I think, right? Look, the simple fact is, if you think this is tough you’re not being treated fairly…

TRUMP: This isn’t tough and easy. I wish it…

BUSH: … imagine what it’s going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with President Xi.

TRUMP: I wish it was always this easy as you, Jeb.

BUSH: Or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists.

TRUMP: Oh, yeah.

BUSH: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. You’re a tough guy, Jeb. I know.

BUSH: And it’s — and we need…

(LAUGHTER)

… to have a leader that is…

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: You’re tough.

BUSH: You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: Well, let’s see. I’m at 42, and you’re at 3. So, so far, I’m doing better.

BUSH: Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.

TRUMP: So far, I’m doing better. You know, you started off over here, Jeb. You’re moving over further and further. Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: It doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One at a time. Hugh, go ahead.

KASICH: It sounds more and more what my daughter said that I said in the beginning, all the fighting and arguing is not advancing us.

FIORINA: It will not solve the problem.

KASICH: It is not the way we’re going to strengthen our country. We will strengthen our country when we come together.

(APPLAUSE)

And, look, you’ve got Rand Paul, you’ve got Ted Cruz, you’ve got Marco, you’ve got a lot of people on this stage that have studied these issues. You know what a leader does? A leader has a sound program, has a good policy, and then brings people together to solve problems.

(APPLAUSE)

Guess what? Both in Congress in balancing the budget and in Ohio fixing the economy — and, by the way, we talk about the fence. The first thing we better get going is strengthening our economy, because if we don’t have a strong economy, we can’t pay for all of this. And the world wants us to be able to function from strength, believe it or not. Get our economy going, get these people together in a room. We can fix this, ladies and gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: We don’t have to fight all the time. It can be done, and we will be great…

HEWITT: Governor — thank you, Governor.

KASICH: … when we join together. Thank you, Hugh.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, commander-in-chief question again. You’ve been the head of neurosurgery for a big hospital. You’re on a lot of boards of a lot of companies. You’ve traveled the world. You’re going traveling again next week. But does that prepare you to command troops from Djibouti to Japan, troops from Afghanistan to Iraq to be in charge of the men and women watching on Armed Services Network tonight?

CARSON: Well, you know, there’s a false narrative that only the political class has the wisdom and the ability to be commander-in- chief. But if you go back and you study the design of our country, it was really designed for the citizen statesman.

And we need to be talking about where does your experience come from? You know, and I’ve had a lot of experience building things, organizing things, you know, a national scholarship program.

One of the things that you’ll notice if you look through my life is that I don’t do a lot of talking. I do a lot of doing. And really, it says more about a person than how much they talk. And then some people say you’re weak because, you know, you’re not loud and you’re not boisterous and you’re not rude. But the fact of the matter is, look and see what I’ve done. And that speaks volumes about strength.

BASH: Thank you, Dr. Carson. We’ve been talking tonight about programs and policy proposals that you all have to keep Americans safe and it’s a big discussion on the campaign trail. Also about border security and immigration. So let’s talk about immigration.

Senator Rubio. You co-authored a bill with Democrats two years ago that allowed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Do you still support that path to citizenship, which means giving those immigrants rights, like the right to vote?

RUBIO: Yeah. Immigration is not an issue that I read about in the newspaper or watch a documentary on PBS or CNN. It’s an issues I’ve lived around my whole life. My family are immigrants. My wife’s family are immigrants. All of my neighbors are immigrants.

I see every aspect of this problem. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And here’s what we learned in 2013. The American people don’t trust the Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws, and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that.

It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory e-verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent overstays. After we have done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we have done those two things, I think the American people are gonna be reasonable with what do you do with someone who has been in this country for 10 or 12 years who hasn’t otherwise violated our laws — because if they’re a criminal they can’t stay. They’ll have to undergo a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes. And ultimately, they’ll given a work permit and that’s all they’re gonna be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can’t get to that third step until you have done the other two things, and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the Federal Government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.

BASH: Senator, you haven’t answered the question. You described a very long path but does that path end at citizenship?

RUBIO: But I’ve answered that question repeatedly. I am personally open — after all that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card.

That may not be a majority position in my party, but that’s down the road. You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people — not just pass a law that says you’re gonna bring illegal immigration under control. You’re gonna have to do it and prove to people that it’s working.

And that was the lesson of 2013. And it’s more true today, than it was then. After a migratory crisis on the border with minors coming over that you’re seeing start up again now, after all these executive orders the President has issued. More than ever we need to…

BASH: Thank you, senator.

RUBIO: … prove to people that illegal immigration is under control.

BASH: Thank you, senator. Senator Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Cruz, on the campaign trail, Senator Rubio has said that his immigration plan is not that different from yours. Is that true?

CRUZ: Well, he — he has attempted to muddy the waters, but I think that anyone who watched the battle that we had. You know, there was a time for choosing as Reagan put it. Where there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.

Others chose to stand with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and the American people and secure the border.

And let me mention, this issue is actually directly connected to what we’ve been talking about. Because the front line with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s in Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande. Border security is national security. And, you know, one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever. Now we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you are letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk. And I tell you, if I’m elected president, we will secure the border. We will triple the border patrol. We will build a wall that works and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio, please.

RUBIO: Yeah, a couple points. In 2013 we had never faced a crisis like the Syrian refugee crisis now. Up until that point, a refugee meant someone fleeing oppression, fleeing Communism like it is in my community.

As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards.

So I think what’s important for us to understand and there is a way forward on this issue that we an bring our country together on. And while I’m president I will do it. And it will begin by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving to the American people.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting “the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.”

He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said,” he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.”

BASH: Senator Cruz?

RUBIO: No, no, give him time.

CRUZ: In Florida promising to…

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Ted, do you…

CRUZ: go in the fight against amnesty…

RUBIO: Did Ted Cruz fight to support legalizing people that are in this country illegally?

CRUZ: He campaigned promising to lead the fight against amnesty.

FIORINA: Ladies and gentleman, this is why the American people are standing up.

BASH: Senator Cruz, can you answer that question please?

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ; I have never supported a legalization…

RUBIO: Would you rule it out?

CRUZ : I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This is why the nation is fed up…

BASH: One at a time please.

CRUZ: Watt you do is enforcement the law…

FIORINA: We have been talking about this…

BASH: Ms. Fiorina, please wait your turn, we’re going to get to you.

FIORINA: Sorry, but you haven’t gotten to me. This is why…

CRUZ: What you do…

BASH: Senator Cruz go ahead.

FIORINA: the people are fed up with the political class.

CRUZ: What you do is you enforce the law. I’ve laid out a very, very detailed immigration plan on my website, tedcruz.org. It’s 11 pages of existing federal law and in particular the question of what to do with people who are here now? You enforce the law.

That means you stop the Obama administration’s policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens. Do you know how many aliens Bill Clinton deported? 12 million. Do you know how many illegal aliens, George W. Bush deported? 10 million.

We can enforce the laws and if we secure the border, that solves the problem. And as president I will solve this problem and secure the border.

BASH: Mr. Trump, you like to say that you restarted this conversation in the campaign. TRUMP: I believe I did.

BASH: So who do you side with? Who do you side with in this, Senator Rubio or Senator Cruz?

TRUMP: I have a very hardline position, we have a country or we don’t have a country. People that have come into our country illegally, they have to go. They have to come back into through a legal process.

I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they’re properly constructed. I know how to build, believe me, I know how to build.

I feel a very, very strong bind, and really I’m bound to this country, we either have a border or we don’t. People can come into the country, we welcome people to come but they have to come in legally.

BASH: Thank you.

Governor Bush?

BUSH: Yes.

BASH: Listening to this, do you think this is the tone — this immigration debate that republicans need to take to win back Hispanics into our party especially states like where we are in Nevada that has a pretty Hispanic community?

BUSH: No it isn’t but it is an important subject to talk about for sure. And I think people have good ideas on this. Clearly, we need to secure the border. Coming here legally needs to be a lot easier than coming here illegally.

If you don’t have that, you don’t have the rule of law. We now have a national security consideration, public health issues, we have an epidemic of heroine overdoses in all places in this country because of the ease of bringing heroine in. We have to secure the border.

It is a serious undertaking and yes, we do need more fencing and we do need to use technology, and we do need more border control. And we need to have better cooperation by the way with local law enforcement. There are 800,000 cops on the beat, they ought to be trained to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement for the threat against terror as well as for immigration.

This is a serious challenge and if we can get it right, yes, we’ll start winning votes again. The real problem isn’t anybody on this stage, the real problem is Barack Obama has had six years to advocate a position to fix this and he’s done nothing. The congress has funded these programs of building more fencing and doing all this and he hasn’t done it.

He wants to maintain it as a wedge issue and so does Hillary Clinton. Republicans need to fix it and when we do, we’ll be better off.

BLITZER: Governor, thank you very much.

BLITZER: So, Dr. Carson, you recently visited a refugee camp in Jordan and you deemed it your words, “really quite nice.” Saying the people there didn’t want to come to the United States. Do you think these camps are a long-term solution of the problem of Syrian refugees?

CARSON: Well, it was very interesting having an opportunity to talk to the Syrians themselves. And I asked them: What do you want? What is your supreme desire? Their supreme desire was to be settled back in their own country. I said, “What can Americans and other countries do?” They said, “Support the efforts of those who are trying to provide safety for us, including the Jordanians.”

Of course, they had a brand new hospital, for instance, that was unstaffed because there wasn’t enough money to do it. But here’s what’s really neat. If you go into Hasakah province in northeast Syria, that’s an area that’s as big as Lebanon. It’s controlled by the Kurds, the Christians and the moderate Sunnis. And there are airstrips and hotels. You could settle a lot of people there.

All we would have to do is be willing to provide them with some weaponry, some defensive weaponry. And we seem to be afraid to give the Kurds weaponry. We like to send it for some strange reason through Baghdad, and then they only get a tenth of it.

And if we would support them, we’d have a perfect ideal there. We don’t need to set this up as we either take a bunch of refugees who will be infiltrated with terrorists, I guarantee you. For them not to be would be terrorist malpractice. And we need to — to choose the right choice, not these false choices.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you oppose letting in Syrian refugees at this time into the United States. The U.S. has already accepted 2,000 Syrian refugees, including 13 living here in Las Vegas right now. Would you send them back? What would you do with these people?

PAUL: You know, I think we need to set the record straight on this, because I think Marco misspoke about the bill. On the Gang of Eight bill, there was no provisions really for extra scrutiny or safety for refugees. At the time the bill came up, two Iraqi refugees came to my home town, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their fingerprints were on a bomb from Iraq. They were in the database, but we didn’t pick them up.

We relocated them here, put them in government housing, got them on food stamps. And we began providing for them, but we didn’t have adequate security. On the Gang of Eight bill, on Marco’s bill, we had an opportunity. There was a conservative consensus for an amendment I put forward called Trust, But Verify that would have strengthened border security on both refugees, students and those coming here. And Marco sided and I guess was more sympathetic to Chuck Schumer and to the president than he was to conservative principles.

But this goes directly to national defense. And if he wants to run as a national — national defense conservative, he’s got to explain why he hasn’t stepped up to support border security.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Well, he’s just admitted — as he’s just admitted, the reason why those refugees were allowed in was because they messed up in how they used the actual database. They should have know. They didn’t because they didn’t run the actual law as it exists now. It didn’t work well.

As far as the refugees are concerned, it’s not that America doesn’t want to accept refugees, Wolf. It’s that we may not be able to, because this is an issue we have to be 100 percent right on. If we allow 9,999 Syrian refugees into the United States, and all of them are good people, but we allow one person in who’s an ISIS killer — we just get one person wrong, we’ve got a serious problem.

And there is not a single person in the national defense apparatus of this country that can guarantee you are going to be 100 percent right. And that’s why as president, I’ll take this very seriously.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you didn’t answer the question about the 2,000 Syrian refugees who are already here in the United States. Will you send them back or let them stay?

PAUL: What my bill would do would be only for refugees going forward. So I haven’t taken a position on sending anyone home. But I have taken the position that we have a lot of problems here in our country. And that one of the things that we do — charity is about giving your own money. Charity isn’t giving someone else’s money. To put everyone in government housing and food stamps and bring them in from around the world I think is a mistake. To give of your own money, I’ve given to my church. My church has helped people that came from Bosnia. That’s a good thing.

But we shouldn’t have a program where we just say that we’re going to take care of the world’s refugees. Nobody in the Middle East is doing anything. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait — all the Gulf nations are doing nothing. They need to step up and take…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have another — we have another question. We have another question from Facebook. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Carla Hernandez. I’m from the University of Texas at Austin. And my question is directed to all the candidates.

If the Bible clearly states that we need to embrace those in need and not fear, how can we justify not accepting refugees?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, you say there should be a pause in allowing new refugees to come into the United States, including orphans under the age of five. What do you say to Carla?

CHRISTIE: What I say to Carla is that the first job of the president of the United States is to protect your safety and your security and the security and safety of your family. And this debate stops with me in the discussions with the FBI director.

CHRISTIE: Now, listen, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I know Jim Comey. We’ve worked together. He was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan when I was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

And when Jim Comey gets up before Congress and says, we cannot effectively vet these people, for me as president, that’s the end of the conversation. We have to put America’s security first.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people — we on this stage need to open our ears. We need to open our ears. The American people are not whispering to us. They are screaming to us. And they’re screaming to us that it’s our job to actually make this government work.

It’s so dysfunctional under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It’s so ineffective. It’s so ineffectual that the American people say, we don’t trust them to do anything anymore. So I’m not going to let Syrian refugees, any Syrian refugees in this country.

And it was widows and orphans, by the way, and we now know from watching the San Bernardino attack that women can commit heinous, heinous acts against humanity just the same as men can do it.

And so I don’t back away from that position for a minute. When the FBI director tells me that he can vet those people, then we’ll consider it and not a moment before because your safety and security is what’s most important to me.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich.

KASICH: You know, obviously, as president of the United States, we’ve got to keep the people safe. That’s first and foremost.

But as governor of Ohio, I have an obligation to keep the 11.5 million people in Ohio safe. And we have been very effective with our Joint Terrorism Task Force, being able to make busts.

In fact, we just made one three-four weeks ago against a person who was favorable to ISIS living in Akron.

But let me tell you what is interesting about the administration. We had Central American miners that were placed in Ohio, and we never knew a thing about it. We didn’t know where they were. And, in fact, we know now that some of them, there is a case going on where some of them may have been human-trafficked.

So when the administration tells me we have a great vetting process, the proof is in the pudding. They sent these miners to us. Our schools were disrupted. We didn’t know where they were. And bad things happened to them. And now they tell me that we ought to be able to admit these Syrian refugees.

So, Wolf, look, people have accused me at times of having too big of a heart. You know, that’s OK. But I have to also to say I must keep the people of my state safe. So we take a pause.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

There is much more coming up. We are only just beginning. Coming up, what other global hot spots await the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate. We’re here at the Venetian Las Vegas. Tonight we have been focusing on the Middle East, but let’s turn to some other world threats that you will potentially face as Commander in Chief.

Ms. Fiorina, candidates here have called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un a maniac who is mentally unstable. Last week he said he now has a hydrogen bomb. If you were elected president, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

FIORINA: Well, first, Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous leader, without a doubt. And both Republican and Democrat administrations have been completely ineffective in dealing with him. So we must continue to isolate him. We will need China as part of that strategy.

China is a rising adversary. So one of the things we have to do if we want China’s support is to push back on China. They, too, recognize one thing — strength and their own economic interest.

I have done business in China for 25 years, so I know that in order to get China to cooperate with us, we must first actually retaliate against their cyber-attacks so they know we’re serious. We have to push back on their desire to control the trade route through the South China Sea through which flows $5 trillion worth of goods and services every year.

We cannot let them control the disputed islands, and we must work with the Australians, the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Filipinos to contain China. And then we must ask for their support and their help with North Korea. Because believe it or not, China is as concerned about Kim Jong-Un as we are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

CARSON: Well, I definitely believe that he is unstable, and I do, in fact, believe that China has a lot more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits, and they have decided to use their resources to build their military, rather than to feed their people and to take care of the various humanitarian responsibilities that they have.

We can capitalize upon that. You know, we should use our economic power in lots of different ways. I think we can use that in order to keep Putin contained, because he is a one-horse show. Energy. And we have an abundance of energy, but we have archaic energy exportation rules. We need to get rid of those, allow ourselves to really make Europe dependent on us and other parts of the world dependent on us for energy. Put him back in his little box where he belongs.

And, you know, we need to be doing lots of other things with the resources that we have. So economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps even better. And speaking of that, our Military needs to be upgraded. You know, you look at things like our Ohio Class submarines, they’re 25 years old. Our minuteman 3 missiles — they are 34 years old. Our B-52 bombers — 50 years old. You know, if we don’t get the military right nothing else matters.

BLITZER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Dana and Hugh you have questions as well.

BASH: Governor Christie, you’ve said if China launches a cyber- attack against the U.S. on your watch, “they’re going to see cyber- warfare like they have never seen before.” What exactly would that response look like?

CHRISTIE: Well, what it would like is, we have one of the great advantages of America being the open society that we are. It is, we are not hiding things from the American people, but China everyday is conducting business in a way that hides things from their people.

CHRISTIE: So if they want to come in and attack all the personnel records in the federal government, which they’ve done, and which — they now have my Social Security number and my fingerprints, as well as maybe some other folks’ who are on this stage.

The fact is, they need to be fought back on. And what we need to do is go at the things that they are most sensitive and most embarrassing to them; that they’re hiding; get that information and put it out in public. Let the Chinese people start to digest how corrupt the Chinese government is; how they steal from the Chinese people; and how they’re enriching oligarchs all throughout China.

They need to understand that. And we need to take those type of steps. This president has seen personnel records of people who have sacrificed for the American people and for the federal government stolen by the Chinese and he’s done nothing in return. This is why — this is what I said at the beginning that this administration, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton through their foreign policy, have betrayed the American people, because the weakness they’ve displayed has led to Putin’s incursions in the Middle East and in eastern Europe, and has led — has led to significant problems in the Middle East as well, and the death and murder of lots of folks.

BASH: Governor Bush, what you just heard from Governor Christie, are you concerned that that could really escalate with China, that they would retaliate? And, for example, as the NSA has said, attack the U.S. and maybe it’s power grid, which the Chinese have the capability to do?

BUSH: I completely agree with Chris. And this administration has been so lax. Think about it. Hillary Clinton is using a private server for — where classified information go by. This is a — this is a serious administration?

The president receives an inspector general’s report that the Office of Personnel Management could be hacked into; they had antiquated firewalls; 23 million files have been — are in the hands of the Chinese allegedly, including, by the way, members of the press, it turns out, last week. Maybe that’s the only part that’s good news, so that you guys can get a feel for what it’s like now to see this type of attack.

This is something — we have to have the best defensive capabilities. We need to coordinate all of our efforts with the private sector. We need to give them liability relief so that we can do that. And offensively, we need to have capabilities second to none. We need to create a situation where they know that there will be adverse impacts if they continue to do what they’re doing.

They’ll respect that. They’ll respect a United States that is serious about protecting our — our infrastructure. If we don’t do it, we’ll continue to see what’s — exactly what’s happening, not just from the Chinese, by the way. The Russians and rogue actors, including ISIS — this is a serious part of the 21st century security challenge that we face.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump…

(APPLAUSE)

… Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision.

What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I’m frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.

But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out — if we didn’t have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear — nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That’s in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.

HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

TRUMP: I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

HEWITT: Senator Rubio, do you have a response?

RUBIO: I do. First, let’s explain to people at home who the triad — what the triad is. Maybe a lot of people haven’t heard that terminology before. The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground, and also from our nuclear subs’ ability to attack. And it’s important — all three of them are critical. It gives us the ability at deterrence.

Now, some have become more critical than others; for example, the submarines. And that’s the Ohio Class submarine that needs to be modernized. The air component also needs to be modernized. The B-52, as someone earlier pointed out, is an outdated model that was flown by the grandparents of people that are flying it now. And we need a serious modernization program as well on our silo-launched missiles. All three are critical for the defense of the country.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.

Some of you on this stage have questioned whether your opponents have temperament, the right temperament, to be in control of the nuclear codes.

Dana, you have a question on this?

BASH: Mr. Trump, just this weekend you said Senator Cruz is not qualified to be president because he doesn’t have the right temperament and acted like a maniac when he arrived in the Senate. But last month you said you were open to naming Senator Cruz as your running mate.

TRUMP: I did.

BASH: So why would you be willing to put somebody who’s a maniac one heartbeat away from the presidency?

TRUMP: Let me just say that I have gotten to know him over the last three or four days. He has a wonderful temperament.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: He’s just fine. Don’t worry about it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Okay.

Senator Cruz. Senator Cruz, you have not been willing to attack Mr. Trump in public.

TRUMP: You better not attack…

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: But you did question his judgment in having control of American’s nuclear arsenal during a private meeting with supporters. Why are you willing to say things about him in private and not in public?

CRUZ: Dana, what I said in private is exactly what I’ll say here, which is that the judgment that every voter is making of every one of us up here is who has the experience, who has the vision, who has the judgment to be commander in chief. That is the most important decision for the voters to make. That’s a standard I’m held to. And it’s a standard everyone else is held to.

And I will note, you know, in the whole course of this discussion about our foreign policy threats, it actually illustrates the need for clarity of focus.

You know, my daughters, Caroline and Catherine, came tonight. They’re 7 and 5. And you think about the Los Angeles schools canceling their schools today.

And every parent is wondering, how do we keep our kids safe? We need a commander in chief who does what Ronald Reagan did with communism, which is he set out a global strategy to defeat Soviet communism. And he directed all of his…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: I’m answering the question, Dana.

He directed all of his forces to defeating communism.

One of the things we’ve seen here is how easy it is for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to get distracted from dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. They won’t even call it by its name.

We need a president who stands up, number one, and says, we will defeat ISIS. And number two, says the greatest national security threat facing America is a nuclear Iran.

BASH: Senator, senator, I just…

CRUZ: And we need to be focused on defeating…

BASH: Senator, a lot of people have seen…

CRUZ: … defeating radical Islamic terrorists.

BASH: … a lot of people have seen these comments you made in private. I just want to clarify what you’re saying right now is you do believe Mr. Trump has the judgment to be commander in chief?

CRUZ: What I’m saying, Dana, is that is a judgment for every voter to make. What I can tell you is all nine of the people here would make an infinitely better commander in chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, senator. Thank you.

CRUZ: And there is a real danger, Dana, when people get distracted.

I’m answering the question, Wolf.

CRUZ: There’s a real danger when people get distracted by peripheral issues. They get distracted by democracy building. They get distracted about military conflicts. We need to focus on defeating jihadism. ISIS and Iran have declared war on America, and we need a commander in chief who will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: And I will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

We’re a month and a half away now from the first real test who will be the Republican presidential nominee.

Hugh, you have a question?

HEWITT: My listeners tell me again and again they are worried that Hillary Clinton will win the White House because you’ll run as an independent. Are you ready to assure Republicans tonight that you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of the Republicans?

TRUMP: I really am. I’ll be honest, I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I mean, the people have been putting me…

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, last week…

TRUMP: Let me just. Can I just finish my…

HEWITT: Please.

TRUMP: I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership. I’ve gained great respect for many — and I’m going to even say — I mean, in different forms for the people on the dais, in different forms.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: In different forms.

But I have great respect for the people I have met through this process. I’ve never done this process before. I’ve never been a politician. I mean, for the last six months I’ve been a politician.

But I will tell you, I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front runner.

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And I think I’ll do very well if I’m chosen. If I’m so fortunate to be chosen, I think I’ll do very well.

Polls have come out recently saying I would beat Hillary. I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, Mr. Trump just committed to stay the distance regardless of the result. How about you?

CARSON: Well, you know, the statement that I made last week, that I would leave the party was contingent upon whether in fact the party acts like they have in the past with a lot of subterfuge and dishonesty, or like they’re going act now because I spike to Reince Priebus, and he assured me that the Washington Post writer had it all wrong, and that they’re not be engaging in anything to thwart the will of the people.

That’s why I got into this race, as a member of we the people, to try bring some honesty and integrity back to the process.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Candidates, we have more coming up. When we come back, everyone will have an opportunity to explain why this particular candidate, each of you on the stage, believes he or she should be the Republican presidential nominee.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now it’s time for the closing statements from the candidates. Each one has 30 seconds.

Senator Paul.

PAUL: The greatest threat to our national security is our debt. We borrow a million dollars a minute. And whose fault is it? Well, frankly, it’s both parties’ fault. You have those on the right who clamor and say, oh, we will spend anything on the military, and those on the left who say the same for domestic welfare.

But what most Americans don’t realize is there is an unholy alliance. They come together. There’s a secret handshake. We spend more money on everything. And we are not stronger nation if we go further into debt. We are not projecting power from bankruptcy court.

To me, there is no greater threat than our debt. I’m the only fiscal conservative on the stage because I’m willing to hold the line on all spending. I hope you will consider me in the election. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich. KASICH: No Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without winning Ohio. Let me give you a little tip on how you win Ohio, it’s reform, it’s hope, it’s growth, it’s opportunity, and it’s security.

The people of Ohio are the people of America. The people of America are reflected in Ohio. Our message has to be big, and bold, and positive, and connect, not just with people’s heads but also connect with their hearts.

If we do it, we will beat Hillary Clinton, and we will run the White House, and we will strengthen and fix America, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: On September 10th, 2001, I was named chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey and on September 11th, 2001, my wife and my brother who are in the audience tonight went through the World Trade Center and to their offices just blocks away from the Trade Center.

I lost touch with them for six hours that day and prayed that they were alive. Luckily, they were sent home. But many of our friends and others in our neighborhood lost their lives that day.

Terrorism — radical jihadist terrorism is not theoretical to me. It’s real. And for seven years, I spent my life protecting our country against another one of those attacks. You won’t have to worry when I’m President of the Untied States whether that can be done because I’ve already done it. I want the chance to do it again to protect you, your children and your families.

If you give me the chance and give me your vote I will protect America from the wars that are being brought to our door step.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: I too remember September 11th. I remember immediately putting into place security procedures all throughout our company that did business in 170 countries where we thought corporate interests would be attacked next. To take our country back, to keep our nation safe, we have to begin by beating Hillary Clinton.

We need to unify our party. We need to better than our government, which 75 percent of the American people now think is corrupt and incompetent. They’re right. We need to better than our politics. 80 percent think we have a professional/political class of both parties that cares more about its power, position and privilege than actually on getting anything done.

We need to unify our party, we need a real Conservative in the White House, and we need to beat Hillary Clinton to take our country back and keep our nation safe.

I can. I am. And together, if you join me, we will take our country back.

BLITZER: Governor Bush. BUSH: Ask yourself, which candidate will keep you and our country safer, stronger and freer?

Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Barack Obama on ISIS, Iran and the economy. It’s an alliance doomed to fail. My proven record suggests that — my detailed plans will fortify our national and economic security. And my proven record as governor makes — will give you a sense that I don’t make false promises. I deliver real results.

For America to be safe and sound, I ask for you support. Thank you all very much.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Thank you. As we near the end of this year, we enter one of the most important elections in a generation. For what’s at stake in this election is not simply what party’s going to be in charge. But our very identity as a people and as a nation. For over 200 years this has been a special country. A unique place where anyone from anywhere can achieve anything. But now millions of Americans feel like they’re being left behind. Insecure in their future and unsafe in the face of terrorism. This election is about electing a president that will restore our economic vibrancy so that the American dream can expand to reach more people and change more lives than ever before. And rebuild our Military and our intelligence programs so that we can remain the strongest nation on earth. Tonight I ask you for your vote.

If you do this, we will rebuild this country, and together we will usher in a new American century — the greatest era in the history of this great land.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Judgment, strength, clarity and trust. Barack Obama has said he doesn’t believe in American leadership or America winning — he is wrong. America can win again and we will win again. Ronald Reagan reignited the American economy, rebuilt the Military, bankrupted the Soviet Union and defeated Soviet Communism. I will do the same thing.

Cutting taxes, cutting regulation, unleashing small businesses and rebuilding the Military to defeat radical Islamic terrorism — our strategy is simple. We win, they lose. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 58 different countries and I thank God everyday that I was born in this country. The most exceptional country that the world has ever known. And I want to make sure that we preserve that exceptionalism for the next generation. My mother told me if I work hard and I really believed in American principles and I believed in God, anything is possible. I believe that is true, and that’s why I’m not anxious to give away American values and principles for the sake of political correctness.

TRUMP: Our country doesn’t win anymore. We don’t win on trade. We don’t win on the military. We can’t defeat ISIS. We’re not taking care of our great people, the veterans. We’re not taking care of them.

We have to change our whole way, our health care system is a disaster. It’s going to implode in 2017, just like you’re sitting there. It doesn’t work. Nothing works in our country. If I’m elected president, we will win again. We will win a lot. And we’re going to have a great, great country, greater than ever before.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thanks to all the Republican presidential candidates. That does it for this Republican presidential debate.

On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, Facebook, the Republican National Committee, and the Venetian Las Vegas. My thanks also to Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.

We especially want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, especially to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines protecting us around the world.

Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage of tonight’s debate right now — Anderson.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 15, 2015: CNN Fifth Undercard Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: CNN undercard GOP debate

Source: WaPo, 12-15-15

Participants

  • Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee
  • Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.)
  • Former New York governor George Pataki
  • Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.).

We have posted the complete transcript below.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced the candidates, and the debate was underway.

BLITZER: We know you’re all eager to jump in and debate these important issues, but please wait until you’re called on. Now that everyone is this place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. You’ll each have one minute.

Senator Graham, you’re first.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.

I just returned from Iraq two weeks ago. It was my 36th trip to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. Toward the end, I met a very impressive Special Forces sergeant. It was his job to train Iraqi Kurdish commandos.

He was so proud of what he was doing and so proud of the people he was training. He was the replacement for Master Sergeant Wheeler, a Delta Force member who was killed two months ago in a raid against an ISIL prison to free prisoners.

As I departed, I told this young man, stay safe. He replied, sir, I will do my best to stay safe, but I came here to win. As commander-in-chief, I will do everything in my power to make sure that he can win. As president, we will win.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Governor Pataki.

GEORGE PATAKI (R), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

I want to speak to you this evening not as a Republican or a presidential candidate, but as an American. As we saw today in L.A., we are at a crisis in our country. Radical Islam poses a threat to our safety not just overseas, but literally in every community in America.

And yet at a time when we should be united, we have a president who has divided us, who refuses to call radical Islam what it is, let alone have a coherent strategy to defeat it.

The leading Democrat, Hillary Clinton, won’t call ISIS by its name, failed as secretary of state, and has continually lied to the American people.

On the other hand, the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, continually demonizes and demeans millions of Americans, and when confronted about it, laughs it off. Neither is fit to be president of the United States.

Our party, as Republicans, needs to nominate a strong leader who will unite us as Republicans, but more importantly, unite us as Americans, committed to destroying and defeating radical Islam, restoring our confidence in our safety right here, and our belief in freedom, and that the best of America is ahead of us.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

It’s great to be here in Las Vegas. And I just want to thank everybody for the opportunity to be here.

This is an important time in our country’s history. We have entered World War III. World War III has begun and we have a leader who refuses to identify it and be truthful to the American people to the stakes that are involved, in part, because his policies have led us here.

SANTORUM: His policy toward Iran lit the fuse of a nuclear Iran. Just a few weeks ago the International Atomic Agency reported that Iran has had a nuclear program, but they don’t know if it’s continuing because they refuse to share any information about the current status. And this President marches on, forgiving them hundreds of billions of dollars to allow them to not just reconstitute their robust nuclear program, pursue their missile program, but also to foment terror around the world. And then his policies in the Middle East with Iraq create ISIS. Ladies and gentlemen, we need a President who will be honest with you and identify these problems and defeat them. I hope you will give me the chance to do that. Thank you.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) ARKANSAS: Wolf, I want to say thanks to you and CNN for giving us the opportunity especially to focus on national security issues at a time when Americans are not only angry — angry at their government that they feel like has failed them, been indifferent to them, cost them their livelihoods — but they’re in addition to angry, they’re just plain scared. They’re scared when they thing that they go to a Christmas party and get shot at by somebody who sat and had lunch with them an hour earlier. They’re scared when they realize that our government, who promises that it can vet people and is begging us to approve bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country, can’t even catch somebody after a third background check, who had posted things on social media clearly indicating she wanted to kill Americans. And we couldn’t catch that. We’ve lost confidence in our government. And when Americans lose confidence in their government, we’re in a dangerous place. We’re in danger because we have an enemy that is out to kill us, and we have a government that we don’t trust any more. This election is about going back to having a government we can trust with leaders who have the courage and conviction to actually lead and not follow.

BLITZER: Let’s begin. The United States just suffered the worst terrorist attack since 9-11, the murder of 14 people by two terrorists, one of whom was an American citizen. In response, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump proposed a temporary ban on all Muslims coming into the United States until the government can figure out what is going on. Senator Graham, the polls show most Republicans do support Mr. Trump. What do you say to them?

GOV. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: You may think this makes us safe, but it doesn’t. The good news for everybody in this room is, after 36 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, most people over there, Wolf, are not buying what ISIL’s selling. This is a religious war between radical Islam and the rest of the world. And there’s only one way you’re going to win this war. Help people in Islam who reject radical Islam to fight over there and destroy this ideology. Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just believe in dancing. This is a coup for them, and to all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us. If I am President, we will work together. People in the faith to all over the world destroy this radical ideology. Declaring war on the religion only helps ISIL.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you say you’d rather lose the election without Trump than try to win with him. Does that mean you’ll be voting for the Democratic nominee if Donald Trump wins the presidential nomination?

GRAHAM: I will support the Republican nominee, whoever he or she may be. Like Bob Dole, I may sleep late that day if it’s Trump. But the bottom line, if it’s Trump, so be it. That’s who I’ll support. Please understand we’re in a war that we can’t afford to lose, and what he said about banning Muslims coming here to America has made us all less safe, and it’s the worst possible thing he could do in this war. He clearly doesn’t understand this war and how to win it. For God’s sakes, pick somebody who is worthy of the sacrifice of those who are fighting this war and who actually knows how to win, and I don’t believe that’s Mr. Trump, and I know it’s not Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, you mentioned Donald Trump in your opening statement. You’ve also suggested Mr. Trump’s plan is un- American and absurd. Why?

GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Absolutely. It’s one of many absurd things this President has said.

PATAKI: To target a religion and say that, regardless of whether you’re an American soldier who’s fought on our side or allies we have overseas, simply because of your religion we’re going to ban you is un-American, it is unconstitutional and it is wrong. And by the way, Wolf, now there was a group that tried to do that 150 to 160 years ago, they were called the Know-Nothing Party. They wanted to ban Catholics. They thought they were going to destroy America.

Well, Donald trump is the Know-Nothing candidate of the 21st century and cannot be our nominee.

By the way, though. I fault Hillary and Obama as well because by not distinguishing between Muslims and radicalized Jihadists, by refusing to acknowledge that it’s radical Muslim, radical Islamists who are carrying out these attacks against America — they let Americans who are confused and angry lump everyone together. We have to embrace the Muslims who embrace our freedom and living and safety. We have to destroy those who embrace Jihad and want to engage in violence against us here or abroad.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, you object to Mr. Trump’s proposals on the grounds that it’s unworkable. You’ve made religious liberty a hallmark of your career. Do you believe in religious liberty for Muslims as well as Christians?

SANTORUM: Of course I do. But what Donald Trump was saying was nothing against Muslims. His comment was against this administration who doesn’t have a policy to properly vet people coming into this country. Let’s just be honest about what’s — what’s being talked about here. And I know people will pile on because it makes sense to pile on, maybe from the polls. But he brings up a legitimate issue. The fact of the matter is not all Muslims are Jihadists and no one, including I suspect, Donald Trump would say that. But the reality is, all Jihadists are Muslims.

That’s a reality. And we have — we have to stop worrying about offending some people and start defending all Americans. Because we’re not right now.

BLITZER: Senator Graham.

Rick, please understand the only way we’re gonna win the war against radical Islam is for the world to unite. Very few fathers and mothers want to turn hair daughters and sons over to ISIL. If you spend any time in the region, you’d know that. Muslims have died by the thousands fighting this hateful ideology. You can say what you like, but when you utter the word I will ban all Americans, all Muslims from coming to America, how do you think the king of Jordan must feel to hear that? He is our friend, he is our ally. This is not the way to make America safe. This is the way to help our enemies. Stop this before it’s too late.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: I would agree — I would agree that Donald Trump’s proposal was not the right proposal. But he brings up a very important issue that I think we’ve been ignoring for far too long in this country. The reality is that, yes, we need to get reformist Muslims to join us. We need to get those who are being persecuted and killed within the Middle East to join us. But we also have to protect this country from those who want to harm us and we have to defeat those who are radicalized in the Middle East and wherever we find them around the world.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, you called Mr. Trump’s plan to ban Muslims impossible and unconstitutional. But what is your specific plan to prevent would-be Jihadists from carrying out attacks against Americans?

HUCKABEE: Well, let me begin by saying I’m not that afraid of Donald Trump. And, in the sense that I’d rather him be President than I had Hillary be president any day. And so if he becomes president, I think he will do a whole lot more to protect us than Hillary will. And a whole lot more than Barack Obama has done in his eight years.

So I want to make it very clear that when I was making that comment, I was simply speaking that I’m not sure that you can have a religious test per se. And it’s very impractical because if somebody comes to our borders and says I’d like to come in. They say are you a Muslim? Well, they’re — if they’re going to come in here to kill us, they’re not gonna say yeah, and I’m coming to kill you. They’re going to lie about it. Anybody that will kill you, for God’s sake, will lie to you.

So that’s why I say it’s impractical. But what he has done, and I don’t think a lot of people understand, he has touched a nerve because people are angry and afraid that we are facing an enemy that this administration refuses to acknowledge, refuses to want to go fight. And our only answer is to go after ISIS and to go after every form of radical Islam where they are, take them down, so they never get here and do what they did in San Bernardino again ever.

BLITZER: The terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have sparked a debate here in the United States about the balance between privacy and security. I want to bring in CNN’s Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt for more on this.

BASH: Senator Santorum, you want to give the intelligence community more power to collect American’s phone data. But the government had this ability until just days before the San Bernardino attack.

BASH: If it couldn’t prevent San Bernardino, why will it protect America?

SANTORUM: Just because it couldn’t have prevented San Bernardino doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have all tools available to us that doesn’t impinge upon people’s privacy. This sort of data collection is not collecting people’s phones calls, their voices; they’re not collecting information that’s personal. There’s no names attached to these numbers. They’re simply numbers and times and relationships that throughout algorithms that computer technology can be able to sort through relationship about what numbers are calling what numbers and be able to track those down to see if there’s any leakage’s between someone who’s potentially a terrorist.

That is to me just fundamental that we have to have this type of data to be able to not impinge upon people’s privacy. In fact, I would make the argument that the more data we can collect that’s anonymous that we can through, through using algorithms, the less we need to involve people in and imposing themselves in people’s privacy.

BASH: Senator Graham, when this program was exposed, you said, ” you have nothing to worry about if you’re not talking to terrorist.” Do you understand why though some Americans are concerned that the government is keeping tabs on them in any way?

GRAHAM: Well, here’s what I’m here to tell you, when I first started this process of running for president., I said, ” if you didn’t realize we need more America boots on the ground in Iraq and eventually in Syria as a part of the regional army – not ready to be commander in chief.” Like nobody said a word, now everybody’s on board except Senator Paul.

Senator Paul and Senator Cruz, are isolationists. They both want to restrict the ability of the NSA to do the following; find out if somebody overseas is calling into America and if somebody is on the other end of the phone, don’t you want to know who their talking to? IF a terrorist is calling into America and we can match up phone numbers we get a get a court order to find out what the content is.

We’re at war folks, they’re not trying to steal your car, they’re trying to kills us all. So yes, I would re-institute this program. There’s four things you need to understand about this war, it’s a religious war, them against the world, if you don’t fight them over there, they’re coming here. If you don’t hit them first, they’re going to hit us. If you’re not determined to fight it as a ware, you’re going to lose it. So if you’re worried about somebody having your phone in the government, don’t be. The only thing you need to worry about is if you’re talking to terrorist and a judge gives an order to listen to what you’re saying. That’s all you need to worry about.

BASH: Thank you.

Governor Huckabee, you said, “not one terrorist plot has been foiled by the NSA’s collection of American’s phone records. The director of the CIA says,. “not having these programs makes it ability to find terrorists, quote, “much more challenging.”” Are you taking a potential tool to fight terrorists?

HUCKABEE: No. I’m not taking it away, I just want to make sure that everything we use is going to be effective. We’re spending billions of dollars, let’s make sure it’s effective. Let’s use every tool, but let’s also check out the Facebook posts, let’s look at Twitter accounts.

My gosh, we were told we couldn’t do it because it might invade somebody’s privacy. This lady who came over here and shot up San Bernardino was posting things on Facebook, yet, we were restricted from looking. Every college kid who goes to a frat party gets drunk and puts his picture on Facebook is going to have a potential employer looking at that photo before he gets hired.

Why should we have more attention? I mean, for heaven’s sake, towards some college kid who wants to one day ten years from to get a job, then we’re going after who wants to come in with a semi automatic weapon or a pipe bomb and blow up a bunch of America